Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic
 

Peeping…Peeps

Written by Patti on March 26th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

Oh My Goshy! How much do I love Easter? What do I love best? The PEEPS of course! I mean – really! They are totes adorbs and so yummy.

I got a special Peeps cookbook in the mail called Peeps-a-licious! and I’m completely smitten. Apologies for not writing about this sooner, but this book has all the ways you can cook with our little marshmallow buddies. And if you score them after Sunday, 50% off! Voila!

 Look at how cute this cake is – any little one would adore this, so it’s not just for Easter! Okay, not just little ones, I would be totally melty if someone made this for me.

PeepsBunnyCake

 

 

And it’s not too late to make these adorable Peeps In A Nest!

EasterPeepNests (1)

 

I would use these at each place setting with a sweet pastel place card. What do you think?

These are not just Easter ideas – use them all through Spring!

How about Peep Creme Brulee? Buy the book and learn how to make this! You’ll make somebunny very happy, my little chickadee! See what I did there?

PeepsCremeBrulee

Hoppy Easter my darlings!

xoxo, Patti

 

Lemonlicious

Written by Patti on March 25th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

I’ve been so busy lately, but I’ve missed you! And now it’s almost Easter.

Bestie Melanie is cooking dinner and I am contributing deviled eggs and lemon meringue cupcakes. Don’t these cupcakes sound divine? Take a look at how pretty they are!

LemonCupcakes

Now, that isn’t my finished product, but it did come from the lovely people at Nielsen-Massey, who were so kind to send me their gorgeous vanilla AND lemon extract so I could recreate this masterpiece at home.

And, it would not be kind of me to keep the recipe all to myself. Here you go – make these and look like a superstar this Sunday!

Lemon Cupcakes with Marshmallow Meringue(Makes 2 Dozen)

For the Cupcakes:
2½ cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest (3-4 large lemons)
2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract
3 large eggs
½ cup low-fat buttermilk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350?F. Place paper liners into two standard cupcake tins; set aside. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.In a large mixing bowl, add butter, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla and lemon extracts. With a handheld mixer, beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients one-half at a time, alternating with buttermilk; beat after each addition and scrape sides of bowl as needed. Do not overmix batter.Fill each liner with about ¼ cup batter and bake until done, about 18 minutes. Carefully place cupcakes in 2 (9 x 13) pans and cover with plastic wrap; set aside to cool. Make sure the wrap does not touch the cupcake tops; this method of cooling will make deliciously moist cupcakes.

For the Marshmallow Meringue:
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ cup sugar
1 cup marshmallow creme
½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
¼ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract

Directions
In a large bowl, add egg whites and cream of tartar. With a handheld mixer, beat on medium-high speed until foamy. Increase mixer speed to high and gradually add sugar until soft peaks form.Add marshmallow creme, vanilla and lemon extracts, and beat until combined. Using the back of a spoon, mound and creatively swirl meringue onto each cooled cupcake.Place cupcakes on a rimmed sheet pan. Use a handheld kitchen torch or place under a broiler and toast until golden brown. If using the broiler method, watch to ensure meringue does not over brown.

xoxo, Patti

 

Time to Get Valentining

Written by Patti on February 11th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

Is Valentining a thing? It is now!

How will you celebrate? E and I like to stay home away from the crowds and cook a romantic meal together. Complete with cocktails, of course.

Flirtini – isn’t that a fun name? It just makes me want to kiss and hug my sweetie! Here’s the recipe:

Flirtini

FLIRTINI
Time to get your flirt on!
2 oz. Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka
Splash of cranberry juice
Chilled Champagne
Float with champagne chilled to the top of the glass.
My friends at Van Gogh Vodka are always on the cutting edge of yummy cocktails with their flavored vodkas. Love them!

 

Oooh, and who doesn’t love chocolate? A Chocolate Almond Kiss would do the trick!

Chocolate Almond Kiss – with extra kisses!

 

CHOCOLATE ALMOND KISS
2 oz. Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka
1 oz. Hazelnut Liqueur 
1/2 oz. Dark Crème de Cacao
Splash of Cream 
Shake vodka, hazelnut liqueur and dark crème de cacao into a cocktail shaker with ice. Top with a splash of cream and garnish with a sprig of mint.

