Posted on

Labor Day Party Ideas: Time for White Platters

The fashion rule that you can’t wear white after Labor Day is meant to be broken. Yet this holiday is frequently a mark of summer’s end and fall’s beginning. School’s back in session and the grill will shortly go back into storage. So make Labor Day a time to relax with friends and family with these easy outdoor party ideas.

backyard grill

Classic BBQ

Grill hamburgers, hot dogs, or choice steaks. Serve with plenty of sides: potato salad, coleslaw, fruits of the season, and chips and dip. Arrange toppings (sliced cheese, onions, tomatoes, bacon strips, pickle slices, lettuce) for your meats on a large white serving platter for maximum appeal and easy access. Sick of hamburgers? Make this party low-key by marinating chicken the night before for high flavor and limited prep day-of. Whatever you serve, an easy menu will help make the fun last into the evening.

picnic spread

Potluck Picnic

Collaborative parties mean all you need as the host is serving dishes and a place for them to rest. Divvy up foods so that designated people bring apps, entrées, sides, desserts, and drinks. Or throw caution to the wind and end up with an accidental dessert picnic. Large plates at the start and cutlery in cans or jars at the end makes for an easy buffet line indoors or out. Set up drinks at another station for better traffic flow with groups over 10 people. A few white platters can help corral similar food items together visually.

white platter

Skewer Party

A mix of the traditional bbq and potluck, everyone brings their favorite skewer ingredients. Chop meat into square chunks and veggies thick so they don’t fall off. Put a bunch of wooden skewers into water to soak the night before and you’re ready to go. Have different colored platters for constructed skewers and cooked ones to avoid cross contamination. Here white platters filled with grilled delights look great with sides and salads in bowls. This party idea is great for families with small children; they’ll enjoy constructing skewers as well as pulling off the cooked results. Check out these combinations in a simple-to-follow graphic, including marinades, for inspiration.

skewers on the grill

Grill image courtesy Robert S. Donovan via Compfight cc.

Picnic spread image courtesy Josh Liba via Compfight cc.

Skewer image courtesy joshbousel via Compfight cc.

Posted on

Celebrate 4th of July with Red, Blue and White Dishes

July 4th is almost here and I’ve discovered a slew of recipes perfect for this summer holiday. I will admit an aversion to blue-colored food (yes, besides blueberries!), so it’s time to game out which blue and white dishes I will fill with delicious treats for barbequing with friends this Friday. Which of these would you try?

4th of July cake

patriotic drink

Patriotic Drinks

I’m not really a beer person, so for me this raspberry fizz and red, white, and blue sparkling sangria nicely satisfy both non-alcoholic and boozy needs. These drinks also put fruit front and center, which is perfect with so many ripe berries available. This blueberry smash also looks divine, though it might be too labor intensive for a causal party drink. A lemon-ginger base that can become strawberry lemonade or a dark and stormy equally fast seems much more on track.

 

Blueberry desserts

It’s unlikely that any of my red fruit crumble will be left by Friday, but it would be wonderfully festive on blue and white dishes. I think I’ll stick with blueberry and strawberry combos to share. This list of red, white and blueberry recipes has a couple inspiring ideas like blueberry trifle and blueberry cobbler. I’m wary of the flag cupcakes, though they look great. Short on time? Grab some pound cake and make a delicious blueberry sauce. Done and done.

summer fruit

Cool treats

Growing up, July 4th was always hot, hot, hot. Here in San Francisco we worry if there’ll be too much fog to see the fireworks, so there’s not quite the same imperative to make thirst-quenching delights for picnics. Still, a girl can dream, right? Paletas (a.k.a. popsicles but better) are always delicious and have infinite flavor combinations possible. Serve ones made with red fruits on blue and white dishes for maximum patriotic impact. This watermelon agua fresca makes for a cool drink or frozen treat, depending on your mood.

watermelon

Hmmm, looking this list over I see a definite sweet theme. That’s probably because I’m not responsible for the grill!

What will you be having on blue and white dishes to celebrate this holiday weekend? Leave a comment below as well as links to any recipes that I should test out this year.

salad_bowl

4th of July cake image courtesy mmatins.

Drink image courtesy Lori L. Stalteri.

Berry image courtesy ClatieK.

Watermelon image courtesy mynameisharsha.

