As you may know by now, I can’t cook. I mean, the food gets cooked, but it’s not usually pretty enough to photograph, and certainly not worthy of sharing. However, I read voraciously and love to picnic, so when the Novel Bakers did me the tremendous honor of asking me to join them for Picnic Week, I did a little happy dance around my house (there may have been some leaping and shrieking) and answered “yes” without stopping to think that the results of my cooking efforts would be displayed for all the world to see. Luckily, the cookbooks Jain chose for us were so inspiring that I was excited to add some easy and tasty dishes to my repertoire. As a matter of fact, all my picnic posts this week could be subtitled “if I can cook this, then you can too!”
To ease my worries over the cooking chores, I decided to focus on the “novel” and “picnic” aspects of Novel Bakers Picnic Week. So, what is a picnic? According to the instant poll I took of my family, a picnic requires food (yes, they each listed that, because after all, they know me), prepared at home, put into some sort of container, and carried away to a scenic location. Mr. Fun emphasized that there could be no cooking at the picnic site, because then it would be a barbecue. He was adamant about this and I suspect it was because he knows all outdoor cooking is his responsibility. So, I rounded up all my picnic containers and compiled a list of interesting locations where we could picnic, read novels, and perhaps do a little summertime napping. Of course, we would need a fine beverage to go with our foods.
As soon as I read that one of our picnic themes would be Tuscany, I knew that my menu would include the new wines from Frances Mayes. All of her books are on my shelves, some very tattered from multiple readings. However, this is Connecticut. Not Tuscany. And as I found out first hand from a National Park Ranger at one of our picnics, a blog party is not justification for carrying wine, even unopened to be used as a photo prop, into a park! So, this picnic was prepared, packed, and carried in a basket out of our front door and into our yard, where we enjoyed it Under the Connecticut Sun.
All the goodies went into my basket, including a copy of Under the Tuscan Sun (not the tattered one!), two bottles of wine, wine glasses, napkins, fruit, and flowers from my yard (yes, I know, but let’s pretend we went to a scenic and exotic location).
Tiny sunflower petals were falling everywhere so I salvaged a few to dry for use as bookmarks.
The Tuscan Sun wines all have beautiful labels, so if you are like me and buy your wines because they will be pretty on your table, these will all work for you! Each has a Tuscan scene painted in watercolor, with interesting tidbits on the front and back of the bottles. This Sangiovese Blend, perfect with appetizers, has a painting of Bramasole.
The Tuscan Sun wines will also be enjoyed by those of you who buy your wine because of the liquid inside the bottle and not just for the label. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Permesso, is wonderful, and the label has a door open to welcome us to a picnic in the garden.
There are several other varieties, but they are difficult to find now! You can see them all here, including descriptions and views of the labels.
While we sipped the Sangiovese I practiced my photography. With every sip my technique improved!
I have so few hydrangea this summer after last winter’s wrath, so this hardy one deserves its own closeup.
It was a perfect day for a picnic, with a few puffy white clouds in an otherwise bright blue sky, gentle breezes, and zero humidity, so I found a recipe for a puff pastry tart with buffalo mozzarella and beefsteak tomatoes in one of our Picnic Week cookbooks — A Perfect Day for a Picnic, by Tori Finch.
” … dream-soaked afternoons with the leisure of a book …” ~~ frances mayes
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