With the recent launch of Independent Oxford, a guide to the best independent businesses in Oxford, we invited founders Anna Munday and Rosie Jacobs to recommend their top picks for summer dining and tableware, all sourced from local independent businesses.
I’d hate to jinx it but it appears that our Summer is finally here (after disappearing for a short while) and what better way to celebrate than going all al fresco with your dinning? Both Rosie and I enjoy having friends round for dinner at our houses and there’s nothing better than whiling away a balmy summer evening chatting over plates of delicious food and drink. Part of the fun is also preparing – deliberating over what to cook, how to dress the table and what crockery to use. So, to help you out, here’s our Independent Oxford Top Ten for Summer Dining and Tableware in Oxford this summer. Bon Appétit! In no particular order…
1. Flowers from Jemini in the Covered Market
True, it’s not directly related to the food, but dressing the table can really enhance the whole dining experience. These sprays of trachelium from Jemini would look great in a rustic or vintage jug in the centre of the table (and they’re a steal at 60p a stem!)
2. Salad servers – Fairtrade at St Michaels, £16.50
Who wouldn’t want to serve their salad with this beauties? 1) They’re fairly made 2) They’re sustainably produced 3) They’re for salad! – Guilt free if you ask me.
3. Chairs and tables – Gilt and Grain and Annie Sloan – Various Prices
You’ve got to sit on and eat off something so why not refresh your garden furniture at these two established Oxford indies? Gilt and Grain have a glorious array of retro and vintage furniture from chairs to crates, tables to stools. Already got furniture? Then why not spruce it up with a lick of Annie Sloan paint? No prepping needed – the hardest decision you’ll have to make is whether to pick Emperor’s Silk, Louis Blue or English Yellow.
4. Wine Glasses – Antiques on High – Various Prices
Want to serve your tipple in something different? I’m a sucker for picking up vintage or antique pieces that no one else will have so I strongly suggest a rummage around Antiques on High for an unusual set of glasses. They’ve got a lot to choose from!
5. Spice Rubs – Exclusive Roots – From £3.00
Summer outdoor dining isn’t all about BBQ’s so why not try these spice mixes from Exclusive Roots? They are authentic blends of spices from different regions of Africa and the best bit is they have step by step recipes on the back so it couldn’t be simpler. (Image Source – Exclusive Roots Website)
6. Plates – Kinship of Oxford, from £12.00
My favourite way of eating with friends is to have sharing plates in the middle of the table so everyone can get stuck in and these plates from Kinship of Oxford make it even more of a joy. Mix and match with your own or vintage plates (picked up from Antiques on High perhaps?!) or buy the whole set…
7. Cheese – 2 North parade – various prices
There are so many choices when deciding what to eat and a definite weakness for me is a cheese board. Want a fabulous array to choose from? Try the beautiful 2 North Parade for their wonderful selection – including some local ones. Can’t get better than that.
8. Bread – Natural Bread Company – various prices
You can’t go wrong with freshly baked bread when entertaining. Picture sitting outside on a balmy summer evening with delicious bread, and some oil and balsamic to dip it into. Or you pick up a loaf, rustle up scrambled eggs and eat your breakfast outside. Al fresco dining doesn’t always have to be done in the evening. Try these two loaves out for size – Oxford Sourdough and Seeded Wholemeal – from the Natural Bread Company. They’ve got a handful of shops, with their flagship store on Little Clarendon Street.
9. Ice cream glasses – Objects of Use – £20.00 – £49.00
Nothing says summer like ice cream and I love these colourful Mariskooli bowls from Objects of Use – perfect for ice cream sundaes. After all, William Morris said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” and I think these two tick both boxes. Ice cream is a staple food, right?
10. Basket – OLD MADE – From £12.00
Don’t have a garden or want to explore past the front door? Then pick up one of these great baskets from OLD MADE, put everything in it, grab a bunch of friends and go take on the world. The best thing is, you can check out their products while visiting 2 North Parade as they currently have a pop-up shop there. Image Credit [Basket Image] – Candy Pop (www.candypop.uk.com) – @candy_pop