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Après Eclipse

Suzanne Pollak

No need to call off the party after viewing the Total Solar Eclipse this afternoon. Make your friends a drink!

No need to call off the party after viewing the Total Solar Eclipse this afternoon. Make your friends a drink!

Q: What’s better than hosting eleven for dinner? A: Making cocktails for just a few!

This August, invite guests over for a Late Summer Old Fashioned. Serve with a platter of coppa, speck & pâté (we rely on Goat Cow Sheep) along with silver bowls full of almonds and heirloom cherry tomatoes. Easy Peasy!

Here's to make our signature cocktail, plus a tip on how to refresh your drink without overdoing it.

Late Summer Old Fashioned

  1. Fill cocktail glass with large cubes of ice. Pour in bourbon.*
  2. Sprinkle quite a few drops of peach bitters on top (five to ten according to your love of peaches) plus three or four drops Angostura bitters. 
  3. Top with soda, and garnish with a slice of peach and a cherry. 
  4. To slow down after one or too many drinks, without throwing in the towel, make this cocktail sans bourbon. In your same glass, refresh the ice, pour a speciality soda (Fever Tree or Mountain Valley), then top with a generous splattering of bitters. This concoction is as delicious as a real cocktail and will make you feel better in the morning.

*To use an old bartender's trick -- three to five second pours equal an ounce or two in the glass.

Cheers, and Happy Eclipse-ing, from the Academy's Summer School!

Pick from Your Neighborhood

Suzanne Pollak

When he walks down the steps and sees the fronds, the person living here thinks, This is my kind of house!

When he walks down the steps and sees the fronds, the person living here thinks, This is my kind of house!

Even if you must sneak out before dawn so as not to get caught, do it! Clipping fronds and ferns is not really stealing. Leaves grow back. The trick to the chicest arrangements is choosing different textures, colors and heights. Stuff your pickings into a long vase filled with water, bottom leaves stripped so as not to contaminate the water.

Think of this as an architecture project. Take a look at your space and then use your imagination. Leaving air between leaves allows imaginary butterflies to fly through. The goal is to for the width and height to fill the space on a hall table so every time you walk by, or go up and down the stairs, wherever your interior path may lead -- a jolt of jolly green pleasure hits you.

Natural, fresh, sometimes with a delicious aroma, this easy-to-DIY project breathes life into your space. The arrangement can actually make you feel different, like you are in the house that you deserve to be in. 

SUMMER PARTY PLAYLIST

Suzanne Pollak

Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot, & Eddie Barclay beat the heat with style in St. Tropez. Where else?

Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot, & Eddie Barclay beat the heat with style in St. Tropez. Where else?

Once you know what to wear to a mid- (OK maybe late) Summer eve cocktail party, you may as well just get gussied up and host one of your own. But you are going to need a signature cocktail -- perhaps a Paloma? -- and some choice tunes to make it all sing!

So we turned to our dear friend, Alex Admiral Collier, composer and music manager at Eastward Music for a summer playlist to help entertain guests and distract from the blistering heat. This playlist includes new and old songs alike, to usher in wistful memories of cooler, simpler times. Enjoy while imbibing with friends for a heightened sense of nostalgia while subconsciously creating new memories. CHEERS!

A Few Indispensable Tips on Cocktail Party Attire

Suzanne Pollak

It’s chic to wear a fantastic ‘something’ over and over to make it your signature. Just as smart hosts cook their favorite recipe again and again, no matter who comes to dinner, because they know their guests look forward to their culinary specialty; the chicest women throughout history know the style repetition secret. 

Even a simple ensemble can become your signature with the right attitude and accessories...

Even a simple ensemble can become your signature with the right attitude and accessories...

That 'thing’ can be an accessory, a dress, a shoe. The Dean learned from native and expatriate ladies swanning into her parents 1960's cocktail parties all over Africa. Women wore cigarette pants for casual affairs and jewel-toned satin mini cocktail dresses at fancier parties. Along with real hair dos (coifs, up-dos), eye liner flaring out just like Cleopatra, brilliant lips inhaling pearl or golden cigarette holders, perhaps even a huge cocktail ring or elaborate earrings...none of these beauties boasted a colossal wardrobe with unlimited choices but they had a cocktail uniform that took them anywhere. Once vital decisions are decided, brains are free to tackle life’s thornier problems: whom to invite to the party, which stranger to talk to first at someone else’s, how to grab attention, connect, ignite a fire, or tactfully end a conversation that's headed nowhere.

