How to Host an Al Fresco Dinner
June 19, 2013
How ToSummer EntertainingOutdoor Party
The weather here in New England has been a mess. And I'm pretty sure we're not alone. But for about a week, we got one, blissful day after another. My beloved peonies popped, the sun was shining, birds a-chirping and everyone that I passed had a sweet smile on their face. That week, we ate outside beneath our pretty tree every night. Al fresco style. So we thought today, we'd share a few little secrets for successful outdoor entertaining. Easy, effortless, you will most definitely be drinking your wine and not slaving in your kitchen kind of entertaining.
Keep things simple. I had a three silver vases filled with the same height peony. We didn't fuss over them, let them have a personality of their own and didn't add any other stem. Whether you have flowers in your garden or you're picking them up from the grocery store, keep them simple. One type of flower or one particular color of flower, spread out between a few smaller vessels. It looks luxurious but effortless.

Consider comfort food, passed family style. Most people serve very Summery dishes when dining outside. Which is great. But sometimes, it's nice to have a comfort food style meal. Something that puts everyone at ease, that makes them feel at home and forces them to stay just a little longer.


Cheese Plate with Fresh Berries
Linguini Bolognese
Green Salad with Simple Vinagrette
Crusty French Bread
Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Make the primary elements ahead of time. The cheese plate was prepared ahead with 3 varieties of cheese from sharp to mild, fig jam and fresh berries, inspired by this one here. I made the bolognese the day before when I had some free time. It's an awesome recipe that we'll share next that can easily be made ahead then reheated. Which meant that I only had to boil pasta on the day of. I also made our simple vinagrette ahead of time, whisking together 1 tsp whole grain mustard, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil and a dash of salt/pepper. So when our guests arrived, I could kick back and enjoy myself because all of my main elements had already been pulled together.

Add elements of luxury. Just because your dining outside, doesn't mean that things have to be overly casual. We used these gorgeous linen chargers as our foundation, so that only our top plate needed to be replaced for the courses and our table stayed pretty in between. We also pulled out our favorite linen napkins and mismatched antique silver. We served good wine and played great music. We wanted our guests to feel special and yet utterly relaxed.

Coming up next, the yummy recipes that made our evening so lovely!