For centuries, the kitchen has always been the heart of the home, a central gathering place for friends and family to come together and share a meal. Quality cookware has become part of creating that perfect dining experience and makes for a special heirloom if looked after with care. Although costly, great serving dishes should last a lifetime and not only be good to look at, but also be lightweight, durable and versatile too. Living in South Africa, it’s also important that casserole trays heat up quickly, to conserve energy and reduce your carbon footprint. “Good cookware always finds its way into a family’s heart,” says Ben Paine of Le Creuset. “Look for cooking dishes that can go from oven to table and that are made from quality material, which distributes the heat evenly.” Porcelain serving dishes are well-suited for use in the oven and microwave and are also dishwasher safe. “Choose a range that complements your kitchen’s style,” says Patricia Howard of Maxwell & Williams. “Decorate your tables this season with modern serving dishes and experiment with different shapes, designs and sizes to create a festive ambience and lasting memories.”
The festive season isn’t complete without an ounce of glitter and sparkle. Forget tinsel and cellophane, we’re talking crystal glassware. Perfect for all special occasions, high-end crystal is usually hand-cut and blown, but the more common type is made using a machine method. “It is very difficult to distinguish between hand-cut or machine-made crystal, because the technology used is so sophisticated,” says Dirk Muller of Spilhaus. “All crystal, however, needs to be cared for in the same way.” Muller recommends rinsing each crystal glass separately, because often, glasses that come into contact with each other under water usually break. Dishwashing crystal glassware above 60 degrees centigrade turns it milky, damaging it irreparably, says Muller, as well as storing it in direct sunlight, which harms the crystal. “Never use detergent on crystal – it’s not necessary, just use warm water and rinse,” says George Riedel of Riedel. “After rinsing and allowing it to dry on a soft towel, polish the glass carefully, but never twist the base and the bowl in different directions.” According to Riedel, crystal glassware is all about enjoying the experience of drinking from a beautiful, yet functional glass. “Turn each sip into a celebration,” he says.
This summer season, take the indoors outside and enjoy quality time with friends in a comfortable shady spot, occasionally soaking up the sun. Create a festive feel and celebrate with luxurious outdoor fabrics in bright colours, natural textures and botanically-inspired prints, perfect for the outdoors. “Choose fabrics that are especially developed for high-UV light levels and that are easy to care for,” says Gary Searle of St Leger & Viney. “Medium to heavy-weight linens in natural colours, accented with cream are quite practical, because they won’t show the dirt.” According to Shannon Rose of U&G Fabrics, the most hardwearing outdoor fabric is 100% solution-dyed fibre, which not only resists fading in the sun, but is also mildew-resistant, making it durable in extreme weather conditions. Acrylic canvas and lacquered linen is the alternative choice to heavy cotton fabrics with new technology that enables easy cleaning using water and a cloth. This fabric is ideal for outdoor furniture, such as pool loungers and makes for great slip covers and tablecloths. “Whatever you choose to go with,” she says. “Try and mirror the interior décor of the home, to achieve a seamless transition between inside and outside.”
Author: Charlene Yared-West. Published in House & Leisure, December 2008, Issue No. 175, p. 123.