Hosting Tips

A Mediterranean Summer Mezze

By Chanel Dror
a low table and poufs for an al fresco summer meal

We’ve been in denial for weeks, but the date on the calendar makes it official: mid-August means summer is coming to an end. Nooo! The cucumbers! The peaches! The tomatoes! It’s hard to imagine life without the amazing produce that summer has to offer, and even though we’ve had a blast experimenting with all the ripe ingredients (remember this colorful recipe? or this farm fresh appetizer?), there never seems to be a right time to say goodbye. In an effort to pay tribute to some of our favorite foods of the season, we’ve partnered with S.Pellegrino® to throw one last al fresco bash. And what better cuisine to inspire a menu than the bold flavors of the Mediterranean? Calling on only the freshest ingredients and using them in ways that are at once simple and exciting, we set an abundant mezze-style spread that was as gorgeous as it was delicious. Add in a few decorative touches, and the simplest backyard dinner was transformed into an unforgettable end-of-summer feast. Keep reading for all the details… *photography by Kristen Kilpatrick This post is sponsored by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water.

Sometimes all you need to make a meal feel special is a change of scenery. We created a low-to-the-ground party space by borrowing Phoebe’s play table (remember it from the playroom?) and surrounding it with comfy patterned poufs. A large area rug helped anchor the entire arrangement, plus the blue and green hues perfectly mirrored the colors of our glass S.Pellegrino bottles.

We love our artichokes around here. For this table, not only did they look really cool when cut in half, but they were a great way to keep the Mediterranean theme consistent.

Tip: To recreate this look, wait till the last possible minute to cut your artichokes, and brush them with lemon juice to keep them from browning before guests arrive.

We set an even lower coffee table on the ground at the head of our main table, and topped it off with large bottles of S.Pellegrino and a drink dispenser filled with our specialty cocktail. This way, guests could replenish their glasses as often as needed throughout the meal.

Camille starts bringing out the goods.

This platter with a glass dome usually sits on the kitchen counter, filled with tempting cookies and cupcakes, but for this meal it was the perfect mezze serving piece. We arranged a spread of sliced radicchio, Israeli feta cheese, marinated artichokes and pickled peppadew peppers, and it all stayed crisp and bug-free until just before meal time.

Have y’all seen these fun hats by Yosuzi? They come in so many electric color combinations, but this black and tan one seems to go with everything… including our table design!

This watermelon sangria was a smash hit — click here to get the complete recipe!

How cute is our intern, Morgan? She’s totally nailing the “must be able to revel at a dinner party” part of her job description.

I love this party concept because it has the laid-back, casual feel of a summer picnic, but by repurposing just a few decor items, it’s way more unique and memorable.

The all-star dish of the day: this refreshing cucumber and feta salad combines some of my favorite fresh ingredients, and a sprinkling of dill adds just the right bite. Click here to get the impossibly simple recipe.

When it comes to a Mediterranean feast, grilled pita, stuffed grape leaves and olives are a must. We set ours out on a rectangular cutting board, and garnished with figs, fig leaves and a gorgeous pomegranate.

Tip: Place heavier and harder-to-pass dishes like this one in the center of the table so that everyone can reach in to get a piece of the action.

As for the rest of the menu items, medium-sized serving pieces like this one make it easy to pass things around and serve one another. For some mysterious reason, this tomato salad kept finding its way to my end of the table…

We placed an individual bottle of S.Pellegrino at each place setting, making for the perfect complement to our flavorful meal. In this Texas heat, a little fizz is always a welcome pick-me-up.

The best thing about this menu is that since everything is so fresh, you can spend all day combining the ingredients in different ways… because when do veggies, cheeses and grains not go together? Camille topped a radicchio leaf with tabbouleh and a sprinkle of feta cheese for a crunchy, herb filled bite.

… and I quickly followed suit.

Want to follow this spread with heavier main course? Just set out smaller salad plates atop your dinner plates, and then strike them once the mezze course is over.

And don’t worry about perfectly matching your set — we combined a number of black and white dishes to create this bold, less-predictable look.

We ate and ate until not a morsel remained…

…and washed it all down with our refreshing S.Pellegrino. Cheers!