 

For dinner, I’m thinking a nice spaghetti, like in Lady and The Tramp.

 

Little candlelight, some nice pasta. Amore!

What are your plans?

xoxo, Patti

 

SuperBowl Snack Bracket With Van Gogh Vodka

Written by Patti on February 9th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

How was your Super Sunday? We had a swell time with a few close friends at our annual Snack Bracket. Everyone brings a dish in one of the following categories:

1. Sweet
2. Savory
3. Dips
4. Vegetarian

Guests will judge the entries in each category and then one winner will reign over all! The winner takes home bragging rights and a trophy.

It’s always a blast. Here’s the table pre-party:

That

Are you ready for some snacking?

Are you ready for some snacking?

There’s the trophy in the center of the table. Every year I have to find something that might work as a trophy. Last year it was an egg cup with googly eyes glued on. This year we upped our game.

Drinks are an absolutely necessity for every party and this is THE party. The lovely folks at Van Gogh Vodka sent me a couple of bottles along with the cutest and yummiest recipes to match the teams playing. Take a look.

SuperbowlCocktails

THE BRONCO

1 1/2 oz. Van Gogh Oranje Vodka

3 oz. Orange Juice

1 oz. Club Soda

Pour vodka and juice into an ice-filled highball glass rimmed with blue sugar.  Stir and top with orange juice and garnish with an orange slice

 

THE PANTHER

1 oz. Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry Vodka

1/2 oz. Blue Curacao

5 oz. Lemonade

1/2 oz. Triple Sec

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled highball glass rimmed with silver sugar.  Garnish with floating blueberries.

Even though Peyton Manning took home the trophy, our guests loved the Panthers cocktail best.

At our party, it was the Panthers 4-1.

But who took home the Snack Bracket trophy?

This was early in the evening. Not everyone had entered yet.

Everyone had a blast sipping Van Gogh cocktails and watching the game.

Look at those happy faces!

But who won the Snack Bracket???

It was Vareck with his famous meringue pecan pie. It was SOOOO good!

Congrats Vareck!

May I recommend that you mix up these cocktails for your Valentine? They will love you for it!

xoxo, Patti

 

New Friend Wednesday – Joon Lim, Sommelier Extraordinaire!

Written by Patti on November 25th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings,

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? We are kicking it very low key at our house tomorrow. Just Eric and me. I can’t wait.

If you are going out to eat or are looking for the right wine, let me introduce you to my friend, Joon, the sommelier at Kevin Rathbun Steak. He is so passionate about wine and he will steer you in the right direction.

That's Joon to my left.  He is the wine guru!

That’s Joon to my left. He is the wine guru!

Q: Who was your biggest influence in deciding to become a sommelier?

 

A:  My biggest influence is a gentleman by the name of Bob Stepic, my then-GM and sommelier at a little bistro I worked at called Park Cafe in Duluth, GA.  I started as a server having just the very basic knowledge I had gained through a Dummies book on wine.  I didn’t know how to go about becoming a sommelier and didn’t know anyone, having just moved to Atlanta from Kentucky.  As time went, I expressed much interest in being a sommelier and knowing about the industry as a whole, service and beverage.  I’ve had bosses in the industry prior to working at Park Cafe, but Bob was a true mentor to me.  He was full of wisdom and just plain common sense.  He was one of those who could put two and two together like no one can.  Though not a certified sommelier himself, he planned a detailed path with a timeline as to when I would accomplish certain steps, that would lead to me becoming a professional sommelier with the certification that goes along with that.  There was an atmosphere of accountability and without it, I couldn’t have stayed on track.  Bob Stepic also introduced me to many industry professionals, namely people involved in education and distribution of wine.  That in turn gave me the opportunity to network with other sommeliers in the city and around the country.  My career, current place of employment, certifications, great people I’ve connected and have become friends with over the years, were all made possible either directly or indirectly, through Bob Stepic.  It all started with him eight years ago.

