One of my favorite purchases we made at the end of last Summer were 2 outdoor umbrellas for our deck. We have used them rain or shine. I love how they have extended the living space, and they have been great for providing cover when want to eat outside. Out comes the zinc topped table, and within minutes we are able to dine alfresco. This is the time of year when big box stores such as Home Depot and Pottery Barn sell the umbrellas for a song.
We had guests yesterday for a Sunday supper. They arrived when it was quite sunny outside, so the umbrellas provided refuge from the sun. As the evening progressed and darkness descended, the umbrellas created a warm and inviting cocooning effect. The candles and lanterns illuminating the evening.
I like to put a caprese together with a variety of tomatoes. Size and shape help to make this quite visually appealing, as well as super tasty, as each tomato variety has a slightly different flavor. Cut some tomatoes in half, slice others, leave the tiny tomatoes whole. Use whole basil leaves on the outside of the platter, and tear other pieces of the basil and scatter them on top of the tomatoes. Use the best mozzarella you can find, and slice. Sprinkle salt over the entire platter–I like coarse Maldon sea salt for this, but really, any salt will do. The salt helps bring out the juices in the tomatoes, which really enhances the flavor. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over all. Let sit a bit, to let the flavors marry. This is really all about the fresh ingredients. Enjoy, enjoy.