The Wedding Designer Becomes the Bride

Well, nenas, he went and did it: it was a frigid evening in early December, and I had a cold.  Enough of the sniffles that though we were supposed to take his boss and his boss' wife to dinner that night, I was not completely enjoying the prospect of dinner out (which, as you know, is an abnormality).  I boarded the wrong train out of Penn Station.  I got off on the wrong end of the platform.  I trudged home.  I opened the door, and there he was, standing by a beautifully set table in our living room, a private chef humming away in the kitchen.  The restaurant he had created in our apartment: Cafe Con Gusto. 

I put on fuzzy socks and padded out.  Delighted over a menu full of my favorite foods, and he dropped down on one knee.  The rest, as they say, is she-story.  So the wedding planner becomes the bride and I am excited about sharing the journey to April of 2013.  In the meantime, I had to pull out his secrets:

Who knew he could actually plan ahead of time?  Must Have Menus allowed him to create professional ones.

Supperman Personal Chef Service: Chef Rob made a menu of my favorites.

White Lion Calligraphy did the place cards - again, who knew this man could plan ahead?


Put a little swirl in your step


I know - I know.  It has been unacceptably long.  So, without further ado, let me dive into something delish: wine.  But not just any wine - wine that comes to you for dinner parties, birthday parties, and yes, of course for bridal showers.  Swirl Events conducts private wine tastings in NY, NJ, and CT but with the "typical wine pretense left at the door" - their promise is to make it effortless for you.  They can bring the wine, the cheese, and the chocolate. Tailoring the wine to suit your tastes, they even boast a "Women Winemakers" (Swirl Girls), an "Eco-Chic" and a Black winemakers package among their line-up.  It's at this point that I would normally say I'll toast to that, but since it's Swirl, I'll instead say get ready to "uncork and unwind."


Radio Silence


How the winds can change so unexpectedly!  Lo siento mucho for my radio silence for the past month (ouch!).  I was offered the opportunity to fundraise on behalf of an educational non-profit I feel crazy passionate about, and I leaped at it.  So with that comes the (mostly) end of Con Gusto, although I hope, from time to time, to keep sharing things that are too good to keep to myself.  Like, for example, this Real Simple article that lists 12 great websites for invitations (among them, Minted.com, redstamp.com, and luxepaperie.com).  Choose away.

I won't say ciao to my nenas, just hasta luego!


Beauty Trend Alert

Clinique's Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss in Black Honey is quietly developing a cult following.  How do I know?  While visiting her down south, my best friend hands it over in the car telling me a co-worker told her about it, it looks good on women of all shades and complexions, "and it's not sticky, cause you know I hate when my hair gets stuck to my lip gloss."  Don't we all?  Luckily, she was right: it's super glossy, leaves your lips feeling ultra loved and nope, doesn't stick to your hair.  Perfect to tuck in your purse for daytime events, or to accompany dramatic eyes at night.  Grab it exclusively at Sephora.


Wine Down Friday, Expert Voice - Harlem Vintage, Female Winemaker Series

Carpineta Fontalpino Do Ut Des 2006

To continue the female winemaking theme we’re revisiting one of our favorite wines at Harlem Vintage. Gioia Cresti is the young and talented oenologist at this family-run wine estate based in Tuscany, close to Siena. Do ut Des means “give and you shall receive” in Italian, perfect for the warm generosity of this Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend. It is a Super Tuscan that manages to be feminine and subtle at the same time. It shows hints of dark berries, spice and violets on the nose and palate. It has a persistent perfume and a lingering finish, while the label is equally gorgeous too. Have it with osso buco. It’s as classic as it is classy. 

Harlem Vintage, 2235 Frederick Douglas Boulevard, Harlem, NY


Southern Dessert Divas

Ever had a family recipe so good, you just had to share it?  That's the idea behind Southern Girl Desserts - that, and bringing some good ole' fashioned southern hospitality (and red velvet cake) to the West Coast.  So for you L.A.'ers, drop by to get a taste of "Uncle Leon's Cheesecake"or "Lille Jean's Banana Pudding" (which comes as both a cake and in adorable shooters, perfect for a party).  And for those of us on the other coast, no te preocupes, they ship cupcakes in a jar (try their "peach cobbler"), cake pops, pecan pouches and more.  So no matter the coast, we can all get a little taste of southern-inspired sweetness.