 

Q: What do you believe is most diners’ misconceptions about consulting a sommelier at a fine restaurant?

 

A:  Misconceptions of diners – I think more diners are comfortable now than ever before in approaching a sommelier for help in selecting wine.  There are some though that still approach us with much apprehension mainly because of a fear that they’ll be looked down upon for either saying the wrong thing or just coming across as less experienced.  One of my favorite movie scenes is from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Ferris and his two friends go in to the fancy french restaurant that his father frequents, called Chez Quis.  The stuck-up maitre’d gives a glare of disapproval the moment they walk in to the restaurant, given their youthful age and the way they’re dressed.  Ferris didn’t know any better to make a reservation so he claimed to be the sausage king of Chicago and the maitre’d just scoffs at him.  I think some diners still have that image of that maitre’d when they think of sommeliers.  The truth is, we’re there to help you.  We wouldn’t have jobs if it wasn’t for you asking for help.  Some lists can be quite lengthy, we don’t want you to be lost in a sea of pages, robbing you of your time to enjoy with other guests.  We curated the list and take pride in every bottle of wine that is offered, so as far as we’re concerned, you can’t make a bad decision!

 

Q: Why did you choose to become a sommelier?

 

A:  Why did I choose to become a sommelier?  I love wine as much as life itself.  I feel that I’m called to do it.  I feel that God smiles at me when I take time to hone in on my craft and cultivate the desire he placed in my heart.  In particular, I love how historical traditions are so closely intertwined with the style of wine that is produced.  Only when you gain a revelation of the history, the culture, and politics, can you truly understand why a wine from a certain country tastes like the way it does.   I’ve had many “ahh” moments when tasting wine simply because I understood the historical and legislative context in which the wine was made.  The topic of wine encompasses many disciplines and the amount of information is endless.  It always keeps me striving…  and humble.

 

Q: When should we start choosing our wines for the holidays? Are there any new varietals that we should be taking notice of?

 

A:   When you should choose wine for the holidays?  I’m not sure that a correct time exists.  The choices are abundant and more readily available than ever before.  For Champagne and sparkling wines in general, I like to shop for them some time before thanksgiving, for enjoyment on Christmas or New Year’s.  There’s an assurance of supply for your favorite producers, especially if what you’re looking for is a small grower producer.  As for varietals, I’m excited about California petite sirah and petit verdot.  These two are typically regelated as blending grapes for Bordeaux blends but more and more winemakers are realizing their potential as a stand alone variety.  They produce delicious wines with good color, floral aromatics, good tannin structure and rich berry fruit.  Another variety that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is Austrian Zweigelt, with its intense cherry fruit, freshness, and savory herbs.  Like Rodney Dangerfield, it just can’t get no respect!  The price to quality ratio is in favor of the consumer as well.  Try a bottle of Umathum and you’ll be hooked.

 

Q: Where would you most like to travel to learn more about your craft?

 

A:  Where would I like to travel to learn more of my craft?  South Africa.  Everyone I have spoken to attests to its beauty.  They too have a long history of wine production dating back hundreds of years, much of which remains a mystery to the rest of the world.  The future is bright for South Africa with much creativity, innovation, and value coming out of this country.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

xoxo, Patti
 

Dinner Party 101 – Setting The Table

Written by Patti on November 16th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

The holidays are sneaking up quickly and the dinner parties are afoot. Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Is it your first time? Let’s visit.

No reason to be scared. We are going to do this together. The first thing your guests will notice when they enter will be your table. Is it set correctly? Instead of guessing which side the fork goes on, here’s an easy to use chart.

Simple Table Setting

This keeps things simple. Why put the napkin on top of the plate instead of under the forks? This way your guests don’t have to jostle the setting to place the napkin in their laps.

If you are going to be a guest at someone’s home for Thanksgiving dinner and can’t remember which fork to use, always use the outside utensil first. If you get there and the table is not set like the diagram above, always take your cues from the hostess. Do what she does.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the menu.

xoxo, Patti

 

Meet Annette Joseph

Written by Patti on November 9th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

Who is Annette Joseph you ask? Why she’s only an expert on entertaining, cooking, and styling. She regularly appears on The Today Show and Martha Stewart Sirius Radio. Her recipes and party ideas have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Epicurious, DesignSponge, MSN, The Huffington Post, Southern Living, and Woman’s World among others.

