Category Archives: summer

Recipe of the Week: (Last Chance) Summer Garden Pasta

Nom Nom Nom

Yes, we know it’s Wedding Wednesday and there’s a fantastic (and long) post about 2011/2012 wedding trends, along with reviews of the 4 Weddings mentioned previously, via Team Dolce, coming your way!  But in the meantime, we hope you had a terrific summer!  I just got back from 5 weeks in East Hampton, where I shed some old habits, picked up some wonderful new workout secrets and beauty weapons and, of course, party ideas.  Here is a recipe for any stressed out reader, bride to be, or person looking to use the best of the last of the bumper crop of fabulous tomatoes!

I hosted a small dinner party in the garden for some good friends and it was terrific.  The menu:  grilled marinated flank steak, chopped salad (mine has hearts of palm, Sagaponack corn and goat cheese in it), bruschetta with pesto and grana padano, grilled asparagus with truffle oil, fresh blueberry cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream and bottles and bottles of local rose wine from Wolffer Estates, served bone-chillingly cold.  The real star of the show was the pasta course (well, not “course” – everything is served family style from large white Vietri platters).  I swear it took about 10 minutes to make.  You can make the “sauce” ahead of time and let it marinate or just throw it all together!

Summer Garden Pasta (use spaghetti, thin spaghetti or angel hair)…Serves 4

1 lb. favorite dry pasta (see above).  DeCecco is best.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cups grape or pear tomatoes, halved (I like the heirloom kind in different colors).  If you cannot find grape or pear tomatoes, regular ones or Romas are fine – just roughly chop into chunks.

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp. good balsamic vinegar

8-12 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into a dice for tender chunks (or use the bocconcini)

2 handfuls fresh basil, rolled and sliced into ribbons (or torn roughly for a more rustic look).  Save some whole leaves to garnish the platter

1/2 cup Pecorino Romano (grated).  You can also use Parmesan, if you prefer it.

Kosher or sea salt

Fresh cracked pepper

*look at the end of the recipe for fun add-ons to suit your mood.

– Prepare pasta according to package directions in heavily salted water.  Towards the end of its readiness, reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid – just skim it off the top with a measuring cup or ladle.  It helps thin out the sauce and keep the pasta strands from sticking.  It also imparts a nice sheen to the dish.

– Combine all ingredients except the Pecorino Romano in a large glass bowl.  Toss gently, fold over, and revel in its gorgeousness!  You can also let this sit for about 30 minutes to an hour for more depth of flavor and THEN cook your pasta.

– Drain the pasta and put it back in the (still) hot pot

– add the uncooked sauce and toss with tongs gently

– add the additional cooking liquid and keep tossing

– sprinkle the Pecorino and toss through

– pour onto a platter and garnish with whole basil leaves

*If it floats your boat, throw in 1 tsp red chile flakes for some heat, or 2 teaspoons capers, maybe pine nuts, some arugula, a drizzle of truffle oil, some anchovies, a swirl of fresh ricotta or even some panko bread crumbs for crunch.  Mangia down, twirl, enjoy, feel accomplished.

To wear:  a caftan in Ikat print, gold gladiator sandals or bare feet, beachy waved hair, minimal makeup.

To flower:  bunches of the last hydrangeas (don’t invite Madonna!  ha!)

To ear candy:  Adele (natch!), Harry Connick, Jr., Cake, Kings of Leon, Frank Sinatra, Snow Patrol, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Marvelous Monday – a few style tips that float my fancy.

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Summer party season is in full swing and whether you are a hostess, guest, bride-to-be or just follower of all things style, I wanted to share a few of my finds with you on this rainy (at least in East Hampton) Monday.  I refuse to go softly into the night that is fall, so these are really “year-round” finds that are particularly useful right now.  I have purchased and tried or worn all of these products and in full disclosure, have not been compensated to endorse any of said products.  We at F4 are our own guinea pigs and we’re happy to share!

Full disclosure:  my vanity countertop unretouched this morning!



I am always looking for the latest serum or heat-protector for days when I have my hair blown out or need to iron it myself without further damage, especially since I spend a lot of time in the sun, surf and chlorine.  I use Kerastase, Ted Gibson, Purology and WEN. But, I’ve been a fan of Kiehl’s for many, many years, mostly for its Creme de Corps body butter and mens’ shaving products.  I’ve used every hair line on the market and found these two products to be outstanding for creating a sleek mane in the humidity.

Kiehl’s Stylist Series Silk Straightening Cream : a distant cousin to their legendary Silk Groom, this lightweight cream is used on damp hair before blowing out.  It’s lightweight, you only need a little and it’s fragrance free without heavy waxes.  It relies heavily on soybean extract and sunflower oil to soften and protect hair.  Genius!

