Spring is the time to start making an art form out of dining again. It is my understanding that in some parts of America, the temperature on any given day in winter is not such that it makes eating outside amenable to enjoying the dining experience. That is what I hear. That is what I’m told. So if you–unlike me–have to wait through several months of winter temps that are actually cold, then the warmth of spring is enough to warrant taking on these spring dining flourishes, garnishes and almost ridiculous fantasias.
I Heart Strawberry Spring
Let’s start off with an easy garnish for a spring dining delight. You hate winter. You love spring. And the red of strawberries is really more suitable than, for instance, blueberries. Any heart-shaped serving tray will do. All that’s needed to garnish a dining table that welcomes spring is enough bright red strawberries to pump that heart-shaped serving tray with the blood of life. Which is what I call strawberries.
Fruits and Vegetables are Seafood, Too
Come the spring, fresh dining can start to turning to some fish from the ocean are only available frozen or from corporate fish farms in the winter. Or, alternatively, spring can also mean the end of freshness for some denizens of the deep. But even if–like me–you do not really have a hankering for fish in any season, you can still enjoy the sight of brightly colored fish on on your picnic table on the beach. These garnishes take a little practice. The really cool thing is that they aren’t as hard to pull off as you might think, but your guests will be bowled over.’
Lobster: Slice an entire tomato to create the body and then quarter a tomato to create the claws. Add sliced olives for eyes.
Crabs: A great big black olive stuffed with small strips of celery (or carrots, if you really want to get colorful) that have been slightly fringed at the ends.
Shark: This one is perhaps the hardest to do well, but really opens the eyes of anyone attending the meal. You have to be handy with a carving knife and it certainly helps to have a vision of just what the final result should look like. Which is why my spring dining garnish tips includes this fabulously instructive YouTube video on transforming a plain old watermelon into a ravenous shark.
Tiptoe Through the Tulipiere
What screams spring louder than flowers? And what flowers are more resonant of spring than tulips? And, finally, just what in the heck is a tulipiere ? Back in the olden days when it took at least half a day to prepare everything that would be served during a meal, dining was not something taken for granted. Dining was an event. And dining in the spring when the windows could be opened and a fresh breeze was a necessity for clearing away the musty odors collected inside a self-contained house over the the course of winter was truly something to celebrate. Which is why you were far more likely to find a tulipiere on a dining table in spring about two or three centuries ago. So what is a tulipiere and why would enhance the activity of enjoying good food on a spring day? A tulipiere is kind of like a mutant teapot usually made of ceramic and sporting a variety of spouts through which a single tulip bulb is placed as decoration. Of course, if you don’t much care for tulips, feel free to place a single stem of your favorite spring flower into the spouts as you see fit.