One Taffin ring...

One Taffin ring...

and another.

and another.

The teenage Dean appropriated the tip immediately and forever. Deciding and simplifying what to wear wherever is cheaper and quicker once you you know what suits you. Dressing becomes a snap, so be loyal and stick with your style. Adding that something extra, or taking it off, makes the outfit appropriate for the particular party and place. 

Because, of course, it makes a difference where the cocktail party is: Hollywood, California, Hollywood SC, Beirut, Tripoli or Paris; the Ambassador’s residence or your neighbor’s garden? "When in Rome," so the saying goes. You don’t want to be dramatically different than everyone else unless you can handle it. For example, a man does not wear a motorcycle jacket when he attends a soirée at Charleston’s  Yacht Club. Men there wear the proper uniform of khaki pants and a blue blazer. The Dean once knew two young American beauties visiting the south of France who were assured that everyone, absolutely everyone, went topless to parties at a certain place. Perhaps a little naïve, they showed up appropriately undressed to a party filled with elegant older couture-covered guests. Still embarrassed decades later! 

Dressing comes down to the first impression. What can a first impression tell us about someone whom we only met for a moment at a party? Of course we all know human beings are complex and contradictory, but you don’t have to live with someone to sense immediately if you want more of them or less. The package of you starts with eye contact, the smile and what is draping your body. Identify what you want out of the engagement. Something, or nothing? There to sip one bourbon, or to possibly meet your next business associate or romantic partner? You don’t want your clothes to get in the way. A woman does not want to be so flashy others are distracted from substance, but neither does she want to seem too dowdy. 

Figure out your primary assets -- cleavage, neck, arms, hair -- and choose cocktail attire accordingly. For your own engagement, you will need to move, sit and stand. As a guest you can swan around or sprawl on a sofa as you wish.

For reference, here is the Dean's summer cocktail uniform: Hart tassels, J. McLaughlin white blouse and cigarette pants, with extra pointy shoes to make legs look longer. This pair of Balenciaga mules harkens back to the time of Robin Hood! Because they are extravagant, they will be worn with jeans all fall and winter, for hosting ladies luncheons and gumbo dinner parties, with a Halloween costume, for a Thanksgiving feast and Christmas dinner, even just for hanging out at home.

MORE on How to Host a Bridal Shower (for Martha Stewart Weddings)

Suzanne Pollak

The Dean, Etiquette Expert Extraordinaire, returned to Martha Stewart Weddings with some additional tips on how to host a Summer Bridal Shower. For everything from menu suggestions (spoiler alert: no messy finger foods) to theme ideas, as well as how to hone your guest list, check out the full piece HERE...

A Case for Tarte Tatin

Suzanne Pollak

A tarte tatin is best of American pie but adds a French twist, perhaps most fitting in these days between Independence and Bastille Day. Since South Carolina peaches are at the peak of perfection, why not try using seasonal fresh fruit instead of the traditional apple?

Adding to the inherent deliciousness of caramelized fruit edges, making a tarte tatin is even easier than pie. For starters, the dough only involves two steps: making the dough and rolling the dough. No fitting dough into a pie pan, stretching it, wondering, Will go up the sides of the pie pan all the way around? Will I have enough dough to make strips for a lattice top? Then there is the chore of decorative edges on the crust using fork tines or thumb indentations. Pies are wonderful, tasty and works of art, yes, but a tarte tatin is all that and more! 

The extra sizzle comes from sautéing the tart when it emerges from its thirty minute bake so that the fruit edges crisp up and turn dark golden. To guild the lily even more, whip up a cup of heavy cream for a side spoonful. Vanilla ice cream is delicious, but if you are sticking with the French theme, then homemade whipped cream is heavenly. Bonus: your arms get a tiny bit of a work out. 

Pies and tarts say and do so much. It's the baker whispering to the eater (even when the eater is the baker herself), I love you, and all is right in the world...at least for this moment. Fruit tarts and pies satisfy, soothe, and signal Summertime. Paired with a cafe au lait, left over slices make a healthy and indulgent breakfast. What else so small can deliver so much satisfaction? 

