Monthly Archives: September 2010

The cupcake trend isn’t going away, so let’s make it phenomenally pretty!

Yes, I use towers and displays of cupcakes all the time at parties: weddings, galas, baby showers, product launches, fashion shows, kids’ parties and birthdays for adults. Love cupcakes.  But the trend is a tad overplayed, no?

Well, I’ve found a solution to make them fierce!  In addition to using sparklers in the cupcakes, I love to use chic wrappers.  I have found some on Etsy but my favorite by far are those done by Paper Orchid.  (psst – check out their other stuff too).  Laser – cut, 60 patterns, over 35 colors, you can even design your own.  We’re crushing on the feathers, the paisley jumble ones, the spider web ones for Halloween and the adorable ones that say “Bite Me”.

Photo: Courtesy of Paper Orchid

Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier – simply the best!

I can hear Tina Turner singing in the background whenever I go to the Atelier or see Mark, which has not been often since we moved our main office to DC.  I don’t care where you live, if you have the chance to get a superior customer service moment and the pick of the best couture wedding gowns, go to Mark!

Not only does he sell the top – think Oscar, Peter Langner, Lela Rose, Valentino, Monique, Angel Sanchez, Vera, Jenny Packham and Jenny Lee (my faves), he’s been known to, for my clients, take the top half of one gown and combine it with the bottom half of another gown to make sure the bride is the happiest, most gorgeous bride on Earth.  And Mark?  No one is more stylish, chic and friendly!  He makes me smile! Remember Lily van der Woodsen’s gown on “Gossip Girl?”  Mark did that.  His sales staff is impeccable!!

As I’ve tweeted, it’s worth a day in New York to go (appointment only, and the staff will pull racks for you of your likes in designer, silhouette, etc.) and get your gown.  Then amble on over to Bergdorf Goodman to register and have some Champagne, both on the 8th floor. It’s a classic New York bride moment that no one should miss, regardless of where you live, where the wedding is or your budget.  They’ll work with you.  Check out the website for upcoming trunk shows and make that appointment!  xoxo

Vogue Australia Entertaining & Travel – my inspiration!

Now, I am not a hoarder by any stretch, but I was just working on a party for a client and found myself leafing through Vogue Australia (the best!) Entertaining‘s – wait for it – February 1998 issue!  Most large newsstands with international issues in large cities carry this most amazing of the glossies.  The food, the photography, the interiors – gosh, I’ve let my secret out.  And because Oz is the opposite of America in weather – they are now approaching Spring – I get a sneak peek of trending before the seasons!


Anyway, I found the most amazing recipe for end of summer here in the States that I wanted to share with our readers.  It’s a Portuguese dish called acorda – a cold bread and vegetable soup (rather like the Tuscan Panzanella) with lobster.   I am thinking of serving it as the first course at a June wedding I’m doing on a farm!

Here’s a link to a good recipe – you can add all sorts of shellfish, like a cioppino, or stick to just lobster.  And yes, a lovely Vinho Verde is just the ticket!  I would totally be an etiquette “don’t” and take a white linen napkin, tuck it into my shirt and get down!


Photo: Courtesy of Vogue Australia

Photo: Courtesy of

New Vendor Spotlight – wowza! Maggie Austin Cakes!

Leave it to Gail Simmons (love her!) to discover a may-jah cake talent right here in the DC metro area.  I have about 3 favorite local cake designers and I am hugely discerning, so imagine my surprise, while watching the “Today” show this morning, when I saw this cake by Maggie Austin as part of the “Today Throws A Wedding Series”.  More on that later.

Just gorgeous on all fronts.  So, I Googled Ms. Austin and found her stunning, impeccable website.  She’s absolutely beautiful, a former ballerina with classical French pastry training and she’s worked for one of my faves, Charlie Trotter.   Go to the portfolio – holy moly, would you LOOK at that purple anemone cake?  Clearly, she does wedding and special occasion cakes, so brides and other partiers alike, give her a ring!  We are officially obsessed and Ms. Austin will be getting calls from Dolce very soon – we can only hope that she’ll have room for us!

