“Dining with ones friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul satisfying and eternal.” ~ Julia Child
I have such extraordinary memories growing up as a child, my heart filled with such joy of all the times my parents treated us to a captivating, elegant, royal tableaux and luscious meal. On those special occasions, my mom would always decorate the dining table with radiant, candescent candles, freshly arranged red roses, soft , dim lighting, white or powder blue linen table cloths with newly starched and ironed napkins, her treasured Haviland china with its delicate design, festooned with petite pastel roses, her polished choice sliver and stellar Waterford crystal. (I would always be ‘right there watching her every move’) just in case she needed my help in any way.) 🙂
Her meals were not only legendary, chimerical but heartening and comforting. I think my top three, (and I have to choose three as I can’t possibly pick just one,) 🙂 was her homemade spaghetti, (and no, we are from an Irish, not Italian descent,) beef brisket with potatoes, carrots and onions, and from her Southern heritage, a savory and first class, dreamy lump crab casserole. She baked plenty of ambrosial breads, created, hearty delicious salads, (her homemade avocado dressing was gourmet,) and her desserts were decadent… Pecan pie a’ la mode, rich, dense chocolate cake topped with a mocha frosting, fudge brownies with pecans and real whipped cream, and french Vanilla Ice cream, drizzled with Chambord liqueur. (I only got a ‘taste’ at that time.) 🙂 The ‘older kids’ shared in a glass of wine, while my younger brother and I had our beautiful goblet of ‘boring’ milk. 🙂 For some reason, it did not look nearly as delicious as their sparkling white wine in the classy and regal crystal.)
For very special occasions, I also remember my parents taking us to some really upscale eateries in California that made me feel so pampered and special…like a princess for the night. I especially loved The Reuben E. Lee , ( a 19th century Paddle boat docked upon the Newport bay.) It was called the “floating, elegant restaurant.” (My dad would always order me a ‘Shirley Temple’) and they always served freshly made popped corn. My other favored place to go was the Five crowns in Newport beach. Not only is their English decor absolutely exquisite, but their prime rib is to die for. Once, while living in South Carolina, they took us to a beautiful seafood eatery, nestled upon the water, in the renowned and historical city of Charleston and ordered us all lobster tails with melted butter on the side. To my surprise, I loved it! As a little girl, I never enjoyed lobster when my parents bought them fresh and then had to boil them all in the Brobdingnagian pot as those humongous critters were “still kicking.” I’d run out of the kitchen and yell out to my mom, “I will just have salad, bread and extra potatoes tonight for dinner.”) 🙂
There is just something so special about dressing up a room and table with “your best” of everything…creating a felicitous meal, sitting with loved ones, laughing until your jaw aches, sharing stories of yesteryear, eating delectable cuisine until you are stuffed and watch as the last tall, lambent candle’s flame has demised. It is a gift that you can give yourself, your husband, your family, boyfriend, girlfriend or guests. Having a special occasion such as a birthday, holiday gathering, anniversary celebration or an intimate night with friends is a wonderful landmark to build your fancy dinner around…but I like to do it “just because” on some nights as a special gift to my husband and I..(And Grantham too if we have steak, chicken or salmon, as he impatiently waits for his portion, drooling like there is no tomorrow.) 🙂
I am hoping to share with you in this vignette some very grandiose dining room ideas as well as share one of my mom’s stupendous recipes with you, to bring forth a few inspiring ideas of how to give yourself as well as loved ones a “fine and regal” dining experience.
“You never forget a beautiful thing you have made,” (Chef Bugnard said.) “Even after you eat it, it stays with you-always.” ~ Julia Child
“Bon Appetit!” ~ Julia Child
“It’s so beautifully arranged on a plate, you know someones fingers have been all over it.” ~ Julia Child
“If More of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, It would be a merrier world.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~ Author of The Lord of the Rings
“Come quickly! I’m tasting stars.” ~ Dom Pierre Perignon tasting his first sip of his newly created champagne.