Find the full recipe for Peach Tarte Tatin HERE...

The Dean on Bridal Showers (for Martha Stewart Weddings)

Suzanne Pollak

Betsy von Furstenberg and company ("Look" Magazine, 1950)

Betsy von Furstenberg and company ("Look" Magazine, 1950)

The Dean was pleased to offer her foolproof tips for throwing your first bridal shower, over on the Martha Stewart Weddings blog today. From how to plan and decorate, to properly introducing your guests to one another -- even how to get them to leave when the party is over -- the Academy is here to make sure the party happens without a hitch.

Read the full article, "How to Be the Ultimate First-Time Hostess," HERE!

The Makings of a Pork Chop

Suzanne Pollak

An advisor to the Academy, the Minister of Meat, maintains that a pork chop is harder to perfect than a steak.* We all know where a pork chop comes from** but not many of us know the simple secrets to cooking a chop that will blow your mind this time, and every time.

What we don’t want is a grey pork chop. A grey chop means the heat wasn’t high enough. It means that you were chicken. Don’t get chicken with the pig. The difference between chefs and home cooks is that chefs are not afraid of high heat. The pork chop goal is juicy pink inside, crispy fat on the outside. The difficulty lies between crusty on the outside and tender on the inside. The following are the Pork Chop Poobah’s exact directions for the perfect pork chop, which he follows to the letter every time: 

  • Pork chops 
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • Pears, apples or peaches, thickly sliced***
  1. For starters, buy your pork chops from the best butcher in town. It is literally impossible to make an inferior pork chop superior. In Charleston we go to Ted's.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. When surface is hot, pour a generous slug of olive oil in pan. You are not frying the chop, but you need more oil than a bare sheen. Using enough hot oil is the reason why the fat crisps and becomes delicious. This heated oil is definitely going to splatter, so wear an apron to protect your clothes, and know you will be wiping the stove and floor near the stove during clean up time. Your stomach and loved one’s stomachs are worth that hassle. 
  3. When the oil starts to pop or "spit" (about thirty seconds), lay the pork chops in pan and leave the chop alone for exactly five minutes. Then turn the chop over. The Pork Doctor says that the second side is the creative side. Not to make you crazy, but he says listen to the vibe. The Dean’s translation: depending on the chop’s thickness, temperature of pan surface, even the humidity, the second side is done in three to five minutes. After cooking pork chops a few times you will know exactly when it is ready by touching and looking. Until that time comes, know that your chop is finished when the second side’s fat is crispy but the interior is pale pink. Stick a knife tip into middle of the meat and take a look at the color. It’s a fine line between pinky perfection and grey overtones.
  4. When you turn the chop to the second side, place sage leaves and slices of pears around the chops. Both leaves and fruit will be ready in two minutes, when browned and crispy. If the chops need another minute, remove the sage and pears with tongs onto a paper towel first, and then take the chops out.
  5. Serve pork chops with sage and pears on the side.****

*Why is a pork chop harder to cook than a steak? Steak is more forgiving. Cooking a streak properly means charring the outside and leaving the inside rare. You can guesstimate by looking at the thickness. There is more leeway between black and blue rare and overdone for a steak than there is for a pork chop. 

**A pork chop is from the loin of a pig, which runs from the hip to the shoulder and contains the small strip of meat called the tenderloin. The most common chops you see in the butcher case are from the ribs and the loin.

***Fruit and pork go together like Fred & Ginger. Use apples or pears in the fall and winter, peaches in the summer.  

****For a colorful feast, serve alongside sautéed yellow wax beans and roasted cauliflower.

 

Centerpiece for a Mother's Day Feast

Suzanne Pollak

The Dean makes it her business to meet passionate home cooks who keep salmon secrets up their sleeves. Each new way with salmon winds up being her newest excitement. Last summer, it was French -- the perfect marriage of poached salmon, fresh tarragon and heavy cream.

Now, a new salmon master has emerged to reveal an innovative, easy recipe pairing salmon with dill, making each tastier together than individually, as with any good match. How did the new King of Salmon know that combo would work? What lay at the heart of his recipe is a deep understanding of links between flavors. Dill has a nervy, clean taste that benefits rich fish. Dill is complex, demanding and opinionated, very much like the creator of this recipe. Three forks up to the newest King of Salmon.

