by Ricardo Rodriguez | photos by Natasha Moustache
I am unabashedly a summer kind of guy. To me there is nothing better than a warm evening of delicious dining al fresco, a cold glass of champagne and the company of friends. Plus I love any excuse to dress as light and minimal as possible …
So I recruited some friends to help me put together a night to remember. Set at the unbelievably perfect home of South End royalty Bobby Kelley and Eddie Luis, this evening was a dream come true. Included in the guest list, fashion designer Daniela Corte, the brainchild behind Bodega Jay Gordon, designing genius Alina Wolhardt, entrepreneur Mike Kelley and his brother, real estate enfant terrible, Brian.
Celebrated star chef Chris Coombs (and his business partner Brian Piccini) of famed restaurants dBar, Deuxave and Boston Chops treated us to a light “surf & turf” menu of fresh ingredients and simple familiar flavors.
And über talented event designer John LaRoche of the sophisticated Blue Guava group treated us to the most brightly gorgeous seaside inspired atmosphere.
So go ahead and plan that special evening to celebrate your friends and the gift of summer. And make sure to invite me!
Get the party started…
I asked John what makes for the best atmosphere and décor choices when it comes to planning an evening with friends. His response: simplicity. “A summer evening is all about very organic, natural, uncomplicated choices. From the guest list to the décor elements.”
Don’t be afraid to bring your indoor furniture outside for the night and use it with your existing outdoor furniture. Mixing styles makes for a striking effect.
The table scape starts with an organic Burlap runner, modern rectangular mirror floral vessels with lush Dutch Hydrangea, Vibrant orange PinCushion Protea and a touch of Clematis Pods for a sophisticated textural beach feel. Accents of natural Shore Barnacle add more texture and dimension to the table and each person is specially placed with a beautiful spotted conical shell holding each name tag.
The use of mixed media creates a more interesting setting that is less expected or cliched. Aged wooden chairs are utilized with lucite Ghost chairs for additional interest.
Make something your guest can take home. A place card is a good choice. First, spend some time selecting the right kind of shell that can either lay flat or stand up as this one does and has a narrow opening and works with the color scheme. Then purchase from your local paper supply store stock paper that is slightly heavier than copy paper. If you have a printer at home or work, select a font that interests you and print each name out, otherwise just neatly hand-write each one. Cut each name in elongated strips and slide into the shell. If the name tag doesn’t stay on its own you can put a tiny spot of glue on the end and slide into the shell.
As for food and drinks, Chris has some sound advice: “embrace summer, its freshness and buoyancy by preparing crisp familiar dishes with that seasonal twist.”
Start the evening with sparkling wine, whether it is a cold glass of champagne or any of its cousins like proseco or cavas. It will make for a special night. [x]
Place over crushed ice an assortment of Island Creek Oysters, Marinated Mussles, Snappy Lobster, Razor Clams, and Shrimp; accompany with lemons, Cocktail Sauce, Mignonette
Feeds 4 People
4 8-oz. hanger steaks
Marinade for hanger steak (see below)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Banyuls vinegar (or similar)
4 cloves garlic (sliced)
2 oz. Kosher salt (by weight)
1 tsp black pepper (cracked)
6 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
Mix all ingredients and let marinate in a plastic Ziploc bag with air removed for between 4-24 hours.
Grill for 6 minutes on medium -high heat rotating constantly until nicely charred and medium rare inside, add 3 more minutes to cook medium, add 6 minutes more for medium well if desired.
After cooking steak to temperature, let “rest” for 4 Minutes before slicing.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. Piment d’ Espelette or similar pepper flake
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. rosemary, chopped fine
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and place aside.
1 bunch large asparagus
Break off the bottom 2 inches of the asparagus and discard. Generously coat asparagus with the asparagus seasoning 5 minutes prior to cooking.
Horizontally place the large asparagus on the grill on medium-high heat rotating constantly until nicely charred, asparagus with a 1/2 inch diameter take 3-4 minutes to cook fully.
2 Spanish onions
Slice on diameter 1/2 inch thick and season generously with salt and pepper and olive oil
Place on the grill cut side down for 20 minutes until thoroughly charred on one side and cooked through to the top of the bulb do not flip.
2 lb. fresh cultivated mushrooms (split in half lengthwise)
4 oz. Canola Oil
2 tbsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
4 cloves of garlic (Brunoise)
2 shallots (Brunoise)
6 sprigs of thyme (leaves picked and chopped)
4 oz. Madeira wine
2 oz. Sherry vinegar
Heat a large Teflon pan on top of your grill, add canola oil and wait for it to begin to lightly smoke, and then add clean mushrooms, salt, and pepper, sauté for 6-7 minutes until lightly crispy.
When the mushrooms begin to look crispy pour off the excess oil and add in the garlic, shallots and thyme, sauté for an additional minute, then add in the Madeira and sherry and cook until dry, serve immediately.
The author is solely responsible for the content.