Rita Notes: Informal Outdoor Entertaining

Rita Konig shares her tips for informal outdoor
entertaining
in the summer

Read more Rita's Notes here


Craig
Fordham

Rita in
the garden of her cottage in Wales

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Entertaining in the summer is so much more relaxed and
abundant
than in the winter. The minute you can spill outside,
it all feels
easier - for a start, you are not relegated to
the kitchen in quite
the same way and there seems to be a more
even division of cooking
between the sexes. I don't really
understand why, but men tend to
feel a caveman-like ownership
of cooking outside. 

When we are in Wales at our little hillside cottage, we do a
lot
of cooking outside - in fact, almost all of it, including
breakfast. We do not have an American-style outdoor kitchen,
but a
small fire, tripod and griddle. Our favourite thing to
serve is
thinly sliced steak tagliata with salad and plenty of
horseradish.
I like the simplicity of it, as it allows for
maximum lying around
in the sun. I have written before about
beautiful tables under
dappled sunlight, but this is
different. It is really a picnic at
home. We drag a large wool
dhurrie we bought in Morocco out onto
the lawn with cushions
for propping oneself up and a selection of
straw hats in
various states of collapse. 

The fun about this house and these picnics is that the china
is
completely different to the stuff I have in London. I use
earthenware and pottery and odd bits of Wemyss Ware I've found
in
junk shops. I love French bistro china and have a few
plates from
Bazar on Golborne Road, W10; it's an excellent
source for what I
call 'cottagalia'. In Tetbury recently, I
had a bit of a spree in a
shop called Domestic Science
(domscihome.wordpress.com). It is not
one of the chic,
scrubbed-oak and peeling French garden furniture
shops that
have taken over the town: it sells new stuff and a
dealer
called Huggy sells vintage china, Welsh blankets and quilts
among the slew of feather dusters, enamel cups and charming
papers.
It is easy to miss if you are on an antiquing jaunt,
but I advise
looking for it. 

We bring knives and forks out in jugs and put them on the
table
along with plates and lunch is laid out for everyone to
help
themselves. Jugs of shandy are good - don't laugh, the
Spanish do
this in a very chic way and if you make it with
proper lemonade
rather than something out of a can or bottle,
it is really
refreshing. Jugs of it look terrific, especially
if you have
vintage beer jugs. Josephine Ryan
(josephineryanantiques.myshopify.com) often sells them and I
have
found a dealer called Monique Relander on Decorative
Collective
(decorativecollective.com) who has them; they are
largely Belgian
and so smart.

I am quite particular about the sort of garden furniture in
our
rustic landscape; what I really like is rattan chairs with
soft
cushions. I have a hotchpotch of them and they are
terribly
comfortable - especially with proper cushions in the
seat and back,
rather than 'outdoor' cushions, which are
simply never comfortable.
I have recently found a Danish
company, Liggestolen
(liggestolen.dk), which sells rattan
sunloungers and chairs,
reminiscent of Thirties gardens and
those images of the Bloomsbury
Set lying around outside in
Wiltshire.

Lastly, for pudding, I have a supply of After Dinner Magnums,
which are about two bites worth and just enough to satisfy a
sweet
tooth.

Rita's Picks


CLOCKWISE:
'Straw Panama', £490, from
Holland & Holland.
hollandandholland.co.uk; 'Collection of
Crystal Jugs', by Monique
Relander, £820, from Decorative
Collective; Tunnock's tin, £6.99,
from Jeremy's Home Store.
jeremyshomestore.co.uk; 'BaseCamp
Barbeque', by BioLite, £340,
from The Conran Shop.
conranshop.co.uk

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