Entertaining advice from the founders of La DoubleJ & Ladurée
Although often steeped in stereotypes, the cultures of the French and Italians are both praised for their indulgence. Whether it’s a cheese board or a romantic getaway, they overlap in their value of slowing down and having a good time – something Americans often overlook. It is in the nuances where they differ. We therefore requested an American-Milanese transplant. JJ Martin of The DoubleJ and French Elisabeth holder of The duration to break down the intricacies of how everyone organizes a gathering (based on food, of course) in light of their more recent collaboration. The stylish duo unveils their table setting routine. While there are obviously no strict rules when it comes to receiving guests, they each disclosed aspects of Italian and French culture that we could all bring to life in our lives. Or, as Holder says, we should “live to eat, not eat to live”.
Photo: Alec Kugler
Explain to me the components of your tablescape. What are the cornerstones of how you compose a spread?
JJ Martin: “What I love about an Italian table is the spontaneous way things seem to come together. I think this reflects the Italian tendency to invite friends at the last minute, add an extra dish, and most of all, the supreme need to just enjoy. the pleasures of life – especially food, beauty and laughter. My table is a riot of colors, patterns, prints that come from our printed plates and table linens , as well as colorful wine and water glasses and patterned vases that I always stuff rainbow full of fresh flowers. Nothing makes me happier! I usually use very large flower arrangements on the table when people arrive. Then I move them to a smaller serving table and keep the shorter bouquets on the table. I am also always ready to take extra chairs or add them to the table if people bring more. friends, what happens very so uvent.
Elisabeth Holder: “There should be silverware for appetizers, the main course and dessert already on the table, as well as two different glasses for wine and water. Of course there should be a napkin, but never a napkin ring, because it is only for the family and house guests who spend a few days / evenings at your place, not for the guests. Another French tradition is never to use a knife holder, which protects the tablecloth from food and drink splashes… This means that it will be used several times for the family after the meal.We use a carafe for still and sparkling water rather than a plastic bottle with a mark. Butter, salt and pepper should be presented in pretty shakers. Always add candles and flowers! “
What characterizes an Italian or French gathering (gastronomic, of course)?
JJM: “Italians, especially Milanese, love aperitif time. It’s a key part of every dinner and usually lasts longer than the meal. You can’t settle for crisps and nuts. You need to put more elbow grease on it. Personally, I like to serve a variety of cheeses, grissini, olives, hummus, raw vegetables, and I installed a small mini-bar on my living room table with all of our colored La DoubleJ Murano glasses so that everyone can help themselves. “
EH: “A French gathering is not successful without a perfect cheese plate, delicious bread and a lovely dessert. The French never eat a cheese plate as an aperitif. It is always served before dessert… and maybe be with a salad. ”
Photo: courtesy of La DoubleJ
The most important meal of the day?
JJM: “Dinner for sure, or Sunday lunch, which always lasts three hours. Classes are endless. Italians barely have breakfast, and if they do, it’s a cappuccino with a croissant. sweet they call a brioche. They haven’t adopted oatmeal, egg whites or protein shakes yet. “
EH: “Dinner is the most important because you have more time to share with your family and friends and to enjoy the meal and the conversation. I also like having lunch on the weekends.”
What do you always see on an Italian or French tablescape?
JJM: “Something antique. They always have an amazing gift. Personally, I love to mix and match new and old silverware on the same table. I also love to mix vintage champagne glasses with new wine glasses. and a different style of water glasses. I love it when the table seems to be shaken. “
Photo: courtesy of La DoubleJ
Common color schemes? Floral arrangements?
JJM: “One of the reasons I love Italy so much is its unique embrace of bright colors. They really aren’t afraid of yellow kitchens or red pants for men, and the same goes for the table. [La] DoubleJ and maybe even take things to a higher level of brightness by mixing and matching all of our happy patterns. ”
EH: “It depends on the season. Never too crazy. Chic and simple.”
Are there particular food items that are almost always present?
JJM: “Pasta, pasta, pasta, pasta. I don’t think I’ve ever been invited to someone’s house when they weren’t serving a pasta dish. It’s mandatory. When I’m trying to venture out and serve a exotic, healthy and ayurvedic meal, everyone is looking at me with the saddest eyes. So now I cook this way for myself and go crazy about carbs every time the guests are done. Forget the keto diet here . “
EH: “Fresh and delicious bread.”
Photo: Alec Kugler
How does cooking influence table arrangements?
JJM: “Italians are afraid of different foods touching each other. It’s hilarious. So they always serve many different dishes on different plates. One essential thing is the piatto fondo, which is a slightly rounded dish that is a cross between a plate and a bowl. They use it for pasta and it is essential. The good news is, you can easily use it for soups, salads, or any first course. ”
EH: “If you are serving meat or fish, you will not be using the same cutlery, and if you are drinking champagne, white or red wine, you will not be using the same glasses. use a tablespoon or a small fork to eat your dessert. Ladurée being my family business, dessert is a must. The rule is to use a small fork, even for ice cream, but you can finish the dessert with a spoon, which I find more fancy. You are also expected to drink your wine from a small glass, but the wine is better served in a large one. “
What aspect of Italian or French table landscapes, or of party culture in general, do you think the rest of the world would benefit from integrating into their lifestyles?
JJM: “The Italians are among the greatest humans on earth. Their sense of ease, joy and passion that they put into everything has taught me a lot over the past 20 years as a guest in their great hospitable country.More than anything they taught me to slow down, relax and enjoy the very moment the turkey comes out of the burning oven or the lights go out at a dinner party – all of that is on me. come. ”
EH: “In France, we live to eat, not to live!”