Sunday, December 03, 2006

Takin' off eh?

...or the most excellent adverntures of two Canucks in London... YESS!!! Praise the gods and all assorted hangers-on in the holy firmament, Cat and I are blowing this joi... er... leaving our lovely home to spend a few days galivating in the UK. Your perspicacious powers of observation have no doubt already told you that I didn't update this site last Sunday. Yep, just finishing off a horrendous week of assignments, assignments and more assignments. Oh, did I mention...ASSIGNMENTS???!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Whining & Dining

No. 1 perp on most wanted list for heinous crimes against china. He knows what he did!

This is not going well... Three weeks into the PLAN and the brie is hitting the fan. I have made little progress on the wine thing (right now Plan B, befriend an oenophile and manip... erm... delegate, is looking good). I also haven't decided on the style of china, and the much-touted filet lace tablecloth I so judiciously scored at the vintage sale last week seems to be too *B*&%^@# SMALL. As some people I know would say, la moutarde me monte au nez...

To continue this deliciously low litany of woes (lifts trembling hand to fevered brow), this blog is a visual desert, since Cat has not yet coughed up a comic strip and I have been too laz..busy to select/scan/upload pictures. Soo... I decided to dip my toesies in the frigid waters of china-arranging and put some plates together to see if the mix-and-match thing would fly with anybody. I did away with the flash and used a tripod to avoid glare and add warmth. Looks a little too baroque to me, but with the right crystal, it just might set off the expensive top-o'-the-line designer clothes my invitees will undoubtedly be wearing. Right, guests? Right.

I will be gathering people's opinions on the plate combinations shown here and make a decision based on yays, nays, ers..., and incidences of shifty eyes accompanied by overbright smiles and dubious declarations of sudden emergencies. As a bonus, I include a mug of the no. 1 on my most-wanted list of china-destroyers, Cinzano (top right). Did I mention the leettle episode with the 200-year-old Limoges? Yes, I think I did.

Anyway, the first mix-and-match combinations are all Wedgwood charger, Limoges plates. The one on top is pretty but looks too precious.

The one below left is simpler. Too much red perhaps? How about the one on the right? The dessert plate is the "Garden of Allah" pattern, which has a nice blue that picks up the Wedgwood Crown Sapphire. Yes, I did tell you I was a China geek.

I'll leave these here so people can come and visit them. I know I will (see above). Please let me know what you think. I can still go all stylistic and "simple"with the Rosenthal, which is basically white with a really nice engraved gold border. Or I can match everything, but what's the fun in that?

Cat and I are also serious Halloween aficionados. I know the thing is long over but I can't resist posting a couple of shots. Yes, I'm wearing a tail coat. With tails. (Oh and those aren't my hips, they're the TAILS.) Cat looks dangerously menacing but I was the one who made a poor kid shriek. No, really BWAAA HAHAHA HAAA


Next week... Results of china poll and whether I care. Also, the menu is taking shape. Some recipes for invitee (and your) approval, including Adelaide Shrimp Rissoles. Hmmm....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Of Madeira cutwork, filet lace and stained perfection

AH soo.. I have noticed a soupçon of incredulity (and a few hints of glutonous greed) amongst some of my so-called friends, who have the temerity to doubt the outcome of this most excellent dinner-party venture. One of them even mentioned something about midterm diversionary tactics (aka procrastination), or some such nonsense. Pftt!, I say to you, faithless non-invitees. Yep, you'll have to labour long and hard to get back into that gold-trimmed, hand-scripted, Martha-approved seating plan.

But enough about those ingrates. Today Cat and I went to a vintage clothing show at the local Chateau Frontenac and I took the opportunity to look for a vintage, hand-made tablecloth, some beautiful (yet practical) wisp of diaphanous (yet sturdy) fabric that would set off the Limoges (or Rosenthal, I haven't decided yet -- in fact, depending on the numbers, Lenox Aristocrat may be de rigueur. Take that, you Globe and Mail ersatz hostess! No el-cheapo italian stoneware here!). Some may call me obsessive (ok, many already do so -- frequently) but I think good food deserves great china. But where was I, ah yes, the tablecloth.

