Chocolate Slice and…A Ping-Pong Table

When I was growing up in New Zealand my parents wanted to host wonderful dinner parties but the problem was, they didn’t have a table.  They did have a small, cheap table that, being the seventies, could even have been veneer.  And it only seated six.  My mother wanted a proper dining room table made from a tree.  She scoured the ads in the local paper seeking something less like veneer.

Chocolate Slice

One day mum’s bridesmaid gave her a call and told her the people living next door to her had a table they were selling and the ad would be in the morning’s paper, but if she wanted to get in first, she could organise for them to see it that afternoon.  So my parents dropped everything and hurried off to see the table they were told was large and not made of veneer.

With Wellington being a small town my parents had previously met the people selling the table as Vic and my father were in a similar line of business.  After a friendly catch-up Vic told the story of the table.  It had once been in the boardroom of a company called Unilever.  When Unilever moved premises somehow the table ended up in the chairman’s home.  The chairman decided to sell the table with some mismatched chairs that were quite hideous, blond, and didn’t match the table.

Vic wanted the hideous chairs but not the table.  The chairman refused to sell him the chairs without the table so in the deal Vic ended up with an antique Victorian table made from walnut with ornately carved legs standing on porcelain and brass casters that seated 16 and no where to put it.  He put the table down in his garage and let his children use it to play ping-pong.

Something to have with coffee

Eventually Vic thought he’d better buy his children a proper ping-pong table so decided to sell the table for a hundred dollars.  By a stroke of luck my parents turned up the afternoon before the ad was splashed all over the papers, saw the table and offered Vic $75.00.  And he took it.

Vic told them he had three extra leaves as the table was extendable with a crank that you poked into one end and extra leaves could be added or subtracted.  He said there was a fourth leaf but the chairman had kept that because he wanted to use it to make ‘an occasional table’ (whatever that is).

Well again, with Wellington being such a small city my father knew who the ex-chairman was.  He phoned him and asked if he would like to sell the leaf he had to make the setting complete.  The ex-chairman told dad he had changed his mind about the occasional table and he could have the leaf for free.

So a few weeks later after the table had been brought home and the extra leaf collected and the table French polished, mum prepared for her first dinner party.  They thought it would be nice to invite Vic and his wife amongst 12 others.  After the pre-dinner drinks had been poured the doors to the dining room were opened and the table was unveiled.

The room went silent.  The table that was set with ironed linen napkins, an antique dinner service and silver cutlery no longer looked like a ping-pong table.  Vic and his wife were stunned, felt nauseous, and realised that the gold in their original transaction was not in the blond chairs but in the table.  It didn’t help that all the guests asked, ‘Where did you get that table?’

The table’s ping-pong days are long gone.  Over the past 40 years it has been used for birthday parties, Christmas dinners, dinner parties, family get-togethers, occasions to celebrate important milestones and, the night before our weddings our wedding dresses were laid out on it.

The table being used to rest the bridal bouquets

Have you ever played ping-pong on antique walnut?

Mum was not the ‘order-in’ kind of an entertainer.  She would make everything herself from the canapes to the ‘something to have with coffee’.  Here is something she would serve with coffee at her ping-pong table.

Chocolate Slice

Chocolate Slice

Serves:  12

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Chocolate, nuts and glace fruits aren’t cheap but I’m taking this slice to a dinner party and compared with buying good quality chocolates, this is an affordable hostess gift.

  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 60g shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • 60g shelled brazil nuts, roughly chopped
  • 60g shelled pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 60g glace pineapple, roughly chopped (I couldn’t find any so used red glace cherries)
  • 60g glace apricots, roughly chopped (I couldn’t find any so used green glace cherries)
  • 185g condensed milk
  • 1 tbspn brandy

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Stir in remaining ingredients adding the brandy last.  Pour into a loaf tin lined with foil.  Allow to set in fridge.  Cut into thin slices.

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe found in Vogue Entertaining Wine and Food Cookbook.  However, I doubt the book is still available.

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  1. Great story. What a bargain…

  2. What a great story and a lovely table.

  3. I love your story Charlie. I’m not very good at making a good story as I tend to forget every details of stories. I enjoy a lot because I can imagine by following your story. It’s a lovely chocolate slice to go with a cup of coffee.

  4. Oh my goodness. What an amazing story! And what a fantastic deal for your family. The table is beautiful – ditto the slice 🙂

  5. love your story!

  6. Hi Charlie .. what a wonderful story .. and does the table look so well preserved – one man’s trash is another woman’s treasure, and becomes the envy of the town. Just love it .. thanks for showing us .. cheers Hilary

  7. I love that table ended up somewhere where it was cherished and was a major prop in so many wonderful memories for your family. I bet Vic and his wife had an interesting conversation on the way home from dinner that night 🙂

  8. it is fate that it ended up your family’s home to be cherished. Now be honest,did you and your siblings ever try to use it for ping pong when your parents were away?

  9. and yummy on the recipe:)

  10. Hello Charlie, this is my first time on your blog(I found it through RaeDi) and I am glad I found it 🙂
    I loved reading your story, so many people have treasures they don’t appreciate until they lose them. I love your “something to have with coffee” it looks like a treat for the chocolate lovers

  11. OMG, I can’t believe that was used for ping pong? That is a wonderful looking table and a tasty looking recipe.

  12. The chocolate slice looks rich and delicious. Would be perfect at the holidays.

  13. Wow great story about how your parents got the table 🙂 I can’t believe they played ping pong on this beautiful table! I’ve never really had the chance to place ping pong at home >_<

    Love this recipe 🙂 it's so simple and I totally agree it's cheaper than buying chocolates and its the thought that counts ~

  14. Great story, Charlie, and a great table to go with it. I love the idea of furniture like your family table, that is cherished and carries memories wherever it lands. It finally ended up where it should be.

