I can’t say much about this place… it was a private residence and a bit of a mystery. We were invited to a dinner at a chateau in France to celebrate CHANEL’s new interpretation of their classic No. 5 perfume. A short drive from the rose fields of Grasse, we turned up a long winding old road, climbing up the side of a hill until we emerged on a plateau of walled gardens and ivy covered archways. It was magnificent. I was never able to find out who lived here or what the history was of this estate but perhaps I enjoy it more for what remains a mystery. It is in the not knowing that my imagination can run free… and you can guess, that’s a wonderful place to be.
It feels like only a moment ago we were hosting last year’s holiday party for friends. My how fast a year comes and goes with so many new memories to stowaway in the vault. For this year’s get together in our new Upper West Side home I wanted to bring to life a piece of my past to make the meal even more personal and intimate by taking our friends on a culinary trip down south, to taste my southern roots and warm comfort food.
When I think about southern food I always think about BBQ and biscuits. A saucy slow cooked meat rolled in spices and balanced by the buttery softness of a warm biscuit. It’s sinful and wonderful and went beautifully with Ecco Domani’s full bodied Merlot. For the non-meat eating guests we offered southern catfish baked and served in my cast iron skillet my grandmother passed down to me which is seasoned with love, as I like to say, and a great compliment to Ecco Domani’s Pinot Grigio.
Of course, any time I host friends or family I like to start with a cheese plate for people to graze on while we finish preparing the meal. Following my simple rule I outlined in this post, I chose a wonderful soft goat cheese, aged gouda, manchego cheese to be accompanied by roasted almonds, apples and artisanal crackers. Wanting to start with a crisp and light wine, we opened Ecco Domani’s Pinot Grigio for the cheese course though it goes perfectly well with the Merlot too if you prefer.
In the end, no matter what you serve or what you wear, it’s about making memories with friends and loved ones, sharing stories, being at peace and above all, loving one another this holiday season. Cheers….
See below for entertaining tips and southern recipes created for this night by my friend Jared who is, as we call him, the cookie monster. Everything was served on handmade pottery (a wedding gift from my parents!) by Clayworks in the East Village and another very personal, homey touch to this intimate gathering.
For last year’s holiday party we set individual photographs I had taken of each guest at their place setting to not only arrange the seating in a beautiful visual way but for each of the guests to take home a gift from the evening. This year I decided to create individual bouquets for each place setting that the guests could take home and enjoy for the days to come. Living in New York City this is a wonderfully easy way to play with your creativity. On 28th and 7th is the most fabulous flower market where you can find anything your heart desires. I love more than anything exploring in and out of these shops and creating my own story though flowers.
Above, setting the table in Maud Heline’s Arlanik white button up shirt dress made in Brooklyn (ps- it’ has pockets!!)
It can only be described as “like a dream” to dine with the winemakers of Dom Pérignon in a glowing mansion in Épernay on the Moët & Chandon estate. If I let my mind wander from the conversation I could sit back and imagine that it must have not been unlike this to dine in a miniature version of Versailles. But if anything could outshine the grandeur of the room it was the incredible chocolate soufflé created by Chef de Cuisine Pascal Tingaud for us that evening as a perfect finish to a meal paired with Dom Pérignon Rosé vintages. It was served in a large soufflé dish and bought around to each person family style at the table… sometimes twice. I asked the chef if he wouldn’t mind sharing this heavenly dessert recipe for my own dinner parties at home in New York.
See below for the recipe of the night’s star dish by Chef de Cuisine Pascal Tingaud
I recently found myself with this incredible opportunity to go to Spain and spend two days “decoding Dom Pérignon“. With the Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy and culinary mastermind Ferran Adrià, we were to have the gustatory experience of a lifetime joining them as brought back elBulli’s most famous “snacks” that took the global gastronomy world by storm. What Dom Pérignon was hoping to achieve through this solo tasting and minimallistic experience was a study into the four facets of their newly released 2005 vintage which are: Minerality, Intensity, Seamlessness and Harmony. Ferran built the entire menu around these four themes, making the wine the centre or “sun” and the snacks like orbiting planets orbiting around it.
We were seated at a mirrored table in a dark room, no utensils. Waiters dressed in black delivered the first wave of snacks based around Minerality. The experience would be broken up into four chapters based on the characteristics of the champagne. With each snack would come instructions, “eat this all in one bite.”, “eat this in two bites and drink this in-between.” It was insane. Things were surprisingly sweet when it looked salty, weightless when it looked dense. Everything you think you know about food you had to throw out the window.
I had parmesan ice cream, deconstructed olives, crunchy raviolis made form a seaweed shell with a lemon filling. This was not at all what I would think of when I think of ravioli but that’s precisely what Ferran loves to ask: What makes ravioli, ravioli? Because it’s made of pasta or because it’s a pocket filled?
