The First Al Fresco Dinner Of 2014 Thread

johnliu_gwApril 14, 2014

Most of the country is emerging up from a winter to remember, getting ready to greet Easter, and some lucky folks are even dining al fresco again. You've cleaned off the patio, uncovered the furniture, the plants are green and some flowers are budding, it is warm enough for shirtsleeves, and sangria, grill, firepit, and other summer treats are calling.

I want to start this thread for posts and pictures of your first outdoors dinner of the year.

Those of you in Southern California and Florida - yes, you are welcome to participate too, just try to minimize the gloating along with the photo datestamps that say 1/20/2014 . . .

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Yes it was a beautiful weekend in the Catskill Mnts.
Clear skies and hot. 75, t-shirt weather. No foliage, no shade!
We tapped our maple trees and smoked two organic chickens and two pork tips.
Potato packet and artichokes wrapped tight using the wood fired smoker heat...
(did not want smoked veggies)

Planted a few varieties of beets, chards and kales, arugula and glacier salad.

Forgot to pic our meal, but we did collect 15 gallons of maple water in 24hrs...
Still snow on the mountains but nice to see spring!

- i cut the artichokes in half, cut side down in a small roaster pan, (looks like something from a toaster oven),
with a couple cups of water and wrapped the whole thing in thick alum foil.
-10 taps, 4 big maple trees.
-made stock from the chickens and now have easy meals for a few days...and stock in the freezer.
Happy spring.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:19AM
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hmmm.... I would post an al fresco dining photo but it SNOWED again today in Chicago. That's right. more. freaking. snow.
Sleeven your weekend sounds lovely I will have to live vicariously through other's photos because the way our weather is going it doesn't look good for outdoor anything at all this week. Colder weather or rain until at least Sunday and I am too afraid to even look to see what they are predicting for next week.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:53AM
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I thought snow was just a dream...nope, we will get colder temps this week and suffer. But just a bit longer and then it will be glorious again for a very long time me hopes.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:15AM
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Melissa, it snowed here today too. Plus the county has a flash flood warning, 100,000+ people are without power because of the weekends 90MPH straight line winds, and there's an evacuation order for anyone living below the hydroelectric dam here because we got 3 inches of rain over the weekend in some spots.

Nope, no al fresco meals here yet. But they'll be coming along soon. Or eventually, at least!


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:16AM
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Well, the sun's shining but there's a niippy wind coming off the sea. It'll br a while before we'll be eating outdoors. DH cooks on the BBQ but we eat indoors!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:17AM
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Yes, winter reared its ugly head hear again last night. I returned to the Dallas area last night from Tahlequah, where it's 25 degrees now, even though the dogwoods and redbuds are in full bloom (I hope the blossoms are not lost) to bring in all the houseplants that had been living outside for a couple of weeks. Here in the part of the metroplex I live in, it's not below freezing, but it's close enough.

Nope, Al fresco dining will have to wait a few more days.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 9:46AM
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The DH & I had weenies & beans this weekend. The hot dogs were grilled out on the grill. Not much to take a picture of though. It was in the 70's this weekend. So far today the temperature has dropped 30 degrees with the promise of snow later on.

What I need to ask is, don't other people shovel a path through the snow to get to their grill during the winter?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:21PM
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The stores are selling watermelons, but that does not mean we have good enough weather to eat outside. (NY)

Not until the mosquitoes are ready for their dinners.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:42PM
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Here in Portland, Saturday was pretty nice with high 60F and mostly sunny. I joined a group for a 30 mile bike ride through the west hills.

Sunday was beautiful with high 65F-ish and sunny. I slaved in the yard, pulling weeds, clearing ivy, pressure-washing scum off the patio, uncovering furniture, and started repairing some of it. My knees hurt afterwards - I'm fit for cycling but not for anything else, apparently - and I'm still taking Motrin today.

We did have friends over and ate dinner on the patio. I didn't think to take pictures - I was so tired after the day of yardwork that I just threw together some dishes I've made recently and didn't have to think about much. We had chicken marbella (a dish I am still trying to get right); another salad of roast sweet potato, roast sweetened pears, vinegared onions, blueberry balsamic vinegar sauce; and cute little shell pasta with a mushroom sauce. SWMBO made hummus and our friend brought a tuxedo cake.

