Last night I attended a multi-generational birthday and it made me stop and think about the way in which our standards of entertaining have changed. When I was growing up, my family had a hard and fast rule about eating en famille in the dining room at least twice a week. My sister and I had to be on our best behavior. My mother pulled out all of the china, silver and crystal and we were taught to use our knife and fork for everything-my father even ate fried chicken with a knife and fork. Not that it wasn't fun. My mother is still an expert floral arranger and back in the day she always set the table with the most delightful decorations. I especially loved our German colored crystal glasses that were brought out for special occasions - every "clink" created a different and beautiful sound. I may have even gotten my first design ideas from my mother's dining room. She decorated this room with the most special apricot and green toile wallpaper and white moire silk curtains at the windows. It was a privilege to just sit in that room.
My parents entertained quite often and when they did, my mother planned the events weeks in advance. At least a full week before a party, the silver was laid out on the table, the plates or place settings selected and the linens were freshly laundered and pressed to perfection. While she finalized the menu and conditioned her beautiful apricot roses, she had someone helping her to polish the silver. During these times, the house smelled like the most unusual but heavenly combination of succulent roast beef, oysters Rockefeller, orange potpourri and silver polish. My sister and I tried to stay out of the way while still being in the mix - our intrigues involved brocade curtains and peanut butter but that is a story for another time....
When I got married and had a house and family of my own, I tried to recreate some of those family traditions. My mother gave me her dining table, sideboard (and portrait) and while I had formal curtains and a chandelier, I preferred sisal carpet and Hollywood glam Phyllis Morris dining chairs. Still, I insisted on family dinner in the dining room at least twice a week.
As formal as those family dinners and special events were, there was an element of excitement and fun woven into them.....and even when we were just barbecuing in the backyard. Which brings me to the Sunday night birthday celebration. The hostess of said birthday event enjoys entertaining and she, her husband and daughter all love to cook. Unfortunately no one has time to plan events weeks in advance these days but nevertheless, events can be made special by the people we celebrate with and the love and attention we lavish on the food and presentation. These days we don't wait for special occasions to use our silver, and while we did have bbq on paper plates, we drank from heirloom crystal wine glasses. The evening ended with homemade birthday cake - served on antique plates and....we ate in the dining room, en famille of course.
Some ideas from Sotre that I am loving RIGHT NOW:
Love these pestos and tapenades from Bella Cucina and so does Oprah:
Of course I ADORE these table linens from the Matouk-Schumacher collaboration and I hope everyone will come see the works that our local friends are creating with these fabulous new offerings on view from October 22-24.
These preserved lemons from Bella Cucina are delicioso!
Gift one of these pizza knives and a Bella Cucina gourmet item and you will delight any host or hostess!
Ciao until next time,