Having spent many a summer night in New England where my mom's family is from, I am all too aware of the nightmare of mosquitoes and the horrible bites they inflict on even the cutest of babies. Despite the warm evenings New England enjoys all summer, unless one has a screened-in porch, often times al fresco dining has to take a backseat to insects. I will never forget a warm summer evening spent at Bia Bistro, a lovely restaurant in Cohasset, Massachusetts. We asked to sit outside only to be swarmed by mosquitoes incessantly while we waited for our drinks and appetizers. The moment we saw our waitress, we begged to be let inside and she kindly obliged. Which brings me to the great Pacific Northwest. Although much of the summer was colder than average, as soon as I got back from my vacation earlier this month, the sunshine hasn't left. One of my favorite things about this region is the concept of the deck. It's such a Northwest thing. No bugs to worry about here. So....last week I threw a neighborhood BBQ on our deck. I had great fun preparing the menu, decorating the dining room and deck, and putting little personal touches on things. The guests all enjoyed themselves, the burgers were a hit, and though I was tired by the end of the night, I was asking myself, "When can I do it again?" I realized that I love entertaining and bringing people together. The only unfortunate thing about the whole evening was that I was so busy preparing and entertaining with neighbors that I completely forgot to take any pictures of all the fun! At the end of the evening I managed to snap a few lonely photos-- of the "bar" in the dining room and a sad pitcher of (nearly finished) white sangria. At least we had so many delicious leftovers that burgers were on the menu for the next three nights and I was able to take a picture of my plate the next evening!
Bar in dining room included:
Wine glasses, sangria and glasses adorned with swizzle sticks
Lemons in vases as an easy way to incorporate what I already had in the kitchen into a summer decoration
Bowls of chips and homemade yogurt dip with toasted pita slices for guests to snack on while I was preparing the final dishes
Do-it-yourself burger toppings including sliced tomatoes, onions, and lettuce
Leftover goodness- homemade burgers with potato buns and pink sauce, watermelon panzanella salad, oven-roasted rosemary fries, slow-roasted tomatoes, and jalapeno chips
Thank goodness I used recyclable paper plates so that the dish-washing was kept at a minimum! More time to slowly wake myself from the oh-so-worth-it food coma.