O say can you see…

…this festive red, white & blue margarita!  The Curtain Up Events team cooked this up ourselves to get started celebrating the 4th.

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 Recipe makes one (1) Margarita. Adjust your recipe according to the number of guests you are serving!

CUE Patriotic Margarita:

2 ounces of your favorite tequila

1 ounce of Peach Schnapps (our fancy twist!)

1 cup of strawberries with the stems removed

juice of 1/2 a lime.

Mint sprig to garnish.

Assemble all of the ingredients in a blender and fill with ice, blend until the consistency is nice and smooth. Before pouring, wipe the rim of each glass with a lime wedge, and then lightly salt each rim. Voila! Your drinks will look professionally done! On a side note, our blue salt was created by adding a few drops of  food coloring into a bowl of  plain salt, however, once the drink began to melt- it got a little messy. We suggest you skip the food coloring, as our fingers may still have a hint of blue on them! Our mixologists are certain that this margarita is sure to be a hit at your Independence Day gathering this year- enjoy responsibly!

Cheers!

  – Joe

Wine Pairings for Valentine’s Day Delights: by Gina King, Founder & CEO, Domaine Somm

Valentine’s Day is a day to honor love in every form and what better way to do so than to indulge in some exciting food and wine. Whether you’re celebrating with friends or that special someone in your life, a mind- blowing food and wine pairing experience can absolutely enhance the occasion. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’ve put together wine pairing ideas and tips for a few common aphrodisiacs: oysters, chili peppers, and chocolate. We’ll start off with a refreshing platter of oysters, move on to something with a bit of heat, and finish off with some chocolate for dessert.

OYSTERS

In general, it’s best to pair oysters with a bone dry white wine or bubbly, but since they come in so many shapes, textures and flavor profiles depending on their origin, we’ve put together a few guidelines to maximize your enjoyment.

The northeast coast produces skinny oysters that have a longer shaped shell with lean flesh while still retaining a moderately briny, salty, steely flavor. Examples are Long Islands (the original Bluepoints), Wellfleets (from Cape Cod), Delawares and Bristols (Maine). In Canada, “Novys” (from Nova Scotia), Malpecques (Prince Edward Island) and Caraquets (New Brunswick). Due to their lean and minerally taste, the best wine match for Northeastern oysters is a bone dry white with perceptively minerally or flinty qualities. Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Loire Valley, most commonly bottled as Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé is an ideal match. Sauvignon Blanc from the New World doesn’t work as well since they tend to be fruity and lack stony, minerally or flinty character.

2011 Domaine des Vieux Pruniers Sancerre

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The Northwest coast produces fatty oysters that are the broadest, roundest, fruitiest, fleshiest and creamiest in texture. Examples are Hama Hamas, Quilcenes, Hood Canals, Pearl Bays, Caraquets, Chef Creeks, Sinkus and the biggest of all, Tottens. Dryer style Rieslings, Gruner Veltliner, and Pinot Grigio work well.

2011 Schloss Gobelsberg Gruner Veltliner Gobelsburger

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Olympia and Kumamoto oysters from the Pacific Northwest are unique and produce the smallest variety. Olympia oysters are the Pacific Northwest’s only native variety and are small, mild, and yet meaty. Kumamotos are a sub-species of Pacific oysters, which originated from Japan, but are now farm raised in Washington State and Northern California. They are tiny, plump, sweet, and succulent. A perfect match to both is a dry Champagne or sparkling wine.

 NV R.H. Coutier Brut Tradition Champagne, Grand Cru

 

 

 

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NV BiancaVigna Prosecco Brut

 

 

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CHILI PEPPERS

Many people assume the sweeter the better for wine as the dish heats up with spice, but in reality, the sweetness will take away from the flavors. Wines that are on the fruity side with low to moderate alcohol levels work best. Avoid wines that have subtle flavors as the spices will overpower the wine. For white wines, try a Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, off-dry Riesling, Roussanne, or Sauvignon Blanc. Herbal and tangy Sauvignon Blanc tends to go well with Southwestern dishes that have cilantro and lime notes in addition to spice. The sweet-hot flavors of some East and Southeast Asian fare go well with Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling. A touch of sweetness often found in these varietals tones down chili heat while harmonizing with sweeter sauces, such as sweet-and-sour or coconut milk-based sauces. The lower alcohol content gives your tongue refreshment and relief.

