What is meant by dining al fresco? In my opinion its enjoying a meal outside in a lovely setting. I hope this post inspires you to enjoy more of your meals outdoors! At least while the weather permits! 😉
What does it mean to dine al fresco?
Living on the coast in California has made me super spoiled to dining outside. And with the state of affairs in our world today al fresco dining has become crucial for the survival of many restaurants. To dine “al fresco” simply means to dine in the open air. I feel the Italians do this best. What is it about sitting outside that makes a meal that much more enjoyable? I’m going to share some easy tips on how I create this ambiance in my very own backyard.
This post was sponsored and created for Flat Top Hills wines. I truly love their wines and entire philosophy surrounding how they create them. It was an honor to collaborate with them again. This post is for readers 21 years and older.
How to create the perfect al fresco dining space
Tip 1: Start with your setting.
I’m not referring to a place setting but the actual location. When you think of “location” in this case you are looking for a spot that will also double as “decor.” Meaning- a beautiful backdrop, for instance, a corner in your yard you would pose for a picture, or in front of a beautiful plant. Trees make for a super romantic setting when dining al fresco. For this dinner, I chose the big tree in our backyard. It provides shade and also makes for such a lovely experience.
Tip 2: Keep it casual yet cozy.
Dining outdoors is supposed to be more casual. That’s part of the charm! Yet making an extra effort goes a long way in encouraging your guests to linger longer.
Experiment with using textiles in a variety of ways.
A pretty tablecloth or linen napkins will help to make your dining experience that much more special. Also, if you have a bench consider layering cozy throws or pillows on top. This way if your guests get chilly they’ll have a throw blanket on hand!
Lighting is also crucial if your meal takes place at dinner time.
I love sitting under string lights and lighting candles! Check out my post HERE on how I did this to create a cozy outdoor room during fall! I love using solar fairy lights like these. I even put them in cute Moroccan lanterns from World Market. They come on automatically every night. So easy!
Tip 3: When creating the perfect al fresco dining experience music and flowers go a long way!
Try even cutting just a few flowers and greenery from your own backyard and placing them in inexpensive mason jars. This is super easy to do and isn’t too fussy for an al fresco meal. And music is just always a good idea. In fact, I love listening to French cooking music on Spotify when dining al fresco!
Tip 4: Pair great food with great wine!
You can’t have a great outdoor dining experience without some really great food! Since I created this meal at the end of summer I took full advantage of what my farmers market had in season. Fresh produce in season is the best!!!
My al fresco dinner menu:
Flat Top Wines Al Fresco Dinner
Spicy Strawberry and Avocado Salad
This salad can be made with mixed greens or spinach. I crushed up spicy pecans from Trader Joes, and sprinkled on top. Use fresh strawberries, avocado slices, crumbled goat cheese, shredded mint or basil, diced red onion and balsamic dressing.
This burger is created by smashing hamburger patties onto a hot griddle. We added cheese, grilled onion, fresh tomatoes from the farmers market and avocados from our ranch!
BBQ Balsamic Peach Dessert
Peaches are so delicious. We have lots of them ripe at the ranch right now. We sliced them in half and grilled them with rosemary. Flip over into a bowl of vanilla ice cream and drizzle balsamic vinegar or glaze on top. So good! This paired perfectly with the Flat Top Hills 2018 Chardonnay.
Spicy Strawberry Avocado Salad
For this simple meal at home in our backyard I wanted to use fresh in season ingredients that would pair nicely with my Flat Top Hills wine. I chose to make a spicy strawberry and avocado salad using strawberries I purchased that day from my local farmers market. And since we live on an avocado farm I had to make sure to add those in too! The homemade balsamic dressing, strawberries and goat cheese tasted divine with the 2018 Flat Top Hills Chardonnay. Full recipe and blog post coming soon!
Homemade Smash Patties
I decided to pair the Flat Top Hills Cabernet with a juicy burger. But not just any burger… a smash burger. Have you had one yet? A smash burger (or smash patties as some people call them) is made by rolling up hamburger into a ball and literally smashing it onto a very hot griddle. Layer with cheese and stack two smash patties together and you are left with a juicy burger experience you will never forget! Its’ such a simple concept really but it does make such a big difference! Keep scrolling for the full recipe below! This was sooo good with the 2017 Flat Top Hills Cabernet Sauvignon.
BBQ Balsamic & Rosemary Peaches
When I think of late summer harvest I think of berries, tomatoes and peaches! This dessert is perfect for dining al fresco because it can be made on the grill. I’ll post a full tutorial soon, but all you do is cut a peach in half, layer a sprig of rosemary underneath and plop it on a hot grill. Then once it gets those pretty nice charred lines flip it over for a few more minutes. Serve it warm on top of a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle balsamic on top. This along with a crisp chilled 2018 Flat Top Hills Chardonnay was absolutely lovely!
How to make smash patties
Homemade Smash Patties
- burger press
- griddle or frying pan
- cookie sheet
- 1 pound ground beef preferably 80% lean
- 1 cookie sheet to place rolled out burger balls
- 8 slices cheese any cheese you like!
- 1 seasoning of your choice We love the Meat Church brand!
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil drizzle on hot pan
- Divide your ground beef into 8 even sections
- Roll each section into a ball and set on cookie sheet
- Warm up pan or griddle to 350 degrees fahrenheit
- Place one burger ball onto pan and smash flat with burger press
- Allow to cook for 2 minutes then flip
- Add one slice of cheese and cook for 2 more minutes
- Repeat steps with remaining balls
- Layer two smash patties together to form one smash burger
- Add toppings of your choice! We love avocado, tomatoes and grilled onions with these.