“Dining Al Fresco”
Not only do I love to eat but I love to eat under the stars! Now that the heat wave has finally passed and we don’t know how long its going to last – take advantage of the fabulous weather and have an intimate dinner party by moonlight. As I like to say, bring the dining room outside! Dust off your china, shine your silverware and buff your crystal – its time to party!
Now as you will all soon learn, this party girl is a little “type A” and starts all of her party planning with lists and enlists! I write the list and enlist my husband to do all the work for me. Pick the date and write up your invite list. Don’t bother with a formal invite – send an email, text, Facebook or call. NEXT- what’s on the menu? Hmmm, that’s easy, call Marcia Selden. No, seriously, don’t get overwhelmed by the details – planning is key.
In my house, it is a no brainer – my husband, Greg, loves to cook and create; I love to design & decorate. The perfect party planning duo! Now you may not have that winning combination but don’t fret, read on.
Menu…think simple, light and seasonal. Easy yet tasty food is always unexpected and appreciated. I am all about turn-key so I like to create a menu where we can do most of the food in advance. I can’t stand when my husband or I spend most of the time in the kitchen and not out enjoying our company. Here goes the menu: Hors D’oeuvres – in this house we do antipasto. Why, you ask because it is all food you can buy and set up prior to your event, it tastes amazing and looks fabulous!!!!!! First course…Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Herbed Ricotta.
Couldn’t be easier; read later on for recipesEntrée… I love salmon, it’s my favorite fish. More importantly, it is one of the only fish dishes you can eat hot, cold or room temperature; a definite winner in my book. Poached Salmon Rosettes with Cucumber Curls, Dill Sauce, Herb Roasted Potatoes with Fresh Mint and Steamed Asparagus. On to the pièce de résistance…DESSERT. End the meal with something yummy, sinful decadent chocolate brownie sundaes. Ooohhh, I am getting hungry just writing about it : ) Put out some great biscotti (easily purchased at your local bakery) on a pretty plate and voila, your menu is finito!
Beverages…again the key here is SIMPLE; bottles of red wine, white wine, light beer and of course a simple summer cocktail always sets the mood. A Caipirinha is a Brazilian cocktail that is perfect for the summer months. Make pitchers of the drink the morning of, store them in the refrigerator and they are ready to serve.
Décor…Keep it simple-use what you have in the house. This is not a magazine shoot – it is a dinner party and you are going to be surprised to realize what you have and own. Just spend a little time looking through your inventory. Since you are dealing with a true party girl – I have quite a collection of china, glassware, tablecloths, etc.
All of which are eclectic and collected everywhere from department stores to tag sales, antique shops and of course my favorite haunts – IKEA, Christmas Tree Shop and The Dollar Tree. Like my mother always says, it is not where you buy it or how much you spend BUT how you put it all together. Dining under the stars and moonlight is the whole point of the party and so the mood is set.
The magic of the outdoors in combination with your garden/backyard is the backdrop to your décor. Dress up your patio table with a tablecloth or no cloth at all. Garnish with freshly cut flowers from your garden in various containers – vases, Ball jars, old Coke glass bottles, galvanized watering cans, and of course, tons of votive candles. Download some soft dinner music (Jazz is always nice) onto your IPOD and your party is ready to roll.
I don’t know about you but I am off to plan my party.
Until next time, my party planning friends, I’m outta here!