Inspiring ideas for eating al fresco
The idea of eating outside come summer, is one I spend most of winter dreaming about. Of course if you are UK based that dream can be a difficult one to plan for. Without the consistency of a European or Californian summer, you can’t guarantee the weather and plan much ahead. But as soon as I see the chance of sun, I’m setting a table outside. There’s something about eating al fresco that makes food taste better and brings real joy.
The key for me is bringing together friends. Either old friends who are like family or a mixture of different groups and making new introductions. At my teal launch it was such fun seeing how well everyone got on and enjoyed connecting, everyone from fashion and interior designers to buyers, influencers, editors and old friends.
I like giving guests something to snack on as soon as they walk through the door. Crudités with a delicious home made hummus or or tapenade. Lots of nuts and some gourmet crisps. And of course a glass of champagne or a G&T.
I went to town with my launch dinner tablescape, but you could take as much or as little from my design. I decided to go with a full on green theme. I chose a few green and white flowers from the market; cow parsley, peonies, foxgloves and freesias, showcased in my bud vases. But my main adornments were the fruit and veg I bought from Portabello.
Globe artichoke, green peppers and tomatoes, limes, figs and greengages; dotted along the centre of the table, nestling them in between the vases and candles. Anything goes! And it’s a different way to decorate. I love that guests get to snack on some of the fruit decorations and I get to turn the rest into a meal the next day.
I absolutely love cooking but decided to place the dinner in the wonderful hands of chef @kate_the_cook who created a seasonal menu for the night. I’m a huge fan of sharing platters (as you can probably tell from the amount of platters and bowls I design and make!). And love for guests to pick the food they want to eat. It makes for happier guests and less waste.
We opted for fresh sea trout and samphire, colourful crispy slaw, English lettuce with a brown butter vinaigrette and jersey royals with wild garlic butter.
And of course brown sugar meringue for dessert. Needless to say there were no left overs to speak of.
I love adding candles as well as garlands of lights to create a magical atmosphere and although the weather held out for us on this night, I always have a stack of blankets and cardigans on hand to keep guests warm.
I love the refreshing taste of cucumber water. Slice it in discs or length ways and let the slices curl around in my pitcher. Adding fruit, vegetables or herbs to your water aids hydration. Adding just the smallest of sprigs of mint or rosemary helps your body absorb water better - which is most helpful in high temperatures.
Huge fan of candles and my favourite are by the Danish brand Ester & Erik. I love their tapered candles and their cone ones in many different hues that can stand on their own, dotted in between vases and foliage
I recently met Melanie Huyhn, founder of French holistic skincare brand Holidermie and fell in love with their ethical and organic beauty range which has just launched at the french Pharmacy in Marylebone. One of my favourite products is their factor 50 UV protection. If you're eating outside always remember the sun protection!
Love trays, love lacquer. And Addison Ross do the best ones. Scallops are divine but bold stripes are even better.
Nothing better than dining by candle light and I adore having lanterns dotted around my garden both in London and Ibiza. These seagrass lanterns from H&M Home are the perfect way to add atmosphere to your evening.