It’s time for dinner in the most effortlessly romantic setting there is … outdoors.
Whether your setting is an expansive deck overlooking the Rockies or an ivy-clad courtyard behind a brownstone, your outdoor area can rival the ambience of America’s best outdoor restaurants. It’s all in the details.
More than just a good table and chairs, an outdoor dining area can reflect a sense of personality and character. In spring, you want it to convey freshness and warmth. A place where you can savor a glass of bubbly while enjoying the sunset and stay comfortable through an after-dinner drink. So here are some tips to create that enchanted setting.
Just as lighting creates the ambience inside, outdoor lighting also creates a magical effect. Candles are a must for both setting the mood and illuminating the table. Small lanterns or string lights hanging from the trees will have your guests smitten before they take a seat.
The outdoor dining table deserves as elegant a place setting as you would expect inside, though it can have a more rustic feel. Earthenware is fabulously suited to the outdoor table, especially when accented with fine glassware and linens.
Ensuring your guests’ comfort comes with being a cordial hostess … even if the only guest is your spouse.
First and foremost is the seating. Nearly any outdoor dining chair can be made more inviting with the addition of a cushion. Adding lumbar pillows to support the back also delivers a touch of unexpected luxury.
Spring evenings can be chilly, but there’s no need to head indoors. Take a cue from some of the best outdoor restaurants, and drape an outdoor throw over the back of each seat.
Designer chair tassels add the final touch of sophistication. The tassel has almost always been a symbol of prestige, and ornamental tassels dangling from each chair will make every guest feel important.
Alive. Warm. Vital. The Italian Riviera is much more than a haven for the sapphires-and-sunglasses set. It inspires us with colors that seem to hold a century of sunlight and seas that sparkle midnight blue. Life doesn’t get much sweeter than this.
Italians coined the word ‘alfresco.’ And when it comes to the delights of outdoor dining, no one does it better.
Enjoyed by family and friends, the meal is full of life and laughter. The setting gets its carefree style with fool-the-eye melamine dinnerware in brilliant tapestry prints.
It’s said that fashion is of the moment … but true style is timeless. Enter the Roma Collection, where the purity of Italianate lines and meticulous craftsmanship combine in a designful statement.
These elegant Italianate lines say ciao to the good times. Like a sail billowing in the breeze, the Roma Canopy Chair cruises through summer with ease.
Poolside was never so fabulous as when under the Tuscan sun. Golden basket-weave texture meets a hint of Bohemia with splashy ikat prints.
Tell us. How will you embrace the sweet life this summer? Start your Ideabook with inspiration from Houzz.
Most people proclaim the arrival of spring with the return of sprightly songbirds and daffodils. Yet others await something more tasteful … towering bundles of fresh asparagus at market.
Oh, those succulent, bright green spears. Once classified as a member of the lily family, this seasonal vegetable now has a classification of its own. We savor its intricate flavor, yet rue its complexity with dinner wines.
Enter Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp, elegant and poised, it has what it takes to balance asparagus’ sharp green flavor, especially when paired with goat cheese.
Many savvy Sauvignon fans head to the Loire Valley’s Touraine region for maximum value-for-money. And one of the most notable vintages heralds from the Bougrier family – a Loire institution for decades. Their double-gold medal Les Heritiers Dubois Cuvee Speciale Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is our featured Wine of the Month.
This mouthwatering 2013 Reserve, made with carefully selected grapes from top-sited vineyards, is an ideal white for those who enjoy a more delicate style than the tropical fruit-loaded character found in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Fresh and clean lime and ripe peach flavors. Lively but well balanced, with a very satisfying finish. In Touraine, locals would serve this with goat cheese – the classic match – but it’s also lovely with grilled seafood.
|The Wine:||Les Heritiers Dubois Cuvee Speciale Sauvignon Blanc 2013|
|The Maker:||Award-winning Bougrier Family|
Shop all of Frontgate’s Hand-selected Wine Cases.
Courtesy of Food & Wine
For these terrific sandwiches, use asparagus both raw (shaved into long, thin strips) and roasted. What also makes these sandwiches distinct is aged goat cheese (not fresh), which adds a richer flavor.
1 lb. asparagus
1½ Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup lightly packed mesclun
½ cup lightly packed mint leaves
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
4 ounces aged goat cheese, rind removed, cheese shaved
1 Hass avocado—halved, pitted and thinly sliced
Four split 6-inch lengths of baguette, toasted (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°. On a baking sheet, toss half of the asparagus with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender and charred in spots. Let the asparagus cool.
Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, shave the remaining asparagus into long, thin strips. In a medium bowl, toss the shaved asparagus with the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
In another medium bowl, toss the mesclun and mint with the red wine vinegar and the remaining 1½ tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper.
Mound the roasted asparagus, goat cheese, shaved asparagus, mesclun mix and avocado on the baguettes and serve the sandwiches right away.
Also – whether you’re an expert sommelier or weekend taster, you’ll appreciate inspiration found within our Wine Refined board on Pinterest.
Yet most days, it’s eaten on the run. Weekends are the perfect time to slow down and give this meal its due.
Surprisingly easy to make, crepes are an elegant way to start the day, and they’re sure to delight everyone who sits down at your table.
Brown Butter Crepes Carbonara
Contributed by Kelly Sterling
4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick)
1¾ cup whole milk
4 large eggs
½ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
Carbonara Sauce (recipe below)
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring continuously for 3–4 minutes. When the milk solids at the bottom of the pan start to turn golden brown, pour the butter into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
Combine the milk, eggs, salt and sugar in a blender; cover and blend for a few seconds to combine. Add the flour and continue to blend until smooth, about 30 more seconds. Add the butter and blend until incorporated. Pour batter into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 1 day.
When ready to cook the crepes, stir and check the batter. It should have the consistency of heavy cream. Thin with more milk if needed.
Place an 8-inch crepe pan (or use a nonstick saute pan with an 8-inch base) over medium-high heat. With a folded paper towel, coat the pan with a thin layer of butter; it should gently sizzle. Using ¼ measuring cup, pour batter into the center of the pan and immediately swirl the pan in a circular motion to evenly distribute the batter. Fill in any holes with a bit more batter.
Cook until the edges of the crepe start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the bottom is golden brown. Flip with a small spatula and cook until the other side is brown, another 30 seconds or so. Slide the crepe onto a plate and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining batter, buttering the pan and adjusting the heat as needed. Leftover crepes can be frozen up to 1 month.
Top each crepe with scrambled eggs and roll up. Drizzle with Carbonara Sauce (recipe below), garnish with chives, and serve.
½ cup thick cut smoked bacon, chopped
2 cups creme fraiche
2 eggs yolks
Pinch of nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated (plus more for garnish)
¼ cup chopped chives (reserve 1 Tbsp. for garnish)
In a large saute pan, cook the bacon over medium heat. When crispy, remove and drain on paper towels.
Pour off all but 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings and return to medium-low heat. Whisk in creme fraiche and bring to a simmer. Whisk in egg yolks, Parmigiano Reggiano, reserved bacon, nutmeg, salt & pepper, and chives. Remove from heat and keep warm while you assemble the crepes.
Explore Frontgate’s selection of gourmet cookware.