Al Fresco Dining in Style
Jul 10, 2015
Times have moved on since al fresco dining in Britain meant Heinz Tomato Soup (sometimes known as Car Soup) and ham sandwiches, combined with seventy mile an hour winds and rain.
People are now prepared for the elements with patio heaters and long range weather forecasts!
Professional Party Planner Henry Bonas gives us the low down on summer feasts Al Fresco style…..
To me Al Fresco means Theatre!
Fire is a must, throw caution to the health and safety wind and get hold of a charcoal BBQ. Gas BBQs are simply cheating and do not give you the same depth of flavour. Texan style smoked BBQ pork is a real favourite at parties and also great for late night munchies in wraps.
However, you must consider the BBQ as a warm up for things to come….
Fire Pits conjure up a wonderful sense of theatre and create the most amazing atmosphere. Once the cooking and devouring of delicious delights is finished, guests can sit around the fire drinking and chatting into the night. For a 21st birthday party this summer, we plan to spit roast kid (a small goat not a small human!) marinated in Greek aromatics over an open fire pit…guaranteed to impress even foodie fanatics.
If you live in an apartment and only have a balcony then a fire pit may be a little extreme. But that doesn’t stop you rustling up a Jambalaya or even a Gumbo with local Cerney crayfish.
For the seafood lovers, Fruits de Mer is a winner, especially when washed down with Phillippe Raimbault Sancerre 2012 from Thomas Pantons Wine Merchants in Tetbury. My own personal favourite is fresh lobster served with plain rice, salad and homemade mayonnaise – very simple and absolutely delicious, especially when eaten in the confines of your garden.
Another fish option can be in a Dutch Oven on a bonfire (good way of combining cooking and gardening) with squid or cuttlefish or even better octopus. Stick a chunk of half beaten garlic and a good dollop of passata, a glug of red wine and any random herbs that haven’t taken over your flower beds yet and stick it in the fire for an hour or two. Hey presto, polpo al pomodoro and the crowd go wild! Also, very fuel efficient as you don’t even have to fire up the Aga which should be off, if the thought of cooking outdoors comes into mind…
My most memorable Alfesco dining experience was on a beach on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides (next stop Greenland). We arrived to see three large succulent lambs roasting away on open fire pits and drank fine claret all night out of disposable mugs.
Remember that it’s the people who make a good party… but ignore the planning at your peril!