Al Fresco Dining
Spring is finally here and although we still get the typical cold spell (perfect for all the great food ideas we blogged about in Winter) with the days getting longer and warmer, it’s time to emerge from our snuggle spots and hit the outdoors again.
Let’s take a look at how to make the best of dining Al Fresco this Spring. And we’re not necessarily talking braai here – there are plenty of ways to entertain outdoors!
But first we need to get rid of all the cobwebs, dry leaves and dust that have gathered in and around your outdoor entertaining area during the Winter months. There’s a reason why it’s called “Spring cleaning”! Dust your shutters, and clean your windows and sliding doors. Clean your patio furniture carefully, taking care to dust off all spider webs under the chairs. Wash pillows and cushions for outside seating like chairs and benches, and replace where there’s been water and/or sun damage or wear and tear. Make an effort to get your pool an inviting bright blue again and wash and refill fountains and water features with fresh, clear water.
Now it’s time to arrange your outdoor entertainment area to maximise your guests experience. Make sure that there is enough seating and that it’s comfortable. Use pots and stands cleverly to create extra space that allow for more intimate conversation without being cut off from the group. Also make sure that the largest part of your outdoor entertainment area is shaded to protect you and your guests from harmful sunrays. When people stand in the sun they usually wear sunglasses, which makes eye contact impossible and lessens engagement between the guests.
The decoration of your personal outdoor entertainment area should reflect who you are, so incorporate personal and quirky things such as rugs, ornaments, candles, potted plants and wall decorations to make the space more welcoming and homey.
Now we are ready to party!
Setting the table for Al Fresco dining should be simple and light. Of course flowers is a must, as are bright and sunny colours. Keep in mind that the weather is unpredictable this time of year, so if need be, you should be able to get everything indoors in a hurry. Also be prepared for gusts of wind by weighing down your tablecloth and securing serviettes and other decorations. Your centerpiece should be a standout – remember, you need to complete the bold beauty of Mother Nature, so continue the sense of splendor with a big vase of flowers.
As for the best part of outdoor entertaining, let’s have a look at what’s on the menu. Whether you are braaiing or cooking a light meal (we suggest plenty of salads and light meat such as fish and chicken), you can’t go by serving some hors d’oeuvres to guests while they await the main meal. Finger foods are always a winner, just make sure you have serviettes on hand. Serving finger food makes it easy to serve seated guests as well as those who prefer standing while socializing.
For drinks, we suggest something light and cold, like fruit juice or punch – simultaneously catering for non-drinkers – as well as cocktails and champagne. If it’s a BYOB party, make sure you provide a place where guests can keep their drinks chilled, such as a bar fridge or ice bath.
And that’s it. We hope you have many Al Fresco parties and make the most of Spring and Summer! For some great finger foods, check out Cuisine Bon Vivant’s menus and serving suggestions elsewhere on the website!