Tag Archives: tablescapes

Early Fall Bistro Style Dinner on the Front Verandah

Serving the Charcuterie-Cheese-Fruit Board Appetizer
Serving the Charcuterie-Cheese-Fruit Board Appetizer

Our fall this year has simply been fabulous. Uncharacteristically for the Island this time of the year, there have been days this fall where we were still able to dine on the front verandah and today was one of those days.  This will probably be the last “outdoors” dinner this fall. I thought you might like to take a little peek at the table.

Alfresco Dining on the Front Verandah
Alfresco Dining on the Front Verandah

Charcuterie, cheese, and fruit trays (or a combination of all three) are common for entertaining.  They are relatively quick and easy to prepare, plate well, are attractive and appetizing, and they are tasty, too.

Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Starter Board
Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Starter Board

These trays, or boards, can be used for a wide variety and style of events – entertaining friends at home, picnics, potlucks, and just about any kind of get-together.  You can check out a couple of picnics in which I have used combination charcuterie-cheese-fruit boards, ranging from the very simple version (click here) to the more elaborate (click here).

These kinds of boards can also be used as an appetizer or starter to a meal which is how I am using them today.  Sometimes, I’ll prepare a communal tray and set it in the middle of the table where it doubles as a centerpiece.  Other times, I’ll prepare individual boards for each guest as I have done here today.

Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Boards Make Great Appetizers
Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Boards Make Great Appetizers

Before I explain what is on the individual charcuterie-cheese-fruit boards, let’s construct the tablesetting design, starting with the blank canvas – the tablecloth.

Linens
Even though this table is set for a casual get-together on the front verandah, I’ve still opted to use my favorite blank canvas – the white tablecloth.  White is my “go-to” for many of my tablescapes because I like the look of clean, simple white table linen – it’s always in style and food and other elements in the setting look exceptionally good against a blank white canvas. I also think white linen lends an air of sophistication to any tablescape. The tablecloth I have used here is a vintage Irish linen cloth but any good quality white cloth or tablecloth will do…just make sure it is pressed, free of wrinkles, and doesn’t sport any stains that could suggest to guests that it has not been laundered since its last use.

White Table Linens Make the Elements of the Tablesetting Stand Out
White Table Linens Make the Elements of the Tablesetting Stand Out

I always recommend good quality dinner-size napkins be in the host’s or hostess’ linen drawer.  Just like white tablecloths, they go with anything and always look crisp and chic. I’ve kept their positioning very simple on this table, simply folding them and placing them, unobtrusively, under the forks.  This is intentional to maintain the casual ambiance of the table.

Centerpiece
I have owned the ikebana (seen in photograph below) handmade by PEI potter, Peter Jansons, of the Dunes Studio Gallery and Café in Brackley Beach for a very long time.  Peter is well-known for these ikebanas which he produces in various colors, sizes, and shapes.

Ikebana
Ikebana

Fitted with a floral frog, the ikebana is super easy to work with and an attractive contemporary-style floral arrangement is possible with any flowers and with little to no flower arranging abilities.

Contemporary Floral Design
Contemporary Floral Design

The flowers in this simple arrangement were gathered from our flower and herb beds, nothing too fussy.  There is no need to spend a fortune on flowers for centerpieces; sometimes, nothing more is needed than what can be found in one’s own backyard!

Fresh herbs, such as oregano, are great in casual floral arrangements
Fresh herbs, such as oregano, are great in casual floral arrangements

Dinnerware
For the main meal, I’m using my basic white dinnerware.  But, what I’m focusing on for this posting are the very basic, simple, small wooden breadboards for the starter course – the charcuterie/cheese boards.  Plates can, of course, be used for this part of the meal but, for presentation purposes, the wood boards lend a more casual, rustic, and interesting look to the table.  The boards I am using are inexpensive and are proportionally sized to fit within each placesetting space.

Small breadboards are ideal for individual-sized charcuterie boards
Small breadboards are ideal for individual-sized charcuterie boards

Flatware
I tend to prefer good quality basic flatware, not overdone with design.  Unless you wish to spend a lot on flatware and have multiple sets, choose a plain pattern that works equally well with casual and more formal tablesettings.

Glassware
I’ve mixed my antique water glasses with plain wine glasses.  The cut glass in the water glasses will give some sparkle to this outside tablesetting as the sun hits it.  The plain wine glasses are in keeping with the casual “bistro” style dining look I am using.  The plain wine glasses will also allow the color and clarity of the wine to show well.

Plain Wine Glasses Show Color and Clarity of Wine Best
Plain Wine Glasses Show Color and Clarity of Wine Best

Additional Accents
I have added a large water pitcher to the table. Apart from being functional, I like the design of the pitcher and it is in keeping with the casual dining look of this setting.

Starter Course
Starter Course

A box of locally-grown plums from Arlington Orchards rounds out the look of the tablesetting.  I like to include edible props in my tablescapes, especially when they are in season and are in keeping with the theme of the meal.

