So, that said, after 15 years it is looking slightly worn (not bad enough to get rid of it), and of course I suffer boredom from the whole thing as I've been dining off it for so long. So, I decided to apply the same principles I apply to my wardrobe to the China. I've accessorised. Long term blog readers will also know that I'm a lover of Isis Ceramics (one of my very first blog posts was on Isis), and I was excited to see that Isis Ceramics collaborated with Juliska to produce a range called Country Estate. Isis is very expensive (hand made), so a complete dinner setting is a total luxury. The Juliska collaboration is a good alternative - the same feel of Isis, but it's less expensive, dishwasher safe and easily available via Saks in the US with free shipping. I purchased 8 chargers (there were supposed to be 10 but two were broken in transit - Saks refunded me). A charger, for Australian readers, seems to me to be an American invention (I'm not aware of it being used elsewhere in the world commonly). Essentially it is a platter sized plate, and is used instead of a place mat. You set entree and main plates directly on top of it, and then it is removed with the main plate for dessert. At any rate, I decided it was a relatively inexpensive way of breathing interest and new life into my existing and aged V & B set without purchasing a whole other set of china.
So, two weekends ago we had 7 friends over for dinner, and I set the table with all the nice things - white linen tablecloth and napkins with a simple hemstitch detail, the antique sterling silver cutlery, the new Juliska "Country Estate" chargers, Blue (also ancient wedding gift) Villery & Boch water glasses, and all the Waterford Crystal I purchased very cheaply at a couple of local estate Auctions last year. I put out some candles and scattered a few olive branch prunings down the middle and it was done - there is no room for a flower arrangement as the table is too narrow.
I also decided to buy a set of place card holders recently. This does seem very formal, but I find that the moment where you ask everyone to come to the table, and there is a crowd - they all freeze and wait for you to tell them where to sit which holds things up unnecessarily… I'm usually trying to get plates out at that point, and Mr AV is pouring wine. People like being told where to sit rather than shuffling around awkwardly trying to work it out themselves so I've been on the lookout for a place card holder for a while. These little silver watering cans were perfect. They're from a collection by Bunny Williams for Ballard Design in the US (currently heavily reduced). Being a gardener and with the design on the chargers these were perfect.
Dinner was fun - I did a simple menu with a loose Italian theme - Tuscan white bean soup, Veal Osso Bucco on Risotto alla Milanese with a couple of different sides, and Lemon & Lime Tart for desert. Main and dessert were Jamie Oliver recipes - I do like his recipes as they always work. The tart was from the first cookbook he put out, the Osso Bucco and Risotto from his latest (Comfort Food). All done in advance (aside from the risotto) which meant I spent minimal time in the kitchen.
usual table setting for a family dinner - silvery jug just seen is Georg Jensen Pumpkin water jug, everyday stainless cutlery and napkins, everyday water glasses from Market Import
a little bit more dressed up for casual dining
Apologies for the photo quality at the top of the page - I snapped them just as everyone was starting to arrive, so used the iPhone...
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