I'm usually partial to very plain dishes and tableware. My favorite plates, for example, are simple matte white disks with no printing or embellishments. So I'm a little surprised to be so attracted to the pretty toile dishes that I'm starting to see here and there on the internets. Especially beautiful is the blue toile bowl from Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks, pictured above.
This is not a traditional table loaded with layers of toile dinnerware, which would have a somewhat fussy and old-fashioned feel. Rather, it's more about the occasional toile platter or bowl mixed in with simple, modern pieces in informal settings, with bare wood tables or marble countertops.
It's especial nice when the toile is vintage and has the look and feel of something that has been around for a while. Jamie Oliver's At Home cookbook and TV series, which came out in 2009, is a good example. In the video clip below, at 2:22, you can see Jamie pull out a pretty pale blue toile platter to build his Rice Pudding and Hot Strawberry Jam. (Yum!)
Toile, once only available to the wealthy, can now be be found on drugstore shelves as well as in the priciest shops, so clearly the quality varies widely. Vintage pieces are still pretty easy to find in thrift shops. Look for fancy labels like Spode and Wedgwood and for clear, not blurry, lines and patterns. For a brief history of toile dinnerware, also known as toile transferware, visit this page on the Eras of Elegance website.
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