Here is his deceptively simple recipe for Salmon with Dill:

  • Salmon (Not farmedWe use Scottish Salmon from Ted’s Butcher Shop, flown in fresh every day. Using a whole side is very impressive but you might have to cut into two pieces to fit into 9” sauté pans.)
  • Olive oil
  • Dill
  1. Preheat oven to 475. 
  2. Heat sauté pan over high heat. When hot, pour enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan. Let oil heat for twenty or thirty seconds, then place salmon skin side up for two minutes. Using a spatula turn salmon over, to skin side down, and continue cooking for another two or three minutes,  depending on thickness of the piece.  Remember, the oil will splatter, so wear an apron.
  3. Cover top of salmon with many sprigs of dill, then place sauté pan (with salmon) in oven for seven minutes. If salmon is on the thin side, check after five minutes. Dill’s feathery fronds will crisp, the salmon will be succulent and you will be a star! 

 

Porch Love

Suzanne Pollak

(Photos courtesy of G. P. Schafer)

(Photos courtesy of G. P. Schafer)

Charleston’s single and double porches have long been synonymous with hospitality. We entertain on our piazzas all year long because temperate climate offers a type of living not available in many urban environments.  These are special spaces to watch clouds move across the sky, birds fly in formation or snap to attention on a telephone wire...all while protecting us from a sudden rainstorm or blazing sun.

On a windy Winter afternoon, there is no better place to sit with a loved one, wrapped in a blanket while sipping smokey Hu-kwa tea sweetened with honey from the bees in the backyard. In Summer, the porch ceiling fan must whirl full speed and ice buckets stay filled with large cubes for the five o'clock cocktail hour, when bourbon and drops of bitters aid in watching the sun set and moon rise.

Communication is different on porches, upstairs and down. Why? Spaces effect people's behavior. On a ground floor porch, one converses with street walkers and neighbors across the garden, or possibly meets a passing stranger who might transform her life. Elevated porches are a different environment altogether: exotic, hidden, perfect for private uninterrupted conversations -- honest, vulnerable, and open -- a place to forge a deep connection. 

Outdoor rooms and fresh air make people looser and more able to talk freely, telling truths comfortably. People behave and think a certain way in an interior room and often say what they’ve said before. Four interior walls may hem one in physiologically. Outside, it’s easier to say things you have never said, perhaps even startling yourself.  

Spending a good portion of the day on a porch can make you feel differently too. Porch life is less chaotic, fresh air calms. And though you might sit on the porch all day, you won’t feel cooped up. The porch becomes your own little cocoon. A porch is a cozy room, an outside room, a safe sanctuary. Long Live the Piazzas!

The Right Tools for the Job

Suzanne Pollak

Angles matter. Whether cutting garlic cloves to release the most flavor, testing the doneness of steamed cauliflower, or simply choosing a spatula -- it’s all about esthetics & practicality.

Tony Hendra, Charleston Academy's Dean of Wit, likes to thinly slice his garlic because "the large combined surface area of the garlic means it releases its flavor faster and more fully when it hits the oil. Also crispy sautéed garlic slices are one of the great toppings for pasta, fish, and veggies (e.g. haricots verts.) In fact they're up there with 'amandine' or crispy sautéed almond slices. Sometimes I mix them to make my own special amandine.

I rarely mince unless I'm in high heels.  I only chop wood and suey."

We often use the term "Goodfellas thin" in reference to the famous scene in which lead character Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) describes how mob boss Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino) prepared dinner while they were doing time: “In prison, dinner was always a big thing. We had a pasta course, then we had a meat or a fish. Paulie was doing a year for contempt and had a wonderful system for garlic. He used a razor and sliced it so thin it would liquify in the pan with a little oil. It’s a very good system.”

When testing the readiness of steamed vegetables, people often use the tip of a knife. The Dean has learned that sometimes a knife tip is wrong for the gig. Using the tines of a fork with cauliflower is better. Three or four prongs provide greater surface area for poking and give a more accurate decision of doneness. 

