Monday, October 27, 2014

China Cupboard Reorg

After the dinner party last weekend, it took me a few days to get through the rest of the dishes and glasses.  Everything I use for a party is hand-wash, and after a cooking class for 6-8 I can seriously get through all the dishes in an hour.  But for this party, even though my awesome guests got through most of the plates and cooking pots the night of, there was just a lot of mess, a lot of dishes.  We used cups and plates for appetizers, plates for the entrée, for dinner, and for salad and multiple dessert plates for everyone.  Lots of plates and dishes!  I talked to a friend today and we agreed I am somewhere between  the laid-back California girl and the laissez-faire French-shrug Francophile.  Honestly, if you get upset that there are few night-before dishes left over the next day, you need to refocus.  I mean, who can worry about dishes when there are fantabulous guests to talk to, herbal tea and lattes, Chopin and Strauss to listen to, and these adorable faces to look at~


Photo, which I adore, by Lorie via La Contessa of Vintage Hen House.  Seriously, look at those faces?  In between tea and coffee and brioche French toast, we fed the dogs bacon and snapped IG photos.  Forget the dishes~~FORGET them!  Thankfully, none of my guests had a care….we were all about spending time with each other and enjoying the moment.

Anyway, several days later, it was time to get to the business of putting everything back in the cupboard.  This is how the dining room looked.


A few of the dishes had made it back into the cupboard; this is the finer stuff, not the everyday dishes, which are in the kitchen, and the buffet holds still other stuff that gets used rarely.  But it’s definitely time to reorganize this space.


A short time later, everything was out of the cupboard, and on the table, on the floor and in the hall.  China galore.  It’s good for me to do this once a year or so, because sets and like-pieces get separated, and this is time to put it back properly.


I have purged various pieces over the years, and added others.  Sometimes I regret getting rid of my collection of Wedgewood and English pieces from London and New York, but that’s water under the bridge.  I have ended up with a set of dishes that are mostly French, with a little English and little Japanese added in.  Oh, and some nice American glass pieces and a lot of teacups that were wedding gifts that belonged to each of my Grandmothers.  We used many of those this last weekend at dinner; it’s like having my Nana and Grandma come to my dinner; they would approve.


God it looks like a lot though, towers of plates.  It’s ok though, I’m ready for dinner for fifty. When we gonna do that?  Oh, maybe next spring….dishes, check.  Glassware, check…..


I can never have enough white Limoges with simple or fancy gold rims.  I can change the look of a dinner in so many other ways, but the food always looks awesome on a clean white plate.  But I need smaller plates, for appetizers and salads and desserts, so…, I just need lots and lots and lots of plates, what can I say?


One of my guests said she had never seen so many plates in all her life.  OUI!  But I love and use it all, so isn’t that ok? I’m not really asking for approval, it’s me.  I have a rule, if you use it all, it’s ok, and all of this gets used.  There is the occasional attrition, but I don’t mind that.  An excuse to buy more….


Elsewhere in the cupboard are various small pieces….the small pink slipper shoe belonged to my Grandma; though it looks French, it’s marked Made in Germany.  I don’t get what these sweet little show pieces are about, but maybe someone can explain it to me.  The small pitchers and teacups are used constantly, as we love tea and brunch in this family, and then use them for soup or desserts or whatever….


I have the top three shelves done; next up, the linens and other items below.


The small pieces are layered in front,high-low from French sterling to $1 egg cups.


At the end of the day, here is the finished cupboard….I am happy!


Now, on to the next cabinet!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fall Farm to Table Soiree

There are parties, and then there are parties…meals eaten and moments shared with friends that you will remember for the rest of your life.  This last weekend was one of those.  Someone called me brave to invite a few quasi-strangers to come spend the weekend at our home, and have a dinner soiree in their honor.  Well, I just trust my intuition I guess, and that is always confirmed by my dogs, who gave our guests the full kissy terrier welcome.  Roll out that red carpet… my guests and we were going to party the weekend!!!  The petals that dropped off the garden roses just went right on the table….we roll with it here…make use and have fun was our motto~


Not having a staff, I had friends descend, and we had a work party and a whole lot of fun and a little instruction.  The scene was finally set.  Mo and Linda, you are the BEST.  Love you ladies and can’t wait to be in Beaune with you…it is significantly easier than this, I promise, but WOW was this fun??


