How does one say goodbye to summer? How about with a wink and a kiss blown into the newly stirring autumn breeze. But don’t worry, the farewell isn’t forever; she’ll be back before we know it. And just because we are saying goodbye to the summer season doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to the outdoors.
In fact, this time of year produces some of the most beautiful evenings. Those pesky mosquitos lose their aggression, but the crickets and peepers still actively sing. The evening air tickles your shoulders just enough to make you drape your favorite shawl or cardigan in a regal sort of way. And, let’s not forget about the spectacular red-hued sunsets we see during this time of year, created by the drier fall air.
Summer passes the torch to autumn on September 22nd. Given these gorgeous evenings that are in our future, we thought besides a wink and a kiss, summer deserves to be feted! So, we turned to two of our friends to guide us on how to throw the perfect outdoor party!
The Greeks are masters of alfresco dining. Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar, located at 79 Park Plaza in Boston, has patio dining down to a delicious and swanky science. They have a gorgeous event space, and so we were very excited when they agreed to host our change of seasons party. We were especially excited to see what menu they would plan for our outdoor event!
So, we had the event space, but what about the “rules” for throwing a summer party? And what about gorgeous table accessories? Once again, we turned to Christofle of Paris, at their Boston location, the chic lifestyle brand that sparkles and shines with French style and decorum.
As always, store manager, Danielle Canty, welcomed us into their store to ogle the gorgeous products as she prepared to give us Christofle’s “Art of the Table Lesson.”
Anytime we step into Christofle, we become wide-eyed little girls. Gleaming silver and clear-cut crystal abound in every shelf and corner; and then there’s the jewelry, the fashionable origin of the Christofle brand.
Jess wore a gorgeous sterling silver lariat and cuff bracelet from the 925 collection, created by Andree Putnum.
Once in the store, we were joined by Christofle guests, who helped us toast the end of summer with our favorite sparkling wine – Syltbar.
This honestly isn’t a plug, at 49 calories a glass, we really are obsessed with Syltbar prosecco! Less sugar, less calories, and no hangover!
The Art of the Table
The Art of the Table is Christofle’s French etiquette lesson that takes formal French dining into the new millennium, by translating ideas and tips for the modern table.
One theme that came through both Doretta’s event planning and Christofle’s etiquette is that the most important tip is just to enjoy the celebration with your guests, and not to become overwhelmed by the rules. With that said, just in case, here are a few tips for when planning your outdoor celebrations.
Setting the Table
- As they say, when you’ve got it, flaunt it! So, if you have a gorgeous wooden or marble table, don’t cover it up with a table cloth. In fact, a rustic table with natural character is stunning when in juxtaposition with elegant accessories and gorgeous flowers.2. The part of setting the table about which most people fret is the placement of flatware. The French place their silverware down on the table, while we turn ours upward. But the general rule of placing the utensils outward in order of the courses still applies.3. Centerpieces should be low and not overwhelming. Bright gorgeous flowers and the Christofle Mood Flatware Pods decorated our table top for a stunning display of understated elegance.
- You’re outdoors, enjoying a cocktail, and there is a lovely table waiting for you. Not just yet! Don’t take your seat until the host or guest of honor is seated.
- Once your seated at the lovely table, be sure to keep your phone out of reach. This way, you won’t be tempted to scroll through Instagram or reply to any messages. You’re there to enjoy each other’s company, not the intrusive glow from a silly little hand-held device. Let the magic happen the old-fashioned way.
- Use the most outward placed utensil first, and work your way inward.
- Old school, or French etiquette tells us to pass to the left. However, with so many righties out there, modern times dictate to the right. So, which flow do you follow? Just watch your host and follow his or her lead.
- Christofle’s wine glasses are generally smaller than American-style wine glasses. The reason being that the bigger glasses may change the taste of the wine. However, these days the wine glass industry has a different glass for every varietal. So, what to do if the table is set with multiple glasses? Don’t worry too much, your host or a server should be the one pouring the wine. So, let them do the thinking for you. 🙂
- Remember, frat parties are better left in the 80’s and in particularly in a John Hughes film. So, don’t try to duplicate the drinking efforts. Pace yourself. You wouldn’t want to embarrass yourself or your host.
