Dwell Magazine's Amanda Dameron on Outdoor Entertaining

September  2, 2014

We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today: Dwell's Editor-in-Chief reminds us that pesto makes everything better, and that a kitchen without a bar cart shouldn't mean thirsty guests.

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We know that food is about everything that makes a meal -- from the plates on the table to those seated around it. That's why, when faced with an abundance of sunshine and vibrant produce come late summer, we call on our neighbors, friends, and family to share the season with us. Whether it's a spur-of-the-moment Monday night dinner, or a detailed tapas party shared with friends, summer entertaining should be effortless, but feel personal and memorable. 

With this intention, we sat down with Amanda Dameron, editor-in-chief of Dwell Magazine and one of the most influential figures in modern design, for the lowdown on outdoor entertaining, her favorite seasonal products, and what to put on our summer tables. 

More: Check out some of Amanda and Merrill's favorite picks from the Dwell store.

Outdoor Lighting

What are your must-haves for entertaining? 
A good olive oil or a good bread knife. I want items that are durable, with a good weight to them.  

What are some simple ways to ready an outdoor patio or porch for a gathering? 
You can't go wrong with a vigorous sweep, some soft lighting, generously sized glassware, comfortable seating (with cushions!), and brightly colored table linens

More: Quality is everything when it comes to simple summer dishes. 

Grilled Bread with Thyme Pesto

What kind of dishes do you love to serve in the summer? 
Anything grilled and drenched in homemade pesto. I also like to make white bean dip served with crisp vegetables and toasted pita chips. And I'm a sucker for cold, simple salads that can be made using five ingredients or less. If I'm cooking for one, I go with pasta with five ingredients or less. My favorite is fresh basil, anchovies, Parmesan, white wine, and olive oil. 

More: Here's a pasta so simple, you only need one pan.

When setting a summer table spread, what are some ways you highlight the colorful, fresh produce of the season? 
I like to make infused vodka with summer fruit. It's the easiest thing in the world, but a word to the wise: Don't leave the fruit in there too long -- make sure to switch it out regularly. It gets very unappetizing very quickly!

Let's talk cocktails. Do you have a go-to bar set-up for entertaining?
I have a fully stocked bar with all the equipment, but I lack one dedicated furniture piece that can hold and display everything. So when guests come over, I usually create a makeshift drink station in the kitchen with my must-haves: a midcentury wood ice bucket filled to the brim; cloth cocktail napkins; tons of low-slung, weighty tumblers that are difficult to break and/or knock over; and salt, sugar, limes, whiskey, vodka, and gin. 

See Amanda Dameron's favorite picks from Provisions here.  

Do you have any parties planned before things get chilly? Tell us all about them in the comments! Or just send us an invite.

Photos by James Ransom

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1 Comment

AntoniaJames September 2, 2014
Croquet!! Such fun when played with a competitive spirit, invoking all the options, creating strategic alliances, etc., with plenty of nibbles and drinks on the adjacent patio! We'll have warm summer weather through the first week of October, so we'll host several gatherings -- followed by supper off the grill -- in the coming weeks. ;o)