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

June, 2010 browsing by month


Have We Become Too Busy For Manners?

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Recently I was told by someone I love that I have been misplacing my “pleases” and “thank yous.”  You can only imagine my mortification as I value manners above most things. Even though my schedule has resembled the timetable at Grand Central Station, I realized this was true. Busy should never equal lack of manners. My apologies have overflowed, but it got me thinking.

In this incredibly busy world of ours, have we become too busy for manners? Have we lost our ability to allow others to speak without interrupting their story? Has social media turned us into a bunch of self-absorbed ninnies? Have Facebook and Twitter and golly-knows-what-else made us bratty three-year-olds who always need to be the center of attention?

Gosh, I hope not. But I do think social graces have waned in a lot of us.

Take a moment today to tell those you love how you feel. Be lavish with your manners. Let someone tell a story without calculating what you are going to say next. Engage your brain before you open your mouth.

You won’t believe the difference in your quality of life.  And it doesn’t cost a thing.

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Dido – Thank You

Tami’s Birthday Party – Chopped & Surprised

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

It was the weekend of birthdays this past week. Fun! First, we had Valerie’s birthday wine tour, then it was time for dear friend Tami H. of Running With Tweezers to have her big day.

And what a big day it was! Set up by her sweet boyfriend, Mike, who took great pains to keep it secret. Mike even put together a Chopped Challenge as part of the party. You know what Chopped is, right? It’s a reality/challenge show on Food Network where chefs compete for the highest score from the judges.

Mike chose all the ingredients for the Chopped “Slider” Challenge. Three teams of two competed in the kitchen of friends Brian and Terri. It was a hoot.

But first, Tami had to arrive. A ruse was invented to get her to Terri and Brian’s house and we were all gathered when she arrived, including an dear friend of hers from NYC who had flown in especially for the party. Don’t you love those types of surprises?

The cake was made by Christina Arpante of Mele Cotte. It was the coolest cake I have ever seen.

Camera Cake. Yes, That's Cake.

More Fun With Tami Inside

Valerie Has A Birthday-We Taste Wine-Surprise!

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Wow, do I have a ton of fun pictures for you all today.  Our sweet Valerie is having quite the year so far – she graduated college on the same day she & Jay got engaged and this past weekend we visited the wineries of North Georgia to celebrate her birthday. Nothing but fun around here!

First stop, Sublime Donuts – nothing gives you energy like a couple of sugar laden donuts, right?  Ohhh, they are so yummy.

Donut Art!

Set Aside Some Time, This Is Going To Take A While

Fun Find Friday – Popsicle Molds

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Summer – hot – meltingly sultry….we just can’t seem to cool down quick enough. What to do? Well, if you can’t stand the heat, get in the kitchen and make popsicles!

These tasty treats are so easy, and so much better when made at home. You can actually control what goes into your food, and isn’t that what we all want?

I just purchased this model and have been making popsicles every day. I’m popsicle obsessed.

My Popsicle Mold

And you’ll need extra popsicle sticks, too. They can be ordered here. I really need to stock up on these, my popsicle addiction is growing.

Now that you’ve got a mold – what should you put into your popsicles?  Just about anything you can pour into the mold.  I started with juice – easy enough. But I chose exotic juices. Guanabana, mango, papaya and pineapple juices. And then I started combining the flavors. I even took popsicles to a new neighbor as a housewarming gift. Trust me, they were very well received.

You could mix up instant pudding and pour them into your molds. For a lunch popsicle you could fill the mold with vegetable juice! Okay, that may not appeal to everyone, but you healthy types out there might really like it.

You can also get swanky with your frozen treats. How about pouring a bit of pureed strawberries in the mold, just to fill the tip, and after that portion freezes, fill the rest with pineapple puree or juice. Not only will it look pretty, but it will be delicious!

Special tip – Let your popsicle mixture firm up a bit before inserting the sticks. I learned this the hard way. My first batch had sticks that were all wonky and off-centered. They still tasted good, but looked funny.

Another tip – first pour your mixture into a spouted container for easier pouring. I use my large Pyrex measuring cup. Works like a charm.

Now go forth and make popsicles! Summer will not get the best of you!

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Glee Soundtrack – Ice Ice Baby

More Fun With The Urban Picnic

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Scott Smallwood, with the Atlanta Street Food Coalition, sent me this reminder yesterday:

The Atlanta Street Food Coalition Presents The Urban Picnic

Atlanta’s Aspiring Gourmet Street Food Cart Vendors will be Open for Business during Lunch Hour at Sweet Auburn Curb Market
The Urban Picnic, presented by the Atlanta Street Food Coalition, will return to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market this week. The monthly event is held on the last Friday of every month and gives citizens of Atlanta a rare opportunity to sample and experience street food from over a dozen of Atlanta’s aspiring gourmet street food cart vendors including, Burro-Pollo Chicken Burrito Stand, Good Food Truck, King of Pops, The Pickle, Souper Jenny, Yumbii and more.
The coalition hosts monthly events to help foster a strong street food culture in the city of Atlanta and to bring attention to the need for food trucks throughout the city. The Atlanta Street Food Coalition’s ultimate goal is to lobby for and see implemented a regulatory system that encourages food trucks and street vendors who will bring healthy food options to areas of the city that are dominated by convenience stores. It is the Coalition’s belief that this movement will create new and exciting businesses in previously undeveloped and underserviced areas.

