October 10, 2017

Bloody Berry Sangria

October is extra spooky this year, with Friday the 13th coming up in a few days. We decided to take advantage and make a cocktail with … a Bloody Berry Sangria.

This was extremely easy to make and only used a few ingredients, so it’s cheap, too!

Here is what you need:
-bottle of red wine
-vodka (we used my fave, Tito’s)
-ginger ale
-fresh blueberries
-fresh blackberries

Here’s what to do:
1) In a pitcher, add 1 cup blueberries and 1 cup blackberries.


2) Add 3 oz. of vodka on top of berries.  Pour whole bottle of wine into pitcher on top of vodka and berries.


3) Top off pitcher with  1/2 cup of ginger ale.  Cover pitcher and let sit for 30 minutes.
4) Once sangria has had a chance to sit, uncover and pour into our cocktail glasses, making sure that some blueberries and blackberries make it into each glass.  Garnish with blueberries, and serve!

Got any fake spiders laying around? For a fun garnish idea, I popped a blueberry onto the butt of a fake spider and stuck it on the rim of each glass. How cute is that?!

I hope this Sangria gets you in the mood for Friday the 13th, and all of the other wonderful things that go along with October and Halloween.

Until next week… Cheers!

xx, Abby
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October 5, 2017

A Holiday Party with Ravenswood Wine

Naturally, the best way to test a product is to experience it first hand. Brands are finding the magic in hosting media outlets to experience their product in unique ways. Lucky for us, we get to take part.

Earlier this week, we worked to throw an event for Ravenswood wine. They rounded up a stellar list of editors who spent the night sipping on wines paired with delicious food.

The event was held in a West Village Townhouse that the Ravenswood team rented through One Fine Stay. It was spectacular. Several floors, an outdoor garden and a beautiful kitchen to work within. The concept, was the holidays. We brought in one of our favorite personal and party chefs, Chef Sue Park, to create a menu of dishes that would pair with each holiday and wine.

When the guests arrived they were welcomed into the garden for the first wine tasting and an Autumn inspired cheese + charcuterie board.

The guests were then taken into the living room where we styled fall florals for “Thanksgiving”. Chef Sue nailed the tasting here serving Rosemary Thyme Turkey Meatballs with Blueberry BBQ Glaze and Mashed Potato Puree which paired perfectly with the Lodi Zinfendel wine that the guests were tasting. Chef Sue also included a Roasted Brussel Sprout with Maple Glaze and Prosciutto Chip Flakes on the skewer with that meatball.

Next up, was Hanukkah. We kept the table tasteful and festive with white, blue and silver accents. Chef Sue plated a Sweet and Savory Braised Brisket with Figs & Apricots Served with Potato Latkes for this holiday pairing. After testing out her brisket I have officially decided to hire Chef Sue for my next Jewish holiday dinner party!

My favorite setting of the night was Christmas dinner. For this tasting the clients were hoping for a more elegant but not overly “Christmas” table. We used black matte plates, gold flatware and greenery to line the center of the table. Our very own Crafty Maggie made rosemary wreath place cards with every guests name written in gold making it clear that this table represented Christmas. It all came together so beautifully.

For Christmas dinner Chef Sue prepared a family style meal starting with Rustic bread and a compound butter series: Garlic sage, Lemon zest thyme and rosemary paprika. The meal was followed by a Holiday Seasonal Salad with Shredded Kale, Roasted Shaved Acorn Squash, Sliced Medjool Dates, Parmesan, and a Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette. The guests then enjoyed Chef Sue’s Rosemary and Fennel Crusted Crown Roast of Lamb Chops. Crown that was stuffed with Currant Rice Pilaf.

Last but certainly not least, Happy New Year! As the final course guests enjoyed  a Decadent Crostini with Seared Duck Breast, Caramelized Onions, & Teldeschi Cherry Chutney. Was the perfect send off for the most fabulous evening.

The event was such a special one where the guests made new friends, sampled incredible food and sipped on red wine for the night. Doesn’t get much better than this!

