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Out’s Guide to the Beautiful Table

Out’s Guide to the Beautiful Table

Shana Novak

Inspiration for a summer brunch, an engagement party, and an intimate dinner with friends

Photography by Shana Novak

Having guests over for a nosh can be simple or elaborate, but a memorable meal doesn't come just from excess. The perfect details can be found in the thought put into the dish, or the actual dish on which it's served. Here are some inspirations for three amazing meals with friends.

A Brash Summer Brunch

Chef Marcus Samuelsson of Harlem's famed Red Rooster restaurant sets a brunch menu, and no crumb will go uneaten.
Shana Novak
The Tableware
Royal Doulton's bright, bold Colours collection is a study in contrasts, and perfect for an outdoor brunch. Go blue and green for a coastal theme, or throw it all together for Pride, loud and proud just like

The Menu
Bacon Biscuits
Jalapeno Scrambled Eggs
Grilled Corn

(recipes in link above)

"I made this for myself for breakfast once and realized it was too good not to serve to friends. Bacony biscuits, loaded with cheese and chives, and brushed with maple syrup, next to a bowl of spicy scrambled eggs and grilled corn. Could there be a better brunch?"
-- Marcus Samuelsson

The Perfect Pairing
H. Billiot Fils, Brut Rose

The pale salmon-skin color and strawberry, raspberry, and floral notes make this the perfect Sunday midday bubbly.

The Sound
Dusty in Memphis, Dusty Springfield (1969)

The Parting Gift

Ceramic Cats Royal DoultonThe 1815 Pushkin Cat, by Royal Doulton, celebrates the 200th anniversary of the English pottery. Alternatively, make a statement with Pure Evil Bunny, also by Doulton (in a limited edition of 1,000).

A Garden Engagement Party

Fresh fare from City Kitchen, a stunning new food hall in New York City, is the perfect pair to an alfresco announcement of nuptials.
Shana Novak
The Tableware
Your tabletop shouldn't divert attention from the real stars of the event: You and your partner. Go the minimalist route with Calvin Klein Home's Georgica, an elegant set with Japanese-style speckles, and Hampshire white wine glasses.

The Menu (click on each item for the recipe)
Lobster Roll
Shrimp Pineapple Ceviche
Kale Fattoush
Wedge Salad

The Perfect Pairing
Pimm's Cup

Add ice to a Collins glass, half full. Add Pimm's No. 1, a mint leaf, and one slice each of cucumber, strawberry, apple, and orange. Fill to the top with lemonade or seltzer. Stir gently and serve.

The Sound
The Best of Sergio Mendes, Sergio Mendes (2002)

The Parting Gift

Crystal flutes WaterfordAdorned with interlocking rings, these crystal champagne toasting flutes by Waterford provide a memorable opportunity to toast the happy couple.

An intimate Dinner

Anita Lo, owner and executive chef of Annisa in New York City, prepares a simple, bold, travel-inspired meal.
Shana Novak
The Tableware
Keep things chic for an intimate dinner party with simple colors and subtle accents, like the cross pattern of a set of flatware from Bottega Veneta (above). Slick and sexy, it will be noticed, but it won't take the focus from the good food and great company. Intreccio Svanito porcelain collection; Argento Brunito Home Sterling Silver Flatware; Butterfly Seal Murano Glass Red Wine Stem Glass. Available at Bottega Veneta New York Home Showroom

The Inspiration
"I was recently in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and was motivated by all the great Parmesan cheese, prosciutto, mortadella, Lambrusco, and aged balsamic vinegar--and truffles!"
-- Anita Lo

The Perfect Pairing
Lini 910 Lambrusco Bianco

Pop open a chilled bottle of this fizzy, herbal, and complex non-vintage bottle from the century-old producer in the Lambrusco region of Emilia-Romagna.

The Sound
Chet Baker Sings, Chet Baker (1956)

The Parting Gift

Artisan Boule de Provence whiteLa Boule de Provence by L'Artisan Parfumeur. Hand-carved in terra-cotta, this elegant room diffuser evokes the aromas and landscapes of Southern France with notes of lavender, rosemary, and tomato leaf.

The Dish
Fresh Pasta With Savigno Truffles

Remove ends of one fresh white truffle, chop truffle and set aside. Place 3/4 cup dry sherry (Oloroso, Fino, or Amontillado) along with 1 garlic clove (finely chopped), and 1 shallot (minced), in a large saute pan on high heat, and reduce. When almost dry add 2 cups chicken stock and just the ends of the truffle and reduce again by two thirds. Add 1/2 cups good butter, cut up, and swirl to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The stock should still be boiling at this state. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and add 1 1/4 pounds fresh pasta (such as taglierini) for 1-3 minutes, just until cooked but al dente. Drain and add pasta to the saute pan of sauce. Toss and add 2 tablespoons chopped herbs (chive or parsley). Divide among 4 bowls and grate Parmesan and fresh shaved truffle over the top of each dish. To really gild the lily, nestle a farm- fresh egg yolk into each serving.

Anita Lo is the author of Cooking Without Borders (Stewart, Tabori and Chang).

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