Classic, clean, contemporary – here are some fresh ideas for the classic colour combination of blue and white from three of the best Irish tablescapers, with menu suggestions too! …
Clean: Irish and international event planner Maria Reidy knows that to create a beautiful tablescape you don’t need a large sum of money or a huge stash of stemware. Of her new summer collection she says the three exquisite table designs were named after “places that have inspired, places that I have loved travelling to and hope to do so again soon: Provence, Lussari and Beausoleil.” She is well-travelled herself and has organised events all over Europe from Florence to Prague. She cites Nice as one of her favourite places which clearly inspired Beausoleil. This tablescape clearly evokes memories of the Riviera and restaurants with sunbleached terraces overlooking the Mediterranean sea.
The minimal, symmetrical aesthetic is easy to replicate. Says Reidy, “All you need is some crisp white linen for the table, anemones and roses for a pop of colour and of course some Miraval rosé chilling in the fridge!” A further tip is to include a bowl of lemons with their leaves in the centre of a table as this brings the Med to life immediately. If hard to source, add some beech leaves or seasonal foliage from the garden.
Reidy uses a navy Poppy placement (€19.95) which looks particularly striking against the white plates – it’s just one of the elements that can be bought from Signature Rentals including the five piece bamboo cutlery set, napkins and set of Porto vases.
As for a menu Reidy suggests: “a gorgeous salade nicoise followed by a tarte au citron. It is important to keep the menu light for the summer season.” For more information visit www.signaturerentals.ie, where prices start from €10.95.
Contemporary: A consummate hostess and long time devotee to tablescaping, Tara O’Connor recently debuted the first collection of The Designed Table. It’s a vibrant collection of table linens and accessories, which O’Connor designed to work together. The spring/summer range includes the Pantone, Jaipur, Print and Check collections, offering tablecloths, runners, cotton napkins, jute placemats and a selection of napkin rings, which are all interchangeable. Here she uses the Dali setting from the Print collection.
“I always believe in having fun and am not afraid to mix colours and patterns. My advice is to pick your flowers first. Small vases in the middle of the table work well with stems at different heights. For a more formal table, use symmetrical flowers. Where possible, buy your flowers closed and leave overnight in a cold room before placing on your table. Then, start with your tablecloth, or if tablecloths aren’t for you, add a runner down the centre of the table. Add placemats on top of your tablecloth to create depth. If you’re serving an antipasti starter, add your starter plate. Don’t add layers of plates you have to take away when guests sit down. Pop a napkin in a napkin ring or as a nice fold onto your plate or placemat. If you want to do place names, leaves, lemons, limes and pomegranates are fun ways to display them – just have a gold sharpie on hand!”
After 20 years in the PR and events business, O’Connor knows how to make guests feel welcome and also create a relaxing atmosphere. “Create a fun drinks menu. I love to welcome guests with a Hugo Spritz. It’s elderflower liquor, topped off with Prosecco and garnished with mint and ice. I normally keeps drinks to a small list rather than have a full bar on offer – rosé wine is always the winner”. O’Connor also ensures she has a playlist on hand and a Bluetooth speaker that works outside. “Start the music very low and gradually bring up the sound as the evening/day progresses to create a party atmosphere.”
As for a bank holiday menu, O’Connor suggests an easily assembled antipasti platter to start with Italian charcuterie, freshly baked bread, little jars of pesto and hummus, cous cous, feta cheese and olives. This is followed by a homemade quiche served with seasonal salads such as Hemsley & Hemsley’s courgette and mozzarella salad, new potatoes steamed and served hot with mint and butter (Kerrygold only) and a green salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
“Or if you really want to have fun, cook some live lobsters. Local fish shops have great value in lobsters at the moment – with restaurants closed there is availability. I’m cooking some this weekend with the above salads and potatoes. I serve with just a lemon butter sauce. My tip is put them in the freezer for two hours before you cook them. If lobster isn’t for you, monkfish is lovely diced and marinated in lemon, garlic and olive oil and popped on a skewer for barbecue or grilling. As for dessert a lemon posset is so easy to make and I sprinkle Quinoa Crunch by Homespun Foods on top. They look great as served in pretty glasses.
For further information on The Designed Table go to www.thedesignedtable.com where prices start from €40 for a set of four napkins.
Classic: Annie Dunne, the founder of AD Design, has worked at some of London’s most prestigious event production agencies including Fiona Leahy Design. She decodes her “Blue Bouquet” al fresco tablescape. “The choice of tablecloth always anchors a setting and in this case I’ve used a Liberty print cloth and created richness and layers by adding different patterns in similar blue tones.” A classic tablescape is an opportunity to bring in your own personal style and reflect family history by incorporating vintage items – whether they are valuable heirlooms or flea market finds, something old will add interest to any table.
“Don’t feel like everything needs to be in pristine condition. Things with a little wear are beautiful in their own way,” says Dunne. For texture she advises mixing crisp blues and whites with natural materials such as rattan. “Add warmth to cool blue tones by playing with contrasting colours such as zesty lemon.”
All the elements of this pretty tablescape are available to rent on Dunne’s website – the concept of rent, dine, return is environmentally and financially friendly too. Each place setting is from €18 per person.
As for what Dunne would serve for an al fresco lunch, her menu comprises: “Goats cheese salad with baked figs to start, followed by roast pork belly with a herb crumb and seasonal vegetables. As a light finale, pannacotta with fresh raspberries is simple, seasonal and splendid. www.adeventdesign.com
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