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dr.com 2009 Autumn Picnic


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I wonder if it would work to go WAAAY around. I295 hooks up with I95 at the Wilson Bridge. It's brand new and beautiful if you haven't seen it since the bridge was widened. Take the Route 1 South exit towards Mount Vernon.

Somebody local on the DC side would have to comment on feasibility on that end. On the VA end it should be doable.

That's the way we were planning to go from DC.
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Looks like it's going to be a gorgeous day! I'm tempted to not bring the EZUp, but I bet if I did that, the heavens would open up. We're (over)loading the car right now...Linda/Thistle

We aim to leave at noon. Just one last thing to finish. I've actually been ahead of schedule this time, which is a very unfamiliar feeling :(
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I’m pretty sure I’m writing this from a semi-conscious state. The sheer volume of calories and conversation I consumed this afternoon reached uncharted, stratospheric heights. In a word, you peeps win.

Special hat tips and high fives to:

Leleboo: Kudos and thank you for the planning excellence and wizardly logistics. Not to mention your perfectly pickled shrimp, orzo salad, and chicken liver pate. Could we <3 you anymore?

Whoever made the NC style pork: My heart has a special place for any rendition of this vinegar-based, soul-speaking food, and yours took over the neighborhood. Exceptionally well balanced and perfectly textured, one of my favorite dishes of the day.

Pumpkin whoopie cushions, er, pies: Next time, make them bigger so I do not eat three (yes, that’s THREE) in the span of a single hour. Shockingly addictive, smart accent of spice with ultra-light, ultra-fresh cake and whisper sweet icing.

GennaroE: I had the powerful fortune of enjoying your Suppli al Telefono fresh from the fryer. I had originally planned to share half with my tablemates but hell no, my selfish gene kicked in all the way.

White chocolate rice treats: I failed to read the sign and was expecting a wedding cookie. What a pleasant surprise to discover the crispy, chewy, not overly sweet puffed grains inside.

Farro salad: Gorgeous contrasting color, seasonal flavors, and a gratifyingly chewy texture. Marvelous.

Mother nature: Props for the perfect day, lady.

A deep fat fryer, a charcoal grill, a several-burner stove….a lot of labor resulting in a ton of flavor. I know I’ve forgotten several other favorites, will have to post again once neurochemicals find their way back into my brain.

One last note: Around 2:00 or so, I overheard kids at an adjacent table refusing to share anything on their plates with anyone else. "No, this is too good, you should go get your own." I laughed, not just because kids rarely love everything that much, but because they were saying what we were all thinking. :(

Many thanks, all, already looking forward to the Spring.

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This picnic was so much fun that I split my pants :D *

Thanks Leigh for doing the organizing. Great job. Everything worked completely smoothly.

It was wonderful to see so many new people. Travel award to Steve R. coming from Brooklyn. (Sorry I didn't get to talk to you more.) And it's not a picnic without Peanut. She and her sibling were quite entertaining. It was nice to see all the fun the kids were having on such a gorgeous day.

I ate in several rounds and still didn't get a chance to try anywhere near all I wanted. I think this is more seafood than I've consumed at any previous picnic (pickled shrimp, clams, and crab rangoon). I also managed to get plenty of meat. I loved Dan's steak sandwiches, the ribs, NC BBQ, and the fried chicken. I wanted to try the chicken stuffed chicken but had no room left.

Most unusual dish: The azuki bean soup was really intriguing. It was sweet but not too sweet. I'd never had a dessert soup before. Most wow: the suppli. Oddest food to be an indulgence: legant's roasted sprouts. (My husband doesn't like them so I rarely get them.)

*I reached down for something on the ground and thought I heard my pants tear. Odd since they weren't particularly tight--not even after all the food :P. I discreetly reached back to see how big a tear it was and couldn't locate one. "Oh, it's just the velcro on my back pocket that made that noise...Uh, oh. These pants don't have velcro on the pocket." As I was getting into the car to leave, they REALLY tore, from the side of the back pocket all the way down the one leg. I still don't know how big the original tear was, so, apologies to anyone who may have seen more of me than they wanted :(.

