How do you achieve harmony amongst ingredients when creating a meal? Harmony only results when each individual element plays off of its neighbor — the effect is not overpowering but one that subtly highlights the opposing flavors. This impression is necessary for a great plate of food, but it’s an equally key element in creating the perfect room, environment, gathering, and everyone’s favorite: the cocktail. I like to find this connection everywhere within my life, and especially in those various worlds that I now call SWOON. What I gravitate towards in all of these spaces—food, design, and fashion—is a sense of simplicity…the notion that less really is more. I believe in highlighting the most exciting aspects of something, rather than masking them underneath too many sounds, flavors, or visual distractions.
It was my favorite Brooklyn restaurant Franny’s that solidified this idea in my mind. First, from a sensory perspective, as I continuously lost myself in the joys of eating their food—each dish allowing me to identify specific flavors, while also celebrating their fusion. This experience inspired me to try my own hand in the kitchen, experimenting with flavors at home and opening my eyes to the importance of quality—always cooking with local and seasonal ingredients—and restraint when composing a dish.
So, when I partnered with Cointreau on this event, it was a no-brainer to ask Franny’s Executive Chef John Adler if he would create a SWOONworthy meal at my Dumbo home. When he & Franny’s accepted, I could barely contain my childlike excitement over the opportunity to plan a menu and cook with one of my biggest inspirations–feelings which carried over to the evening itself. With simplicity and quality at the core, John immediately found parallels between his culinary philosophy and how Cointreau approaches their signature cocktails, most notably the Rickey—pared back, but robust, with only a handful of ingredients.
In order for everything to come full circle—to find that harmony between Cointreau, Franny’s, and EyeSwoon—I went about setting the mood for the evening. John shared with the Cointreau team how twice weekly I stroll into Franny’s, family in tow, wearing my most casual clothing–a t-shirt and jeans–and yet still seem to evoke “elegance and grace.” While I’d love to take the credit, I believe it’s due to the classic simplicity of that look. His comment reflects my own feelings about his cooking, especially what he created for this dinner: simple yet refined, with the perfect amount of complexity and elegance. I kept these ideas at the forefront as I selected the décor for the event. My dear friend Kim Ficaro recently launched a gorgeous home collection at Canvas, so, along with the Canvas plates, glassware and napkins, she offered her stunning woven and patterned aztec pillows for the evening. Kim’s pillows were accompanied by custom created Cointreau orange dip-dyed pillows, which lent a cozy feel to the seating areas. French bistro tables, strung lights above and an abundance of lanterns, candles, and fresh flowers completed the décor.
This notion of casual elegance was also on my mind when selecting an outfit for the evening. I chose a beautiful Karla Septic dress from Moda Operandi—a look that managed to be both feminine and edgy, a wonderful example of competing ideas working well together.
Right before guests arrived I was in the kitchen prepping the salad with edible flowers with John followed by a cocktail with Franny as we signed the cookbooks for the guests to take away. Inside the front cover I inscribed…”Eat Well, Swoon Often.” Stay tuned for my follow up post of the actual dinner and hop on over to LuckyMag.com to swoon further!
Photography by Winnie Au