Date: February 24, 2014 | Story: Tiffany Burgess Adams | Styling: Chip Jones and Mandy Keener |
Since moving in to their newly constructed West Little Rock home last fall, Donna and Jim Bottin have been looking forward to warm days when they could entertain friends outside on their back patio. While the space is equipped with all the amenities to create and serve a delectable dinner, the Bottins wanted to make this first al fresco meal a memorable occasion.
For help with the table setting and décor, they turned to Providence Design. Co-owned by sisters Talena Ray and Mona Thompson, Providence designed the interiors and selected the exterior furnishings and fixtures of the Bottin home, so a party on the patio was right up their alley. “We always use a layered approach to our designs and we like to have a continuous flow from one space to another,” says Ray of the pair’s philosophy. With this thought in mind, they chose yellow, which appears subtly throughout the Bottin’s home, as the primary color for the tabletop’s palette.
From there, they incorporated fresh reminders of the approaching season including a vibrant floral grouping accented with moss and coordinating tableware that features both birds and bees. For a collected touch, they mixed Match dinnerware from Cobblestone & Vine with woven chargers and avian-themed accent plates, both from Pottery Barn.
The menu was equally as important as the décor for the gathering. Donna invited Jacquelyn and Jeremy Pittman of Little Rock’s Palette Catering to teach her a few new recipes using ingredients that are readily available this time of year. The trio of cooks came up with a menu featuring a fresh salad topped with a champagne vinaigrette, grilled lamb, seasonal grilled vegetables and rhubarb pie. “In the culinary world, lamb is symbolic of spring,” says Jacquelyn. “Its light red meat is a perfect pairing for spring vegetables.” The selections also pair well with the vivid table setting, evoking the hopeful and light-hearted feeling of warmer days.
Seasonal Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
Snow peas, julienned
White and red radishes, shaved or thinly sliced
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, grated with a microplane
¼ cup champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
½ cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
6 pieces of slab bacon
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
To prepare the vinaigrette, combine the shallot, garlic, vinegar, mustard and honey in a jar and place the lid on top of it. Shake to mix the ingredients. When combined, add oil and season with salt and pepper. Shake until well combined.
For the bacon lardons, cut the slab bacon into small cubes or lardons. Place them in a pot and cover with two inches of water. Bring to a boil and drain immediately. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the lardons and cook over medium heat, rendering the fat from the meat and browning the bacon.
Combine salad ingredients with bacon lardons. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Serve immediately.
Follow the At Home in Arkansas blog for complete recipes for the grilled lamb and vegetables, Plus behind the scenes outtakes from this story.
Palette Catering, Little Rock, (501) 666-1885, palettecatering.com
Providence Design, Little Rock, (501) 372-1866, providenceltddesign.com