Once you get out of the larger cities in Europe, and into the more quaint villages of say, southern France or Italian wine country, there is a certain feeling to the presentation of long afternoon meals that is hard to describe. It’s a combination of mismatched linens, old family china supplemented with a new dish here and there, and an assortment of whatever was clean as glassware for wine.
I’m talking about the way my grandmother set the table for lunches with family: Casual, but with love and pride.
This is the feeling I wanted to capture when teaming up with Villeroy & Boch to show how to mix the most traditional of place settings with more modern pieces in a way that feels authentic! Inspired by the yellow, black and white Audun china, I decided to run with the theme and create a tabletop made for a French-inspired luncheon…
On the menu? Radishes with butter & sea salt. Simply dressed green salad with hard boiled eggs. And the classic: French Onion Soup. Except for one thing: we turned it into a SANDWICH. Actually, a French Onion Grilled Cheese sandwich, to be exact. Because you cannot have a meal without cheese in France!
This vintage linen was actually, literally, my grandmother’s. I love the way it pairs here with the cheerful yellow rimmed ‘Colorful Life’ dishes and yellow bistro chairs that we happened to recently acquire! I’m on a yellow kick lately – sunflowers included.
By the way, bringing outdoor chairs inside is such a quick mood changer. As we transition to fall, I wanted to think of ways in which to bring that garden party vibe inside, and between the roses on the linens, the outdoors chairs, and bold stripes, I think we achieved our goal! Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, it’s possible to let summer linger a little longer.
Villeroy & Boch also has this new modern line based around different food passions. Ours was soup! (Do you spy the modern tureen on the table?) Hence the inspiration for the sandwich. So rather than a french onion (let’s save that for the depths of winter, shall we?) I’d offer up a gazpacho to pair with this setting. Think of it as an elevated version the classic tomato soup and grilled cheese that some of us grew up with!
Keeping the menu as unfussy as the table was important to me here, but just like we elevated the menu a bit, it’s also nice to bring in some fancy elements to a casual setting. I love the mixed cut glass goblets for water and wine!
And in case you want to replicate the sandwich for yourself (I highly recommend it!) we put together this insanely easy recipe for you.
French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich // serves two
- Sourdough Bread
- Gruyère cheese
- Onion & Thyme Jam
- Fresh Thyme for garnish
Load up a slice of bread with the jam, and layer on the prosciutto and cheese. Butter the bread for grilling and place on a skillet over medium heat. I like to put a lid on the pan to help get the cheese nice and melty, which is why it’s important not to have the heat too high! Flip to cook evenly. Slice and garnish with fresh thyme!
We promptly devoured these right after the shoot and they were insanely delicious! If you can’t find pre-made onion thyme jam (I picked up this jar on our Honeymoon in Salt Spring Island!), you can also easily make your own. Just search for a recipe!