“Food shared with love satisfies the palate, brings connection to one another and delivers joy to the heart."

Romantic Cuisine Goddess Cynthia Daddona and her Mediterranean Picnic for Two to appear in Destination Wine Country

ROMANCING THE TABLE’S(TM) AUTHOR CYNTHIA DADDONA and her Menu to be highlighted in DESTINATION WINE COUNTRY MAGAZINE in a Mediterranean Picnic by the Sea
What a delight receiving a call from Destination Wine Country magazine’s Editor asking me to create a Mediterranean Picnic for Two by the Sea. The editor remembered Romancing the Table (TM) and thought of me for their upcoming summer issue in July highlighting different kinds of picnics. I was to create a romantic Mediterranean table and my husband Jim and I would then be photographed dining by the sea.

The setting was the beautiful Butterfly beach in Montecito, California (Santa Barbara area of California) across from the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel.

A wind advisory, which was unusual for Santa Barbara, had been advised the night before the shoot and my prayers were answered when the heavens parted with a beautiful, Santa Barbara sky that makes us all grateful to live in Paradise.

I did a practice run of the menu and table in our backyard and Jim enjoyed being the official taste taster and approved!

I added mint and rosemary from the garden to a floral bouquet for a heavenly scent combination. I also tucked fresh mint inside the napkin rings for a decorate touch. I filled an appetizer tray with delicious eye appealing plump Kalmata olives, olive oil, hummus with mint and Tzatziki (cucumber and yogurt) with fresh dill. For a goddess touch, I added Greek statues of the goddesses you will find at the Parthenon that I bought in Athens.

It was such a delight to shop the farmer’s market and organic produce section of my favorite local shops. Jim and I love living in Santa Barbara, because the climate and abundance of produce remind us of the Mediterranean. When I go to the markets, I enjoy imagining the taste of the fruits and vegetables and how they will look once plated.
But most of all my intention is that those who eat at my table leave with a feeling of having experienced a feel good dining experience.

This the Mediterranean Menu I created with love and you can too. See recipes at end of post.

Lemon-Basil Chicken
Greek salad with Feta and Kalmata olives
Spinach Rice
Raspberries, Blueberries and Strawberries with Greek Yogurt
Mint tea served with fresh mint sprig and lemon

As newlyweds, an outdoor photo shoot was a great break from editing our two destination documentaries. We are excited about being closer to completion on our productions – Our Greek Island Wedding in Santorini and A Mediterranean Cooking class we also filmed in Santorini. (check out www.moderndaygoddess.com and click on the media lounge to view the trailers)
After the magazine crew left Jim and I stayed on the beach, took in the delicious view of the beach and our love for each other. Dining outdoors is a wonderful way to create a romantic table. And here is how to create yours!

Tips for A Romantic Table:

You too can create a romantic table. Think what would appeal to your dining partner. What he or she enjoys eating and what can be transported. Think aromas, colors, taste, atmosphere and location. A picnic can be in your backyard, on the beach on a blanket or by renting a small table for the day from a party rental place. Cloth napkins and a tablecloth add an elegant touch. It you are eating at dusk or late into the evening add candle votives as well. You can also crown yourself and your romantic dining partner with a romantic wreath crown made from silk ivy. Just click on http://www.moderndaygoddess.com/goddessstore.htm . Crown one another and then feed each grapes as if you were back in the ancient land of gods and goddesses!

Tips for the Menu:
When creating a picnic menu, think of foods that can be eaten cold or hot. Finger foods are always welcomed at picnics. If you don’t cook you can also pick up delicious food at one of your favorite markets. For those who enjoy cooking check out the organic section of the stores where you shop and visit local produce stands or farmers markets where you live. Starting with great produce is key to creating delicious healthy meals that appeals to all the senses.

Then transport your meal, your beloved and enjoy! Cynthia Daddona

Here are easy and simple recipes so you can create your own Mediterranean Picnic

Lemon-Basil Chicken
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ cup water
Handful of fresh basil or sprinkle of dried basil ( Fresh is the best)
A shake of Garlic Salt
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on each chicken piece
8-10 chicken thighs

Preheat oven to 350 degree Farenheit. Place chicken in baking pan. Squeeze lemon juice into measuring cup – add water. Pour over chicken. Add a shake of Garlic Salt, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on each chicken piece. Add fresh basil leaves on top of chicken, save basil to garnish. Cook 45 minutes to 1 hour until chicken is slightly golden brown and still moist. Garnish with Fresh Basil. This is a great dish to make extra servings to eat the next day.

Mint Tea
A very easy way to make herbal iced tea. I discovered this method when I tried to make Sun tea – where you put tea bags in a pitcher of water and place it out in the sun. Well the sun didn’t come out but the tea still steeped. Add two tea bags of your favorite herb tea and fill up a pitcher of water. Mint is one of my favorite. Let sit for several hours in refrigerator or on counter and add fresh mint and or lemon slices. No boiling is necessary. This is a great and easy way to make iced herbal tea all summer long.

Greek Salad
For recipe see Blog entry Feb. 15, 2007
Previous Posts – “Mediterranean Greek Salad”

Prepare rice of your choice according to package, while simmering add spinach leaves. Season with olive oil and garlic salt. Butter may also be added according to taste.

For Appetizer Tray
Buy ripe and delicious Mediterranean olives. Kalmata are our favorites. Extra Virgin Olive oil – again Kalmata has a great olive oil we enjoy. You can also buy hummus and often Tzatziki dip (cucumber and Greek Yogurt) Slice pitas into triangles and serve. Garnish dips with fresh dill and mint.

Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup of Greek Yogurt (Whole Milk or Full Fat)
¼ cup thinly sliced cucumbers
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Dill or 1 Tablespoon of Dried Dill
1 teaspoon of Garlic Salt

Whisk all ingredients into a bowl and refrigerate before serving. Serve with Pita. Garnish with Fresh Dill.

Berries with Greek Yogurt
Use blueberries, raspberries and cut up strawberries. Serve in wine glass and top with creamy Greek yogurt. Almond slices and a drizzle of honey may also be added.

Reference: Greek Salad – blog entry Feb. 15, 2007 or under Previous Post “Mediterranean Greek Salad”

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One Comment

  1. ainsley, 12 years ago

    Fun and excitement is the name of the game when you go on picnics. On the current economic status, saving money is a thing every family would like to do. A good old fashion picnic is a superb way to save and have fun.. The best part about picnics is that it really does help bond a family together through spending time together outside! Dont for get to bring your picnic baskets and enjoy