We live for summer entertaining. In fact, the Alex and Trahanas ethos is to act as if it’s summer all year round.
In summer the days are long, the doors are open, the sun is out and so are the people. And how luxurious is a morning swim before preparing a sprawling summer lunch with close friends?
Entertaining is the ultimate treat, and a gift for the special people in your life. We love spending time designing a menu tailored specifically to the guest list, creating something that’s a feast for the eyes and taste buds. We gather recipes and images from chefs, cookbooks and restaurants we love before finally deciding on the menu.
If you’re hosting a dinner, we suggest guests arrive around 5pm after the peak heat of the sun. Serve a glass of delicious champagne on arrival and let the evening roll on from there. Ideally, all your dinner preparations should be sorted, allowing you to give guests your full attention and settle in for the evening with no more responsibilities to attend to. This timing means your table setting is in full view, and there’s even time for an aperitivo before dinner – all while it’s still light (we love that gorgeous summer evening glow). Then dessert, digestives, more wine and then perhaps some dancing if the evening works out that way. A pitch-perfect playlist should allow guests to escape and unwind in the relaxed, languorous setting you’ve created.
Of course, hosting a summer meal is as much about the mood and table setting as the food you serve.
Our Five Tips for Styling Your Summer Dining Table
Table styling should be fun and relaxed – never stuffy. When the table is set with pieces in a gorgeous mix of colours, heights, shapes and textures, it really sets the tone for the occasion. Enjoy the ceremony of styling the pieces you’ve collected over time: for us it’s Apulian hand-painted ceramics in different sizes and shades, Italian wine tumblers and colourful water glasses by Bitossi, and loom-woven linen from Lecce. Finish with an array of seasonal flowers and fruit. We love to dress a table in Mediterranean hues of green and blue, reminiscent of warm summer holidays by the sea.
We love to use tablecloths in bold colours, which are great for hiding red wine spills (a sure sign of a good night). But we’re also not precious about using lovely white textured linen cloths, which will allow your tableware – in our case, hand-painted ceramics – to shine. This is also true for any textured or colourful serving platters or glassware. Large format linen napkins feel indulgent too.
Be generous with servings (and plate and dress everything right before you serve); keep the meal uncomplicated, but abundant. We love a Mediterranean share-plate menu of simple yet delicious dishes. A mountain of glossy pasta on a ceramic statement platter; a hefty slab of Parmesan, placed straight on the linen tablecloth; bottles of wine spread across the table. This kind of meal encourages movement around the table and conversation between guests. Use as much fresh produce as possible and don’t overwork the ingredients – in summer it’s all about highlighting natural flavours, colours and shapes.
Serve key dishes on bold feature pieces. For example, we serve lobster pasta on our oval lobster platter. Or we’ll present giant tiramisu in our large face serving bowl. There’s a reason it’s called entertaining – use all your show-stopper pieces.
Mood lighting comes into play when the sun goes down. We love candles in varying heights and sizes. We’re fans of Tony Assness’s beautiful candles – he’s a master. – mixed with an array of short and tall drip-resistant household candles.
Most of all, relax and enjoy the process – it’s summertime.