Remember my report on the last Urban Picnic I attended? Check it out here. You can get syrup on a hot dog called the Poodle (you really should try this). And I’ll get a chance to buy those ridiculously yummy sausages I passed on last time. To get you in the mood, take a look at some photos from my last visit.

Farm Cart!

There's Always Room For Souper Jenny

Wouldn’t it be fun for us all to meet up there for lunch? Who’s in? I’ll be there around 1pm. Bring cash, because most of the vendors  don’t take cards.

And you won’t even have to worry about ants at this picnic!

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Mungo Jerry – In The Summertime

Young Chefs of the SE – Installment II

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

6/24/10 UPDATE – This dinner has been postponed due to the issues in the Gulf. Please send your prayers, karma and best thoughts to the lovely residents of New Orleans.

This Friday (June 25th) you have the opportunity to experience another spectacular dinner at The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta.  The guest chef for the evening will be Sue Zemanick of Gautreau’s in New Orleans. Chef Zemanick was the winner of New Orleans Magazine, Chef of the Year Award and one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Top Ten Best Chefs.  Considering that New Orleans is one of our country’s foodiest cities, I call this big news.  Believe me, I was at the first series’ dinner with Chef Adam Cooke of Blackberry Farms and I was blown away.  I can only dream of what Chef Zemanick is cooking up for Atlanta.  And at $85 per person, this is truly a steal. You may make your reservations through Open Table (remember my post about Open Table here? Go – get your credits!)

Chef Sue Zemanick

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Buckwheat Zydeco – Hey Good Lookin’

Pad Thai Night With The Boys

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Last week I prepped for our Pad Thai dinner with John, John, Danny and Ken. Let me show you how everything went.

The table dressings – I wanted a masculine feel, with a little bit of an Asian influence. This is what I came up with.

For The Boys

Heavy wooden placemats were set on two overlapping white tablecloths.  Striped napkins set with chopsticks and red candle holders completed the mood.

More Fun With The Boys Inside

Guest Blogger – Curtis on The Meat Chronicles

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

I hope your weekend was sublime.  Mine certainly was – I spent the weekend at The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation researching a story for the debut issue of Design Is, for which I will be writing a monthly column called Living The Ritz Life. It’s a tough job, but someone must be in charge of reviewing the posh resorts and spa treatments. Of course I will keep you informed as we inch closer to the magazine’s launch in September.  Today I will be writing furiously so I can convey every detail of my visit to you. It is with extreme pleasure I reintroduce you to my friend, Curtis, the bon vivant of Adair Park, who will give you a no-fail recipe for pork. Curtis writes the often hilarious blog, Complete Waste of Time, wherein he regales us with tales from Atlanta. But today, it’s all about the pork. Take it away Curtis!

Fun With Curtis Inside

Fun Find Friday – Bento Boxes

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Today’s fun find comes from Sugar Charms, a darling website I found recently. They have the sweetest Bento Boxes. This one is especially sweet. Can any of my readers tell me why this is my favorite? Hint – you would need to have known me a very long time to come up with the answer.

Sweet Gibbon(s) Bento Box

What’s a Bento Box you ask?  It’s basically a Japanese lunchbox.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

Bento (??, bent??)[1] is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware. Although bento are readily available in many places throughout Japan, including convenience stores, bento shops (???, bent?-ya?), train stations, and department stores, it is still common for Japanese homemakers to spend time and energy for their spouse, child, or themselves producing a carefully prepared lunch box.

Bento can be very elaborately arranged in a style called kyaraben or “character bento”. Kyaraben is typically decorated to look like popular Japanese cartoon characters (anime), characters from comic books (manga), or video game characters. Another popular bento style is “oekakiben” or “picture bento”, which is decorated to look like people, animals, buildings and monuments, or items such as flowers and plants. Contests are often held where bento arrangers compete for the most aesthetically pleasing arrangements.

Need some ideas on building your bento lunch? Click here.  I believe Bento might mean “happy lunch” because you can’t help but smile when you see them!

And Sugar Charms has the sweetest bento boxes I’ve seen yet. How darling would these be for sending your little one off to school or summer camp with? They would be the envy of their friends.

Aren’t they fun?

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to The Vapors – Turning Japanese (sorry, couldn’t embed the video, but it’s worth the click!)

Feeding Men & Tidbits, Too

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Tomorrow night I am feeding a passel of men. Fun! And when feeding men, one must make sure that the food is hearty. Here’s the menu:

Tiny Beef BBQ Sandwiches

Pad Thai with Chicken & Shrimp

Brownie Sundaes with Homemade Caramel Ice Cream

Cocktails & Sapporo Beer

That should leave them full, yes? It is going to be such a good time.  And since the menu has an Asian accent, I am decorating the table accordingly. But I’ll leave that as a surprise for tomorrow. Eric will be cooking up the Pad Thai after I prep the chicken and shrimp (the broccoli and snow peas that go into the dish were bought all prepped). The beef will be shredded and the ice cream and brownies made today for a no-fuss dinner so we can enjoy each other’s company.

As for the tidbits I wanted to share, take a look at these adorable snack plates from CB2. I have the first set of their Oliver Appetizer Plates and these guys are fresh out for the summer. And at $1.95 each, you can buy the entire set, maybe even two sets! The mixed media is so appealing and sure to get saucy conversations started!

The drawings remind me of Shel Silverstein and his children’s books, which I love. Aren’t they adorable?

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Duran Duran – Wild Boys