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First and foremost I'd like to throw a round of thank you's out to everyone who worked to put this together, from Leigh and her masterful organizational skills to Brian for lending us a deep fryer (which led to delicious fried treats for all! :P ) to Don for being the inspiration for the picnic and finally to the gracious chefs (thank you to Restaurant 3, The Majestic, and Sou'wester) both professional and not for making this such a great day.

Onto the food (I am still in a quasi-food coma), in no particular order b/c they were all delicious:

- Pumpkin Whoopie Pies - I'll just get it out of the way now, I couldn't stop eating these. Across about 2 hours I made 3 trips and snuck one each trip. Like one of those oatmeal creme pies (which also are my kryptonite) but pumpkin. :(

- Dans Steak Sandwiches - These were also unreal. The sauce/onion confit on the perfectly done steak was delicious.

- Crab Rangoons - These fried little bundles of crab and cream cheese were so good that a few of us who were around the fryer came close to burning our mouths trying to eat them as soon as they came out. Well worth the risk of injury.

- Suppli - Gennaro, I said it multiple times (and a few have already mentioned above) your Suppli were unreal. Congrats for knocking the dish right out of the park. The basil aioli was a great foil to the crispy fried goodness.

There was much MUCH more and everything was delicious. I was very pleased to be able to meet some of the other posters and certainly look forward to more DR.com events in the future.

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I can't possibly thank everyone enough for everything. Seriously -- this thing ran itself, because this group of people is just so fantastic.

A few organizational shout-outs, if I may:

to scottmfleming, GennaroE, and Rovers2000 for manning the grill and fryer today;

to the above, for going to Restaurant 3 (scott) for the fryer and Brian's dish, and Rovers2000 for hitting The Majestic -- with GennaroE in tow;

to thistle, for bringing the grill and the canopy and about a million other things one doesn't know are necessary unless they're missing;

to hillvalley and goldenticket for making sure I knew all the ins and outs of during-picnic procedures;

to Scott Johnston and cucas87 for letting me come by yesterday to get all the leftover tableware and other goods from picnics past, and for being so helpful and supportive even though they just got back from their honeymoon;

to DanielK, for being the last one out of the theatre besides me, helping me clean up to leave the site better than we found it;

to EVERYONE, because hot damn if this wasn't an awesome day. :(

ETA: I know I'm forgetting others, so I apologize. See, I already thought of one: to Kmango, for awesome corn-based forks, of which we have more for the next round (go eco-friendly tableware)!

Edited by leleboo
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Thanks to everyone - both individual board members and restaurants - who put in time and effort preparing food, bringing equipment, and organizing what turned out to be a really great even. Special thanks to Leigh for making sure all the components came together, and to Dave for getting me there.

This was my first picnic, but it definitely wont be my last. So much good, and so many interesting people - it was really great putting more faces to names and learning more about the people who post here. I ate far too much food in the end (unlike those who regretted missing certain dishes, I'm fairly certain that I tried 95% of them, and that I had seconds or thirds of many); my taste buds thanked me at the time, but my stomach is still angry with me. Next time I think pacing will have to be key.

As for favorites...there were so many awesome dishes, but the ones that really standout in my mind...

Dan's Steak Sandwiches - Oh my god, perfection. I took one, and then resisted the urge to have another when only a few were left. Then the plates were refilled, and I just couldn't resist grabbing another.

Chaofun's Ribs - Absolutely fantastic. He said they were smoked for 5 hours - and I can empathize with putting so much time in (damn aiolis and emulsions...), but it was worth every minute of effort. Those were some of the best ribs I've ever had.

Scott's Sausage Crackers - I was expecting something boring. I looked at them and thought they'd be boring. I ate them and then I couldn't stop eating more. Homemade crackers, really good cheese, awesome sausage, and basil - simple, yet everything just worked so well.

Mary's Crab Rangoons - I've had crab rangoons before, and was expecting the same old stuff...yet these were far and away the best rendition I've ever had. I stole a few at the end of the picnic and at them cold later, and they were even better like that.

Cabbage Slaw - A sleeper hit - this was my favorite of the side-dishes/salady sort of items, along with the forbidden rice salad from the Majestic.

