MAO continues 'Dining with Friends' tradition
When fall rolls around, the Capital City is alive with more events than you can imagine, providing residents and visitors with a host of fun things to do.
Traditionally a time to support Montgomery AIDS Outreach, October was filled with a variety of events hosted to support "Dining with Friends," generally MAO's largest annual fundraiser. In its seventh year, more than $15,000 was raised recently as donors arrived to enjoy more than 10 events held across the city and beyond.
As its general premise, generous River Region residents support the MAO benefit by hosting brunches, luncheons, cocktail parties and dinners throughout the month. Hosts volunteer to provide the venues and foot the bill, inviting friends and other supporters to enjoy the afternoons and evenings with them. MAO benefits from 100 percent of the donations made by guests who attend each event.
For a minimum $25 donation, guests appreciate the culinary offerings and often themed-gatherings. Jim Hodgson served as chairman of the 2010 events, with the support of Lynne Zaris, Nick Rojeski and Marion Chartoff.
Southern lady and gent inspire
Jim and Steve Brickley kicked things off by hosting a Friday evening dinner at their 1920s Old Cloverdale home, the former residence of legendary Montgomery society editor and ball organizer, the late Esther Reynolds Mahoney.
The duo greeted their lucky dozen of guests at the staircase entrance where Mahoney would interview her own guests as they arrived for soirees of yesteryear. Guests, including Vanzetta and Thomas McPherson, Rebecca Hagen, Sarah Williams, Bob Vardaman, Garry Brantley, Joe and Lucie Lee Lanoux and Marion and Craig Baab, were excited to spend the evening in the home where Mahoney had also taped her much anticipated radio shows. There, they supported "Dining with Friends 2010," enjoying a meal inspired by cookbook author Frank Stitt.
As they mingled during the cocktail hour, they were offered fresh okra and flutes of Waterford Crystal filled with champagne and sparkling peach juice. Before being seated at a long table accented with pristine white cloths and fuchsia-colored blossoms and greenery, they admired Stitt's "Southern Table" cookbook and the personal note he wrote thanking the guests for their support of the MAO benefit.
To focus the event on Alabama, recipes were selected from the cookbook, with Jennie Weller Catering's executive chefs Beth Clark and Davina McRae implementing their artful preparation and the service of each course with accompanying wines.
Guests enjoyed Mrs. Verba's pimento cheese with rosemary crostini; sweet corn cake with chiffonade of greens and smoked beef brisket with tomato jam; smoked trout salad with avocado, orange and frisee; curried pumpkin soup; chicken sauté with lemons, capers and bread crumbs and glazed autumn vegetables. The dinner concluded with apple almond bread pudding with cinnamon and rum crème anglaise.
Diane and Alan Weil sent each guest a different invitation for the Saturday night dinner party they hosted to support MAO. Costumes were optional to support the array of themes that included "Under the Big Top", "Playboy Mansion", "Wild, Wild West", and "Redneck Reunion."
Their guests included Bari and Joe Levin, who received a "Phantom of the Opera"-inspired invitation; Robin and Jeff Blitz, Jenny and John Ives, Lee Terrell, Carl Stokes, LeAnne and Steve Wallace and Pete Ginsburg as well as Tony Hickman, who responded by arriving in costume to support the hilarious "barefoot and pregnant" invitation he had received.
Alan's cosmopolitans were a big hit during the cocktail hour, as guests watched the Alabama vs. Tennessee game, and enjoyed appetizers of brie with a fig compote, and black-eyed pea caviar. Diane prepared all the night's dishes, including butternut squash soup; and green salads with dried cranberries, pistaschios and gorgonzola cheese topped with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette.
She also prepared baked marinated salmon, which Alan caught in British Columbia in July; bundles of haricot verts wrapped in roasted red pepper strips; and tri-color fingerling potatoes. Braised pears with Chantilly cream were served for dessert with chocolates, coffees and Alan's specialty -- chocolate martinis.
Added to the wonderful ambience of Michael's Table, favorite music from south of the border played throughout the Mexican fiesta gathering hosted by Lynne Zaris, Frank Gitschier, Michael Hochhalter, Tony Walker, Sandra and Jim Nickel and Charlotte and Peter Brambir.
