Take it outside with fuss-free snacks and small plates
Photography by JEREMIAH HULL // Styling by REBEKAH FRANCOIS, Scenic Siesta
THE HALCYON DAYS OF SUMMER have arrived. It’s hot, sure, but not too hot, and you might just feel compelled to enjoy your next meal alfresco. Instead of a more formal spread, reach for snacky, portable fare, pack up the car and head somewhere scenic. Options abound in Savannah. There’s Forsyth Park (we’re partial to a spot near the fountain), Tybee Island, Daffin Park and downtown squares, too.
To make it extra special, take a page from Rebekah Francois’s playbook. The owner of Scenic Siesta elevates a picnic by adding low-slung tables, poufs, pillows and blankets, plus candlesticks, platters, goblets, fabric napkins and fresh flowers — who says indoor items can’t come outside to play? Amid such idyllic scenery, nosh on simple, tasty foods that keep hunger at bay without being too messy. Translation: Clean hands (and shirts) for snapping plenty of Instagram-worthy pictures.
STRANGEBIRD FOOD TRUCK’S FRENCH ONION DIP
Spread it on sandwiches, serve it as a dip or eat it by the spoonful (we won’t tell).
2 sweet onions, peeled and sliced
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Canola oil, as needed
2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tbsp. hot sauce of your choice
2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
In a sauté pan, combine the sliced sweet onions, shallots and garlic with the fresh thyme and bay leaves. Drizzle with canola oil and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes until the onions turn golden brown.
Meanwhile, place sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper in a large bowl and fold together using a rubber spatula. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Once the onions are caramelized (the darker the color, the richer the onion flavor), remove the pan from heat and cool the onion mixture completely. Once cooled, remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme. Transfer onions to a cutting board and finely chop. Add to the sour cream mixture and fold together until evenly distributed. Refrigerate until needed, and serve with potato chips or crudité.
TEQUILA’S TOWN’S CEVICHE
It doesn’t get more summery than ceviche.
6 white-fleshed fish filets, such as swai, sole or flounder
Juice of 5 limes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1½ tsp. garlic salt
1½ c. vinegar
Optional: chopped onions,
tomatoes, cilantro and
jalapeños to taste
Tostadas or corn chips,
Chop the fish into small cubes, place in a large bowl and add all the ingredients together, adding chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeños to your liking, if desired. Mix well, and rest in the fridge for 2 hours. Serve with tostadas or corn chips.
A refreshing, low-calorie alternative to dessert.
2 lbs. frozen grapes (about one large bag)
Rinse the grapes for 30 seconds under cold water, rubbing gently. Remove any decaying grapes and remove and discard all stems. Place the clean, stemless grapes into Ziploc bags, and transfer to freezer. Freeze for at least eight hours, preferably overnight. Serve in plastic cups — or goblets, if you’re feeling fancy.
OVER YONDER’S BOILED PEANUTS
These spicy-sweet boiled peanuts are addictive.
5 lbs. green peanuts
3 c. Coca Cola
4 c. light beer
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 pod of star anise
1 c. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. ground pepper
2 tbsp. chili flakes
¼ c. brown sugar
1 bouquet of thyme, bay leaf and parsley
½ c. salt, plus more as needed to taste
2 quarts of chicken stock or vegetable stock
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, combine all ingredients except for the bouquet and peanuts. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove pot from heat, then add peanuts and bouquet. Cover the pot with a large, inverted plate to weigh the ingredients down. Fill with water until it is 3/4 full. Return to medium heat, then simmer for at least five hours. Check the liquid occasionally, and if it gets low, add enough stock to keep the peanuts submerged. After five hours, check for doneness and add salt to taste.
COTTON & RYE’S RED WINE VINAIGRETTE
Add this elevated dressing to your repertoire — it’s so much better than bottled.
1 c. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Crushed red pepper, to taste
2½ c. canola oil
Combine red wine vinegar, garlic, shallot, salt and spices in a blender, and puree until smooth. With the blender still running, slowly add the canola oil. Taste and add additional seasonings, if desired.