dining alfresco

Our city has come alive with this glorious warmer weather and all of the fresh blooms, sunshine, and green grass that come along with it! I love what July looks like in my Midwestern life; lots of outdoor gatherings, spending time in nature, and all of the delicious local produce available to us through local CSAs, co-ops, and farmers' markets.

Some of my favorite summertime moments include simple strolls after supper, casual picnic socials with friends, and cooking out with our (teeny tiny) Smokey Joe Weber grill out in our front yard. Summer is packed with ways to enjoy the outdoors, and for me, a lot of those activities include eating. So I've rounded up some alfresco dining inspiration to keep your summer filled with the beautiful outdoors and lots of yummy food!

IMG_20180615_084446_055.jpg

What makes a good al fresco dining experience? (besides wine)

- the company: enjoying a meal with people you care about is blissful. put your phones away (seriously, out of sight) and allow yourself some uninterrupted quality time. you won't regret it.

a good blanket: if you're going all-in on a picnic, this is a must have. a huge blanket is so helpful in keeping a barrier between itchy grass and your legs (and between the ants and your food). the best fabric to use depends on your environment, but nylon, cotton, fleece, terry cloth, and polyester are all great options for parks, beaches, backyards, and playgrounds.

food: don't over-complicate it. pack simple foods that you know your company will enjoy. cheese, crackers, meats, in-season fruit and veggies, and nuts are a great place to start. don't forget water (and wine!).

the open air: the whole point of alfresco dining is to enjoy a meal in the open air. so weather you're in a park, your backyard, at the top of a mountain, or submerged in any other glorious outdoor dining space, take a deep breath in and soak in your surroundings. also, don't forget your sunscreen!

 celebrating my 30th at this season's first concert on the square

celebrating my 30th at this season's first concert on the square

 our spread at COTS was eclectic and delicious

our spread at COTS was eclectic and delicious

awesome (local!) places to dine al fresco

- Concert on the Square (COTS): one of my favorite experiences in Madison. the season is short, so check your calendar and get something in the books soon. blankets can go on the Capitol lawn as early as 3 pm and you're allowed to bring in food and beverages, so plan accordingly.

- Pizza on the Farm at Cress Spring Bakery: another adorable opportunity to enjoy Wisconsin's lush outdoors and some delicious food. the 40 minute drive to Blue Mounds is worth every minute because the gourmet wood-fired pizzas, mason jar wine, and live music accompaniment is just so damn enjoyable. the season runs every Wednesday night through October.

- Your backyard, a local park or playground, or the arboretum

- Splash pad, a public pool, or beach

- Hot Spots: picnic point, the zoo, james madison park

 3 amazing pizzas from a night at Cress Spring Bakery's pizza on the farm

3 amazing pizzas from a night at Cress Spring Bakery's pizza on the farm

 the vibe at pizza on the farm is very welcoming

the vibe at pizza on the farm is very welcoming


However you decide to spend your summertime al fresco dining experiences, I hope you find the same peace, contentment, and bliss that it evokes in me.

Cheers, Mandy