I made a run to Los Angeles Flower Mart for some flowers, ok a bit obstructive but they looked great….hired the chairs, GOLD as we have in Paris.  My Dad said it looked like an insane asylum and Ophelia should parade at any moment.  But the rest of us, I think, thought it was divine.  Yes, I am a hopeless romantic,and this is my style…..grey tulle x 300 yards, Limoges and vintage crystal, linen, French sterling, and fragrant pink garden roses.  Hand-picked guests who will connect.  Oui.  My style~


I was absolutely blown away by my guests and their generosity and their joy.   Like long-lost sisters, Elizabeth from Vintage Henhouse, Jennifer from A Well Styled Life and Terri from La Dolfina all came from San Francisco, and we had dinner the night before, so we could visit a little.  Only a little…we have to get together soon or go to Beaune to really visit.  But OH what ladies… do you know how I LOVE you!!!!  For the Saturday dinner, we started with pumpkin soup in a real pumpkin that burnishes to a nice shiny color as in France.  This was just one of a bunch of appetizers.  Olive branches in the candle hurricanes, my touch.  lots of Pretty for my girlfriends~…Terri’s vase of roses next to the pumpkin were so lovely~


We had dinner, a lengthy, fantastic dinner.  I didn’t get any pics of it.  Someone will post the menu or I will later.  I spent weeks working it out and then redid it all based on what was fresh at various farmers markets that week.  Dang we ate well…..I came out at the end of the meal to a thunderous clapping of hands….oui, it was good and I love that you all enjoyed it… all I want is for you all to be happy and eat and drink well this evening!

I know some thought we were slaving away in the kitchen.  In reality, we were having our own party, a food-fest and great joy rolling out the pasta and assembling the salads.  And speaking of great Joy, we sent eight year old Joy our guest out to “parade the pasta” which she did to perfection.  As we rolled and cut it it was hung over chairs and French cloths in the kitchen, screen grab below from Mary’s Instagram, who thought this was a real hoot.  Yes, we could hire staff, but this is infinitely better.  This is how we party, together. 


My most awesome guests insisted on doing dishes the night of.  The next day, more to be done, but not too bad; it was manageable.


As we inhaled the aromas of silver dollar Eucalyptus gifted by Mary….


and as we listed to Chopin and had our tea and coffee together….it was a lovely way to start the day with Elizabeth aka LaContessa  and Jennifer of A Well Styled Life….love love love love love you ladies….


We had the company of the dogs too; providing us with a little entertainment along the way…screen grab from Jennifer’s Instagram….


Meanwhile marble and Eucalyptus are divine….we are still enjoying them and thinking of the party several days later.


The tables were cleaned and yesterday I took the tulle down, until next time.


I candied the rose petals from these roses to use at the next cooking class.  These are beautiful little reminders of the party.


Meanwhile I will continue to relive the party a little…


And continue to enjoy my sweet gifts brought by my friends.  Terri had it nailed….she brought me so many amazing things that you will see pop up here and on Instagram….a Bonjour flag?  Yes Please!  Love this!!! 



Making memories….and planning new ones.  I think we will be on party hiatus until the spring, but now we have got something else in mind, something very fun and slightly different. 


You can see more pics of the party and prep on my Instagram feed HERE.

Next up is my Christmas/Holiday 2014 workshop and cooking class….look for more images and details here soon…

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fall Farm to Table Prep

I am running through my memory banks trying to figure out when I had to host somewhat elaborate dinner parties.  Ever since the day I bought a plywood round to go on a tiny three legged table in my NYC studio, I think it’s always been onwards and upwards.  This weekend I am delighted to hostess a dinner party in honor of three of my favorite Blogger/IG friends coming to visit.  What am I going to do?? Put on the dog, so to speak, and roll out some awesome food, gather some wonderful people and have a party!  Tomorrow in the wee hours I am going to the flower mart to get greens to supplement the garden cuttings and flowers for the table.  And I had a nice arch of cornstalk with fairylights at night but the Canadian Farm Girl Boss doesn’t like it, so tomorrow we go for olivier or something green. 


I love to create a menu around what is seasonal and best and what new foods my guests would like to try.  Sunchoke aka Jerusalem Artichoke is on that list, and today at the Santa Monica Farmers market I bought two kinds.  They look gnarly but they have a great taste, raw~


Awesome figs, yes, came home with me.  Fall compote for the dessert table….


Great fall colors, though I did not buy….


I love to introduce American shoppers to celery root or celeri rave or celeriac.  Whatever you call it, it’s a versatile staple you should know how to use….


No pomegranates for this party, but the display was nice….


A thoroughly French Portrait: Potimarron and Celeri-rave~


Posies were pretty, but I bought their Herbes de Provence goat cheese, which I will use for an appie~


And organic fresh dates….calling for bacon and bleu~


Back in Laguna, I loved what I had found.  Quince to go in a compote, grey shallots, dried and fresh strawberries…it was all good~


Soon everyone was tucked in~ YUM.  These will be topped with cream and berries and then lidded. Personal desserts, French Style. Oui.


Mendiants made with organic pecan and candied orange zest and dried strawberry that packs a punch~


I made pecan cookies with a different butter than usual..and I got a spread.  Ooops. 


But no worries, I gave them the Jackson Pollock treatment and they taste great~~~


Tomorrow we have another day of work, more cooking and baking and shopping…starting with the flower mart.  It will all be worth it…can’t wait to welcome our guests on Friday~