Hollywood Bowl Picnic, Starring Orzo Salad

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For me, summer doesn't begin until we attend our first Hollywood Bowl concert. I was trying to recall last summer, but nothing stood out. Then I remembered why. There were no Bowl concerts. Last summer was my "broken elbow summer", where I consumed large quantities of Vicodin and entire seasons of TV shows (like Breaking Bad and Californication) from the library while wasting away on the couch. The only clear memories are that of pain and the husband attempting to blow dry my hair for me. Fortunately, this summer all my limbs are in tact, I can hold my own blow dryer, and we can once again enjoy concerts under the stars.

Now I'm not a classical music fan. So when the husband won tickets to see Gavrylyuk Plays Tchaikovsky, I was not exactly thrilled, but it had been so long since our last concert at the Bowl that I wanted to make the most of it. Don't get me wrong, I like classical music just fine at appropriate times. Like when it's raining and you're driving, or when it's raining and you're trying to fall sleep, or when it's raining and you're stranded in some cabin in the mountains without any other music options. But as we sat in our very nice seats, on a very clear, RAIN-FREE evening, drinking and enjoying the food, I quickly realized this was going to be one very long night. 

At first, I was so involved in the wonderful meal I had prepared, that 10 minutes into the concert, I turned and asked the husband when the real band was coming on. I laughed at myself, then sadly realized, this is it, there is no other band. The food had magically transported me elsewhere, unfortunately, it did not transport the orchestra elsewhere.

Once the fact that I had another TWO AND A HALF hours of this rain music in store for me had sunk in, deep, I poured myself more wine and began to enjoy the evening. If you have been fortunate enough to attend a movie, play or concert with me, you know I am full of hilarious comments. I am not one of those loud, crazy people who disrupt the show. I am respectful enough to be heard by only one person who is sitting directly to my right, yet I am obnoxious enough for that one person to hate me as the evening draws near. It's my charm. Right away, I could not help but notice that the 20something year-old Alexander Gavrylyuk resemebled the scary Nosferatu. Once that connection was made in my mind, the jokes followed, and flowed freely, like the wine, until the husband shushed me, and I noticed I had gulped down the last drop. To console myself, I turned to dark chocolate and people-watching. 

But enough of story time, let us discuss the food. Because that's what the Hollywood Bowl is really about. We had a great meal -- prosciutto and olives for the shuttle ride, pita sandwiches to start (turkey for the husband, black forest ham for me), orzo salad for intermission, and for dessert, dark chocolate and berries in cognac and sugar. Although I did not cure my own prosciutto, I did manage to make the rest of our dinner, in 45 minutes, after a long day at work and before our shuttle departure. Now, I know it would have been easier to grab everything ready-made from Whole Foods, but there's a certain pleasure in preparing the meal yourself. It just ends up tasting better. And I make one mean sandwich!

The orzo salad was the star. I had made it once before, but simpler. This time, I added more flavor and texture with black olives and sun dried tomatoes. Because this salad tastes great at any temperature, it's great for a picnic, or a very long classical music concert, where you're not allowed to go back to your seat should you happen to take a bathroom break at the wrong time.
My favorite sandwich condiments, good mustard and eggplant caviar.
I marinaded strawberries and red and golden raspberries in sugar and cognac overnight. This makes for a great dessert, or   topping for my morning yogurt.
The spread.
Starting the evening off with overpriced beer.
In high school, I won his heart with my sandwiches. With time, they have only become more delicious.
Summer Orzo Salad
Serves 4

2 tbsp butter
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
handful of black olives, chopped
handful of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

1) Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and saute until lightly browned.
2) Stir in chicken stock and bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 - 20 minutes.
3) Mix in olives, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper.


  1. This was the funniest blog entry by far ... until I read the caption of the last G-Roach picture. Then I puked a little in my mouth.

  2. i'm glad we can still get you to puke a little despite being so far away.