29 January 2011

Bare Wood Tabletop, Egypt & Caramel Mandarins

According to cutting edge west coast event designers, a bare wood tabletop adorned with a simple runner is trending large now. Beautiful wood should be used and enjoyed, not always swathed beneath acres of fabrics never to see the light of day! Picture the long Italian countryside harvest table with just a simple linen runner and some olive branches and candles. Simple!

Sunday night we had lovely friends over for dinner and a HD show of photos from their very recent trip to Egypt*. Yes, we love these friends that much! So... I decided to forgo the tablecloth, run a Japanese obi fabric down the middle of the table and go... bare! It was kind of exhilirating! Heck, I didn't even use placemats, but instead bravely placed plates, silverware & glassware all directly on top of honest, pure wood.

*Egypt: in the six days since our happy dinner, things have changed drastically in Egypt with a catastrophic revolt along the Nile against the standing president Mubaric. May the taking to the streets ultimately create a better life for the citizens of Egypt. Our hearts go out to those caught innocently in this strife and we pray for a quick and safe resolution for Egypt and for the world who waits with our breath held until this trouble ends.

the mosques of Cairo against velvety blue black night sky;
photographer unnamed

the pyramid shapes on our table are meant to remind us of the
Valley of the Kings and the flowers of the reeds along the Nile

I like not dealing with the yards of fabric this
table needs to cover it... just simple runner and bare wood

keeping things simple for a Sunday night
gathering with friends

closer view of the table center

love the colors in this vintage obi
silk runner


polychrome Egyptian drawings and heiroglyphics
source unknown

King Tutankhamun... 19 artifacts from his tomb are
being returned to Egypt by New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art in an generous and
ethical gesture

this old label from the early 20th C. is very
appealing to me with its romantic seafaring images

I love this photograph of the Pyramid...I am unable
to determine the source of the photo, but it is stunning

all the elements I think of about Egypt: the Pyramid,
the Sphinx and the patient, humble camel in
the hot and dusty sand

old Egypt glyphs font from Font River


A perfectly simple and elegant dessert are these Mandarin Oranges in Caramel Sauce. The recipe is French, and to be perfectly honest, it's not really a caramel sauce, but a caramelization of the fruit juices and brown sugar... a reduction, really. But it is a charming and very effective ending to a spicy meal, one I could imagine being served in Egypt on a hot, sunny afternoon.

Caramel Mandarin Oranges

Préparation : 10 min - Cooking : 10 min + 10 min

Cost : easy & affordable

Pour 6 personnes

6 mandarines
100 g brown sugar
2 Tbs lemon juice
30 cl orange juice
1 stick of cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom

Préparation :

- In non-stick saucepan, make a clear caramel with the brown sugar by slowly heating over low flame. Do not add water. Take off the stove and add lemon and orange juices. Cover at once.

- When sizzling ends, mix well with a wooden spoon. Put the peeled mandarin oranges and the spices into the juices and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn mandarins over, and simmer additional 10 minutes.

Présentation in glasses :

- Drain the mandarins, set aside. Reduce the juice to a syrup, and pour over the fruits. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Place a mandarin orange in a glass and pour some syrup over each mandarin. Serve well chilled.



  1. Nice table--thanks for sharing. I will do this next time. And will try out that mandarin dessert.

    I spy a beautiful mirror over your fireplace and am curious about that armchair with a lovely behind. I need those in my house!

  2. Hi Marivic! thanks for visiting...the mirror was a sweet little find at the local thrift..it was brown/ugly wood originally; I gold-leafed it to make a very cool neoclassical addition! The chair is also a vintage French upholstered in pink satin cotton.

    You=very observant!

    Have a fabulous weekend!



  3. Kit you are so talented..your tablescape is fabulous, and the desert sounds delish!

    Come visit soon!

    Art by Karena

  4. Karena you are too kind! thanks my sweet! I loved your post about the 7 things we didn't know, very interesting life you lead there..



  5. Lovely post -- and what a stunning home and tabletop.
    I feel transported.
    Cheers, Alcira


  6. What a lovely post...in every way. I feel compelled to make a mention of your touching sentiments about the current situation in Egypt...it can be challenging to weave real life beyond our borders into a blog about 'chic provence'...and you've done so quite elegantly...which, actually, comes as no surprise.
    Bon dimanche, Kit.

  7. What a lovely invitation.

    I've never been in Egypt, but I would like to go when the political situation is o.k. for the population.


  8. oh I love the mandarin orange desert..it looks so lovely...will try it out soon and then make it for guests at my next dinner party..

  9. Hi there! This is my first time visiting your blog, and I love the table you've posted this week. Beautiful, rich colors with a cozy "pull-up-a-chair-and-sit-awhile" feel. That obi silk runner is fabulous!!! I, too, feel deeply for the people of Egypt and hope the country's current unrest will end soon with an eye toward a more peaceful and balanced future. Have a good week, and I look forward to seeing future posts.

  10. Oh my! What a very pretty and stunning table setting! Everything is so bright and colorful.

  11. Hi Kit! Everything is great, I love your decor and the recipe for the mandarin dessert. Now that I see those beautiful pics of Egypt and now that country is in such turmoil and conflict, what a shame. I always wanted to go there, but I guess now we'll have to wait.
    Thank you for sharing and I'm going to join your blog, I love interior decorating, I am not a designer, mind you. Hope you can visit me too.


  12. I too love using obi's for my table runners. We lived in Japan and we would pick them for such low cost at antique markets. The mandarin dessert looks so interesting and different. That would be fun to try. I also really liked your clear pedestal glasses on the table. I'm looking for some like that. Have a wonderful Monday!

  13. I'm interesting with fond of Egypt, but not easy to reminder... and more easy reminder kanji fond.
    thanks for share.

  14. Wow this is a nice post. I learn a lot from your post. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  15. This image "polychrome Egyptian drawings and heiroglyphics" seems to be very popular. The table setting is very Egyptian. Are those fonts actually used? Cool coding. Thanks for the recipe as well!

  16. This is a great recipe. It is very cool and fresh tasting. My guests always love it.


I would love to hear what you think! merci!


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