We all love to dine Al Fresco – However, living in the UK we always face the threat of a rainy day, anytime of year so it’s best to be prepared. There’s something inviting about going against the odds, especially when it comes to food and dining. Especially when you’ve already been cooped up inside for months, itching to get back outside and mix up your dining experience, away from the same old dining table experience.
So, why not take your delicious dinners to a setting close to home? Say, the garden? or in our case our balcony which is perfectly positioned between the lounge and kitchen so food can be passed through the kitchen window. Forget the temperatures and the looks of disdain from the family. It’s time to mix things up with Al Fresco dining, even during colder weather and extend that outdoor season, we all know and love. We’re lucky that our balcony is protected from the elements by a roof but what do you do if you don’t have this luxury?
Here’s some tips to getting it right…
Making your garden another room
The way to pull off dining outside, is to create the illusion that you’re not really outside – you’re just in another room of your house. Whilst giving a plan ‘B’ to jump back inside if the heavens do open!
Having the ability to open up your kitchen into your garden is an excellent tool for this, as it shows the two spaces as one large area and becomes a little more inviting come dinner time. This can be done with folding doors that give a direct and open route to your garden, joining the two spaces together.
Keeping everything on the same level
Depending on the structure of your home, having the option of walking out of your kitchen into your garden (without taking any steps up or down) helps aid the feeling of your outdoor space being another room of the house. If this is a viable option, then the use of decking can spruce up your garden and provide the perfect platform for a fancy dinner or something a little different for the children to enjoy.
It will also add value to your home should you be thinking of moving on, as the garden is usually the most neglected part of the home. And, unless your potential buyer likes a project, they will be slightly put off by a garden that is neglected and void of a use.
Winter warming recipes
The promise of good food will get most people to venture outside, even in colder climes but the food will need to be very comforting to make them stick it out for the long haul. BBC Good Food have compiles a list of top 20 winter recipes that are sure to entice your loved ones towards alfresco dining, here’s five to whet the appetite…
- Sweet potato and butternut squash soup with lemon and garlic toast
- Persian lamb tagine
- Muffin-topped winter beef stew
- Chicken roasted with winter root vegetables
- Winter root mash with buttery crumbs
Other comforting winter recipes come from celebrity chef – and comfort food ambassador – Jamie Oliver. Sure to keep your family well-fed and nice and warm:-
Focus on keeping everything toasty
As well as scrumptious food, you’ll also need to set the scene for a dinner outside that won’t have you rushing back into the warmth. This is where you need to overdo it on the blankets, shawls and cushions to really hammer home the cosy vibes for your outdoor setting. Choosing warming colours such as burnt orange, red and browns will help to create the vision of heat.
When it comes to actual heat, you’ll need to make a decision on your outdoor heating that works with the space you have. A great item, that is prevalent in a glamping setting, is a chimenea. These can be bought for as little as £50 and take up very little space while offering the warmth you’re searching for and the added bonus of real flames.
Table top candles will also do the trick, along with a selection of warming drinks to warm the insides as well as the outside. Here’s a couple of drink recipes from The Guardian that are sure to warm the cockles…
- Pure drinking chocolate
- Mulled quince cider
- Spiced hibiscus tea
Again, we are back to food but it’s the focal point of getting the family on board with outside dining!
A BBQ off season is still a great idea, offering up the chance to use the BBQ outside of the usual strict June/July time slot each year and giving you the chance to show off your culinary skills to feed the brood. It’s also a great excuse for a no tech afternoon/night at home. Before your tasty grub is served, all mobiles and tablets need to be placed in the kitchen out of sight so that actual quality family time can be enjoyed without Facebook updates, Instagram browsing and loud phone calls with friends.