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A Fabulous and Functional Fourth of July Picnic

Cristina Soriano

Outdoor entertaining is one of my greatest passions. Yes, it is a passion. I couldn't be happier than to bring together a group of friends to drink and dine on the grass and under the summer sun. (It's also a rare opportunity where I sometimes!)

I’ve teamed up with one of my favorite tabletop brands, Villeroy & Boch to host a fabulous (and functional) picnic that celebrates the very best of summer flavors, colors and the bright sun! Their new BBQ Passion collection is the perfect fusion of form and function. The white premium porcelain plates are durable and are both microwavable and dishwasher safe - a domestic goddesses prerequisite! And, their plates and serving platters are carefully constructed and designed, all to maximize the flavors of summer grilled food!

I gathered five of my fabulous friends and had a long summer lunch by the pond. I wanted to be able to cook and chat, so I had Ascanio and Giulio bring the grill on the back of a Gator!

Hors d’oeuvres started off with Mediterranean olives, freshly made bruschetta and grilled asparagus – all served on tiered platters that helped me maximize on table space. 

How gorgeous and festive are these goblets?!

How gorgeous and festive are these goblets?!

Sips of crisp cold rosé and a few Kalamata olives sparked our appetites for a meat-heavy BBQ!

Baby back ribs and tender steak that were marinated in homemade BBQ sauce were served on my favorite BBQ plates. 

I served the Mexican-style street corn on a practical platter – fit with skewer grooves so that they wouldn’t roll around. Can anyone say, form meets function? 

Feasting Away!

Feasting Away!

My feast!

My feast!

The greatest thing about these plates is that they have dedicated sections so your BBQ sauce and salad dressing don’t run off into each other. And a little condiment groove so that your mustard doesn’t pepper your salad! 

No BBQ is complete without a pie! 

No BBQ is complete without a pie! 

The day turned out to be absolutely glorious. Everyone was so happy – even Zorro who not only got to play in the pond, but who got some leftover pieces of steak as well!

If you absolutely adore this table setting and these functional plates, click here to get a set of your own! Have a wonderful Fourth of July celebrating with family and friends and grilling outdoors! 


Blog Archive

Insect Repellant Plants

Cristina Soriano

I know I’m not alone in saying that there have been many a time where a moment of outdoor bliss is interrupted by the buzzing of mosquitos. As a conservationist by nature (ha - get what I did there?), I don’t like using toxic insecticides that do more that just repel unwanted bugs. So here, dear readers, is a list of some natural repellants –all of which you can plant in your windowsill garden, patio plot or your lush lawn!


My favorite herb has purposes other than making food flavorful; the plant actually repels house flies and mosquitos. So plant these beauties and not only enjoy plates of pesto pasta, but a bug-free home as well!

Vibrant allium circles are delightful additions to any garden, but especially your vegetable garden. They repel small insects that feast on your growing vegetables, like slugs, aphids, carrot flies and cabbageworms.

Bushes of lavender always remind me of the rolling hills in the South of France, so I would never be opposed to having my backyard resemble those breathtaking vistas! With a crisp glass of rose in tow, I will not only feel like I’m in Provence, but I’ll be moth, flea, fly and mosquito free!

Fun fact: The oil in store-bought insecticides are made using chrysanthemum oil. Of course, with many other chemical additives, but there you go. The beautiful blooms repel against cockroaches, ants, ticks, lice, fleas, bedbugs, and spiders. A one stop shop, if you ask me!

Another favorite of mine, lemongrass is intoxicating and so soothing. Not only does it flavor Asian curries and steamed fish, but it repels mosquitos as well. In fact, citronella is a natural oil found in lemongrass. So rather than using chemically packed mosquito repellant, lather on lemongrass oil instead!

What I love about rosemary is that you can smell it from a mile away – and no matter where I am, I immediately dream about lamb chops. Not only is the hearty herb delicious on lamb, but also protects growing vegetables from pesky bugs. Rosemary repels mosquitos and veggie-eating bugs so plant them near your pumpkin patch for perfectly farmed produce!

Remember to grow your mint in designated pots rather than in the soil – you’ll find mint popping up in places where you don’t want it to be! It spreads quickly and is a very tenacious herb – it regrows year after year. Along with being so, well, rampant, it also repels mosquitos – so perhaps it’s not such a bad thing, after all.

Plant these bright yellow flowers to not only add bursts of sunshine into your garden, but to repel mosquitos, aphids and rabbits as well!


* Note: The watercolor bugs are made by my dear friend, Mita Corsini Bland. Click here to visit her stunning website. 

Blog Archive

A Summer Cheese Board

Cristina Soriano

The best cheese platters are those that are not only served on (very large) wooden boards, but those that have a (wide) variety of mild and stinky cheeses, crisp crackers and lots of ripe summer fruit as well!

Sitting under the wisteria pergola and reading my weekend bibles of Elle Décor, Bon Appetite and Architectural Digest – all with a white wine spritzer in hand - I decided to arrange a beautiful cheese plate that would complement a perfect summer afternoon.

3 Cheese Rule

Fine, it’s more like a 3 x 3 cheese rule (because I have a hard time putting a cap on serving just three cheeses) but you get the gist. Serve three or more cheeses, and try to choose all different ones. Use a soft, medium and hard cheese, ones made of goat, cows or sheep’s milk and ones that are more subtle and others with lots of flavor.

Crispy Crackers

Choose delicious crispy crackers to serve alongside your cheese. You want the cracker to compliment the cheese, not over power it, so select those that are not laden with flavor. If you choose an exceptionally bland biscuit, sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper and you’re good to go!

Something Sweet

Cheese paired with a little something sweet always makes your pallet happy. Since it’s summer and the fruit is fragrant and sweet, serve your cheese alongside slices of peaches and strawberries rather than honey.

So, grab a big wooden board, a sharp cheese knife and start munching! Hopefully with a bright summery cocktail in your (other) hand.


Blog Archive