From the USA:
Fried chicken is an American classic when it comes to al fresco eating, and there are plenty of places with innovative recipes.
Momofuku Ko in New York is now offering a very economically priced a la carte menu in its bar area, which means diners no longer have to opt for the long, pricey (but excellent) tasting menu.
One of the now-signature items is cold (but hot) fried chicken. It’s served straight from the refrigerator and would be wonderful in a picnic basket. Spicy, sticky and full of umami, the batter contains both vodka and beer as a flavour enhancer.
After being fried four times for crunchiness, the chicken drumstick/thigh/wing is glazed with green tabasco, mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine) and yuzu (citrus fruit from Japan).
The two-Michelin-starred restaurant sells this at $7 (£5.30) a piece – so still no bargain, at least compared to Farmshop in Santa Monica, where you can get a whole Sunday meal for $48 (£36.40).
Farmshop is famous for its herbed Jidori chicken, brined overnight, coated in flour and buttermilk and finished off with rosemary and sea salt.
In Japan, jidori simply refers to mixed-breed, free range poultry, but in America, Jidori (note the capital) are vegetable-fed, trademarked cluckers sold originally to high-brow Angelino restaurants obsessed with provenance and ensuring no antibiotics have been stuffed into their birds.
Jidori chickens have since flown the LA coop and can now be found at select establishments across the country, from Hawaii to New York.
The fleeting sakura season is reason enough for a picnic in the eyes of the Japanese, who hold cherry blossom viewing parties, known as ‘hanami,’ right beneath the blooming trees. Foods eaten during hanami parties often feature sakura-themed treats, like sakuramochi (chewy rice-flour balls), and biscuits, cakes or puddings decorated and flavoured with the pastel pink petals.
Sweet Japanese treats have only relatively recently been making their mark on the West (including as a refreshing ice mound), but savoury sushi is the perennial favourite. Another appropriate time to note that beyond the most familiar version, there's also temari sushi (a casual hand-rolled sushi commonly made at home), futomaki (thick sushi rolls filled with a variety of fillings), inarizushi (fried tofu pouches filled with rice and sesame seeds) and onigiri (rice balls wrapped in dried seaweed).
A staple dish consisting of steamed rice accompanied by small portions of tempeh (fermented soy bean cake), marinated boiled egg, roasted meat, fried fish, spicy sambal sauce, peanuts and/or pickle, nasi campur can be found throughout the Indonesian archipelago and is eaten at any time of day.
When eaten on the go, nasi campur is served wrapped in a banana leaf – which unfolds to double as a disposable plate.
A traditional snack eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival, zongzi are hearty parcels of steamed glutinous rice with a variety of sweet or savoury fillings, and are often given as gifts during the holiday season.
Fillings depend on the region, but common examples include red bean paste, mung bean paste, braised pork, chestnuts or salted egg. Once heated, natural insulation from the bamboo leaves keeps them toasty for hours.
From the Philippines:
Cheese puto are miniature steamed cakes that make for excellent child-friendly finger food, and can be rustled up in a steamer in just 15 minutes. The batter is made using wheat flour, evaporated milk and shredded cheese.
At Buenos Aires’ much-admired grill restaurant Don Julio, head chef Guido Tassi is playing around with artisanal cured meats. One of the unusual options being hung out to dry is the non-traditional horse (though we’re not sure that matches up to Britain’s own charcuterie boom).