Living

More than a feeling

A stylist and a foodie join forces in a masterclass on how to host a truly beautiful breakfast, setting a scene to entice all the senses that’s at once classic and contemporary.

Tantalizing menu aside, for stylist Gem Adams, the key to a successful gathering is a collection of design elements chosen to create the ideal ambience. “It may sound a little old-fashioned,” she says, “but I do love a bit of a theme. That doesn’t mean stripes and starfish if you’re serving seafood – it’s about bringing a clear feel to the occasion, whether it’s fun and glamorous or natural and minimalist. For our breakfast, I wanted a mingling of ease and elegance – cue hand-thrown pottery and jewel tones.”

The setting
Our floral centrepiece is an exquisite focal point, yet sits low enough that it doesn’t hinder guests’ view across the table. Fuchsia-coloured blooms, forest-green foliage, golden candles, ruby juice and luxurious teal linen all bring a sense of opulence to the proceedings, while a branch suspended chandelier-style adds an air of drama.
On the walls, we combined paint with an early 2000s vibe to further set the scene. Recreate this look by beginning with two coats of Resene Stack with a Lustacryl finish – and then comes the  fun. Mix Resene Paint Effects Medium with half a test pot of Resene Kashmir Blue and a tablespoon of Resene Black, then take a wide brush (around 120mm) and make random strokes to create a textural effect.

The sound
Music is another element that can make or break a get-together, so don’t let it be an afterthought, advises Gem. Aim to select songs that encourage a convivial mood and don’t overpower the conversation. “Start with something upbeat for when your guests arrive, then take it down a notch for dining,” says Gem. “A few favorite bands of mine right now are Beach House, Low Roar and Big Scary, and of course you can’t go past the classics like Sam Cooke, John Coltrane and Chet Baker. If you don’t consider yourself a music connoisseur, the likes of Spotify have a huge variety of playlists ready made – just pick the type of mood you want and you’re all set.”

To serve
Savoury & sweet spelt crumpets
Makes 6

Hawke’s Bay-based foodie, stylist and blogger at Organic Ash (organicash.co.nz), Ash Scott, says crumpets have become pretty popular at her place as a fast and easy breakfast, lunch or dinner. Delicious with sweet or savory toppings, you’re limited only by your imagination.
Ash makes her crumpets using organic spelt flour, but you can substitute this for standard wheat flour one for one. Below are two recipes, the first a standard yeast-risen batter and the second Ash’s preferred method, a sourdough batter she favours for the “earthy flavour”.
You’ll find crumpet rings in most homeware stores, or simply cook your crumpets as you would pancakes.

Yeast-risen batter
1½ cups lukewarm water
1 cup lukewarm milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
3½ cups organic spelt flour
2½ tsp instant yeast
1 tsp baking powder
1¼ tsp salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, then cover with a tea towel for 1 hour.
The batter will expand, become bubbly and smell yeasty.

Sourdough batter
1 cup active spelt sourdough starter
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda

Put the sourdough starter in a large bowl, sprinkle over the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. The mixture will bubble and rise; this batter is ready to
use immediately.

To make the crumpets, grease a pan and the crumpet rings with ghee, butter, or a neutral oil such as coconut. Heat the pan over a low-medium heat.
Fill each ring ¾ full with batter and cook until the crumpets are bubbly and set. Remove the rings, flip the crumpets and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
Serve topped with garlic mushrooms, pesto, microgreens and edible petals; or orange blossom labneh (yoghurt, or mascarpone works well too) with honeycomb, raw buckwheat toasted in a dry pan and edible flowers. Or store in an airtight container and toast to reheat.
To make garlic mushrooms, melt 2 Tbsp ghee/butter/oil in a pan over a low-medium heat. Take 6 large field mushrooms, gently rub a little extra butter/oil and 3 cloves crushed garlic onto the stalk side, then fry in a single layer stalk-side down for 5 minutes. Flip, then cook for a further 5 minutes.
To make labneh, pour 1kg of good-quality gelatin-free Greek yogurt into a cheesecloth bag and hang from a high cupboard doorknob over a bowl in your kitchen (or, if the weather’s warm, place in a colander over a bowl in the fridge) overnight to allow the whey to drain. The next day, gently stir in a capful of orange blossom water (available from speciality food stores).

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ABOVE Wall in Resene Stack, Resene Kashmir Blue and Resene Black, resene.co.nz. Cotton/viscose grosgrain tablecloth, $18 p/m, thefabricstore.co.nz. Handmade ceramic beakers, $15 each, homebasecollections.co.nz. Monmouth Glass Studio carafe, $170, tessuti.co.nz. OPPOSITE Paul Melser plates, $30 each; bowls, $25 each, paulmelser.co.nz. Linen napkins, $20 p/m, thefabricstore.co.nz. Beeswax candles, $8 each, blackbirdgoods.co.nz. Vintage French knives, $8 each; vintage French forks, $6 each; bench seat, POA; Baumann chair, $349, sovintage.co.nz. Vase (previous page), candleholder and spoons, stylist’s own.

Styling  Gem Adams 
Recipes  Ash Scott   
Photography  Heather Liddell