2011 Brooks Wine Gewurztraminer, Oak Ridge Vineyard

 

 

 

 

 

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2011 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Lot 150

 

 

 

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Rosés made with Grenache based blends also work beautifully with spicy dishes, even those with a meat element. And by the way, rosés are not just meant for summertime enjoyment! They’re very food friendly and great to enjoy year-round, especially on Valentine’s Day.

 2011 Bergerie de l’Hortus 

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For red wines, stick with lower alcohol wines with noticeable spice character, forward fruit and moderate tannins. Barbera, Cru Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and sometimes Tempranillo work well.

2011 Luli Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands

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CHOCOLATE

The general rule of thumb for pairing wine with anything sweet is that the wine should be at least as sweet, if not a touch sweeter, than the dessert you are serving it with. Otherwise, the taste may quickly veer towards sour. Since there are many different styles of chocolate, it’s not possible to choose one style of wine as an ideal partner. So, we’ve drilled it down to white, milk, and dark as a starting point.

White Chocolate has sweet flavors of honey, vanilla, caramel, and/or fruit, which pair nicely with a sec or demi-sec Champagne. The acid in sparkling wines produces tart flavors when paired with the cacao in milk or dark chocolate; however, there is no cacao in white chocolate, making a sweeter style of Champagne or sparkling wine a wonderful match. Riesling or Pinot d’Alsace is another great option as they show an exotic sweetness that complements the vanilla, caramel and honey flavors of white chocolate. Fresh strawberries dipped in white chocolate would be great with the following wines.

NV Drusian Extra Dry Spumante Rose, Rose Mari 

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2010 Bott Geyl les Pinots d’Alsace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Milk chocolate has flavors of brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, honey, caramel, nutty and/or malt, so an optimal pairing is Tawny Port.  Its nutty nuances highlight milk chocolate’s nutty and caramel notes and enhance the overall chocolate flavor. A couple of other good partners are Hungarian Tokaji, which goes beautifully with chocolate ganache, and Muscat or Moscadello (Italian), a rich wine with honeysuckle and honey mingled notes which also complement the vanilla, caramel and honey flavors in milk chocolate.

2011 Caprili Moscadello di Montalcino

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Dark chocolate can have bitter, roasted, earthy, and/or nutty notes. Due to the intensity of flavors, bittersweet and dark chocolates need to be paired with stronger red wines with concentrated fruit notes. Vintage Port is a classic pairing with a decadent dark chocolate dessert or truffles. For a non-fortified option, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, or Zinfandel also work well. While some of these varietals may appear too tannic to pair with chocolate, the cocoa butter decreases the astringency and dryness of the tannins and the higher cacao content enables bittersweet chocolate to pair well.

2011 Bodega Noemía A Lisa

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Chocolate with caramel, toffee, or coconut goes extremely well with Sauternes, a rich, sweet dessert wine with honey and apricot flavors that complement caramel, toffee, and coconut.

2005 Chateau Climens Barsac, Grand Vin de Sauternes

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Domaine Somm provides
a personal sommelier service to elevate wine experiences at any occasion.
We create enriching wine programs and curate high quality, distinctive wines for events, wine clubs, and our online wine boutique. We also donate a portion of all profits to charities within the areas of sustainability, health, education and the arts.

Gina King, Founder & CEO of Domaine Somm, is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and received the Advanced Certificate with merit from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. Prior to founding Domaine Somm in 2012, she was the Head of Global Event Marketing at a global financial services company based in NYC for more than a decade. Gina earned a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and was formally trained in wine education and service at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley.

