Hello, hope everyone had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. Hard to believe its the unofficial start of summer, this is going to be a strange one with still many things here in NY closed own and restrictions in place. But I will make the most of it and know one thing, there are plenty of alfresco meals in my future this summer, one thing I can do. I started the Entertaining Diaries because a lot of you seemed to enjoy the topic and always have lots of questions. So I started this series and decided to focus on one topic each time in addition to answering your questions. I love entertaining and though I am indeed quite rusty, with the Pandemic…..I still have it in me and cannot wait to rev up my engines yet again. Today I am choosing to talk about al fresco dining and entertaining friends and family in the great outdoors. After all the season is here! So, here are my thoughts on the matter as well as a few tried and true recipe ideas interspersed with your questions from the last post. ________________________________________________ I first decide on a color theme or just a general theme…whether it’s my favorite color combination of blue/green or maybe I am center it around flowers (like peony season) or lemons:) I will figure out how many we will be, normally for dinner no more than 8-10 so we can all sit at one table. In this case I had gone to a peony farm so they instantly set the theme! What’s not to love! If I buy flowers a few days early, which was the case here, I will put them in the refrigerator I keep in the garage (just like what florists do)! If I have a beautiful tablecloth, I love the tone it sets otherwise will opt for pretty table linens. Or as I did below I used a simple white tablecloth and allowed the flowers to take center stage:) I use my melamine a lot for outdoor dining but on occasion will bring out a more casual china. An example would be this birthday dinner I threw for my husband a few summers ago. Because it was his birthday I brought out china, just to make it feel a little “fancier”, thankfully we had a gorgeous day. We will often grill for outdoor meals. It is just a perfect and relatively easy way to insure a flavorful and enjoyable meal. We started with wine and cocktails and I had shrimp cocktail and a beautiful cheese board with brushetta for about an hour until we moved onto dinner. In this case here is what was on the simple but tasty menu- This Greek orzo salad is SO good. Evey time I make it, I wonder why I am not making it weekly. Pairs so nicely with everything from fish to chicken to steak. Even alone it is heavenly and refrigerated as a leftover…sometimes even better the next day! Dressing 6 large basil leaves 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon lemon zest 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt Salad 6 cups cooked, hot orzo* 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped 1/2 cup chopped roasted peppers** 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives 8 ounces sheep feta, cut in ½-inch cubes 1 cupt Italian parsley * Be sure to salt your cooking water for best flavor. See How To Cook Perfect Pasta.**This equals 1 ½–2 peppers. Buy roasted peppers in a jar at most major supermarkets I love making a charcuterie board. You can recreate something new every time and never have the same one twice. There can be something for everyone, if someone doesn’t like meat, then use more nuts, cheeses and dried fruits. Love them on wood boards but truth is you can get creative and use a number of platters/trays you might already own as the base. These are always crowd pleasers and are often part of my alfresco entertaining. Best part is there is no waste as you can just put any leftover in small baggies for snacking the next day. When eating outdoors, you want everyone to feel comfortable and at ease. Just by the nature of being outdoors, it is more causal. I will be sure to give my pillows a nice “plump up”, wipe down all the tables, sometimes put small vases of a few flowers just for an extra touch and always like to have candles. Candles set a tone and as the sun is setting, the flicker of candles sets a beautiful tone. And do not forget about musing! We love Bossa Nova and great jazz..sets a beautiful tone. I love ginger jars out on a patio, it just elevates the entire vibe. They are a lot more resilient that you would think, mine have withstood snowstorms! So, here are some of your questions- ________________________________________________ And that is a wrap for this edition of Entertaining Diaries. Now it’s your chance to ask any question you may have or suggest a new topic for my next post on entertaining. Always love and greatly value your feedback. Appreciate you stopping in, love hearing from you and how you like to approach alfresco entertaining. I am all ears:) Until next time…..