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The Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation – Behind The Story

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

As promised, here is the behind the scenes story to supplement my article in this month’s Design Is Magazine in my column, Living The Ritz Life. A magazine only allows so many words, but on my blog, I can blather on forever. So, if you want to hear the whole story about our stay at The Lodge, here you go.

Imagine a place where all your cares melt away at the door. A place where the phrase “my pleasure” actually means “my pleasure.” Imagine a place that is a retreat for the soul as well as the body.

A short one and a half hour drive from downtown Atlanta takes you to such a retreat. The Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation is close to the big city, but a world away.

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation

Arriving on a sultry Friday evening, this lodge of the well-heeled looms into view only after turning off the beaten path of Interstate 20. At the front door, friendly valets dressed in ivy caps, knickerbockers and argyle socks, ala golfer Payne Stewart, greeted us. Check-in was seamless and the weekend was now underway.

As we entered the club-level guest room, a roughhewn box on the hallway table caught my eye. Inside the box were graham crackers, Hershey bars and marshmallows, all the fixings for s’mores at the complimentary evening campfire. There were also notes welcoming my husband & me along with a jar of delicious spiced pecans (with the recipe attached). The king-sized bed was dressed with crisp white linens and the softest down pillows.  Two wooden chairs and a table on our balcony ensured a view of the lush greenery.

Smores Fixings!

LOTS more inside

For The Love Of New Orleans

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Louisiana, home of creole and cajun cooking, southern mansions and the unbreakable spirit of New Orleans. They have seen hard times, yet always bounce back with graceful resiliency. From Katrina and now the BP crisis, you might be wondering how the Paris of North America is faring.

They are faring quite well, thank you. And you should go and see for yourself. Party on Bourbon Street, enjoy the Garden District, listen to some down home music in Faubourg Marigny and don’t forget the beignets at Cafe Du Monde. With New Orleans only a 7 hour drive from Atlanta, you could be there in no time.

The Party Never Stops!

I have been in contact with my friends in New Orleans, Char Thian at the Ritz-Carlton and Kelly Schulz with the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. who tell me that all is well in their fair city and the best way to support it is to come and visit! Now, how many other ways can you give back by eating the country’s best cuisine and drinking up a storm? Only in New Orleans.

Take a look at this link. Honestly, the time has never been better to support New Orleans and have a dang good time in the process. The folks there are the friendliest anywhere and that food…OMG, that food. I am dieting right now in anticipation of my visit at the end of July. Can’t wait to drink sazeracs and eat all the luscious treats at Galatoire’s Friday lunch. You can even walk around with that Pat O’Briens Hurricane, as they encourage drinking and walking. But please grab a cab or a fab street car if you need to go further than your feet will take you.

But if you can’t get there right now, our own Pacci, in Atlanta, is supporting the cause with “We Cook While They Clean”.

We are very proud to announce that we will be joining the relief efforts in the wake of the devastation caused by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with our “We Cook While They Clean” fundraiser.

Beginning Wednesday, June 23, $1 from every seafood dish on our lunch and dinner menu will be donated to the Gulf Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to providing relief to the fishing community of the Gulf Coast and their families. For more information on the Gulf Relief Foundation visit   “We Cook While They Clean” will continue until fishermen are back in their boats.

You could even plan to go down on July 30 – Aug 1, when I’ll be there. I would be happy to meet you at Tujagues for a evening of tippling. Come on down!

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Buckwheat Zydeco – On A Night Like This

So Proud and Holeman & Finch

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Happy Halloween, Darlings!! It’s finally here! First, let me tell you what my angel of a friend, John Pearce did.  He donated 25 pumpkin buckets to the kids in my neighborhood so they would have a great way to carry all their candy booty tonight. He’s my hero today!!! Love you, John!

Also, John and Danny invited Eric and me to join them at the kick off party for Pride Weekend 09 last night at the Georgia Aquarium.  We had a blast!  John Walker, the adorable PR fella for the Aquarium, and close friend of John and Danny’s, had expected maybe 500 party goers. There were 3000! It was crazy!  We had never been to the aquarium and it was breathtaking.  You know I have to share the most fun pictures with you.

One of the four whale sharks

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I Finally See The Lumen

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009


Since I have arrived home to Atlanta after two years in Los Angeles, I feel like I have been reborn. Reborn under a lucky the luckiest star. Today was a shining example of this.  Shining like shrouded chandeliers and gobo lights.

The Ritz Carlton is everyone’s gold standard for perfection. I also believe that most feel that the Ritz is only for the upper crust.  But Lumen, the dazzlingly decorated lobby bar at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Atlanta is most certainly within reach.  I was invited by my friend, Tami Hardeman, from Running With Tweezers, for an early evening of cocktails and noshes. Tami had been invited by the lovely and gracious Sandra Ryder, Area Director of Public Relations for the Ritz Carlton Hotels of Atlanta, and she asked me to tag along.  As I have been yearning to visit Lumen since our return home, there was no way I would miss this opportunity.

Designed by The Johnson Studio (my favorite!), Lumen brings the Ritz Carlton to a different level altogether. It is sexy, alluring and attentive – like a fantasy lover.  But this is the real deal.  The degree of lavish attention each patron receives is seductive.  I have never felt  so pampered and cared for.  From Kristin, the amiable Bar Manager, who noticed me waiting and introduced me to Sandra, who had been waiting for us, to Kerem Kendigelen, the charismatic Food and Beverage Manager, as well as the delightful gentlemen (and I do not use that word lightly) at the valet – every single employee I encountered was charming and treated me as if I were royalty.  This is what one would hope for when visiting the Ritz Carlton, but these wonderful people really deliver.  I cannot wait to go back.

