Posted on

Much Loved (and Used) Favorites!

IMG_1005

One of the best things about the pop-up shop in Palo Alto is interacting with customers. Many people who walk into my shop just assume I’m an employee. Sure, I might know something about ceramics, but they don’t expect me to be quite as intimately connected with the goods as I am. I don’t blame them… I make the same assumption when I visit other stores. It’s fun to get to surprise customers by sharing that I actually know the artists who make the pieces, that I personally pick out each piece, and that I use many of the ceramics myself at home. The last piece of info is probably the most helpful to perspective customers. I can give them precise knowledge of food that looks great served on Tuscia’s square platters, promise them that all the mugs work well in the microwave, and assure them that the Vina Azul salad bowl is the best size and shape for tossing/serving salads. I love sharing personal stories of how my parents use an eclectic set of Gorky plates as their everyday dishes, how my sister serves spaghetti, ice cream, salad, chili, and IMG_0779anything else she can think of in Gorky’s pasta bowls, how my brother makes beautiful caprese salads on his Amor Platter, and how I always serve cheese and crackers on my favorite square platter with oranges. Here are some personal photos of Emilia Ceramics in use… Enjoy!

Right and Below: Dinner at my parents’ house with El Mar Platter, Oval Serving Dish, and various Gorky plates.

gorky gonzalez serving platters and plate

Below: My brother’s famous caprese salad served on the Amor Platter

Screen Shot 2013-01-12 at 2.14.29 PM
Below: Delicious and beautiful Gazpacho at my friend’s house, served in Emilia Ceramics’ Italian mugs and blue and white bowls by Gorky Gonzalez.gazpacho

Below: One of my favorite of Richard Esteban’s pieces, this oval serving platter (which I gave my dad for Christmas last year) works great for serving meat dishes and salads. We even served the turkey on it for Thanksgiving this year (but I forgot to take a photo)!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIMG_0384

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

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!

Posted on

Who You Calling a Square? Why Shape Matters

Shape matters. Don’t believe me? Think about all the thought that goes into the design of everyday objects: your cellphone, car, computer, and countless other objects have all had teams of designers that work on melding style with functionality. So what about something like Italian blue and white ceramics? Are teams of experts working round the clock to make them sleek, sophisticated, and fashion forward?

Strangely enough, I think when it comes to pieces like serving trays and platters the answer is yes. Ceramic artists have to consider not only how a piece will look but also how it will function. Is the lip too curved to let food sit near the edge? What kind of food can be served with this rectangular serving platter? If it’s too big or too small, no one will use it. Can serving trays be made to have multiple functions (like decorating a wall when not in use)? How thick is sturdy without looking too clunky?

One of the joys of handmade ceramics is how they truly set your table and home apart, matching your style and personality. While many of my customers gravitate towards Italian blue and white ceramics, the patterns, motifs, and styles vary widely from geometric designs to intricate pictures. I love the variety of platters and serving trays out there, especially those with a surprising shape. Who said that all plates needed to be round anyway?

For example, one of my favorite square serving trays is this one with oranges. While still an Italian blue and white ceramic piece, the warm orange and yellows of the fruit make them look good enough to eat. Looking for square serving trays with some more zest? Try one of the many with lemons, guaranteed to brighten the wall as a hanging piece or the table as a serving platter.

There are many other shapes for serving trays and platters from circles to rectangles. Continue the fruit theme with this magnificent rectangular serving platter perfect as a centerpiece empty or filled with fruits, snacks, or desserts.

Big or small, rectangular serving platters can be used as key or jewelry trays, a spoon rest, or even a way to keep toiletries stylishly arranged in the bathroom. Use a mix of shapes to keep things interesting, adding surprising texture throughout your home. You’ll never look at squares the same way again!