Finally, the almighty spatula. The angle of the spatula makes the utensil more, or less, useful. In the photo, the top spatula, by Oneida, will enable the cook to slide food from the pan without having to tilt a screaming hot object.

In the kitchen, you're only as good as your tools. And remember, it's never the oven's fault...

The Academy in Charleston Magazine

Suzanne Pollak

The fine folks at Charleston Magazine recently paid the Dean a visit in order to taste a slice of life at the Academy. As always, she was happy to oblige with a tour of her Rainbow Row home, designed by James de Givenchy, as well as the garden, overflowing with citrus and honey.

Read the article and view the slideshow HERE at www.charlestonmag.com.

I Heard You Twice the First Time

Suzanne Pollak

When it comes to managing uncommunicative teenagers, your home is the ideal place to get this surly age group to start talking to you. The second most ideal place is your car, essentially the family home on wheels.

A well-known fact is that everyone feels comfortable in anyone's kitchen, even young adults. So set up an environment that puts teens at ease around a kitchen island or countertop, and organize a project making gnocchi together.  Making and forming gnocchi will be a learning experience, no matter how expert you are already. (If you are frightened by the prospect then get the Academy to do the teaching.)

Here's what happens when you are creating something with your hands and concentration is needed: brains are 75% occupied with task at hand, which makes the other 25% of motor functions relax. Don't ask the Dean why but she knows this is a proven fact after raising four of her own children. Talking subjects can be about the steps to making the gnocchi, a completely non-threatening topic which offers lots of areas for delving into -- food, culture, nutrition, taste. Not to mention that a hands-on experience is always more fun to do with someone else, because you become pals in a project instead of adversaries.

If you can get into a routine (maybe once a month) a one-on-one tradition may start and memories will be made, believe us! Once a skill becomes more familiar and less scary, there is always opportunity for laughing at mistakes which will definitely occur, being proud of the final product, and creating a delicious dinner. With patience, the space will arise for talking about other, more personal subjects...maybe not on the first try but eventually. Number one key: don't ask penetrating questions, which moms can be expert at doing.

Nightly dinners are the time and place to become an active listener. Ask questions that need more than a yes or no response, but remember, not too personal! The big mistake is to do all the talking or give too many opinions. Allow these teenagers of yours time to answer a question so they can formulate what they want to say and how. Let these guys be the smartest ones in the room. Every person needs that. 

Flash Party in Review

Suzanne Pollak

No One Hour Party ever left anyone feeling quite like this...at least not of its own accord. 

No One Hour Party ever left anyone feeling quite like this...at least not of its own accord. 

The reason why the penultimate night of the year is ideal for a One Hour Party is because the following night always starts too early, goes on for too long and ends up a little snooze-y by the time the Ball drops. Not to mention, the OHP must be given in cities or neighborhoods where guests can easily get to the party by foot or by a short taxi ride, without a long travel commitment. Sixty minutes of fun isn’t worth a thirty minute commute.

People arrive knowing they do not have a lot of time, sort of like Henry the VIII with his wives. Get right to it! Find the person you most want to talk to, dispense with wasted words and wasted time, delve into a real conversation. The clicking time clock remains on guests minds in an exciting way.

The infamous Ice Cube Trick worked wonders, saved time and even impressed the Academy’s Dean of Drinkery. The hostess discovered that it only takes a moment to separate ice from water balloons when you run under the faucet to melt slightly. The orbs were placed in waiting Old Fashioned glasses and lined up on the bar for guests to ladle their punch into upon arrival. This functioned as a way to get hands involved immediately -- a tiny but genius trick. (Anybody would rather pour a cocktail than wash a dish.)

As for hors d'ouevres, the hostess made ‘cocktail' instead of ‘breakfast' biscuits, which required a healthy grinding of fresh pepper into the dough. Then, the host filled biscuits with very generous servings of speck and lardo. He announced that the lardo replaced the cheese with its creamy texture. There was enough black pepper plus slices of speck to excite every taste bud and satisfy each stomach until guests enjoyed their dinner at some other place later on in the evening.

Don’t be fooled as to the workload of an OHP. It's hardly different than a regular cocktail party except for the fact that you offer one and only one appetizer + cocktail. The host went with the season and made a citrus & tequila punch. For those who didn’t want hard alcohol or would have rather had wine…too bad! They made due with Pellegrino for sixty minutes.

