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

Making Meatballs – How Did I Do?

Written by Patti on October 29th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

You all know I love to cook and entertain. When I saw this video, I about lost my mind and knew I had to try this recipe.

I bet some of you have seen this meatball stuffed with mozzarella video, too, right?

Here’s what my meatballs looked like before adding them to the sauce in the crockpot.

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And here’s what they looked like all cooked and ready to gobble down.

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Don’t you love that tiny plate? I get them at CB2. Here is a link to their new holiday line which I must order immediately. How cute are these? No, I don’t advertise for CB2, but hey, if they feel like sending me the new line, I would not complain. :)

So, how did they turn out? Not as expected. Here are my notes:

1. Make bigger meatballs so you can stuff a bigger piece of cheese inside. For some reason, I thought I counted 22 meatballs in the video. Math is not my strong suit. My cubes of mozzarella were small and totally disappeared in the meatball. NONE of the meatballs had that cheesy center I was hoping for. Next time: Make 15 big meatballs with a much bigger cube of cheese. Heck, slather them all with a thick layer of mozzarella cheese. You can never have enough cheese.

2. Brown the meatballs before placing in the crockpot. I know this rule, but got lazy and thought they would be just as good. Nay nay my darlings. The sear really adds to the flavor, so I will be taking this extra step next time.

3. Make your own sauce. DO NOT USE JARRED SAUCE. This probably goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyhow. I make mine with an entire bottle of red wine. Do not judge me.

4. Don’t use almond milk in place of whole milk in meatballs. I thought this substitution would work. It did not. I think it contributed to much tougher meatballs than I would have preferred.

5. After making the meatballs, put them in the fridge overnight and then reheat. Why? They get greasy and after a nap in the fridge, you can skim all that fat off and have nothing but meat and sauce.

Verdict: I would definitely make these again, but with the above tweaks. What a fab way to feed a crowd. Eric and I made spaghetti with this and each had 3 meatballs, which left us with a ton of meatballs and sauce leftover that went straight to the freezer for a busy night. I don’t know about you, but November is going to be crazy busy around here!

Happy cooking!

xoxo, Patti

 

Night of Ten Thousand Gods

Written by Patti on October 28th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

This weekend was a whirlwind. Whew. Tons of parties.

I have to admit, the book release party for my friend, Jim Hodgson, was really special. His darling, Meghann and he hosted the loveliest evening and made us all feel like, well, Ten Thousand Gods (that’s the name of his newest book. Click the link to read Episode 1).

Besties Melanie and Mike rode with Eric and me up to their house in Suwanee. When we arrived, we were in for the biggest treat. Take a look at their backyard. Swoony.

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How pretty is this? And there were 3 stations of nibbles. Eric met some new buddies while Mike, Melanie and I grazed and drank for a bit. Here’s one of the lovely appetizer set ups.

 

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Take a close look at the purple. I thought it was silk – it’s CABBAGE! How gorg is that?

Our host and hostess were just the mostest. Love them to pieces.

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Aren’t they beautiful? Inside and out.

We met the most wonderful new friends, including Jim’s dads, Jim Sr. and Steve. They are the best! They live in Montgomery and love to entertain as much as me. We were like peas in a pod.

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That’s Steve in the middle with Meghann and their friend Bear, from Asheville, who I swear had the best southern accent I have ever heard. It was like music. Golly, I love the south.

The food and wine was divine. No one took their cell phones out (except me, to take photos, only) and everyone talked about books and art. It was the kind of dinner party you wish you could create, but only happens organically. And when you invite the best people. These were the best people.

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My handsome husband and new friends Seth, Mary Beth and Emily.

There might have been some illegal moonshine proffered later in the evening after coffee and dessert, but I will not confirm or deny. It might have come from a toothless bootlegger in North Carolina, but again, I just cannot say. I would like to be invited back.

Each place setting had a gift for every guest – a piece of art created by Bear of the book cover. Take a look.

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The centerpiece was filled with tiny pumpkins, lemons and pomegranates. Fabulous.

