While the best part of a beach holiday is casual relaxation, we try to have one really festive meal when the family gets together in the Cape.

Past years have included homemade ravioli, paella, bourbon and vanilla brined pork chops and lobster risotto. There is often a celebratory cocktail like Raspberry Lime Rickeys or Mojitos to ease into the evening.

This year featured a blackberry theme, from the pre-dinner libations of Blackberry Mojitos and Blackberry Champagne Cocktails, the table set with Gien Mures china, to the Blackberry Orange Mousse Cake for dessert. 

The deep purple hydrangeas were just a touch past their peak, but they still presented a cheerful display with Gien Mures china (sadly discontinued but pieces are still available at Claude Berry). 

The beautiful transferware depictions of blackberry vines never fail to please. 

Inspired by the picture of Blackberry Orange Mousse Cake in the recipe by Nadiya Hussains in The Times, I was leaning towards using a vintage turquoise glass cake stand. I then remembered I had some purple paisley napkins by April Cornell with a touch of turquoise in them.

That settled it.

Antique turquoise Venetian glassware could come out and play, too.

I really liked the combination of turquoise and purple, which is arresting without being too over the top.

With Lauren’s able assistance, I’d made the Blackberry Orange Mousse Cake the day before, leaving plenty of time for the mousse to set up in the fridge.

We all enjoyed a sunny day at the beach; the kids built sandcastles, visited the tide pools to catch minnows, hermit crabs and snails and buried each other in the sand. The entourage got back in time to shower and set the table before our good friends Maura and Bill arrived at 5 pm for pre-dinner snacks and cocktails.

With our guests, we were 13 for dinner, including the four small mermaids. Too many for one table, so the mermaids got their own.

The adult’s table looked very elegant if I do say so myself. Very nice, really, provided you viewed the scene from one side only. 

Turn around, however, and the full impact of a day at the beach with our insane household of multiple children, grandchildren and pets registered in its full glory.

Well, you have to hang those beach towels somewhere! And the kayaks kill the grass if they’re parked on it too long, so between forays, they tend to sit on the patio, too. Oy! Not exactly what I’d envisioned when I planned the table, but the laundry line had been extended and filled before I had time to suggest otherwise. 

Happily, Maura and Bill are a very relaxed couple and are quite accustomed to the chaos. Nevertheless, I made sure they were seated with their back to the laundry line. There are limits…

Aunt Kain helped Adam dish out to the mermaids, and we were all settled in no time.

Why do I have to sit in a booster seat?

Why can’t Clemmie sit in the booster seat?

Oh, all right. I’m pretty hungry.

How much salad do I have to eat before I get dessert?

I’m tired. When did you say we were getting dessert?

No Churchill, it’s not for you.

The girls love the figural napkin rings featuring children at play. The set of eight comprises four boys and four girls engaged in various playful activities from skating to pushing a doll’s carriage. Each of them chooses one for the time they’re here, and provided their napkins haven’t been made too grubby by sticky fingers, they return their respective napkins to their napkin ring at the end of the meal for another use. Saves on laundry!

We started with Cucumber and Peach Salad with Herbs. It’s attractive, flavourful, and as the dressing contains no oil, it’s also refreshing. For the main course, I prepared Sauteed Pears with Bacon and Mustard Dressing in two large cast-iron skillets before using the skillets to sear pork tenderloin, then finished roasting the meat in a 350º  oven. The sugar from the pears coated the pork, providing a beautifully caramelized coating. Lightly steamed sugar snap and English peas served with a few knobs of butter and a sprinkling of parsley rounded out the main course.

The Blackberry Orange Mousse Cake completed the meal.

We lingered over our wine until the mosquitos chased us into the house. 

A lovely evening with good food, great friends and family topped off a wonderful day.

I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.