Thursday, August 1, 2013

Card Table Chic

Breakfast for 4 on the Balcony

Even in July some mornings in Central Texas are beautifully cool.  (Of course "cool" is subjective.)  I took advantage of this to serve breakfast on our front balcony.  Since I haven't put any furniture there, except for my swing chair that I read in and its side table, I used a good ol' card table with folding chairs.
The first layer was one of my vintage 1940's tablecloths in white, green, and brown.  I chose it to go with the pale green roses I wanted to use as a centerpiece and then added the bronze pin-tuck chair covers since they worked in with the brown in the cloth.

The cloth was purchased from Michelle Piccolo at the Red Barn, part of the Round Top Antiques Fair.  The chair covers were purchased fairly inexpensively on line.

The place setting starts with 11" oval Jadeite platters that I like to use as plates.  They are by Fire-King in the Jane Ray pattern, first produced in 1945.  I have a lot of these and use them for big parties too as they make a great buffet plate.
The next layer is for our first course of strawberries with balsamic vinegar and black pepper.  I used a small custard cup because I wanted to control the serving size.  Because our main course was to be fairly heavy, I wanted the first course to be light with an appetite stimulating sweet and sour flavor profile.

I used the tea spoon for coffee and the smaller coffee spoon for the strawberries.  The pattern is Tudor by Rogers & Hamilton.  It fit the size of the custard cup better and the size of the serving.  
The complete first course place setting.  When the custard cup and underplate are removed, it's ready for the main course of eggs benedict and roasted cherry tomatoes.
The new linen napkins are white with a gray border that worked well with both the cloth and the silver pieces being used.
Napkin rings, though each a different pattern, are all from the Arts and Crafts era, late 1800's to 1910. 
I used four patterns of knives, but again, all of the same era so they mix attractively.  Mix and match is great, but I probably wouldn't mix, for example, 1950's with Victorian on one table.

For water, I chose a vintage etched crystal tumbler and for juice, a green footed goblet with silver leaf overlay.

The fork and tea spoon are the same pattern - 
"Narcissus"ca 1908.

The centerpiece of pale green roses is in a new silverplate ice bucket.  Bloomed out roses are prettier than tight buds so I try to buy them a couple of days ahead and let them have time to open.  If they get too open too soon they can be refrigerated to slow the blooming.
Jadeite restauantware mugs come in three shapes/sizes.  This one is the most narrow and holds the least, but I like its graceful shape that turns out a little at the top.

The bottom of the mug is marked "Fire King Oven Ware."

The salt and pepper shakers at each setting are vintage pressed glass and have plastic lids that match the Jadeite color.

Each person gets their own toast rack.  A cube of Irish butter goes on the glass container along with a dollop of homemade "Pear Honey" jam.
The table is now set for dessert, something that may not normally be considered a breakfast course but great if you're having guests and have time for more than one course.  We're having pineapple upside-down cake.
The cake was served on an 8" restaurantware oval plate.  Restaurantware is heavier and smooth, without the ribbed edge that Jane Ray has.
Serving pieces, though they didn't fit on the table, included this silverplate water pitcher,
coffee server,
and individual coffee press which may have been from a railroad dining car.  I used it for cream and sugar.  It's marked "ENGLAND" on the bottom.
We enjoyed our shady, slow balcony breakfast and look forward to another.
Our view of the front yard and drive over the balcony railings.

My oldest and his wife vacationed in Italy this summer and for my July birthday sent me wonderful EVOO and balsamic vinegar.  This recipe made beautiful use of some of the 15 year old vinegar.

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper

2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground coarse black pepper to taste
     Sprinkle berries with sugar, vinegar, and pepper in a glass bowl and toss gently to coat.  Allow to macerate at least 15 minutes.  
     Makes 4 small servings.

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