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July 2010

Chef's Table:
Fresh-Caught Fish!

Ideas and recipes for a simple summer feast


{Menu}
Potato-Chip Battered Fried Fish    
Apple  Cider Vinegar Slaw
Cucumber, Onion, & Tomato Salad
Trae’s Granny’s Macaroni & Cheese
Bourbon Blackberry Cobbler
Fresh-Squeezed Limeade

 

{Plan Ahead}

Find a Location
Waterfront properties are abundant in the Lowcountry, setting the perfect stage for a casual fish fry. If an avid fisherman graces the guest list, select a spot where he or she can reel in the fresh catch. Prefer your backyard to the open water? Nestle a table amongst the garden for an intimate spin on outdoor dining.

Time It Right
The warm glow cast from the fading sun provides the perfect ambience, so plan your dinner around the evening light. And if the festivities carry on past dark? Hang outdoor lanterns and place votives amongst table décor to enlighten the party.

Extend the Invitation
Casual dinner affairs don’t always call for a written invitation, but getting creative with your snail mail will set the stage for the event. Vintage fishing tackle bound in a small box, wrapped in festive paper, tied with twine and a handwritten note are certain to lure your guests.

Determine the Menu
A laid-back fish fry should be more about the fellowship and less about the hassle. Don’t be afraid to make dinner a collaborative effort. Ask guests to bring a simple side dish or a signature drink, and select make-ahead recipes that allow you to relax and can be served when the fish is ready.

{Set the Table}

Find the Furniture
Take heed of the occasion by pulling your everyday dining table outdoors. Follow suit with casual chairs and benches that encourage relaxed conversation and can easily be moved to accommodate the gaieties.


Wow With a Centerpiece
A rustic wooden bin filled with Poppies, fern and Queen Anne’s lace works well with the lines of a rectangular table. Lightweight fabric in a khaki and green ticking anchors the centerpiece and softens the table, providing the perfect setting for casual dinnerware.

Simplify the Setting
Casual fetes call for casual dishes; select simple vessels in a neutral palette that coordinate with your table décor. Place matching bowls on top of dinner plates for a pulled together look and accompany the setting with bamboo flatware ($3.95 at Crate and Barrel) that’s designed for outdoor use.


Welcome Your Guests
The charm of handmade placecards invites guests to their seat. Tie a hand-written tag to a live oak twig and display alongside a fresh lemon for a personalized delight.

{Helpful Hints}

Ask for Help
Everyone has a friend who’s good with flowers, a friend who knows about wine, a friend who loves to bake. Share the wealth. It’ll lighten the load and make everyone feel good about chipping in together. The pressure is relieved from the hostess to make everything “perfect” and everyone ends up having a better time.

Save vs. Splurge
Don’t go crazy—buy only one thing to spice up the party. A new set of tumblers or an occasion-worthy table runner can be the perfect yet simple fix to the setup.

 




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