Tasting Table's Dinner Parties

Celebrate warm weather with a dreamy picnic date on the rooftop: This dinner on the grill features a juicy porterhouse steak, an inventive take on guacamole and classic picnic gear.

Starting with a light and bubbly rosé cocktail and finishing with a hot-fudge-topped grilled banana ice cream split to share, this menu is primed for summertime romance.


Click the links below to explore the recipes in this menu:

Green Goddess Guacamole
Creamed-Spinach Hobo Packs
Orange-and-Cumin-Rubbed Grilled Porterhouse Steaks
Grilled Banana Splits


For a summertime evening picnic for two, stick with the basics and focus on fresh and delicious food and drink. In this heat, choose your to-go dining staples for comfort: a cotton striped blanket from Williams-Sonoma Home, a simple wooden picnic basket and lightweight serving dishes in a bright array of colors. As the light fades, keep your evening going into dusk with tea lights and wooden lanterns from our partner Williams-Sonoma Home. For a touch of romance over dessert, break out the sparklers, because Fourth of July isn't the only time to celebrate this summer.

We are firm believers that no date night is complete without a glass of bubbly. To kick off the dinner à deux, think pink: This combination of sparkling rosé, gin, vermouth, lemon juice and rose water is a refreshing way to begin the meal. Click here for the cocktail recipe.

Or try some of these other summer cocktails from Tasting Table Top Shelf: the tartly complex Gimlet in Ernest or the Pimm's Cup variation Racquet Ball.

Summer is for the lighter side of wine: whites, pale rosés and translucent reds that are low enough in tannin to serve cold. For this menu, be sure to throw out any notion you have that red meat only goes with red wine; consider the brighter, more tart flavors of the side dishes before thinking about that porterhouse and make the logical, paler choice. The subtly spiced berry flavors of this Negrette-Gamay rosé or the beachy vibe of Ambra’s Ischia Bianco are two ideal, varied options. But if you’re dying to serve something darker in color, make it a cold, fizzy bottle of meaty Lambrusco.

• Rosé: 2011 Fronton Vin Gris ($12)

• White: Ambra 2011 Ischia Bianco ($14)

• Red: Ca de Medici "Terra Calda" Vino Frizzante Rosso ($14.99)

We drew inspiration from sultry nights and twinkling lights for this month’s playlist. The result is an upbeat compilation of beats from the likes of Cults, Atlas Sound and Best Coast peppered with bouts of soulful orchestration from Dr. John and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings.

We've put some classics in there, too: Van Morrison, Nick Drake and a gently swinging version of that outdoor picnic requisite, “Summertime,” by The Zombies.

Click here for the full playlist, including picks like:

• “Go Outside” - Cults

• “Summer Mood” - Best Coast

• “Getaway” - Dr. John

• “Honey, Stay Awhile” - The Rosewood Thieves

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