2016 New Year’s Eve Black Tie Dinner Party

What a fabulous evening we had in Memphis on New Year’s Eve. It was a drizzly 45 degree evening when six couples gathered for an elegant “Downtown Abbey” experience in our home. The table glowed in gold accenting the Lenox Holiday China and glass gold ruffle chargers. The beautiful gold Lenox placemats and napkins looked gorgeous. I decided on the Gorham Cherrywood crystal. The lighting in the dining room and our glass top dining table reflected the sparkle beautifully.

We were delighted to be served by a professional waiter following cocktails and appetizers in front of the fire in our great room. After our lovely dinner, we indulged in various liquers and coffee plus a New Albany Chocolate birthday cake for one of the attendees whose birthday happens to be on New Year’s Eve. We also served Ina Garten’s creme brulee, which turned out perfect. Next, we took official NYE portraits of each couple in the chocolate chair in front of the fire. Next week I will send them their photo as a momento of our lovely evening.

After donning party hats and grabbing  kazoos, our guests then stepped outside through the piano room to the pool deck where we enjoyed sparklers and light fireworks following the “guitar drop” at Gibson’s. It was a bit chilly and damp so we enjoyed coffee, champagne and truffles inside by the fire before the party adjourned. I think we made some good memories. Thought you might enjoy reading our menu.

Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman sang softly in the background . . .

2016 New Year’s Eve Menu

 8:00 PM

Appetizers and Cocktails From the Great Room in Front of the Fireplace

 Moving to the The Dining Room

 Appetizer – Seafood Au Gratin

 Soup – Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Bisque

 Elegant Fruit Salad


 Lemon Sorbet

 Main Course

 Tenderloin Beef and Whiskey Sauce

Burgundy Mushrooms

Classic Mashed Potatoes

       Spinach Souffle

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

 Olive Bread with Roasted Garlic and Butter

Crème Brulee or New Albany Chocolate Birthday Cake

 Coffee and Liquers

Champagne and Truffles at Midnight

Grand Finale

Fireworks and Outdoor Fireplace by the Pool





Downtown Abbey Opening Season Dinner Party

by Cynthia Y. Thompson

On January 5, 2014, the long-awaited first episode of the 4th season of Downtown Abbey finally arrived on PBS. The excitement mounted as my husband and I relived the 3rd season episodes each Sunday evening – plus the previews of the coming season in anticipation of the new season. We began a new ritual of elegant dining in front of the fireplace using some of our favorite menus and recipes. However, we decided to do something extra special to celebrate the new season.

The Carmichaels of Germantown, TN

The Carmichaels of Germantown, TN

This antique silver centerpiece is always on my dining room table with seasonal flowers to match the occasion or the china service I am using.

This antique silver centerpiece is always on my dining room table with seasonal flowers to match the occasion or the china service I am using.

So we invited some fellow Downtown Abbey “groupies” over for an elegant dinner party using our French Limoges (Theodore Haviland), which my husband inherited from his grandmother. We seldom have an occasion that is appropriate to use it.

What made the dinner party really special was the music we enjoyed during dinner. The Carmichaels brought the “Downtown Abbey CD,” the original music from the television series by John Lunn. I highly recommend this lovely touch for your special Sunday night dinner if you are a fan. It will take your dinner party back to The Gilded Age.

It was an unseasonably cold evening for Memphis and the perfect time for a cozy dinner party for four. I decided on an Italian theme for the menu because I wanted to serve Grisanti’s “Elfo Special.” If you are from Memphis, you know this is a special recipe! It appeared in the Commercial Appeal on January 11, 2011, and I was so thrilled to finally have it! It’s a luscious concoction of butter, garlic, shrimp, mushrooms, grated Romano cheese and thin spaghetti. I channeled Tessie Oelrichs, known as the The Gracious Hostess among the leaders of the Newport, RI, summer colony of The Gilded Age, as I cooked imagining her servants making this meal at Rosecliff for one of her elaborate dinner parties.

Place setting of Limoges with Chantilly silver by Gorham and Cherrywood crystal also by Gorham on Battenburg lace placemats.

Place setting of Limoges with Chantilly silver by Gorham and Cherrywood crystal also by Gorham on Battenburg lace placemats.

Here’s the entire menu for our special Downtown Abbey Dinner Party.

I love using the Limoges covered casserole for sauteed spinach.

I love using the Limoges covered casserole for sauteed spinach.

A green Italian Salad with chopped romain lettuce, red onions, grape tomatoes and Parmesan cheese

Elfo’s Special Pasta

Sauteed spinach with garlic and olive oil

A  loaf of Italian bread for dipping with olive oil and freshly

ground pepper

Italian Cream Cake with Prosecco

The Limoges Coffee Service

The Limoges Coffee Service

We started the evening in the great room in front of the fire and moved to our formal dining room for dinner ending up back in front of the fire for Italian Cream Cake, coffee and Prosecco for dessert.

We made a special memory on this night and I bet there are others who did also. Did you have a special dinner party for the Downtown Abbey opening season show? If so, please share it with us!

Sunday Supper in the Suburbs

Sunday supper at the new condo.

Sunday supper at the new condo.

Last Sunday we were invited to dinner with friends who just moved into their new condo after relocating back to Memphis from Virginia. It was such a treat seeing their new home and welcoming them back! Our relaxing Sunday supper started out on the patio with crudites and wine watching Bill master his grill. For me, watching a man grilling in his own space is a thing of beauty. This is how you spend Sunday summer evenings in the South. Their lovely patio is decorated with splashes of red and opens up from double French doors off the dining room.

Judy and Bill's lovely patio at their new condo.

Judy and Bill’s lovely patio at their new condo.

It was quite an elegant menu for a Sunday night. Bill made his famous caesar salad, which would have been a very satisfying meal by itself. In addition, they served steak and veggie kabobs and Judy’s baked onions in foil, which are fabulous! For dessert, it was key lime pie. The table was lovely, and was set with lime green and red fiestaware dressed up with black and lime green place mates in a geometric pattern with black linen napkins. The built in china cabinet in the dining room is a nice touch and displays some of Judy’s red fiestaware.JudysChinaCabinet

After dinner, we took a leisurely stroll through the new neighborhood with a glass of wine. The weather was gorgeous, which is incredible for the first of June in Memphis! We wrapped up the evening watching a rerun of the final episode of
Season 3 of Downton Abbey. What synchronicity given that we saw the original episode together following a dinner party at our house a few months earlier! It was lovely sharing it with them again. My husband and I are voracious Downton Abbey fans and cannot wait for Season 4!!! It was a lovely ending for a lovely Sunday supper in the suburbs. We are so glad to have our dear friends back in Memphis.