Dinner parties are a great way to grab your nearest and dearest and settle down with some great food. And, with the warm weather upon us, there’s no better time than now to enjoy your favourite dishes out in the fresh air together.
So, if you’re looking to add a twist to your dinner party this season, read on to discover our top tips for dining al fresco.
Plan some creative dishes
While it might be well within your comfort zone to serve up your special pasta dish, a dinner party is the perfect opportunity to get creative and hands-on with new recipes and food ideas. If you’re planning on doing a full 3-course meal, you should be thinking of how you can make it unique and memorable for your guests.
Even if you’re not very creative, adapting classic recipes like bruschetta can make a big difference to your menu. So, why not switch out tomatoes and red onions for some goat’s cheese and butternut squash to unlock summery flavours? Alternatively, hand baking some ciabatta bread to accompany your olive oil and balsamic dip will earn you some serious taste points from your guests — plus it’ll hone your skillset in the kitchen.
Adding a creative twist to your dishes will show your abilities in the kitchen and be even more rewarding when you’re clearing away empty plates. So, ensure you put some time and effort into differentiating your menu to make it truly yours.
Pick quality ingredients
Although adding twists can make your dishes standout, so can picking high quality ingredients.
When it comes to mains, beef is a classic dinner party favourite, so why not offer your guests a luxury dining experience with some of our succulent sirloin steaks? Teamed with creamy mash, sautéed vegetables and a rich peppercorn sauce, you’re sure to impress your guests. However, if you prefer a more delicate meat, we recommend following this Roast Lamb and Spring Vegetables recipe from Britannia Living. Using a fine boneless leg of lamb will give the dish a tender and flavoursome edge. And, as it requires minimum effort, even first-time hosts will be able to nail it.
When it comes to dessert, opting for a creamy yet fruity combination will ensure your sweet treat is the perfect finishing touch. An Eton mess with flavourful hand-picked berries will be the ultimate winning dessert. Plus, you could even make up a matching coulis for an extra burst of flavour.
Choose fine wines
When it comes to choosing the drink of the evening, you should ensure that the one you pick will perfectly complement the food. If beef is on your menu, a robust red wine, like a Bordeaux, will complement it tastefully. However, if you’re opting for lamb, you’ll need a more delicately flavoured wine, like a Californian Zinfandel and Merlot. And, for poultry, a white wine will suit best. So, do your research with this wine pairing guide from Wine Folly.
Although your guests are bound to love your wine picks, it’s always a good idea to offer some non-alcoholic options as well. So, if it’s a particularly humid and warm summer evening, offering a tasty homemade lemonade will be a refreshing addition to your menu — and one that will be welcomed by those designated drivers.
Seek expert help
If adding a sophisticated edge to your dinner party is proving mind-boggling for you, don’t fret! Whether it’s what meat you should be serving, or what cheese will complement your menu best, specialist butchers and delicatessens can help you. So, don’t be afraid to head to the experts and ask when you’re unsure. As well as being able to provide you with specialist knowledge, visiting places like deli’s usually mean you can try some tasters before settling on a purchase. This means that there will be no nasty surprises for you or your guests when it comes to serving up. The Hampstead Butcher & Providore can offer you their expertise so you’re picking the best cuts of meat and deli dishes for your menu. Find your nearest one here.
Set the garden atmosphere
Along with your good food, your al fresco dinner party should have a relaxing and sociable atmosphere. So, dust off your garden furniture and lay an attractive dinner table for the perfect environment for your guests.
Among gathering napkins, cutlery and glassware, be sure your garden looks presentable and orderly: a mow of the grass and quick neaten up will have a big impact and impress your guests. Additionally, adding lights will ensure you can still be sociable when the dark sets in. Fairy lights like these LED string lights from Lighting Direct will be good for guiding guests around your garden, while candles on the table will contribute a cosy summer feel.
Your al fresco dinner party menu can be as inventive or as simple as you like, just ensure you’re using high quality ingredients to give your guests the ultimate dining experience.