Designer-approved tips for an al fresco Easter celebration to remember …
Annie Dunne, the founder of AD Event Design, says the secret to designing a tablescape is all about playing with heights and layers. She decodes two beautiful settings and provides menu suggestions as follows:
I call this “look” Blue Bouquet. I always start with the tablecloth because it automatically elevates the setting. I love playing with prints especially for al fresco dining. Here I have taken a Liberty print and used it to make tablecloths – the green and blue works so well together. Next, I have used blue and white floral plates I found from a lovely supplier in Wales. When it comes to flowers you can simply use what you have in the garden or buy seasonal flowers from your local supermarket. I love to dot bud vases or jam jars along the table for an outdoor setting.
As for the menu, Irish smoked salmon on mini potato cakes with a glass of champagne is a lovely way to start an Easter feast. Potato cakes are so easy to make and look impressive; I recommend Darina Allen’s recipe. In my family, we are slightly strange in that we have turkey and ham instead of lamb for the main course – because once a year at Christmas is simply not enough! To finish it’s always nice to have a cheeseboard to pick at throughout the afternoon with a nice glass of red. I can’t recommend Toonsbridge enough, they offer a wonderful selection of both cheese and wine. To recreate the feeling of going to an ‘event’ I suggest leaving a party bag on each seat with a Butler’s Chocolate egg inside.
Green and white is such a refreshing colour palette and shouts spring. In “Garden Gala” I have played with different textures by using this pretty floral print, natural rattan charger plates and my favourite geranium plates. I like to use crystal glassware for a lunchtime event, the sunlight bounces off the glasses to create a beautiful sparkle effect across your tablescape. For a more formal vibe I suggest printing illustrated menus and write out each course – it elevates the table and adds an extra layer. This is also something children can be involved with – practising their calligraphy or watercolour painting.
For a more casual feasting menu, I always like serving a salad using seasonal vegetables – shaved asparagus salad with pine nuts is light and appetising. Hiding some mini eggs in the garden and suggesting an Easter egg hunt between courses (even for adults!) is always fun. As for a main course, I recommend Eric Matthew’s (head chef of Chapter One, Dublin) ragu of lamb with harissa, mint and goats cheese. As for dessert, I adore chocolate, so Easter is my favourite time of year. Often, I will melt some of my chocolate Easter eggs pouring it over frozen berries for a delicious dessert – if it is Butler’s chocolate all the better!
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