Raw Picnic Dinner

Last night, my favorite movie was playing outdoors, in Central Park:

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Needless to say, I had to be there.

My friend Nelly and I planned a hot date—including a picnic dinner—to see the movie together. When we arrived at Sheep’s Meadow, I was delighted to run into Hadley, who was there with a group of friends.

Nelly and I found a little patch of spare grass, and, as we waited for the movie to begin, we got down to the real business of the hour: dinner!!! We attacked our picnic bags with gusto. Nelly, who’s a passionate athlete and runner, had been playing in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament all day. And me? I was just really hungry 🙂

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Nel and I shared a little chuckle over the fact that we’d had at least some of the same picnic ideas: hummus and raw veggies were in both of our picnic bags. Nelly’s a vegetarian, so I can usually count upon our enjoying some of the same things, but we also share a lot of the same tastes. Nelly had with her a container of whole wheat pita, some Sabra hummus, veggies, and a delicious homemade cocktail made with ginger beer, cucumber, and fresh peaches. On my menu was (obviously) a giant kale salad, marinated earlier in the day:

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I’d also discovered this brand at my local health food store earlier in the week:

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It’s Chocolatree, which is the prepared food made by the staff at Chocolatree Cafe in Arizona. I picked up the pizza crackers (made with buckwheat and sunflower seeds) and the onion flatbread (made with sunflower seeds and chia seeds). Interesting fact: I have learned, thanks to Lori and Michelle, that while I do not like raw onions (or cooked onions, for that matter), I really like raw onion flatbread. Go figure.

My verdict? Two thumbs up! I really liked both breads. The pizza flatbread is heartier, and more “bread” like; it reminds me of Lydia’s breads and crackers, which I truly adore. The onion bread is nice and thin, and I imagine it would make a great raw “wrap.” While I’m still a loyal devotee of the Twins’ flatbreads and crackers, the Chocolatree brand is a nice second choice. I love that my local store takes care to stock these lesser known raw food brands!

I made two little open faced raw sandwiches. One was onion flatbread, roast red pepper hummus, tomato, avocado, and cucumber:

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And the other was pizza flatbread with a simple topping of tomato and avocado:

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Both were delicious! Between these, kale salad, and raw veggies+hummus, I was a very, very happy camper. And a very full one.

Of course, what made me really happy was the joy of seeing my favorite movie on a big screen. And what could be more appropriate than watching this one in the middle of Central Park, surrounded by skyline?

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I got a little misty when we got to this scene:

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Forget Love is a Many Splendored Thing. Forget Casablanca. Forget Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Gone With the Wind, and even An Affair to Remember. Those movies are all great, but in my world, there is no single movie still that’s more romantic than this one. I could list the reasons why I think so, but instead I’ll just let the image speak for itself.


Dinner last night was so extraordinarily good that, today, still basking in the haze of cinematic joy, I repeated it. Using only the pizza crackers this time (I’m saving the onion flatbread for later this week), I made one flatbread with avocado and tomato:

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And another with cucumber and my dilly sunflower seed cheese.

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How’d I made the “cheese?” This is just a simple sunflower seed pate, made all the more delicious with the addition of dill. Observe:

Dilly Sunflower Cheese (yields 1 1/2 cups, or 6-8 servings)

1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked at least one hour
2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4-1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup water
8-10 small sprigs fresh dill, coarsely chopped

1) Place soaked seeds, salt, and lemon into the bowl of a food processor and let it run till they’re broken down. Scrape the sides of the bowl.

2) With the motor running, drizzle 1/2 cup water into the food processor, so that the sunflower seed cheese becomes light and creamy. If it starts to get at all watery, stop adding water! I usually use anywhere from 1/4-2/3 cup water; it totally depends on how much water the seeds have absorbed, so use your judgment.

3) Add the dill to the processor and pulse a few times to distribute it into the cheese. What you’ll have left looks like this:

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…and it tastes tart, salty, and fresh!

Along with some salad and raw veg action, it was a perfect midday meal:

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Sometimes I find that raw flatbreads and crackers leave me totally empty only a few moments after mealtime; I’m really impressed with how nicely the Chocolatree products fill me up. A good reason to make these a semi-regular “splurge.”

And now, I’m procrastinating with Mad Men diligently working in preparation for the week ahead. I hope you all had great weekends. Were any of you with me in the park last night?


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  1. Gena I think perhaps you have been reading my mind? I’ve been wanting to try some seed cheeses because my feelings about animals, vegetarianism/veganism, and diet has shifted a bit. Here I see you have posted about your evolving approach to veganism and a seed cheese recipe! I look forward to trying it.
    Nuts and I do not agree, but I would love to find a way to enjoy cheese in the seed form as opposed to the raw goat milk form. So thank you so much for the dilly cheese recipe, dear Gena!