Sou'Wester's Fried Chicken - Better than when I had it at the restaurant, this was great.

Edit: Totally forgot 2 others that I really liked. Dave's apple cider was great, a perfect end to the massive meal even for someone who normally doesn't even like cider, and thepeanut butter balls which were my favorite of the desserts.

Of course, there were tons more delicious items than what I've listed, and there wasn't a single thing I regretted eating.

Lastly, thanks to all who enjoyed the Suppli. I'm glad they turned out well, and I'm already mulling over ideas for different flavors/fillings for the next picnic.

Hope to see more of you all at upcoming events and such,

- Gennaro

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I will second, third, whatever Gennaro's suppli - we had weeks to imagine how good these were going to be - and they exceeded expectations. I think not enough people must have had room once chaofun's ribs came out, because they were absolutely amazing, and more people would be singing their praises had they tasted them.

Also, in no particular order: leleboo's chicken liver crostini and orzo salad, goodeats' crab rangoon, Chef Robinson's beans & rice with porky goodness, Chef Harriman's fried chicken, chaofun's home-cured bacon grilled on site, and the special surprise guest for those who stayed until the end: Ferhat dropped by for a visit.

Thanks to everyone who attended, and special thanks to leleboo for not only her fantastic organizing skills, but getting there early and staying late.

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Adding to a BIG thanks to leleboo's excellent organizational skills! She took the time to direct people's dishes, write on an index card what they were - wonderful hostess.

A bunch of us went "awww" just watching all the members' kids play so well together! Highlight was watching Peanut (the best-dressed little tyke - what a nice outfit!) knock gebaby to the ground, WWE style. The great part after was her little victory dance.

I think Chaofun's bacon was the biggest highlight - the little man approved, with eating that and Skipper10's chicken with cranberry sauce the most. And Chef Harriman's fried chicken too.

Other highlight was "did someone say bacon?," and then seeing the masses make a beeline for Chaofun & jchao's grill.

Double-triple thanks to Scott Johnston for making an extra trip to the store for more beer - he made a wonderfully, touching toast at the picnic. Sweet congrats to him and cucas87 again!!

Thanks to JPW for manning the alcohol area solo this time.

The fryer gents were fabulous! Thank you to GennaroE's suppli <-- he woke up extra early to make the aioli. Hope you got more sleep!

All the desserts were great. Definite thanks to EVERYONE who contributed!!!!!

Requests for DanCole42's Steak sandwich and homemade mayo recipe have been made - please? Anyone else who would like to share their recipe for the highlights up above, please do!

I wish I had the chance to talk to more of you all!

Edited by goodeats
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Everyone's already thanked Leigh for organizing the whole shindig. I'll feel like I'm just bandwagoning if I do. So Leigh: thanks for the pickled shrimp (awesome - beautiful balance of acid) and the Tuscan pate (liver me timbers!). For organizing the picnic: go to hell.

Other standouts for me, and I apologize for not knowing who made everything, but:

GennaroE's suppli: holy crap. Not only were they delicious, they were also exquisitely/expertly formed. When I was in college I made mashed potatoes from boxed flakes.

GoodEats's crab rangoons: my favorite Sino-American take out staple, elevated to the level of fine dining.

And so much more... Rachael Harriman's fried chicken was among the top three expressions of the southern classic I've ever had. All of Pat's (one of the board's unsung heroes) contributions were delicious.

Who brought the pulled pork with NC-style BBQ sauce? That was one of my personal faves.

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I am really blown away by the response to my steak sandwiches. With all the talent here, I expected to take home leftovers!

As requested, the sandwich was made up of porcini crusted NY strip, beefonaise, onion confit, arugula, and white truffle salt.

Wegman's ciabatta. I had actually made bread the night before, but true to form the ONE TIME I really needed the bread to come out perfectly was the one time I burnt it to the point of inedibility.

Arugula. From the Fairfax Farmer's Market.

Beefonaise. Just a traditional mayo recipe (eggs, grapeseed oil, salt, lemon juice, garlic, heapings of Tabasco) but with about 20% of the oil replaced with beef tallow rendered from the steak trimmings.

