Here's a recap of the al fresco lunch we hosted here at the house this week, especially for those of you who didn't get a chance to join me on Twitter as it happened.
I love greeting guests with a beautiful passed hors d'oeuvre. I think there's something so elegant about it! Good presentation, too, is in the details, so for the tray garnish, I opted for simple hosta leaves in a moss-covered frog. I thought it was appropriate and pretty, as one of my guests was Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden.
For the hors d'oeuvres, I served miniature curried pita chips with homemade hummus and roasted cauliflower, garnished with a spring of lemon thyme, fresh from the garden. I love how the variegated leaves in the hosta mimic those in the lemon thyme.
Now for table, inspiration began, as it often does, at the flea market, this one in upstate New York, where for 12 dollars, I found a set of flow blue plates with a fern botanical I love.
Even though they're antique, they feel modern to me. The transfer pattern, too, I thought worked well for an all-vegetarian menu. Now to keep things casual, still with an air of sophistication, I used Stitch Witchery to turn a fabric remnant from Stormville into a table topper. The dark blue gingham, paired with the monogrammed silverware, made for a good mix of formal and casual. Finally, the flowers I found growing wild in the fields around our house, then added leaves of variegated hosta to tie in the tray garnish. They remind me a bit of snowcap hydrangea, but I don't know what they're called. Do you?
The etched glasses I've been collecting at flea markets and thrift stores for years but only now realized how similar their pattern is to the botanical fern on the plates.
Just because it's not your monogram doesn't mean you can't mix them with confidence! One of the napkins (actually, they're vintage hand towels) does have my monogram, but the Christofle forks have an "MG," while the bone handle knives have a scrimshaw "KES." I think the look is eclectic, modern, and super rich.
Now, onto the food! The main course—individual grilled pizzas with herbed goat cheese, tomato confit, grilled radicchio and roasted vidalia onions—I served tableside on a vintage round cutting board, together with chipped parmesan cheese in a hotel silver dish and fresh basil, straight from the garden.
For a simple salad, I did bibb lettuce, cucumber and sweet red onion, tossed in a lemon herb vinaigrette and served in an old wooden serving bowl with vintage George Jensen servers in Lucite and sterling silver. Together, the mix of materials felt sufficiently country but with a sophisticated, modern edge.
For the final course, a dessert so simple and beautiful, it's my new summer favorite! Australia's Donna Hay I've always thought is such a genius and this recent pavlova recipe of hers inspired me to make it my own. First, I chose to use both pastry and whipped cream in the meringue, then topped it with macerated peaches and farmstand raspberries. It was just sweet enough with a crispy crust and a soft, decadent inner, the perfect ending to another summer lunch in the country.