Photos by Benjamin Lozovsky

xx, Seri
Party conversation
  1. Lily

    What an amazing idea! I want to do this in different rooms in my home as a way to celebrate several holidays with friends since we all travel all over the country over the holiday season

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September 19, 2017

Apple Cider Sangria

In case you missed it yesterday, Maggie and I talked all about our housewarming party that we threw for our new apartment on the blog yesterday.  One of the aspects of the party that we highlighted was the signature cocktail that I made to serve to our guests, Apple Cider Sangria.

I chose this cocktail because not only is sangria super easy to make and serve, but it uses seasonally appropriate ingredients as well!

Here’s what you need:
-fresh apple cider
-white wine (we used Pinot Grigio)
-ginger ale
-fresh apples
-fresh oranges
-cinnamon sticks

Here’s what to do:
1) Chop up the fresh oranges and apples and put into a pitcher. Add a few cinnamon sticks.


2) On top of fruit and cinnamon sticks, add a full bottle of white wine.


3) Top with apple cider, filling your pitcher a little more than 3/4 of the way.
4) Use a stirrer to combine the ingredients.  Top pitcher with ginger ale.


5) Cover your pitcher with plastic wrap and leave in fridge for at least an hour.
6) After letting sit, uncover and serve! Garnish each glass with a few slices of apples and a cinnamon stick.

This sangria was a huge hit amongst our guests.  There are not many people who don’t enjoy apple cider in the Fall!

Until next week… Cheers!

xx, Abby
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June 21, 2017

Maggie’s Florence Adventure

I know what you’re thinking; those LMP girls must REALLY love Italy. I know Abby just took a trip to Italy this spring and you’ve already heard all about it, but I promise I have a unique experience to share too!

When my friend Colleen said she was thinking about going to Florence in June, I knew I had to nudge my way onto her trip. Colleen and I studied abroad in Florence 5 years ago, so although it’s a city I know well from living there for 4 months, I couldn’t help but think “this trip is exactly what I need right now.” No exhausting lines with other tourists. No pressure to see the sights. All I had to do was focus on eating, drinking, and getting inspired.

If you haven’t heard yet, I’ve recently been hired full time (yay!) with Little Miss Party. For the past 2.5 years I’ve worked remotely with the team from Boston, where I’ve lived for 7 years. I traveled intermittently to NYC, which is when you may have seen me on Seri’s Snapchat or Instagram. We were finally ready to make a big transition, so I will officially be moving to NYC on July 1st! It’s been quite the journey for me over this past year, but I knew in my heart that working with LMP was my dream come true. You can learn more about my journey and all the reasons I was ready to leave Boston on my personal blog.

Needless to say, it’s been a crazy couple months for me, and knowing I would soon be VERY busy with the move to NYC, I knew that I had to take the opportunity to travel now before life gets in the way. Because so much of my life revolves around creativity, I planned this trip knowing my main focus was to take in the beauty, photograph my experiences and EAT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT.

Let’s start with sights:

The Darling details of Italy

Gorgeous cars, posed perfectly against the traditional architecture of Florence.

Every building has rooftop & porch gardens. It brings beautiful new life to this old city.

Bicycles EVERYWHERE! And more plants!

Archways over narrow streets, casting the most beautiful light. Your eyes will never be disappointed on a casual walk through this city.

Sights for Sore Eyes

The Duomo is easily the most famous building in all of Florence. This feat of architectural beauty creates a “wow” factor for any passerby. Although I recommend seeing the views of Florence from the top of the Duomo Bell tower, the lines during tourist season are INSANE and walking around the outside of this building is impressive in itself.

The Arno is the river that divides Florence, and while in town, walking across its many bridges is necessary. Lined with many restaurants and hotels, this river is a beautiful sight, especially at sunset. Be sure to walk across the Ponte Vecchio but the better views are from the bridges surrounding it.

For the best views of Florence AND the surrounding Tuscan countryside, I would suggest walking up to Forte di Belvedere. All the tourists go to Piazzale Michaelangelo, and although it’s beautiful up there, it’s always packed. This location is much quieter and offers a grander view of the area. We only knew about this spot because we spent the whole week with our wonderful local friend who shared the secret with us!

