Sunday, June 17, 2007

Summer Picnic

Saturday was summer picnic day! Through Michael's office we were invited to a fabulous summer picnic.

It was held on the northern end of Randall's Island, almost under the Triborough Bridge. (For those of you who have visited and asked me about Icahn Stadium on the taxi ride to JFK - that is on Randall's Island and the summer picnic was held in the area in front of the stadium.)

The event started off with a ferry boat ride - taking us from the 34th St ferry launch to Randall's Island. You can get there by car, but who doesn't love a good ferry boat ride?

We hit land and were welcomed by friendly staff members, stilt walkers, walking dinosaurs, walking flowers, and a fountain with moving statues. It was really quite a sight.

First stop - the bar for a round of sangria. The drink choices included: red/white wine, red/white sangria, beer, ice tea, lemonade, water, Coke/Diet Coke, Sprite/Diet Sprite, Yohoo, Capri Sun and one bar had an orange mango vodka punch. Scattered throughout the event site there were barrels of iced down water bottles.

Before checking out any of the games or rides we headed straight to the food. Food was spread throughout the event site, but one long row included 3 main BBQ areas. There was a Brazilian grill area offering grilled chicken, pork loin, sirloin, prime rib and sausage everything was carved to order off of long skewers. The accompanying sides were yucca fries, fried polenta, beans and rice, and hearts of palm salad (with jicama in a vinaigrette). The meat wasn't my favorite, it was well seasoned but a little fatty. The sides were all delicious, the yucca fries were a cross between a potato and a plantain. The fried polenta had a crispy on the outside and warm soft polenta on the inside. The hearts of palm salad was cool, crunchy, and refreshing.

The next grill area was seafood. Swordfish, salmon, and tuna grilled, blackened, or grilled with Mediterranean spices. Later in the day this same area served skewers of grilled corn, with a shrimp, and a piece of sausage. The food was tasty, but they were moving it out too fast and several times we ended up with raw seafood. (wuh wuhhhh) The sides included a green bean salad, marinated heirloom tomatoes, and a roasted corn salad. The roasted corn salad was my favorite. Grilled corn that still had a bit of crunch lightly dressed and mixed with a little bit of red onion.

At this point we needed a food break.

We were walking towards the 'candy' tent when we saw a staff member walking around with a bear cub on a leash. They also had a baby camel and baby llama walking around. There was a petting zoo with lambs and ducklings and of course pony rides for the kids.

The candy tent was awesome. One side was a custom chocolate bar station. You filled a small plastic cup with toppings of your choices. Then you were handed a plastic chocolate bar mold with melted chocolate. You added your toppings and after chilling, you had a custom created chocolate bar.

The bars were presented in window candy boxes, and had a name tag so you could find it on the pick up table.

The front of my chocolate bar (in the background you can see the plastic candy bar mold):

The back of my chocolate bar (my toppings included malted milk ball pieces, graham cracker cereal, sprinkles, and mini M&Ms):

The other side of the candy tent had a taffy pulling machine. The staff was pulling taffy and then twisting it around sticks and putting the sticks on a big foam board. Anyone could just walk by and grab a stick of freshly pulled taffy.

The inside of the tent was like a little Dylan's Candy Bar - they had glass jars filled with all different types of penny candy (Atomic Fire Balls, Lemonheads, Mary Janes, Smarties, Starlight Mints, Tootsie Rolls, rootbeer barrels and more) and cello bags. You could just reach in and fill a bag with as much candy as your heart desired.

After the candy tent we headed to the games area. The highlight was an ice skating rink!

The outdoor rink was covered with a tent, it had lights, music and real ice. It was pretty amazing. There were a ton of staff members helping the smaller kids with their skating. In the picture below Michael and I are standing in front of the ice skating rink.

Other games included pool tables, Foosball, ping pong, basketball, air hockey, and shuffle board.

The grassy areas offered hammocks and beach chairs.

They also had lawn size chess, checkers, and Connect Four. (We couldn't remember how to play checkers - but we tried.)

The guy sitting down is the one I call 'Turtle' - but only when describing him to my West Coast friends. He does not consider himself like Turtle from Entourage at all.

Other activities included a tent with 4 DJ booths where you could learn how to 'spin' records, henna tattoos, face painting, custom decorating baseball caps, aromatherapy, water balloon toss, and photo ops with race cars.

After game time we were ready for more food! The third grill area offered burgers, cheeseburgers, turkey burgers, vege burgers, hot dogs and grilled corn. (I forgot to mention, we had some corn earlier, dessert for the grilled fish.) Michael and I shared a cheeseburger. It was so good I can still taste it. The meat was well done and had the perfect grill flavor - of course all condiments were available along with sides of coleslaw, potato salad, and yellow watermelon. Our dinner service ended with some brick oven pizza. It wasn't as good as it smelled, too much tomato sauce - but it wasn't like we were starving at that point. Some of the food we didn't save room for was the Indian curries, naan, and cous cous and Asian noodle bowls. We did enjoy the cheese tent - everything from Parmigiano-Reggiano to Manchego with a selection of dried fruit and olives. The food just kept coming all day, it wasn't just a few hours of food service. There were also carts with fresh spun cotton candy, popcorn, sno-cones, and candied nuts. Oh and a food tent just for kids with grilled cheese, grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches, turkey and cheese sandwiches, potato chips and animal crackers. No one was going home hungry!

At the end of the night we hit up the 'Dolce' tent - cappuccino, espresso, coffee made to order and refrigerator cases filled with eclairs, cannolis, cream puffs, cheesecake, rainbow cookies, macaroons, napoleons, chocolate chip cookies, and sugar cookies. The mini cannolis were our favorite they offered plain and chocolate dipped - both had crunchy cannoli shells filled with sweetened creamy ricotta cheese. The tent had cafe seating all around the outside and it was close to the live band stage, allowing us to enjoy the music as we ate our dessert.

It was a great event - no theme, just a fabulous summer picnic.