Next up, the Kiehl’s Silk Groom Serum – a perfect finish to your style.  Leaves hair soft and gleamy.  Concentrate it on the ends and don’t use too much.  It’s very light and keeps those strands glossy and tamed.

Lips:  EOS lip balm is the greatest. Invention.  Ever.  I order mine from by the dozen. Or, order here. The spherical shape, the flavor, the long-lasting formula all excite me.  It even seems to exfoliate your lips a little bit when you apply.  I use a chubby lip gloss pencil over the EOS for a durable, sheer, colorful lip.  You’ll chuck your Chapstick after this!

Nails:  Yes, I know we did a nail post, but I have new favorite – and it’s limited addition.  I found mine at J. Crew.  FACE Stockholm nail enamel in “One Hundred Seven” is a deep iris/cyclamen/violet shade that just POPS.  Love it!  Image courtesy of We Heart This – it’s sold out on the J. Crew website, but you can get it on Face Stockholm’s website OR in many J. Crew stores.

This post is very disorganized.  But hey – it’s a rainy Monday and I am blogging from the summer house while my kids play in the basement playroom.  Forgive me!

Fragrance:  I am a  Chanel fragrance (or any fragrance) addict.  I am particular to the “Exclusifs” collection  of limited edition concoctions and have found my new scent (everyone asks what it is but I never give a straight answer, so….) in the form of “Coromandel”.  It’s a glorious, woodsy Oriental that is perfect for the colder months.  The other two fragrances that I own that harken to Coromandel are L’Artisan’s “Timbuktu” and Balmain’s “Amber Gris”.  I just don’t like to smell like anyone else.  You should give all three a whirl.  YUM.

Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

Must have SHOE:  Say goodbye to Uggs, as I have a new retro passion!  The Minnetonka Moccasin Back Zip Boot.  Yep, it’s back.  The fringe and lug sole and buttery suede look fresh and fun.  I ride my bike in these and take them on the town with white shorts and great gingham shirt or Ikat tunic.  LOVE.  In the fall, pair them with colorful skinny jeans and a white tee and schoolboy blazer!

Stationery Saturday – Kim Kardashian’s Wedding Invitations.

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Without further adieu – and I’ve worked many times with Lehr & Black (fabulous), here are Kim Kardashian and Kris (the groom, not the Mom – does anyone else find that odd that Kim K. is marrying a man with the same name as Mama Kris…but I digress) Humphries’ WEDDING INVITES.

Photo credit: Pop Sugar, Lehr & Black

I think it’s not as modern as it could be.  I think it’s trying too hard. I think it could have been a bit more chic and sleek.  I’m still studying it for any errors.  I’ll bet I’ll find one.  Each one has a card containing a number to call for the secret location.  Please – TMZ will have helicopters all over the area.  No privacy is wrong, regardless of how you feel about Kim.  I want to see the menu, the gowns and hear about the music and favors.


Each was hand-delivered to the invitees in a black velvet box covered with hundreds of black hematite crystals.  I would estimate that each invitation suite and box was about $100 per, plus delivery costs.  We do hand-deliver invites.  We’ve done metal, suede, wood, you name it.  But this is beyond luxury.  Note the K logo created by Lehr & Black.  Can we also just ban any more “K” names in the family?  So, we know it’s formal, we know it’s August 20 and we know it’s in Montecito, close to Oprah’s retreat of a mansion.  I am sure Oprah is not invited.

What do you think of Kim K’s invitations?  Over the top or perfect for the reality bombshell and powerhouse brand?

iLiz. Summer Saturday Playlist.

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The oppressive heat of the area where our office is has made me a tad melancholy.  Clients often ask – or Shazam – “Hey, what IS that song?” when we’re doing our playlists for parties, clients or ourselves in the office.   We’re obsessed with new music, old music, all genres and something that makes us sing, dance, cry, create, or just chill.

I believe many of us would choose (God forbid) to be lose another sense before hearing.  Here is a little, eclectic summer playlist I’ve been toying with.  These are the YouTube video links.  You will want to buy all of them on iTunes.  Enjoy!

Yes, that's my wonderful white iPad that I love. Listening now!

Adele, “Someone Like You”.  Alas, poor Wino, you did pass the torch.  Adele will be an ICON.

Julian Casablancas, “11th Dimension”.  The modeling agency mogul’s son has a tight band.  Sexy ear candy.

Steve Perry, “Oh Sherrie” – goodness, my childhood.  So nostalgic.  I just CANNOT with a new Journey lead singer.  It’s like watching that horrifying movie, “Rock Star” with Mark Wahlberg as the leather clad replacement singer for “Steeldragon”.   OK, that’s embarrassingly accurate without the aid of Google.

