Considering the many exciting happenings in our family as of late, and the months and years of life changes and milestones that have led up to this very year, it’s been quite a while since our full, extended family has all piled into the beach house at the same time. We were all thrilled to discover that the stars aligned this past Memorial Day Weekend to all gather together for the long weekend and relive our favorite pastimes – most of which includes boat time, dock time and preparing and enjoying delicious meals together.
Our By The Bay Gathering features a late lunch we hosted and all enjoyed together and illustrates what our typical entertaining style and mealtime looks like at The Forgotten Coast.
Any of our beach gatherings can range in size from a single family to our large extended family, or even a few friends and neighbors stopping by, so they tend to be casual by nature. We let our surroundings set the tone for the style. The natural colors and textures that occur at the beach are our main source of inspiration when setting the table or styling a serving spread – lots of textured natural wood with varying color browns and tans, green palms, blue water.
The TableAs is our specialty, most nights we set a big, long table and gather around to enjoy a more leisurely meal as a family. However for a more casual meal like this late lunch, instead of settling into a big set table, we opted for perching about the house - on the screen porch, on the dock, or in the breezeways underneath the house - with plates on our laps.
The Serving Spread
To serve the large portions of food to fit to feed the crowd, we set up a simple table for everyone to grab a plate and help themselves. Because of the menu, we place the serving table downstairs in the breezeway close to the fryer (fried fish is best hot out of the grease!) and we take care to arrange complementary sauces and dishes in an order that makes sense to fill a plate with the best coastal flavors.
The DécorAt the beach, there’s no need to take table décor above and beyond anything simple, because the natural offerings of our surroundings are striking enough. Settled in the breeze by the bay, we simple pull a vase of fresh cut palmetto fronds from the house to style the serving table.
Sometimes, we’ll enhance mealtime with little driftwood scraps collected from ventures to the beach or sea shell keepsakes. If entertaining when it’s dark, we’ll opt for lighting some candles in clear hurricane vases to protect the flames from the breeze and provide a beautiful glow to the table.
In general, our family loves to stick to our tried-and-true favorite recipes, and then have fun adding in some freshly inspired new flavors and recipes to keep things interesting!
For our By The Bay Gathering, we curated a few classic favorites into a complete menu so we could share the recipes with you, and we think it makes for a delicious late lunch or dinner menu that you don’t have to think about putting together:
Boiled Peanuts for a snack, of course!
Smoked Fish Dip (homemade, or in this case, storebought)
Fresh Fried Fish
Everyone’s cocktail of choice – usually beer, wine, a ranch water, a paloma, or a margarita in our family!
Entertaining At The Beach
To help illustrate how entertaining at the beach can differ slightly from any other form of entertaining, we prompted a few questions and answers to help guide you the next time you head down to the beach:
“Give us a go-to meal where we aren’t stuck in the kitchen all night.”
Coming soon! We’ve curated and are sharing soon what we’ve dubbed our “Go-To Beach Weekend Menu” to take care of at least one meal for your crew the next time you head down to the coast.
The menu is made up of a hybrid of homemade and storebought, and each of the recipes to be homemade are considered simple to makes. They are each prepared a bit differently to make prepping ahead or at least dividing cooking responsibilities across the kitchen and fryer crews bit easier.
“How can I make meal prep and shopping easier so I can truly feel like I’m on vacation?”
Check out this featured post about our lifestyle at Alligator Point that features a few tips and tricks for how we approach this for ourselves ahead of a beach weekend.
“What if more people show up for dinner than we initially planned for?”
“This seems to be a common occurrence at the beach, so I’ve learned to expect it, and it’s what I like most – impromptu times where people gather. To save yourself the stress, increase your recipe to always include a few more servings for those last minute additions to the group. I like to make enough for extra guests and for leftovers to take with us on the boat or to the beach the next day. I also learned quite early the importance of delegating. You might be surprised by the number of people who would love to help, rather than simply watch you do all the work yourself. But it is also important to assign the right duty to the right person. For instance, I wouldn’t necessarily ask my brother-in-law to set the table, but I would put him in charge of keeping the ice bucket full, and he’d do so happily!” - Laura
What if it rains on our parade…er…dinner party?
Once summer arrives, rain is pretty much a guaranteed part of the daily forecast in Florida, especially in the late afternoon and early evening hours – right when you typically have a happy hour or dinner planned! Even on our screened porch, if the wind during a storm picks up enough, we have to move inside to stay dry. The most important solution to an unavoidable shower? A good attitude! So a dinner indoors wasn’t part of the initial plan, but that’s okay. Light some candles, get some good tunes playing and enjoy the cozy atmosphere
Let the summer season and this done-for-you entertaining idea inspire you! Get down to the beach this month, gather your friends and family together, and host your very own version of our By The Bay Gathering.