Table setting is an art. I realize most folks today may not be able to relate to this statement given the economic times, but I firmly believe this to be true. The readership of this blog is sufficiently broad in number, age, income levels, tastes, etc. that some will find this post interesting and others not. There was a time when sitting down to dinner at a home was the pinnacle of an evening out. Today, most people are likely to meet friends and eat out at a restaurant instead of doing a dinner party at home. If you ever watched the movie â€œAge of Innonence,â€ and noticed the overhead cam shots of the dining table and dining room, you would have seen a very carefully orchestrated selection of tablecloths, dishes, silverware and crystal that should ideally enhance the overall enjoyment of the meal to be served. And despite the cost of pulling together a spectacular table of fine china, silver and lead crystal, I could actually make a good case that it is cheaper than some of the â€œnecessitiesâ€ seem so willing to spend on these daysâ€¦
Good tableware can last decades, if not centuries. Silverware, china and crystal of the finest quality will likely rise in value rather than depreciate over time. And if you use these items fairly often (rather than display in a glass case), the average cost will actually be amortized over several dozen or even hundreds of memorable meals. Of course I am not delving much into the responsibility of owning such treasures, and the pain in the neck washing, drying and storingâ€¦ But contrast this with a snazzy designer outfit that is good for 2-3 parties at most, or even a pack of cigarettes everyday for 50 years (upwards of PHP2 million worth) and well, you get the picture where I could go with this argumentâ€¦ I do not consider myself to have even STARTED on my education towards table setting 101; so this post relies on two relatively casual dinners we had at my sisterâ€™s apartment in New York. Letâ€™s just say she has a Masterâ€™s degree in table setting at the moment, and will probably shoot for a Phdâ€¦ Things were happening so fast in New York that I didnâ€™t get to take many notes on the details, so I am hoping Sister will leave a comment on items I do not recallâ€¦
The first “casual” dinner featured a set of antique burgundy and gold rimmed fish plates with a different hand painted fish at the center of the plates. Can’t recall the make. Silver fork and knife, and silver fish fork and knife. Crisp white linen table cloth and napkins. Peonies in cream, pink and burgundy. A deep burgundy oncidium orchid with massive blooms in the living room. silver candelabra with honeycomb candles. Note that the table is intentionally orchestrated, the colors coordinated, even the meal itself carries the colors through to a certain degree… two large fish platters (utterly gorgeous and totally over the top) with whole baked black fish livornese (tomatoes, onions, olives, herbs, etc.) start off the meal and even if you weren’t taking note of the details, there was a calm and beauty to the table… The fish was followed by roast duck, potatoes fried in goose fat and stewed prunes with citrus and brandy (I think). A salad was also served for those who weren’t so into meat. For dessert I think there was a cheesecake with three different kinds of fruit compotes.
The second casual dinner was a few days later. Only the pink peonies were in the table centerpiece, resting on a very light baby blue tablecloth. Inherited china with a rose pattern was used, the pink of the rose pattern matching the peonies almost perfectly. Tiffany & Co. bamboo cutlery in sterling silver and crystal finger bowls. I only recall the dinner to have commenced with an asparagus soup, the handles on the soup bowls allowing one to lift it up to your mouth to drink the remaining liquid… My brain has blanked out on the rest of the menu but I am sure it was fabulous… Oh, and I just noticed that I photographed the table before the wine glasses were set in place. They were either tall stemmed Baccarat or some stemless Reidel glasses that are beautiful and practical…