The last time I wrote about dishes on this blog it was in April 2008 when I wrote a post called “Meet The Plates.” Serious Eats was amused and linked to it in a post called “Adam Roberts’s Quirky, Idiosyncratic Plates.” The idea back then, in 2008, was that each of my guests at dinner would be given a uniquely patterned plate that possibly reflected how I felt about them (if you were given a flower, it meant that I thought you were virginal; if you were given golf clubs, it meant that I thought you were a lesbian.)
But times have changed and I’ve changed with them. The time had come for new plates and today, with a little help from my mom, I finally bought them.
See, the thing about those old plates was that they weren’t plates: they were chargers. They were abnormally large (as chargers tend to be) and therefore the portions I served were abnormally large. Those chargers explain why my friends and I all became morbidly obese. (Ok, my friends became morbidly obese, I’m just right.)*
*NOTE: My friends are not morbidly obese.
But seriously, I wanted plates that actually looked nice when I set the table. And so for the past few months I’d been roaming the city, floating in and out of stores like Crate & Barrel & CB2 & Sur La Table, looking at the dishes and feeling uninspired. I didn’t want anything too plain or too chintzy or too weddingish. I still wanted a little quirk.
Which is why, ultimately, I returned to the place where I bought those chargers two years ago: Fishs Eddy.
Fishs Eddy is probably my favorite store in New York. Right near Union Square, any new visitor to the city should go to the Greenmarket, City Bakery for a cookie and then Fishs Eddy for a perfect afternoon.
And today, it just so happened, I had such an afternoon with my mom (who’s visiting). We went to lunch at ABC Kitchen (I’ll write about that in my newsletter) and then I dragged her across the street to Fishs Eddy. A helpful woman there named Mary began helping me; I described to her what I wanted. Mary started showing me plates but it was a good thing mom was there; she reminded me that my apartment had earthy colors (brown, gray, green) and then mom spotted the plate you see on the bottom of this stack:
As you can see, it has green and a little yellow. It’s quirky but still somewhat elegant. It would make food look good and would look good on my table. Good job mom!
Then mom (I think it was her) also suggested the bowl that you see on top. Normally I’m against serving food in dishes that aren’t white, but somehow that blue/green bowl got to me. As Mary said: “It’s warm.” I think it’ll be perfect for beet salad and/or soup.
Next up, dessert plates. I saw a stack of interesting-looking plates on the floor and Mary said, “Oh my God, I love these. They’re vintage.” She explained they came from a guy who used to go to restaurants with all different plate samples of different colors so the restaurant could choose which they liked best. These were the samples:
And so even though those eight plates don’t match the other plates, it doesn’t matter because they’re for dessert. By then the table will be cleared. And oh, did I mention that I love them?
Mom left (she had shopping of her own to do) and then I started expressing doubts about the blue/green bowls. I was visualizing the Caesar salad I like to make and I worried that the green leaves would look weird in that bowl. Mary brought over one of these plates as a solution and I instantly fell in love:
So there before me I had 8 new dinner plates, 8 new salad plates, 8 new bowls and 8 funky, lovable dessert plates. How much did it all add up to? Step back for the grand total: the whole thing was approximately $240. That’s 32 new dishes which comes out to around $8 a dish. Isn’t Fishs Eddy the best store ever?
And look at this happy stack of dishes:
Dinner at my apartment will never be the same.
So thanks Mary, thanks mom and thanks to those chargers for their magnificent two years of service. Your idiosyncrasy will be missed.