Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Enough about the food. Let's talk about the plates.

I mix and match crockery because I like the English faded glory look at the table. They call it shabby chic, but of course it is neither shabby nor chic. Eccentric, maybe. What I don't like is a table that is so pristine, ordered and up-to-the-minute that it looks like you're trying to impress someone instead of being hospitable to them. Plus I don't live in Templestowe.

If you come to dinner or lunch or afternoon tea, you might drink and dine from one or more of the following:

Richard Ginori Manifattura di Laveno ironstone dinner plates and soup bowls, purchased from David Jones in 2001. Each plate and bowl has a different herb design in green on plain white: parsley, marjoram, oregano, sage, thyme, basil. Very pretty. Did I say ironstone? It chips when you look at it. It wasn't cheap. Typically Italian. Glad I didn't buy the whole set.

Hutschenreuther Schumann, Bavaria. Dinner and side plates in white china with a floral and lattice embossed rim and a fluted edge with a fine gold line, now wearing away. Understated design, extremely durable. Typically German. Came from a Myer or David Jones sale, late 'eighties.

Figgjo Norway coffee set. Serial number 3557x78, which I think denotes the year of manufacture. Plain white. Unchipped despite heavy use since 1979, when it was purchased from Georges. The old Georges.

Denby of England oatmeal bowls and coffee mugs. Supposed to be ironstone, but they chip under moderate use. One shattered when I dropped it on lino. It shouldn't have, but then I shouldn't have dropped it.

And now, the mainstay of the fleet: Bristile Super Vitrified Hotel China. Sundry dinnerplates, cups and saucers and soup bowls in white with a fine, elegant blue edging design. Set these babies up on your table and you could be a commercial traveller taking breakfast in a city hotel in 1961 or a honeymooning couple on Hayman Island, flying Ansett. Each item is dated: mine are from 1952 to 1977. The brand logo is an elegant flowing script until sometime in 1975, when it becomes an ugly stretched block letter affair, like everything else designed in 1975. You cannot kill this stuff. It seems to be unbreakable, which says something about either hotel customers or hotel kitchen hands.

Sundries. Wedgwood unicorn logo plate with a gold-edged green rim. Aynsley saucer, white with a buttercup yellow rim adorned with sprays of roses, pansies, daffodils and clematis. Keeling and Co of England plate, blue with a three-stage painted floral and lattice edge.

My only complete set: Royal Albert Lady Carlyle. It doesn't come out often because it is so English you can only imagine using it to serve stilton soup, roast pheasant with bread sauce and royal potatoes and steamed treacle pudding. And we don't have those all that often.

An oddity: I have the very last item, a side plate, from a complete Conway Fenton dinner set given as a wedding present to my grandparents in 1928. My mother ate her bread and butter off this plate as a child growing up through the depression and the war.

What are you eating off tonight?


Another Outspoken Female said...

Oh don't get me started on I will say I have some uber fine bone china rosenthal white coffee cups, op shop circa 1991, $14 for a set of 6 cups and saucers.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

We have a set of lovely rosenthal, white with silver ring, service for 16, mom & dad gave us for wedding present. I have some pottery that I've had custom made over the years. The last stuff I've bought at the dollar store.

Red dirt mummy said...

Hmm... well our table is usually mismatched too but not quite as nicely as yours. For Hubby and I the cheapo 'everyday' dinner set that came from either Big W or Kmart around the time we met and for the kids a nice range including, but not limited to, Barbie, Bob the Builder, and Carlton "Carn the Blues" top quality plastic dining ware! However, if you came for afternoon tea you could choose from one of about 50 teapots - guess what I collect (and use!)

Carmen in Canada said...

I just LOVE china, crockery, and anything related to mother has inherited several sets of china from different family members...I have not had the fortune to obtain anything quite as nice as what you have on your table.....(I am only 34)...but my hubby to be is from Germany and has in his possesion a set of tea cups that are made from very thin glass and held in a copper cup holder...complete with handles and a copper saucer....they are absolutely beautiful! Somehow, tea seems to taste better if you are using a tea cup with very thin china (or glass in this case). Fine dinnerware...mix matched or otherwise is always better! In my opinion, dinner is more enjoyable eating off of something you treasure.

Julie said...

We have a full set service for eight of Corelle "Hibiscus" pattern. It's nice, but we got it as a wedding present and I've been looking at it for fifteen years now. The hubby won't let me buy something new (even with the understanding that I'd box it up and keep it, not pitch it out) because his now-deceased grandparents gave it to us. I will say, I've got hand problems and tend to drop things, and Corelle's nearly unbreakability does come in handy. (Though when I once lost my temper and threw a bowl, it shattered into thousands of jagged pieces the size of rice grains and it took YEARS to clean them all up. Don't throw the Corelle. Throw soneware.)

On the other hand, I've got my grandmother's china in the cupboard for special occasions. A brand I've never heard of... no idea how old it is, either, but at least fifty years. It's got a broad band of pink and a floral arrangement in the center. Service for eight wth two sizes of bowls, tea set, platter, and other bits and pieces. There are a few things missing and broken over the years, and I've never found replacements anywhere. (The china was even moved to Hawaii and back again successfully. All it took was death threats to the packers and movers.)

neil said...

I ate for years off some cheapo Japanese plates my mum gave me, but the years took a heavy toll and eventually we bought another set of something from the Salvo's - minus two soup bowls. When M grows up a bit more, we'll look for something eminently more smashable.

kitchen hand said...

AOF, I can't leave op shops until I've looked at every piece of old crockery and every book. It's an affliction. It's nice when you find something good though.

HalfCups, do you often use the entire setting for sixteen?

RDM, recently I finally broke the last piece of 'bonus' crockery that was given out at Coles about twenty years ago with minimum purchases, long before petrol discount vouchers. They were quite good actually.

Carmen, I just seem to accumulate it - and yes, tea tastes better with a thin-lipped vessel. Apparently it allows the mouth to take in more air which 'fans' the taste. It read it somewhere.

Julie, I won't throw the Corelle. I prefer to throw fruit anyway. It makes a nice 'smack' and it's easier to clean up. My collection has been moved - along with us - about four times in ten years.

Neil, I still had some pieces from my first marriage - wedding gifts - fairly recently, lovely seventies design.

din said...

Tonight me and the girl ate from what we call 'Anna Marie' ware - bowls that a gifted friend made. Beautiful hand-made bowls with cute bird designs. When her web-page is up I'll share it. Otherwise it is my beloved yellow Johnson ware, found in op-shops (not much any more), second-hand fancy-shops and e-bay.

kitchen hand said...

Ah, Johnson ware! I have a couple of Johnson plates left, a pink one and a yellow one, both with the gently scalloped edges. I also have a green Johnson teapot.

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