Host an alfresco spring luncheon with a Mexico-meets-California twist

Rolling Hills–based interior designer Carol de Miranda hosts an alfresco spring luncheon—replete with colorful linens, pieces from her own personal pottery collection and meaningful family recipes

Written by Jennie Nunn  |  Photographed by Lauren Pressey

When it comes to designing innovative tablescapes for dinner parties and family gatherings, Rolling Hills–based interior designer Carol de Miranda ( leaves no detail untouched. For a recent alfresco luncheon hosted at her own home for close friends, neighbors and family, the Palos Verdes native and mother of two conceived a casual, California take on the traditional eggs-and-bacon brunch with a nod to rustic, Mexican décor and recipes from her mother, who lived in Spain during college.

“Spring brunches can sometimes be predictable with lots of pastels, and I wanted to mix in some interesting elements to give it a twist,” says Carol of the vibrant table layered with rattan chargers; multi-colored, striped sarape-inspired linens; blue-and-white serving bowls from Mexico; and purple, green and blue-hued vintage decanters and modern vases. “I have always loved collecting hand-painted pottery, plates and bowls from Mexico, Spain and my travels. I also feel so fortunate to have been given many beautiful pieces for my collection from family and friends. I was inspired by the rich colors of the plates and pottery and love to mix vintage and new and make interesting vignettes. It doesn’t all have to match and be from the same place.”

Carol used a combination of family recipes including chile con queso and guacamole passed on from her mother, a former full-time Spanish teacher, and salads including couscous with feta, peas, tomatoes, olives and carrots, and broccoli with chicken, cayenne pepper and pine nuts. The University of the Pacific graduate who studied interior design at UCLA also offered guests a signature cocktail: a Paloma.

For dessert, Carol served a fresh fruit tart. “I think it’s fun to incorporate your own personality and family recipes when you are entertaining—and make it personal,” says Carol, who also topped the wooden dining table from Restoration Hardware with dark pink peonies. “My mother studied in Spain, and we grew up with a lot of Spanish and Latin cuisine. Her guacamole and chile con queso are just two of my favorite recipes.”

From creating a specific plan-ahead chart to using unexpected objects as vessels for flowers and combing local flea markets and thrift stores for design ideas, Carol offers the following expert tips, recipes and inspiration on how to recreate the look.


“Flowers are always a great way to bring in color and life to entertaining. I enjoy thinking of different ways to display flowers and used my vintage collection of glass decanters. I love the 1950s blue and purple Jim Beam de- canters. The colors play off the hand-painted pottery and plates and add a vintage feel.” MAKE IT PERSONAL “Incorporate something fun and interesting from your personal collection to create a theme for your event. Go to flea markets and thrift stores to collect vintage china, glassware and silver.”


“Tie in a fun signature drink to go with your cuisine to make a memorable experience for your guests.”


“Get creative with linens. They do not have to match. Use different linens to add color and interest to your table. Think of alternative options other than napkin rings. You can col- lect things such as shells, beads or ribbon. I chose colored ribbon in varying bright shades to tie it all together.”


“Rather than doing everything last-minute, create a chart and do a little each day leading up to the party. That way you can add finishing touches as needed.”


“Mix and match. Don’t be afraid to mix old and new. I chose the new beaded glasses from Pier 1 Imports and mixed them with a modern, faceted vase I bought at Pavilions and my collection of vintage decanters. Vintage pieces always add a wealth of uniqueness and a bring a personal element to the décor.

Mom’s Guacamole

Serves 8-10

8 avocados

2 tomatoes, diced

2 red onions, diced

1 whole bunch cilantro, chopped

4 tablespoons sriracha hot sauce

a squeeze of lime to taste

salt to taste

In a large bowl, mash avocados. Add tomatoes, onions and cilantro and mix all together. Add sriracha hot sauce, a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt (or desired amount) for taste. Transfer to serving bowl and serve.

Note: If refrigerated, place avocado pit in mixture and cover. Placing the pit in the mixture prevents the avocado from turning brown.


Chile Con Queso

2 cans diced chiles

2 cans evaporated milk

1 cup flour

6 eggs

1 cup cheddar cheese

1 cup Monterey jack cheese

1 container salsa (mild or medium)

In a 9”x13”x12” casserole pan or Pyrex dish, layer 1 can of chiles in bottom of pan. Sprinkle 1 cup cheddar and 1 cup Monterey jack on top of chiles. Repeat with a layer of chiles and a layer of cheeses. In a blender, blend evaporated milk, flour and eggs. Pour the mixture over the chiles and cheese evenly. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until completely cooked. Remove from oven and salsa over the top of the casserole. Place back in the oven for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Can be served hot or cold.


Paloma Cocktail

2 ounces blanco or reposado tequila

1⁄2 ounce lime juice

grapefruit soda

salt for rimming (optional)

If desired, rim the glass with salt. Fill the glass with ice and add the tequila and lime juice. Top it off with grapefruit soda.