Whether intentional or not, when choosing your tableware you are actually choosing the mood of the dining experience you and guests will have. Therefore it is obviously something you will want to get right. But choosing wisely is more complicated today than it has ever been before. Choosing tableware used to be a case of selecting the colour or pattern on a range of bowls and plates, but in the past few years it has become a lot more complicated than that. We are now seeing all manner of shapes, sizes and materials – such as shot glasses, porcelain canapé spoons and wooden or slate boards designed to carry a variety of dishes flood the market.
The sudden mass expansion in the types of tableware available is largely due to the popularisation of cooking and dining shows on television. Because of television homeowners are now much more aware new trends in restaurants and fine dining and are trying to emulate what they see. Over the past few years, there has been a trend to mix influences from different ethnic cuisines, especially with regard to sharing plates and the sampling of smaller dishes through the rise in popularity of tapas and this growing trend towards informal dining has had a massive influence on the traditional tabletop.
With this in mind, it is probably best to choose dishes and tableware that can be used in variety of different ways to ensure that your dinner parties can keep up with changes in culinary trends. Looking for dishes which allow you to offer guests a mixed platter to share is a great way to create a relaxed and intimate feel around your table (you can enhance a cosy atmosphere through the use of a variation of low level lighting from large or small table lamps as oppose to a central pendant).
Often now, restaurants are still using familiar items but more adventurous ways. Mugs are an interesting and informal way to present a side order of chips as is a jug for sauces.
When it comes to materials, in order to maintain that inviting feel, I would advocate the use of natural materials such as wood, slate and marble as opposed to previously popular metallic dish finishes.
Also popular is bone china which has a tough, glassy and non-porous surface, meaning it is very durable and has good chip resistance. Bone china provides a great base for your other table decorations as it will ensure that other colours stand out. The great news is that nowadays there is no need to lock your bone china away for special occasions as most brands are now very durable and best of all – dishwasher safe! Similarly, the old favourite- porcelain is a very durable and non reactive option for those us who have large families or are extra sociable!
Choosing tableware is one tricky task that is worth the effort. We all love to entertain family and friends and a well executed table top spread will see to it that your dinner parties become a regular thing and- should you need it to- do a great job in taking the attention away from your “culinary skills”!