Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Elegant Picnic For A Concert In Central Park...Filet of Beef On Baguette

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Summer is full of free concerts in parks all over the nation.  If you are lucky to live near a city that has one, don't miss it.  Boston, Cleveland and New York are the ones that come to mind, even here in Atlanta we have them on Centennial and Piedmont parks.  But there is nothing that comes close to a concert in Central Park!

Years ago, when I worked and lived in New York, I was invited to a few of these concerts by Wall Street firms who entertained their clients by taking them to concerts, opening exhibits at museums, Shakespeare in the Park (my favorite),  or the theater .  One of the firms once took us out for dinner and a cruise around New York harbor. No, I was not wealthy client, but I did manage a lot of money on behalf of some of the largest investment banks in the world.   Just last night, I was cleaning my bookshelves and came across some art books from two exhibitions I was invited to...Matisse at the MOMA and John Singer Sargent at the Whitney, with the business cards still inside!

The New York Philharmonic at the Great Lawn In Central Park

In the summer of 1988,  I decided to take my group to a concert in Central Park.  Everybody came, portfolio managers, sales, operations, traders, the whole lot.   The only mistake was inviting my boss, a charming unattached Scot who proceeded to get drunk and pick up every single girl in sight!  Not exactly what I had in mind.  The concert was spectacular, with Placido Domingo as the star of the evening.  Throw in Linda Rondstat and Gloria Estefan at the end, a full moon and something no one anticipated, 100 degree temperatures!  There is no place in the world that can be more miserable in high heat than New York City, even if you are in a park.

In those days, everybody brought a nice picnic, with chairs and blankets, all very civilized, as New Yorkers can be when asked to behave themselves.  You also have to realize that the people who live in that part of town and the type of audience who would be interested in such a concert is of a certain economic class and very yuppy. 

Should you find yourself in the position of being invited to such an event, grab it. You will remember it for the rest of your life.

Tell me, have you ever been to one of these events? anywhere in the world?

A picnic basket from Picnic At Ascot

For this kind of a picnic you must travel light.  Remember, you will be doing some walking before you get to what you think is an acceptable destination. Getting back home after the concert can take a long time and this is not the type of outing where a town car will be waiting for you at the curb.  Bring your champagne in a portable cooler and the soup in a Thermos.  If you don't have the time to make the bars, pick up some chocolate covered espresso beans.  You will need the caffeine!

This picnic will fit nicely in a picnic basket like the one on top.  All you need is a hunk in great shape to carry it for you.  You might also opt to bring two lighter baskets.  Check out the selction at Picnic at Ascot, they have a lot of choices.  As to a wine, a light red Burgundy or Malbec will go well with this meal.  Nothing too heavy though, remember you will be outside and it's hot. Wine will make you hotter! And don't forget to bring real napkins and plenty of water. You have eight hands to help you carry the load!

The Picnic

Cheese wafers
Black Mission Figs With Prosciutto


Filet Of Beef On Baguette With Horseradish Sauce

Filet of Beef On Baguette With Horseradish Sauce
Yield:4 servings

For the beef:
2 to 3 pounds fillet of beef, trimmed and tied
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

For the sandwich:
1 French baguette, halved horizontally and cut crosswise in 4
Mustard Horseradish Sauce, recipe follows
1 bunch arugula
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the beef on a baking sheet and pat the outside dry with a paper towel. Mix the unsalted butter and mustard together in a small bowl and spread the mixture over the beef with your hands. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for exactly 22 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium-rare.

Remove the beef from the oven, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Remove the strings and slice the fillet thickly.

To make the sandwiches, cut the baguette horizontally. Spread the bottom slices thickly with the Mustard Horseradish Sauce. Top with slices of beef and arugula and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mustard Horseradish Sauce:

3/4 cup good mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons sour cream
Kosher salt

Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, sour cream, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Serve at room temperature. Yield: 1 cup

I have taken Ina Garten's recipe and adapted it to an open faced sandwich on a baguette.  You can always make them her way but I thought this was a tad more elegant.

These beef sandwiches are wrapped in parchment, tied with baker's twine, and transported in a baking dish that doubles as a serving tray. The watercress is packed separately so that it stays crisp.

Photos # 1 # 2 # 3 Google
#4 Picnic At Ascot #5 Martha Stewart    


  1. Yes the Concert's in the park were really great.When i was a Cook at the Harvard Club we were all ways at them.Yes Simon And Garfunkel were so great.So yes if your in New York City try to go there...Lou

  2. What a marvelous post, and such a delicious picnic you have featured! I used to go to the CP concerts when I was younger, and I adored them. I will never forget one of Pavorotti in his prime. He hardly needed amplification at all.


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