Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Games for Picnics - Part 1 Ping-Pong

As we all know, sports and picnics go hand in hand. What is better than spending an afternoon biking to your favorite picnic spot, playing frisbee, breaking for some picnic snacks, then finishing the day with badminton? I'd like to highlight a lesser known picnic sport - ping-pong. Ping-Pong is portable, low commitment, and a real crowd pleaser.

It is also very hip among the celebrities according to the latest in the New York Times.
Think about it! You could even throw a picnic blanket over the ping-pong table and have it double as a picnic table.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

What better spooky October fun can be had than picnicing in a cemetery? And why not throw in a movie to boot? At Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles you can do just that. This weekend they are doing a special Halloween screening of Carrie so grab your trick-or-treat picnic basket and go!

Hollywood Forever was this summer's best and most frequented picnic spot for yours truly. Where else can you view a screening of Barbarella while sipping sweet summer wine and feasting on delicious caprese salad in the open air under the stars?

To maximize your Hollywood Forever movie picnic pleasure, I recommend the following:

Arrive early and secure a good spot - a spot directly between the two speakers and behind or in front of the slight dip in the middle of the lawn. It's best to be set up and eating before the sun sets and well before the movie begins.

Bring a plastic tarp to be placed under your picnic blanket. The ground can get a little cold and damp when the air temperature drops as evening sets in.

Serving platters and trays will help prevent the topples and spills that are likely to occur once the sun goes down.

Keep picnic items in containers with lids that can be easily sealed to make post-picnic clean-up in the dark much easier.

Bring some extra layers - it gets chilly out there in the graveyard!

Follow these simple tips and you too can have one of the years best picnics!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Takin' it to the Streets!

This article in the New York Times highlights some high-style sidewalk picnics as a reclamation of public space! Right On.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Picnic with the Devil (or his minions)

Bust out the popcorn, it's movie nite! In keeping with our running theme of picnics gone horribly wrong (and filmic depictions thereof) we are happy to offer you this tasty little silent film made by our dear friend and favorite imp Mr. Uncertain and his talented cohorts... Enchanted Picnic!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Solo picnics: the haunting

Every day here at EatOutMoreOften HQ we get piles of fan letters thanking us for our unique contribution to the world of outdoor dining, but asking us again and again, often in tones of desperation and woe, the same questions: Is it safe to picnic alone? What if I choke on the bitter flavor of Loneliness that resides permanently in my mouth? Surely, there will most certainly be other people in the park who could call an ambulance or pat me on the back until I regurgitate my aborted picnic onto the freshly mowed lawn, but who will be there to Heimlich my aching heart?

Having no shortage of friends begging to dine with us, we were of course curious about and moved by the plight of the solo diner. Considering our role as acknowledged experts on all things picnic, we took it on ourselves to answer our readers concerns. What follows is an experiment in solitude.

Trial #1: Fort Greene Park, a Thursday morning
So, attempting a solo picnic in Brooklyn's beautiful Fort Greene Park is a bit like cheating, because the park is actually teeming with ghosts eagerly waiting to be channeled by your unsuspecting mind. Deep inside this park's picturesque hill lies the crypt (or mass grave) of soldiers who died in captivity on prison ships during the American Revolutionary War. But what better place than a Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument to embark on an experiment that could very well prove deadly?

Moving on. For today's spread I stopped at a little French bistro near the park and picked up their "Parisian basket" consisting of baguette, croissant, muffin, and jam and butter. A little bread-heavy, but that's one of the advantages of solo picnicking--there's no one to tell you to lay off the baked goods. I also brought along a copy of one of my favorite comic book series, Cromartie High, which chronicles the exploits of a group of Japanese badasses who attend a super badass high school and hang out with a mysterious and hairy friend who bears a disturbing resemblance to the late great Freddie Mercury. I brought the book to stave off Loneliness, because it always makes me laugh out loud, much like the company of good friends. So far, so good!

Hold the phone! I've only got two hands! I can't butter and jam my baguette and read my book at the same time. But if I set down the book to prepare my meal, the American Revolutionary soldierghosts will surely possess my emptied mind and lead me to commit unspeakable acts of violence on the noisy teenagers who dance on their very grave. And if I become engrossed in my book to forestall such a disturbing fate, I won't eat my food at all, thereby disqualifying this excursion from picnichood completely. If only I had somebody to talk to, some charming conversation that could keep the ghosts at bay! Abort! Abort!

Trial #2: Central park,
a Friday afternoon
Whoa, that was close. I can't believe I was so smug as to think I could just enjoy my simple meal all alone whilst perched on a crypt for fallen so
ldiers without channeling their wrath, which has undoubtedly festered these past two centuries into a murderous bloodlust. I'm going to have to be more careful this time. Ah, what could be more innocent and free of bad vibes than New York's playground for the masses, Central Park? I found a site near the 72nd Street and Central Park West entrance, not so very far from the John Lennon monument, Strawberry Fields. I know what you're thinking--not another site of murder and haunting!--but don't worry. Mr. Lennon came to me in a dream and said he'd love to have me for over for a picnic and there would be no funny business like demonic possession.

Still, I'm wary. And how carefully I chew.