We laughed, ate and drank until it was time to gather up the posse and head back to Atlanta. Thank you so much for the absolutely perfect evening, Jim and Meghann. And thank you for allowing us to toast your success with your newest book – we are all so proud of you!!

xoxo, Patti

 

Guest Post! Seeing Atlanta Through the Eyes of a Newcomer

Written by Patti on October 26th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

Today we have a guest blogger – Brooke Thompson – who reached out to see if she could share her Atlanta with us. Of course! It’s always fun to see what new residents to the best city in the world have to say. Brooke Thompson is a health nut and adventurer, who loves trying new things. She recently moved to Atlanta (along with Mac, her four-legged sidekick!) from the Midwest for a new job, and is thrilled to be living in the active, vibrant city. She’s writing about all of her ATL adventures on her blog. How cute is she? Adorbs.

Take it away, Brooke and welcome to Atlanta!

Getting to Know Atlanta: How to Make a New City Feel Like Home

Welcome To Atlanta, Brooke!

When I decided to move to Atlanta for a job opportunity, I knew I was in for some big changes. Not only would it be the biggest city I had ever lived in, but it would be the first time I had ever lived outside of my home state of Missouri.

As I prepared for and then made the big move, I didn’t have a lot of time to think about what it would be like navigating a new city out on my own. In fact, it wasn’t until all my boxes were unpacked and my parents were making their drive back to Missouri that I really started to think about how I was going to tackle figuring out my new life in Atlanta.

So, I put together a plan that would help me get to know ATL while doing some of my favorite things—eating, drinking, and spending time outdoors:

Eat like the locals. In my opinion, few things are more satisfying than a delicious meal, so I’ve been asking anyone who will listen where I should eat in Atlanta. I’ve tried local restaurants based on recommendations from coworkers, neighbors, and cashiers at Trader Joe’s. I’ve discovered that my neighborhood, Westside/Home Park, has lots of great eats to offer. And I already have a couple of favorites, like Star Provisions and The Optimist. Currently, I’m on a mission to try out all the local farmers’ markets. This great farmers’ market directory is serving as my guide, and so far, I’ve really enjoyed taking advantage of what all the local vendors have to offer.

Drink and be merry. So, I have a confession to make—before I moved to Atlanta, I had never had sweet tea. Even when I visited Atlanta to interview for my job, I didn’t give it a try. I finally tried it at a coworker’s dinner party, and of course, I immediately realized I had really been missing out!

In addition to trying sweet tea for the first time, I’ve been trying to take advantage of as many networking opportunities as possible. One of my coworkers and I have committed to trying a post-work happy hour once a week. We’re using Atlanta.net’s rundown of happy hour specials as our guide and although, we’re only two weeks in we’re really having a great time socializing with other professionals in the city!

Learn your way around. Of course, one of the first things I had to do when I got to Atlanta is find my way around. And as this article on the signs you live in Atlanta notes, with the abundance of “Peachtree”-named streets, Spaghetti junction, and having to distinguish between Midtown and Downtown, it isn’t always easy. I’ve been using the maps app on my iPhone to get me from place to place and I always check WSB-TV’s traffic app for any problems before I hit the road.

Hit the trails. I love spending time outdoors, and one of the reasons I decided Atlanta would be a good fit for me is its many opportunities for doing so. I also have a boxer named Mac, who hates being cooped up in my apartment. So, he and I have been visiting local trails each Sunday to get some fresh air and take advantage of the landscape that helps make Atlanta such a great place to live. And we couldn’t have started our trail adventures at a better time of year—each week we’ve been greeted with more vibrant fall colors!

Every time I try a new restaurant or see a new sight I fall in love with Atlanta a little more. Although I never envisioned myself leaving Missouri, I’m certainly glad I took the chance.

Atlanta is already starting to feel like home.

 

 

Affairs At The Fox

Written by Patti on October 23rd, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

Earlier this week Eric and I were tickled to be invited to The Fabulous Fox Theater to experience Affairs At The Fox, Affairs To Remember marvelous reveal of a new type of partnership.