  2. i feel as if i could have written this post… not as eloquently, of course, since you do have a way with words, but my feelings echo yours 100 percent. as a native new yorker, i feel that manhattan is truly like that terrible boyfriend you know you shouldn’t go back to… but you return again and again. 🙂 woody allen certainly “gets it” and his “manhattan” portrays this sentiment so well. funny, i was flipping through channels this weekend and i was able to watch the last scene of manhattan. died once again. wonderful!

  3. The dilly cheesy sunflower spread is so good! Thanks for the yummy, filling recipe.

  4. Love, love, love that movie. Although as far as Woody Allen movies go, I have to say Annie Hall is my favorite. Can I go with a book here for favorite romantic scene? Pride and Prejudice gets me every time (I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve read it). I just love the tension that builds the whole time, making me literally jump and squeal when Mr. Darcy finally kisses Elizabeth.

    What a fun night! Picnic dinner looks delish.

  5. BIG HUGE woody allen fan here!!! that would be so cool to have a picnic and watch a film – fun, fun!
    love your recipe ideas and love your blog!!

  6. Manhattan is amazing. I could watch over and over again. Annie Hall is great too. I love Woody Allen and am jealous of your park night picnic!

    I would go for “When Harry Met Sally” for sure. I just went to my brother’s wedding and my mother quoted the end of the movie when Harry says to Sally, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” **Goosebumps**

    “While you Were Sleeping” with Sandra Bullock is a classic Christmas romance.
    And “Pride & Prejudice”…the new version with Keira Knightly is soo good.

    And oh my goodness, I will cry when summer salads are through. The tomatoes, corn (especially the bi-corn) and the cukes and summer squashes are pure insanity in the Bay Area. I ate four ears of corn yesterday…raw too!

  7. Aww I am definitely going to have to rent this movie.

    Have you ever seen Brigadoon? Its an oldie with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charise. Other than that a few favorites are Roman Holiday, Affair to Remember, and of course You’ve Got Mail. 😉

  8. OK this is a little teen dreamy but I still get a little week over the scene in Romero + Juliet where Claire & Leo first meet in the bathroom. That song makes me melt….

    Another good one is Broken English – the chemistry between Parker Posey and Melvil Poupaud is so authentic, and there are some truly amazing moments between them. At the very end in the Paris metro, especially. Ahhh sigh.

    • aaaaand by “week” I mean “weak.” ha. serves me right for juggling blog commenting and excel spreadsheets…….

  9. Don’t hate me… but.. I’ve never seen or even HEARD of Manhattan 🙁

    My favorite romantic movie…. hmm.. I’ll choose my favorite romantic book of all time, which is The Tim Traveler’s Wife! I’ve read it 6-7 times and I bawl like crazy each time!

  10. I’m also a big fan of the romantic scenes in You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally. And I don’t even think of myself as a huge Meg Ryan fan! Oh well. I also love the end of Sideways when she leaves a long message on his machine – it gives the audience good hope for the future.

    Dill spread looks yummy!

  11. My favorite movie of all time is You’ve Got Mail. The end scene always makes me tear up. The movie also makes me desperately want to live in NYC and own a bookshop…

  12. Gone with the Wind, all the way. I know–what a stereotypical thing for a girl from Alabama to say, right? But that image of Captain Butler taking Scarlett in his arms gets me every time–however, it’s more vivid when I read the book (yes, I’ve read it multiple times)than when I see the movie.

  13. I always have to work when they show movies in the park 🙁 My favorite part of “Manhattan” is the Gershwin soundtrack!

  14. I’m with Gabriela and that scene in Titanic. There are actually a few scenes in Titanic that all vie for the prize. Like the end, when she meets Jack at the clock. My heart seriously skips a beat just thinking about it.

    I’m so glad you brought up this topic because I just added several films people recommended to my Netflix queue!

  15. The flatbread sounds wonderful! I’d a sucker for raw breads and crackers, but I’m usually too cheap to buy them in the store…since I can make my own for cheaper. But convenience can be nice!

  16. that flatbread/avo/tomato combo looks so good! just needed some fresh basil! amelie is my fave film and there are many many scenes that i love. when i was in Montmartre in march, i just beamed thinking about it since it was shot there.

  17. how did you know i just purchased dill at the farmers market on saturday? 🙂

    i adore picnics in the summer – i had one yesterday as well. there’s nothing like eating outside on the grass, with the city all around you.

    hmm, favorite romantic cinematic moment? i’m a complete devotee to the classics: the scene between rhett and scarlett after the war in gone with the wind, where he says, “i want you to faint. this is what you were meant for.” gets me every.single.time.

  18. I love movies outside! Your raw flatbread “sandwich” looks delicious– I enjoyed several similar sandwiches this month! I’ve tried Lydia’s raw cereal (and loved it!), but haven’t tried her flatbreads yet.

    Cinematic romance– I’ve always seen The Princess Bride as the ultimate love story 🙂 I love the kiss at the end– the kiss of TRUE love!! 🙂

    Plus it has Fred Savage in it, so what’s not to like?

