I’ve very recently emigrated to the big old U S of A, Southern California to be precise, Santa Barbara to be exact. Before I even talk about the food and produce available here, the views, the weather and the company. I’m here now and have been very welcomed by my wife’s friends and family and there aren’t much better ways than to experience family life like a campsite on the beach. Refugio state beach, campfires, BBQ’s everything where, crashing waves, palm trees, kids playing cornhole…yep cornhole. To my European readers or people who are not familiar with this game you basically have to boards separated by a distance and the objective is to toss beanbags (or corn if you are old school) into the hole for points. Although people here take this game serious sometimes and there are many rules and techniques to tossing the bean bag this isn’t a cornhole blog, maybe another time. Back the food.
I’m writing this on a balcony and just out of reach there are avocados growing here, I can see lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits not to mention the walnuts and almonds, 80% of the worlds almonds are grown here in California, pretty lucky right. It’s the coast so the abundance of ethically sourced fish and all the fruits of the sea are available, farmers markets are not just a special trip here, it’s a way of life.
Like anywhere you camp or BBQ you want to make it easy on yourself, don’t prep too much don’t make anything to complicated that requires loads of containers for storage or component to the dish. Make it simple, family style. Large salads, big bowls of everything, everyone dive in and eat with your hands, get the finger food going! No need for hunting for forks and spoons, washing them over and over, dropping them in the sand, and think about what you make, for example, I made a potato salad but with a light mustard dressing rather than a heavy Mayo, you don’t want that while trying to tan on the beach. Tacos, spicy chicken tacos with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and salsa all wrapped up in a BBQ warmed corn tortilla as your plate, super easy to eat and tasty, leave some left overs and roll burritos and eat cold for breakfast.
Get dipping, not in the ocean quite yet we’re still on the food! You’re sat around a picnic table, it’s lunch time so eat, don’t be scared of the crabs and eating well, between cornhole and fighting against the strong waves the Pacific is throwing at you, you’ll burn it off…trust me. I prepared crudités, little carrot sticks, celery etc and then make a few quick simple dips or buy your favourite, remember we are making this a fun easy camping trip. Your favourite chips (yes friends and family chips not crisps, when in Rome right?) anything you can dip and eat with your hands and share is a winner.
The main event was a simple cold pasta salad with fresh homemade pesto, so easy to make its all about ratios and taste. You like lots of garlic then add lots of garlic there is no wrong recipe here have a play and find the balance of flavours you like. Roughly half a bunch of fresh basil leaves a small handful of pine nuts(toast for a deeper flavour) the same of grated Parmesan a few cloves of garlic and then simply throw it in your blender and blitz it up adding olive oil until you reach the consistency you want. Taste and season people taste and season, go easy on the salt as the Parmesan with add a beautiful nutty salty flavour. Again there is no right or wrong so have fun, use some other nuts or seeds, pumpkins seeds for example, or use rocket, cilantro have fun and experiment and share with your loved ones, so what did you use this time?