- French etiquette is to drink coffee for breakfast and tea after dinner. But, we Americans say anything goes, however, the hot beverages should be set up on a cart or nearby table. For coffee, put the sugar cubes in first and then the liquid. For tea, the order should be liquid, sugar, and then either lemon or milk.
When we were thinking of the perfect event space and who would have the most fabulous and fresh food for our outdoor party, our friends at Doretta (part of the Schlow Restaurant Group) were at the very top of the list.
Why? First of all, the food is spectacular. Second of all, we adore the staff. C’mon, they taught us to filet a fish, introduced us to Greek wines, and made us a delightful summer cocktail. Thirdly? Have you checked out their patio; hot plants, a continuous flow from the indoors to the outdoors, and a sexy vibe? If you haven’t been there, then perhaps you should check out their one year birthday celebration for a sampling of different wines and their fantastic food.
No matter what the reason, they delivered.
One of our favorite ladies in Boston, General Manager of Doretta, Megan McKinnon shared some of her expertise gathered from working 26 years in the hospitality industry. She also shared her mutual love for Doretta and their amazing event space.
Doretta GM Megan McKinnon
The restaurant can really host any event, including up to 300 people or a smaller more intimate group, as we had. Oh, and don’t forget the super cool Chef’s Table placed smack right in the heart of the restaurant. The 10 person farmhouse table is in the kitchen and offers guests a memorable evening of endless food and insight into the magical mechanics of what makes the restaurant tick.
While only a few may be privy to the inner workings of the restaurant, anyone can enjoy the wonderful food. The cuisine is mainly Greek, with a focus on the Mediterranean. And their wine list? AH-MAY-ZING. There really is something for everyone, and they know how to pair their wines with that wonderful Mediterranean food.
So, what are the recommendations of the purveyors of outdoor dining for an end-of-summer fete?
- A beautifully set table is eye candy of a different sort, but one that is much appreciated by all guest.
- Lots of Greenery. If you don’t have outdoor plants, head to Lowes or Home Depot, where you can purchase floor plants for a relatively cheap cost. They really will add to the ambiance!
- Once the sun has set, you should pay special attention to the lighting. A mix of candles and warm light will create a romantic and cozy glow to keep your guests attracted like little moths into the later hours. You can purchase battery operated lights to place on your plants. It may not be the most energy-efficient, but hanging a strand of larger incandescent lights (perhaps with some jazz music) will definitely set a toasty vibe. Edison, we applaud the warm glow from your filament bulbs.
- One of our philosophies rang throughout all the presentations. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take care of your guests and what they want. Make sure there is great energy and that your guests are comfortable, satiated, and happy. 🙂
The super cute Chef Leo Asaro talked with us about his menu choices for the evening and what makes for good outdoor cuisine.
The Talented Chef Leo, pictured with Jess, Kim, and Megan
We started with fresh Moonshawl Oysters and a lovely cucumber mignonette.
Chef Leo tells us to keep the food light and fresh for outdoor dining. Especially, as we head into the colder season when more hearty foods will be prevalent. Enjoy the last bits of summer’s bounty. We certainly did!
We loved the village salad. A simple dish with tomatoes from Backyard Farms, feta, red onion, cucumber, oregano, black olives and a light dressing. The fresh spreads paired perfectly, and added a carefree feeling to the event.
Rounding off the side dishes were lovely lamb meatballs in a cumin, tomato, garlic, and lemon zest sauce; and a heavenly grilled octopus salad.
The main dish, a branzino served whole and cut at the table, was the favorite among all guests. A light dish that celebrated all that is good about fresh food and was a perfect example of curated food presentation. There isn’t any doubt this dish will lure us back to the restaurant for more!
Branzino on Christofle Serving Platter
We truly had such a wonderful afternoon and evening. We hope that over the next few weeks you’ll find the time to enjoy one last meal outdoors.
Gather your friends and family and enjoy the last remnants of 2016’s warm weather along with loving laughter and great food. If it gets a little chilly, put on a sweater and turn your eyes to the sky. The good company, great food, and sparkling stars will all be worth it. 🙂
Jess & Kim
Special thanks to the following:
Our fantastic photographer and videographer, the one and only Todd Mazer.
Claude Michelle for the beautiful custom dresses.
Salon Capri Newbury Street
Jaclyn Angelini at Chanel Makeup on Newbury Street
Enjoy the Gallery!!!
Remember, never take yourself too seriously!!!!