But the picnic goes off without a hitch!
I see cute dogs, eavesdrop on the cell phone conversations of passers-by, and toast to a warm glow in the summer sun.
I think the lesson learned here is that solo picnickers do need to be very careful. If the Loneliness doesn't drive you mad, the angry ghosts who inhabit the periphery of our mortal plane will! We have also learned that there is hope for the solo picnicker as long as he enlists the help of a friendly spirit from beyond the grave--a guardian angel, if you prefer--to simultaneously take the edge off the gnawing anguish of Loneliness and scare away marauding ghostly presences. Mr. Lennon was so kind as to accompany me that day (whispering encouragement and bits of lyric in my ear), but I'm sure he has many engagements on his social calendar; appearing in pot-induced trances, answering hippies' prayers, and the like. I think the prudent thing to do now is to pick a patron saint for the solo picnicker, someone who is preferably dead and just forgotten enough to have the free time to watch over those who dine alone. Any nominations?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Apple doesn't fall far from tree

Did you ever pack up your badminton set, picnic blanket, adult diapers and thermos of mojitos, and head out to a beautiful picnic site with the kind of view you usually only see on greeting cards of the "sorry about your grandma dying and all" variety, only to discover that you forgot the food? It happens, don't be embarrassed. Let's talk about it. Because your situation is not hopeless, not by a long shot. Not if you live in Los Angeles, thanks to an group of picnic visionaries called Fallen Fruit. These guys and gals make maps of public fruit trees in the LA area, so that when you're hungry and in a bind, you can just stroll right up and pluck yourself some nourishment. Fallen Fruit is looking to expand their free fruit revolution to cities all over the damn place, so if you've got a neighborhood with delectable edibles that are ripe for the picking, you can make your own map, send it in and contribute to the feast. With any luck, they're gonna turn this crummy parking lot nation into a veritable garden of Eden, only this time around, there's no penalty for eating the apples! Here's the map for the Silver Lake neighborhood, where we at Eat Out More Often hope to be scavenging for avocados, apples, figs, peaches, and bananas next weekend. Cool, huh?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Red Eyes at Morning: the picnic's secret invader

In this installment of Eat Out More Often, we present another cautionary tale of picnics gone horribly wrong. Although it may leave a bad taste in your mouth, we feel it is nonetheless important that you know the risks you take on when you decide to eat outdoors, where Ma Nature and her brood of thuggish fauna, flora, and what-have-yous terrorize and ambush we peace-loving humans like some debauched family of cutthroat criminals.

Like most picnics, this one started innocently enough. Four friends looking for a little fun in the sun on a California beach (the fourth friend being behind the camera, of course). We were so stupid, so trusting, so certain in the existence of a just and orderly world. We didn't know that in mere hours we would come to question it all as an insidious foe entered our ranks, preying upon the very bonds that wound us so tightly together, the same bonds that would soon violently break in a gory climax of pus and accusations. So stupid, so stupid I could almost laugh through the bitter tears that course down my cheeks to this day...

Anyway, here's a picture of our first glimpse of the beach as we climbed down from the roadside. What a view!

We were of course determined to find the best spot or our much-anticipated picnic, and so we walked for miles along the beach, carefully surveying the coastline for a locale that would suit us.

All that walking sure made us hungry! Lucky for us, we brought a great spread, and I'm not talking about a Playboy centerfold, either!

As you can see, we've got a delicious array of edible goods, mostly purchased from the farmer's market. The colorful cups really kicked the picnic up a notch.

And then things got weird!

And we found a cave and horsed around in there for a bit.

All in all, it was a great day, and we went home with our tummies full of delicious food and our heads full of precious memories...

...except that this guy got pink eye! And that's what I was talking about in the beginning; the thing that made the day a bit of a downer, looking back on it. Because then he passed it on to the other guy, and the two haven't spoken since. The lesson here is, careful where you put your hands--even when you're among friends--and remember that when you eat outdoors, you're also hosting a picnic for asshole germs and the main course is YOU.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Hey winter is over like a fat rat, how bout a big whoop-de-do? Can I get a hip hip hooray? Good. Now down to business.

Although it's still a little brisk to sit outside and eat a meal in the grand tradition of picnicking which we love so well, now is the perfect time to start scouting sites, building an arsenal of recipes, and stockpiling nuclear weapons. Whoops, I mean stockpiling portable dishwear and utensils.

I don't know about yous, but I'm getting paid on Friday, so here's a little rundown of the picnic accoutrements we at Eat Out More Often and millions of other picnic enthusiasts will be rushing out to buy:

1 badminon set: booyah! Almost everybody is good at badminton. You can get these for $20 or so at your local crappy mall or maybe even at a dollar store. Host a badminton tournament/picnic and then rig the scoring so that your team wins! And don't forget your sweatbands.

1 frisbee: doubles as a plate!

1 thermos: the Jerk had it right, a thermos makes a great gift! These come in handy when you want to mix up some mojitos for your picnic without getting busted, because thermi look as innocent as babies.

TP/napkins/anything that wipes: it's nice to have something handy (other than your hand) when your pants are down and there isn't a pinecone in sight.

1 used portable radio: crank up the power! I don't think I would recommend this for every picnic, because it's always better to make your own music if you're so inclined. But this can be a nice way to jazz up those day-long picnics at the beach, and a radio can also warn you if there's a tornado coming!

1 pair of binoculars: essential for scoping out babes, birds, and enemies who wait in ambush.

1 book of Family Circus cartoons: a great way to steer the conversation away from something unpleasant and get back to wholesome picnicking, especially if you ignore that fact that everybody in the family secretly hates Jeffy.

That's all I can think of for now, but there's bound to be more picnic-themed stuff you can blow your money on. Keep in mind, however, that fancy badminton sets and adult diapers don't make picnics great, people do. And food do, too.