A large piñata was hung from a tree outside the Zelda Road restaurant to set the tone for the occasion, while inside, tables were festooned with colorful miniature bell peppers and vases of Mexican herbs. Ray Brown, whose birthday was the next day, had the honor of delighting the guests by taking a whack at the piñata during the evening.
Peter Brambir prepared salsa and chips for the occasion, as guests enjoyed the cocktail hour and Mexican beer, red and white sangria and margaritas. Lynne Zaris served as sous chef for the evening, assisting Chef Michael Hochhalter in his preparation of guacamole, queso, cheese and onion enchiladas, shrimp in chili verde, machaka beef, rice and beans and Mexican rice pudding for dessert.
Supporting the event were Deborah Hall and Rue Baxley, Daniele Berezo, Lynn and Bob Beshear, Joyce Bigby and Rick Manley, Sharon Bivens, Robin and Andy Kromis, Frank Powell, Thom Ronk, Maureen Costello and George Jacobsen, Jim Hodgson, Ceil and Walter Champion, Mary Hampton, Bil Hitchcock, Frank Gogan, Michael Yue, Randy Tatum, Chris Shaver and Bruce Chafin, Terri and Ted Klose, Rebecca Hagan, Donna Landis, Shirley Carroll, Mark Lindsey, Joe Cottle, Philip Blackwell, Joan Brinsfield, Gene Finley, Jeff Gamel, Nancy and Paul Shaw, Dee Taylor, Carol Toms, Davena and Nick Jernigan, Carol Brown and Jane Davis.
Sunday brunch with friends
Several Dining With Friends patrons joined Kathy Manning and Harry Truslow as they opened their Montgomery home and gardens for Sunday brunch.
In anticipation of the long-awaited autumn weather, the Truslow's foyer was decorated with gourds and fall flowers in colors of yellow and rust. As guests arrived, they were ushered to the rear porch for cocktails and appetizers that included Kathy's cheese straws, rosemary mixed nuts, pimento cheese spread with Cajun crackers and breads and Conecuh sausage.
Former MAO board president Tony Hickman helped welcome guests, as did MAO's medical director, Laurie Dill, and former board member, the Rev. Elizabeth O'Neill of Immanuel Presbyterian Church.
A buffet was served in the formal dining room, where a large centerpiece of peonies, mums and branches anchored the large table under an iron chandelier. Guests selected from Kathy's chicken salad pasta, Kiss My Grits casserole, layered salad, honey-baked ham, biscuits and gravy and asparagus frittata, all prepared with Louisiana flair. Kathy also prepared desserts that included pineapple truffles, fresh strawberries with cream and miniature cheesecakes.
Kathy and Harry's garden was in full fall bloom with French hydrangeas, yellow lantana, ginger lilies, mums and purple butterfly bush. There, Larry Menefee, Frances Sutton, Anita Sherman, Erin Kellen and Jim Carnes chatted at tables accented with centerpieces of rust and yellow mums.
Others enjoying the brunch by the lovely garden's fountain were Nora and Joe Sims, Steve Trawick, Mike Keeling, Sam Gant, Linda and Richard Jenkins, Gary Wood, Travis Jernigan, Mary Wisdom, Calli Patterson, Kimble Forrister, Kathleen Kneeland, Barbara Crysel, Theresa Halley and Rebecca Duffy.
A Southern celebration
Erika and John Tracy welcomed friends to their Cloverdale home for "A Southern Celebration" MAO dinner they hosted with Emily and Trey Flowers and Lindsey and Bo Jinright.
Vodka and sweet tea cocktails were served for their celebration of fall's arrival in the South, as well as Southern Pecan beer that had been provided by Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co.
Party lights were draped amongst trees surrounding a bricked patio filled with rustic décor. Guests enjoyed a dinner menu that included cowboy chili, white chicken chili and venison chili, all prepared by the hosts. Old-fashioned and candied cornbreads accompanied the favorite fall dishes that were enjoyed by Meg Lewis, Wilbur Hill, Alice Novak, Preston Williams, Sara and Tyler Caldwell, Mandy and James Franklin, Quin Segall, Melissa and Scott Bowman, John McWilliams and Sommerville Hill.
