Well friends, it’s official. Fall is here! While I am truly a summer girl, I have to admit I do love the change of the seasons, new beginnings and dreaming up fresh ideas to set the table. And, since we’ve been enjoying Indian Summer days here in the SF Bay Area, and what's left of the evening light, I’m not giving up on outdoor entertaining just yet!
Two things I love, slipping back into denim for fall and serving a little of this and a little of that. So, when our friends at Lenox reached out with the idea of setting a table to celebrate fall and their beautiful Wonki Ware Collection, the first thing that came to mind was, Tapas party! Denim linens and this mix-n-match collection of hand-crafted pottery with the spirit of South Africa is seriously the perfect combination of tableware for effortless entertaining, or an impromptu fall feté.
Wonki Ware is available in several colors, shapes and sizes. For this setting, I chose a palette of blue, green and smoke because I love how the color combination speaks to fall and what a natural the colors are with denim linens. (FYI, the black and red Wonki Ware colors are both genuinely amazing!). Along with the beautiful and intense colors, intricate patterns, and pottery feel, this collection is perfect for serving small savory Spanish style dishes or charcuterie with a side of your favorite cocktails, paired with a Rioja or a crisp, sparkling white wine.
While there's endless ways you can arrange Wonki Ware on the table to serve Tapas, I'm always about creating an atmosphere for good conversations and meeting new people at any get together, so I tend to set my tables with placesettings for a more intimate, up front and personal afternoon or evening. There's just some magic that happens sitting at a table and breaking bread together.
Recipe for a Tapas Table: Now that you have the theme down, all you need is a master plan, a list for your table, a signature cocktail recipe (check that off your list, we've included one here!), a few decor pieces, greenery from the garden, a power trip through Trader Joe's and Costco, your favorite guests, these tips, and your Tapas party will go off without a hitch.
1. Set the Mood & the Table: Make it easy, uncomplicated and most of all, authentic and fun! And, by that we mean, anything from using your picnic table and benches, cozy-ing up the outdoor seating area, to bringing your coffee table out on the lawn, throwing down some blankets, scattering pillows and throws to create a warm atmosphere, and lighting candles everywhere. In this case, we threw down my friend Stefanie's Moroccan Wedding blanket. It's the real deal, truly AH-mazing, I love it, and if there was any way I could snatch it, I would. Sorry, Stef. Next time, please buy two!
Here's how we did it:
First, fall entertaining alert! A Denim tablecloth, runner and napkins are must have's for the table this season. Hands down, denim is just plain fun and can be used year round. On top of the denim, we scattered French Chef Rattan Placements by Lenox, adding just the right amount of color and texture to show off the Wonki Ware. Next, we created layered casual placesettings, starting with a folded napkin, Wonki Ware Blue Ferris Accent Plates and Wonki Ware Smoke Starburst Accent Plates and topped them with alternating Wonki Ware Blue Ferris Ramekins and Wonki Ware Green Wheel Ramekins. A story for another day, but the ramekins are large enough for a small bowl of soup, which brings to mind a grilled cheese and tomato soup party. We'll file that idea under 'party's to have'.
To keep things simple, we paired the Wonki Ware collection with Lenox Continental Flatware, which created the casual look we were going for. I love the combo of the three assorted color Wonki Ware Dipping Bowls (also perfect for salt + pepper and mini bowls of ketchup, mustard and mayo) set in the Wonki Ware Medium Green Basket Weave Snack Plate. Blue dot stemless wine glasses (the latest addition to my collection) were set at each placesetting for those who prefer wine or sparkling water.
Now can we talk about "THE bowl", because I'm dying to. Handmade from start to finish, the Wonki Ware Blue Studio Salad Bowl is one of my favorite pieces of the collection. The hand-painted stripes are just the right contrast to the patterns of the other pieces, and this beauty just catches your eye on the table.
DIY Placecards: I usually like to include something a little clever or different on the table that my guests might not expect. For this setting, we added mini baguettes that doubled as placecards. The best part? It took about 30 minutes or less the night before, I sealed them in zip-bags and they were ready to go when we were. Perfect.
How did we do it? So easy. Slice your favorite crusty baguette into 4 pieces, wrap each one with a 1" to 1 1/2"w x 12l" strip (or so, depending on the size of the bread) of brown or white deli paper or craft color tissue paper. Leaving the bread showing at each end, wrap a 12" piece of twine around the tissue and loaf, bringing the ends to the front side. Feed one end of the twine through the punched hole of your hand-written name tag, wrap, knot and trim the ends if they're too long. Tuck a sprig of rosemary into the twine for a lovely accent, and wow, you're done!
2. The Fare: Create your own mini-feast. We're inspired by Heirloom LA (check them out) and while we're not the masters of cheese and fruit presentations, we're truly inspired by them. Using a Entertain 365 Cheeseboard & Dip Bowl by Lenox, we created our own epic charcuterie board with cheeses, cured meats, Marcona almonds, beet hummus with fresh corn salad, assorted olives, pickles, roasted red peppers, fresh berries, sliced ruby red grapefruit, peaches, and fresh figs (from our garden) with sea salt. Honestly, whatever you have on hand can usually work and remember, fruits, cut pita bread, sliced baguettes and basically any fresh veggie are great for filling in the gaps. The beauty of any charcuterie board is it can be your very own culinary masterpiece, just by starting from one end of the board, working your way to the other and filling it in where it needs in between. Promise! Add fresh flowers and it's ready to serve with bowls of cut pita, naan, assorted breads or whatever your fancy.
3. Decor: Go un-traditional. As with any party, once you decide on your theme and colors, be creative and first shop at home (or at Mom's) for vases, votives, candle holders, and accent pieces, which is what I did here with a vignette of my Capri Bottles. I love the vibe they bring to the table and how they accent Wonki Ware. Plus, blue and white is always a delight. We cut fresh greenery from the garden, and lemons and limes from the trees. One thing I know for sure, I'm sure going to miss the bounty from the yard come this winter.
4. A Signature Cocktail! We opted for Blueberry Moscow Mules, a recipe we love and have been dying to try by our friends at Sugar and Charm. We knew copper mugs were just what the table needed and, well, the recipe says the rest. We could make the blueberry syrup the night before, a batch just before guests arrive, add ice, pour and garnish with fruits. No last minute pressure and everyone has a drink in their hands upon arrival. #Goals
Blueberry Moscow Mule
1 cup ginger beer
1 shot ginger vodka
juice of one lime wedge
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
Bring the ingredients to a boil for 5 minutes, then let it simmer for another 10 minutes until it thickens. Strain over a glass bowl and let it cool.
Pour the ginger beer, vodka and lime juice in a copper cup and stir. Add in the ice and then pour a little blueberry syrup on the top. Give it another stir and garnish with blueberries and a lime wedge.
PSA: You probably shouldn't plan on stopping at one.
5. Enjoy! When you're having a good time, so do your guests. They're just as busy as you are, but came to join in the fun. So, relax, be in the moment and remember, "these are the good ole days".
Oh, one more thing. One of Wonki Ware greatest missions, beyond making beautiful conversation pieces, is to create opportunities for disadvantaged people in its local South African community. We heart that.
Photography: Stefanie Schoen | The Style Safari
Thank you to our friends at Lenox for partnering with us on this post.