Food and Leisure

Setting up for a festive christmas

THE X-PAT FILES - Scott Garceau - The Philippine Star
Setting up for a festive christmas
”Forest Spritz” made with Nespresso Festive Forest Fruit Flavor

I will admit that arranging dried flowers and succulents and pinecones for Christmas table settings has never actually been my “thing.” But when Nespresso holds an event called “The Art of Tablescaping with Jo Claravall” on a Tuesday afternoon, and when the event involves exploring three new flavors from its annual Festive collection (Forest Fruit, Forest Black and Forest Almond), and the event is hosted by the bubbly Issa Litton, and the packaging has been designed by Colombian fashion designer Johanna Ortiz especially for Nespresso — well, who could say no to that?

Not I. Inspired by the beauty and depth of natural forests, Nespresso’s “Gifts of the Forest” collection encapsulates the brand’s devotion to the precious environment coffee is grown in. So this coffee lover and decidated journalist was all-in, receiving the lavish kit for the Zoom tablescaping experience, which included a green (Nespresso colors) box containing dried grass, berries, fresh cypress leaves, ribbons, pine cones, cactus blooms, plus wooden dowels, wire and special place cards; not only that, but one sleeve each of the above Festive coffees, evoking the theme of #GiftsOfTheForest (Nespresso has partnered with Conservation International this year to help protect 10 million rainforest trees); plus a notebook and mug and packaging created by luxury fashion designer Ortiz, who greeted us by video from her native Cali, Colombia (home of salsa!) and helped set the stage for a forest-friendly Zoom event.

Ortiz loves working with the interplay between nature and sustainability — and that fit in perfectly with Nespresso’s Festive universe. “For me, design and nature go hand in hand which is why this collaboration resonated personally. Colombian coffee also has a truly special place in my heart and as an active supporter in the fight against climate change,” noting that Nespresso has gone well beyond its agroforestry commitments in supporting the protection of 10 million trees in the Amazon. She says in designing the Nespresso collection, “I took the idea of capturing the beauty of the forest throughout every piece, by incorporating rich forest canopies and dark earthy tones within my designs.”

For the collection, Ortiz also designed the Nespresso x Johanna Ortiz Advent Calendar to kick off this year’s festivities, as well as the colorful Nespresso x Johanna Ortiz NOMAD travel mug that comes in a “Deep Cherry” shade, emulating the ripe berries of the forest.

“Woodland Cappuccino” made with Nespresso Festive Forest Almond Flavor.

Novateur Coffee Concepts marketing manager Mia Silva and marketing specialist Danica Hernandez joined Nespresso Coffee Ambassador JR Abril, who walked us through the tasting notes of each new festive flavor (Forest Almond is a South American Arabicas with nutty, vanilla notes on the palate; Forest Fruit bears a strikingly vivid fruit presence; and Forest Black is a shade-grown Colombian coffee that reveals strong spicy and woody notes) before whipping up a Salted Caramel Forest Black beverage involving an Atelier Nespresso machine, layered syrups, froths, Kosher salt and whipped cream on top. (He noted that Nespresso standalone shops here offer a 15-percent discount on new machines up until the end of November, and several other coffee beverage recipes are online at www.nespresso.ph, if you’re feeling inspired.)

If whipping up a fancy Nespresso drink seemed like a bridge too far, there was Jo Claravall, who showed us how to make a table centerpiece that’s fit for the holiday season. (Turns out even novices and domestic know-nothings like me could handle the assignment.)

Jo is a consummate pro at event styling, decorating and wedding floral arrangements. Working with the supplied green box, we were asked to choose our “concept,” whether it’s a tall central focal point or some interesting peripheral activity. The point is, “It’s going to be the nucleus of the table,” so make it stand out. We set to work, inserting dried flowers stalks and pine needle bunches into the foam anchors, attaching succulents to dowel sticks and wiring pinecones into the arrangement. (This was all a lot easier after chugging three Nespresso shots in a row.) By the end, Jo had added extra touches — oranges, kiwis and other fruits. For those who lack all the necessary tablescaping items at home, here’s Jo’s bit of general advice: “Scour your home. Especially during the holidays, look for old Christmas decorations, balls, silver, tinsel, and pair it with vegetables like broccoli or eggplant. Anything can be beautiful as a centerpiece.”

All of this was empowering, especially to those who are more used to looking at table arrangements, not creating them. The point was to gear us up for what we hope will be a festive Christmas season actually spent with our loved ones this year, not merely via Zoom screens, and Nespresso is one element that makes it all the more festive.

Luxury fashion designer Johanna Ortiz worked with Nespresso to create this year’s Gifts of the Forest collection.

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The limited-edition Gifts of the Forest collection will be available at Nespresso boutiques, pop-up stores, and online at www.nespresso.ph.

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