Dining Al Fresco!

Do you remember restaurants – those places we used to go for a night out with friends, on a date with our person, to have a drink, to avoid cooking, to eat cuisine that if we tried to make at home might be just barely edible? Yeah, we don’t either. Kidding. But here’s the thing: we don’t know when we’ll be back to dining out, so we have to get creative in the here and now. Here’s how we plan to do that.

Restaurant re-creation. There are many “best parts” about dining out including the vibe, the food you might never cook yourself, and being served and having zero clean up. Well, we can bring some of this to life in our homes pretty easily. Ambience, for example, can be had by setting the table with the good dishes, using a tablecloth, a low votive candle, maybe even bringing in some wildflowers from outside for a tiny centerpiece, and definitely curating a playlist. And while it’s tough to cook the food that draws you to dining out to begin with, you can easily up your cocktail game (have a look here for some ideas for delicious drinks this time of year). The cleanup and service parts are trickier, since ultimately, someone has to do them. You can take turns, where one person serves and cleans to give the other the illusion of being catered to and then swap next time. Or, if that doesn’t sound appealing (because it doesn’t to all of us), you can empty the dishwasher before the meal and clean-as-you cook so there’s nothing to take care of after the meal except for the dishes you’re eating off of – and they can go right in the dishwasher (if you have one). If not, just leave them until the morning. 

Al Fresco, anyone? As the weather gets warmer and the days grow longer, the sunshine beckons and draws us outside. It’s not warm enough to eat outside after the sun goes down just yet in most places but that’s just a few weeks away. Until then, if you have outdoor space, open a bottle of wine or grab a beer and have a real apero before heading inside for dinner. Then when the weather allows, set your table outside and let the sounds of your city be the soundtrack to your meal. And if you don’t have outdoor space, picnics are the next best thing – socially distant, of course.

Stay local, support local. The directive is to stay home. When we talked to you about rituals, we told you about Takeout Thursday when we support our local restaurants and order our dinner in. This definitely gives us restaurant vibes because we generally order food we’re not going to cook at home and every time we order in, we change the ambience to match the restaurant we used to frequent – it’s pretty fun. Not to mention, it allows us to continue to support our local businesses who we want to make it through this uncertain time.

Bon appetit.