Garden Dinner Table Setting
Toikka bird

By Hairee Lee

There's the Spotted Crake, the Willow Grouse, and the Whip-Poor-Will.

My favorite was the Whip-Poor-Will. It makes it to our dinner table setting and the darn thing just looking at it makes me smile. ((I also collect Swarovski crystal birds, that is, I ask for one every Christmas, so the Toikkas have immense appeal for me.)) I'm not the biggest fan of birds. ((The only animals I like are dogs. Jim and Page have two: Elvis and Truman, named after Presley and The Show.)) The real ones. They poop on your head while you walk through the park to your important presentation. ((Koreans believe that getting shat on by a bird is good luck. That may be so. But I'll take my chances without being crapped on, thanks.)) They attack people in frightening droves as documented by Hitchcock in The Birds. They're all instinct and dumb as snails. They lay eggs ((If you really think about it, this is weird.)), as in pretty low on the evolutionary ladder. But the glass birds by iittala are beautifully crafted and their colors are absolutely spectacular.

Melissa decided to forgo any table mats for this table setting. The pale green of the Libeco Polylin tablecloth in grass green harmonized with the verdant garden by having more of it shown rather than covered by placemats. On this were Heath Ceramics jicama Chez Panisse plates, salad/dessert plates, and Bread & Butter plates.

The Match Pewter Lucia flatware was set, minus the tea spoon to be brought out later with the dessert and for a more balanced look during first and main courses. The Libeco Tribeca napkins in sea water were rolled and placed on the plates in Match Pewter oval napkin rings, after debating between the Fleur-de-lis fold and a fancy silverware pouch fold. (For more napkin folding ideas, check out our napkin folding video series on Linen Blog coming soon!)

Each place setting was finished off with the newest items in our store: Schott Zwiesel stemware and glassware. For this dinner, Melissa served the wine in Schott Zwiesel Diva Claret Burgundy glasses and water in the Schott Zwiesel Diva all purpose goblets. These glasses are made with titanium rather than the usual lead, which makes them the shatter resistant. "How resistant?" I asked. Tip it over on the table, knock it against a plate in the sink, tap it against the water tap, drop it from up to 2 feet off the ground, and it won't shatter. ((But let's assume good sense still rules rather than willful accidents. I wouldn't, for instance, throw it against a fire place, or whack it with a serving spoon. Thus resistant rather than proof.)) They have stems that gently widen in the middle that make it easier to hold and offer visual interest with the unusual shape.

At the center was placed an enormous antique wine bottle with a spherical body. Melissa borrowed three different kinds, courtesy of European Country Antiques ((Ed Stuart, proprietor of European Country Antiques, also hosted Dinner Series dinner #5 in his store back in October 2010. He made the most fabulous cosmos as pre-dinner cocktails to go with the caviar. Just thinking about that Chef Robert Harris appetizer makes me salivate.)) and chose one to fill with long stems of bright pink snapdragon. ((Melissa demonstrates the reason for their name by squeezing laterally along the bloom, making the dragony flower snap open to reveal their privates. Cool. Nate proceeds to try it also. Me: stick your finger in it when I snap. Nate: [smiles good naturedly, but won't stick his finger in it.])) Around the base of the globular bottle, she place three plump Toikka birds by iittala, which included my Whip-Poor-Will.

Photographs by Nathan Brescia.