Improve your camping game with high dishes and Californian wines


Aida Mollenkamp Food Network Personality Tips

Travelers can camp and enjoy al fresco dining in California vineyards, such as at the Pianetta Winery in Paso Robles. Photo of the Pianetta winery.

June 14 – SAN FRANCISCO – June is National Camping Month – the perfect time to gather around a campfire with friends and family, taste delicious California wines and food, and immerse yourself in nature while sleeping under the stars. Campgrounds in national and state parks are already in high demand as summer approaches, but there are still good locations available on websites such as Hipcamp and Harvest hosts, which offer campsites in vineyards and KOA. Even pitching a tent in your own backyard can feel like an adventure.

One of the perks of camping is sharing delicious outdoor meals cooked over an open fire, says Food Network personality Aida Mollenkamp. Salt & Wind Trip. While hot dogs and chili are classic choices, it’s easy to take camping cooking to the next level with fresh, aged dishes and friendly California wines. It just takes a little planning. “The name of the game is to prepare as much as possible in advance so that you can have fun at the campsite.”

Here are Mollenkamp’s tips for planning a Wine Institute-inspired camping menu that includes lighter fare, healthy fruits and vegetables, and your favorite California wines this summer, which you can find at DiscoverCaliforniaWines.

Plan and prepare

Do the prep work at home. Pack meats in their marinades, chop vegetables ahead of time, and prepare sauces and dressings ahead of time. This will free up time at the campsite to relax and have fun.

Pack tasty accents. Bring your favorite spice blend or a special sauce to add a touch of flavor to all kinds of dishes. Italian salsa verde is great for everything from garnishing charcoal-baked potatoes and garnishing grilled steak to spreading on sandwiches. Likewise, California Green Goddess Dressing makes a delicious salad dip.

Improve your ingredients. The camping rate is instantly upgraded with premium ingredients like farmhouse berries and vegetables, real maple syrup, and artisanal chocolate bars.

Wine accordingly. To add an authentic “sense of place” to the menu and complement the varied dishes you serve, pack a variety of California wines. If you are going for a hike to a picnic spot and need to travel light, transfer the contents of the glass bottles to collapsible, resealable bottles wine containers, or opt for wines packaged in cans or cartons.

Recipes and food and wine pairings

Wine Institute offers easy but tangy food recipes for your next camping trip, along with Mollenkamp’s recommendations for California food and wine pairings.

  • Grilled Shrimp Tostadas with tomato-corn salsa, guacamole and lime
    • The floral aromas, citrus elements and spices of California Gewürztraminer combine perfectly with this fresh and tasty dish. A California Sauvignon Blanc is another great option.
  • Grilled Chicken Salad With Feta, mint and grilled pita
    • This Greek-style salad topped with grilled chicken and a crisp lemon vinaigrette calls for a woody California chardonnay or dry sparkling wine.
  • Grass fed burger with Avocado Chipotle Mayonnaise
    • Take grilled burgers to new heights with lean grass-fed beef, spicy chipotle mayonnaise and creamy avocado, paired with California Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Grilled watermelon with green salad and balsamic vinaigrette
    • A sparkling Californian rosé or a light Grenache rosé ideally complement this salty-sweet dish.
  • Grilled peaches Drizzled with a reduction of aged balsamic vinegar
    • Grilled peaches are a great dessert to cool off on hot summer nights, especially when served with California Chardonnay, Viognier or Chenin Blanc.
  • S’mores
    • Camping wouldn’t be the same without this favorite combination of graham crackers, toasted marshmallows and chocolate (no recipe required!). Savor the warm sweetness of a Californian port, a Lodi Zinfandel or a sparkling Californian rosé

For more recipes visit DiscoverCaliforniaWines.

Wine Institute is the public policy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated companies that initiates and advocates national, federal and international public policies aimed at improving the environment for responsible wine production, consumption, and enjoyment. The organization strives to promote the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable viticulture and partnering with the tourism organization Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings and l ‘State as a leading travel destination. The Wine Institute also has an export program for California wines, which represent 95 percent of US wine exports.


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