Behind the Lace Curtains-TTS#44/2020 Table Setting Challenge #4, My Birthday and “Princess Diana’s” salad recipe!

For my birthday, I wanted a dinner I would enjoy, so I chose Scallops Provencal, Herbed Basmati Rice as the entrée for my birthday dinner, and dinnerware I really wanted to see-Golden Elegance by Royalton, RMS Titanic by Royal Crown Derby, and Phoebe by Pier 1 Imports.

Because I spend a lot of time choosing and pulling decorations for Christmas, it is not unusual these days for me to keep my Christmas decorations up until the end of January-or longer! 🙂 For Christmas 2019, I chose emerald green, gold and white as the color scheme for the dining room, in celebration of the 80th anniversary of my favorite movie, Gone With the Wind. Scarlett O'Hara was known for her green, and that's one reason why the color was chosen. The other reason was that during odd numbered years, I choose a traditional Christmas palette for the dining room.

The dinnerware I chose for the china cabinet to go with the theme is special. Golden Elegance was a pattern given to my parents when they were married in 1968. Friends collected the dinnerware when they filled up at one of the local gas stations. Back then, stores and products offered premiums for doing business with them! My mother never used these dishes, always waiting for "something special" to use them, and she gave them to me when I moved into my first apartment in 1991. I have expanded the set she gave me, and eventually this set will be one of the fully completed ones in my vast collection.

To go with Golden Elegance, I chose Titanic by Royal Crown Derby. These are exact replicas of ones used in the First Class a la carte restaurant aboard the ill-fated ship. Chosen by the ship's owners, the pattern is in the Louis XVI style, using caplets and festoons throughout the pattern. The reproductions were made in the exact site in Derby, England, as the originals. During the ship's centennial, Royal Crown Derby issued special pieces with the parent company's monogram-OSNC, for the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company. These were made in 2010 through December 31, 2012; these are no longer being made and are very hard to find in the secondary market. I purchased six bread and butter plates direct from the company-I wish I would have ordered 8! Live and learn!

The salad plates I used for my birthday dinner are Phoebe by Pier 1 Imports. I thought these paired well with the theme of emerald green, gold and white.

Flatware was Golden Royal Plume by Wm. Rogers and Son (antiques shop in Butte, Montana); the water goblets and red wine glasses are Longchamp by Cristal d'Arques/Durand (thrift store) and white wine was served in hock stems also by Cristal d'Arques/Durand (thrift store and eBay); individual glass salt and pepper cellars were at each setting (thrift store); tablecloth and matching napkins were the "workhorse" hemstitched set I bought at Walmart; centerpiece was on an emerald green runner (Dollar Tree), consisting of a Longchamp centerpiece bowl (thrift store), emerald green vases that belonged to my Grandma Mayer, and the Spanish candelabra (thrift store).

The setting itself is very formal, including the Titanic bread and butter plate and Golden Elegance butter pat. This is a rarely seen setting, but one can see them in Downton Abbey if you look for it.

The hock glasses are interesting. It's an old-fashioned British term used for any German white wine. The name comes from Hochheim am Mein in Germany. German white wines increased in popularity in England when Queen Victoria and her German-born husband, Prince Albert, toured the region in 1850. Hock glasses can be identified by their green stems, coming from the potash and sand from the forests surrounding the region. Sometimes called forest glass, the stems were originally all green, but it was felt by wine experts that the color interfered with the color of the wine, so the goblets were made with clear bowls, leaving the stems green. Oddly, they felt the green stem enhanced the flavor of the wine!

The four-course menu was:

Spanish Bisque Soup (a chilled avocado soup)
Italian Salad of Mozzarella, Avocado and Tomato (recipe below)
Scallops Provencal (an Ina Garten recipe)
Herbed Basmati Rice (also Ina's)
Crescent rolls (a la Pillsbury)
Pistachio pudding (yes, even for my birthday a simple dessert!)

The Italian Salad of Mozzarella, Avocado and Tomato is found in Paul Burrell's book "In the Royal Manner". He was Princess Diana's butler. As a young girl growing up, I admired three women outside my family: First Lady Jackie Kennedy, Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II. You will see obvious influences of them in my table setting or in the menu. The recipe is as follows:

1 small ripe avocado
Juice of 1 small lemon
4 ripe plum tomatoes
6 oz. piece mozzarella cheese (I used "pearls" I found in the store)
2 oz. pitted black olives
1 tablespoon pesto
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few fresh basil leaves

Halve the avocado and remove the stone. Peel off the skin and slice the flesh thinly. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Thinly slice the tomatoes and mozzarella. Gently toss into the avocado along with the olives. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Just before serving, drain the avocado, tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives, reserving the juices, and pile on to serving plates. Mix the reserved juices with the pesto sauce and olive oil and drizzle a little over each portion. Season an sprinkle with basil leaves. Serve with the remaining dressing on the side. Serves 2.

Honestly, it wasn't until I had got done with dinner and was washing dishes before I realized that the menu matched the table setting-green!


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