It’s summer time and the perfect weather for outdoor get-togethers with friends. Whilst formal dinner parties are the perfect night in during the cold winter months, come summer time it’s all about filling your garden with great friends and good food long into the evening. Here are our top tips on throwing the perfect Sloanie BBQ.
While the main event is the meat – posh sausages, pulled pork burgers and spiced lamb steaks – what sets the Sloanie BBQ apart is the sides. No potato salad, boring green leaves or standard coleslaw here! Load up your table with big bowls of roasted vegetables with quinoa, handmade hummus, and beetroot, feta and walnut salads. Moroccan and Middle Eastern food is having a big moment in London right now, so dishes like this roasted butternut squash and red onion ensemble by Yotam Ottolenghi are really popular.
Keep the seating relaxed and throw a pretty tablecloth over a couple of trestle tables set up to form a banquet arrangement, and dine underneath the stars. A seating plan helps avoid awkwardness about where to sit when you’re introducing new friends (or match-making!) and it’s strictly passé to sit couples together or opposite one another in preppy circles. Create simple place settings by chalking your guests’ names onto slate shapes, and get everyone to move three places to their left before pudding so they get to chat to new folks. Low tables are even more relaxed, with guests sitting on mismatched blankets and cushions, which they can snuggle up under later when it gets chilly.
Relaxed Table Dressing
Winter dinners may be smart, ornate affairs but garden parties are best served chilled. Pick simple garden flowers and set them in tin cans or jugs to decorate your table, and count out your cutlery into large mugs for guests to help themselves to when they sit down. Tea lights in jam jars look gorgeous as the sun goes down, and stringing plain white bunting between the trees gives any event an instant sense of occasion, as will hanging paper lanterns.
Choose something simple to mix and invest in a large drinks dispenser with a tap on the front so guests can help themselves as the night goes on. We love a glass of Pimm’s for a summer BBQ, so keep a bowl of fresh mint sprigs, diced cucumber and strawberries on the side so guests can make their own concoctions. Elderflower cordial is a lovely soft alternative to sugary sodas, and tastes gorgeous with a sprig of mint or a slice of lemon.
Bon appetit, Sloanies!