Monthly Archives

January 2007


Sophie Conran’s Table and Serving ware collection gets bigger

As stated in the January edition of the Gifts and Table wares Magazine, the casual luxury trend is growing even more. These days, people like to buy things / collections that could be dressed up or down. This is what casual luxury is all about.

People want more luxury in their everyday life. In the kitchen, people want better qualify tools, dishes and serving ware. When you spend more on everyday dinnerware and wine glasses, you can use them when you entertain. By changing how you accessorize or set your table, you can create a full range of looks with the same tableware. This is what makes casual luxury so appealing to the masses.

I, for one, is an adept of this philosophy. The casual luxury movement shifts the style toward more modern patterns and shapes. Your best bets are solid, pale neutral colors because the food looks better on them.

I was therefore happy to learn that Portmeirion is extending its line by Sophie Conran. If you do not know her, Sophie Conran is a British cook and the daughter of the style icon Sir Terence Conran. Being raised by a father that is famous as a furniture designer, retailer and restaurateur, Sophie was around good design on the kitchen all her life.

The Sophie Conran’s collection is modern with a touch of old country charm. Delicate to the touch, this porcelain collection is highly durable and can withstand pretty much anything modern life can throw at it. Fully tried and tested in a house with two small children, from the dishwasher to the microwave, the freezer to the oven, the Sophie Conran’s collection captures convenience on top of casual luxury.

With the new addition of baking and roasting dishes, all sizes of platters, teapot, sugar and creamer, a wooden chopping board, rolling pin, utensil set and silver salad servers, the Sophie Conran for Portmeirion is quite complete. The collection is available in three colors: white, biscuit and celadon.

I started my collection last fall with a large white porcelain salad bowl. I love it. Since all pieces are sold individually, I can buy the pieces I want over a period of time. You can find Sophie Conran for Portmeirion at Zone home accents stores in Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City.

+ The Rise of Casual Luxury, an article from the Gifts and Table wares Magazine
+ to see the entire Sophie Conran for Portmeirion collection
+ Web site of Sophie Conran
+ for the addresses of Zone stores


Ace of Cakes, the edgy side of cake decorating

A new show on Food TV Canada that started earlier this month is the American series Ace of cakes. By shaping cakes with drill saws and blow torches and staffing his bakery with fellow rock musicians, Duff Goldman is not your typical baker is an excerpt from show synopsis. You know first hand that this shows is different. No recipes here. You will not learn things to do at home. What the show is all about is pure fun and originality.

I like to see what crazy ideas people come up with for their cake. With the price of the smallest, basic cake starting at 200 dollars (now 500 dollars, see my update message), you can only imagine the price of the cakes featured on the show. To give you an idea, it takes the team from 10 to 200 hours to make a cake.

April 8, 2007 update – Price of a cake

Lots of you are interested by how much cost a cake from Charm City Cakes, the Ace of Cakes’ working party. I did some digging. Cakes start at 500 dollars. I was under the impressions that a cake from Charm City Cakes starts at 200 dollars from reading a previous interview with Duff Goldman. I suspect that Charm City Cakes stops making simpler cakes due to their popularity.

Tiered cakes start at $8 a serving, and go up from there. Design, complexity and size determine the price of each cake. To sum up, a custom design four-tier wedding cake costs about 1500 dollars, plus delivery.

If you want to order a special cake from the Ace of Cakes band, know that their intricate design cake often requires on site assembly.  Anything higher than a four-tier cake needs to be assembled on site for sure. Finally, delivery is tricky. A cake endures itsy bitsy tiny damages. The good news is that the cake maker who delivered your masterpiece cake will be able to fix on site.  Delivery is charged by the distance traveled and it comes to roughly $125 an hour. For that price, you will get a one of kind cake from the Ace of Charms cake decorating stars. Definitely a wow factor in your party!

+ show schedule on
+ A blog entry on Ace of Cake on blog
+ Charm City Cakes – the bakery of baker Duff Goldman – if you are interested to order a cake


Quick and delicious recipes for your next cocktail party

Throwing a cocktail party can seem a lot of work. After all, you need to serve on average 4 to 5 kinds of canapés. And you need 6 to 8 pieces per person for a 2-hour event, the amount of work adds up quickly.

I got a few books on canapés and hors d’oeuvres at home. Although they show great looking recipes, I find out that most of them will require me to cook all day. Not an option. The frozen appetizers do not taste good enough. So, I used to hire a caterer until now.

But for my next cocktail party, I will do it all by myself thank to the cook Michael Smith. He showed us on the Hors d’Oeuvres Party episode how to make nice hors d’oeuvres on his show Chef at Home at

His table setting was interesting. He shows us how to think outside the box to display the food. My only complain is about the dull, small flower bouquet he put on the table.

Always set time and money to buy some flowers from a talented florist. Flowers are important to set the right mood. Buy exotic flowers at best or get an intriguing arrangement of local species. In no circumstances, you should place a supermarket bouquet on your table. Cheap looking flowers ruin everything.

If your budget is small, gather a bright gerbera bloom with some greenery. It will cost you 3 dollars and you will look better than the bouquet on that episode. Usually set aside at least 15 to 25 dollars for a small table bouquet. I like to get two or three small arrangements that I spread around my buffet.

I am sure that Food TV Canada will rerun this episode later but for now you can get the recipes on or Michael Smith web site. If you know the name of the recipes you are looking for, I suggest you visit Michael Smith web site. The search engine does not filter by chef or TV show.

Link : Hors d’Oeuvres Party episode of the Chef at Home on – with links to the recipes
Link: Web site of chef Michael Smith


Welcome to my blog

my blog about entertaining at home and stylish living

my blog about entertaining at home and stylish living

I am glad to start a new blog in English. I have produced a blog in French, my mother language, since 2005. Since most of my articles talked about cooks, books, TV shows and blogs written in English, it makes more sense to start writing in English. So here I come.

For more details about the purpose of this blog, read about At Home with Kim Vallee.