mid summer dining

by Sharon Santoni
table laid for outdoor dining

Mid summer dining is something I love! In our temperate climate, we await the summer al fresco dining season with impatience, and this weekend , after a grey and rainy week we saw our window of opportunity!

The table was laid, with everyone giving a helping hand. We lit the barbecue fire for the heat and the prettiness but didn’t actually cook here. The meal was delicious and generous (I can say that because my husband was the cook 🙂 ) and we lingered around the table until the early hours, laughing, talking and putting the world to rights.

table laid for outdoor dining by barbecue

We are lucky here not to be bothered by bugs, which would otherwise make al fresco dining more complicated. Here are my tips for successful summer dining:

the food – keep it delicious, simple and using fresh, seasonal ingredients

the wine – we enjoy an aperitif of champagne or white wine before we eat, followed by a choice of wines with the meal. And of course there are glasses for water too.

the table – in this spot in the garden, we are close to the fire, and sheltered beside the barn wall. I always offer shawls to the girls, and I like to use cushions on the wooden benches. Of course there are flowers down the center of the table, here I used a dozen dahlias popped into jam jars.

table laid for outdoor dining

lighting – candle light whenever possible. Here I used some antique terracotta pots as candle holders, plus other smaller candles for spots of light. On the stone wall behind us , there are also candles in our pretty beaded candle holders, that sparkle through the evening.

the company – what is a good dinner without great company?! Friends and family mixed together, lots of laughter, tenderness and the will to savour the moment.

How about you? Is alfresco dining a big thing where you live, or is too hot? I’d love to hear.

table laid for outdoor dining

You can find these antique terra cotta candle holders here, the pretty paper napkins here and the candle holders on the wall here


Lorrie August 8, 2021 - 5:34 pm

Here on the west coast of Canada, we make the most of our short summers by eating outdoors when we can. We do much the same as you’ve suggested with a simple meal (something grilled plus dishes that highlight the fresh produce available just now) and a beautiful table. Your stone wall would be lovely for keeping the heat in as night falls and the air cools.
Such a luxurious look you achieved, Sharon. Lucky guests!

Cheryl August 9, 2021 - 3:55 pm

What gorgeous photos… How lovely to be able to sit outside with friends… sadly it’s too cold here in Melbourne, Australian! We can only dream of warm balmy summer evenings sharing a meal with friends…

Rita August 11, 2021 - 6:01 am

We have to come out of lockdown – that’s what I am dreaming of. Summer will arrive soon enough.

Ingrid Wilson August 8, 2021 - 9:59 pm

Living on the south eastern coast of South Africa, we usually have warm and sunny summers, so we tend to eat outside as often as the weather permits. We have a large deck which we use frequently both for lunch and dinner, and the favourite mode of cooking is to “braai” or barbecue. We have a large built-in barbecue on one side of the deck, as well as a Weber. We like to keep things simple so it’s usually some kind of meat, like lamb chops, chicken, or steaks, and of course the traditional ‘boerewors’ which literally translated is farmer’s sausage. South Africans are big meat eaters, but we also like to barbecue fish from time to time The side dishes include various salads, and always a dessert to finish off. At Christmas we roast our turkey outside in the Weber and still have all the usual trimmings, even though being in the southern hemisphere we are in the middle of summer! And of course no meal goes without our excellent South African wines. It is a very casual and relaxed way of entertaining family and friends.
Your table looks so fresh and inviting and I love the candlelight. Thank you for sharing.

DD August 9, 2021 - 1:44 am

Looks absolutely beautiful!

Julie Robertson August 9, 2021 - 9:09 am

Living in the Scottish Highlands warm sunny days are so welcomed so it’s happy faces for us Highlanders.
After a long winter this summer has been one of many evenings eating outdoors easy food lots of salads & for dessert lots of Scottish strawberries topped with vanilla whipped cream.
Love your table

Katheine August 9, 2021 - 2:05 am

Being in hot and humid Philadelphia, we plan al fresco dinners weeks ahead, sometimes with croquet, but often end up inside bc of the rain, or heat. It’s always fun and comfort is the main -ingredient. that…plus great summer food. This weekend ended up inside with summer specialties like pasta chiscken salad, deviled eggs and crab Louis salad….all delicious and in the comfort of air conditioning!

Vicky from Athens August 9, 2021 - 2:42 am

How wonderful and romantic! Your dinner parties must so much fun and so
memorable. I’m afraid the heat, humidity and mosquitoes here in N. Georgia don’t lend themselves to dining al fresco any time soon.