People policed themselves and really did manage to leave at the one hour mark, except for the couple who stayed and stayed and thank goodness they did! How else would we have discovered our Goose Guest, a financial man with a Ph.D. in goose and all it’s culinary charms? Which brings us to the final secret to any successful party, whether a quickie or an all-nighter: Invite the widest range of guests possible in ages, professions, interests. The Dean herself was honored to be included in the eclectic One Hour Party mix. 

Out on the Town in IBU

Suzanne Pollak

The Academy is always up for anything dear pals down the street at IBU throw our way, so when they asked the Dean to model their Holiday best, she (quite literally) jumped at the chance! Hitting the streets with old friend Eddie and new friend Amanda in bespoke finery -- which just happens to be ethically sourced and crafted by women in developing countries -- could not have been more FUN. Read more about our adventures and outfits in their most recent newsletter here.

We are happy to say the holidays are upon us, and there's nothing we'd rather wear to parties or gift to our besties than IBU! 

Dinners for Three

Suzanne Pollak

The Dean loves a good trio. The chicest dinner party she's attended of late happened in NYC, hosted by a super busy deputy director of a major institution (a friend whose identity shall remain a secret, as always.) Somehow, this doyenne finds the time to cook, set a glorious table, pour champagne, and even, in Summers past, fill a kitchen shelf with bottles of her put-up tomatoes, peaches, plums -- which just proves the Academy's number one discovery: the busiest people in the world somehow manage to get the the most done.

Enter this beauty's house and her dinner is nearly prepared, but not quite. Genius move! The guest sees the host in action and the house smells heavenly so taste buds tingle. The entertaining atmosphere becomes cozy, soothing, comforting, exciting, relaxing all at once because you are hanging out in the kitchen. Who wouldn't fall in love? 

Her no fail hors d'oeuvres? More genius! Chips and cashews. No work, easy peasy.  The water bottles on the table? Genius again! This exotic lady collects interesting shaped liquor bottles and when the alcohol is finished, keeps the beautiful bottles filled with water in her fridge. 

The Dean loves peeking into powder rooms, whether she needs to use one or not. These tiny rooms reveal so much. Her's was moody and sexy with a dimly burning candle, scented not too sweet. (Cloying candles are a major turn off, if you don't already know.) The dark aura would make anyone appear beautiful. Here's a tip -- if you want all your guests to feel glamorous, then the powder room is a tool in your arsenal. 

Back to the guest number...three is just perfect. You will have a chance to really get to know someone if one is unknown. Or, if you are old friends, then you can really catch up. Dinners for three are less work, easier to clean up, and deliver huge returns. Relationships glue together by the end of the night. 

Thank you my NYC Secret Lake Diver.

Expand your Base

Suzanne Pollak

Now is the time to  broaden your social horizons.

Make a point to meet someone interesting every single week, someone you want to get to know better. You never know what might develop down the road, or whom you might eventually meet through this person. Perhaps a professional (or even personal) connection will spark.

Rule #1: Make that first date short, a half hour for coffee or tea. Building a long relationship begins with tiny steps.

Rule #2: Remember to leave them wanting more of you, not less -- which means don’t overstay your welcome, make any type of demands, or in any way ask for a favor. In fact, the only things you are allowed to ask are questions about this new person.

Rule #3: Report back to the Academy on how quickly your life is improved by this simple practice....

Life Hacks for MEN

Suzanne Pollak

Because men need the Academy* too...

54835edb400e1_-_mcx-breakfast-in-bed-004.jpg

The Dean recently taught a class full of gents looking for ways to improve their life at home. Her sure-fire strategy? Feed your beloved breakfast in bed!

Three words:

  • FLOWERS. When arranging, it’s all about color, scent, and simplicity. Pink or red is the color of love. Tulips and daisies are beautiful; lilies and roses smell divine. Combine to up the ante (but careful not to crowd the vase.)

