by Eric Payne

Hello my name is Eric and I am an “entertaining” addict.  I enjoy bringing people together through good food and great drinks.  Through this column, we will explore the idea that fabulous entertaining is a simple formula of location, people and culinary delights.

Together we will venture into the finer points of these concepts.  I’ll discuss the factors that separate “WOW” events from mediocre gatherings.  We will also cover in detail the importance of location, themes, recipes and guest lists.

Each month I’ll pick a theme and discuss topics such as who to invite, where to have the event, what kind of activities you will entertain with, the kind of epicurean goodies you will offer and how to make them.
We will also venture into proper menu planning.  You will learn how to maximize guest satisfaction with the treats that you are serving. We will also explore what food and beverage items are going to be appropriate for your event, tailor the menu for the season, and make sure that all the flavors flow together. You will be able to organize a creative menu that coordinates to the theme of the party, maximizes the flavors of food and delight your guests.

There are many ways to achieve a fabulous gathering regardless of budget, time, or skill level.  Together we will work through the different entertaining variables, find the perfect formula for you, and you will have consistent, successful gatherings that everyone will enjoy.

One of my favorite gatherings to do only involves two people.  I love to invite one of my best friends over for balsamic hamburgers, red wine and a movie.  It is such a fun, easy gathering to pull together.

The burgers are easy to make, and here is how you do it!

Balsamic Burgers
1 to 1 _ pounds of ground beef
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl with your clean hands and shape in to patties.  Balsamic burgers will taste the best if you can grill them.  If you do not have a grill, invest into a cast iron grill pan. (You can find a great one very inexpensively at Kmart for about twenty dollars.)  Burgers also taste great fried in a pan.  Just cook the burgers on each side for about 5 minutes for a medium well burger!

The perfect side for your burgers is a salad.  Great salads come in a bag now at any grocery store.  All you have to do is pour the salad into a pretty bowl and add your favorite dressing. It is easy and tasty.

Dinner and a movie with a friend at home is the best way to end the work day.  It is so comforting to see a friendly face, eat a delicious meal, and watch a good movie.  This entertaining formula is a great way to liven up any ordinary day!

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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