After the first chapter was completed the room (or, what I thought was a room) changed suddenly as the walls began to move and open up towards the sky high ceiling, revealing the other tables of guests. The lighting changed from a sharp contrast to a warm soft glow following a change in music changing the entire mood for the participates. Then, just as with Farran’s approach to food, my whole experience changed.
The experience went well beyond the the thrill of being one of the first people to try a new Dom Pérignon Vintage. It taught me to think about creativity in a different way than just what is. How can you take something we all know and try to understand it more? How can you think one way and then teach yourself to think it again totally differently. The slogan for the elBulli Foundation is “Feed Creativity”… he did that and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
-Hibiscus and peanut palet
-Beetroot and yoghurt meringue / profiterole
-Mango croquant leaf and marigold
Recently we enjoyed a dinner party out in the country, drinking wine provided by our friends at Ecco Domani, and spending time catching up with the people we love. As we grilled, chatted, and relaxed in each other’s company, the soft and subtle sounds of the playlist below served as a perfect complement to the meal.
Below is our summer & wine playlist – as we head into the weekend, we hope you spend it with the ones you love, share a bottle of wine, create new memories & make the most of this glorious season…
Listen to more of our playlists here!
It’s the simple things in life that are the best. That statement has never been more true to me than now after traveling for a month solid. Though I saw unbelievable sights and experiences one could only dream of, I was so happy to just be home last weekend with my friends at a house we share out in Amagansett. I just wanted to get together, share a meal, catch up, and be in one place with faces I know and care about.
Summer entertaining is the best. Light that dances through the afternoon and illuminates the moments through a late, lazy evening that always ends with laying in the grass finishing the last sips of wine as another day closes and the possibilities of tomorrow have yet to begin. Beyond the golden glow, there is no market like a summer market. Fresh and ripe, bright and juicy dishes write themselves because the ingredients are so good, they don’t need much more than a little salt and pepper.
We’ve been working with Ecco Domani the past year, shooting their packaging, displays and marketing materials. They knew how much we had been traveling and sent us a case of red and white wine to welcome us back home. One of my favorite sayings of Ecco is “upgrading the everyday” so I based our little backyard summer dinner party around that idea. What could I do with this table that doesn’t require buying anything, just being creative with what we have already? I asked Diana, my friend and prop stylist for one of my favorite magazines, Kinfolk, if she had some easy entertaining ideas. She suggested taking sprigs from our gathered, seasonal flower arrangements as focal points, and simply placing them on a napkin that is draped long ways off the table cascading like a waterfall, dressing the place settings in a softer, organic way.
Once the table was set my friend Molly & I got to cooking. To pair with Ecco Domani’s Pinot Grigio, roasted cherry tomato and shrimp fettucine; for the Ecco Domani Merlot, grilled lamb chops with a light and gorgeous spring salad – all super simple, elegant, seasonal dishes because, like I said before… it’s the simplest things in life that are the best.
Here is to summer, friends, staying in and making memories with the ones you love.
Kevin’s Homemade Pasta
1 cup of unbleached flour (to start)
Mix the flour with the eggs in a bowl or wooden surface until the consistency is like a dough, adding flour as necessary. Add a big pinch of salt. Knead for a few minutes, adding a bit of flour if it gets too moist and sticky. From there, follow the instructions on your pasta machine.
When the pasta is finished I’ve learned to dust it with flour and toss, so the individual pieces don’t stick together while you make the rest!
Today is Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Met Gala (you can stream live this evening here!) with a theme around Punk Fashion. In preparation and celebration of a new punk collection launching, Moda Operandi hosted a midnight supper in The Vault at the prestigious St. Regis New York where the collection will be on display through May 16th.
There is an air of mystery and excitement around midnight suppers, the doors that the instant before looked like an ordinary wall all of a sudden glide open, allowing you to slip into a glowing private room where only those who know, know. The midnight supper, once a legendary tradition created by Caroline Astor in the height and glamour of the Guilded Age, is preserved through the St. Regis and set slightly earlier in the evening so that we may feel the magic of such intimate place settings and celebration.
To me, punk fashion still comes with the same taste and thought as every other fashion moment but ever so slightly askew. The design of the midnight supper room by Bronson Van Wyck has that same sentiment: a beautiful arrangement of tulips is turned into a wall of dangling buds that seemingly dance upside down to their own beat, murals of skulls look back at you laughingly until you realize they are made of a saturation of pills, eye shadow that, in its effortlessly cool way, lands more underneath the eyes than on top, and dinner guests, the elite of fashion, letting their hair down and showing their Punk Fashion side in plaids, leather, and studs ending the evening throwing flowers at each other across the table and making mohawk-esque hats out of the center piece arrangements.
Punk celebrates the unusual beauty, the obscure, the abstract….the balance of beauty that takes you right to the edge.
Going to dinner with Lauren Santo Domingo & Taylor Tomasi Hill would make anyone fret a bit about what to wear, so I found that punk is in the details. Swarovski encrusted studs on the backs of my Valentino heels to go with a red Valentino dress of lace…. all leather lace.