And so another season of legally required outdoor entertaining begins. However, while we are all, understandably, optimistically planning open air barbecues and al fresco afternoons teas, the memories of drizzly April days spent shivering through picnics and politely ‘enjoying’ soggy sandwiches linger on.
Well, not this year. Having learned from the mistakes of the past, as well as investing in blankets, outdoor heaters and parasols (great come rain or shine), this season the best hosts know there’s no amount of averse weather a seriously great spread can’t overcome.
So where to begin your search for excellent epicurean treats? Harvey Nichols, of course. Its expansive food and beverage offering has been carefully selected to deliver only the finest quality and is available both in store and online. So, whether you’re planning the first barbecue of the spring or a celebratory al fresco cocktail party, read on for our guide to entertaining in style this season.
Yes, the meat may be the star of the show when it comes to a barbecue, but, no matter how good your butcher is, every good host knows the accompaniments can make or break a really great event. Kick the day off with high-end nibbles in the form of Made For Drinks’ duck fritons – pork crackling style snacks inspired by Gascony’s Fritons de Canard and designed to pair perfectly with an IPA (we recommend Hitachino Nest’s red rice ale). A tin of Ortiz’s yellowfin tuna is also guaranteed to bring a little sunshine to any table.
When it comes to condiments, Harvey Nichols’ in-house Saucy range is a great place to start. The line is expansive but we’re particularly fond of its modern take on traditional hot mustard. Finish your table with Eat 17’s chorizo jam and a bottle of A L’Olivier’s mango vinegar – we promise your burgers, bangers and salads will never have tasted so good.
There’s an art to curating a brilliant picnic and the secret, as far as we’re concerned, is to treat your guests to a culinary tour of the world. Thanks to Harvey Nichols’ internationally-influenced range, this couldn’t be easier. Start in Japan with some always popular wasabi peas before popping over to India with Howdah’s almost-too-pretty-to-eat masala dippers. Arrive back in Europe with a true picnic essential: stuffed green olives (brilliant paired with French cheese and Cartwright & Butler’s Italian-inspired olive and garlic flatbreads). Then it’s a hop across the pond with a bottle of Oregon winery Sokol Blosser’s sparkling wine before heading back to the capital with a bag of South London chocolatier Rococo’s scorched hazelnuts. Bon appetit.
Elegant afternoon teas
There is nothing quite so quintessentially British as taking afternoon tea in the garden. It’s also the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion before parties can resume in full force. We highly recommend you go to the effort of whipping up your own scones but, when it comes to toppings and sweet treats, Harvey Nichols is on hand to help.
Every afternoon tea needs strawberry jam – and every Englishman will agree that Wilkin & Sons Tiptree jam is the best. For that five-star appeal, however, also serve some rose petal jelly. It’s a favourite at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. Tradition satisfied, offer up a modern wist in the form of Joe & Seph’s strawberry cheesecake popcorn and Choconchoc’s white chocolate strawberry punnet. And to drink? Nothing says celebration like a glass of Deutz rosé champagne.
Cosmopolitan cocktail hours
Didn’t manage to book an al fresco table at your favourite bar? You’re not alone. But, when it comes to hosting, it couldn’t be easier to create a cocktail hour to rival even The Ritz – no mixologist necessary. If you’re looking for a completely hassle free option, Harvey Nichols’ line of pre-mixed cocktails taste as if they’ve come straight the shaker. The range caters for all tastes but, when the weekend rolls around, it’s always going to be a Vesper or Espresso martini for us. Serve alongside cicchetti made using Seggiano’s classic tongue biscuits and you’ll even fool yourself you’re canalside in Venice.
If you’re willing to try your hand behind the bar, Macclesfield’s Forest Gin is full of bilberry, gorse, raspberry and moss notes making it the perfect foil to Ferdinand’s peach and hop bitters. If all else fails, sprinkle on some of Mill & Mortar’s edible rose buds and your drinks will be so pretty no-one will care how they taste.
Want to enjoy your big event as much as your guests? A hamper is your new best friend. Perfect for hosting small groups or creating memorable at-home dates, Harvey Nichols’ range of carefully curated hampers caters for all tastes and budgets. Looking for (a lot of) la dolce vita? The Ultimate Italian Collection hamper is for you. Planning the ultimate girl’s day? May we point you in the direction of the All Things Nice Hamper. Have foodies with high expectations coming round? The Ultimate Foodmarket Collection hamper is sure to impress.