EyeSwoon

The stars aligned to make this dreamy summer night with Zimmermann possible. Although the event technically came together over a period of just a few months, in reality, its roots go back much further. It all began years ago — for the very first dinner I hosted at my home here in Amagansett, it was Zimmermann who dressed me for the occasion. I made the acquaintance of Zimmermann founders Nicky and Simone over Instagram and in a last-minute pinch these lovely ladies, who were more or less strangers at the time, provided me with the perfect white eyelet dress for my inaugural EyeSwoon event. It was a tender moment for me as that event, in that dress, really launched my career in the entertaining space and I was forever grateful. From that time forward we began to develop an affection for one another, and we continued to keep in touch over Instagram.

Fast-forward to four summers later and here we are — I’m in yet another gorgeous white dress, and we’re throwing a Zimmermann dinner together to celebrate the brand’s Resort 2018 collection on a glorious summer’s night. In a way, I have come full circle.

Zimmermann’s beachy Australian sensibility is what set the stage for the event. The resort collection served as a jumping off point that informed the overall vibe and tonality of the event. The collection is filled with crisp whites, pale pinks, and blues — these really are the colors of summer, from the sand to the sky and everything in between.   I felt that this controlled palette would translate beautifully to summer in the Hamptons, informing every creative decision I made. And with that, the ladies put their trust in me and really let me take the reigns in designing and executing the dinner. I’m excited to let you in on all of it. From the vision to the design to the florals to the food, here I’m sharing the way I approached every facet of the experience.

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TABLESCAPE DETAILS: The devil is in the details, but there’s magic in them, too. I partnered with Rough Linen on a torn, frayed-edge white tablecloth and napkins, both in lightweight linen. Plates and flatware were sourced from West Elm. The white plates were edged in a sandy tone, which softened the look, while the rosy copper flatware picked up the pink hues of the tablescape. Super-talented calligrapher Meret recreated a Zimmermann fabric pattern for the menus. And finally, pillar candles of various heights offered a touch of height to the table.

SPACE DESIGN: To add to the romanticism and intimacy of the dinner, I wanted to contain us within an enclave. Although I was unsure whether the canopy I created would feel elegant and beachy, or like a wedding and an oversized chuppa, I’m happy it proved to feel like the former. The billowy fabric, cascading and swaying in the wind, added to the drama of the dinner. And I chose the large lantern to avoid repeating myself since I have used twinkly string lights in the past. Special thanks to Either, And for the production, and Michael Haff of Fly Pelican Fly for the canopy. 

FOOD: I wanted food with fresh, clean flavors, and sought to serve it family style, to express a casual, beachy vibe. I worked with my dear friend Jamie of Poppy’s Catering to create a hyper-seasonal menu. Our meal began with a salad of beets and tomatos over whipped feta and a nutty crunch from pistachios. Black sea bass with a zesty lime yogurt, topped with shaved fennel and radish slaw made an appearance, as did a grilled local vegetable platter, and the meal finished with an Aussie favorite — strawberry pavlovas with crème fraîche and elderflower.

DRINK: The signature cocktail of the night was a rhubarb basil margarita. Tequila just has a way of getting the party going (hehe), while rhubarb offers the perfect balance of sweet and bitter. And rhubarb’s pink hue, which comes from simmering it in simple syrup, certainly fit the overall color palette! I selected the West Elm ribbed glassware because it beautifully reflected and refracted the candlelight onto the table.

GUESTS: Among friends old and new, there was Katie Lee, chef and TV personality, Samantha Marcus Yanks, EIC of Hamptons mag, Pilar Guzmán, EIC of Condé Nast Traveler, and her husband Chris Mitchell, publisher of Vanity Fair. There was Selby Drummond of Vogue, Casey Fremont of Art Production Fund, communications pro Bettina Prentice, and bloggers Danielle Bernstein and Samantha Angelo. My core crew of Amagansett and Montauk friends attended. And most importantly, of all of the events I have hosted over the years, my husband and son had never been to one of them, so having the two of them there meant the world to me!

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There’s no getting around it — a massive amount of creativity and preparation goes into planning an event. But these moments are also the ones that stay with me. Late into the evening, I stepped away from the dinner as the sky turned magical midnight blue. Looking across the yard I saw guests enjoying the night under the canopy, no doubt making new connections and rekindling old ones. The white canopy cloth was cascading and ever-so-slightly billowing, and the lanterns reflected in the surface of the pool. It was an intimate moment filled with pride, and a massive exhale.

Entertaining Tips

  • Linen Love

    Wash and tumble-dry your linens. This keeps your napkins and tablecloths tousled, undone, and beachy. It’s is also a great trick for when your linens have fold marks – just dampen and place in the dryer to remove!

  • Pick a Palette

    When designing a tablescape, pick a controlled palette and stick to it. Carry these colors through to your florals, linens, and any other design statements in the space.

  • Streamline Menu-Making

    It can be costly to have each menu custom-made. So instead, our calligrapher Meret created just one copy on watercolor paper and we had it reprinted.

  • Burn Baby Burn

    Pre-burn your candles. It makes them drippy and romantic. And use them liberally — they offer the most flattering, hazy glow. Mood-makers.

  • Drinks and Jams

    Creating a signature cocktail and playlist for the night are two absolute essentials. Add ‘em and it’s party time.

  • Look to the Season

    For food, palette and decor inspiration, just look outside your window and at what’s fresh from the market. Let Mother Nature’s colors and flavors be your guide.

Beet, tomato + citrus salad with whipped feta + pistachios

Poppy's Catering

  • Ingredients

    • For 4-6 servings 

      Whipped feta:

      • 8 oz feta, crumbled
      • 2 oz cream cheese
      • 1 tablespoon heavy cream 

      Salad:

      • 2 red beets
      • 2 golden and/or chioggia beets 
      • 2 cups tomatoes 
      • 1/2 cup supreme oranges and/or grapefruit 
      • Salt and Pepper
      • Olive oil
      • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios

       

  • The Prep

    • Whipped feta:

      Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. 

      Salad:

      Roast beets at 350 degrees in shallow pan of water. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and cooked through. Cut tomatoes into wedges, and if using cherry tomatoes cut in half. Supreme citrus by cutting off tops of citrus and rind, leaving only orb of flesh intact. Cut out the slices without the membrane. Peel cooked beets and cut into wedges. Combine beets, tomatoes, and citrus. Season mixture with salt, pepper and olive oil. To serve, dollop whipped feta at bottom of bowl and use a spoon to spread it up the sides. Place beet, tomato, and citrus mix on top of whipped feta. Garnish with chopped pistachios and beautiful greens/edible flowers.

Rhubarb Basil Margarita

Poppy's Catering

  • Ingredients

    • Rhubarb Basil Simple Syrup:

      Makes approximately 2 cups

      • 1 cup water
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 cup chopped rhubarb
      • 2 cups basil leaves + stems, packed

      Margarita:

      Makes 1 cocktail

      • 1.5 oz tequila
      • 2 oz rhubarb basil simple (see above)
      • 3 oz lime juice

      Combine all ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake well and strain over ice. Garnish with a ribbon of rhubarb + basil leaf. Note: adjust quantities to taste if you like your margarita stronger or sweeter!

  • The Prep

    • Rhubarb Basil Simple Syrup:

      1. Combine water, sugar, rhubarb and basil in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb completely falls apart.
      2. Press mixture through a sieve. Cool.

      Margarita:

      1. Combine all ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake well and strain over ice. Garnish with a ribbon of rhubarb + basil leaf.
      2. Note: adjust quantities to taste if you like your margarita stronger or sweeter!

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