Also supporting the dinner with their donations were Martha and Charles Jinright, Marla Terranova, Lara and Hunter Lewis, Shelly and Baylor Wood, Lindsey and Scotty Turner and Carol Yeaman.
A Shorter gathering
Rhonda McCloud invited friends to Shorter for a Saturday afternoon outdoor gathering hosted at the Colonial-style home of Latrece and Sandor Maloy. Tamara McCloud, Tikishia McCloud and Kelvin Maloy were among those greeting arrivals at the event themed, "A Delightful Gathering."
They set the stage with a fall ambiance that included scarecrows and pumpkins, bales of hay, and door prizes, as well as balloons and candles that were the centerpieces of tables covered with brown cloths.
Curtis Williams of W&J Catering in Hardaway prepared the day's menu, which included chicken Aalfredo, shrimp and pasta, seasoned pasta, Greek and green salads, brownies and raspberry tarts.
Among those enjoying the casual outdoor gathering were MAO executive director Michael Murphree, Shorter Mayor Willie Mae Powell, Willie McCloud, Mary Hopkins, Cora Hall, Willie Maloy, Lawerence Lassiter, Clevester Cotton, Orlandor Maloy, Mable and Theodore Moon, Annie Mills, James Jackson, Raymond Echols, Shawn Ross, Ernest Hall, Micheal Hall, Deanna Payne; Harold Powell, Cherry Purifoye, John Lowe, Dino Lowe, Sabrina Lowe and Adrienne Lucas.
A Cajun evening
Susan and Bill DePaola hosted "A Cajun Evening" for their guests, as they welcomed them for cocktails in their New Orleans-style courtyard.
The evening's menu included Cajun shrimp, crawfish and grits, French cheeses and breads and flaming bananas foster for dessert. Banana liqueurs were served as after-dinner drinks and were enjoyed by guests, including Laura Calloway and Terry Harris, Marge and Larry Grewelle, Mary and Jerry Weidler, Valeria and Art Harman.
Mark Montoya and David Braly hosted a "Dining With Friends" event at historic Firehouse No. 9 in the Garden District. They called theirs, a participatory evening, with each guest bringing their special contribution of home-made appetizers, Italian and Greek cuisine, desserts, fine wines and champagne to the dinner. Those joining in with their support for MAO were Priscilla Duncan, Mary Robin Jurkiewicz and Greg Tankersley, Garry Brantley and Robert Vardaman, Steven Chesbro and John Garland, all of Montgomery, and Matthew Bees of Charleston, S.C.
A taste of Paris from Prague
That same evening, Chris and Rich Anderson welcomed other MAO guests to their home, affectionately called, "Dexter's Haven." In a play on words from "The Philadelphia Story," the Anderson's named their cat after Cary Grant's character, CK Dexter Haven, and the house took on the name as the last house the cat resided in.
The Saturday night weather was perfect for the couple to open all the French doors to their home, allowing guests to dine inside and out, as they enjoyed the dinner inspired by the Anderson's springtime trip to Prague.
Recalling the great Czech foods and beers as well as the great meals at the Café de Paris, they combined a bit of both cuisines for the MAO dining experience they offered in Montgomery.
Guests were encouraged to dress as bohemians, Francophiles, tourists and gypsies. Vintage Tex-Czech recordings played, as Czech beers were served and as Frank Powell arrived dressed up as a gypsy bearing a crystal cube.
The hosts dressed as wait staff as classic French cafe music played and as French wines were served along with Cesnecka (Czech garlic soup); salad greens with Dijon vinaigrette and French breads; beef tenderloin with Cafe de Paris butter; and pomme frites, with crème brulee and chocolate nemesis served for dessert.
Among those enjoying the evening at the Andersons' were Rhonda and Rich Ball, Carole King, Mark Palmer, Wilbur Hill, Sommerville Hill, Brittany and Kevin Blackburn, Tyler Caldwell, Martin McCaffery, Trina Binkely Andrews and Leale McCall.
