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

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Chef Ford Fry Has A Secret

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

I had the supreme pleasure of spending an evening at Guy Gunter Home last Thursday night. The event was sponsored by BlueStar who produce and sell some seriously drool worthy commercial gas ranges for the home. They are so fab that famous chefs like Bobby Flay and Michael Symon cook with BlueStar in their homes.

Sweet friend, Kerry Howard and me ogling the pot filler at Guy Gunter.

Sweet friend, Kerry Howard and me ogling the pot filler at Guy Gunter.

But on Thursday night it was all about famed Atlanta Chef Ford Fry, who is also a devotee of cooking with BlueStar. He has six restaurants— JCT Kitchen, No. 246, The Optimist, King + DukeSt. Cecilia and Marcel and is rocking the foodie scene in our sweet city.

This was the first time I had met Chef Fry and I have to say, I was tickled when he started talking and he had the most adorable southern accent. For some reason, I thought he would sound all high-falutin’ (no idea why…). Chef Fry was totally down to earth and GASP…gave us his technique for getting an amazing steak house steak at home.

Chef Ford Fry!

Chef Ford Fry!

And because I love you, I’m going to spill the beans and share the recipe!


Start with a great steak. I like a ribeye. The nice lady standing next to me at the party swears by the strip steaks at Costco.

SECRET MYTHBUSTER: Meat doesn’t need to come to room temperature. If it’s cold, the steak will stay juicier as it cooks and you will be able to get a great crust.

Douse it with LOTS OF SALT.

Get your pan hot. Chef Fry said it only needs to be on medium high, but the pan he used was already getting pretty hot on another burner before he put the meat in. You can turn the burner on medium high after you’ve gotten the pan crazy hot on another burner. Of course, this is best done on a BlueStar!

Add your olive oil and then the meat. (The cooks on tv always say, “use a really good olive oil” – but truly, who’s going to buy a $25 ribeye and then cook it in some crummy oil? No one, that’s who.) Rant over. 

Add to your pan:

Rosemary & Fresh thyme

When you finish the first side, turn the steak and add a stick of butter. Yes, you heard me correctly. A STICK. And two garlic cloves.

Take a big spoon and tilt your pan so you can bathe your steak in butter. Over and over again. The whole process should take less than 8 minutes. But hang on to that buttery hot pan with the garlic in it. We’re making awesome pan potatoes. 

Take fingerling potatoes that have been boiled in lots of salty water. Dry thoroughly.  Smash them with your hand so they lay flat.

Cook smashed fingerlings in the same pan, letting them sit and get crunchy on each side before taking them out. 

Chef Fry sharing his secrets.

Chef Fry sharing his secrets.

Gobble the whole thing down like hungry badgers. Wash down with some Ferrari Trento wine (remember that post from the other day?)

Sit back and say, “It’s good to be the king.” Or Queen. We don’t discriminate around here.

And do it all on a BlueStar commercial gas range. OMGoshie, those things are the Lamborghinis of the cooking world. I am saving all my pennies for one. Oh, and they come in over 750+ different colors. Eeek! I love them so much!

xoxo, Patti

Georgia At The James Beard House

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

A handful of Atlanta’s most-loved chefs are teaming up with Georgia Grown to make the upcoming Georgia Grown Dinner at the James Beard House this Thursday, October 15th a reality, where the state will be recognized for excellence in agriculture and cuisine. Most of us aren’t aware agriculture is the single biggest economic contributor to Georgia’s economy, contributing over 71 Billion annually.
Event sponsors include Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines and the Georgia Restaurant Association, among others. Chefs Holly Chute of Georgia Grown, Jay Swift of 4th and Swift and Noble Fin, Kyle Jacovino of The Florence, Savannah Haseler of Twain’s Brewpub, Chry?sta Poulos of Rocket Farms Restaurants and Mixologist Julian Goglia of The Pinewood make up the talented culinary team heading to the Beard House.
Left to right. Julian Goglia, Commissioner Gary W. Black, Holly Chute, Kyle Jacovino, Jay Swift, Savannah Haseler, sous to Chrysta Poulos

Left to right. Julian Goglia, Commissioner Gary W. Black, Holly Chute, Kyle Jacovino, Jay Swift, Savannah Haseler, sous to Chrysta Poulos

If you are in the NYC area on Thursday, see if you an get a seat to root for our Georgia All Stars!

xoxo, Patti

A Sparkling Trip to Italy Via Canoe

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

Last week was a whirlwind of parties. I am back in the swing of things and diving in head first.

The lovely folks from Ferrari Trento invited me to join them for an exclusive lunch at Canoe, one of Atlanta’s most romantic restaurants. I tend to forget how close Canoe is, and yet it seems a world away from the city. There were less than 20 of us there for a glamorous preview of the Lunelli family’s stunning sparkling wines, paired with scrumptious cuisine prepared by Chef Matthew. The event was a lavish indulgence in the middle of the day.

