Bastille the Scene

Set the table for a no-fuss French feast

It's hot out there! Leave the oven off and join us for No Cook Month. All August we're keeping it cool with recipes and entertaining tips without all that sweaty baking.

You're going to need plenty of butter on Monday night. Usually you could get away with a stick of whatever, but a fat brick of sweet butter is crucial to an effortless Bastille Day dinner, where there's no real cooking.

It doesn't have to be delicately flavored and super creamy and churned in Charentes, but that would be nice, wouldn't it?

When everything else is piled on the table—the ripe tomatoes and the very sharp knife you'll use to slice them, the cold breakfast radishes you'll hit with a glitter of salt, the duck liver pâté and wee cornichons—you'll be glad you splurged on some of the fancy stuff.

Keep chilled bottles of wine at the ready—but don't fuss. Let people make their own dinner, sandwiching smears of pork rillettes or runny cheese in crusty bread, slicing their own saucisson sec when the reserves run low. Tell yourself: This is what the French do when they don't feel like turning on the oven.

You got this far without cooking; dessert should be a bowl of ripe strawberries and sour cherries, and maybe some plums and apricots you bought in the morning.

Did you forget it was Bastille Day? Don't worry about fireworks and sparklers. Just sit outside and sip rosé until the sky goes from bright blue to deep purple. Pretty soon, the fireflies will start.

  • This Bastille Day, make like the French and load up your table with cured meat, runny cheese and lots of delicious fixins.

    From left to right: Duck mousse ($9) from D'ArtagnanPork rillettes ($25, includes shipping) from Olympic ProvisionsPork and pistachio pâté ($25, includes shipping) from Olympic Provisions.

  • Clockwise from left: Blue gingham tablecloth ($39) from Pottery Barn; Astier de Villatte Victo terracotta plates ($75) from ABC Home; Ovo Ceramics square porcelain plates ($25) from ABC Home.

  • Clockwise from top left: Madeira paddle board ($20) from Sur La Table; Saucisson sec ($10, includes shipping) from Olympic Provisions; Taz three-piece cheese knife set ($40) from Crate & Barrel; Palisades wood board ($70) from Crate & Barrel; Cheese (price varies) from Murray's CheeseBaguette ($3) from NYC's Arcade Bakery.

  • Carley Pink bistro glasses ($4) from Crate & Barrel.

  • Lescure Beurre de Charentes butter ($7) from Agata & Valentine.

  • Abbesses hand-glazed plates in blue and red ($7.50) from Canvas; Full-Color hand-woven cotton napkins ($10) from Schoolhouse Electric.

  • Herb mustard with brown and yellow mustard seeds ($13) from Anarchy in a Jar.

  • Petanque set of six chrome-plated steel boules in a case ($25) from Petanque America.

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