Holiday Entertaining With A Global Spin

This image is no longer available

Here, easy centrepieces and serving ideas inspired by our travels.


On a recent trek to Turkey, one of the things that I was taken with was the way top chefs, at-home hosts and even roadside diners set their tables. They used the natural elements that were available to them to great effect.

In Turkey, the garden is an all-important way of life. Many of the world’s blooming bulbs originate here, from the tulip to the iris to beyond. Roses, too, are in abundance, as are grapevines, olive trees, herbs, spices, pomegranate trees and so much more.

When setting a holiday table, look at your own natural surroundings for inspiration. Many of us have simple herbs like Rosemary or Sage growing in pots on our kitchen counters, garden centres often have remnants of ever green boughs cut from the bottoms of Christmas trees and colourful fruits such as tangerines, oranges and apples are in plenty supply at the local grocers.

In Turkey, I saw salads served up in hollowed out citrus fruits and apples, crisp brown paper bags filled with pomegranates and persimmons, white asparagus sprouting up in a “garden” of rosemary sprigs and black olive tapenade and herbs tied up with simple string to cutlery at the place settings.

Thinking about travel to Turkey? Check out the guided vacation offerings via, call 1-800-352-4444, or see your travel agent.

Click through for a few of my favourite things for your holiday table.

At Kantin, in Istanbul, chef Şemsa Denizsel is considered the city’s Alice Waters, a champion of locally-sourced and traditional ingredients infused into her healthy Turkish cooking. At table, she rolled brown paper bags and filled them pomegranates and persimmons.

At Arola in the newly minted Raffles hotel in Istanbul, the Michelin starred Spanish chef Sergi Arola grows a garden of white asparagus, rosemary and pink blooms in a bed of finely chopped olives.

Nar Restaurant, a roadside truck-stop off the highway en route to Gallipoli, elevates the table with innovative yet simple serving ideas: the table is set with cutlery tied up with packing string and a posy of fresh, fragrant herbs.

Apples are hollowed out and filled with sun-dried tomato and walnut salad – and note the pressed fresh flower pressed under the glass place mat.

Bright citrusy orange halves filled with single servings of a simple cabbage slaw.

And, finally, the centre piece is a bunch of red hot chilli peppers on a bed of green baby tomatoes.