Lumen was first unveiled in June of this year. It is all about the glow.  You can’t help but feel beautiful just sitting there and sipping cocktails.  The first delicious surprise comes when you open the menu. What’s the surprise?  You know, since I am dying for you to check it out, I don’t think I will spoil it for you. Go ahead – see for yourself.  Bill Johnson and his team of miracle workers reworked this room from a plain Jane to a fierce goddess.  The sexy settees are cloaked in midnight blue mohair, perfect for that rendezvous you have been planning to relight the fire.  As we were planning a tasting of the bar menu and cocktails, Sandra chose the onyx-topped, under lit communal table for us, which was perfect.

Next, the cocktails. Tami and I both chose a signature cocktail that was created to match the artwork. Fabulous. This was my drink (description from the Ritz Carlton itself):

“Evening Bonfire”
Clem Bedwell’s dramatic work, (Lakeshore, Evening Bonfire, acrylic on canvas, 45 x 43 inches), may be viewed in The Lobby above a large-scale Chippendale Mahogany sideboard refinished in a hand-applied gilded platinum tone. “Evening Bonfire” is made with Absolut Kurant Vodka, Limocello, and Blue Curacao, served in a martini glass embellished with blueberry and mango puree, mimicking the extraordinary paint strokes and deep, rich tones of Mr. Bedwells’ inspiring canvas.

Tami’s Drink:

“Seas of Europa”
Named after the magnificent installation at the Peachtree Street entrance foyer by R. John Ichter, (Seas of Europa, mixed media on canvas, 144 x 102 inches), the “Seas of Europa” cocktail is served in a specialty martini glass acquired specifically for Lumen. Created with Stoli Straw-berry Vodka, watermelon pucker, a dash of strawberry puree and a splash of Cointreau poured over watermelon, Blue Curacao and sour apple pucker pearls, the cocktail is a whimsical representation of Mr. Ichter’s breathtaking work.

Artful Cocktails

Time for the food. Wonderful!  Chef Bennett Hollberg’s southern take on bar food is delicious and locally sourced when possible. The trout come from a place called Enchanted Springs – don’t you want a fish that comes from a magical sounding place?  Of course you do.  We sampled the Southern Style BBQ Pork Sliders with Pickled Sweet Potato – who knew you could pickle sweet potatoes? It was savory, barbeque goodness.

BBQ Sliders

Next up was the Oxtail and Wild Mushroom Flatbread, Arugula, Oven Dried Tomatoes, Fontina Cheese.  Every bite was perfection.  The wild mushroom surprises the palate with something far superior than those white buttons you are used to.  All the ingredients were super fresh. It really hit the spot.

Wild Mushroom Flatbread

There were also lavosh crackers with cider hummus. This was Tami’s favorite.  French fries came out crispy, hot and amazing. The best.

My favorite part of the evening was visiting with Chef Hollberg. Sitting down and getting to really know the chef behind the food is one of life’s greatest treats.  Chef Hollberg did not spend his childhood on the family farm, churning butter and gathering eggs. Au contraire.  He went to college on a baseball scholarship and realized that it was a full time job and one that he did not relish.  When he decided on culinary school, he moved  up to Seattle to study and after graduation moved home to his native Atlanta (there are still a few around).  Chef Hollberg, asked around on the best place to hone his craft. He was told, “the Ritz Carlton, but don’t expect to get hired”. Well – he got hired. Just like that.  And has been at the Ritz in Atlanta for three years now.  His newest passion involves smoking foods and he convinced the General Manager at the hotel to allow him to install a smoker in the kitchen.  Most unusual food he has recently smoked? Chocolate – for ice cream. Isn’t that brilliant?  We also talked about dining trends and how some other chefs fall under the impetus for food that looks clever, but may not be very appetizing.  Funny chef quote for the evening – “It needs to taste good, whether you are making grilled cheese or foie gras with sparklers in it”.  This soft spoken chef has a rapier wit.

Chef Bennett Hollberg

He has spent the better part of 2009 changing things up on the menus for both the bar at Lumen and the Atlanta Grill, upstairs in the hotel.  The Grill is reaping the rewards of the aforementioned smoker in the form of a smokehouse menu in addition to the regular offerings at the restaurant.  From beef brisket to a salmon filet, this is high end smokehouse fare.

Chef Hollberg has also put his own twist on the hotel’s high tea.  Once only serving hot tea, the hotel is now serving iced tea with a most innovative sweetener – flavored cotton candy! I love it and I bet anyone who visits will be just as delighted.  Keep attending those marketing meetings that spark these ideas, Chef Hollberg!

And then, our enchanted evening was over.   As I drove home in my trusty sedan (that I’m sure was an elegant horse drawn carriage when I arrived at the Ritz Carlton), I felt every bit the princess.

Visit Lumen. It is a magical place where you are transported from the humdrum of the everyday.  It is affordable, beautiful and bewitching.  Relax for a couple of hours in this city respite where you will feel like royalty. You will thank me.

I would like to extend many thanks to Tami, Sandra, Kerem, Kristin and of course Chef Bennett Hollberg for the very special evening.

I will definitely be back. Soon. Very soon. Maybe tonight

Take the time to pamper yourselves, Darlings – you deserve it.

xoxo, Patti

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