Plums
Plums

What’s on the Boards?
As mentioned earlier, I’ve opted to prepare separate boards for each guest in lieu of preparing one board and placing it in the middle of the table (which would also work).  The benefit of doing individual boards is that each board can be tailored to each guest’s personal food preferences or dietary needs.  For example, if one guest likes mild meats and another prefers spicier meats, their boards can be custom-prepared with that in mind.  Likewise, if someone has gluten-free requirements, there is less chance of cross-contamination if that individual’s board is prepared separately. A sign of a good host or hostess is one who is aware of guests’ dietary needs/preferences and accommodates them. This extra touch of thoughtfulness is always appreciated by guests, especially those with dietary restrictions.

Individually-prepared Charcuterie-Cheese-Fruit Boards
Individually-prepared Charcuterie-Cheese-Fruit Boards

I also think it makes each guest feel more special if they sit down at the table and have a lovely individual charcuterie/cheese board set in front of them.

Herb-infused Olive Oil
Herb-infused Olive Oil

We grow a lot of herbs and I make good use of them in multiple ways. Today, I have included them on the boards in these adorable small bottles of high quality dipping olive oil.  The herbs infuse the oil and they also add an element of interest to a simple little bottle of oil.  The small white dishes under the olive oil bottles are, of course, for the oil to allow for easy dipping of the bread.

Dill-infused Olive Oil
Dill-infused Olive Oil

I often make my baguettes in small individual sizes because they are perfect for these types of occasions.  In keeping with the rustic look, I’ve wrapped the small baguettes in pieces of jute tied with chives  and garnished with a fresh sprig of thyme. They dress up the boards!

Individual-sized Baguettes
Individual-sized Baguettes

I have opted to go with two nibbling cheeses – a good quality Havarti and a really interesting mosaic-patterned cheddar from Ireland.  I always try to find at least one kind of unique cheese to include on my boards and this gourmet white cheddar cheese certainly creates a statement on the board. This is a mild cheese made with Guinness-brewer porter and covered with a brown wax coating.

Bradburys Irish Porter Cheddar Cheese
Bradburys Irish Porter Cheddar Cheese

The choice of meats for the board does not have to be exclusive.  Local delicatessens offer lots of options in this regard.  Generally, for these boards used as appetizers, include two to three kinds of meats.

Tasty Appetizer Board
Tasty Appetizer Board

Everything is in the details.  Adding a few almonds add variety, interest, color, and texture to the boards.

Colors and Textures of a Charcuterie Board
Colors and Textures of a Charcuterie Board

The black cherries contribute color and shape to the board and are a great way to finish off the starter course.

Black Cherries
Black Cherries

Wine
My wine selection for this course of the meal comes from Wheatley River, PEI.  A new meadery opened in PEI in summer 2017 and it produces several kinds of mead made with fermented honey.  You can click here to read my story on this new meadery.

Wildflower Mead from The Island Honey Wine Company in PEI
Wildflower Mead from The Island Honey Wine Company in PEI

I have chosen to pair the Island Honey Wine Company’s Wildflower Honey Mead with this starter course.

Wildflower Honey Mead
Wildflower Honey Mead

So, there you have it!  Stylish little boards that make a great starter course and are sure to be conversation pieces to the start of a leisurely bistro-style dinner. Bon Appétit!

Serving Appetizers
Serving Appetizers
Dinner on the Front Verandah

 

Springtime Yellow Tablescape

This springtime tablesetting has a yellow theme going on – after dreary winter months, it’s always good to see some bright and cheery colors and yellow is definitely in that category.

The three yellow floral arrangements, a tall flanked by two shorter complementary ones, add a burst of color in the center of the table. For a longer table, simply add more down the length of the table, alternating between tall and short arrangements.

The yellow tapers in glass candlesticks lend both an air of height and elegance. By keeping everything in the same color, the eye is not kept busy trying to focus on the focal point of the table. I find using all one color lends a more elegant look and feel to a tablesetting.

The yellow round placemats are an inexpensive way to pull the color down from the centerpiece into each placesetting. Good quality basic white napkins are a must! Using napkin rings is an easy and quick way to present napkins at placesettings.  There are several ways napkins can be folded into the rings but this is one of the more classic. Made of pewter, these napkin rings have a daffodil design so are perfect for springtime tables.

I am a big fan of white dishes. First, food looks fabulous against a white background. And, second, white goes with anything which means a set of basic white dinnerware is a good all-round investment. With white dishes, you can go with any color scheme on the table so, although the dinnerware remains the same, the look can change dramatically simply by using different tablecloths, placemats, chargers,  napkins, and/or centerpieces.

Adding lots of glassware to the table gives it a light look and feel – just what’s needed for a springtime tablesetting!

Don’t worry about mixing and matching glass candlesticks – in fact, having several different styles on the table makes it more interesting and takes away from the “matchy-matchy” look. To keep the look casual, just weave the candlesticks in at random among the flowers – they don’t have to be symmetrically placed.

