For many—including us here at ARCANISA—the holidays are synonymous with family meals around a table dressed with comfort foods and seasonal centerpieces. Last year, we shared a collection of unconventional table coverings to serve as stylish backdrops for your feasts, but this year we wanted to get a touch closer to the treats so we've compiled a list of platters, plates, vessels, and containers to carry and frame your delectable holiday dishes.
Testi Kebabı Pot
We begin with several pieces that function as both cookware and stylish serve-ware. In the Cappadocia region of Turkey, along the Red River, potters sculpt mounds of teracotta-coloured clay into the vase shaped pots from Anatolian Hands that are used to create a brilliant and experiential dish known as testi kebabı.
Succulent meats are stewed with fresh vegetables and seasoned with an array of aromatic spices before being pored into the cavity of the pot. The pot is then sealed-either by pressing a potato into the mouth of the vessel or by covering the rim with a blanketing lid of dough—then placed in an oven where it slowly heats the ingredients within and imparts the subtle earthy fragrance, characteristic of clay cooked-foods. When the dish is ready, the pot, in its entirety, is taken to the table where it is cracked open to reveal the steaming and dizzyingly aromatic meal within. Not only does the pot provide outstanding flavor, it also offers an impressive, dare we say spectacular, experiential culinary performance. Plus, at the end of the meal the shattered pot is discarded so you don't have to struggle with post-holiday-meal dishes!
Yaki Yaki San Smokeless Grill
We travel east to Japan next to find the Yaki Yaki San Smokeless Grill from Nagatani-en, which has been hand making this 7th century-origination, Iga-yaki-style pottery since 1839 using porous clay that settled on the bed of Lake Biwa 4 million years ago (x). The glorious grill features a hollow tapered frame that elevates a grill top inscribed with rays that deepen as they radiate out from the center to collect and guide liquids away from the grill's surface to ensure perfect maillard reactions. To use, one simply places the piece over a gas stove where it absorbs and evenly distributes the heat offering a uniform cooktop onto which raw meats, fish, and vegetables can be laid. With great caution, the Yaki Yaki San can be carried to the table, gently set onto a protective trivet, where it will warm your guests and wow them with its beauty as they're lulled by the sizzling of their dinner on its dark black ridges.
Tagines for Two
While the uncovered surface of the Yaki Yaki San Grill allows for steam to escape to encourage effortless browning, the conical cloche of traditional tagines retain the vapors, allowing them to condense onto the clay walls and return to the pool of ingredients that simmers in the base of the tagine. The result is a piece of clay cookware that produces incredibly tender and succulent meats and vegetables with ease. Like the Turkish pots, an unglazed tagine imparts a clay like flavour that will add an elevating element to a dish but glazed tagines are also available for those who want to retain the pure flavours of the ingredients and those who prefer the easy clean up ensured by the glossy lining. We love the the vibrant glazes of the hand-cast and hand-glazed Verve Culture Tagines for Two from City Home. The traditional tagine form is offered a contemporary chicness with the addition of teal, blue, red or white glazes that radiate a wash of glistening colour and an undeniable style.
Round Crescent Tajin
Should you be looking for a decorative tagine serve-ware piece that doesn't need to function as cookware, the Round Crescent Tajen from Oriend499 is a moment of regality that you won't want to miss. Handmade in Lebanon, the Tajen is speckled with the swarming indentations of hammering that recall the contours of textured crocodile hide. The cloche covering is a broad inverted bowl with four tiers that lead to a striking gold crescent moon finial. While these Tajens are entirely food safe, they are almost too artfully sculptural to be used as functional dinnerware!
In our opinion, no tagine-cooked stew should be served without warm bread. And to ensure our fresh baked accoutrements make it to the tables sans-tepidity, we travel from Lebanon to Mexico to find the tortilleros available at Ayres Estudio. Carved from volcanic stone and Tzalam wood, the vessels are cylinders—some straight-sided with linear furrows that weave across one another, some tapered with a string of pearl like reliefs that encircle the rim—that will retain the warmth within much like the lava from which they were formed.
Decanter Bottle & Heartwood Cups
Turning from the organic rigidity of volcanic stone to the clear fragility of glass, the next piece of serve-ware is designed for your beverages. The Decanter Bottle and Heartwood Cups from Samuel Reis of Vicara, available from SAL Concept Store in Lisbon, are hand blown and formed within molds created from natural tree trunks. The bark-like ridges that cascade down the sides of the glass form channels of shadows and crests of vibrant white that will leave you mesmerized. A carob wood topped cork seals the mouth of the decanter and offers a reminder of the forest that offered its textured forms to create the glass molds. For spirits and seltzers alike, your guests will be entranced by this handsome set.
Harvest Moon Plate
While the Decanter finds luminosity through the ridges of glass, the natural dyed metal of the Harvest Moon Plate from Koudai Makino—available at Style Meets People and Lisen— channels lights with its dynamic texture and metallic finish. Handmade of light aluminum, each plate is blessed with the stain of plant-based pigments. The surface of each plate is entirely unique, a planetary landscape that emerges from the mind of Makino and introduces itself as canyons that dance atop the aluminum. These lunar trays make exceptional gifts that are sure to light up your holiday tables.
Our next lunar object is the Light Tray (full moon/half moon) pedestal designed by Lee Yunjeong. Unlike the Harvest Moon plate which takes the form of the moon itself, the pedestals suggest the luminosity of a pearescent full moon by framing a circle of negative space with intersecting rectangles of ebony coloured wood that support the circular wooden plate lacquered with a sheer wash of colour that suggests ribbons of the aurora borialis soaring through the blackness of night. From some angles, the rectangles appear to bisect the hollow moon with a line of darkness, while from other angles they shadow one half of the light, transforming the full moon into a waning crescent.
There is an unquestionable allure in the simplicity of these vacant portals that offer us open doors to the majesty of the sky like the circular doorways of traditional Chinese architecture. Take your loved ones on a journey through the abyssal night sky, following the light of a guiding moon, by gifting them one of these stunning sculptural stands.
Sun Serving Platter
Emerging out of the night into the warmth of the day, we head back to Orient499 for their Sun Serving Platter. While the trays can be separated and used as individual elevated plates, we love the gold tinned stands when they're stacked to create a prismatic solar tower that is so lustrous it seems to ignite with luxurious auric light.
Jun Sang Guen
Staying in Korea, our next tower from Jun Sang Guen is a masterful composition of anthracite blackness and faceted geometry. In the Black Juan-Sang Series, "a heavy feeling of black soil, the non-standardized texture draws attention by decorating the surface of the object with"(2) texture emphasized by a unique glazing technique. Tiered trays once used in royal banquets to venerate valuable guests, drawing attention to their status with their subtle elevation, now offer rhythm to table settings and create an organic landscape in which the tiers seem to hold conversation.
Hubbard Marble Cake Stand
Finally, we find a natural landscape in the raw and unpolished jagged surface of the mountainous stand of the Hubbard Marble Cake Stand from CB2. A shard of Banswara marble, whose untamed naturally suggests it was plucked from the earth and introduced to our tables untouched, holds an ultramodern and deeply sophisticated disk of black nickel-plated stainless steel. The cake stand is a work of contemporary art worthy of museum exhibitions and holiday tables alike.
Deck your own holiday tables with some of these exceptional serve-ware pieces or present them as unquestionably excellent gifts—maybe paired with one the seasonal recipes in our holiday collection! And be sure to explore the rest of our 2021 Holiday Gift Guide for even more gift giving inspiration.