picnic in the park in February

tacos on the grass

You know, when it's winter time, you almost forget the color of the grass. Even around here, where it rains more than snows (or it doesn't snow at all), so the grass is there, not hidden under a blanket of white, the grass sort of disappears. It grows dull, like a piece of silver left in a cupboard and starting to rust. The grass may be green but it's a muddy, khaki green, nothing wonderful.

We always long for spring, Danny and I. (and you, I'm betting too.) We long for new vegetables and the chance to fire up the grill and warm air on our skin and picnics.

Yes, picnics.

Meals during the winter most often happen under the cover of darkness. Dinner means looking out the window and imagining the trees growing leaves out there in the pitch black. Nothing feels that casual. It all feels planned.

Last week, we had our first picnic of the spring, with tacos carnitas.

tamale on the grass

And tamales, the paper plate flung on the suddenly vivid green grass.

We were driving near the Arboretum in Seattle, wondering if our little one would go to sleep by the motion of the car. We really wanted to eat our take-out food from Rancho Bravo, an unadorned Mexican place, run by the same folks who ran the legendary taco truck of the same name in Seattle. They've let go of their itinerant ways and settled in an old KFC in Capitol Hill. There's nothing fancy about the place. The swiveling chairs are attached to the tables — this was clearly a fast food place. They only take cash. They have Mexican Coke and tamarind soda and about 12 items on the menu.

I still have to try the posole. But I keep coming back to the tacos carnitas. They're just so damned good. And cheap.

And the tamales, falling out of their corn-husk wrappers, fragrant with spiced pork and spicy sauce and all this warm goodness that steams up on the face and really makes you believe that spring is around the corner.

When the kid wouldn't sleep, we stopped the car near a patch of green grass. We climbed out of the car and had a picnic.

Lucy at a picnic in February

She could not have been happier, clutching her plastic fork, dropping rice on herself, nibbling on carnitas, and smiling. She didn't care that the grass was actually still damp and we all had wet butts. What does a kid care about that?

We were on a picnic in February.

Rancho Bravo

1001 E Pine St
Seattle, WA 98122
www.myspace.com/ranchobravotacos

Rancho Bravo on Urbanspoon

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6 thoughts on “picnic in the park in February

  1. Oh my gosh… what a lovely time for you and your family, Shauna! It sounds absolutely perfect- impromptu stops and adventures :-) I’m glad Lu loved it! I think once upon a time when I was a child I liked having a wet butt, too ;-)

  2. A picnic. What a wonderful thought. And that vivid green grass. The WI ground is still covered with white. But melting has begun. We’ll be thawed out in a few weeks (fingers crossed) and picnicking by May.

    Your lunch looks delicious. Wish Seattle were closer.

  3. I LOVE Rancho Bravo. They still have their taco truck if you are looking for an experience that doesn’t involve an old KFC :) It is located right by the Dick’s on 45th in the parking lot of the Winchell’s Donuts.

  4. Rancho Bravo is really a perfect picnic location, right across the street from Cal Anderson Park. I’m looking forward to summer picnics. Iris and I had lunch there the same week you did–my first visit, but not hers–and she recommended the tacos carnitas to me. I was surprised by how pleasant the former KFC dining room was on a beautiful sunny day, filled with happy people eating tacos and tamales.

  5. sounds fun, and delicious, picnics are a lovely way of enjoying the day and even mor in februry! by the way I love pozole! cheers from london

  6. Are you telling me that Rancho Bravo is GF? We’ve been staying away since going GF last summer because I was worried about cross-contamination and language barriers. I figured they must have some flour tortillas or put who-knows-what in the special sauce. Our blessing/curse is NOT having an obvious immediate reaction to gluten, even though it’s still doing damage on the inside. So that makes it hard to tell for sure whether foods are safe or not. Your pictures are making me hungry and inspired to give it a try, though.

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