  19. My favorite romantic movie moment will always be from Titanic, when Jack puts Rose in the lifeboat and she jumps back on the ship to be with him. I start sobbing every time.

    Those flatbread sandwiches look absolutely delicious!

  20. Ah, I’m really sad I missed the last night of movies at Central Park! I guess there are outdoor movies still left at other other parts of the city.

    My favorite romantic movies are Garden State and When Harry Met Sally. 🙂

  21. Most romantic cinematic moment? For me, it’s the very end of French Kiss where Kevin Cline’s character kisses Meg Ryan’s character in the fields of their little vineyard in the French countryside and it’s the way he grabs the back of her dress and grips it into a ball as he’s gently kissing her. The passion along with the scenery – it makes my heart stop every time.

  22. I’ve never seen that movie! Now I’m going to have to get it, ‘because Gena said so!’

    I LOVE avo on sandwiches or flat bread like that. But you know, I don’t think I’ve ever tried it with hummus. And we all know everything is better with hummus! Brilliant!

  23. I love movies in the park. The worst movies in the park have the best memories because they turned..eh-em, more romantic if you know what I mean.

    I am more into indie romantic films as a whole but I went through a huge phase where I watched “You’ve Got Mail” over and over again and thought it was the best. When Harry Met Sally is a good one too.

  24. I’m with Mama Pea..I’ve never seen any Woody movie..and really, any “old” movie, they just dont hold my interest, they never did. Like old TV shows or even classic literature, I dunno, something about me and those things dont mesh. I am the perfect case study for blogs or reality tv…current, not too deep, can click off or switch the channel after a couple minutes b/c you already know where it’s going. I sound so ADD but I really am not!

    I digress.

    Dilly-cheeze. NICE! I have a big bag of sunflower seeds from the last raw cracker batch I made and this would be a great way to use them.

    And you know your camera is super sharp and in focus when i can see the knife or mandolin cut/groove marks on your cucumbers!

    Have a great week; loved chatting 🙂 You’re the best!

  25. I love Garden State, and love actually. I think they are super duper romantic 🙂

  26. Is chickpea flour perchance any more friendly on the digestion than whole beans/chickpeas?
    I still love Anne and Gilbert’s flirtatious rivalry and mishaps, and their romantic reunion on the bridge at the end of the movie (Anne of Green Gables). I’m also fond of Jo and Laurie in Little Women. I guess that makes me… a sentimentalist? 🙂

    • Good question. Chick peas wreak havoc on my system and I’m hesitant to try the powde4r.

    • Laura,

      I don’t know — but neither upset my stomach, so it’s hard for me to compare. Anyone else know?

      And I couldn’t agree more with your taste 🙂


  27. I’ve never seen Manhattan! I’ve never seen a Woody Allen movie, for that matter. Maybe I’ll rent it next weekend and watch it in my boxer shorts. 😉

    Gosh, favorite romantic movie moment. Not to be so cliche as to bring up the aforementioned Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but the moment when Audrey Hepburn lets “Cat” out of the cab and George Peppard says, You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, “People do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.”

    Cue Moon River. Gets me every time.

  28. Many people may not know it, but the moment at the end of The Who’s “Tommy” when Tommy takes the hands of his dead mother and stepfather and places them with each other. It’s a moment of forgiveness, love, acceptance… so many things. If you’ve seen the film, you know the embattled relationship he had with both parents, and that final moment shows that he is able to forgive them, and that he respects their love for each other. It’s truly touching.

  29. Ooooooh, I wanna watch Manhattan in Central Park! Wow, what a treat. Only in New York.

    I just saw a DVD recently…Valentine’s Day, I think it was called. Not a great movie by any means, but there was a scene where an estranged elderly couple reunite/reconcile in front of a giant movie screen in the park. Shirley MacLaine plays the wife in the scene and the film that’s screening behind them is actually one of her old ones (The Apartment with Jack Lemmon?). Anyways, pretty cool juxtaposition, and I thought then, “Wow, I’d like to watch an old movie on a big screen, outdoors in a park.” And, I’d really love to do it in New York and share a summer picnic with you (and Woody Allen too!).

  30. Hi, first time reader, but the food looks delicious. 🙂
    My favorite romantic scene is from the ending of The Science of Sleep.

  31. I’m sure people will think I am totally trashy for admitting this but I love Pretty Woman! My favorite scene was when Julia Roberts and Richard Gere went to the opera in San Francisco. When they got on that private plane I was just mesmerized!

  32. Gena the sunflower seed cheese is delicious!!!
    Making it tomorrow!! 😀
    I love this post because you make us feel as if we were there too!! I hope you had tons of fun!! xoxo

  33. You raw pinic looks amazing!! Definitely something you know we love 🙂 HAHA Thanks for the shout outs — you are so sweet. I wish we had a outdoor movie theater, looks like a lot of fun! xoxo

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