In the image of the white-cotton-candy Marc Jacob’s Daisy commercial, as August floats it’s way to September, the return of balmy evenings creates multitudes of opportunities for the return of al fresco dining, our favourite kind.
Those on TikTok might have seen the rise of private chefs, such as Reilly Meehan, who started posting interactive videos from his client’s summer home in the luxury of the Hamptons, and saw his engagement nearly double, bringing the attention of dining firmly back to the home.
So with this in mind, we thought we’d take a little deep dive to the gastronomy we’ve been enjoying lately. Expect limited fuss, a lot of herbs and a bounty of fresh, delicious cooking.
What are we drinking?
Natural orange wine in bold-labelled, avant-garde bottles spring alive with quirks of the slightly imperfect – leaving thick sediment in your glass but promising slightly fewer sore heads tomorrow.
Somewhat dividing its audience, orange wine – white wine fermented with the skin of the grape –has been trending for some time now so we know we’re not the first at the game. Yet, summer feels like a nice cause to have a bottle on our table.
Yes, 2023, feels like the year of orange wine – the once-traditional oaky chardonnay in her streamlined bottle feels somewhat antiquated? We’re not saying she doesn’t have a place – denying this would be foolish – but this summer does feel alive with a touch of eccentricity – of the idiosyncratic – of the unconventional. The Czech Milan Nestarec does a nice one, which comes in a 1 litre bottle for a larger-than-life kick but we leave the choice up to you.
On the table?
There doesn’t seem to be an option of too much this summer – we’re not talking greed, and sustainable concerns are never far from the mind as we prioritise zero-waste, but perhaps to enforce a curated menu, we’re enjoying “more is more” colour on the table.
La Double J’s Napoli Iraca Placemats make a nice choice or take the metaphorical hydroplane to Capri, with their equally enchanting lemon-posset-channelling friend Capri raffia tablemats. Play with texture and fabric to add levels to the table with La Double J’s Iraca napkin rings with earthy hues evoking copper – and brass – and rust (one of our favourite colours for the summer).
In our cooking?
Firstly – and before we even detail recipes – let us just lightly speak to our love of fresh herbs. Herbs give simple dishes life, and we love this – simple and fresh. Sure, there are days when you want to WOW your guests and channel your French Masterclass hour, but for us – August – we want easy food. Food that can be scattered together in a perfect epiphany of taste and texture.
So, we’re going back to basics – food that can be put together in under an hour and can be shared amongst all – and herbs are the epicentre.
Enter left @boroughchef and her courgette and fried butter beans. Courgette, a little like our trusty aubergine, is another vegetable that wears many hats in our kitchen.
For this recipe, for the quickest and most convenient way, take two courgettes through a mandolin (if you have one – we don’t – but accepting of all kitchens here) or for those without, a sharp knife thinly slicing the vegetable into rounds will also do the trick. Rinse a tin of queen butter beans thoroughly in cold water, dry, fry and soften now-sliced courgette in a different pan, think low heat, a little olive oil, thyme, garlic if you have it – then combine beans into courgette slice pan with lemon, fresh parsley (think – h e r b s – we can never have too much – be generous) and season.
Summer on a plate. Yum.