So, when you think of summer in Arizona, your mind doesn’t go straight to picnic. But it should, now that Okra has introduced three-course wine picnic Saturday lunches. All those words roll right off the tongue until you’re about three glasses of wine deep. But, by then, you don’t even care how you sound because the food is so good.
Some of the bitches were lucky enough to get invited to last week’s wine picnic and it was way better than a picnic in any ol’ park.
The Okra wine picnic is every Saturday (well, almost – Chef Campbell takes a break in July) and consists of three courses (all paired with wine) and a picnic basket full of snacks right as you walk in. There’s nothing more inviting than spicy, salty pimento cheese and rice crispy treats and guess what? You get them both, along with (intense and rich) Fernet chocolate balls and duck fat salt & vinegar popcorn.
But we’ll talk more about that in a bit.
Our menu featured Austrian wines chosen by Joanna Eland of Skurnik Wines who spent a few weeks touring the Austrian wine country. Think, like, climbing every mountain minus the Nazis + a good buzz. Her in-depth research paid off.
Our Walter Glatzer Gruner Veltliner (2014) paired like a goddamn treat with our sweet corn, kohlrabi, cucumber, and watermelon & rind salad. Quick-pickled with freshly-cracked pepper and herbs, this was a bright and refreshing salad. Says Eland, “I chose this wine because it pairs so well with greens, and that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Our next course was small but mighty: Two generous jalapenos stuffed with pulled duck and wrapped in bacon and complemented with tangy goat cheese. Accompanied by a Gobelsburg ‘Schlosskellerel’ (don’t try to pronounce that) Rose (2015), we gobelsburged this dish right up. Spicy, but not overpowering, the duck and roasted bacon gave texture to what is sometimes a mushy dish. This wasn’t mushy at all. The bacon gave it a crack and the duck had a nice mouthfeel. Bonus: When we had a bite of the jalapeno and a sip of the wine, it made the rose super sweet and cooled our mouths down at the same time.
The third course was country roasted chicken, curry stewed okra and rice grits, paired with a Hofer Zweigelt red from 2013. This was the heaviest course of the day, but Chef Campbell timed it well, giving us enough of a break in between courses to sip and get our stomachs ready to take in another plate. A nice-sized portion for lunch of the curry stewed okra had a little sweet from the curry, tomato, and okra and a little pop of texture from the black beans, all on top of a beautifully prepared chicken quarter. Skin on. The way we like it. It went really well with the red wine. Because, as white girls, we believe everything pairs well with red wine.
Also, the red wine wasn’t too sweet and when you took a sip after the stew, it brought out all the roasted, rich flavors in the chicken and the umami in the tomato.
Then, we couldn’t wait any longer – we dug into the rice crispy treats. The chartreuse and root beer flavors weren’t entirely prevalent but they toned down the overall sweetness, making these picnic snacks way too easy to eat. The fernet chocolate balls were the opposite: Sweet and loaded with liquor, they were delicious, but rich enough to share, and the perfect end to a lovely picnic.
Make reservations for Chef Cullen Campbell’s next picnic lunch this Saturday! Seats go quickly. Every week, the menu changes and he gave us a sneak peek at what you can expect… Fried catfish is involved. Fried okra is involved. Kolache is involved… Plus, you’ll get to try all the snacks we had in our picnic basket and a whole new flight of wine pairings. Sounds like the best Saturday in town.