Instead of the traditional appetizers and a large main meal, we went with casual grazing on rustic Italian fare — antipasti style.

Everything was very informal. Guests brought something to put on the antipasti plate: a bevy of Italian cheeses, crostini with artichoke pepper and caper topping, marinated olives and corona beans, giardiniera, black pepper olive oil crackers, melon, aged salami and prosciutto. Stella Artois, Miller Chill, gin & tonic, Tariquet Rosé and soda chilled in the ice bucket.

Fortunately the weather cooperated. In between nibbles and sips we were able to pull up a chair inside and join the conversations about growing up in 1930s AK, or duck outdoors to lie on a chaise lounge, chat under the umbrella or wing a frisbee as far as the wind would take it.

After the first snacks disappeared, Dad and I grilled a couple pizzas. One adult-friendly: rosemary caramelized onion + Monterey Jack; one kid-friendly: tomato basil marinara, Mozzarella + fresh oregano.

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A trio of salads were next.

In the fantastic glass bowl, Summer Panzanella with roasted chicken.

DSCF0165Ultra traditional Insalata Caprese, arranged with help from younger cousins.

DSCF0172Citrus Parmesan Wheat Berry Salad with goat cheese and almonds.

DSCF0167As the sun started to dip, we put out the Meyer Lemon Kisses and Sandy’s Tiramisu. Vanilla ice cream, fudge sauce, whipped cream and cherries for the kids – and several indulgent adults.

A few final frisbee tosses and sips of wine before the crowds dispersed. But not before fond farewells with those I won’t see before permanently heading south.

Sunday’s multi-faced party was exactly what I hoped and better. I’ll miss this!

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