Friday, May 8, 2015

Lunch For Two: An Early Mother's Day Celebration

My mother is a practical woman who is also creative. When entertaining others she dips into her endless supply of imagination and energy, but when it comes to pleasing herself she truly relishes the ordinary. For instance, one of her favorite ways to unwind is a drive. The destination depends on her mood. If she's stressed, she claims the car transports her to Dunkin Donuts. She orders a small coffee with a glazed donut from the drive through. She picks it up, parks the car and with closed eyes, slowly takes a bite ... savoring each morsel. You can literally see her tune out the world. It's simple, it's easy and it's her.

Over the years, she has taught me that when it comes to entertaining, it's all about the experience of your guests. When she entertains, she truly considers whom she is serving ... right down to her guest's sensibilities, interests and tastes. This inspired me to turn the tables this Mother's Day and give her an experience that took HER sensibilities, interests and tastes into consideration. I came up with an early celebratory lunch for two that combined her passions: entertaining and the enjoyment of simple pleasures.

In this case, I assumed the role of hostess and the simple pleasure was sharing her two favorite American comfort foods: Fried Chicken and Donuts.

I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, so I decided to travel the convenient route of "take away" dining. Remarkably, there happens to be a place here in Philadelphia that offers BOTH of my mother's favorites ... the "counter-serve" restaurant, Federal Donuts. A staple in the blend of comfort food and innovation, Federal Donuts freshly and exclusively prepares creative flavors of fried chicken and donuts under one roof. When I swung open the blue door to enter into what smelled like gastro heaven, I stood at the counter and was amazed. There were so many delicious options that I couldn't decide among any of them and so I ordered one of each donut and a sampling of the various flavors of fried chicken. My mother could not believe how much food I brought home.

Purchasing and carrying home the meal was easy. It was when I got home that my real work as a hostess began.

With "store bought" or take away food, I like to make sure the plating and presentation are special. I believe that a personal touch to anything, whether homemade or not brings a feeling of warmth and thought when you're sharing a meal. The mache greens that served as a bed for the chicken, not only looked lovely, but the soft, fresh taste of the leaves were a perfect accompaniment to the different flavors of chicken without competing with the spices. Raw radishes provided a crisp, watery bite and a pop of color to the platter presentation. I admit that this particular meal was not the healthiest of options, but I believe that occasional indulgences are an important part of living life!

It was a gorgeous day and I knew we could both use some fresh air and sunshine, which prompted me to prepare our tiny city deck for its first dining alfresco inhabitants since the early fall.

I may have a passion for fine china, but my mother has a passion for quality table linen and so I made sure that the table was set with Francois Jacquard linens topped with floral, Haviland & Parlon china and Faberge silver. For fun, I pulled two glasses from my collection of vintage peanut butter jars to serve rosemary and orange infused water. A muted and personally styled floral arrangement, made up of ranunculus, gerber daisies and roses, served as a natural accent to our setting.

Overall the tablescape was simple, but the various colors and textures of the linen, silver and china mixed with the fresh air and the complex flavors of the food brought a bright and cheery feeling of sophistication and well-appointed style (something my mother absolutely loves).

Our lunch was a delectable treat for our palates, aesthetic tastes and most importantly our souls. My mother savored her fried chicken and declared the Buttermilk - Ranch her favorite. We both took slivers of the donuts, sampling them all. For an hour, we talked, laughed and delighted in each other's uninterrupted company (something we rarely come by these days). As I watched her smile and take in the joy of our time together, I thought about how there are never enough ways to thank my mother for all that she does. There are no words to describe her unending support, her love, her dedication and her guidance. I reflected on how thankful I am that she never gives up on me. She never stops showing me how much she cares or how much she respects me as her daughter, a woman and a mother. Because of her, the title of "Mom" holds a special meaning. To me, it means selfless love, self-respect, honesty, humanity and tenderness. She is the ultimate example of what it is to be a mother and she will forever be my inspiration.

I hope you will share in the love of my photos below as much as we loved our early Mother's Day together!

With love,



Buttermilk-Ranch & Honey-Ginger Fried Chicken
served over mache with raw radishes

A delectable assortment of donuts:
Strawberry-Lavender, Grapefruit Brule and Blueberry Mascarpone. Chocolate-Peanut Butter     Vanilla Spice, Cinnamon Brown Sugar and Chocolate Glaze


Rosemary and Orange Infused Water


Ed Sheeran - X

Our delicious selection of Federal Donuts

Plated and ready to go!

A highlight of the winning flavor: Buttermilk - Ranch

A few elements of our tablesetting 

My mother ... in all her glory!

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