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

Hospitalityaholic browsing by category


Still Chopping

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

Remember when I said I could eat that BBQ chopped chicken salad every day? I might have been exaggerating a teeny bit.

So I have another salad to share with you so you won’t get bored.

This one is a Greek Salad that takes a LOT of liberties with the OG recipe. I mean A LOT. Since it took liberties, so did we. Eric hates kale so we used arugula. We love arugula. We may or may not have bought a bottled basil/garlic vinaigrette that I found at Kroger so we didn’t have make our own. It was still super tasty. Here’s a hot photo of that cool salad.

I've got to switch up my backgrounds. I promise to work on that next week.

I’ve got to switch up my backgrounds. I promise to work on that next week.

This recipe called for chickpeas. I’m not a big fan, but it’s been a while, so I thought I would give them another go. They work really well in this salad and you don’t miss that there’s no meat in the dish.

I found this salad at Gimme Some Oven (how cute is that blog name?)


This chopped kale arugula salad is fresh and full of those Greek flavors we all love!



  • 1 large bunch (about 10 ounces) kale arugula leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • garlic parsley vinaigrette (see below)


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed (or finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper



Toss all ingredients together with desired amount of dressing until evenly mixed.


Whisk all ingredients together until blended. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Gobble down like hungry badgers and add a Corona (or two, no judging here). Go visit Ali at Gimme Some Oven, who lives in Kansas City where my bestie John is now living. COME HOME JOHN!

Ahem. I miss John.

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:


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.



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



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

Meet Annette Joseph

Monday, 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

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

A Marvy Time at Mason Tavern

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

Friday night found Eric and I at the coolest Decatur eatery, Mason Tavern. Just two months old, we were invited to enjoy dinner there and I can’t wait to share with you!

Bar Manager Paul has put together a solid bar program. Lots of local and national beers and some terrific cocktails. He made our evening an absolute pleasure, along with our dear server, Ellie.

Bar Manager Paul

Bar Manager Paul

Chef Chavez has been around town for a long time, most recently at Two Urban Licks. He’s created a delicious menu. Our favorite appetizer was the Dutch Baby. Normally a dutch baby is associated with fruit and powdered sugar, Chef’s version was filled with marscapone cheese, duck confit, robiola, arugula, lavender honey. It was fantastic. I couldn’t stop eating it! But we had other dishes to try, too.

Savory Dutch Baby

Savory Dutch Baby

If there is ever a cuban sandwich on the menu, I have to try it. The Cuban Sandwich at Mason Tavern was very good. And delivered by Chef!

Chef Chavez and the fab Cuban Sammie!

Chef Chavez and the fab Cuban Sammie!

The sweet pea ravoli with saffron, lime, mint, olive oil was a particular fave of Eric’s. Even the pasta for the ravioli is made in-house.

Sweet Pea Ravioli

Sweet Pea Ravioli

We wrapped up the meal with the S’More Brownie topped with swiss meringue, marshmallow ice cream. WOW! I was full, but this was incredible!! You must order this when you go!

S'More Brownie!

S’More Brownie!

Verdict? Go! And go now before word gets out and you can’t get a table. They also serve brunch, which is next for us. Loved Mason Tavern!

Mason Tavern
1371 Clairmont Rd Decatur, GA 30033

Phone: 404-963-2322

Monday – Thursday: 11:30am – 11pm
Friday: 11:30am – Late
Saturday: 5:30pm – Late
Sunday: Closed

FREE Parking!

xoxo, Patti

Let Them Eat Cake

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

I have a quickie look today at an incredible artist who creates the most fabulous cakes. Hoping to interview her soon.


Happy Monday!


xoxo, Patti

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