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A Southern Holiday Party

Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio

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.

Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio

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!!) 

Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio (more…)

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Happy Holidays

Holiday_Party_cover00 How lucky are we that we get to work with our best friends? My friendship with Kelly began 3 years ago on a shoot in Malibu where we shot all day, and dreamed all night. Fast forward to now, another year in our friendship. We shared a house in Amagansett, she threw me the best birthday party of all, we collaborated on shoots from CHANEL to golden goddesses, cool kids to Victoria Secret models. Before we each go home to our real families Kelly and I had a Holiday Party here at the studio for our little New York family, the ones that buy you a drink after a hard day or make you laugh when work is stressful or keep you inspired though all forms of collaboration… and the occasional selfie.

Of course we had to go big and by go big we mean we decked the entire party out in Ralph Lauren from the table tops to the shoes! …so it was basically my dream party. Zach, Kelly’s boyfriend (who just opened a new restaurant in Manhattan!) made the most beautiful dinner of Coq au Vin (recipe HERE!) while Kevin welcomed our guests with a Suburban cocktail (see his story & recipe below!).

Kelly took care of the table with a focus on personal touches, my favorite being the way she did the place settings by using a small silver frame and having me print photos that I have taken of us through the years (which was super easy using THIS), as a way to mark each person’s seat at the table. I loved this touch. I thought it really represented our friendship and collaboration and was an amazing way for everyone to re-tell the story behind the image.

While she sat the table I thought it would be fun to put the photo studio in use even for a dinner party! I threw up a gray seamless and put some warm gels over a couple of kino flo lights and had the camera ready to go to take portraits of each other, to remember this time in our lives together, and this holiday season. As the night progressed the portrait studio turned into a candid riot of laughter and dancing and all out friendship silliness. I cherish this night, these real moments of laugher and wine, photography and art- all the passions that brought us together in the first place.

So here’s to the holiday season. I hope you find some inspiration in our intimate Ralph Lauren inspired dinner party for your own this December and remember to be with the ones that you love….

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Kelly has a method to her table-setting-madness! See here entertaining tips here

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Above~ keeping it classic in a Ralph Lauren Collection Cashmere Chunky Knit Turtleneck (I order a size up to make it extra cozy), Collection Pencil Skirt and Suede Blamina Sandal

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