mahabis guide // dining al fresco
Summer is here, perhaps only fleetingly, and the time is now to embrace outdoor dining as you seek to maximise your time in the sun. Rather than hurrying meal times in an attempt to escape back outdoors, plan al fresco gatherings and see dining as a social occasion to be prolonged and enjoyed at a relaxing pace outdoors.
Now is the time to entertain outside, allowing meal times to drift lazily into the night. Whether you choose to cook for an intimate gathering or a large group, an al fresco dinner party is the perfect way to combine entertaining with relaxation. Create a tranquil ambience, make your guests feel comfortable, and let the wine flow.
All too often, meal times are rushed and frantic. Far from the social occasions of the past and our own childhoods, we tend to eat hurriedly sat in front of the television, rarely coming together to dine socially in our own homes. By creating an outdoor summer soiree, you can begin to bring back the social aspect to dining.
Choose your location
If you have a garden or a yard, the experience will be altogether easier, as you can nip in and out of the kitchen. Sit around a long wooden table in the middle of your garden, or create a make-shift low table from wooden pallets and surround it with piles of throws, blankets and cushions to sit and recline upon.
If you don’t have access to a private outdoor space, put together a picnic and retreat to a meadow, a beach or the side of a lake. Take piles of blankets along with you to create a comfortable and cosy aesthetic.
Create the perfect ambience
Pull together a beautiful table setting, adhering to a rustic theme to complement the outdoor setting. Lay the table with linen tablecloths, create your own bespoke menus to sit on each place setting, and decorate with seasonal blooms placed in glass jars. Consider that the relaxed pace means that the event is likely to last into the night, and scatter candles and lanterns around for lighting once the sun sets.
Comfort is key, as is diminishing the need to rush. Plan for a slow pace by supplying blankets for your guests to wrap around themselves if the temperature drops, and ensure that the seating area is comfortable, removing the need for people to get up from the table and retreat to a more relaxing spot.
Plan a simple menu
Rather than fretting and spending most of the evening in the kitchen, plan a manageable menu where most of the work can be done in advance, leaving you free to unwind and socialise with your guests. Place large sharing plates and bowls full of salad on the table that can be passed along for your guests to serve themselves, so that you can sit beside them and have no need to fuss.
Keep the food light, fresh and rustic, and opt for dishes that time can be taken over, rather than those that need to be eaten whilst piping hot. Consider preparing a drinks station close to the table, where your guests can easily refill their glasses or mix cocktails.
The key to a successful al fresco soiree is to allow yourself to relax, slow down and enjoy the evening. Remove all elements that may cause stress and create a calming ambience where everyone can take their time and unwind.