Gracing the banks of the Chattahoochee River

Our group was seated in the private dining room and we all introduced ourselves. So many new friends!


I didn’t want to miss a moment hearing about these exceptional wines, so I chose a seat directly from our guest of honor, Marcello Lunelli, the distinguished winemaker.

Marcello Lunelli

Marcello Lunelli

Did you know that the rest of the world is drinking sparkling wine from regular wine glasses? We are the only ones drinking from flutes. Marcello wants to spread the word that sparkling wine is for everyday, not only special occasions. I concur. He made a great point by saying if he is out with his wife and another couple and they all prefer a different variety of wine, they can all agree on bubbles. I have seen this over and over again at our parties. No one declines a glass of bubbly!

Canoe’s dishes were a perfect accompaniment to the six (!!) glasses we sampled. Here’s a look at the menu and the wines we enjoyed.

Oysters on the Half Shell

Ferrari Rose’ NV Trento DOC Metodo Classico


House Smoked Salmon on a Crispy Potato Cake, Vermont Goat Cheese

Ferrari “Riserva Lunelli” 2006 Trento DOC Metodo Classico


American Prosciutto Salad, Compressed Melon, Parmesan

Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore “Giulio” 2002, Trento DOC

Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore “Giulio” 2001, Trento DOC


The “Guilio” 2001 was a standout for me. It has a remarkable nose with hugely expressive aromas of dried orchard fruits, cake batter and acacia honey. Cake! It was my favorite. And I think it might be your favorite, too, when you try it.

Next course!

Crisped Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Thai Salad, Yuzu

Ferrari Riversa del Fondatore “Giulio” RD 1999, Trento DOC

Ferrari Riversa del Fondatore “Giulio” 1993, Trento DOC


This was my favorite dish paired with my other favorite wine. The 1993 vintage is one of the more costly wines, but wow, for a special occasion, what a perfect splurge. I found it online retailing from $168 up to $358 per bottle. It was so exciting to be able to sample this exquisite treat. If you are a lover of fine wines, I know you would be thrilled to add this to your collection. Or, send to me as a gift! 🙂 Trust me, you will be in grand company. Queen Elizabeth, Margaret Thatcher, Andy Warhol, Alec Baldwin, Brooke Shields and the Scissor Sisters have all enjoyed Ferrari scrumptious wines. Their wines were even served at a G8 dinner.

If you are traveling to Italy, you must make Trentino a stop and visit the charming Lunelli family. The vineyard even has a Michelin Star Restaurant, Locanda Margon, nestled amid the vines. I can’t wait to go. Shall we plan a trip together?

The company I enjoyed at this luncheon was marvelous. Joon Lim, who is a server and sommelier at Kevin Rathbun Steaks and I had a wonderful discussion about how most restaurant patrons are reluctant to ask for help when ordering wine. He is so fabulous that I have asked him to talk to me in depth about today’s sommeliers and why you should always ask for help. Look for the interview next week or so.


Many thanks to Ferrari Trento, Canoe and Palm Bay International. This was a special afternoon with special food, people and of course, the Ferrari Trento sparkling wines that will be gracing my dinner parties in the future.

xoxo, Patti

A Touch Of Coffee

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

I am so grateful for my life. It’s a life filled with love and laughter. And sometimes gifts in the mail.

I LOVE gifts in the mail. This week, I received a fabulous coffee maker (!!!!) from Touch Coffee & Beverages. This machine is a total Betty – gorgeous! And I couldn’t wait to take her for a spin. The package arrived in the early evening, but that did not deter Eric and me from drinking ALL the coffees. We can sleep when we’re dead.

A little background on our new family member (coffee makers are integral to a household, yes?) She came stocked with 3 types of coffees inspired by L.A. iconic landmarks. Now that I don’t live in Santa Monica any more, I can truly appreciate her beauty. The L.A. Coffee capsules are engineered to allow 30% more coffee – WAKE UP Y’ALL! This could replace the ubiquitous Coffee Bean & Leaf stops we used to crave when we lived in the City of Angels (Starbucks is so passe’).

Shall we take a look at our new kitchen art? So pretty!



Close up!

Close up!

We already own a Keurig and the Touch claims to brew faster, so it was fun to put them to the test.

How did they do? Well, the Keurig does take longer to get ready to brew and the Touch is instantly ready – you just hit the button, choose the size coffee you want and it is done! But, if you wait for the Keurig to be ready and then brew them side by side, the Keurig is faster. Basically, the Touch beats the Keurig hands down for speed. And who doesn’t need their coffee in an instant in the morning? And I love the L.A. Coffee pods. My favorite is the Beverly Hills. It’s a nice medium roast with a hint of sweetness to it.