Next, let’s discuss food and drinks:

Pasta

One of our favorite pasta stops was Trattoria Sant’Agostino which of course, we stumbled upon after a couple hours of walking and feeling famished. We purposely sought out locations off the beaten path, in small alleyways where we could tell everyone inside was speaking Italian. We wanted the authentic experience, and this place did not disappoint.

Pizza

If you’re looking for a freshly made pizza, Gusta Pizza is a must-go. Although a tourist attraction and always busy, this spot makes your pizza to order in their own brick oven so it comes out piping hot and delicious.

truffle everything

Truffle is in season in Italy, and you see it very frequently at the local restaurants. One night in search of a late dinner, we found Trattoria Napaleone which had a menu with a section of pasta that included truffle in every dish. So, we ordered truffle carbonara, truffle ravioli, and truffle gnocchi. No regrets. this place was beyond amazing with a true Florentine atmosphere.

Coccoli, prosciutto and stracchino

This is a famous appetizer in Florence, which is essentially fried bread, soft cheese, and prosciutto. It was simply delicious everywhere we tried it.

wine

We cannot forget one of the most important parts of going to Italy. THE WINE. It flows like water, and boy, did we drink it like it was.

We were lucky enough to go with our local friend, Angelica, outside of Florence about 45 minutes via public bus to Marchesi Antinori, a famous winery of Tuscany. The region is famous for Chianti Classico, an esteemed red wine that has been made there for hundreds of years.

Although we all tasted the Chianti Classico with lunch it was a HOT day. After learning about the winery and walking the grounds, we cooled off with their equally delicious rosé.

Finally, let’s focus on the things that made this trip inspiring:

The entire time we were there, Colleen and I had our cameras out and ready to capture the things that caught our eyes. Colleen is an amazing artist, designer, and photographer and I am so lucky to call her my friend. We fueled each other during our week back in Florence to capture the beautiful moments.

Colleen and I planned this trip so we could work on one of her (many) amazing side projects, Wanderwise. She is hoping to bring change the tourist industry of Florence with these creative workshops, and I’m so lucky I was there to help her brainstorm.

This trip was very nostalgic for us. This is us in front of the apartment we lived in 5 years ago. It was this place that developed our friendship and made us into the artists we are today.

Florence is a city filled with tradition. We were there during one of the famous city-wide rugby matches and were able to watch a parade to celebrate the big game. This procession lasted about 45 minutes with hundreds of men in traditional, colorful, and heavy garb.

Our wonderful Italian friend, Angelica is the daughter of one of our professors from studying in Florence. She was kind enough to show us around her city, help us order the best food, and provide a warm welcome for our entire stay.

The beautiful, old architecture of Italy is always so entwined with nature. I was so happy to walk around and see greenery and flowers every way I turned.

I came home from this trip feeling full, happy, and READY to move! I hope you enjoyed seeing pieces of my trip. Feel free to follow me on Instagram (@maggieantalek) to see my future travels, daily BTS at Little Miss Party, and my new adventures in NYC. Watch out New York, I’m coming for you next!

xx, Maggie
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May 11, 2017

Abby’s Italian Adventure

If any of you guys follow my personal Instagram account, @abbycopleston, you may have noticed that I was in Italy last week… I KNOW.

It was a week full of wine, pasta, walking, sightseeing, cheese, bread, pizza… and more wine. Aka, my dream world.  Seriously, everybody needs to book a trip (or several) to Italy in their life… there’s a reason why it has such an incredible reputation.

This trip came about when my good friend, Jules, found a deal on flights to Europe through Delta last November. We had always talked about booking a trip together, and she studied abroad in Florence and has been DYING to return.  So, when she found an unbelievably cheap roundtrip flight from JFK to Rome, she texted me and asked if I’d be down. I had been on Long Island running errands for LMP and driving between Target and Ikea and Seri’s house, and at each stop I would jump on my phone to answer Jules’ very persuasive texts.  I’m normally a stickler for planning (hence the job of party PLANNER), but the decision to go to Italy felt like exactly what I needed at the time, and the price was so right that I pulled into a Panera, whipped out my computer, hopped on their wifi and BOOKED IT.

