My wife and I received these wonderful blue plates as a present for this Christmas and I wanted to use them before the holidays were overâ€¦ While our Christmas dinners are usually a more predictable red, green or white theme, I wanted to see if we had enough stuff around to pull off a â€œblue table.â€ The plates are chargers or buffet size and have a medium blue outer band and a gold rim. They were manufactured by Robert Haviland & C. Parlon in Limoges, France and the pattern is known as â€œBleu monet.â€ They go nicely with the plain Limoges white plates I normally use for proper dinnersâ€¦
I started with a nice medium blue tablecloth that I had had custom made several months ago to fit our long dining table. The fabric was sent by my sister and another sister-in-law arranged to cut and sew it into a tablecloth. It has a simple diamond pattern on it to give it texture. The plates looked pretty good against this tablecloth and then I just added the silver cutlery, plain Reidel wine glasses and a small mother of pearl butter plate to pick up the theme of the mother of pearl fruit or dessert knives and forks at the top of the plate. Most of the components of this place setting are generous presents from a sister that trolls the auction houses in New York for great buys or who just enjoys all nice things for the table.
I had no flowers by 10am the morning of the dinner so I thought I would just fall back on plain white orchids in simple crystal vases. But sometimes nice things just fall into place and a shot in the dark visit to my Makati flower wholesaler yielded spectacular bluish tinged hydrangeas that I mixed with some light green ones I had in pots and some white dendrobium orchids that had tinges of light green. Placed in several crystal vases and throw in some votive candles and it looked pretty darn good, if I say so myself. Arrangements took 15 minutes to make, max.
For dinner, we started with some cold seafood including these humongous crab claws that are a bit out of focus. This was followed by a nice salty Southern ham (from Paris, Tennessee), baked sweet potatoes, asparagus and an apricot compote that I made the night before. We also served nice hot crusty French bread. This was a rather low intensity dinner. The seafood was brined and steamed ahed of time, allowed to chill in the fridge. The ham was cooking earlier in the day and a last minute glaze of mustard, brown sugar and a little vinegar was applied and cooked until a bubbly, caramelized state.
For dessert, we had fresh Baguio strawberries with whipped cream and not in the picture, miniature turon with dulce de leche. The Baccarat crystal was out in full force, the berries just looked so much better in this classic pattern called â€œHarcourt.â€ The vases were various Baccarat vases we have gotten over the years, some of them at second hand stores in Parisâ€¦ Good lead crystal is incredibly clear, luminous, reflectiveâ€¦ I totally understand the attraction with 18th and 19th century formal dinner parties where there was tons of china, silver, crystal AND candles that then reflected off of everything elseâ€¦ the “blue dinner” worked really wellâ€¦