Addendum to New England Home's "Notes from the Field"

Today's New England Home's Design Blog lists Cheryl Katz's 4 essentials for summer dinners: one, platters; two, one plate for the main course and one bowl; three, a fork, a spoon, a knife, and super-size napkins that double as dish towels; and, four, enough glasses that are interchangeable for water and wine "stem not necessary." Frankly, this list is far too obvious and basic.

You kind of have to agree with plates and basic cutlery items, if you're talking about eating like a civilized human being.

After having had numberous dinners at home and at friends places all season long, I'd like to add a few things to the list, which I agree with (you kind of have to agree with plates and basic cutlery items, if you're talking about eating like a civilized human being) except for the stem not being necessary.

Hairee's List of 4 More Essentials for Summer Dinners:

  1. Cheese cutting board. My friend and I eat a lot of cheese. Whenever we get together for a meal, there is always the perfunctory pre-meal cocktail or wine and cheese. J.K. Adams Round Artisan server is perfect for the job. Lay out three or four cheeses with crackers in a separate bowl or just have two cheeses with plenty of room left to fan out a selection of crackers.
  2. A pitcher for water. I've carefully selected the wine and even put together a fabulous cocktail for pre-dinner and wonder mid-meal why I'm so damn thirsty. This is when I suddenly realize that I haven't had a drop of water since dinner started 2 hours ago and all the alcohol I've been drinking is dehydrating me and everyone else at the table. Don't forget to keep a jug of water handy! My favorite is the Simon Pearce Stockbridge Pitcher. It's large but not hard to handle when it's full and simply designed to go with any table setting.
  3. Stemware. Frankly, my days of drinking wine out of plastic cups or coffee mugs when my friends come over for dinner are over. I drink my wine out of wine glasses now. The latest stemware to come to our store and onto my dinner table is the Schott Zwiesel Diva stemware. I love, love, love the subtle convex on the awesomely long stem. And the Schott Zwiesel Diva Wine/Water globlet, with its moderate bowl and chimney, does tripe duty as red, white wine, and water glass without losing any of the elegance furnished by its extraordinary stem. Bonus: Schott Zwiesel are made of their patented Tritan crystal that makes it shatter resistant, thus, dishwasher friendly, so important to summer entertaining that doesn't feel like drag afterwards.
  4. Salt and pepper cellars. Usually when I think of salt and pepper cellars, I think of super expensive restaurants, a bit stuffy, restrictive, the kind where you feel you have to whisper even to your dinner date because you're afraid even the waiters will judge your conversation as too inane for the fabulous church of their eatery. So why cellars? First because salt and pepper is the second last thing I remember to include at my table and then once I do it's served in the use-and-toss grinders that you can buy at Stop & Shop. The Iitalla Vitiriini small boxes are a fabulous alternative to the stuffy cellars.

    We got this idea from Melania Rosado, National Sales Manager of Iittala, during her latest visit to Didriks. She showed us a picture on her smartphone of a table setting in the Iittala store using the boxes as salt and pepper cellars.

    These boxes come in glass, wood/glass, and aluminum/glass and numerous eye-popping shades, each with it's own lid, making storage of leftover salt and pepper super easy. My choices are "clear" for salt and smoke colored "sand" for pepper. Maybe boring and predictable but makes for easy peasy ID.

Enjoy the rest of the summer by squeezing in at least a couple of more al fresco dinners. And remembering all the things I usually forget until the last minute!