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Hosting an  Italian Summer Dinner in Memphis ? Why Not! 🥂🐟🦞🦐🍝

Living in Memphis, they’re known for the BBQ, but every now and then, I like to mix things up a bit. So, when the itch for something Mediterranean hit me, I thought, “Why not host a Sicilian-inspired seafood dinner right here in my backyard?” Picture this: the warm (actually insert ONE HUNDREAD DEGREES HOT) evening air, twinkling fairy lights, and the tantalizing aroma of fresh seafood mingling with the scent of a Southern summer. It was an ambitious idea, but hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big, right?

Italian summer dinner
Hosting an Italian Summer dinner in my backyard

Setting the Scene

First things first: transforming my backyard into a Sicilian paradise. This involved a trip to every home goods store in Memphis and a slightly alarming number of Amazon and H&M orders (DON'T TELL CALEB). Of course I had to keep a monotone vibe because hello, it's my fave, but I had a vision for this tablescape that involved me closing my eyes and pretending I was in Italy by the sea. The idea was to make a sunset dinner and end the night with desserts under the stars. Stringing up fairy lights was a bit of a challenge (note to self: buy a taller ladder next time), but the result was a magical, twinkling vibe that would have made even the stars jealous.

The Menu

Creating a menu that balanced authenticity with what’s available in Memphis was a bit of a culinary adventure. I settled on a spread that included:

  • Antipasto Platter: A selection of olives, burrata cheeses, marinated vegetables, and prosciutto. Because nothing says “Welcome to Sicily” like nibbling on an antipasto while pretending you’re overlooking the Mediterranean.

  • Summer Salad: A delightful mix of greens with a clementine sauce that deserves it's own moment to shine (you can find the recipe here)

  • Roasted Fingerling Potatoes: Fingerling potatoes in pesto. Do I need to say more?

  • Grilled Swordfish and Grilled Shrimp: Marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and a touch of oregano, this was the star of the evening. Grilling it in the backyard added that smoky flavor that made everyone swoon.

  • Cannoli for Dessert: Because no Sicilian meal is complete without these crispy, creamy delights. Even though I'd love to claim I made them myself, I am unashamed to say I did not. I may have gone a bit overboard and bought a dozen, but they disappeared faster than you can say “buon appetito.”

The Drinks

To complement the feast, I served prosecco and white wine (no it wasn't Italian, I guess I didn't think of all the details after all 🫠). The wine and the prosecco were a hit and paired really well with the seafood.

The Mishaps

Of course, no good story comes without a few hiccups. The grill ran out of propane halfway through cooking the swordfish, leading to a mad dash to the store. It was so hot that I thought, why even bother? I'm sure if I stay here in this heat I'll cook faster than the fish. And finally the flies were definitely the main character of the night. But hey, it’s these moments that make for the best stories, right?

But honestly, hosting a Sicilian-inspired seafood dinner in my Memphis backyard was an unforgettable experience. It was a beautiful blend of cultures, flavors, and lots of laughter. Sure, it was a bit of work, but seeing my friends and family enjoying themselves made it all worth it. So, if you’re ever in the mood for a culinary adventure, I highly recommend bringing a bit of Sicily to your backyard. Just watch out for flies.

Here’s to many more evenings of good food, great company, and unforgettable memories. Salute!

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