Alice Genzlinger August 9, 2021 - 2:57 am

It’s been perfect weather here in Colorado to enjoy meals on our enclosed porch where mosquitoes can’t reach us. One of our favorite meals is a low country boil where everything is boiled in a large pot and spread out on a large platter. Lots of wine before snd after dinner keeps the conversation going. Dessert can be anything from ice cream to cobblers to cake or pies as I love to bake.

Carolyn August 9, 2021 - 4:34 am

Lovely, so inviting!

Barbra August 9, 2021 - 10:25 am

U nas w Polsce musi być ładny obrus na cały stół, ławki z oparciem albo foteliki ogrodowe, a na stole miejsce na półmiski i salaterki. Ostatnio popularne są świeczki elektryczne, bezpieczne.
Grill – dużo kiełbasy i mięsa, grilowane warzywa, sałatki.
A do picia soki i piwo, lepsze wino u nas ma nieakceptowalne ceny.
Ale najważniejsi są ludzie i atmosfera.

Pat August 9, 2021 - 1:24 pm

Simply beautiful table, and that location near the barn wall seems so cozy and inviting. I love it all❣️

Kate Granado August 9, 2021 - 1:36 pm

The setting is stunning. My favorite part of entertaining, besides, our friends; is setting the table. The candlelight makes me want to return to more dinners. Most of our entertaining is for a 2:00ish lunch. Either day or night the joy is in the entertaining and the love and happiness around the table. Beautiful post gracias.

Philippa Roberts August 9, 2021 - 4:58 pm

I love your table setting, so romantic. I had the family around last night in West Vancouver Canada. We dined outside and my table looked very festive with a Mexican table runner down the middle and hydrangeas in large glass bowls. We overlook the garden and the sea. The evening was perfect with lots of local wine and laughs with my family.

david terry August 9, 2021 - 7:00 pm

Dear Sharon, Here is my favorite, learned-just-this-year trick/truc for enjoying those al fresco meals just a bit more thoroughly…..particularly if, as happens regularly here in the American South, you step out on your porch or patio to find that, seeming overnight, paper-wasps and/or hornets (far worse and MUCH more aggressive) have built one of their mongo nests, so that it’s hanging from the eaves or your porch ceiling.

All one has to do (short of dousing the nest with gasoline, setting it on fire, and running like hell back inside…..which is always a risky business with the clapboarded houses these bugs prefer) is to blow up/inflate a large, brown, paper grocery bag. and hang it up. I didn’t believe this would work, but it does. Apparently, wasps and hornets are very territorial, and also disinclined to build nests or hang around where bigger, more successful wasps and hornets appear to be living.

Who knew? In any case, this is the first Summer I can recall during which I haven’t had to contend with a buzzing hornet’s nest hanging somewhere within ten feet (which isn’t much) of my guest’s heads as they try to make conversation.

And, yes…..I fully expect that one or more of your Australian readers will write in to say that this won’t work, since their hornets are the size of yorkshire terriers. It does work hereabouts, however.

Level Best as Ever,
David Terry

Sue August 9, 2021 - 8:20 pm

Ha ha ha! Loved this David!
You have the best readers Sharon!!

Marla Patterson August 10, 2021 - 12:39 am

OMG. cut it out!!! Just toooo gorgeous ! Lovely post.

Sue Fox August 10, 2021 - 5:38 am

Sharon – what a perfect setting to give your guests a wonderful evening!
In Melbourne Australia we are in lockdown and winter but you brought hope and something for us to look forward to – roll on summer!
Thank you Sharon
Sue Fox

Debbie M August 10, 2021 - 9:08 am

What a beautiful setting Sharon. Really like your dinner plates. Your bbq reminds me of one my father built when I was growing up in Sydney. Spent many Sunday afternoons during the summer enjoying the bbq. Great idea to use like a fire pit as you did.

Mrs. Laura Susan Bamberg Gideon August 15, 2021 - 10:52 pm

I’m so jealous of your dining options in summer! Here in north Georgia, or where I grew up in central Alabama, bugs during the summer are referred to as our state birds. Therefore, summer dining outside involves lots of citronella candles and an early exit into the house. I prefer to eat outside on our pool deck in the fall. Many of my friends find it too cold, but I especially enjoy it. Thank you for sharing your ideas – I will make good use of them!

Toni August 31, 2021 - 5:33 am

Here in southeast Utah the temps are still over 100 degrees so it will be a while before we can gather outdoors. But luckily, my home has two outdoor rooms where we can choose either sun or shade throughout the day. We’re able to spenduch of our time outdoors during the fall, winter & spring months. Life in the desert is a bit turned around, but we love it here!

snow rider 3d November 2, 2023 - 7:41 am

On the stone wall behind us , there are also candles in our pretty beaded candle holders, that sparkle through the evening.


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