THE STORIES BEHIND THE EVENTS (or random things we think are cool...)

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Prest-O, Change-O

At every event we help organize, we always try to make our designs do double-duty -- we can't help it; at the end of the day, we're practical girls! With this very purple wedding we did last year, we envisioned an escort card table that would turn into a late night dessert station as the evening progressed.

Lidia Tacconelli and I designed thick, lucite 'boxes' that spanned almost the entire width of a 30" table and then set to filling them with delicate, white dendrobium orchids. In the end, it took almost 6000 of them to achieve the look we had imagined.

Later in the evening, we colour-blocked the fruit to correspond with it's matching tart... and we asked the chefs at The Granite Club to scoop the fruit into bite-sized balls that could easily fit onto the skewers we provided on the side...

Guests loved that they could wander around easily with the skewers instead of cumbersome plates and the tarts were a big hit too. You can read more about this wedding in WedLuxe Magazine or by clicking here to see the online version.
Thank you to Storey Wilkins for always shooting our details so beautifully.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In Search of the Perfect Manhattan

This particular post may cause some readers to think they're on the wrong site, because today I got... dare I say it... downright domestic. The impetus? Trying to recreate the perfect Perfect Manhattan cocktail I had when I was last in, you guessed it, Manhattan.

The background: my sister and I started to drink them on a lark one night, as homage to our late mother. The manhattan had been her cocktail of choice, so when my sister ordered them for us, I was a little bit terrified: I had never enjoyed them when our mum had let us sip hers when we were growing up. As in, not ever.

My sister laughed at me choking down the first taste and gave me the sage advice that it takes until the fourth (yes, fourth) sip to begin enjoying them. Not only was she right, it has become my signature cocktail too; I have since done my best to try almost every version known to man. I now know that I prefer a Perfect Manhattan (equal parts sweet and dry vermouth) and I like it made with bourbon, not rye.

But then I went to New York. And one night at the Gramercy Park Hotel changed everything.

The answer: Brandied Cherries. From France, no less. Of course they were.

And yes, birds sang, the earth moved and angels appeared -- they were THAT much better than the regular, super sweet maraschino variety.

So, I'm not really sure what possessed me to get all Martha today -- it could be the fact that cherries are in season at the moment. Red, ripe and beautiful. It could be that I've never sourced the right ones since that fateful night in New York. But the other day, I became someone that my friends wouldn't recognize: I went online and Googled how to make them myself. Cut to today: Freshly washed cherries, a recently purchased cherry pitter (who knew?) and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

In case you don't know what a cherry pitter looks like, I took a photo, along with the mandatory rubber gloves. (While every website had a variation on the basic recipe, the one thing everyone could agree on was the necessity of rubber gloves!) Too bad mine were about 3 sizes too big... it made the job that much slower. Plus I chose to keep the stems on (more of an aesthetic thing than for any other reason), so it took even longer to get the job done.

The result: A glorious bowl of de-pitted (is that a word?) cherries, soaking in 2 cups of fine French brandy. And the little bowl next to it, proudly showing the fruits of my labour. Pun intended. The cherries will soak overnight and then tomorrow I will tackle the next steps: making a simple syrup and then bottling them. Who knows? This might be the start of a brilliant new side business... I'll keep you posted when I finally get to try one in my first Perfect Perfect Manhattan. Supposedly around 6 weeks from now...

The Talented Mr. Greenberg

I thought it was high time to devote a post to my friend the photographer Michael Greenberg of Phototerra Studios. When the family for this particular wedding and I were in Montreal interviewing photographers, I came out of the meeting with Michael and said to my clients, "We would and should be honoured to work with that man." Sure enough, the photographic results that came from that very special September weekend in Mont Tremblant, Quebec are a testament to the beauty of the surroundings, the love within an incredible family and, most of all, Michael's rare talent.

Since that wedding, I've had the pleasure to get to know him a little more. A former doctor and classical pianist (with a brief stint in the Israeli army thrown in for good measure), he brings a pretty interesting life experience to every photo he takes. Above all, he is one of the most humble and unassuming talents I've ever met. In fact, he's probably blushing right now, if he's reading this for the first time...

It's been really interesting to watch the world catch on to his gift too; you can read some of the accolades and articles being written about him on the Phototerra blog. He travels regularly between Montreal and Toronto, where they also have a studio, as well as jetting off to far parts of the globe to capture weddings and 'stuff' that he documents on his own personal journey.

Some long-time readers of this blog will recognize this setting from a previous post I did. I still get the shivers when I think back to this time. You can click here for a shortcut to the story.

I'll end this post with one of my favourite photos Michael took from the entire weekend. On the Friday night, we held a cocktail reception at the top of the mountain. We served pink champagne at the base, then guests climbed on the gondola and were whisked to the top, where a smorgasbord of Quebec cheeses and charcuterie awaited. This picture is of the emergency stop for the gondola -- I, of course, love what is implied in this photo... the truth is that the gondola operators were not responsible for the glassware left on top!