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

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Weekend Snapshot

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Good Morning Darlings,

Eric and I celebrated 12 years of wedded bliss this weekend.

Here’s what we did for fun!


A Banquet of Love

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009


Eric and I are celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary today. My life is a dream because of my wonderful husband and I could not be more grateful for his love.

At our anniversary breakfast of biscuits and gravy this morning, we mused over what we thought have been some of our most memorable meals. There have been great fine dining experiences, but I would say that most of our favorite meals have even surprised us. They were not planned for the most part, they just sort of morphed.

Like the time in Negril, Jamaica, when we meandered off the property at Swept Away and met the rastafarian who was cooking lobsters on the beach in a campfire. For $20, Eric and I sat in the crook of a tree, watching the sun set as our new friend rinsed the lobsters in the clear Caribbean waters, roasted them and served them to us on a paper plate with corn on the cob, a slice of white bread and a Red Stripe. The peace we felt that night was priceless.

That same trip produced another unexpected meal. After walking the length of Negril’s Seven Mile Beach and coming to the end, Eric informed me that we either had to walk 7 miles back in the sand or go through the fishing village and try to find a cab. As one who is not fond of physical exertion, neither one of these options made me feel very optimistic, but I opted for the fishing village. Being in a foreign country and tramping through the brush to the fishing village is not my idea of a good time. I like sightseeing, not adventure. When we finally reached a clearing, we were met by spear-wielding, painted-faced savages…no, not really, but I got you going for a second, didn’t I? We met some really cool locals who taught us how to drink the milk from a coconut and fixed us a plate of fresh tuna served with rice and peas (that’s beans to you, kids) and of course, a Red Stripe. We discussed politics and the economy of Jamaica and we both left feeling like we had a very special experience.

Eric and I honeymooned in Italy and the meal that stood out for me was during our last night in Milan. The place I had found for us in my guidebook was closed so we just walked and ducked into this tiny restaurant for dinner. There, I had the most remarkable dinner that I have yet to try to replicate at home for fear of ruining my memory. It was a simple dish of octopus and potatoes cooked in butter and garlic. I had heard that when cooking octopus or squid you must prepare it one of two ways – 1. Flash cook it or 2. Cook it in a pot for an hour with a wine cork (the cork apparently tenderizes the fish). We loved the dish so much that we asked to speak to the chef, who spoke as much English as we did Italian. Trying to ask him about the octopus and the cork resulted in a hilarious exchange. But it seemed as if Chef used the cork method…I think. Anyhoo, it was a divine end to the perfect honeymoon.

After we had lived in Santa Monica for a year, we couldn’t stand it one minute longer and had to come back to our beloved Atlanta for a visit. It’s a long 5 hour flight and we were exhilarated and starving. We picked up the rental car and headed to Crystal and Teague’s. Seeing our dear friends after a year was soul soothing. What awaited us in their backyard was something out of a movie. They had worked so hard on their backyard and it was amazing. A huge pergola with twinkling lights greeted us. It was the prettiest thing I had ever seen. The steaks with rosemary and roasted potatoes our friends grilled for our dinner was the best meal I had had in a year. Nothing beats great friends mixed with fantastic food. We left for our hotel late that night smiling so hard I thought our faces would crack.

Another time with Crystal and Teague at their lake house resulted in one great meal. We all bundled up and set out for Three Sisters Winery, owned by my old friends, Doug and Sharon Paul. We enjoyed an afternoon of wine tasting and returned to the lake house to the aroma of pork cooking in mojo sauce. It was yummy, hot and cozy by the fire. A fitting end to a great day with friends.

There are so many more great meals to recall. The muffaletta in New Orleans, ballpark tacos in Isla Mujeres, arepas at a street fair in Manhattan, cheap beer and hot dogs in Vegas as well as a six course tasting menu at Picasso at the Bellagio, fried whole rounds of provolone in Buenos Aires, beef wellington at John and Danny’s, the 10 course tasting menu at Moto in Chicago where the sushi is served wrapped in paper printed with pictures of sushi and the cocktails are made with freshly squeezed juices, all thrilled our taste buds. There have been burgers at Ann’s Snack Bar, fresh oysters at Eddy Teach’s in St. George Island, steamed king crab legs at Castaway’s (now Whiskey Joe’s) in Clearwater, Florida, the six course tasting menu at Restaurant Eugene where we savored the foie gras so slowly that the staff watched us through the entire meal and then realized that it wasn’t that we didn’t like the foie gras – we LOVED it and didn’t want it to end.

The first thing Eric ever cooked for me were scrambled eggs – the best eggs ever and the first meal I cooked for him was veal medallions in a mustard sauce. He claims that because of me he is a much better cook.

I claim that because of him I am a much better person.

I love you, Eric! Happy Anniversary, Honey.

xoxo, Patti