'True Blood' dinner
The last Saturday of the month was a busy one for events in the Capital City, with Amy and Chris Carr adding their "Dining with Friends" gathering to the social agenda.
Guests arrived at the couple's Capitol Heights' home for a Halloween-themed costume party. Halloween music was on the evening's playlist, as cocktails were served outside on the deck. Specialty Dracula-themed drinks included Real Blood (Hungarian Bull's Blood Wine), True Blood (Vampire Red Wine), Anemic Blood (white wine), Non-Alcoholic Blood (a cranberry/pomegranate punch), and Bloody Marys.
Hot spiced cider also was served as guests enjoyed pumpkin carving at an activity station, and dinner at tables under a tent in the back gardens. Orange and black candles glowed amid candy corn as centerpieces, as guests enjoyed the selections prepared by Amy Carr.
Snake-shaped sandwiches were a big hit among the items on the buffet table, that also included devilish eggs, quicksand (hummus), pumpkin cheese ball, eyeballs (meatballs) in sauce, ladies' chicken fingers, worms in dirt (chocolate pudding topped with crushed oreos and gummy worms), shortbread cookies with spooky-shaped almond fingernails and Halloween cupcakes.
Among those supporting MAO at the Carr's party were Amy and John Applegate; Loretta Bacon; Karen Nelson; Christine Freeman; Jeannie and Bob Graetz; Jeanne Gregorowicz; Courtney McKenny, with her children, James, Katherine and Finn; Shirley Rawls; Janet Robbins; Sharon and Al Sexton; Beverly Shaffer and Hadley Bean; Lynn and Fred Shaw; Teri Sweeney; Janice Wood; Terry Woosley; Becky Duffy; Benita Hollis; Tommy Chavis and Ashley Tarrant.
All Hallows Eve masquerade
At the last of the planned events, several guests enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and champagne at the All Hallows Eve Masquerade gathering hosted by Ted Nobles, Steve McGraw, Paul Lightner, Earl Grace, Kenny Lignon, Van DuBose, Perry Warren, Fletcher Hyde and Ashley and Bo Potter.
All gathered at Nobles, a downtown restaurant, with guests arriving Saturday night in costumes ranging from cabaret stars to pirates to super heroes to legendary Hollywood actresses. Nobles' dining room was transformed for the evening to resemble a medieval castle. Set for 50 diners, the castle's dining table was covered with lame, sequins and cobwebs, intentionally decorated to appear as if it had not been used for centuries.
The table's décor included handmade centerpieces in an HIV/AIDS Red Ribbon theme with three grand displays of red roses. A buffet table included a large cauldron of witches brew, many spine-tingling hors d'oeuvres and a champagne bubbling from a beverage fountain.
Keeping watch over everyone as they made their food selections during the evening were a giant devil and giant black spiders as well as two floating ghostly apparitions.
Ted's famous beef tenderloin was among the many items enjoyed, as well as sesame chicken, marinated shrimp, baked brie in puff pastry, bacon-wrapped pickled watermelon rinds, hummus dip and champagne.
Among those supporting the masquerade fundraiser were Henry Allen Jr., Simon Bovinett, Eleanor Davis, Priscilla Duncan, David Fancher, Paul Hard, Randy Foster, Frank Gitschier, Ron Porter, Jo Anne Hinson, Lee Ann and Jeff Holloway, Wes Little, Neal Brantley, Tom McCabe, Virgil McCain, Hector Perez, Ken Register, John Preston, Rhonda Finneyfrock, Dennis Ritchie, Julia Schneider, Jackie Bowers, Charles Still, Ron Hunt, Glenn Cannon, Lee Terrell, Carl Stokes, Mary Nell Tharp, Pam Tharp, Marsha Walser, Gary Warren, Toni Bruner, Robert Hawkins, Lawrence Jetton, Megan Wood, Haley Moody, Matt Hooton, Lissa Lauderbaugh, Mark Weatherly, Lee Ann and Ken Turner and Margaret Hamon.
Deborah Hayes Moore writes about society news for the Montgomery Advertiser. She may be reached by voicemail at 956-0254 or by e-mail at