And I really love the design. It outshines our Keurig in good looks. And it fits with all our other appliances – how did the nice folks at Touch know?

Some facts about the Touch:

  • The brewer is ready to start brewing in under 20 seconds after being off all night.
  • The hot water has more contact with the coffee grounds, which ensures that all of the coffee flavor is extracted. Other machines take much longer to warm up and then shoot water through the coffee grounds too quickly, so you end up throwing away untapped flavor with the used capsule. Even with a slower, more deliberate brew, when factoring in the warm-up time, the Touch still turns out a cup of joe in a fraction of the time.
  • You can now brew larger cups of coffee without sacrificing flavor. Customize your coffee experience by choosing from five cup sizes (6, 8, 10, 12 or 14 ounces) and three brew strengths (mild, medium or bold).
  • Its removable 90-ounce water tank has a greater capacity and is shorter in height than its counterparts, meaning you will be refilling less often, and it will be less awkward when you do.
  • Touch’s single serve cups are larger than traditional K-Cups, allowing more coffee grounds. More coffee means bigger, bolder flavor

Verdict: I am in love with my new Touch coffee maker. Do you need one? Of course you do! Go out and buy one right now and we can be twinsies!!

xoxo, Patti


Brunch Time

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings,

Brunch is my favorite meal. And since it really only makes sense two days out of the week, you can really make it special.

At our house, brunch can turn into a 7 hour affair that can become quite raucous. But we like that kind of thing.

What to serve? Champagne is a must. Cava and prosecco are perfectly budget conscious replacements. Just think bubbly. Then you can add orange juice for a mimosa, peach puree for a bellini and anything else that strikes your fancy. A bloody mary bar is always appreciated, too. Fill bowls with olives, onions, stalks of celery and let your guests build their own. Add worcestershire sauce as well as salt and pepper or hot sauce to top off the fun.

This is the time to break out your best everything – china, wine glasses, flatware, napkins. You can arrange some pretty flowers around the table, making sure not to create an arrangement that is so high your guests can’t see each other from across the table. Hydrangeas set in a pretty bowl would be nice this time of year.

Lovely hydrangeas

Next – what will you serve? I like to try and keep it simple, with a make ahead menu that will allow me to spend more time chatting with my guests instead of feeling like a slave in the kitchen. A few weeks ago, this is what we served for a group of 6:


Starbucks Coffee Cake (it’s so easy and delicious!)

Chipotle Candied Bacon

Hashbrown Casserole

Fresh Strawberries


Notes on the menu:

Coffee Cake: Next time I make this (and I WILL make it again – it is so good) I will line the pan with aluminum foil so it overlaps the edges and I can lift the entire cake out. Not lining the pan caused the cake to stick to the bottom because it was so moist. I know, first world problems. I also made this the day before the party.

Chipotle Candied Bacon: I prepped two pans of the bacon, set on cookie racks sprayed with Pan and then wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge the night before. The next morning, I took them out so they could come to room temperature and popped them in the oven with the casserole.

Hashbrown Casserole: Not sure what went wrong, but I’m thinking I didn’t cook it nearly enough as the potatoes weren’t particularly crunchy, which I would have liked. My guests were super polite and ate it anyway. Lol.

Brunch is such a fun and economical way to get friends together. If everyone brings a bottle of bubbly, your cost goes way down, while the fun stays waaaaay up. If you don’t bake, pick up a coffee cake or bagels from the store.

It’s all about having fun. Don’t stress out. 🙂

xoxo, Patti


Magical La Hacienda

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Good Morning Darlings!

Eric and I have been so busy this summer that there’s been no time for a getaway.

We remedied that this past weekend at La Hacienda.

Our sweet friends, Ed and Tera Hattaway, are the owners of this Shangri-La.

Define Shangri-La:  Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise, and particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia — a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world. In the novel Lost Horizon, the people who live at Shangri-La are almost immortal, living years beyond the normal lifespan and only very slowly aging in appearance.

My view from inside the pool!

My view from inside the pool!

Because you are my darlings, I am willing to share La Hacienda with you. Brand new, magical, marvelous. Step in and allow time to slow down. We spent over 6 hours between the pool and hot tub and at the end of the evening, we fell into the deepest sleep in the most comfortable bed. When the sun rose, Ed and Tera were in the kitchen whipping up a delicious mexican brunch of machaca. What’s machaca? It is a yummy beef dish, topped with a sunny side up egg. Refried beans, fresh fruit and piping hot coffee completed the meal.

This could be your breakfast!

This could be your breakfast!

I almost hate telling you about this slice of heaven. Less for me…but more for you!

xoxo, Patti

Delicious Summer Evenings

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Good Morning Darlings!