Photo Credit: Maggie Austin, 2010

What’s better than a little black dress? Why, the “Little Black Book”!

Yes, ladies and gents, if you are a fan of Style Me Pretty, Abby Larson’s genius (and most popular and gorgeous) wedding blog, you will be pleased as punch to know that Dolce Parties has been selected for their uber-selective “Little Black Book” of vendors.  We’re bursting at the seams with pride!

If you’ve never visited the site – it’s on our blogroll – please do visit daily for the most scrumptious wedding inspiration ever!  And you can find us if you click on “Vendors” and “Northern Virginia”.  We will be uploading our portfolios and inspiration boards this week – so check it out!  It’s simply the best!  Thanks to both of the Abbys (Abbies?), Michelle, Kari and all the great staff of creative folks, bloggers and fellow artists!

The Vegan Chronicles

As an omnivore, I am asked more and more to help clients plan vegan party celebrations.  My secret?  I eat vegan when I have the chance (Pure Food & Wine, Candle Cafe, among others) and have slowly been working on cooking vegan dishes for when my friends visit.  I actually have quite a few vegan pals, including my BFF, Tabatha.

While I love a juicy, grass-fed steak and a smear of goat cheese on some flatbread like the next gal and , I appreciate the opportunity to eat in a vegan way and not because of the moral issues, but because it makes me feel good. And believe me, I knew how factory farms are run far before Michael Pollan enlightened us, along with “Fast Food Nation” and the seminal film, “Food, Inc.”.  My husband is one of the leading authorities on how our food gets to our tables and he’s seen some really ugly stuff.  Picture Hazmat suits and waders. So, yes, I should be moved by the morality issue, but there are family farms that humanely raise and harvest their animals.  Sorry, PETA.

I’ve made vegan pastas, “omelettes”, potato salads, vegetable dishes, vegan pizzas – you name it.  There are also some terrific vegan desserts on the market.

If you want to dip your toe into vegan entertaining, or even just cooking at home, I recommend the following cookbooks.  They are treasures!

“The Voluptuous Vegan” by Myra Kornfeld

“Vegan Planet” by Robin Robertson

“Veganomicon – The Ultimate Vegan Coobook” by Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero

“The Complete Vegan Kitchen” by Jannequin Bennett

“Babycakes” (vegan baking from the eponymous NY/LA bakery) by Erin McKenna

Enjoy your experimental (or continuing) foray into vegan eating and lifestyle.  And let us know if you have a favorite cookbook or any sort of book about vegan living!  Nom, nom, nom!

Knife Knuts!

Hi, y’all!  We are back!  Lots of events, a little travel and some television appearances took us away from our beloved blog and we promise to get back in the groove.  Happy soon-to-be Fall!  A most wonderful time of the year and time to think about your kitchenware!   We’re sharpening our knives and remembering how we learned to cook from some of the best chefs in the world who worked on parties with us.  We thank these brave souls who doled out tips and advice and even let us in the kitchens for a turn or two!

Knives – people always ask us where to buy knives.  The key to knives is to get one or two good ones – a chef’s knife, about 8 inches and a Santoku knife. That’s really all you need.  Don’t let stores coerce you into buying those big “sets” of 7 or 8 knives.  You simply will not use them.

Another key is to invest in amazing knives.  The best ones are not stainless steel, but carbon steel.  Our favorite is Sabatier.  They last a lifetime (you must sharpen them), have a great, comfortable handle and hey, Stanley Tucci (our favorite actor on Earth) swears by them (see: “Big Night” and “Julie & Julia – the man knows his knives!).  While we love retail, our favorite source for all kitchen things and especially knives is Fantes.

If you are just learning to cook, we suggest taking a knife skills class at your local gourmet shop or Sur La Table!  It’s a rush!

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