Grilling on the Patio for Four
A dinner grilled on the patio by my husband means I have time to do the part that is the most fun, for me anyway, setting a pretty table. All I had to do was the prep because the whole meal, except dessert, was to be grilled. Our menu started with a first course of "Wedding Shrimp." We call it that because we catered our own wedding reception and this was one of the dishes. The main course was all on the grill - pork tenderloin with pineapple-serrano salsa, whole asparagus, and halved new potatoes tossed with garlic, rosemary, and EVOO.
The first layers were a new pink checked cloth and a vintage one in pink and blue.
I was going to use Johnson Brother's Rose Chintz dishes and chose a cloth with prominent blue so the table wouldn't look totally pink.
The Rose Chintz dinner plate has a distinct rose, larger then the rest; therefore, I am careful to place each plate at the same angle so that the stem of the rose points down. This is a good thing to keep in mind with all patterns. It is obvious when a plate has a scene in the center, but is also important with prints. Sometimes, especially with real old transferware like the esthetic period, it is hard to tell what was meant to be the correct placement. Generally there's a flower or fruit with a stem or some other object somewhere in the print that gives you a clue which way the design should be placed. It just makes your table look more balanced, or orderly, to have the direction of all the plates match.
The napkin is a lovely blue with an eyelet lace embellishment. This set belonged to my mother, who loved lace of all kinds.
Because the china is feminine, I decided to use ivory, mother-of-pearl, and floral silverplate flatware patterns.
For our first course I chose an ivory set. Almost a tea or luncheon size, it would not work for a main course but was just fine for our grilled shrimp.
The main course flatware was an antique mother-of-pearl fork and a steak knife in the "Daffodil" pattern by International ca 1950.
Whenever you consider buying anything ivory make sure the seller is willing to certify that it is antique, more than 100 years old. Newer than that and it is illegal to sell/buy due to the protection of the animals that the ivory comes from.
For the first course I used a new companion piece for the Rose Chintz
that has a mottled pink border.
The complete first course place setting including a pink rose centerpiece (what else!) in the teapot.
For water, I used new Waterford "Lismore" iced tea glasses and for wine, beautiful crystal goblets with a pink bowl, probably produced in the 1960's.
With the 6" bread and butter plate I used a vintage white English tea knife. I have tea knives in lots of colors and like to use them for hors d'oeuvres and cheese platters, as well as for butter knives.
Rose Chintz has been being produced for decades and they change a little. The pattern changes a little, but color can change even more. The one on the left is vintage and the other two are newer. Ordinarily I would stick to only vintage but due to a sad story, I also have new - while we were at the Warrenton Antiques Fair one fall our son went by our house, just to check on things, looked in the kitchen door and saw broken dishes covering the floor. He went in and discovered a raccoon, who apparently had been living in the attic, had fallen through the kitchen's antique tin tile ceiling. In an attempt to get back out, he climbed the dish shelves my husband had built in the kitchen that covered one whole wall from the counter up and were 14' wide. He didn't break too many on the way up, but the Rose Chintz was on top of the shelves, taking up about 7' because I had so much of it. He walked around the top, trying to get back to the hole in the ceiling and knocked off 30 or 40 pieces.
These are the back stamps from the 3 bread plates. The pink is the oldest I have. The black is a bit newer, which you can tell by the addition of the words about the decoration being permanent. The blue is the one being currently used so if you see it you know the dish is brand new. If you are buying on line and want vintage, but the seller has not shown the back stamp, ask to see it or ask what it says so you will know whether the piece is old or new.
The complete main course place setting just removes the plate and flatware used for the first course.
Vintage pressed glass salt bowls and spoons were at the top of each plate.
The front, more rectangular, platter was used for our first course shrimp and the larger oval was used for the main course meat and veggies since they were all on the grill together.
Flatware serving pieces all had Mother of Pearl handles. I find most of my mother of pearl in England where we go on guided antiquing trips.
For the pork's pineapple-serrano salsa, I used an antique ivory sugar shell.
I served our strawberry shortcake dessert in the Rose Chintz rimmed soup bowls.
I used a different pattern of mother of pearl knife and fork for dessert. Washing mother of pearl flatware is tedious. You should not get the handles wet. If they get wet, and particularly if they sit in water, it will turn brown. Cover them with your hand and just wash the silverplate parts with mild liquid dish soap on a cloth. It looks so pretty on a table that it's worth the trouble!
It's a good thing my husband likes all of my tableware and isn't too "macho" to eat at a pretty table!
Wedding Shrimp Recipe
3 large shrimp per person
1-3" piece of green onion, white and green parts (you get 2 per onion), per shrimp
1/2 slice bacon per shrimp
1/2" slice fresh ginger, peeled*
1/2 cup soy sauce*
2 Tbsp grape seed oil*
Half cook bacon in oven on a foil covered cookie sheet - put cookie sheet in cold oven, set on 400 degrees, close door and let cook 12 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tail shell on. Lay piece of onion along the back length of each shrimp. Wrap with bacon and secure with a toothpick.
Crush the ginger in a mortar/pestle or in a garlic press. Mix the juice with the soy sauce and oil. Mince the solids finely and add to the soy sauce mixture.
Using the same cookie sheet but without the foil, lay out the shrimp in a single layer and pour the soy sauce mixture over all. Turn and "brush" each shrimp through the soy so that all sides have some. Let sit 15 minutes or up to an hour. If leaving the shrimp in the marinade longer than 15 minutes, turn it over every 15 minutes.
Cook over hot coals just until the bacon is crisp and the shrimp is pink and opaque. It should only take about 1 minute per side if the coals are hot and the grill is close to coals.
*Keeping the same proportions, change the amounts to fit the number of shrimp you are grilling.