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

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Grill Out and Rise Up Sunday

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Good Morning Darlings,

It’s almost time for Super Bowl and our Atlanta Falcons are set for a big win.

Our great friends Jay and Valerie are hosting the party this year. I’m pretty happy to be a guest.

Of course, you can’t be a good guest without bringing something yummy to share. My dill chicken salad is always a hit and I love how it tastes when I grill the meat first. That will require cleaning the grill. And it’s been a while. My new friends at Napoleon Grills sent me some tips for a gleaming grill worthy of my chicken.

  • Clean the cooking grids and searing plates. Soak the cooking grills in warm water and soap before giving them a good cleaning to get rid of the grease and food crust that has been burnt on. Season them for the coming season and get ready from incredible grilled flavors all summer long. While your searing grids are soaking, remove the heat shields (give them a good scrape as well) so you can run your barbecue brush over the burners. This is also a good time to check your igniter and rear burner to make sure all is in working order.
  • Clean the grease cup. The more you use your grill, the more you will have to clean or replace your grease cup. Before firing up your grill, take out the old and put in the new.
  • Scrape off the grease tray. All the grease and food remnants from past meals collect and char on the grease tray. No need to get out the soap and water for this one, but give it a good scrape with a spatula or putty knife to clean off all the bits.
  • Check for leaks. Inspect your hose and fittings to ensure everything is in order and that there are no leaks. Do a soap test to be safe: in a spray bottle or small bowl, mix one part water to one part dish soap. Apply the mixture (spritz it or apply with a small brush) to all fittings. Make sure your lid is open and all the control knobs are turned off. Turn on your gas – any growing bubbles are a sign of a leak that needs to be addressed.

There you go – all ready to grill!

Now, what are you cooking?

xoxo, Patti

Happy New Year!

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Good Morning Darlings!

Happy 2017 to you all. Hope your celebrations were fabulous and safe.

We threw a tiny party for 8. The menu:

Cheese & Salami Platter with Sea Salt Crackers & Holman & Finch Semolina Bread

Caviar Service with fresh buckwheat blini, sour cream and chives

Veggie lasagna

Salad filled with olives, artichokes, bermuda onions topped with a lemon basil dressing
Garlic Bread
Assorted Cupcakes
More than our share of Segura Viudas Cava

Table Decor provided by my friends at TLC Rents. I chose a purple and gold theme. Purple tablecloth with a gold sequined overlay. Purple napkins. Tons of votives. And for extra interest, small plastic dinosaurs were placed all around the table. Always opt for whimsy when you can. Look around the house – you will surprise yourself.

Since our party was so tiny, I decided not to post any photos of the guests. But – you can see the table below.

It’s like you are right there next to me!

Tell me about your night!

xoxo, Patti

Ready, Set Bubbles!

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

NYE 2017 is just days away – how will you celebrate?

We will celebrate in a very different way this year. A tiny little fete’ for 8.

If you have been following me for any time at all, you know my absolute go-to for bubbles is Segura Viudas Brut Cava. Honestly, it’s as tasty as wines that are 3 times the price and its $8 price tag allows me to buy in bulk (truly, I have 3 cases at the house – you never know who will stop by!) My friends can always count on me to provide them with a glass of bubbles. Life is a celebration, drink it in. Does that sound cheesy? It’s okay to be cheesy!

When the lovely folks at Segura Viudas got in touch about their new Reserva Heredad (SRP $25), I jumped at the chance to try it. Look how fancy the bottle is!

THE Drink for NYE 2017

With only a few faves gathering, a few bottles are affordable and why not spoil your besties? We will be feasting on roasted veggie lasagna bathed in bechamel sauce, yummy garlic bread, crisp salad, caviar and a surprise dessert.

The pop of Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad will be our soundtrack as the clock strikes midnight.

It should be your go-to, too! Happy New Year!!

xoxo, Patti

ps – Check out the fabulous music video on their site. It will get you all revved up to party! 🙂

Gifting Wine

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings,

Halloween is now behind us and Thanksgiving is a few weeks away. For me this means lots of dinner parties and when you are invited, I know you always want to arrive with a gift. You cannot go wrong with wine (unless, of course, your hosts are recovering alcoholics, allergic to grapes or are staunch beer drinkers who never drink wine – know your audience, darlings.)

