Mad Dogs and Picnic Clubs

Summer, sweet summer, so benign thus far, is allegedly going to get a lot hotter this weekend, soaring sweatily into the 90s to the delight of mad dogs and Englishmen citywide. What to do? You could eat all the frostbitten fudge pops and mail order steaks in the garage freezer and convert it into a temporary den, you could all sit in shave ice-filled bean bags and take turns hugging the frozen ice cream maker insert while watching Doctor Zhivago, or you could bravely slather on SPF 9000 and hit a local park for your very own picnic club.

Not long ago, the lovely Portland Picnic Society peeps convened in the exquisite back garden of Pittock Mansion to share seasonal foodstuffs, boggle at the cityscape views, and strategize about just where we’d put the infinity pool if it were our summer home. (Seriously, the Pittock Mansion back yard needs an infinity pool in the worst way. Just let me know when the volunteer hole-digging is, and me and my trusty trowel will be there!)

Picnic Prep (imagine an infinity pool just to the right...perfect!)

Picnic Prep (imagine an infinity pool just to the right...perfect!)

Everyone brought something both cultured and comely—deviled eggs, gougéres, deconstructed niçoise salad, pimento cheese toasts, smoked salmon-topped cucumber rounds, chicken liver mousse and country pate with crostini, cucumber avocado salad, peach hand pies, olive oil cake with fresh berries, and a particularly lovely Rainier cherry salad with mint and pistachios, which if you haven’t already guessed, was mine.


One of the reasons I eat out so much is that I am inherently a rather lazy cook, so this delightful salad suits my needs well—it requires only four ingredients and about 5 minutes of prep, not including the cherry pitting and pistachio shelling, which I’m sure you can outsource to an out-of-school kindergartener, as both activities are excellent for the development of fine motor skills.


One pound or so Rainier cherries, pitted and halved
Juice of one fat juicy lime
Quarter cup pistachios, shelled and crushed
Chiffonade of two sizeable mint sprigs (I urban foraged mine from that nice thick patch at SE Salmon and 20th, just wash them well, hmmm?)

Combine cherries, lime juice, and sliced mint in a pretty bowl, then sprinkle the pistachios over the top and serve.

See? I told you that was the easiest picnic dish ever. And everyone will love it so much, they’ll beg you to share the recipe, possibly in exchange for the weekend usage of their lavishly air-conditioned condo with 80-inch flat screen streaming Cool Runnings. (Work it!) You’re welcome.