9 Ingredients for French-Style Outdoor Dining

Marion Hartwich, oft-traveled interior designer, has a style she calls “fusion” rather than eclectic. Many of her design choices in her home have evolved from her time spent living in Europe as well as both U.S. coasts. Using her multi-inspired flair, Marion has the essentials for creating a French-style outdoor dining experience for your romantic garden.

French inspired Romantic Outdoor Dining
As with everything French, appearance and a touch of romance can enhance both food and atmosphere.


1. Create a theme, like French or Italian fare, al fresco, etc.

2. Arrange fresh, simple bouquets from your own garden, windowsill or a kind neighbor’s yard.

3. Pull out your pretty plates and all the silver you can get your hands on.

4. Always use fabric napkins!

5. Go to your local farmer’s market and buy fresh, crusty country loaves, an assortment of textured artisan cheeses, Italian salami, French saucisson (sausage), Prosciutto ham, etc.

6. Get fresh leaves either from your neighbor’s grapevine, ivy or any kind of pretty foliage and put them on the serving platters. It gives them a crisp, fresh and interesting look.

7. Depending of what is seasonal at the time, serve fresh figs sprinkled with fresh lemon juice and a balsamic glaze as well as grapes, olives, berries and little lady (bite-size) apples.

8. Make your water and iced tea sparkle in a beautiful decanter. Toss in mint leaves and raspberries. Serving a light rose wine will also give the arrangement—and your guests—a little spirited lift!

9. Marion’s grandmother used to say, “You eat essentially with your eyes first, and then you taste/eat the food.” Entertain your friends often and joyfully! Joie de vivre c’est tres important!


By Meryl Schoenbaum

Photography by Bret Gum

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