Her first cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties published by Rizzoli NY, is an engaging how-to guide that provides blueprints for a year’s worth of get-togethers, covering every holiday and occasion.  Her focus is always on making use of items that are already at hand in the house, ingeniously transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary—a style of entertaining that doesn’t require spending a lot of money.

In other words, an Icon. I had the supreme pleasure of meeting Annette at the Ferrari Trento luncheon a few weeks ago and inquired to see if I could interview her so you could get to know her, too. She said yes! Here is the interview. Enjoy darlings! All photos courtesy of Sarah Dorio.

Meet Annette Joseph. She is going to make you a party maven, too!

Meet Annette Joseph. She is going to make you a party maven, too!

Who inspired you as you were starting your career?

 

There are so many people that inspired me coming up. I think that one of the first people was my boss at my very first job. He taught me about looking at everything and seeing how cohesive a composition was.

 

Then later I met my very first Art Director, and she was a huge help and influence in making my eyes see like a camera. 

 

I was very inspired by stylists I assisted while learning my craft, each and everyone of them contributed in a different way to what my style has become to date.

 

Photographers always inspire me and help me see things in different ways. Even clients have inspired me. In the world of styling the goal is to give the clients what they envision while staying true to your own style.

 

This is a lesson that I feel is most valuable when starting a career in styling. It will keep you working and it will make more work come your way.
What can you share with other working women on making it all work and not feeling guilty about taking time for themselves?

 

I think taking time to recharge your creative battery is the most important aspect of the keeping it fresh. This idea of working and not taking anytime off is one that will kill your career.

 

If you have a family, children you should make time for them and make time for yourself. I take the summers off ( most summers are my slowest time) and live in Italy. The inspiration is astounding and makes me a better stylist.

 

What are the newest trends in party giving, both in food and decor?

 

Not sure there is a trend, good parties are good parties. I tend to do parties that are very me.

I think a new trend of outdoor parties with hanging globe lights and long tables is on point, but all the parties  tend to look alike and it’s most important to do you, you’re unique and your parties should reflect that.

 

The most important thing in my mind is to just entertain in your home.

 

Find your style and do you. I am not a trend person I am a style person.
You can give fab parties, too! Exactly like Annette.

You can give fab parties, too! Exactly like Annette.


Where do you feel your most comfortable?

Definitely in the Kitchen, I am lucky to have one here in the States and one in Italy. I enjoy them both equally.

Cooking to me is relaxing, creative and my happy place.

How would you like to see your future unfold? Any future plans you can share?

About 2 years ago I started my Style + Photo Workshops http://annettejosephstyle.com/annette-joseph-workshops/

The next one is in February in Marrakech, and then in June in Italy, in my hometown. There is great satisfaction in teaching people how to make the best images they can, plus pass on the 20 plus years of experience I have in the business.

 

In big future news : We are in the process of buying a farmhouse in Tuscany that will be the location for my Style + Photo Workshops it should be finished in about 1 year. In the meantime I am still styling for clients, styling cookbooks and working on my second book, which will be about my food experiences in Italy. The school is probably my future, I hope to bring all the amazing creatives I know to the school to teach, we will have cooking, art, writing , styling and photography, yoga lessons. I am really excited about this. All my years styling are now turning into the best possible scenario, passing on knowledge, inspiring creative thinking and working with people I love.

 

Thanks, Annette! Picture Perfect Parties would make the perfect holiday gift for everyone on your list. I’ll be buying one for myself, too! Treat yourself!

 

xoxo, Patti
 

Company In An Hour? Don’t Panic!

Written by Patti on November 5th, 2015

Hello Darlings!

It’s November. The season of parties is upon us.

Bestie Melanie and I were discussing getting ready for company as I was getting the house ready for Bestie Holly’s visit for the weekend. And seriously, after giving Karen the border collie a bath in one bathroom and the other looking like a crime scene, I was in a bit of a tailspin. Let’s not sugar coat this stuff. You’ve been there, right? (please agree so I don’t feel like an epic fail!)