Posted on

3 Reasons Why These Wine Cups Will Improve Your Summer

I have outdoor dining on the brain – blame it on the sunshine and rising temperatures. But decorative dinner plates are just the beginning; drinks are another vital part of any summer meal. Tired of plastic cups that fly away and glasses that shatter due to a guest miscalculating the distance between guest and deck railing? Enter Ceramica Valenciana‘s smart Spanish ceramic drinkware. Here are three reasons why these are the wine cups that will change your outdoor entertaining.

spanish ceramics from ceramica valenciana

1. The laws of physics. A lower center of gravity means these cups are less likely to tip, especially when compared to a traditional wine glass with stem.

spanish ceramic wine cups

2. Durable style. Because of the majolica firing process used to make these Spanish ceramics, if they tip over or drop a short distance, they probably won’t break (like glass would). Plus, their clean lines and simple designs are picnic-perfect chic.

3. Temperature control. Best of all, the solid ceramic helps keep your beverage cool on the hottest day, whether it’s a glass of sparkling water or homemade sangria.

spanish ceramics

Outdoor entertaining just got a lot easier. Looking to add more Spanish flair to your summer? Besides the cleverly labeled vino and aqua cups (helpful for telling your wine and water apart), I love Ceramica Valenciana’s serving dishes, pitchers, and platters. Causal and clean, these Spanish ceramics definitely stand out from the rest. Now that’s something worth raising a glass to!

Posted on

The Best Decorative Dinner Plates for Summer Dining: 3 Tips

Summertime means incredible fresh fruits and vegetables, grilling adventures, and leisurely outdoor dining with friends and family. Even if you’re not planning to eat every meal outside this summer, it’s the perfect time to embrace playful motifs that celebrate the season. Bring on the bright colors and interesting textures!

decorative dinner plate
Looking for the best decorative dinner plates for your summer meals? Here are three rules to follow when updating your table this season:

1. Matching is so yesterday. It’s really true: plates and bowls don’t need to match. Mix up your classic dishware sets with square plates, oblong bowls, and other unusual shapes. Highlight that incredible dessert by serving it on distinct plates from the rest of the meal. The eclectic vibe will make your meals feel more relaxed and personal.

 rectangle serving platter

2. Color rules. Have at least two colors in your dishware sets; the variety makes even the most ordinary weekday meal feel more fun. If working from a base of white plates and bowls, mix in colorful serving or salad plates. Bold reds, cool blues, bright greens, brilliant yellows – there are no wrong answers. Patterns are also an excellent way to incorporate texture and more color without getting too crazy.

decorative dinner plate - orange stripeyellow dinner plate

3. Avoid plastic plates and cutlery. Nothing ruins that gorgeous masterpiece from the grill quicker than trying to cut it with a flimsy knife. The same goes for having your plate fly away in the wind. Unless you’re carrying your dishware multiple miles on a camping trip, take the time to use decorative dinner plates and solid silverware. The guests at your next barbeque will thank you.

dishware set

Need some ideas for what to serve on your decorative dinner plates and tableware sets that is suitable for summer? Check out Emilia Ceramic’s Pinterest boards for delicious recipes and ways to entertain as the days get longer.

Posted on

We’re Ready for Summer Entertaining with Mexican Serving Dishes

Frog Cream and Sugar SetMemorial Day is just around the corner, and with it comes picnics and barbeques galore. Instead of reaching for paper plates, which can blow away in the wind and cause serving disasters, try using sturdy ceramics, like Mexican serving dishes. Your food will look better and be easier to handle as a result. No more worrying about if your burger will end up in your lap or your mouth.Mexican serving dish

I’m not the only one who loves Mexican serving platters for summer entertaining. As the weather has warmed up, I’ve been seeing a surge in orders for these party essentials. The long platter, part of Gorky Gonzalez’s Gogo collection, is ideal for grilled asparagus, raw veggie assortments, or cheese and crackers.

The handles on Mexican serving platters mexican serving platterby Talavera Vazquez make them ideal for passing meats fresh from the grill. Pasta salads or greens fit perfectly into one of Gorky’s cheerful serving bowls. And with Gogo dinner plates in a rainbow of colors, a fun, festive atmosphere was never easier to achieve.

But my favorite part of summer table décor are Gorky Gonzalez’s whimsical Mexican salt and pepper shakers. These are a fun way to season that corn on the cob or grilled steak. Quirky but not too crazy, I can’t get enough of these fantastic animals for any table setting inside or out. Bonus: use salt and pepper shakers to keep an outdoor tablecloth from blowing away before everyone sits down to feast. The blue and white chickens are quite popular (and lend themselves well to patriotic picnics like Memorial Day and Fourth of July), though all of these handpainted animal pairs has its own personality that’s definitely ready to party.

blue and white Mexican salt and pepper shakersmexican salt and pepper shakers

I can’t wait for my own Memorial Day grilling to start. With Mexican salt and pepper shakers, serving dishes, and the location set, all I need now is to figure out the menu! Here’s to a fun-filled holiday weekend; hope you enjoy it.

