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

November, 2010 browsing by month


Thanksgiving 2010

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

We are finally recovered from Thanksgiving (I think). It was a wonderful time with fabulous friends and I bet you want to hear all about it. Lets do it!

Just between you and me, I had no intention of hosting Thanksgiving Dinner, but when bestie Diane said she was coming home, I knew that called for something special. We bought the turkey, planned a few dishes, invited a few friends, bought a case of bubbly. Then our incredible friends from Black Tie Barbecue told me they were holding a smoked turkey with my name on it, I decided to go ahead and roast the turkey we had at home and freeze the meat for the Christmas party nibble ingredients.

Do you remember the photo of those smoking turkeys? Unbelievable.

More thankful fun inside!

Fantasy Gift Guide

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

Christmas is all about wishes. Sometimes fantastic wishes. So today, I thought I would bring you some fantasy items and offset them with similar, but less outrageous, alternatives.

For Him:

Not quite sure what justifies this price tag....

Is the man in your life a shutterbug? How about the Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Leica M9 Camera for a mere $17,500.00? Neiman Marcus lets us press our nose to the glass to wish for these luxury gifts via their luxe website, but those with the Black Amex are able to have this piece of history delivered personally by a Leica photography expert with private instruction. But you must hurry – only 50 have been crafted.


You have got to see the last item inside…

Pop Up Shopping!

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

Now that Thanksgiving is over (full report next week..), thoughts turn to shopping for Christmas. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get all your shopping done in one spot and support local artists and craftsmen? Well, now you can. Next week, my great friends Randall and Patrick from the AFFPS will be participating in the Midtown Pop Up Shops Dec. 2-5, 2010. Their shop will be at 805 Peachtree Street. Take a look at the details.

Midtown “Pop Up Shops”
Indoor Artist Market
Dec. 2 – 5, 2010

The Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces and the Decatur Gallery have teamed up with the Midtown Alliance, Atlanta History Center, SCAD and others to host Atlanta’s first “pop up” shopping experience on Dec. 2 – 5, 2010.

30 local artists will “set up shop” at 805 Peachtree Street for a four day artist market and holiday shopping experience. The Artist Market is part of the first “Pop Up” shopping experience in Atlanta. Artists will occupy space in the 805 Peachtree building with original works for sale including paintings, pottery, photography, jewelry, woodworking and fiber art. The “Pop Up Shops” will include six blocks along the Midtown Mile of Peachtree Street from 10th to 6th Streets.

“Artists have a lot to offer for the holidays. We know that what we have are non-essentials, but finding a gift that’s directly from an artist has greater meaning,” says Patrick Dennis, owner of the Decatur Gallery and president of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces.

30 local artists and artisans will bring unique wares to 805 Peachtree for a four day artist market. Visitors will be treated to demonstrations by artists, live acoustic music and a complimentary beverage. Painters, potters, fiber artists, woodworkers, jewelers, even candle makers will show their holiday finest during the event.

Dec. 2 – 5, 2010
Thurs. – Sat.
10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
805 Peachtree Street

Music and complimentary beverages will be offered each evening from 6-8 p.m. Artist demonstrations daily.

Start a new holiday shopping tradition with ART.

Doesn’t that sound much better than the mall? Of course it does. See you there.

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Soulja Boy – Shopping Spree

Happy Thanksgiving Darlings!

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

I hope you all are up and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, like I am. One day I will get there in person, all bundled up in NYC.  But not this year. This year we are hosting 6 friends for dinner and several more after dinner for drinks and dessert.

And I am feeling particularly lazy, so I am digging up a rerun from last year’s turkey day festivities here.

As for what I am grateful for this year, it is much the same as last year. The love of my amazing husband and number one best friend, Eric, our good health and that of our dogs and never last, our beloved friends that make every day a holiday. I love you.

And Glee! I am thankful for Glee. Could there be a more perfect television show? I think not.

You know I am grateful for you, too, yes? Because I am. You all are the greatest and make me want to blog every single day. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Next week, I have a very special giveaway to show my appreciation.

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to The Warblers from Glee -Teenage Dream

Wake and Bake!

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

I just received a bottle of the finest vanilla made – Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla. Mmmmm. So today I am baking up some gorgeous pumpkin bread to take to some of my sweeties.

I love pumpkin bread. It means it is time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My recipe is from a well-worn cookbook called “Betsy’s Sweet Treats” illustrated by Betsey Clark, creator of the the very popular Holly Hobbie dolls from way back when. My brother Jackie and his lovely wife Linda bought this for my “hope chest” when I was a girl. It’s amazing that it has survived all my moves through the years.

My hope is that you enjoy this recipe as much as I do every year.

Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from Betsey’s Sweet Treats

3.5 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 tsps baking soda
1.5 tsps salt
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps nutmeg
1 cup cooking oil
1 tsps NMV Madagascar Vanilla
4 eggs
2/3 cups water
2 cups pumpkin

Sift together dry ingredients in large bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Pour into 3 greased and floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes.

Devour like hungry badgers. Or just eat with some cream cheese for breakfast.

Nom, nom, nom. You know, you could bake these into cupcake tins and give them to your guests as they leave Thanksgiving dinner so they have something special the next morning. Yum. Or you could go to the NMV website for some mouthwatering recipes to create your own delicious stir!

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Bread – Make It With You

Time to Wine

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

I trust by now you have the turkey thawing (or have made arrangements – perhaps with Black Tie Barbecue for one of their mouthwatering smoked turkeys? Call 404.840.9256 to see if they have just one more they can put aside for you. This is what I am doing this year…shhhh, it’s just between us.)

They are not fooling around here, y’all!
I have more fun inside!

When Are Dinner Parties Fun Affairs?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

I am thrilled to welcome today’s guest blogger, reader Cindy Cullen, who has some very sage advice for your upcoming dinner parties. Cindy writes on the topic of culinary arts colleges and may be reached for further advice at

Dinner parties are a mixed bag – some are absolute bores, some are so-so, and some just blow you out of this world with their fun quotient. And if you had to host one, you’d definitely want to be in the last category and wow your guests. So how do you go about making a dinner party a fun affair, especially if you’ve never thrown one before or worse, if your last attempt was a damp squib? Dinner parties are fun when:

They’re tailored to the guest list: The party has to be about what your guests would enjoy, not about what you want it to be. Choose a theme and entertainment based on your guest list – something formal for colleagues and co-workers, especially if superiors are present, an all-out fun affair with no protocol whatsoever when it’s a bunch of close friends, all of who love to let their hair down, or a toned down yet informal dinner when there are family members with children in tow. There’s no one-size fits all when it comes to dinner parties, so customize them to suit your guest list.

They have backup plans to prevent disasters: So your main course just went down the drain because your caterer failed to understand your instructions or because you’re not such a great cook. Your dinner party is still sure to be a success if you have acontingency plan for such situations, like an arrangement with a restaurant where you can order some decent food at short notice. The key to backup plans is that they must be executable quickly and with the minimum chance of a mishap.

They don’t take themselves too seriously: It may be formal, but it’s still a party. So don’t stand on ceremony or expect your guests to do so as well. If you’re a stickler for rules and frown at accidental spills and the wrong use of cutlery, your future dinner parties are not going to have a very long guest list. Dinner parties that don’t take themselves too seriously are the ones that are most fun.

They include all the guests in the merriment: The best dinner parties are those where all your guests enjoy themselves; so as host, it’s up to you to get people to socialize through activities that allow them to do so. If your dinner party is themed, choose one that is amenable to all your guests so that they all have fun. And if you see people feeling left out or remaining wallflowers, entice them to join the fun by being a good host.

Thanks, Cindy! This is advice we can all learn from.

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Beauty and The Beast Soundtrack – Be Our Guest

How Chefs Cope With Turkey Day

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

The Buckhead Life folks are responsible for some of our city’s most famed restaurants. Their Head Chefs give us a little advice for dealing with the year’s most fretted-over dinner. Don’t fret, Darlings. Grab a beverage and see what our chef buddies have to say.

Daryl Gassmann – Chops Lobster Bar
“The best advice I could give to anyone about cooking Thanksgiving dinner is to ask for help! Don’t try to be Martha Stewart unless going all out is what you’ve been waiting for all year. Most guests love to bring a pie or a side dish. They enjoy it and Thanksgiving is one of those dinners that feels more special when everyone chips in.”

Charles Schwab – Buckhead Diner
“My best tip for Thanksgiving is to brine your turkey in a salt water solution (1 cup of Kosher salt to 1 gallon of water) for 1 hour per pound of turkey two days before cooking. Pull your turkey out of the brine the night before cooking and place it on an oven rack over a baking sheet. Place the unwrapped bird in the fridge and allow it to air dry. On the day of your meal, rub your turkey with butter, sage, and lemon and roast until it reaches 155 degrees internal temperature. No more dry bird.”

Doug Turbush – Bluepointe
“Get creative with your aromatics. Stuff the bird with a split head of garlic, thyme, parsley stems, onion, celery, carrot, ancho chilies & orange zest. This will not only flavor the bird, but give your gravy a little zing too. And, I couldn’t do without the perfect wine to accompany me as I work and the bird when I’m done.”

Piero Premoli – Pricci
“My favorite ingredient for the Thanksgiving Dinner is pumpkin and my favorite kitchen tool is my roasting pan. When pumpkin meets a roasting pan, with the help of fresh chili, aged pecorino cheese and olive oil, it’s magic! You won’t believe how good a vegetable can taste.”

