Alfresco dining
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When you’re blessed with a beautiful summer’s day, there is nothing better than gathering people together for a long evening of eating and drinking. Here are our tops tips and ideas to make it a stress free, and truly delicious affair.

Set the scenetableWhen you’re eating outside, you don’t need to forgo the home comforts. Lay the table with a nice tablecloth, jars of wild flowers and pretty plastic tumblers (glass is so easy to known over, especially in a summer breeze). Decorate the garden with some outdoor fairy lights, some pretty bunting and plenty of candles.

DrinksdrinksGet a plastic bucket, fill with ice and your favourite beverages: ice cold beers, some sparkling wine, local ciders. Maybe a pitcher of your favourite cocktail – take a look at some of our cocktail recipes for some inspiration or how about a jug of refreshing lemonade.

Foodorange-saladBy far the most important aspect. Start with bowls of simple salads made with lots of unusual and tasty ingredients such as:

  • Chicory lettuce cups, slices of beetroot, orange segments, blue cheese, mint leaves and a scattering of tasted walnuts.
  • Baby carrots halved lengthways, young radishes and new potatoes, strewn with thin slices of red onion, wild garlic flowers and sesame seeds.
  • Purple sprouting brocolli cooked in chili, garlic and sesame oil

For a really summery feel, decorate the salads with some edible flowers: nasturtiums, primroses, borage and pansies, along with flowers from courgettes, peas, runner beans and chive heads are all edible and delicious.

Rather than barbecuing the usual burgers and sausages, why not go for some lighter fish options. Mussels make a delicious starter. Just add some white wine, seasoning, maybe some finely chopped shallots and a crushed garlic clove and tightly wrap it all up in double or trips layers of foil and put on the grill for 10 minutes – best done on a bbq with a lid.

Similarly with a whole fish, stuff with herbs and slices of lemon and lightly wrap in foil. For a crispy skin, take it out of the foil and put directly on the grill for a few minutes.

For the meat eaters – go straight for steaks. The lovely charcoal flavour will really penetrate into the meat and shouldn’t take too long to cook. Top with some wild garlic pesto for some real flavour. Serve everything with beautiful fresh bread to mop up the juices.

To finishchocolate-brownie-1Deserts should be really simple. Grill some peaches on the dying bbq and finish with a scattering of mint leaves and some vanilla ice cream. Or stuff bananas with dark chocolate, wrap in foil and leave in the warm coals for 5 minutes, simply top with some chopped nuts. For something really indulgent, wrap squares of brownie in foil and leave to melt for a few minutes on the barbecue – serve with scoops of icecream, or thick clotted cream.