Posted on

Customer Spotlight: Your Favorite Uses for Serving Trays

I know my favorite ways to use Italian blue and white ceramics (like a blue and white mug for my morning coffee), but it’s always great to hear from customers about ways they use ceramics in their daily lives. Recently people have let me know about the ways they entertain with their favorite pieces, from square serving trays to blue and white ceramic bowls, so I wanted to share some of their stories with you.

At the Brown house, family dinner often involves a mix of ceramics. They mix and match serving trays from Gorky Gonzalez for mains and sides (and dinner in this photo certainly looks delicious!). The rounded shape of this rectangular serving platter makes it perfect for vegetables or desserts alike while the sloped sides of the oval serving dish keep sauces nicely contained for your main course. Even with different designs, the blue and white ties these serving trays together for a stylish meal everyday.

“Sometimes bigger really is better,” Michael wrote about his fish platter by Richard Esteban. He went on to say that this oval serving tray “is great for summer salads when I have people over for a barbeque.” I think this salad looks super delicious with the one-of-a-kind decoration around the edge. Other large trays, like this unusually shaped mustard yellow serving tray by Poterie Ravel, are ideal for handling the fixings for burgers, tacos, or other customizable meals.

On Facebook, Sarah told her secret for throwing a great party: “a beautiful Italian platter with yummy cheese and crackers.” This technique works well for a wine and cheese party, casual get together, or special occasion like a birthday, anniversary or engagement celebration. Square serving trays by Ceramiche Bartoloni with their cheerful lemons or Italian blue and white ceramics decorated with fruit motifs are great ways to use Sarah’s tip. Compliment your cheese and crackers with Italian blue and white ceramic bowls like this one with cheerful lemons.

Many thanks to all of you who have written in about how you use your ceramics and posted pictures on Facebook. Want to share your favorite uses for rectangular serving platters, Italian blue and white ceramics, or salad bowls? Simply leave a comment below!

Posted on

The 4 Blue and White Ceramics We Love for July 4th and Beyond

Even though July 4th was on a Wednesday this year (an awkward time in terms of making it into a three- or four-day weekend), there were still plenty of parties to be had. Whether a causal potluck or a huge barbeque with all your friends and family, it’s likely that you spent the 4th with good people eating good food.

So what does that have to do with blue and white ceramics? Well, with all the serving plates, trays, and platters that entertaining requires, blue and white ceramics are a natural fit. Add some red accents and you have an instant patriotic spread of tasty treats, no matter the kind of occasion or food that you’re serving. The red, white, and blue also works perfectly for that French Bastille Day party you might have on July 14 (there’s still time to plan one!).

Looking to prepare for your next summer fête? Then look no further than these party-ready blue and white ceramics. They make any occasion just a little more festive.

  1. Footed ceramic serving platters: These serving plates literally take the cake, showcasing the delicious frosted creation you (or your favorite bakery) created for the occasion. Footed platters give your spread height and save space on your table or buffet. The blue and white background of this ceramic serving platter by Tuscia d’Arte adds an ornate note to cakes, pies, or even just a pile of cookies. The simple lines and ivory glaze of Poterie Ravel’s footed ceramic serving platter is also striking filled with desserts or a pile of fresh fruit.
  2. Unusually shaped food trays: Who says a serving tray needs to be rectangular? A variety of dinner platter shapes makes any party much more interesting, whether you group foods by type or color. The petal shape of this ceramic serving platter by Richard Esteban stands out, making it great for a selection of canapés or an entrée (like that whole chicken right off the grill). Another popular serving tray is the long platter from Gorky’s Gogo collection. The deep blue and shape looks perfect with raw vegetables surrounded by delicious dips or holding crackers and bread slices.
  3. Round serving plates: The handles on this teal cheese platter make it a blue and white ceramic that’s easy to carry out to your backyard picnic table. Use this kind of serving tray for hamburger fixings, after dinner cheeses, or as another way to showcase those mini cupcakes your guests can’t resist.
  4. Blue and white ceramic bowls: Of course, serving platters only get you so far. Blue and white ceramic bowls, whether small (for dips) or large (for a tasty salad) are another essential. The festive print of this blue and white ceramic salad bowl makes it a real winner, even if it’s just holding the chips.

