Friday, June 1, 2012

Memorial Day At Almost Heaven South

Many bloggers have posted their delicious suggestions for Memorial Day eats and I enjoyed reading them, but we did something slightly different.  Our blogger party was on May 27 and we invited Penny & Dave Klett, Sam & Meakin Hoffer, and his brother Stu and SIL Sandy to stay with us rather than leave the party early to drive home or get a motel room. 

When Meakin said to put him to work helping with the party cooking, as an alternative, I suggested that they stay over an extra night and the brothers cook us one of their special meals I’d been hearing about from Sam – and they agreed.  In addition I got some photography lessons from Meakin and Sam and a gift of white boards to help me with light management.

So after a Larry breakfast of home fries with onions and green peppers, fried eggs, scrapple and rye toast, we turned the kitchen over to them and moved around to the peanut gallery to watch the magic happen.

They first made some croutons and the elements for gazpacho, so it could be chilling in the fridge.

Then after a power nap, they were ready to get down to the serious business of preparing this meal – I guess we could have grilled burgers, but this seemed like an acceptable Memorial Day alternative, don’t you think? They had a menu copy for each diner so we’d know where we were and what was coming next.

Dinner at Almost Heaven South  
Monday, May 28, 2012
Guests Chefs – Stuart & Meakin Hoffer

Savory Bleu Cheese Popovers 

First Course
Chilled Spanish Gazpacho Soup with  Crispy Croutons 

Roasted Tenderloin of Beef
Napped with a Peppery Port Wine & Fig Reduction  
Garnished with Caper Berries 

Mediterranean Style Ratatouille 

Truffle Infused Mashed Potatoes 

Crispy Fried Shallots 

Cheese Course
Four cheeses with Honey Rosemary Glaze 

New Orleans Style Bananas Foster over Vanilla Ice Cream 


I’ll let Sam & Meakin do the primary posting about the meal itself as most of my shots were of the cook’s in action, so be sure to check in at My Carolina Kitchen to get the details.  Stu and Meakin made a great team and worked unbelievably well together.  They brought a cooler and several boxes of ingredients and utensils with them from home - leaving nothing to chance.  It’s obvious they had spent a great deal of time planning both their menu and what it would take to pull it off.

This is the beef filet coming to room temperature for roasting.

I believe this is the ratatouille being made. 

Then the gazpacho was served. 

After eating the soup, the brothers went about the preparation and plating of the main course, beginning with removing the meat from the oven to rest.  Note Sam's watchful eye on Meakin's potato mashing process.

This is my plate of beef, ratatouille, and potatoes and the nice little touches of fried shallots and a caper berry - my learning was that even with great food, adding the little touches can take it to the next level - Bev does this but I rarely do.

I cannot imagine going to restaurant anywhere on the planet and getting a better meal and I know it wouldn’t have been as much fun as sitting on the kibitzer stools, sipping wine, and watching the Hoffer boys in action.  Everything was perfectly cooked and I even loved the ratatouille, which was a first.  I pled with them to come back this weekend and do another one, but I’m suspicious it’s not going to happen.  Thanks guys for a wonderful dining experience that will be talked about for years.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  None

Two years ago:  Memorial Day At Almost Heaven South


5/28/12  meal date


  1. Now that is a stunning meal and excellent company as well!

  2. And I can almost imagine all of the conversations were hilarious too.

  3. Great post Larry and you got some fabulous pictures too. We were thrilled for the invitation to stay the extra night and prepare a special dinner for you & Bev. We all had a good time didn't we.

    Kibitzing and "offering" suggestions sitting on the side lines is so much fun. That picture of me watching Meakin mash the potatoes is hilarious.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed the meal and I know Stuart and Meakin are too. They thoroughly enjoyed planning it and working together in the kitchen. And best of all for me was all I had to do was watch!

  4. WHAT A PARTY! It just keeps getting better and better! Put us down in ink for next year (including the after party!)

    Dave and Jackie

  5. My gosh, what next? I suppose Ina Garten came in the next morning to prepare breakfast for everyone? I'm not missing next year. I am blown away by this meal. Fabulous. Love the printed menu, love the meal. I'm thinking I couldn't find anything like that here in Colorado ... maybe at the Broadmoor. Impressive.

  6. Now that is a meal for sure! And I completely believe that it was better than any restaurant - it sure looks that way to me!!

  7. What a feast. You gather friends, Larry, like bees gather honey. It must have been a fabulous holiday weekend. I'm heading over to Sam's place to get some recipes. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  8. Now they are the kind of guests that you want to invite over and over! lol Beautiful menu and everything looks scrumptious. I'll have to be sure and invite them to my next shindig!

    Great shot of Bev with the crawfish!

  9. Lordy, and I am sure they washed their own dishes too... such good friends, so great to have such...
    meals like this are much better and such more meaningful than dining out with friends, so glad you shared...

  10. Yup better than any restaurant!

  11. What a wonderful time you all must have had! Too bad we don't live a bit closer or we could let you guys cook up a storm here once in awhile. Great folks, good food, and I'm sure lots of laughs... great way to live, Larry.

    PS: love your header photo of Bev! that's a winner.

  12. PSS: and I'd have plenty of fresh eggs for you. :)

  13. Oh it all looks so wonderful! What a great time you had.

  14. Wish we could have stayed one more night too! What a great meal.

  15. Hi, there!
    I had to come over from Sam's, to see more of the feast you all had over Memorial Day weekend.
    Are you ever taking in any kitchen help for room and board? ;-)
    Cheers from Vienna (land of frozen crawfish from China),

  16. I totally agree, this was a first class meal that you could get in these here parts. I'm drooling.


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