EOD Cellars Wine is a charity wine that is made possible through a partnership with Tackitt Family Vineyards and the EOD Warrior Foundation. Profits from the wine sales go directly to the EOD Warrior Foundation, which are used to help current and past EOD warriors and their families. EOD stands for Explosive Ordnance Disposal, the disarming and disposal of bombs. EOD technicians are highly-trained military members serving in the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force who are responsible for disarming, rendering safe and disposing bombs. The EOD profession is one of the most dangerous occupations in the military.

 

EOD Wines

EOD Wines

Over Black Friday weekend, Tackitt Family Vineyards will be offering free shipping on all of their fantastic and award winning wines, including those with the EOD Cellars label, making it even easier to give the gift of wine this holiday season. Enter ‘EOD’ for the promo code in the coupon block to get free shipping.

For those giving wine gifts this year, it’s a good idea to keep a few etiquette tips in mind, including:

  • If you are not familiar with specific taste preferences of those you are giving the wine to, it’s always best to stick with classic varieties. Giving someone a simple white or red wine is usually a safe bet.
  • Don’t expect the host to serve it that night or right when you give it to them. They may have other plans in mind, and it is your gift to them. They can stash it away and serve it when, and to whom, they wish.
  • It’s a good idea to stick a note on the bottle, letting them know you put some thought into the selection. If you are choosing an EOD Cellars Wine, for example, it’s a nice touch to write on there that you thought they would appreciate the selection and the mission.
  • You may want to give something with the wine, with good options being to consider pairing it with a good chocolate, cheese, Spanish olives, dried fruits, or almonds. Another nice option is to pair it with a special hand painted wine glass or small wine pairing book for their collection.
  • Wrapping it in a wine bag is optional, but if you choose not to use one, then it’s a nice touch to add the hand-written note and a ribbon or bow.

I love the idea of wine gifting with a purpose. Later this week, I’ll be discussing some of my favorite local Georgia wines.

Tis the season!

xoxo, Patti

Hocus Pocus – Yumtastic!

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

I love Halloween. Not only is the dressing up fun, but CANDY! And not only candy, but all kinds of adorable treats.

This past weekend we went to a Halloween Baby Shower for our friends Laura and Evan. That was a first. Tons of fun. Our fabulous friends, Paige and Alex dressed their 3 yr. old son, Lucien up as Michael Meyers. Which I thought was hilarious.

Here’s our photo together.

How awesome (and scary) is this little killer? I

How awesome (and scary) is this little killer? 

Are you looking for a new, easy, adorable recipe to feed your party guests? How about this Hocus Pocus inspired smores pop? The folks at Delish have got it going on.

I need these. Well, I don’t actually NEED them, but I sure would love to have one. 🙂

Love these!

Love these!

Let me know if you make them and how they turn out!

BOO!

xoxo, Patti

 

Frito Fail!

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Good Morning Darlings,

Happy Friday!

It’s always a hoot when things in the kitchen don’t go as planned. Eric and I got a wild hair last weekend to try and whip up homemade fritos to go with chili. The New York Times had what looked like a super easy recipe with basically three ingredients.

And ours looked pretty close to the ones pictured in the Times.

Here’s their photo:

New York Times Fritos (on the right)

New York Times Fritos (on the right)

And here’s ours:

I seriously have to use a better camera, y'all.

I seriously have to use a better camera, y’all.

Perhaps I should have laid mine out on pretty polka dot wrapping paper?

Anyhoo, Frito Lay doesn’t have to worry about going out of business. We immediately went out and bought three bags of real fritos. We had friends coming over! We couldn’t feed them these homemade things.

But we did – just so they could see what the homemade version tastes like. And you know what? They ate them, because they are awesome people. Polite to the max.  It was the first attempt. We can get better.

Popping out to the store is so much easier and tastier, though.

What are you cooking this weekend?

xoxo, Patti

Martha and Snoop – Together Again

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

I love a good dinner party. I mean, duh! So I cannot wait til this fall for Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg’s new dinner party show.

You can read all about it on Vanity Fair.com

I wonder if anyone would watch it I taped our dinner parties? Tell me below in the comment section (which is finally fixed).

I will be glued to my seat waiting for this show. With a gin and juice, natch.

xoxo, Patti

Lemonlicious

Friday, 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

SuperBowl Snack Bracket With Van Gogh Vodka

Tuesday, 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!

Wednesday, 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