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

Mr. John’s Feast + 11

Written by Patti on February 24th, 2011

Good Morning Darlings!

This past weekend was my birthday and there were no shortages of celebrations. Friday night was The Cafe at The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, Sunday night was pizza and beer on the porch, but Saturday was most special. My sweet bestie, John, cooked a fabulous meal for 12 of us – at my house, so I never had to leave. The party just came to me. Yay!

John decided on a La Dolce Vita theme, with all Italian cuisine. It was divine. The planning started weeks in advance, with John allowing me final say on the menu. I felt so pampered. The menu was as follows:


Savory Caramelized Onion Cheese Cake with Apricot Glaze
Assorted Crackers
Red Grapes
Green Grapes

Pan Seared Polenta with
Creme Fraiche


Pesto Insalata with Three Cheese Tortillini

Piatto Principale

Lasagne with Baby Spinach and Portobello Mushrooms


Chocolate Raspberry Panna Cotta


Not only did John plan the menu, design the invite and gather the guests, but he came up with the most gorgeous table idea that my love Eric carried out. Sunflowers and a boodle of candles filled the table, making everyone feel like they were in Tuscany. Eric also served as John’s sous chef for the day while I went out shopping and lunching with Holly. It was the perfect birthday.

John arrived mid afternoon laden with food, platters, and more food. Eric and he got to working. There’s nothing like a man in the kitchen to make a woman smile. I’m lucky that not only my husband, but my best friend are both super cooks.

The men take over.

Eric's spectacular table!

John prepares the polenta.

Pan searing the polenta

The polenta started the evening and let me tell you…they were a slam dunk. I honestly could have eaten just these all night. But I had to pace myself.

These were amazingly delicious!

Our friends started to arrive. Clint and Matt were first, gifting me with the most gorgeous candlestick holders we immediately placed on the table. Then Holly, who brought me the most perfect personalized note cards ever. Another swell gift from Holly were the note pads that read “Patti’s Party Planning”!!! I can’t wait to write all my thank yous…which reminds me….

Danny (who brought Sambuca!), Holly and Clint visit.

Crystal slices up the bread for dinner.

My buddy Allen arrived with the most wonderful gift, too. He made a chicken pot pie from scratch! I adored this gift and cannot wait to eat it.

Allen and Me

Next course featured the savory cheesecake with caramelized onions and apricot glaze. Stupendous.

Isn't this beautiful? Just like being in Italy!

Three of my favorite men. Eric, Clint and Matt.

Glasses were filled and refilled, laughter and scrumptious aromas filled the house.

Holly and Clint.

Mr. Jaunty Clint.

Lisa tells one of her wonderful stories to Crystal and Bob.

While Holly and John catch up stoveside.

Time for everyone to take their seats.

Antipasti is next – this was fantastic. Filled with everything good. Tortillini, mushrooms, mozzarella balls, artichoke hearts, green beans and asparagus. All bathed in the most luscious pesto ever. John, you are amazing!

Antipasti - topped with proscuitto. Deeeeelicious, y'all.

Lasagne - the main event.

I actually believe that the conversation came to a halt during the lasagne course. Everyone was too busy digging in to this marvelous creation to utter a word. Yum.

But eventually we all came up for air and the room continued to hum.

A table full of happy friends.

Crystal and Holly enjoy a laugh.

Are we too full for dessert? Not a chance. John prepared the creamiest panna cotta topped with fresh raspberries and complimented with chocolate sauce. He hit this one out of the park. Truly.

The perfect end to a perfect meal.

Dessert was accompanied by a brandy snifter of either Sambuca (with the three traditional coffee beans floating for good luck) or Amaretto. I chose the Amaretto.

The party was a wild success. John, you are the most fabulous friend and this was the most fabulous birthday dinner. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you!

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to The White Stripes – We Are Going To Be Friends


13 Comments so far ↓

  1. Patti says:

    Hi Arlynn! It was so fab! xoxo
    Hi Miss Melanie! Tomorrow is all about Sunday’s party! xoxo

  2. Kathy says:

    I’m so hungry now! LOL

  3. Clint says:

    I need the recipe for the polenta! And the carmalized cheese cake! and the lasagna! And the panna cotta! Aw heck, John just needs to come to my house and cook me dinner.

  4. Patti says:

    Kathy – it was sublime! xoxo
    Clint – wasn’t it fun? And delish? OMG. oxoo

  5. Holly says:

    The most fun – ever! We have to enter John into some sort of Iron Chef contest – everything was spectacular!

  6. Patti says:

    Holly – that is a stellar idea! he is so talented! xxoo

  7. Eddie Ross says:

    Looks like the party was a success!
    Be sure to stop by my blog to see the latest post on the Orlando trip!
    Have a great weekend!

  8. crystal says:

    It was an amazing night.

  9. Patti says:

    Crystal – it was so lovely.

  10. Jennifer says:

    OMG! Patti what an amazing birthday dinner! I know you felt so special. Friends truly make life worth the living. And tell your chef of the evening that I would love his lasagna recipe!

    xo, jen

  11. Patti says:

    Jennifer – it was marvelous! xoxo

  12. Jonathan says:

    looks so delish!!!!!!