Onion confit. Red onions, also from the Fairfax Farmer's Market, sliced very thin on a benriner. Cooked in olive oil over low heat with salt, thyme, bay leaf, and maple syrup for about an hour. Maple syrup sadly being a very underutilized sweetener for savory dishes. Removed herbs, strained oil.

White truffle salt. Strong stuff!

Porcini-crusted NY strip. Ground up dried porcinis tossed with toasted and ground coriander, cloves, and black pepper.

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What a gorgeous day to have a picnic!

It was great to meet everyone and put handles and names to faces. And all the food was magnificent. What a amazing spread. As a virtual newbie I think it was cool to meet other folks with the same love for good food. Looking forward to future events!

And of course Leigh, thanks for organizing and all your hard work!

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I better send a message on my favs as well:

Hillvalley, the cheeses took me right back to France and clearly hit the spot!

Peanut Butter Cookies: As good as my mom's recipe and very peanuty...

Fried Chicken!

Stephen's clams!

Bacon, Rice balls, Ribs and crab ragoons....all the goodness of the grill area


Rice Salad!

Curry...that was some great stuff and I turned around and poof it was gone

Holding Sally...Priceless

Homemade crackers, cheese and sausage (the basil as well)

Many other things as well

Katie loved the pumpkin cookies, oranges and most of all the other kids

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Thanks to the organizers and to everyone who brought such great food! The park was just beautiful, too, with the trees at their peak. A nice autumn day following that tropical feeling Saturday; we were very fortunate!

And thanks to the restaurants for adding some dishes!

I had those wonderful clams on the half-shell. Amazing that anyone could bring them in chilled that way!

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We got there late so missed a lot of things.

Of the things I did have and liked the best, these tended to be things that were done after we got there, e.g., ribs, bacon, sweet potato strata, or things that were meant to be served at room temperature, e.g., forbidden rice salad, cheese.

There may be a moral here.

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A few people mentioned wanting a recipe for the Suppli, so I'll throw that up here too. It's pretty much just a Mario Batali recipe that I modified to exclude the meat and mushroom filling that he uses.

Mario Batali's Version

I'm sorry I missed your suppli! Your preview pic was great, and the recipe excluding the meat and mushrooms is very similar to my former Italian teacher's. Kudos to you for making suppli. :(

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I had those wonderful clams on the half-shell. Amazing that anyone could bring them in chilled that way!

I bought them the day before, shucked them Sunday morning, and packed them in ice. The air-tight plastic case preserved the frigidity. There was still ice left mid-afternoon after the clams were gone. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

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Well, we're back in NYC and I have access to a computer after days of withdrawal. My world is orderly again. So, before it fades into distant memory, I wanted to let you all know how great the picnic was. Not only am I now able to put some faces (and families) to the names I've known, but, damn, you can cook!! Just about everything was great (although Gennaro's contribution almost makes my wife want to read food boards... almost. Can those things be mail ordered?). Seriously, thanks to all for being friendly & welcoming -- we appreciate it. Let us know when any of you are in NYC. No, we wont cook for you but we'll steer you right and maybe even provide company :( .

Heather: what a time to miss your 1st picnic. Would've been great to see you again.

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Well, we're back in NYC and I have access to a computer after days of withdrawal. My world is orderly again. So, before it fades into distant memory, I wanted to let you all know how great the picnic was. Not only am I now able to put some faces (and families) to the names I've known, but, damn, you can cook!! Just about everything was great (although Gennaro's contribution almost makes my wife want to read food boards... almost. Can those things be mail ordered?). Seriously, thanks to all for being friendly & welcoming -- we appreciate it. Let us know when any of you are in NYC. No, we wont cook for you but we'll steer you right and maybe even provide company :( .

Heather: what a time to miss your 1st picnic. Would've been great to see you again.

I enjoyed meeting you and your lovely wife. She's a good sport. Being in a "mixed marriage" myself, that is, poster wed to non-poster, the Don Rockwell picnic is a great selling point for the benefits of internet engagement in these matters. Good food and good people in three dimensions and five senses, not just virtual reality. The internet enhances our interactions rather than replacing them.

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