    And love the great variety of “slices” that come from your part of the world. Thanks for sharing this recipe, which makes my mouth water.

  15. The treats look fantastic and the story is, as always, great!!

  16. One Mans trash is another Mans treasure! We had a beautiful solid wood table… Until the dog jumped up on top of it to bark at some birds. The dog skittered across the polished top leaving deep claw scratch marks all across the surface!
    Yummy and rich sounding slice indeed, definitely worthy of a dinner party!

  17. What a wonderful story! I love pieces that have a background to them. Not like some of the things you get today that everyone has the same one. Your mum sounds fantastic.

  18. This is amazing story. And seems so delicious this recipe. Thank you dear Charlie, with my love, nia

  19. Your chocolate slices look yummy, and this was a great story 🙂

  20. I have my mothers dining table too…it’s not antique but it is fashioned in the Duncan Fyfe style…my dear mother adored it. Just before she moved into the nursing home (due to a horrible illness) she had the table refinished and the 4 chairs dipped at a cost of $3000! And then she gave the table to me. I love hosing dinner parties on this table. Thanks for the fond memory again, Charlie. Those chocolate slices look too dangerous to have around my house.

  21. Magnolia Verandah says:

    This is such a great story and the the chocolate slice looks dangerous.

  22. What a find! I never come across things like that. Then again, I wouldn’t make pasta atop so fine a table like I do atop my marble table. As with Seinfeld, things have a way of evening out. These chocolate slices look real good and I’m not so sure I’d want to share them with guests. 🙂

  23. What a wonderful story. Amazing that the table was used for ping pong.

  24. That table was certainly a really good score. God knows how many deals were made at the table, then got relegated to a ping pong table.

  25. Great story Charlie…and nice slice too.

  26. Oh yes my sisters and I have played ping pong on any sort of table or bench we could fashion into a surface. Sometimes things can be right in front of us and we dont recognise them.. Love the slice

  27. What a magnificent piece of furniture! And now it boasts 40 years of joyous memories.. 🙂

  28. I LOVE your stories 🙂 I just sit in front of my computer and crack up. Love the chocolate recipe as well.

  29. My mum was the same, not the ‘order-in’ type of person. Although she never served on a ping-pong table’ 🙂

  30. Great story! We have many an antique in our family having quite a few older aunts and uncles who were right into collecting them. Some have survived nicely and now live happily in our home while others have been passed onto other fasmily members. None to my knowledge have facilitated ping pong but there is one aunt we are just not sure about…I’m pretty sure she either would have played ping pong on the long hall stand or the very least would have wanted to 🙂

    The choccie slice looks divine!

  31. Great story! We have many an antique in our family having quite a few older aunts and uncles who were right into collecting them. Some have survived nicely and now live happily in our home while others have been passed onto other family members. None to my knowledge have facilitated ping pong but there is one aunt we are just not sure about…I’m pretty sure she either would have played ping pong on the long hall stand or the very least would have wanted to 🙂

    The choccie slice looks divine!

  32. Oh phew! I thought that you were going to say that they tried to take back the table! I love French Polish furniture, we have some here 🙂

  33. What a beautiful story about your folks dining table and what a lovely recipe too.
    🙂 Mandy

  34. This treat is just so decadent and wonderful. I can’t believe I never heard of a chocolate slice before. And I LOVE chocolate lol.

  35. I have a very similar recipe to this and I love it. It can be thrown together very quickly, but looks and tastes quite special – especially if tarted up a little with some fancy liqueur.
    Lordy, I wish I could have seen the look on the faces of Vic & his wife.

  36. lol, can totally imagine the expressions on vic’s face when the table was unveiled! ur such a natural storyteller… love reading ur posts. ‘something to have wth coffee’ looks delecious!

  37. Nice share…
    Like your post….

  38. dram newcombe says:

    What a beautiful tale – if only the table could talk!! To think it crossed the Tasman Sea to get to Australia and still going strong.

  39. You are such a great storyteller Charlie, and with such a wealth of family memories to pull from! Those publishers are idiots, just sayin’. I can’t believe that anyone would have even thought to use that beautiful table for ping pong. So glad it came to rest where it would be appreciated. Your chocolate slices look so yummy…would love to have one with my coffee right now.

  40. That is a great story, and I don’t think I would have ever thought to use a real table for ping pong…even during the college years.

  41. I love stories like this!! And this recipe looks stupendous. I must try this.

  42. Lovely story. I love the chocolate slices, they remind me of something I used to make as a child but with powdered milk.

  43. Haha, awesome – I can say I never played ping-pong on a good quality table… what a bargain, and a fine looking table to boot!

    I love the look of your chocolate slices Charlie – great looking post-dinner snack to serve. They remind me of my chocolate slices from a couple weeks ago, although they’re completely different… only the name is the same!

  44. What a great & inspiring story, Charly! I never played ping-po,g on a chique table like that!

    Those condensed milk chocolate slices look like real winners, mmmmmm,…!!!

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