Affairs To Remember has long been a preferred caterer at the famed theater, but now they are creating events that include dishes that are exclusive to The Fox and even themed by shows performed there!

We enjoyed gorgeous decor and delish food in the Egyptian Ballroom. A walk out onto the open air promenade afforded stunning views of the moon on a perfect night. This was all capped by an extraordinary tour of the facilities, ending up with us on the stage! So cool.

Christmas is coming – plan your events NOW!

Pics!

The Stunning Egyptian Ballroom

The Stunning Egyptian Ballroom

Scrumptious Bites made with local sources

Scrumptious Bites made with local sources

Eric and I onstage at The Fox. We'll be here all week! (Not really).

Eric and I onstage at The Fox. We’ll be here all week! (Not really).

Have a stupendous weekend, Darlings!

xoxo, Patti

 

Jambalaya Night!

Written by Patti on October 21st, 2015

Good Morning Darlings,

It is getting SO cold here in Atlanta. Our seasons swoop in like a hawk. First, it’s blistering hot. Then we have one or maybe two weeks of spectacular weather. Then we are freezing.

To combat the cold, Eric and I made a terrific and easy Jambalaya last night, adapted from Epicurious. Try it and you will have yummy leftovers for lunch!

Makes 6 servings

1 large onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 large poblano pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
4 oz andoulle sausage, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1 large bay leaf
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
3/4 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into bite-sized pieces

Add oil to a large nonstick saucepan. Over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, poblano pepper and celery until onion is translucent. Add parsley, andouille, chicken, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce, and 1 3/4 cups cold water. Gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour rice into the pan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 45 minutes or until rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid. Stir in shrimp and cook 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with cayenne pepper and salt.

Spicy Jambalaya!

Spicy Jambalaya!

Gobble up like mad hungry badgers and sit around the table smiling at each other!

xoxo, Patti

 

A Marvy Time at Mason Tavern

Written by Patti on 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

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

FREE Parking!

xoxo, Patti

 

Let Them Eat Cake

Written by Patti on 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.

Zelda

Happy Monday!

 

xoxo, Patti

 

Chef Ford Fry Has A Secret

Written by Patti on 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!

CHEF FORD FRY’S TECHNIQUE FOR FAB HOME STEAKS

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

 

The Boys Are Back!

Written by Patti on October 15th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

If you are a fan of divine parties and fab furnishings, then you must be tuned into Eddie Ross, yes? He is the East Coast Editor for Better Homes and Gardens and I am so lucky to call him and his incredibly charming partner, Jaithan, my friends.

Have you been with me for a while? If so, you will remember the night Eric and I hosted Eddie, Jaithan and a flock of other marvelous friends in our home for a grand dinner party.  We had the best fun!

Eddie and Jaithan have been hard at work on their fantastic book, Eddie Ross Modern Mix.

Featuring never-before-seen photographs of Eddie’s own homes—his eclectic apartment in New York and Pine Hill Farm in Connecticut—Modern Mix cracks the code to navigating thrift shops, yard sales and flea markets with confidence.

And if you are lucky enough to catch him when he comes to your town, you might be able to join him on a shopping expedition so you can find your own treasures!

 

Buy This Book!

The book is chock full of delights! This past Thursday I had the chance to catch up with my friends when they arrived in Atlanta. Steve McKenzie gave a fab party for the boys in his own new outlet filled with things you have to have for your home!

Me, Eddie and Jaithan

Me, Eddie and Jaithan

I apologize for the size of this photo. Next time I will not use the phone and bring the Canon along with me.

Some fab photos of Steve McKenzie’s goodies!

I need all of these for the holidays!

I need all of these for the holidays!

I also had the distinct pleasure of saying hello to NY Times best selling author, Mary Kay Andrews and renowned food stylist and party maven, Annette Joseph. Annette will be giving us some tips for the holidays in November. Stay tuned!

Me, Mary Kay and Annette

Me, Mary Kay and Annette

Go buy Eddie’s book for Christmas. Everyone will want one!

xoxo, Patti

 

Georgia At The James Beard House

Written by Patti on 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