The Ultimate Guide To Alfresco Dining

“Contributed Post”

One of the most exciting things about the summer season is the opportunity to flex your culinary muscles and explore the world of alfresco dining. The ability to cook up a storm in your own back garden while the sun is beating down and the kids are playing on your well-maintained lawn is one of the highlights of the warmer days. The days are longer, the climate is balmy, and you love nothing more than inviting friends around for dinner. As soon as the first day of summer arrives, your friends are hounding you to host one of your renowned garden parties. You pride yourself on providing the best food in the most relaxed surroundings. From beautiful table decor for formal dinner parties to ambient garden lighting for the most serene evening soirees, this ultimate guide to alfresco dining will see you the envy of your neighbors with your beautiful summer dinner parties, picnics and barbeques.

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Your Garden

Your garden is the outdoor venue for your gathering and needs to be looking its best. The outdoor space that you have spent years maintaining is the foundation for your alfresco dining experiences. It’s time to whip on the garden gloves and get pruning if you’ve left the shrubs and flowers to take hold over the winter. Venture into the garage or root through the junk in the garden shed to locate your secateurs and lawnmower. Scale back the rose bushes, trim the hawthorn hedges and hose down the paving slabs. By cutting back the foliage, you will see the well-manicured garden that you are so used to emerge slowly. Cut the grass and weed the patio and you will have a beautiful garden once again ready for the alfresco dining season.

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The Food

The center to any al fresco dining experience, whether this is a casual lunch, an evening party or a more formal affair is the cuisine. What are you going to cook? This is a question that has an infinite number of answers. You could go classic and cook the meal in your kitchen, utilizing your garden as the dining room. You could set up an outdoor three-course dining experience with subtle solar powered lighting as the sun slowly sets. Or you could opt for a more laid back dining experience and invite your pals around for a good old barbeque.

The key to any successful barbeque is the meat. By selecting the best charcoal grill, you will ensure that you are serving up a taste sensation to your guests. Invest your cash in a superior barbeque, and you will be able to serve the most succulent pulled pork, the most delicious homemade burgers and the finest seared shrimp. Providing your friends with an unforgettable eating experience will allow you to show off your skills as a chef.

And who could forget the dessert? This is where you can really let your culinary imagination run wild. Check out the latest food magazines and menus of your local restaurants. Find out what is on trend and the latest fad. This summer is seeing chefs experiment with finger food and dainty morsels of sweet treats. Design a smorgasbord of dessert canapes. Try some mini chocolate brownies, tiny pavlovas and delightful little sorbets. By choosing an array of miniature desserts, you are catering to all of your guests tastes.

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Lighting

Dining by twilight can be atmospheric and allow for a more comfortable dining experience, especially if the day has been sweltering and the cooler air is a relief. The idea of engaging in a more formal three-course meal under the rays of the afternoon sun is not a pleasurable thought for anybody. Alfresco dining later in the evening, like our European cousins, promotes longer spells of quality time spent with family and friends.

Lighting is a great way of setting the mood and creating ambiance. If you are after a gentle light, opt for soft white fairy or bauble lights positioned at different heights. Drape them over walls, fences and around your table. For lighting that is a little more defined, choose solar powered lights that soak up the energy from the sun’s rays during the day and then use that energy to power the bulbs after the sun goes down. Depending on the style and shape of this lighting, you could strategically place them around the edge of your garden or fix them to your outer walls. If you are after something a little less conservative and want to explore something more fun, experiment with color and the variety of lighting that you use.

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The Table

Depending on your style of gathering, you may want formal table settings, or you may want your table to be the place where your food is displayed ready for people to dig in. You could opt for rustic wooden benches with throws and cushions keeping your seating arrangements comfortable for your guests. You may want to shift your dining table from your house and out into the garden. This way you can serve your meal under the stars.

As well as your seating arrangements and table settings, you can use your furniture, crockery and glassware to emulate the theme of your alfresco dining. If you’re throwing a quintessentially English afternoon tea, select some retro cake plates and throw up some vintage bunting. For the classic barbeque, stack up some disposable plates, plastic cups and paper napkins and invite people to get stuck in.

Now that summer is well and truly upon us, there is no better time to relax in the company of good friends and while away the summer evenings eating incredible food. Whether you choose to cater for the masses or host a more intimate affair, you will be creating a wonderful dining experience for your guests. The joy of cooking food for those that you love and seeing them enjoying your culinary creations and hearing their comments of appreciation is hugely satisfying. Enjoying the outdoors is good for the soul so get your garden looking coiffed and start planning your summer of alfresco dining.

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