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Al Fresco Dining: All You Need to Know to Get Started

Indoor dining was so last winter… Enjoy the fresh air and nourishing meal with al fresco dining!

Al Fresco Dining: All You Need to Know to Get Started


Al fresco dining may sound like something exclusively for a high scale Italian restaurant, but, surprisingly, it can also be enjoyed from your own home as well. This is because al fresco dining basically means eating outside in the fresh air which can be done almost anywhere from fancy restaurants to home patios.

Curious about how to embrace the al fresco dining concept in the comfort of your own home? Follow these tips to make open air dining an easy, enjoyable go-to during warm weather.

What Is Alfresco Dining?

Al fresco dining comes from the Italian word al fresco which means "open air". Therefore, anytime eating outside at a restaurant is technically al fresco, even if the fancy phrase is used or not. However, al fresco dining encompasses something a little deeper than just any open air eating experience.

Al fresco dining style is meant to be an eating occasion that is enjoyed in the beauty of nature, with loved ones in ideal weather conditions. These features add to the specialty of al fresco dining by making beauty and being in nature a key aspect of the experience. It is meant to be a relaxed, comfortable environment. This makes al fresco dining more than just scarfing a sandwich down while sitting on a park bench.

At Home Al Fresco Dining Tips

It is possible to create and enjoy an al fresco dining style at home and can be surprisingly easy with these simple but effective tips.

Set the Scene

Al fresco dining can feel elevated by some simple additions to an outdoor space. Start by having a table outside with chairs and putting a tablecloth on the table. Add all plates, cups, and necessary utensils for each place setting. Add to the table either a vase of flowers, candles, or hang lights around the outdoor area to add extra touches of beauty.

Consider other things that may affect the atmosphere during eating like if bugs will be out. If bugs may be a problem, put out natural bug repellent for the patio dining space before eating.

Choose the Right Time

Al fresco dining is ideally enjoyed when the weather is warm, but not too hot. It can also be best to dine while the sun is just setting (or rising).

If the weather is going to be hot or the table set up is directly in the sun, consider altering the time of eating or shifting the table to more shade if possible.

Keep Food Light & In-Season

Al fresco dining is meant to highlight nature and beauty. What better way to compliment this than by eating delicious dishes made with local ingredients? Al fresco dishes with summer produce can include the following:

Grilled BBQ chicken or cauliflower tacos as a main dish

• Highlight fresh, summer zucchini as an ingredient with baked corn and zucchini fritters or zucchini noodles with pesto

• Offer a few summer salads such as grilled vegetable salad, white bean salad, fresh tabbouleh or barley and farro summer salad.

Offer Refreshing Drinks

Drink options when dining al fresco can vary depending on guest preferences, but make sure everyone is staying hydrated. Ice water or cold iced tea can be simple but effective drinks for staying cool.

Or elevate drink options by offering sparkling water with cut-up fruit or cucumbers. Cocktails or mocktails can also be refreshing options and another way to highlight in-season produce.

Linger as Long as Desired

The feeling of al fresco dining is light and relaxed. It should not feel rushed, and guests should feel they can talk and casually eat as long as comfortable.

If the sun has gone down, be sure to have extra lanterns, candles, or other lights on hand.

In Summary

Anyone can embrace al fresco dining at home! Really, it is not something exclusive for high end restaurants.

Al fresco dining simply entails eating out in the open air in the relaxed environment of nature. This can be done by setting up an outdoor space with little touches of beauty and comfort along with highlighting fresh, in-season ingredients.

Reference:

A Simple Guide to Dining Alfresco. Published July 17, 2020. https://sugarandcharm.com/dining-alfresco.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on June 16, 2021. Updated on June 16, 2021.

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