The Pogues, “Fairytale of New York” – with Kirsty McColl.  Come on, kids.  The Pogues!  New York!  Snow!

Arcade Fire, “Intervention” – soaring, anthemic, my favourite band and a new favourite track.

Alison Krauss and Union Station, “Let Me Touch You for a While”.  Took me years to like her.  I’m a damn fool.  Sublime.

Jack Penate – “Pull My Heart Away”.  I don’t know why, but this makes me sob.  In a good way.

R.E.M. – “I’ve Been High” – gorgeous.  All the reasons to love Stipe & Co.  My first show was in my college gymnasium.

Peter Gabriel, “Here Comes the Flood”.  OK, clearly this is shaping up to be an emotional list. 1979 and sounds like new.

Fleetwood Mac, “Landslide” and “Storms”.  Brides – “Landslide” is a perfect father/daughter dance.  “Storms” is my fave.

Fleet Foxes, “Blue Ridge Mountains”.  I am partial to this poetic band and partial to this area of the world.  Naturally.

Alejandro Escovedo, “Sister Lost Soul” – Austin’s best singer songwriter.  Friend of BRUUUUUUCE.  Who I’d marry.

John Mayer, “Perfectly Lonely”.  Yep, he’s an asshat.  Great song.  Not for your first dance if you are a bride to be.

John Hiatt, “Have a Little Faith in Me” – perfection.  That is all.  Oh, a great first dance, by the way!

Massive Attack, “Live With Me” or “Angel”.  Nothing better on a sultry summer night.  Beautiful.

Thursday in Threads! Psst – the BHLDN Secret Sale. Come on brides!

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Surely you know of the fantastic newish website for brides and bridal parties by Anthropologie, BHLDN, right?  If you don’t, run on over for a well-edited, smart, unique mix of perfect dresses, gifts, accessories.  The palate is gorgeous, the site is a joy.

Anyhoo, there’s a one day secret sale – we’re talking $450 dresses for $150 and great jewelry, lingerie and hats at a fraction of the cost.  It’s invitation only – here is yours.  It ends Friday morning at 10 a.m., EST.  Go now!

We cannot show you any images here, but the goods are STUPID chic and wonderful.  The shoes, the ruffled shifts, the everything!  Do it to it!

Thirsty Thursday – Chic Indoor/Outdoor beverage tubs. Love!

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Although the idea of hosting an outdoor party anywhere without a breeze or a temp over 90 degrees right now is anathema to most sane people, these beauties can be used indoors or outdoors.

Our first pick is a jaunty, striped, monogrammed metal tub with enamel cast in fun colors from Neiman Marcus.  Click on the link to purchase.  Just gorgeous!

I recently went to a party down the block from me and the hostess had the most wonderful beverage coolers by Bungalow by Scout. It’s called the Scout Party Bucket.  They are waterproof PVC, can be filled with ice and are great to ice down beer, wine, waters, sodas – great at home or a tailgate and easily cleaned.  Lovely patterns like electric-hued toiles.  Scout has many other products in their line – from stylish lunch bags to insulated picnic coolers.

Photo Courtesy of Bungalow by Scout

Or, go to eBay and check out the many options there!




Thirsty Thursday – White Sangria alla Dolce!

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We love all kinds of good sangria – technically, a sangria is a cold, wine-based summer drink with the following components – wine, something sparkling, fruit, a liqueur or brandy, sugar and ice.  You can make any sangria just with that one line and sensible taste buds.  We make all kinds of sangrias, using both red and white wines, but if you’re coming to Dolce for a meeting or an interview, chances are you will be offered a glass of sangria from now until Labor Day.  Great for poolside, cocktail parties, bridal showers, baby showers or sitting on your porch!  Without further adieu, our new favorite (probably because it was so much fun mixing different ingredients and taste testing!) – White Sangria alla Dolce!  This makes one GIANT pitcher or 2 smaller ones.


2 750-ml. bottles of a crisp white wine – Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc work best – the inexpensive ones like Folinari, Bandit, etc. really work here.  I’m a wine snob, but these are great quality for the money.

2 tsps simple syrup (you can make your own) or use Trader Joe’s bottled simple syrup

1/2 cup brandy, Armagnac, Cointreau or any orange-flavored liqueur

2 cups fruit – tiny melon balls, sliced apples, lemon and lime slices, mango, pineapple, starfruit wedges, berries – your call.

1/2 cup sparkling water – we used Acqua Panna – but seltzer works fine!

Combine all the ingredients but the sparkling water in a large pitcher filled with ice.  We like this one.  Top with sparkling water.  To serve, pour into tumblers and garnish with some fresh mint, basil or fruit used in the drink.  Salut!

Photo Credit: beinggrownup blog


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