DSC_0054

No need for charger plates to frame the plates when round placemats are used.

For more tablesetting inspiration, click on the “Tablescape” tab at the top of my home page.

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Pretty Poinsettia Tablescape

Poinsettias are one of the most commonly seen plants over the Christmas season.  They come in a variety of colors and shades and in various sizes.  Each season I have several placed around my home — in front of fireplaces, in the entryway, and anywhere else that I think needs a pop of color and a festive touch.

Today, I am using both small and miniature poinsettias in a seasonal tablescape.

DSC_0209

I have clustered three small poinsettias in the center of the small round dining table.

These plants are just supermarket stock so I removed the commercial plastic wrappers from them and transplanted them into small glittery gold pots that I found at my local dollar store.  I added some fresh pine and green fir along with a few twigs, scattered some Christmas balls around the trio and, voilà, I have the look of a custom-made centerpiece at a fraction of the price.  By keeping each plant in its own pot, it allows me to use them as a grouping or elsewhere individually.  I chose two variegated plants in red shades and one in the soft green for contrast.

I also found these little tiny miniature poinsettias at the supermarket and thought they would be ideal decorations for each place setting and would be nice take-away favours for guests to take home with them as a remembrance of the dinner.

I simply covered the little terracotta pots with some gold netting and tied it with gold elastic cord.

I used a floor-length round gold tablecloth for the table and opted to use my gold charger plates as the backdrop for white dinnerware which, of course, makes the red poinsettias pop in color. By keeping the gold theme going in the charger plates, it keeps the tablesetting in the same color scheme without introducing another color.  This is particularly important when the table is small as is the case with this tablesetting. Keeping the same color of charger plates as the tablecloth gives the illusion that this table is bigger than it actually is.  Had I used other colored charger plates (e.g., red or green), the difference would have been very noticeable.

The small table creates a setting for very intimate dining.  However, it does not leave a lot of room for extras on the table, such as napkins.  For this reason, I opted to place the matching gold napkins in the wineglasses in a simple cascade napkin fold for economy of space.

The photo below shows the top down view of the tablesetting.

I always put a tree in my dining room. It is decorated in shades of green, gold, and ivory and I have carried these shades into my mantle decorations this season.  The gold tablecloth blends in with the  color scheme and, of course, the red poinsettias give a pop of color.

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my seasonal poinsettia tablesetting.

To see another tablesetting where I have used the same elements as in this one for a totally different look, click here.


To view other Christmas and New Year’s Tablesettings, click on the links below:

Glitz ‘n Glamour New Year’s Eve Tablesetting
Twas the Night Before Christmas
The Warmth of the Christmas Light Tablesetting
A Tartan Holiday Tablesetting
Christmas Eve Tablesetting and Dinner
Poinsettia Trio Tablesetting
The Holiday Table
The Pink and Green Holiday Table
Christmas at My Island Bistro Kitchen
Purple Tablesetting for the Holidays
Evergreens and Reindeer Christmas Tablesetting
Cupcake Tablescape

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Thanksgiving Tablesetting

The autumn got away from me and I did not get around to sharing my 2014 Thanksgiving tablesetting.  When I realized it was too late to share it on my blog for the Canadian Thanksgiving in October, I knew I’d have a second chance in late November to share it in time for the American Thanksgiving.  So, this one is for our American friends to the South who will celebrate their Thanksgiving tomorrow… if you haven’t already set your Thanksgiving table, this one is quick and easy!

I went with a fairly simplistic setting this year.  I started with an ivory tablecloth topped with a piece of orange drapery sheer.  As you have probably noticed with my tablesettings, I tend to go for plain table coverings which make other elements of the tablesetting stand out.

I also try, where possible, to use props that I already have like, for example, the tall wooden candlesticks.  The warmth of the wood seemed to work well with the autumn props.  Scattering a few brown pine cones pulled the color scheme together.

The focal point of the table is the small white pumpkin perched on a glass cake stand and surrounded by colored leaves.  With a black marker, I simply wrote, round and round the pumpkin, all the things I am thankful for.

I used my standard gold charger plates topped with my everyday white stoneware dinnerware.  A quick fold of the napkin placed in the soup bowl makes a colorful nest for the little white ornamental pumpkins which tie in with the white pumpkin centerpiece.

I love to decorate my fireplace mantles.  A few white pumpkins, a garland of some colored leaves, a floral centerpiece, and a jar of mini orange pumpkins for a splash of color, and the look is complete.

This was a fairly easy, quick, and economical tablesetting to achieve.  It’s suitable, obviously, for a more informal Thanksgiving dinner.  My good China has a border of pink florals so really doesn’t blend well with the colors of autumn.  That’s why white dinnerware is always a good choice as it goes with anything and food always looks so eye-popping when served on it!

Happy Thanksgiving to our American family and friends to the South!

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

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