“I have a renewed commitment to elegance, she said, in case you think I’m just spending money for the fun of it.” ~ Brian Adreas
“Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress.” ~ 18th century French author Charles Pierre Monselet
Don’t you feel as if you have stepped back in time as you look upon this exhilarating and rousing dining room? I can just envision George Washington and his family dining in a room like this as he lived within his Mt. Vernon, Virginia estate… The vaulted ceilings and gorgeously paned window treatment alone, would keep me enjoying extra cups of coffee after dessert, just to stay at the table and ‘take in’ this exquisite and lovely ambiance. This fireplace is stirring with it’s baronial mantle as well as intricate architectural design. The divine hanging chandelier unabashedly announces it’s glory with it’s jeweled accents, the lively and poignant array of choice flowers amongst the delicate, regal white table settings, classic crystal and refined, polished sideboard is breathtaking! I love this patina!
The repetition of ‘gold’ in this dining room is within itself elegant and grandiose. The table setting is eye-catching with it’s red and gold plates resting snugly upon a gold charger, accentuated with the golden candle sticks and silver serving piece… Did you notice how this decorator has dauntlessly mixed in some blue crystal glasses as well as natures divine greens amongst her regal and rich colors? The soft candle light and vintage table clock are riveting . This room is gorgeous and brings an abundance of new ideas of how to create your evening of enchantment and beauty.
Brilliant, magical, enchanting and filled with charm. A winning sideboard table for any dining room patina. Golden candlelight, reflected in mirrored glass is always a top-of-the-line decor addition to bring forth warmth, magic and a bit of romance. 🙂
Lastly, my adored topiary tree festooned with bedazzling roses…and the cake…HEAVENLY! This sideboard’s ambiance is one of the Victorian era, alluring and full of romance. (The trees are very easy to create and yet look as if they are straight from the florist shop.) 🙂
I just read an article on elegant dining by the ‘Fine dining editor’ of the Examiner, George Singeltary. He stressed that what we are looking for when we ‘go out for a night on the town’ to enjoy an elegant getaway and delicious cuisine is three things… We want great service, great food and an a great ambiance to relax in. These are all wondrous gifts that our favorite eateries graciously offer us, but we, as well, can create the same, memorable and convivial experience right in our very own homes to bless our friends and family with, free of charge. I hope this vignette has inspired you with some new ideas on how to bring forth an elegant and grandeur dining room, providing a place for your resplendent and delightsome evening with your loved ones.
I want to leave you with one of those superb dinners I was telling you about earlier in the blog…from the deep blue waters of the Atlantic ocean…luscious lump crab casserole! You can used canned lump crab, but it will not be as scrumptious! 🙂
YOU WILL NEED: one pound of lump crab meat, make sure there are no shells within your crab, 4 large eggs, (beaten) 3/4 stick of butter, 1 green pepper, (chopped finely,) 1 stalk of celery, (chopped finely,) 3 green onions, chopped finely, (using the chives as well ,) 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 1 cup of half and half, 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, dash of Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Remember, (as you LOOK at all these ingredients, it is a rich dinner and you will only be eating just a serving so, for one evening, it will be OK. 🙂 One woman who had this at my luncheon loved it so much, she called me for the recipe… after SEEING the ingredients, she asked if she could substitute with the cream and half and half. If you do, the casserole will not taste at all like it is supposed to…They say, “everything in moderation.) 🙂 It’s worth it!
DIRECTIONS: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Melt your butter over low heat and saute’ your chopped vegetables; green pepper, celery stalk, green onion and chives, just until soft. Remove from heat and set aside, allowing to cool. Beat your four eggs together until well blended. Add the half and half and cream, continue beating or whisking your mixture until it is again, well blended. Add your dash of Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper to taste, (I use freshly ground black pepper and Tabasco.) Gently, fold in your lump crab meat and mix together. Add your freshly sauteed and cooled vegetables, as well as the melted butter they have been cooked in, then scoop your mixture into a buttered casserole or a 9×13-2 inch Pyrex dish or baking pan, (same size.) Spread in pan evenly. Cover with bread crumbs, (I use the seasoned breadcrumbs from the grocer. ) Bake for 30 minutes, test the center to see if it is done as all ovens are different. It should be firm….insert a knife to see if it has cooked through. You will know! 🙂 *** I use about two stems of green onion chopped, but the chives of three.
ENJOY! This is great served with fresh steamed asparagus, sourdough bread and a baked potato with all the trimmings. 🙂
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