See, here's the thing. I have some gorgeous ones already. Most are family heirlooms -- beautiful linen, intricate embroidery, French filet lace or Madeira cutwork (the genuine articles, too), but these are way way too good to eat on. Not like you can rub padded stitching with salt and soda to remove those inevitable wine stains. I mean, I already have to suffer through the utensil scratches on the Limoges ok? But I digress. The vintage clothing show: Some of the vendors had gorgeous cloths for sale, but they were expensive (as they should be) and ...pristine. Aack. I already have pristine, what I need is almost-but- less-than-perfect! I despaired. I sighed. I walked around with a heavy heart and even heavier purse (inadvertently brought all my keys with me). And then...

...there it was! Filet lace! Handmade! No tears, breaks, frayed ends, nothing but a couple of gorgeous near-invisible yellow stains near the centre. Marked down to ten bucks! Yes! Canadian! Dollars! TEN! Someone make a movie! (Miracle on Rideau street..?). So now my friends can eat, drink, be merry and be pigs, too! Am I the perfect hostess or what?

Ok, so there is the small problem of matching this rectangular jewel to my very round table, but what the heck... I need new furniture... and there's this leetle darling antique store going outta business on Wellington st...

I've yet to decide whether I'll be going for art nouveau sleek (matching service, Rosenthal) or for mix-and-match rococo elegance (pretty much everything else). I put a few plates together and took pictures (because I'm a china nerd), so I'll be uploading them soon. I'll also include a picture of my feline china-breaking bandit (aka, 200-year-old Pouyat bites the dust) and I'm still begging my hyper-talented hubby to let me publish one of his famous Droid Life cartoons. Please honey??

Next week: Decisions on the plates, choosing the chargers and embryonic thoughts on, what else, food. Ah yes, the wine. I'm still working on that. Turns out there's ... ahem... a rather abundant set of data on wine out there. Not all of it clear. Or concise. Or rational, but that's another story, for another time.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Good Food Goes Fast

Some time ago, while watching a friend scarf down a pizza in exactly 30 seconds, I realized that I hadn't thrown a truly elegant dinner party in years. Oh ok, I never did throw a truly elegant anything, with the possible exception of a romantic dinner for my husband back when I was still trying to impress him (totally wasted effort, since he doesn't know Limoges from Made in China, but what the heck, I liked it). I went home and stared at my impressive collection of cookbooks, fine china and elegant crystal... all in boxes. Yes, I'm just starting a new job and so far no space, no furniture and no haute socialites to befriend and invite to an elegant soirée. Then again, I have met a few people who definitely show pseudo-snob tendencies (pizza-scarfer notwithstanding). I must cultivate them and encourage such pedantic leanings. For the sake of my china. And my cookbooks, all thousand and fifty two of them, a living testament to my unfortunate hoarding habits.

I have made an early New Year's resolution to throw a magnificent dinner party within the next year and invite all my friends (perhaps even some acquaintances if necessary). Unlike the luminaries recently featured in the Globe and Mail, who resort to professional caterers, florists and wait-staff (!!!!), I will plan it all myself, from the madeira cutwork tablecloth to the judicious mix-and-matching of the china (crud! I still have to get some decent cutlery) and the thoughtful and socially sensitive intrincacies of the seating plan. Ah yes. I will also plan (and execute) the menu and choose the wines. This last part may prove somewhat problematic since my knowledge of wine is rather limited. I know grapes are involved and so is stuff like "overtones" and "bouquet." That's ok. I mean, how hard could it be? That's why we have the Internet, right? Don't know sumthin,' google it. Right. I'm ready. Next week, the choosing of the cloth.