A cool evening and the imagination flies to a precise moment. A relaxing, snug, and friendly dinner in the garden, maybe at home. Thoughts outline an evocative evening filled with friends, cheerfulness, and good food to be enjoyed in company. Cheerful and pleasant friendly moments, spent amidst the soft colours of the evening, surrounded by nature and by that vivacious atmosphere typical of the warm season.
Each garden dinner is one of its kind, but they all have something in common. We explore the elements that identify this convivial event, which is so particular in style and context.
This is the first essential element. Outdoor dinners are mainly organised in late spring or on summer evenings, perfect times to enjoy the mild twilight air and the coolness offered by the plants, trees and flowers surrounding us in their radiant beauty. What could be better than sitting at a table with a light summer breeze caressing your skin after a long, clammy day?
The magic lies in the setting, whether it is ad hoc or natural.
If you are lucky enough to own even a small piece of garden, think about how you can make it cosy and suitable to receive your guests. Take care of the lawn so that it is well cared for and not too “dirty”, check the surrounding plants well, get rid of any shrubs and branches that have become superfluous. If you are not one of those lucky ones who can boast a piece of green land, no worry! A corner of the terrace or a large window with a view onto the outside will do. Just recreate the natural atmosphere of a green and flowery environment by surrounding your space with plants of different sizes.
This is the little world around which the whole evening will revolve, becoming the co-star of our setting. Every object should be designed to recall and recreate the style we would like to give our dinner: from the tablecloth patterned in fresh and bright colours, to the centrepiece made with small plants in earthenware pots (yes, taken from the terrace), to the bunches of wild flowers in small recycled glass bottles adding colour and a light fragrance to the setting. Check that the soil in the vases never touches the tablecloth and limit the number of scented flowers so as not to overpower the fragrance of the dishes.
As far as the table setting is concerned, it is a good idea to create something that is in harmony with the context. Beautiful and very suitable are the rattan plates that add a sophisticated but informal touch to ceramic plates you can choose in matching shades or totally in contrast, with the colours of the tablecloth. I also like a mix of porcelains; the important thing is to maintain symmetry and rhythm on the table without exaggerating with the proportions. As far as glasses are concerned, we can easily combine a beautiful, faceted glass goblet with a simple coloured tumbler, perhaps belonging to the same dining set.
A touch that is not at all obvious and certainly of great effect!
Italian director Federico Fellini used to say that life is a combination of pasta and magic and certainly choosing a menu that includes long pasta shapes and seasonal tomatoes is a perfect way to hit the target for a typical Italian dinner with friends. After all, we are always looking for light, fresh, and above all simple food that allows for relaxed conviviality in hot weather. The right combination in this season considers both flavour and colour. And the classic panzanella, perfect to make in advance, will be a feast for the eyes and the palate. And if you want to end on a high note, a delicious dessert is just what you need. Offered in single portions or in a large baking tin, something wonderful to admire and to congratulate you for at the end of the meal.
Lastly, to leave everyone speechless, we need to pay attention to a few things that will make the ambience even more magical. Put all your eggs in one basket and place mini tea lights on the table to illuminate without cluttering the space or the view, and also all kinds of lanterns. Glass vases filled with lights on the lawn, hanging from trees or placed on windowsills will be enough to create multiple points of light that are able to illuminate without blinding, adding a soft and suffused feel that always offers wonderful sensations and a delightful closeness.