There are some days that are just perfect. A group of friends piled into the car and headed to the lake, where we swam, picnicked and soaked in the California sun. The day before I had scored a vintage picnic basket at the grand Alameda flea market, and we pressed it into service immediately, using the sturdy plastic knives and plates that came with the set.
When we were tired we drove over to St. Helena, home of the Culinary Institute of America and Napa's smaller, fancier cousin, to eat dinner at Taylor's Automatic Refresher (www.taylorsrefresher.com). Yes, there is a second Taylor's at the Ferry Building in San Francisco and yes, it does have almost exactly the same menu. But the feeling isn't the same, as there is something about enjoying your burger in plein aire, at little umbrella festooned picnic tables in the "country", that can't be beat.
I had a pulled pork sandwich made with sweet, shredded Niman Ranch meat--it was topped with simple coleslaw and a soft egg bun. I also had a milkshake, of course, and it made the long ride back to the city, through the fireworks, that much sweeter.