The nights are getting cooler….NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I’m not ready for summer to end. I never even made it to the beach!

But, I did hit some swell parties and fun places.

Here are just a few.

1. Piedmont Park Arts Festival VIP Party – business partner Carrie and I schmoozed our way into this one. And it was a doozy. Marvelous food by Chef Shane at Ocean Catering Company and a virtual who’s who in Atlanta. And us. We had a ball.


Hanging with Chef Shane!

Hanging with Chef Shane!


2. Sister Hazel at the Buckhead Theatre. Ooh, this was another VIP that Eric and I got in to.  I hadn’t been to the Buckhead Theatre since it had been the Roxy Theatre. This was a blast. We were invited by our friends Cyndi and Sally, who are the superstar concierges at Pinewood Studios.



3. Dragon Con. I wait for this every year and it never fails to thrill. The costumes this year beat out anything I had ever seen. I was beyond excited to meet Groot. How cool is this?


How was your summer?


xoxo, Patti

July Fun

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Good Morning Darlings!

How has the summer been treating you? I can’t believe it’s already mid-July – how can that be?

I thought we could catch up by sharing our summer fun photos so far.  I would love it if you shared yours with me, too!

Oooh! Woody Harrelson was spotted on one of Atlanta Movie Tours outings! How fun is that?

Atlanta Movie Tours has been taking up my time and I apologize for not making time for us to get together. But…Woody Harrelson!!

It was so great having our dear friends Rick and Denise visit us for July 4th. It was one wild weekend!

My sweet Eric put together a paella for 40 on the 4th. It was deeeeeeeelicious.

We discovered, Bartaco – which feels like being at the beach in the middle of Atlanta. Check it out.

My new favorite place – Bartaco Atlanta

Jane had a very special birthday and we were so excited to celebrate with her at the Greystone Building at Piedmont Park. Under the stars, at a very posh, catered affair. It was swoony and a perfect way to fete one of the loveliest people on earth.


Those are the highlights of July so far – how has your summer been?  I would love to hear what you’ve been up to!

xoxo, Patti

A Jaunt to New Orleans

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Good Morning Darlings!

Every once in a while girls need a couple of days away. What better place for fun, food and cocktails than New Orleans?

My dear friend and business partner, Carrie, and I set out for a two day trip to catch the movie tour with our friend, Jonathan at New Orleans Movie Tours. Since we are both big American Horror Story: Coven fans, we were so tickled to visit Miss Robicheaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies.

All that sightseeing made us hungry – and thirsty! We headed over to The Irish House, owned by my buddy Chef Matt Murphy, formerly of the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans. The Irish House is warm and inviting, just like Matt and his lovely wife, Alicia. We were greeted by friend Kris, whose company does the PR for The Irish House. Kris ordered Carrie and me a couple of Iced Irish Coffees and they were so yummy!

Inside we were treated to a bunch of delicious small plates. Scotch eggs, shepherd’s pie, wings and a super cocktail named Strawberry Fields. On the weekends you can catch live Irish bands. When you are in NOLA, you must swing by and have a pint and a plate.

While we were catching up with Matt and Alicia, Matt told me a very special story. One of their young daughters had been suffering with rheumatoid arthritis. Every morning Matt and Alicia would massage her legs before school so she would be able to walk comfortably. Alicia started doing intensive research to find a better way to help her little one. She discovered that a gluten-free, paleo diet would cure her and within two days of changing her diet, their sweet daughter was running and playing like never before. Alicia was so inspired, that she opened FARE. FARE is an adorable shop on trendy Magazine Street providing salads, soups, side dishes, healthy snacks, fresh baked goods, juices, smoothies, tea & meals that are ALL made in-house and are Paleo, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, anti-inflammatory, and all-natural with a variety of vegan and nut-free options…it also happens to be delicious!

Boy, is it delicious! I tried the cinnamon roll and the date balls. Amazing! And all painted pink! Adorable! The shop matches Alicia’s personality, sweet and bright. Not only is this a must do in New Orleans, but you will be doing something wonderful for yourself.

Here are some tips for your next visit to New Orleans:

Accommodations: Hotel Modern – a fab spot with reasonable rates. Ask for Miss Scarlett.

Eat: The Irish House – try the shepherd’s pie
FARE – Good for you healthy treats

Drink: The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt Hotel

Sightseeing: New Orleans Movie Tours – This might be the most fun thing to do in NOLA. Truly. It’s a blast.

Pass The Mortons

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Good Morning Darlings!

As you might or might not know, I live in Atlanta.

Right now we are being sieged with Snowmygawd 2014 Part 2 Electric Boogaloo.

As in stuck in the house.

However shall we amuse ourselves?