The first really warm spring day about a week or so ago, I packed up some treats and headed out for a play date picnic with Omi at Gage Park.
I do love picnics. Especially meats, cheese and snack type foods.
I gathered some items that we had around the house along with some foccacia bread for make-your-own mini open-faced sandwiches.
Finally put this handy stackable tin lunch container to good use. This little contraption is called a dabba (or tiffin). We picked it up when we were travelling in India. It’s kinda like the Indian version of the obento box.
For dessert I made this super yummy treat. Get this -Mars Bar Rice Krispie Squares! Yeah, it’s pretty decadent, but they are so yum. If you can believe it there’s three Mars Bars in this one batch! Sometimes I have to remind myself about the three bars to stop myself from eating the entire tray all in one go. Three Mars Bars in one day is just totally unacceptable.
If you’re looking for a nice strip of beach not too far away from the old hammer then head to the little oasis of Port Dalhousie. Just outside of St. Catharines proper is this beauty of a lakeside park. With its whispering silver poplar trees and long sandy banks perfect for wading you could spend a day lounging and picnicking. We went before school was out, so the beach was quiet and calm. People were busting out their picnics for dinner, and firing up their hibachis for hotdog roasting and bbq’d burgers.
I would definitely come back here for a day to enjoy the sun and sand. There’s ice-cream shops, pubs and patios all before you hit the beach, as well as, an old school carousel from the early 1900′s that charges only 5 cents a ride!
Truth be known Lakeside Park and Port Dalhousie were not on my radar of places to visit. Steve on the other hand, being a huge Rush fan, had secretly known about this park and had suggested we go. According to Steve, Neil Peart drummer of Rush, had grown up in Port Dalhousie and had written the lyrics of song Lakeside Park specifically about the park in Port Dalhousie.
Midway hawkers calling “Try your luck with me;” Merry-go-round wheezing The same old melody A thousand ten cent wonders Who could ask for more A pocketful full of silver The key to heaven’s door
Lakeside Park Willows in the breeze Lakeside Park So many memories Laughing rides Midway lights Shining stars on summer nights
Days of barefoot freedom Racing with the waves Nights of starlit secrets Crackling driftwood flames Drinking by the lighthouse Smoking on the pier Still we saw the magic Was fading every year
Everyone would gather On the twenty-fourth of May Sitting in the sand To watch the fireworks display. Dancing fires on the beach, Singing songs together… Though it’s just a memory, Some memories last forever.
No summer picnic would be complete without the muffuletta sandwich. I learnt about this sandwich on a cottage trip last summer when my sister put one together. We were all in awe of the muffuletta and all its deliciousness.
To make your own muffuletta sandwich one needs a crusty round bread that you carve out like a pumpkin. Save a bread lid, and scoop out most of the bread from the inside. Drizzle the bottom of your new bread bowl with pesto. For my pesto I ground up fresh basil with some olive oil and roasted garlic. Then add layers of salami, and roasted veggies (I used grilled eggplant, yellow and green zucchini, and carrots). As for cheese, provolone or havarti will do. Make your layers of cheese nice and thick. In between layers add capers, and chopped olives or an olive spread, and arugula. We got our arugula spicy and fresh from our garden. I also grated a fresh beet and added it to the layers -it gives a beautiful colour. I put in a layer of some pickled artichoke hearts too. You could add other items like sundried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, grainy mustards and a layer of thick smoked bacon (save that layer for the top). My sister’s tip was to separate the layers of meat and cheese so it doesn’t get too greasy and ensure that a little remaining pesto gets drizzled on top. Last you put the bread top back on and tie the bread back up nice and tight with some parcel string. Return the whole bread to fridge and let it sit refrigerated for a few hours before cutting into “pie-slices” and serving.
We brought two muffuletta sandwiches out for our July 1st picnic -one with meat and one veggie.
Along with the sandwich was also an assortment of other beautiful fresh summer foods and beverages. We had some refreshing rice wraps with lettuce, cucumber, mango, mint and basil, as well as, a quinoa and chickpea salad.
Sigh…. I love hot summer days and picnics in the park.