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Plates play a crucial role in the setting of a table. From serving plates, to bread plates and dessert plates; plates are the dishware that keep us company throughout the whole duration of the lunch. From a good choice derives an accurate and original mise en place that aims to make the moment of lunch a unique one and show care towards our guests, for whom we have striven not only to find out new recipes, but also to combine them with exclusive dinnerware. A care that recalls a certain romanticism and enhances the value of hospitality in moments of sharing, when it is important that every single detail is taken care of and accompanied by some notes of exclusiveness. It is therefore necessary to get to know the latest trends and the brands that since ever have been engaged in offering an array of design products and plates able to suit any style and typology.
Mise en place. How to set a table with plates
What are the fundamental precautions we have to take for a mise en place to look impeccable in our guests’ eyes? The first thing to do is spreading with care the tablecloth chosen for the banquet and, according to the number of commensals, lay out the service plate, a big dinner plate that is usually coordinated with the dishes set, but can also be made of other materials like silver for special occasions. Its function is not to contain food, but to hold dishes for every course and indicate the number of covers, like a seat marker; only at the end of the meal it will be replaced by dessert plates. Dinner plates should be put directly on service plates for the second course and have a diameter between 23 to 26 cm. Soup plates are to be laid on dinner plates, for broth, pasta, soup. Slightly smaller than dinner plates, they feature an accentuate concavity and generally a rim in relief. On the up-left side of the service plate we need to keep a space for the bread plate, a small soup plate aimed to contain a portion of bread for each commensal. If what we are having is a formal dinner, on the left side of our guest we ought to place the serving plates. Bigger than dinner plates, serving plates are used to lay the food on and serve it to the table. A special turning dinner plate, the so called Lazy Susan, can be put in the middle of the table to allow guests to easily help themselves with all the courses by making the tray turn. Once arrived to the dessert, all the entire set of dishes needs to be replaced by a small dessert plate that marks the end of the banquet with a good cake.
The evergreen importance of plates
Decorated plates are time-tested protagonists of the table, with their ancient and inestimable history. In the 1700 many producers started giving preeminence to crafting porcelains destined to the most exclusive residences. Till nowadays, walking through historical mansions we find spaces devoted to exhibiting the tableware used in the past. Historical brands like Richard Ginori remind us of the importance of porcelain manufacture and of the cardinal role played in setting the international trends while spreading the taste for the Made in Italy. The superficial décor, together with time-specific techniques represent the evolution of style and taste, passing through Renaissance floral motif, until the current graphic motifs. A precious table accessory as it combines high-level functionality and grand decorative power, representative of sophistication and style, be it classical or modern.
Exposure plates. Retro showcase between vintage and modernity
The most outstanding among our plate sets is destined to be displayed in the indispensable showcase cabinet in the living area. It is never easy to choose the right position of the dishware on shelves and the set to be exposed when we have more than one, be it inherited or bought according to our taste. To add a touch of liveliness and modernity to the final outcome, it is advised to lay out in between plates, small plates, cups and teapots, design ornaments with the most different shapes and colors. There are still some basic rules of thumb to be followed and passed on, relating to how plates should be arranged. First of all, the lower and central part of the cabinet is to be reserved for plates, while the upper part is generally destined to tea sets and glasses. The first flatware to be arranged are dinner and service plates, some of which are to be put against the cabinet wall, while others have to be piled up on the shelf. Upon these the set of soup plates need to be laid, alternated with the remaining small plates, which will occupy also part o the shelf, so to create a visual effect of alternating heights and shapes.
Plates become artworks at the dinner table, as on the walls
As in fashion, also interior decoration experiences grand revivals and recent times have witnessed a comeback of the tendency to embellish walls with flatware. Just like in rustic environments in the past, today kitchens exhibit ceramics and porcelains on the wall that, like paintings, speak volumes of the room uniqueness. Whether we deal with rounded, irregularly-shaped or square plates, it is necessary to get to know the most used methods and indispensable accessories to hang our flatware. Based on shapes and sizes it is necessary to chose between plate hangers or adhesive plate hangers and hang the plates to the nails fixed on the wall according to the chosen arrangement. Being porcelain a must-have when approaching this practice, a great care is needed towards these extremely delicate objects, at the same time so rich in beauty and tradition.
How to choose plates in line with appliances
Appliances are indispensable allied in a kitchen as they shorten the time for cooking and dishware cleaning. At the same time they decisively influence the purchase of the latter. We frequently wonder whether the set that caught our attention features plates suitable for microwaves, or the dishwasher, if their materials are resistant to the specific conditions and temperatures they would be subjected to. It is therefore of utmost importance to understand what are the materials transparent to the microwaves and if our dishwasher has a program for the plates we are fond of. As for the microwaves, glass and porcelain plates can be used with no hesitation, unless they feature gold or silver decorations, as metal can spark and damage the oven. In general, plates in ceramic materials are microwave-resistant, provided that they are glass-lacquered and that the coat does not present cracks or fissures. Dishwashers, on the other hand, usually feature several programs and allow setting intensive washing cycles at 70°C for the ordinary white or colored ceramic, or cycles with a lower temperature reaching around 40°C for the more fragile materials like porcelain. Hand-decorated pottery need extra caution. If baked after having been manually-painted and therefore waterproofed, they can be washed in the dishwasher with no issue; otherwise the decoration might bleach with washing.
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