Somehow, dishes eaten alfresco taste better and are more memorable than the same foods eaten indoors. The flavors and colors become etched in your mind, along with the experience of a lovely day spent in nature.
So why confine picnics to warm weather? Even though winter is soon to arrive, a crisp fall day is a great excuse to invite friends to an afternoon meal. While a summer picnic should consist mostly of cold or room-temperature food, a fall picnic should include something hot. It could be soup in a thermos if you are far afield or a mostly hot meal if you are close to home. An interactive cooking project, such as make-your-own mini pizzas, is not only fun but it also keeps people near the heat source if the weather turns chilly. We used an outdoor oven, although pizzas can be cooked on a not-too-hot barbecue grill (it requires a deft touch to slide the pies onto the grill without letting them fall through). Serve a great buffet after the pizza, followed by a simple but spectacular dessert of Concord grape sorbet in sugar cones, and you will certainly give your friends something to remember.
Cornmeal-Crust Pizzas with Assorted Toppings
Molasses-Glazed Grilled Pork Loin with Roasted Plums
Cranberry-Bean Salad with Butternut Squash and Broccoli Rabe
Autumn Greens with Apples, Radishes, and Cheddar Frico
Roasted Wild Mushrooms with Thyme
Pickled Green Tomatoes with Cider Vinegar
Concord Grape Sorbet with Sugar Cones