Wine Down Friday, Expert Voice - Harlem Vintage, March Women Winemakers Series

Time for a Shindig

Women’s History Month is here. To celebrate the women, the riot grrrls, chicks, mamas and the sisters, we are featuring female winemaker wines available at Harlem Vintage for the month March. First up, owner and winemaker (and former aerospace engineer!) of Brooklyn Oenology, Alie Shaper. Shaper’s aim was to connect a local, artisan movement in New York City to locally made wine. Hence, the grapes are sourced from Long Island and the Finger Lakes regions, while the bottle labels are designed by Brooklyn artists.
Her fabulous Shindig White 2009, made in the Finger Lakes, is a blend of Vidal Blanc (a French-American hybrid grape created from Ugni Blanc and Rayon D'Or) and the aromatic Riesling grape.  This wine is simultaneously crisp, bright, fresh, citrus-y and shows hints of tropical fruits. It's amazing with Chinese takeout and adds a stylish-locavore note to a party (or a shindig, if you will). Only 300 cases of this wine is made, so stock up at Harlem Vintage! 

Harlem Vintage, 2235 Frederick Douglas Boulevard, Harlem, NY


Tech Special: Scheduling with Ease...

Okay, never mind finding a time that works for all to schedule your [fill in the blank here... bridal shower, baby shower, bachelorette party...].  Try something as simple as getting your mom and your maid of honor together to look for dresses.  Doodle is an online tool that allows a group of people to find a mutually convenient time to schedule almost anything (psst...for free!).  Propose different dates and times and your people indicate their availability online.  Goodbye long email chains.  Hello convenient one-stop scheduling.


Tech Special: How to Communicate with your Wedding Party in a Pinch

Once upon a time, a group of groomsmen on a bachelor party extravaganza split up to negotiate with doormen at several clubs over bottle prices - and then spent precious texting time selecting eight different numbers to message to figure out where the night would best be spent.  Ever wanted to communicate with a large group of people (oh, say your bridal party) quickly?  Enter GroupMe, a new service that lets you create a "group" of people from numbers already in your contact list.  The site assigns your group a phone number - text it, and you send a message to everyone easily; call it and you can start an instant conference call.  Share photos, send your location... you get the picture.

Visit GroupMe to sign up for free.
Although the WSJ reports that it's a favorite amongst "mothers coordinating drop-offs and pick-ups, but also with skiers planning apr├Ęs-ski cocktails and patients updating relatives on their progress" I have a hunch it will revolutionize bridal party communications everyone.  Let's text to that.


Wine Down Friday, Expert Voice - Harlem Vintage

From Kitsch to Cool
When Lambrusco flowed into the US from Italy in the 1980s, it was mass-produced and tooth-achingly sweet, we called it cherry coke with a kick. Fast forward to the last five years and discover the artisan Lambrusco wines that have taken New York City by storm. The wine is named after the grape variety, which grows in the Emilia-Romagna area of Northern Italy. A quintessential Lambrusco has got to be fruity; it works up a crushed purple froth in the glass and possesses brilliant acidity. It is a wine that drinks beautifully alone, and it goes especially well with rich, fatty foods like the cured meats and cheeses of Emilia. Tomorrow, Harlem Vintage will be pouring an especially salivating red fizz called Ca Montanari Opera Lambrusco 2002. Expect to sniff out some laid back ripe fruit, which continues on the palate, along with just a touch of sweetness and light tannins. It’ll satiate your thirst and taste great with Emilia deli specialties like prosciutto, mortadella and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Who’s in the mood to cook this weekend anyway?

Harlem Vintage, 4-7 pm
2235 Frederick Douglas Boulevard, Harlem, NY