Some are collectors of bags, shoes, dolls… for me, I have a small obsession with plates/Chinaware (perhaps I’m in denial here, ha ha) it started with the influence of my mother under her tutelage (I quickly learned by watching her shop at flea markets, chinaware sales, she could spend hours mulling over which design matched the interiors of our home), and to this day, ma is a bigger plate/nice kitchen objects hoarder than I am (you should see her collection!). I’m thrilled that someday I will inherit some of her things, but till then I’ve built up quite a collection myself.
You may ask why bother with food styling? Or plates for that matter? Is it not enough to use the finest ingredients you can afford to plate a dish?
Why does the food need to be pretty? It’s my belief that we eat with our eyes, feel with our souls, smell with our collective memories and taste with our brains. Well styled, presented food is simply arresting – it can take you for a ride, a revisit of your past, a bring up of an old connection, it can even calm down your nerves when appreciating the beauty of the experience on your plate and finally, it brings awareness of everything you are putting into your human body.
When all these come together the feels you get from a well styled food plate include excitement, joy, pleasure, a sense a of well being, stillness, a satisfaction that can help with portion control and whatever stresses that drive you to keep piling your plate for food. This is also the allure of a 3 star michelin meal course, it’s about a food story, fine ingredients, beautifully styled and plated to bring forth those emotions.
What I’m going to show you is with a few simple tips, with whatever you may already own at home or with a shopping trip using those tips, I’m saying you can upstyle your food in your own home for an all star, zero pressure home dining experience that will put a smile on your face.
And now to the pretty plates part… that I got from Dengama, Tokyo. I wanted to take you along to my last trip at Dengama (in the Kappabashi district in Japan) to show you exactly what I got and where it is so you too can have as much fun as I did shopping for plates – now that you may be convinced you have good reason to do so.
That’s the front view of Dengama, it’s located in the Asakusa (Kappabashi-dori which means kitchen town) district in Tokyo and is heaven for pottery and ceramic collectors, prices are reasonably priced and in a wide range.
This is the side view, you won’t miss it as it is located around the street corner and is hard to miss!
Small plates, side dishes, cute soup bowls this is in the front section also where the prices are mostly on sale as these are the odd ends with only a few pieces left.
Deliberations…the variety is just too much
On the first floor, inside the shop find a beautiful one of a kind teapot for your home. The second floor is full of more expensive and more exquisite ceramics, to be honest I didn’t have the time to go upstairs to shop any longer.
That was my loot, I spent approx 120,000 yen for all that! It would have cost me 2.5 to 3 times that in my home country.
How to get to Dengama? The nearest station is called Tawaramachi and its via the Ginza line, the walk is about 5 minutes from this station towards Dengama. If like me you are lugging too much loot around, lock it up in the lockers around any train station and return later in the day to get your items – so you can still continue sightseeing and shopping!
Address: Nishiasakusa 1-4-3, Taito-ku Tokyo, 111-0035 Japan
Opening hours: Monday thru Sunday: 10 am to 7pm
And now for the dish, I did a mince with chinese olives…
Using the plates I got, tada!
And these are some tips for you on how to choose plates and create compositions for food photography/fine dining at home:
- Pick a theme – flowers it was for me.
- The plates don’t have to match.
- Mix and match with smaller and larger sizes.
- When plating and arranging odd numbers, 3 or 5 pieces in a composition look better than even numbers for example 4 or 6 pieces.
- Pick some colourful plates, so they can be used as accents.
- Use another theme/colour to create a common thread so it’s easy to mix and match – I have a blue theme going on the plates I chose.
- Know your produce and what colours make them sparkle – Blue/yellow plates really make greens pop. Beige foods look good on plates with some contrast to the plates or on brown, black plates. Yellow and orange foods can really sing in bright blue plates. Best colour for really red foods like wine sauces, beets, beef and tomatoes is still a white plate.
- Use a neutral placemat or a tray to bring everything together.
- Showcase each of the elements in the dish you plan to have a story to tell.
- If you have the time to photograph your food, spend a few minutes processing the pictures it will make a big difference when you are sharing it on your blog or on instagram!
Stir fried Preserved Olive leaf with Mince
Prep: 10 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 15 mins
200g mince (either chicken or pork)
2 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil (I used grapeseed)
2 to 3 tbsp preserved olive leaves (up to your taste)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced shallots
1 tbsp of tamari (if going gluten free, if not you can substitute this with soya sauce)
1 teaspoon raw sugar
Garnish: fresh or dried bird eye red chillis to be fried in for a few seconds before plating
Heat pan till hot, add in grapeseed oil and then shallots fry for a few seconds and then add the minced garlic, fry both till fragrant.
Add mince chicken or pork and then break up into pieces and fry till almost fully cooked. Add in preserved olive leaves.
Add in tamari and sugar, bird eye chillis and stir fry till well mixed and serve.
Preserved chinese olives can be found in most supermarkets. You can also find these at the wet markets in the dry goods section.