Panic & excitement soon set in, but not one ounce of regret. After a few months of planning, we came up with an itinerary, and decided to hit 3 places – Florence, Cinque Terre and Rome! We flew into and out of Rome, and took trains between each destination.  The trains in Italy are very easy, clean and affordable… but I learned my lesson about packing too much! When you’re changing trains with only 5 minutes until your next departure, you definitely regret bringing those extra shoes.

STOP 1: FLORENCE, Wednesday – Saturday

We decided on Florence as our first stop, since Jules studied there and I had already been there twice, once with friends and once with my parents when I was studying abroad. We thought it would be a nice place to recover from our jet lag, eat, relax, and gear up for the more fast-paced last few days of our trip. I recommend all of the staples on the standard Florence itinerary – climbing to the top of the Duomo, walking along the Ponte Vecchio, visiting the Uffizi Gallery, strolling though the Boboli Gardens, but here’s some suggestions for some other special spots…

SIGHTS:
Piazzale Michelangelo: This Piazza overlooks the river and all of the city of Florence.  It is a bit of an uphill hike, but the view is beyond incredible, and a great way to justify drinking an entire bottle of wine at the top! I’d recommend heading up a half an hour before sunset, bringing wine and snacks, and staying up there until after dark when you can enjoy the view of the city lights.

Strolling along the Arno at night: The Arno is the river in Florence, and it is a beautiful place to walk along, especially at night!

EATS:
La Giostra: This place was recommended to me by our former LMP intern, the lovely Juliana, and it was my favorite meal of the whole trip! It was a touch fancier than my usual meal out, but so worth it.  The atmosphere and food were both incredible – I got a seafood risotto that I will dream about for the rest of my life.

Caffé degli ArtigianiJules and I stumbled upon this little bar while wandering on the South side of the river, and ordered wine and apertivi, and sat outside overlooking the Piazza della Passera. We loved that spot so much, we came back 2 more times. It’s quiet and removed from the touristy areas of Florence, but not to far off the beaten track.

Acqua al DueI ate here when in Florence with my parents, and it was worth the trip back.  They make some killer marinated steaks, and are most famous for their blueberry variation.  Jules and I got the tasting menu to share, and tried and sampling of 5 different house special pastas and 3 steaks.  To die for.

Gustapanino: This was definitely the most popular picture I posted during my trip, and for good reason.  Gustapanino (attached to Gusta Pizza) was a spot I went on one of my previous trips to Florence, and was recommended to me by almost every person who has been there (lookin’ at you, Kim, Kathleen and Juliana).  Its cheap, and their paninis are fresh and delicious. I mean – just look!

SHOPPING:

Leather Market: I’m a sucker for a good leather jacket, so this trip brought on the purchase of a SECOND black leather jacket.  I have no regrets. I also got some gifts for friends and family – purses, a wallet, bracelets.  My advice? Get there early, so avoid crowds, and haggle. I got my beautiful jacket for a €100 less than list price, quite easily!

Kiko Milano: I have a bit of an obsession with makeup, which Jules noted, so she insisted on taking me to Kiko Milano in Florence. And OHMYGOD i’m glad she did.  I got a ton of fun makeup, including pink, teal and purple eyeliner, AND glitter mascara, which will be popping up in future LMP photoshoots!

STOP 2: CINQUE TERRE, Saturday – Monday

I was most excited for Cinque Terre, since I had never been to the Italian Coast before, and it did not disappoint.  The whole time we were there, I felt like I was in a movie.  We stayed in Monterosso al Mare, the largest and northernmost of the 5 towns, in a beautiful Airbnb that used to be a wine cellar.

SIGHTS:

Hiking:  This is a no-brainer, and the reason that people flock to Cinque Terre.  There are trails connecting all 5 towns, and people can choose the red (hard) or blue (easy) trail to hike between them.  The idea is to hike between all 5 cities in one day, which is totally doable. We had planned on hiking the blue trail and heading south from Monterosso to Vernazza, then Corniglia, then Manarola, and ending in Riomaggiore, and then taking a boat back up to the Monterosso al Mare to drink wine and collapse.