Fireworks image courtesy of bayassa.

Posted on

Fish and Gorky Gonzalez Pottery: California Style, Mexican Roots

Ah, summertime. With outdoor BBQs, lazy afternoons on the porch, swimming and lounging poolside or at the beach, and all the delicious fresh foods at the farmer’s market, what’s there not to love? With so many options, what is it that says summer to you? To me, there’s something about Gorky Gonzalez pottery that’s very California, very coastal, and very summery. These pieces are simply perfect for this time of year, feeling at home on a picnic table or in a dinning room.

Perhaps it’s because California was once part of Mexico, but I find that many Californians are drawn to the relaxed feel of Gorky Gonzalez pottery with its multiple colors, fun designs, and party-ready plates and platters. There’s something there that speaks to eternal summer and a carefree attitude. For this reason, my current favorite Gorky Gonzalez pottery pieces for a California vibe feature fish (pescados). Playful and fun, fish reflect so many aspects of summer that I love. And while they are similar, each piece of Gorky Gonzalez pottery is hand-painted and so each fish is unique… meaning that collecting various plates, bowls, and platters is like creating your very own hand-painted school of fish for your California-style home.

 

Here are three ways you can incorporate fish into your summertime fun:

  1. Summer snacking: Fill a large serving bowl with tortilla chips and then add your favorite dips, whether it’s salsa fresca, guacamole, or a truly spicy habanero salsa. Small dip bowls around the chips cut down on drips and mess over your chips. This mini dip bowl reveals a playful fish when empty; it’s a pleasant surprise even when all your yummy salsa is gone.
  2. Taco party: The best tacos are ones that have a wide variety of options for garnish. Fresh cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, red onion, lime wedges, and sliced radishes are just the beginning. The pescado triple dish is a fun and practical way to make your three favorites easy to pass around the table. This is Gorky Gonzalez pottery meets California and Mexican fusion in a big way.
  3. Dessert time: Fresh berry pie is one of my great weaknesses, whether it’s strawberry rhubarb with a homemade crust or a chilled cream pie perfectly decorated with blueberries or raspberries on top.

Fish mini plates with a fun octagonal shape enliven even the most ordinary desserts. Need bigger servings of your sweets? Choose larger salad plates with another fun variation on the fish theme (or make a set that mixes your favorite animal motifs so everyone can choose a favorite).

Posted on

5 Tips: Italian Blue and White Ceramics for Cool Summer Fun


Having a party or just a causal weeknight barbeque? If you’re like me, summer is the time you eat and cook outside as much as possible. San Francisco might not have warm nights, but the grill makes everything taste just a little better.

But presentation also counts for something. So what better way to add some style to your summer dining than with Italian blue and white ceramics? Not sure where to begin? Here are my top tips to bring some flair to your outdoor dining this summer.

  1. Remember, pitchers aren’t just for drinks. An Italian blue and white ceramic pitcher is the perfect way to serve sangria, kid-friendly fruit punch, or even just water. But don’t limit this instant table decoration to drinks. A small blue and white pitcher holds a wildflower bouquet that adds a great causal touch to your table. And if you use a table cloth, blue and white pitchers will keep it from blowing away before you sit down to eat.
  2. Use creative serving trays. Square serving trays are some of my favorites, like this Italian blue and white ceramic tray with lemons. Use it to serve your freshly made burgers right from the grill or pile it high with toppings for people to dress their own. Another idea is to use a big platter as a staging area for do-it-yourself skewers (make sure to soak the wooden skewers first so they don’t burn). Bowls and smaller square serving trays hold the ingredients and the finished skewers with favorite vegetables and meats easily get to grill with no spills.
  3. Keep your grill master happy. The large format of most grilling utensils means that they’re difficult to find a place to set them down cleanly (a spoon rest just doesn’t cut it). Try using a large rectangular serving platter instead – it will hold those tongs with no spills. This trick makes serving a snap, since your grill master just needs to transfer dinner to the serving tray and bring it to the table.
  4. Add some ambiance. Flowers on a picnic table are a good beginning, but why stop there? Decorate your patio or porch with fairy lights or lanterns for gentle lighting as the sun sets. Candles are another great choice for mood lighting; dress them up with Italian blue and white ceramic candle holders to match the rest of your table setting.
  5. Don’t forget dessert. What says summer more than freshly made s’mores? Load a rectangular serving platter with all the essentials: graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows. If you don’t have a camp fire, you can assemble the s’more and wrap it in aluminum foil, then place it on the grill at medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until the marshmallow is melted. Delicious!