See? Easy! I will be back with all sorts of tips through the week. I wouldn’t dream of letting you go it alone!

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Dido – Thank You

All Skate!

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

Our good friend Caren West sent me this marvy press release on the opening of an ice skating rink in Piedmont Park, our city’s best place to play.

Let’s get all the details from Caren:


The Rink at Park Tavern, a new covered ice skating rink located in the heart of Midtown in Piedmont Park, will open to the public on Monday, November 22, 2010. To celebrate its arrival, Park Tavern is hosting a special Breakfast with Santa at The Rink from8 to 10:30 a.m. that morning. For $10 kids can enjoy sweets from Santa’s bakery, cereal and fruit juices. Parents can bring a camera, but there will also be a professional photographer available to snap pictures with Santa. Park Tavern’s new homemade hot chocolate and new frozen hot chocolate will be available for purchase. Parents will also be able to purchase bagels, coffee and gourmet Danishes. Breakfast with Santa does not include the cost of skating or skate rental. Tickets can be purchased online at

The Rink at Park Tavern will also host a second Breakfast with Santa for kids on Friday, November 26 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Kids can also enjoy Frozen Hot Chocolate and Cookies with Santa on Tuesday, November 30 from 4 to 7:30 p.m.


Located in the spacious Garden Tent in Park Tavern, The Rink will feature modern amenities for day and night skating including a brand new rink created with harvested rainwater that is 85 feet long and 40 feet wide. Skaters will stay warm under a beautiful heated tent with a state-of-the-art sound system; while observers can enjoy rink-side dining, homemade hot chocolate, specialty cocktails, house-brews, ½ price wine bottles every Wednesday, 1/2 off sushi nightly from 10 p.m. to midnight, holiday decorations, and much more. With original woodwork, Stone Mountain-granite walls, stack-stone fireplaces, granite bars, new leather furniture and a natural slate floor, Park Tavern’s lodge-like feel will only enhance the overall experience.

Accommodating approximately 200 skaters, The Rink at Park Tavern will be open for evening skating experiences daily beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday November, 22, 2010 through Monday, February 14, 2011 and will offer four sessions on weekends and when kids are out of school on holiday breaks at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Each skating session is 3 ½ hours with ½ hour breaks to resurface the ice with harvested rainwater. At 9 p.m. each night, The Rink at Park Tavern will only be open to ages 21 and up.  The Rink is also available for private skating lessons, parties and even marriage proposals. Park Tavern will also host number of specialty events throughout the season. For the most up to date event calendar, specialty packages, and venue rental information, please visit

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Perry Como – It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Fun Find Friday – Improv Monster

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Good Morning Darlings!

My new friend, Bret Love, is a member of this cool improv group here in Atlanta. Don’t you get tired of doing the same old thing every weekend? Here’s your chance to mix it up a little bit and have some fun!

Stop! Improv Time!

December shows will be FREE with the donation of a new, unwrapped toy for the Atlanta Union Mission:

WHO: Improv Monster
WHAT: A troupe of Atlanta’s finest improv comedy veterans inspired by different performing artists every week
WHEN: Thursday nights at 8PM
WHERE: Relapse Theatre, 380 14th St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. Call 404-541-9911 for more info.
WHY: Because it’s one of the city’s funniest and most innovative improv shows, and tickets are only $10 ($5 w/student ID)

• • • • • • •

What is IMPROV MONSTER? Imagine the irreverence of early Saturday Night Live, the colorful characters of Christopher Guest’s best work (Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show), and the madcap improvised mayhem of the Upright Citizens Brigade. Now imagine it performed live and unscripted by Atlanta’s best improvised theatre veterans, and you have Jackpie’s IMPROV MONSTER.

Co-directed by Jackpie Theatre founder Jim Karwisch and John Sexton, IMPROV MONSTER takes its inspiration from different guest artists every week, whose performances provide the source material for their long-form improvised scene-work. Recent sources have included burlesque troupes, circus acts, standup comedians, poets and musicians. Together, IMPROV MONSTER and their guests forge a unique artistic fusion unlike anything the Atlanta improv scene has ever seen.

In December the show’s theme will be Holiday Stories, with guests including Santa Sam Smith (Dec 2), the cast of Actors Express’ “Every Christmas Story Ever Told” (Dec 9) and
Kara Cantrell of Stone Mountain Christmas (Dec 16).

“Improv Monster makes Saturday Night Live look like entertainment for daycare kiddies. I read my poems, and they took my poems and ran with them, expanding them and finding the humor in them. The audience loved it. You will love Improv Monster!” –Poet Mikel K

Looks like they give out hugs, too!

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Happy Tree Friends – Don’t Make Me Laugh