a cinematic picnic

Here in the beautiful city of Sydney, we really are spoilt for choice during the summer months when it comes to outdoor cinema options.  On one hand there’s the old faithful Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park where you get to start the evening with a casual picnic and a glass or two of wine in front of the screen and then when dark falls you have the luxury of watching the movie from the comfort of your own picnic blanket. The main challenge being to keep awake all the way through the movie….

Then there’s the Bondi Openair Cinema in behind the Bondi Pavillion on the beach. While it lacks the beautiful parkland surroundings of the Moonlight Cinema, it does have the benefit of allowing you to grab a feed at one of the many fabulous Bondi restaurants before settling into the plastic chairs for a cinematic experience under the stars.

For those of you who prefer your cinema with an amazing harbour view there’s the Openair Cinema at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.  With a screen that rises out of the water and a backdrop that takes in the city skyline with the harbour bridge and opera house it’s pretty hard to beat.  Their no cancellations for rain policy makes for some pretty weird viewing.  A couple of week ago I experienced my first cinema in the rain.  While the wet weather meant we had to abandon our picnic in the botanical gardens in favour of dinner on the balcony, it did not mean that we missed our movie going experience.  Kitted out with raincoats we rocked up to the openair cinema and joined the ranks and perched ourselves on the slightly damp chairs ensconsed in the ghostly white plastic poncho raincoats provided at the door. Watching Memoirs of a Geisha with the gentle patter of rain falling was not  an experience i’ll forget in a hurry.

Fortunately my most recent openair cinema outing (Heath Ledger’s new movie Cassanova) coencided with a balmy Sydney summer evening. Rather than joining the rabble inside the cinema to dine we opted for a picnic perched on a sun warmed rock in the Botanical Gardens. I’m always on the look out for new picnic food ideas. While I adore sandwiches with their infinite variety and portability, when planning a dinnertime picnic menu I like to try and think ‘outside the bun’.

Last year Karen Martini in her Sunday Life column made the brilliant suggestion that for a healthy beach picnic all you need is to buy a roasted free range chicken with stuffing along with an iceberg lettuce and some salt. Then you just tear off a lettuce leaf and place some chicken inside. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and roll up and eat….yum..  She also suggested prawns and good quality egg mayonnaise as an alternative to the chicken.  I’ve been meaning to try this out for ages but when I was trying to decide what to have for our pre cinema picnic I had the brilliant idea to take the lettuce picnic one step further: Chinese BBQ duck…..all good things…

pre-movie picnic for 2

My favourite bbq joint in chinatown is Mr Wongs…they also do succulent soy chicken and char siu pork…and my all time favourite…chicken feet for a fraction of the price of the famous bbq king

1/2 roast chinese bbq duck
1 small lebanese cucumber
3 green onions (shallots)
1 baby cos lettuce
hoi sin sauce
bottle of Brokenwood McLaren Vale shiraz (or a good sparkling shiraz)
chocolate brownies

Ask Mr Wong to chop the duck for you with his dangerous looking cleaver.  Halve cucumber and deseed. Cut into very fine matchsticks the length of the cucumber.  Cut green onion into fine matchsticks the same length as the cucumber.

Tear off a leaf of cos.  Debone some duck and  place on the lettuce with a few pieces of cucumber and onion. Wrap up and dip in hoi sin sauce and eat.  Accompany with a decent shiraz or sparkling red.

Buy a coffee on your way into the cinema to sip on while you munch on chocolate brownies during the movie.

Wong’s Barbeque Pty Ltd
37 Ultimo St Haymarket NSW 2000
ph: (02) 9211 3359


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