Some Healthy Food Fun:    The Wanderlust Food Diaries (of a chronic daydreamer)

Esperanza Spalding Ravinia Outdoor Theater, Chicago, Illinois
(...and my quest for the perfect date)

On the Menu "Fancy Finger Food" and other "Ultimate Picnic" Stuff
Music Esperanza Spalding's Song, "Smile Like That", from the "Radio Music Society" Album
Video Esperanza Spalding live at Ravinia Music Festival, June 2012

"Your heart is open and you love freely and all...
...Oh, but then you smile like that, when you smile like that"

    --Esperanza Spalding (from the song "Smile Like That")


Damn, It's been over 4 years since I left Chicago after I got laid off, only stopping though for one night to catch a connecting flight to the Virgin Islands.

I was planning a "homecoming" of sorts in 2012, although merely a formality, because the World is my home now. I love Chicago, but I can't say I miss it, anymore than I loved high school but don't miss it. But I do think about Chicago, and every spring, I go to the Ravinia Festival Outdoor Music Theater website to see who is playing there that summer.

Ravinia it, in my opinion, the ultimate outdoor music venue, in the upscale Northern Suburbs of Chicago. A stylish, chic, and sophisticated scene, with everything from Classical to Opera to Jazz, to pure "Old School" Soul, to Blues, to Classic Rock, Ravinia has the ultimate selection of music


As I said before, Ravinia is super sophisticated, the "Ultimate Picnic".

The first time I took a date there (to see Hall and Oates as I remember), I didn't know the score, and came with some Subway Sandwiches........

.....I was both embarrassed, and aghast with amazement as the Ravinia crowd had the most amazing picnic setups. I saw everything from Fondue Sets, to Champagne Fountains, Gourmet Cheese Plates, to this cool brotha who caught my eye who had a backpack that opened up to a bottle of wine, plates, silverware, SMOOTH!!!

Man did I feel like a fool coming to the most stylish Outdoor Music Theater in the country with some Subway Sandwiches.

Well folks, these days I am more of a "polished product", a lot more "refined" than days past. I'm what we call an "Old School Player".

After so many failed attempts at the "Perfect Date" at Ravinia, I was planning the ultimate date at Ravinia as sort of a "homecoming" in 2012. I currently work in Portland, Oregon, and artist Esperanza Spalding, a Portland Oregon native and up and coming Jazz artist, was playing at Ravinia in 2012.

BELOW, Portland Oregon native Esperanza Spalding, at Ravinia, June 26, 2012

There was a really warm-hearted girl here in Portland (where I'm now working shuttling back and forth between here and Seattle), who I was gonna fly to Chicago as part of my "homecoming", I would show her the town, and to cap off the ultimate date, check out Esperanza Spalding at Ravinia.

With my now "well refined" ability to prepare quality, stylish food, I was well prepared to come strong to Ravinia, and have the ultimate picnic spread.

.....the whole "Esparanza at Ravinia Master Plan" was PERFECT! Humbly spoken , no brotha out here rolls like me (OK, maybe not so humble, but WHATEVER!!!). A perfect plan, that is, until I went on-line to get tickets to the Esperanza Spalding concert, and saw those big bold dreaded words.......SOLD OUT!!!!!

So once again, be it rain, or a girl with a bad attitude, or tickets sold out, the perfect Ravinia Date eludes me still....sigh..... I guess all I can do is put together the perfect "Ravinia Date" blogpost....


"Fancy Finger Food"

(and other "Ultimate Picnic" stuff)


Salmon Brie and Asparagus Fingers (click on photo below for recipe)                                                                         Turkey Finger Sandwiches with Curry, Argula and Apple (click on photo below for recipe)


Cucumber Rolls with Creamy Avocado (click photo for recipe)   


Pan Bagnat (Tuna Nicoise Sandwiches) (click on photo below for recipe)                                                                         Watermelon and Tomato Salad (click on photo below for recipe)


Seafood Salad with Coconut/Lime Dressing (click photo for recipe)                                                                                           "Smoked Salmon and Creme Cucumber Bytes (Click Photo for more info)


Melon, Prosciutto , and Mozzarella Skewers (though you can replace that Prosciutto with free range sliced Turkey if you want)        (click photo for recipe)   


I know you "young players" gonna steal my moves, but it's all "love",  so let me hook you up.                  Planning for a backpack picnic is all about "organization".......
I'd recommend the Hampton's Ascot Picnic Backpack. Lot of room, can pack a dozen containers            I find that Tapas/Appetizers work better than large sandwiches because you can pack more,
Insulated, LOOKS COOL!!! (click photo for more info on Hamptons Picnic Backpack)              and have more variety (click below for info on Fortnum & Mason Picnic Gear)



It occurred to me that that first time I went to Ravinia, now over two decades ago, with the "tacky" Subway Sandwiches, although I felt out of place, that was really my first and only "perfect date". The girl was a very good sport about it, overall very warm person, funny, very engaging, she always used to tell me to "just enjoy in the moment".

I learned the "Perfect Date" is not all about all trying to make a "grand production" with all this "fancy-smancy" stuff. With the right vibe with that warm hearted girl, whatever we do will be the perfect date, even if it's a sandwich at the airport while you're waiting to pick up someone.

Although, at some point in the summer, after I run across that "one in a hundred", pleasant, drama free girl with the sweet smile, as I do every blue moon, I'm still gonna plan that ultimate picnic with, and take her to Ravinia......why let these recipes go to waste?.....................

~stay healthy~

"Sail Forth. Steer for the deep waters only. Reckless O soul, exploring. I with thee and thou with me. For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared go. And we will risk the ship, ourselves, and all." --Walt Whitman


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