It’s official. Summer is here.
And what is more summery than an outdoor movie and a picnic under the stars? Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute is showing films this summer at the beautiful amphitheater at Red Butte Gardens. We’ve seen awesome musicians play there during their summer concert series, and a great movie with great music seemed like the perfect way to celebrate the Summer Solstice. We invited another couple to join us to watch Under African Skies, a captivating documentary about the making of Paul Simon’s Graceland album. John and I had the pleasure of seeing the movie during this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
One of the best things about Red Butte Gardens is that they allow you to pack a picnic. Hmmm… isn’t “Go on a Picnic” #22 on my Life List? Well, then I better make it count.
- Honey-ginger lemonade with rosemary (vodka or bourbon a plus)
- Baguette with various cheeses
- Raspberries and blueberries
- BLT corn salad wraps
- Lavender shortbread cookies and cheesecake
- Plenty of wine
When I first made this lemonade recipe (read about it), I thought it was too involved for the ‘every day.’ I lied. I’ve made it four times since then and keep it in the fridge. The lemonade is just delicious. It’s a great cocktail mixer, too. Either way, it’s summer in a glass!
While I thought I’d keep it pretty simple for the picnic’s food, I thought trying a new recipe would be fun and make it Life List-worthy. I had my eye on the BLT Corn Wraps from Joy the Baker. The recipe looked tasty and light, and seemed like a perfect pack-and-go option. Plus, there’s BACON.
I was a little intimidated by the charred corn portion of the recipe, but Joy made it sound easy to do on the stovetop. So I did. And it worked!
Other than the bacon, which I bake in the oven, charring the corn was the only ‘cooking.’ From there, you simply combine the corn with tomatoes, green onion, avocado, and the bacon. I added yellow pepper for more crunch and color. A few seasonings and a good stir, and the mixture is ready to be scooped into a butter leaf like a taco. Brilliant.
Knowing that we have a full summer ahead of us, I invested in a picnic backpack with an insulated section, melamine plates, cloth napkins, silverware, a mini-cutting board and a tablecloth. I appreciate that I can reuse everything instead of wasting paper plates or plasticware. And it’s all contained in a pack! LOVE.
You’d think we were going somewhere for the entire weekend, judging by our gear.
Red Butte’s amphitheater is lovely, and the movie series is free admission. We got there early enough to find a spot on the lawn with a great view of the huge screen. As we set up shop, John and I both chuckled that we resembled a particular skit on a Portlandia episode, with all of our gear, chairs, pack, and bags. We looked like pros. It may have been a tad overboard, but various other groups had similar elaborate set-ups. And it made for a great evening.
Oh, and the picnic? Complete success! The food was tasty and the drinks were flowing. We kicked off our flip-flops and enjoyed a summer meal before the movie began.
The movie started just as the sun slowly slid behind the hills, putting an end to the longest day of the year. The temperature quickly plummeted and we realized that with all of our gear and planning, we didn’t bring a blanket or warm clothes. Suddenly flip-flops seemed like a pretty dumb idea. But we snuggled in, hoods over our heads, and thoroughly enjoyed the movie.
If you like the Graceland album, this movie truly is a must-see. My favorite part is watching members of the South African group called Ladysmith Black Mambazo, without whom the album couldn’t have been made. It’s their vocals that create the unique sound on the familiar songs. As the film alternates between footage of them when they recorded it together and today (25 years later), the smiles on their faces throughout the experience is inspiring. In the midst of the horrific reality of Apartheid, they found sheer joy in everything around them. I love them!
We tried to forget how cold we were and enjoyed some cookies and cheesecake. We’ll bring blankets and better coats, but we certainly have the gear for a great picnic. It was a perfect summer experience, and we look forward to coming back for the July film!
We’ll wear real shoes next time.