With holidays abroad still uncertain for the time being, Kate Cartwright, from pottery brand Burleigh, shares some tips for capturing that holiday feeling when you’re dining al fresco at home.
If you are staying at home this summer, chances are you’ll want to make the most of the weather that’s (hopefully) headed our way. And, there’s no better way to capture that holiday feeling than by enjoying some continental-style al fresco dining in your garden.
Below, I’ve put together a few tips to help get you inspired for hosting your own dinner party outdoors, and your guests are sure to be impressed if you follow them.
Create an al fresco dining area
Your first goal should be to create a lovely al fresco dining area where you can enjoy a bite to eat in your garden. It’s likely that you’ll already have a spot in mind, such as a patio or under a pergola, so make sure that the space is cleared and ready.
Next, you will need to fill this spot with an outdoor dining set consisting of a table and chairs. If there will just be the two of you dining regularly, you can opt for a beautiful bistro set, but should you plan on hosting other guests, you will need to go for a larger table (big enough for any social distancing measures) and ensure you’ve got enough chairs to go around.
Design a destination inspired menu
When it comes to deciding what kind of dishes you will serve, why not design a destination inspired menu? This means choosing one of your favourite places to travel and then preparing delicious food in that particular style. You can also pick out some wine or cocktails based on your destination.
For instance, if you love lounging by the sea in Marbella, you could serve up a seafood paella in the southern Spanish style, or, should you prefer soaking up the sun in Santorini, a more Greek affair could be in order, complete with the island’s delicacy fava. Simply think back to what food and drink inspired your taste buds on your last trip, then share it with your guests.
Set the table with some beautiful dinnerware
With your al fresco dining area sorted and your menu decided upon, you can now think about how you will serve up your delicious dishes. To do this, I recommend investing in a beautiful dinnerware set to match the occasion.
Handcrafted ceramics in a timeless design are always a great choice, as you’ll not only be getting some quality dishes, but each one of them will be unique and sure to attract compliments.
Though it’s easy to overlook, the dinnerware that you use has a huge role to play in how your guests will enjoy their cuisine. If your food is presented on a deluxe plate, you’re already appealing to them visually and, when the gorgeous taste and aromas follow, they will have enjoyed a full sensory experience to remember.
Light up your space for after-hours
Once the food has been eaten, and you and your guests are enjoying each other’s company with an after-dinner drink, the sun will have probably started to set. This will be especially true if you have followed the continental tradition of dining slightly later in the evening.
With this in mind, you’ll need to light up your al fresco area. Placing candles on the table is always a great way of building a soft light, but you will need to add a few more light sources around to create a magical atmosphere.
For example, you could hang festoon lights over a pergola or gazebo, while stake lights can be placed along a path or in flowerbeds. With your illumination in place, you will be able to enjoy long summer evenings, even when the sun has gone down.
Add soft furnishings
Creating the perfect al fresco dining space is not complete without some luxurious soft furnishings to bring a little cosiness and comfort. Your guests will appreciate small touches that really make them feel welcome in your home, like adding some plump seat pads to your chairs for comfort or having some warm blankets on hand if the mercury drops.
Don’t forget to put down a nice tablecloth to really tie your dining table together — it also has the practical benefit of protecting your table.
Even though it’s tricky to travel at the moment, there’s no reason your taste buds can’t, so follow my five tips and you will be able to enjoy a great summer of holiday-inspired al fresco dining at home.
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