The kitchen wasn’t dirty, well, because we’ve been eating Lean Cuisines and going out. I’ll be cooking plenty this month. Don’t judge.

Okay. How do you get the house company-ready when you have an hour or less? Let’s get to it.

I present to you, The Holy Trinity of Cleaning:

Help is on the way.

Help is on the way.

But, Patti, I only have bleach in the house! Then you are good to go. Pour it in the toilet bowls and the sinks. Let it sit 15 minutes. Wipe the sink with a rag or sponge and the toilet bowl with a brush. You are ready! Trust me. Seeing a pink ring at the bottom of a toilet bowl makes me a little judgey. Just a bit. Ick.

Have 30 minutes? Febreze will make your house smell less like the Bulls of Pamplona have just made their yearly run and Clorox Wipes – good gracious – what did we ever do before those things? Wipe down sticky counters and nose prints from the dogs. Bestie Melanie swears by Oxyclean. Mix a scoop in a sinkful of warm water and slather it all over everything. Countertops, stove, the floor.

Oh, and be safe and wear rubber gloves if you have them.

Okay – you have a bit more time than 30 minutes? Swiffer wet mop the house. It smells so good! And it dries pretty quickly, too. I could use the Swiffer duster, but to save time I usually just put the wet mop out and drag the mop toward me – anything on the floor will move toward you and when you take the pad off, just grab up the residual dust.  Don’t cook – order out. Light candles. Lots of candles and turn the lights out or use those dimmers (I would DIE without dimmers!) Put out your largest wine glasses and make everyone drink a big drink as soon as they arrive (they’re all taking Uber, right? Of course they are!) Now everyone is feeling dreaming and tipsy. Great job!

Get out there and start entertaining! I love and support you!

xoxo, Patti

ps – Holly doesn’t care if my house smells like wet dog. That’s what besties are for. But I still want to make her feel pampered. :)

pps – I wasn’t compensated by any cleaning product for this post. This is just what I use. If they want to send me free stuff – I would love that!

ppps – While writing this I had to get up twice to chase Karen and her dog-self off the couch. That I just sprayed with Febreze. For the second time. #ItsGettingReal

 

Halloween Shenanigans!

Written by Patti on November 3rd, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

How was your weekend? Did you go to all the parties? Eat all the candy? Me, too!

My sweet friend and neighbor, Stephanie threw a fab party so we could all stay in the neighborhood and out of traffic. It was the most fun. I dressed up as Stephen King’s Carrie. The stores were all completely out of fake blood, so I used beet juice. Mercifully, it washed off easily.

Pics!

Caroline, Me, Stephanie

Caroline, Me, Stephanie

Eric is just a blur....

Eric is just a blur….

Melissa and Caroline. Melissa won the costume contest.

Melissa and Caroline. Melissa won the costume contest.

Stuart, Jay and Evan.

Stuart, Jay and Evan.

It was a perfect party! We danced and danced. Thank you, Stephanie!

Okay, everyone – it’s November. Time to start thinking about Thanksgiving!

xoxo, Patti

 

Savoring Sandy Springs

Written by Patti on October 30th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

I hope you are having the best week. I am! Lots to tell you soon, but in the meantime I will hint at what’s to come by sharing this fab event: Sandy Springs Restaurant Week 2015.

Savor Sandy Springs Restaurant Week

Running Monday, Nov. 2Sunday, Nov. 8, neighborhood restaurants will come together with exclusive menus and special pricing. With cuisines ranging from Mediterranean to Southern and everything in between, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

 

Fourteen restaurants are participating restaurants in Savor Sandy Springs Restaurant Week 2015 including Food 101, Cibo e Beve, The Brickery, Seven Hens, Hammock’s Trading Company and more. For a full list of restaurants and menus, visit http://www.visitsandysprings.org/restaurantweek/

How about joining me for some Fried Green Tomatoes at Food 101? Don’t they look yummy?

Food 101 Green Tomatoes

See you there!

xoxo, Patti