The Lexingtonienne



Hollywood Bowl

In LA, different crowds have marked their partying turf in various corners of the city.

chicken about to poach

chicken broth pour

The hippies mellow out in Venice. The gays keep West Hollywood vibrant and fabulous. Silver Lake is where the goth-y hipsters go to ruminate (no blonds allowed).

chicken salad mayo ingredients

chicken salad mayo sauce

But in case you were wondering where the sexagenarians go to tie one on, you can find them at the Hollywood Bowl when the LA Philharmonic plays their tribute to the Beatles.

the bowl crowd

pulled chicken

chopped celery

Never ones to miss such a happening scene, this past Saturday night, Hubba Bubba and I invited our friends Matt & Christy along for a Bowl picnic under the stars followed by some serious Sergeant Peppering.

chicken salad

The Hollywood Bowl is one of my favorite date spots in LA. When Mike and I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, we would buy $11 bench seats at the Bowl, pack a picnic dinner, and slurp cheap wine while the Philharmonic serenaded us with Mozart, Wagner, and Brahms.

chicken salad croissant

We still like the far-away bench seats. The less die-hard Philharmonic fans sit back there and don’t mind if you have whispered conversations throughout the performance. I also have no need to see the first violinist close-up. I don’t know about you though; we all have our priorities.

corn boiling

corn off the cob

corn off the cob

My favorite part of the whole experience is planning, preparing, and packing the picnic. There’s a fun challenge in selecting a dinner menu that is excellent served cold, travels well, and is easy to eat when you’re squeezed into a narrow share of wooden bench (though sometimes you’re lucky enough to snag a picnic table). I’m now a picnic-packing veteran, and I’ve picked up a few lessons along the way.

black beans rinse

basil and tomatoes

First, I have learned that Whole Foods will very graciously GIVE you a handful of to-go containers for absolutely free. Perhaps this is to make up for the fact that I pay them $37.99 for a pitifully weenie portion of Egyptian Magic body balm?

basil stacked

rolling basil

rolling basil

chiffonading basil

basil chiffonade

I have also learned that it’s best if no knives are required. A knife means you need two hands to eat, but you already have one hand busily holding your glass of wine. Your wine hand is performing far too important a task to be bothered with cutting. Finger foods or fork-only is your best bet.

vinaigrette ingredients

champagne vinaigrette

corn, beans, tomatoes, basil

And finally I have learned to pack an inexpensive wine key, because there is a good chance you will throw it into a bag and accidentally toss it out at the end of the night. Put someone to be in charge of said wine key until all bottles have been opened. The continual “pop!” of wine bottles being uncorked throughout the venue provides a delightfully percussive supplement to the evening’s soundtrack, and it is your duty as a patron of the arts to contribute.

picnic box


napkins rolled

And when every last drop of pinot has been drunk, every last twang of psychedelic sitar string has vibrated into the night, and every last note of 1960s peace and love has been nostalgically bellowed, you get to watch all the empty-nesters stumble drunkenly out of the Hollywood Bowl as you wonder what the hippies did in Venice tonight.


H&M at the bowl

Tarragon chicken salad on croissants (recipe below)
Summer corn & black bean salad with champagne vinaigrette (recipe below)
Fresh cut melon
Salt & pepper kettle chips
Sour cream chocolate chip cake (recipe coming this week)

3 chicken split breasts (with skin and bones)
1 onion, quartered
3 celery stalks (2 halved crosswise, 1 chopped)
2 carrots, halved crosswise
2 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
1 bunch fresh tarragon
2 bay leaves
48 oz. chicken broth (or enough to cover ingredients – you can add water to supplement)
1 C mayonnaise
1 T lemon juice
2 T chopped fresh tarragon
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Salt & pepper chicken breasts and place in a large, heavy saucepan with the onion, 2 celery stalks, carrots, garlic, tarragon, bay leaves, and chicken broth. Simmer over medium-low heat (you don’t want the liquid to boil), uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. This process is called poaching. SHORTCUT: Buy a roast chicken at the store.

Remove chicken breasts to a separate plate and allow to cool. [I also recommend straining the vegetables out of the chicken broth and freezing the broth for later use.]

Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, chopped celery, tarragon, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt & pepper, altering amounts to taste if desired. When chicken breasts are cool enough to handle, remove the skin, cut the meat off the bones, and use two forks to shred the meat. Add chicken to mayonnaise mixture and combine thoroughly. You can do this a day ahead and store in the fridge in a covered container. Makes enough for 4 sandwiches.

6 ears fresh corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 T (or more, if you like) fresh basil chiffonade
1 C ripe cherry, grape, or baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 C champagne vinegar
2 T sugar
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Boil corn for about 6 minutes (just enough to heat it through). When the corn has cooled, cut it off the cob and place kernels in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in black beans and tomatoes. Chiffonade basil by rolling up basil leaves and cutting into thin, crosswise strips (see photos above).

In a separate small bowl, whisk together lime juice, champagne vinegar, and sugar. Slowly add olive oil while whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken as you whisk – this is called an emulsion. Taste your vinaigrette for balance of flavors. You may want to add more sugar, etc. Slowly stir vinaigrette into corn mixture, mix thoroughly, and taste as you go. (I used most but not all of my vinaigrette.) Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve chilled. Serves 4-6.

Both the chicken salad and the corn salad can be adjusted to your personal tastes by using more or less garlic powder, sugar, etc. Season conservatively and taste as you go until you get it just the way you like it.

All you need is love,

P.S. Many thanks to Mike for photographing the chiffonading of the basil 😉


  • Comment by Katie Alender — July 12, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

    My secret weapon: those old-school car cupholders. Hook one over the seat in front of you and store stuff in it (mostly wine).

  • Comment by Hannah — July 12, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

    Katie, that is a GREAT idea!

  • Comment by Emily Wachs — July 14, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

    Love it, Hannah! How fun! That corn and black bean salad looks perfect for a potluck event I’m attending Saturday – at a winery 😉 Think I’ll attempt it – wish me luck! You make it all look sooo easy…

  • Pingback by Expecting Autumn: Roasted Vegetable Soup - The Lexingtonienne — October 22, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

    […] when we made chicken salad back in the summertime? I froze the flavorich chicken broth that resulted from poaching chicken […]

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