In the summer, we love entertaining in the garden. As it is quite hot during the day, we usually invite family and friends for a late dinner Al Fresco. I’ve wanted to set an Italian tablescape for a long time now as I love Italy and summer is the perfect moment to do it. Italy is such a wonderful country that has so much to offer: the culture, the beautiful landscape, the gardens, the ceramics and glassware… I wanted this table to be a tribute to Italy by showing you my own way of how to set an Italian tablescape. It is also a trendy cooking destination these days and many cookbooks coming out this autumn are focused on Italian cuisine.
However, I have a little issue with Italian food. I must be one of the rare person you know who does not like Italian cuisine and it’s not always easy for me to travel there because of that. What a strange little creature I am! I don’t like cheese (of any kind) and I’m not fond of pasta either. And even when I order a dish that I think is « safe » for me, the chef always adds parmesan on top which ends up being a nightmare for me to eat. But I love the fruits and vegetables they use in their cuisine and so, I cook them a lot at home slightly changing the recipes I find in Italian cookbooks.
With this Italian tablescape, I really wanted to pay a tribute to Italy: I’ve used mainly Italian dishware and glassware, making it as colorful and lively as their culture is, by mixing many different patterns and colors. Blues, yellows, reds… everything seems to be matching together in a pretty happy mess. You can almost hear the Italian Mama in the background and that delicious Italian language coming from people simply happy because they enjoy a good meal together. La Dolce Vita…
This table setting is a bit different from my other tablescapes. It is less formal and more inspirational. We love entertaining guests around a buffet and not always have them sit at the table waiting for dishes to be served. And we can thus spend more time chatting with them instead of spending all the time in the kitchen. It is friendlier and a lot easier too, having big bowls of food (which does not necessarily have to be cooked) that are just waiting to be emptied. I usually serve white wine or rosé with a jug full of homemade limonade. Here, I’ve chosen blackcurrant lemonade as I had made blackcurrant juice and jam a few days before.
There are not many flowers either on this table as I really wanted to enhance the produce. And sometimes, having bowls of fruits or vegetables as a decor is more beautiful and looks more rustic than arranged flower bouquets. The visual effect is more striking too as they bring a lot of color, texture and volume to the table. You can also add artichokes (love those too) as they are very pretty scattered around the table. And if you prepare for your guests an artichoke salad it is even better! Try also an eggplant dish with soy and garlic, a tomato salad and a lemon cake. I also like adding aromatic herbs instead of bouquets sometimes to play with different levels of height. It also brings a nice authentic countryside fragrance : it smells like summer in a way.
I also wouldn’t see an Italian theme indoors. It HAS to be Al Fresco. This is the essence of Italy and it has to be done the Italian way. We have several cypress trees in the garden and I always think it is a nice wink to Italy to set the table next to them. And when the sun sets, we light the candles and add candle lanterns of different sizes on the grass around the table.