Unfortunately, most of the blue trails were closed, so we had to do the red trail first thing, from Monterosso to Vernazza, which was almost entirely uphill on stone steps for 2 hours straight.  It was beautiful, and so worth it, but my legs have never hurt so bad in my life.  We ended up making it to 4 of the 5 cities, skipping only Riomaggiore. Each city was extremely beautiful, but Jules and I both agreed that our favorite was Manarola – it was quaint, quiet and beyond beautiful!

Chilling on the beach in Monterosso al Mare: The first day we got to Cinque Terre, we were exhausted from the train ride, and decided to grab a blanket, a bottle of sparkling rosé, and chill on the beautiful beach, which was a 5 minute walk from our Airbnb.  It was the perfect spot to read and enjoy the incredibly blue ocean. We didn’t go in the water, but plenty of people were swimming, so definitely bring your bathing suit!

EATS:

Trattoria da OscarThis place was recommended to us by our Airbnb host, and it was a very small, cute little spot around the corner from home.  I recommend the linguini with clam sauce.

Enoteca InternazionaleThis was a little store/ restaurant where we picked up the keys to our Airbnb, and it was so cute that we wen’t back as soon as we were settled for wine, prosciutto and bufala mozzarella. They had an excellent selection of white wine, which is typically my go-to, and I had been craving it after all of the red wine we were having.

Pizzeria La Smorfia: Delicious, cheap, straightforward pizza place.  With wine, of course!

Bar Enrica: This was a little wine bar at the base of the trail in Manarola, at the top of the city. It was so picturesque and an excellent place to people watch and enjoy a hard earned glass of wine.

STOP 3: ROME, Monday – Wednesday

SIGHTS:
I’ll state the obvious first… the Coliseum, Vatican City, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain, the Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon… all worth seeing! I didn’t pay to go inside and tour any of them, because our time in Rome was so short and the lines were always long, but if you have time you definitely should!

Trevi fountain

Vatican City


The Spanish Steps

Since Jules had already been to Rome, we also made it a priority to explore some less-touristy areas, based on recommendations from random travel blogs. They turned out to be our favorite stops along the way!

Quartiere Coppedé: This is a very small group of buildings, called “The Fantasy District”, entirely designed by architect Gino Coppedé with influences of Art Nouveau, Baroque and medieval architecture. It was a little bit of a trek, but beyond worth it.  Jules and I spent some time there taking pictures and picking which building we’d be living in when we can have our second homes in Rome (HA!)

Street Art in OstienseI’m a sucker for cool street art, so we trekked out to where the locals live to visit the Ostiense District and their extensive collection. The neighborhood that these murals were in is mostly an area that locals live in, and was full of cool bars and restaurants

Trastavere DistrictWe walked through this neighborhood across the river on our way to Vatican City, and upon some research found out that this is where a lot of young locals and college kids live.  It was chock full of cafés, bars and restaurants.. and incredible gelato spots! When I come back to Rome, I will for sure be staying here.

EATS:
Locanda del ProsciuttoThis place makes the top 3 list for meals in Italy.  We came here because of the fact that it had “prosciutto” in the name… can’t go wrong with that! We each got wine and shared this incredible charcuterie platter.

Arco di San CalistoJules and I had walked through this beautiful Piazza in Trastavere on our way to Vatican City, and made a note to come back to it for dinner.  When we did, this beautiful little archway on a side street was all lit up with bulb lights, and we snagged a table outside at this cute little place.

My advice? Book a trip to Italy. Now. It lives up to the hype.  Most of the time, I felt like I was in a dream.  That might have been aided by all of the wine drinking, but still! Thanks to Jules for being an excellent travel buddy, and for teaching me to ALWAYS order a bottle of the vino rosso della casa, or house red wine.  Not one time did I regret that!

Feel free to reach out for any more suggestions or if you’d like more info on any other the places I suggested! Make sure you eat gelato every day, drink all of the wine, eat plenty of prosciutto and mozzarella, and never turn down the bread. EVER. Happy traveling, eating, drinking… etc.

Ciao!

xx, Abby
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