Summer is most certainly the season when we entertain the most. Dining al fresco is only possible for part of the year in Normandy, so we like to make the most of it. Invitations are often last minute and spontaneous, decided on a whim because the temperatures are warmer; because we bought something special at the market in the morning or just because good friends are in town.
The truth is that you don’t need any sort of excuse to organise an impromptu dinner between friends ….. in summertime, the living is most certainly easy.
The same goes for the table, while in the winter I often lay a table with layers of tableware and fancy linen napkins, my summer tables are much more simple. Just a knife and fork, and if we change plates between savoury courses then my favourite knife rest besides each plate are most useful. Flatware for dessert is either laid at the start or later, a silver spoon brought out with each person’s verrine or little fruit tart.
I generally provide a couple of glasses per guest, to be sure they can enjoy the wine, but also drink as much water as they wish.
Of course I can never lay a table without flowers, and at this time of year they are definitely all from the garden. I prefer smaller bouquets dotted along the table, that can be moved to make space for platters and never so tall as to hinder conversation.
My other latest favorite on the dinner table are the tiny individual salt cellars. The best ones are crystal and silver. I often come across these at antique and brocante fairs, and now have enough to provide one in front of each place setting. It’s only a tiny detail, but guests often appreciate the comfort of having their own salt supply.
Candles are a must all along the table, and in the summer as a precaution, I burn a couple of citronella candles on the walls around the table to keep any ‘moustiques’ at bay.
But the most important element to any dinner, and in any season, is the right combination of guests around the table. With the perfect dose of good humour, lively conversation and ready smile, the most simple meal becomes a banquet for a king.
I hope you are enjoying your summer entertaining, or if you are in the southern hemisphere, that you are beginning to glimpse the first signs of spring.
Please forgive my silence over the past couple of weeks, I have had back-to-back clients here and a minor family emergency, but now all is back to normal and I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off and enjoying the rest of the summer together.
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