As soon as the Christmas tree arrives in your home, you have to start thinking about the family dinner, without which Christmas is not Christmas. Cinema and literature abound with annual scenes where grown-up siblings meet under one roof, often with spouses and children, and if nothing else it can often get complicated. But this is not a night for irritation, and it is fair to say that Christmas is an occasion for reconciliation. To celebrate this moment, we will need something beautiful, something good, something rare. We add elegance, creativity and humor. Pulse has borrowed three lifestyle enthusiasts’ ideas for a memorable holiday season.
Often, the festive meal tells stories of inheritance and transmission. Every year, we bring out that special silverware, some pieces look rather like surgical instruments: the lever fork and the leg tongs for the lamb; a different pair for carving the turkey; spikes for snails and claws for lobster; strange cutlery for appetizers, some for anchovies, others for pâté or olives. It seems that the 19th century pushed sophistication – or snobbery – so far that they invented an instrument for every dish. The grandparents’ porcelain plates and cut crystal glasses arrive to the third generation, often mismatched. Many tableware fanatics do not hesitate to mix these relics with others from the same period, or with more recent flatware, by scattering motley objects on the tablecloth. Variety makes it possible to create themes and makes for a happy fantasy.
LÉA SFEIR REINVENTS THE ART OF SETTING THE TABLE
Lebanese and based in Dubai, Léa Sfeir grew up in a family for whom any occasion was a good excuse for a banquet. She confides that when she was three she would invite her grandmother’s friends over for coffee without telling her. At her big table, the mother of three loves to celebrate (and publish on her Instagram account) the religious holidays of every community, not to mention birthdays and national holidays. So much so that she was noticed by Tanagra, a famous luxury and lifestyle boutique in the Mall of the Emirates which calls in her talents for their displays. For her first Christmas 2021 table, she chose to replace the traditional green with blue, and the bright red with a deep burgundy. Porcelain and crystal from Tanagra brands, transparency and opalescence, interact in an elegant palette on a purple aghabani tablecloth, adorned with traditional Damascene embroidery.
NOUR AL-NIMER ADORNS PORCELAIN WITH THE SHAPES OF HER DREAMS
It took until her graduation year at Central St Martins for Nour Al-Nimer to discover “surface print design”, a discipline in which she has found her true vocation. This practice consists of creating artistic patterns suitable for objects, especially porcelain. Her last name inspires the name of her brand, which was founded in London: “Nimerology“. Having had as an example a mother of Turkish origin for whom the art of hospitality was a permanent exercise of elegance and refinement, and a father of Palestinian origin, a connoisseur and collector of Ottoman art, Nour Al-Nimer is also inspired by her travels and the cultures of the world when she projects her universe onto fine porcelain. Making unknown guests dream, perhaps awakening their hidden memories, is her greatest happiness. She has just launched a floral and spring collection, “Isabelle’s Garden Party” to ward off the claustrophobia imposed by the pandemic. But for this festive season, we chose her tableware collection “Zumurud”, adorned with Ottoman textile patterns.
GOSHÀ, FLOWERS LIKE POEMS
Nothing predisposed Natalia Shoestova, who was based in Dubai with her husband, to engage in floral art. In the beginning, her passion was fashion, although she cannot imagine her home without flowers. However, downstairs in the building where she lives, works Gurgen Yeritsyan Gosha, a floral artist unlike any she has known. They converse in Russian and share the same love for unusual, natural, poetic arrangements. They end up partnering. Their brand will be called Goshà, written with an accent for the Parisian touch. Their “anti-bouquets” meet with dazzling success. They open a second store in Abu Dhabi, and embark on a ceramic line with local artisans. “Goshá is a tale of floral design inspired by poetry. Goshá is a sophisticated lover of art and cinematography. A well-traveled, self-expressive florist who considers flowers as an object of temporary art”, says their manifesto. For the holiday season, the duo created disheveled, motley wreaths, straight out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting. Their presence is so intense, it replaces any other decoration.
TAREK ALAMEDDINE UNFOLDS A CHRISTMAS MENU AROUND CHESTNUTS
Only thirty years old, this young chef seems a veteran of the kitchen. Originally from a small village in the Lebanese mountains, after having worked in restaurants in Brazil, Australia and Mexico, he found himself as sous-chef at Noma in Copenhagen. He went back in the Middle East seven months ago on a new gastronomic adventure as culinary director with Baky Hospitality, a group that brings together addresses such as Sachi, Kazoku, Shinkō, Lexie’s and Reif Kushiyaki in Cairo. At Sachi, on a table that revisits the classics, Alameddine has created a menu for the holiday season where chestnuts play a comforting role. In addition to homemade foie gras, flavored with cinnamon and served with chestnuts and caramelized apples and a fig-mustard sauce, his menu includes, among others, a pithiviers de bœuf (roast beef surrounded by mashed potatoes, roasted in a puff pastry), a pumpkin salad, and a chestnut soup flavored with a bouquet of thyme and fried chestnuts.