ralph lauren rlx POLO PICNIC
MANY TRADITIONAL AMERICAN pastimes are excuses to eat outdoors. Open air concerts mean raiding the gourmet takeout shop. Fireworks on the beach require grilled hamburgers. And there are even those avid baseball fans who admit, when pressed, that they go to the ballpark as much for the hot dogs and beer as for the game.
Polo, a spectator sport that’s making a comeback in the United States, is bringing another outdoor eating opportunity to Americans. The polo picnic in many ways is the summer equivalent of the football tailgate, a meal that has gained style and sophistication with each season.
The foods that complement these sports are as different as the action on the playing fields. The football tailgate is likely to include a bracing Scotch broth, a vat of robust chili, spareribs, warm potato salad and a flask of bourbon. The hamper for the polo picnic usually cradles more delicate fare: a chilled soup, roasted veal, sweet biscuits, berries and Pimm’s Cup.
An air of formality pervades the polo grounds. ”In Palm Beach, I’ve seen people bring tuxedoed butlers to their picnics,” says Patricia Fulk, a spokesman for Cartier Polo USA. The china, flatware and glasses at the polo picnic, along with the traditional spectator’s attire of crisp linens, tend to be ill suited for meals taken on the ground. But never mind; here, style sometimes overrides practicality.
There are people who believe that any picnic should be spontaneous. The contents of a refrigerator should be placed between two slices of crusty bread and wrapped in waxed paper. That, of course, is the antithesis of the polo picnic. ”Usually, people bring lots of cheeses, fruit, Pimm’s Cup and Champagne,” says Ms. Fulk.
On the whole, the polo picnic is ”very planned,” says Jennifer A. Krascella,
the New York caterer who designed the picnic on these pages. This doesn’t mean it must be complicated or labored. On the contrary, careful planning here relieves the unnecessary frenzy of last minute effort. All of the dishes on Ms. Krascella’s menu are prepared the day before the outing. Not only does this preserve the cook’s sanity, it also gives the flavors of the foods time to meld and intensify as they sit.
Roasted veal stuffed with tuna is a perfect example. Made the day before the picnic, the veal rests in its juices for 24 hours, becoming suffused with flavor. That is also the idea behind Ms. Krascella’s recipe for marinated vegetables. She tosses them in vodka, dill, parsley and celery seeds. After soaking for a half an hour, the vegetables acquire a clear, green perfume.
Some of the foods are included in the picnic basket purely by virtue of their brilliant color. Ms. Krascella’s rhubarb soup, made by simmering the rosy fruit in red wine, sugar and lemon, is ”a real crowd pleaser,” she says. With a bow to polo tradition, the batter for the cone that holds the fresh berries contains a splash of Pimm’s Cup. This English liquor often appears at the picnic, served in a tall glass over ice with a slice of lemon and cucumber peel and topped with a citrus flavored soda.
The foods on Ms. Krascella’s picnic menu are easily transported from the kitchen to the polo grounds in sealed containers. Only the soup needs to be served well chilled; the rest of the meal, conveniently, tastes best when served in the open air. RHUBARB SOUP 4 cups rhubarb, washed and diced 5 cups water 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 3 3 inch sticks of cinnamon 5 to 6 slices of lemon, seeded 4 cups red wine 16 ounces creme fraiche One stalk rhubarb, julienned, 2 inches long. Stir and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft. Yield:Twelve servings. COLD STUFFED ROAST OF VEAL 6 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon butter 2 medium size onions, diced 4 diced garlic cloves 1 pound veal shoulder fillet, cut into 1/4 inch chunks 2 cans white tuna, packed in water, drained 2 ounce bottle of capers, rinsed and drained 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 2 eggs 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper 5 pound rolled roast of veal 2 diced carrots, peeled 2 diced celery ribs 5 quarts chicken stock,
fresh or canned.