  • FRITTATA. Remember, a frittata is just an open-faced omelet. The latter cooks quickly over high heat, while a frittata goes low and slow. Omelets are folded when the eggs are still runny; a frittata is firm, flat, and round. No special pans required, but it should be cooked on both sides. Of course, you could flip in mid-air like a boss, or it’s perfectly fine to employ your broiler. There are an endless number of fillings you can add to a base of eggs (3/person, freshly laid if you can find them), a splash of cream, salt & pepper -- tomatoes and basil, asparagus and creamy cheese, or even any meat/vegetable leftovers you have in your fridge. Try it! See if it’s not delicious.

  • FANTASY. It starts with dessert in bed. You can venture away from alliteration, or you could serve Fruit (cored pears, filled with liquor, sprinkled with sugar, and passed under the broiler for a few minutes) and Fudge Cake. Choose your own adventure. You’re also going to need whipped cream, which everyone knows has multiple uses. Make arms strong hand-whipping** and vastly improve, along with a splash of brown liquor, an otherwise ordinary cup of coffee.

Most importantly, Fellas, don’t forget to clean up! The whole point of breakfast in bed is to show the love, and appreciate this fantastic catch of a person who does so much to make your life better. So, if you leave a big greasy aftermath in the kitchen, then you have just ruined all the love vibes you worked so hard to create.***

Join us next week for Class Two: In the Bedroom...where we’ll teach the fine art of making the bed somebody actually wants to jump into.

 

*And feminism!

**Thou shalt not mention “aerosol can” in the hallowed halls of the Academy.

***Unless, of course, you are in the thick of new romance, then all is forgiven.

 

 

Blow Open Your Tabletops

Suzanne Pollak

Now to address a few burning Bridal FAQs re: table settings, centerpieces, and personal style. A wedding registry is no time for strict guidelines, but rather a chance to begin building your collection for decades of dinner parties to come. No matter what stress should ever consume your day, you can ease out of it by cooking dinner, sipping a glass of wine, and setting the table (and mood) for the night ahead.

No need to register for two china patterns, one fancy and one for everyday. Way too old school! Far better to delve deep into your inner being and suss out all the aspects of your person. Think color, moods, passions, place...

For example, maybe you appreciate hand-carved wood -- consider a collection of handmade bowls. There's no end to what you can do with these. Use smaller ones for olives and nuts at cocktail hour, or for individual starter salads at dinner. Fill larger bowls with BIG salads, or perhaps something else interesting (citrus, hankies, pens and paper for a parlor game) to set as a centerpiece. Or, choose wooden chargers. And you know what looks good with wood? Gold, of course!

Just look at this extravagant, marvelous, opulent Royal Crown Derby. Who can afford to collect a whole set? And besides that, who wants to? It is so too much, simply over the top. All that gold cancels out to equal a big let down, where a one-size plate sizzles and shines on the table. Perfection! A gold salad plate looks amazing filled with greens for a salad course, chocolate tart for dessert... Actually, everything looks good with gold.

Okay, how to satisfy your love of birds? Consider Ginori. There is nothing as wonderful as a set of 8 or 12 or 24 dinner plates featuring birds. These beauties yearn for a Thanksgiving dinner to be placed on them, but dazzle even under an everyday roast chicken. These plates say something about you; your passion for nature, individual style, love of design. What could be more boring than a whole set of one china pattern covering the table? The older the Dean gets, the more she thinks, YUCK. This person has let someone else tell her what to do, and ignored that inner voice of what she likes.

What appeals most to us? Anything but flipping through ad-filled magazines, shopping at bridal superstores, or listening to friends and family who have never identified true style. Plates and objects on a table are a way to express yourself. So are centerpieces: flowers mixed with fruit, bunches of veggies and greens that will become tomorrows main course, a handmade pie that will become tonight's dessert.

Have fun with the rest! Modern flatware choices might include horn (so chic) or bronze (gleams on the table and unique to boot) but there is still something to be said for a classic silver pattern. The most popular through the ages? Francis the First has that swirly Baroque feel which pairs so well with plain, stark, straight. Don't be afraid to mix high and low. As for napkins, it's all about juxtaposing different colors, textures, and aspects of your personality. Sometimes you feel flirty and fun, other times more composed and traditional. Sometimes girly, sometimes a huntress.

Let it all out on the table, loves. These kind of style decisions will get you well on your way to bolstering your confidence. No one needs to tell you they approve. If you like it, then go for it. That’s exactly what the Dean does, and it has always worked for her.