Dining al fresco: the name itself conjures up the idea of elegant and exquisite tastes and experiences. Dining outside is something that everyone loves to enjoy whenever the weather allows. You may think of putting on an elegant summer dress and sitting down at a café in Europe to enjoy a meal of fresh fish accompanied by a crisp white wine while the cool breeze brushes your cheek. Getting outside into the fresh open air often opens up conversation and mood, and is a great activity to bring together your friends and family in the summertime. It is reminiscent of the slower pace of life of the Europeans, so channel that into your al fresco dining experience.

Where to dine

To create your ideal al fresco dining experience, you’ll first need to find the perfect place to site it. A patio is perfect if your home is equipped with one. Most people create an al fresco area in their garden so that they can also enjoy that while dining. If possible, create the dining space near the kitchen so it is easy to bring the food out.

Furniture

Next, you’ll need to equip your al fresco area with the furniture you need to entertain your guests. Patio furniture should add comfort and functionality to your al fresco dinner. Choose lightweight materials for your furniture to give it that summery feel. The furniture should also be created to be used outside, being resistant to rain, harsh sunlight and other weather elements.

Decorations

Some simple and tasteful decorations can lift your al fresco dining experience from being plain to be simply lovely and elegant. Find a charming tablecloth to add color and style to your meal. Flowers, a lantern or candles are all great options for decorating your table. The great thing about al fresco dining is that it’s completely acceptable to use paper plates, napkins and even plastic utensils if you want to. You can up the formality level but you can think of this as picnic style, and save yourself washing the dishes later.

Food

Now for the most important aspect of your al fresco dining experience: the food itself. This is what everyone is waiting for, after all. Summertime food is light and fresh, and it’s often easiest and best to eat cold food for an al fresco meal, unless you have a barbecue nearby. This way you won’t have to worry about transporting hot meals from the kitchen and things getting cold. Think cold pasta or potato salads, a meat entrée, sliced veggies, bread, watermelon, etc. For dessert, you can get creative and make a fruit plate, or serve something simple like ice cream. Of course you could go all out and make a cake or pie as well! But people tend to have lighter appetites in the summer so fresh fruit will likely be well received.