I'm not calling that an official al fresco dinner since we had planned to eat indoors, and only went outside because the dining room was too messy.

it is cloudy and cool this week. But hopefully there will be a real al fresco dinner soon. I'm surprised to hear how many of you are still seeing snow/cold. I had thought spring had truly sprung.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:58PM
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Here's a taco salad from January 21 - and so it is one day past your date of Jan 20. I photographed the salad separately from the table, but they are both from Jan 21. We had an unusually warm January and would be happier if we had more rain. I eat most of my lunches at this table in the pergola and watch the hummingbirds. We have Allen's hummingbirds that stay here all year and try to drive off all other hummers, but I did get to see an Anna's one day at lunch. Annas are more common than Allen's, but the Allen's are just what we happen to have here.

I've started collecting trays to carry food from the kitchen to the pergola, and I now have three trays - none of which match, and so I am planning to go back to Pier One and get a fourth tray, to match one that I already have. I used to use chopping boards for carrying food outside, but the trays are much more practical. Last month I bought some new outdoor placemats when we were in Palm Springs, and I have been enjoying those. I also bought matching coasters, and will photograph those when I have some interesting food to take a picture of. Normally I leave my camera at work when I go home for lunch.

Strange to hear that it is cold in Texas - I had always thought of April as a summer month and often too hot for eating outside, but then I was in Austin or Houston, which are pretty far south from Dallas.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:45PM
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It's 45 degrees and raining buckets here. It will be a few more weeks before eating outside sounds inviting. We did have warm weather last weekend. My two little neighbor girls had a picnic with peanut butter sandwiches.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:01PM
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Still a little too cold here too in the San Francisco Bay Area to be eating al fresco, although you can manage it in the mid-afternoon if you've got a space sheltered from the wind, which is bringing the fog in and out every day.

Like publickman, it actually was warmer here in January. I was watering the garden because we hadn't had rain in 3 months!

My idea of al fresco, I admit, is dining at a restaurant outdoors. Our best al fresco meal in 2013 was at Etoile at the Domaine Chandon winery in Yountville (north of Napa), just before Memorial Day. Perfect temps, no wind, and Chef Perry Hoffman's updated French haute cuisine was to die for! Totally swoon-worthy, yum yum!

We dined with friends at Bravas Tapas in Healdsburg, on the Sonoma side of the wine country, last month (March). It was foggy in the morning but warmed up just enough that we could sit out on the patio. Bravas is NOT the best tapas restaurant in the SF Bay Area, but it is very good and their patio is delightful, with excellent service. We did both a dry and sweet sherry tasting (flight of three each) with our meal.

Foodies might enjoy a look at Bravas' menu, which is linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bravas Spanish tapas, Healdsburg, CA (Sonoma County)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 9:01PM
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Like Lars and Jkom, our weather has been beautiful-- too beautiful and not enough rain.
We have enjoyed a few meals al fresco. Not many dinners outside, but we hosted friends for brunch a couple weeks in a row. We don't have to entertain- DH has always loved sitting at the patio table for breakfast whenever time allows.
We also have a hummingbird feeder (and added another on Sunday) as well as a feeder for the yellow finches filled with niger seed. The bird action is in a group of birch trees adjacent to the kitchen window and the table thereby providing endless amounts of entertainment.
With our recent garden reno we added a DCS bbq and sideburner in a built in island. I'm using the grill, but am struggling to figure out the right combination of temperature and burners to make it turn out perfectly.
For example tonight's dinner was grass fed top sirloin from the Ralphs/ Kroger store that just opened. I whipped up some kebabs and didn't marinate them for even 30 min. Bad move-- this beef wasn't all that tender and the heat from the grill was enormous... suffice it to say that DH had grilled veggies and Passover brisket, part deux!

I will master the new grill, however in the meantime, our warm weather beckons us to set the patio table!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 12:49AM
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April showers brings snow covered flowers.
Rained all yesterday. Not cold at all until last night, obviously.
(good thing i have the jumbo packet of salad seeds....will need to start that over)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:44AM
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Brrrrr, Sleevendog!

Lars, this cold snap was quite unusual, and set some records for parts close by. The northern parts of the metroplex had freezes Monday night/Tuesday morning, the latex freezes on record. Lots of people were out covering their tomatoes and other summer veggies. My brother in Houston said it was supposed to get down into the upper 30's even there.

We haven't been able to dine al fresco even in the good weather, as it's rained on our days off each weekend, it seems. Not that I'm complaining - in Texas, any rain is welcome.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:30AM
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Oh, that's over and done. I'll find a tick on a pup and get a mosquito bite by sunset. T-shirt weather now and need sunscreen. Tiny snow blob on the front lawn in the shade.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 2:01PM
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