Never heard of al fresco dining? Translating to “in the open air,” an al fresco meal is like an upscale picnic outdoors with an array of delicious Italian snacks for sharing—and who doesn’t love an Italian picnic? Our Specialty Merchant Ken put together his favorite picks for eating al fresco. Read on for tips on hosting your own this summer!
Al fresco dining is all about having a lot of great food without having to do a ton of work. With cold and room temperature foods that are easy for guests to mix and match, you can stay out of the kitchen and just enjoy the fun and the outdoors.
As casual as it gets, you’ll only need a few simple Italian elements to make the perfect spread—and if you stack the picnic with high-quality faves, the food will do all the work for you. Ken suggests these tips to make your meal authentic and delicious:
- Al fresco eating is all about having a variety of options and flavors, so make sure to have a few antipasto for your guests to choose from. Olives, artichoke hearts, and cipollini onions in balsamic are crowd-pleasing classics.
- Every al fresco experience—and every food experience ever, in our opinion—needs a cheese plate! Make sure to have both some soft and firm cheeses so that there are plenty of options for mixing and munching.
- Take your cheese to the next level with flavor pairings: For the soft cheese, add a drizzle of honey for a salty-sweet finish. For the firm cheeses, try a traditional mostarda pairing (a unique jam made of fruit and mustard-type spices).
- To make the meal truly Italian, you’ll need a large selection of delicious cured meat. Keep it simple with everyone’s favorites: silky prosciutto and spicy salami are sure to hit the spot, and they will mix and match perfectly with everything else.
- Lastly, but very importantly, you’ll need to keep some Italian olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and red vinegar within arm’s reach—whether they are used to dress greens or to be soaked in a piece of Italian bread, make sure to offer only the best to your guests.
Find some starter options from Ken to help you plan an al fresco picnic here. Bellissimo!