Ryan, Robbie, Donna and I got invited to our Thom and Reno’s for their Memorial Day Picnic. It was a blast meeting their neighbours and family. It was also great from a food point of view too. There was tons to eat and a variety of items to make it interesting. We got there on time and Thom was already cooking up some ribs on the grill. The Marinated Pork was moist and sweet a slight smokey taste from the grill. Once the ribs were done Tom switched the classics; Burgers and Dogs. Both were great but for some reason you weren’t suppose to put ketchup on the dogs, it was ok on the burgers but not the dogs. The BBQ featured only Sabrett hot dogs which they felt were the best dogs in the USA. I am a Nathan’s fan myself but the Sabrett Dogs were very good. They had a nice snap when you bit into them and a pleasant spice mixture in the meat of the dog. Not sausage spicy but flavourful enough to be a great dog.
A nice surprise was some Breaded Eggplant that one family member brought in from New York City. Poker buddy Pete explained that this eggplant only grows in Italy and every year the relative brings it. Pete suggest that I eat it without the red sauce to really taste the eggplant. I did and sure enough it was good. I normally steer away from eggplant regardless of preparation but when Pete said it was special I knew I had to try it. Either way I would get something to write about. It was a good recommendation. Eggplant, to me, has almost a metallic taste and can be tough if you get a thick slice. These slices we thin with a light breading. The taste was sweet with almost a cold cut density to the flesh. It was good and I would have ate more but they disappeared by the time I got back the table. I didn’t try the pull pork but it looked and smelled great.
A classic Italian Salad is Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella. The picnic’s version was really special because of the two varieties of heirloom tomatoes and some really fresh basil leaves. The mozza was obviously fresh from their taste but aroma coming off the giant basil leaves and tomato. You could smell this dish from across the room.
Another treat were the Deviled Eggs made by local Chef Gary from Dish Catering. Gary catered my 50th Birthday Party so I knew these would be good. They eggs were seasoned with mustard, cayenne and paprika giving them some heat. Not to much but a good match to the mayo and egg yolk base to the egg filling.
Having just come off our Mexican Hold’em party the week before, I thought I was full of salsa until I spy-ed the Corn and Red Bean Salsa. This colourful salsa was a good change up from the spicy mostly tomato salsas were served at our event. This salsa was also mild in spice making it a refreshing appetizer on a hot day.
Reno now runs the family pizza business in Ringoes, NJ taking over from his father Frank. Not that we didn’t have enough to eat already, Thom started to grill some Sicilian Pizza that Reno had made earlier that day. I am more of a thin crust pizza fan myself but I had to try it. Glad I did. the grill had heated the crust nicely but the biggest impact was on the melting of the cheese, basil, garlic and homemade tomato sauce. I restrain myself in eating only one piece, cause my MD is reading the blog now so I gotta watch what I eat or at least what I right. LOL.
New Facebook Friend and Poker Buddies Pete and Stella’s daughter Geri made Spinach and Strawberry Salad. This was a refreshing break in the heat of the day. The lightly dresses greens were a nice contrast to the sweetness of the berries. I helped Geri pass the salad to her family and got to meet more of this great family. It was a lot of fun.
Of course a bunch of us player poker for part of the picnic but the most interesting game was a version of Lawn Bowling from Finland. The idea was to knock over the different wooden markers with wooden cylinder until you get 50 points exactly before the other players. Ryan and I tried it and it was a lot of fun. Ryan later partnered with Poker buddy Tony and they almost won. I can see why it was a popular game and great for picnics.
Thanks again to Thom and Reno for inviting us. We had a great time and hope we get to do this again next year. Happy Memorial Day.