Slate is most often found in pale-to-dark grey shades, but in also exists naturally in pastel and brighter colors from copper and cyan to green, red and purple.
Natural slate resists fading, abrasion and chemicals and is highly durable (but it’s highly porous, so floors and roofs require regular sealing).
In recent years, slate has been made into cheese boards. Its subtle, natural beauty is a complement to food.
J.K. Adams makes a slate cheese board, 16 x 12 inches, from Vermont-quarried slate.
An 11-3/4 by 6-1/4-inch rectangular plate from Revol (also available in 9.8 x 4.8-inches and other sizes) is made from culinary porcelain that emulates slate. It is designed to be scratch-free and chip resistant; it’s nonporous so it won’t absorb fats or bacteria. It isn’t as handsome as real slate, but it’s easier maintenance.
While these plates are not inexpensive (around $30 each), you can pick up one at a time and ask for them as birthday and holiday gifts. Use the first one as a cheese board; the second one becomes “dinner for two,” and so on.
You can also try to buy slate floor tiles as a more affordable solution. Flooring suppliers want to sell the whole floor and don’t embrace the sale of individual tiles. But if you have connections, or can get the store manager to order a dozen or two tiles (you can give the extras as gifts), you may be able to buy them for as little as $3 apiece.
We went to a store that sells kitchen and bath tiles to contractors, in boxes of four for $20. While they didn’t have slate, we picked up a dozen beautiful granite tile squares in dark grey; then put felt stickers on the bottom to avoid scratching the table. We have our eyes on handsome dark red granite tiles as well.
As with kitchen counters made from granite or marble walls and floors in a bathroom, they’re very easy to wash by hand.
They’re heavier than conventional dinner plates, but gorgeous.