Organize the Holidays

Things can get overwhelming during this hectic, holly-jolly time of year.  That’s why we here at CUE call upon the expertise of Lisa Zaslow (www.GothamOrganizers.com) to keep us at our very best.  Here are her tips for a stress free, organized holiday season:

GothamOrganizers Holiday Survival Tips

“Holidays are an expensive trial of strength. The only satisfaction comes from survival.”

— Jonathan Miller

Bah humbug Mr. Miller! The holidays should be a time to feel blessed, not stressed!. Follow these tips to save time, effort and energy this holiday season!

First, stop beating yourself up for not picking up gifts for everyone on your list all year long and for not having your cards addressed before Thanksgiving. This is the home stretch – time to focus your efforts on what you can do.

* Presto Presents – Technology is your friend. Use the power of the internet to pick, click and ship gifts for everyone on your list, from clients to cousins. Gift certificates to sites like Amazon.com, Gap.com and CrateandBarrel.com will appeal to a wide range of folks. If you must get actual presents, hit a few big stores at off-hours and knock off many items on your list in one shot.

 

* Wrap It Up – Why wrap? I’m a big fan of tissue paper and gift bags. They’re super-speedy and no tape, ribbon or scissors needed.

 

* Go-to Hostess Gifts – One for all and all for one. Get a slew of one great item – a nice bottle of olive oil, beautiful kitchen towels, fancy nuts and/or chocolate, or the tried and true gift soaps or bottle of wine. Pick up a bunch of gift bags and you’re good to go.

 

* Speedy Decorating – Go minimalist. Candles are quick, inexpensive and festive. And you can use them year-round and don’t have to store them.

 

* Feast Without Fuss– Let someone else cook. Put pre-prepared foods on nice serving dishes with a little garnish and no one will be the wiser. Ask your guests to contribute dishes and lighten your cooking load. You can hire a caterer to cook entire meals or just a few key dishes.

 

* Quick Cards – Again, technology is your friend. Cut and paste a photo into an e-mail and you’re done, or send an electronic card at egreetings.com or similar sites. If you really love the idea of sending actual cards, you can extend your deadline by a few extra days and send New Year’s cards this time around.

One last note

Take a deep breath and remember that the true spirit of the season doesn’t require any of the above. Spend your time with friends and loved ones, not running around trying to fulfill an idealized vision of the holidays that may not fit your current lifestyle. Happy holidays!

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Lisa Zaslow, founder of Gotham Organizers, has helped hundreds of people get organized at work and at home. Her expertise has been featured on The Nate Berkus Show, Inside Edition and in numerous publications including The New York Times, Real Simple, and InStyle. Get Lisa’s super-easy organizing tips at www.GothamOrganizers.com

© 2011 Lisa Zaslow. All rights in all media reserved.

Thankful

I love Thanksgiving.  For me, it’s the beginning of the most wonderful, warm and joyful time of year.  For us here at CUE it’s also a day to breathe before the busy holiday season takes over.

This year I am thankful for so many things.  I am thankful for my amazing daughter, my loving husband and a family who stick by me and support me through good times and bad.  I am thankful for my wonderful clients who make every day an adventure, my outstanding team who work so hard to make it all look so easy, and for all of the incredible vendors who make my job that much better.
We here at CUE wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and would love to hear from all of you about what you’re thankful for this year.

xoxo,
Danielle

To All the Dads:

On this day, I would like to honor all of the incredible men out there who embody the word “Father”.  My Father instilled in me the importance of a good work ethic and how to save.  He shared with me a love for the beach (the Jersey Shore to be exact) and the ocean, a passion for ice hockey (Go Devils!) and a weakness for good doughnuts.  I inherited his ear for music and his sense of rhythm.  For all of these things I am thankful but, most of all, I am thankful to be able to give him time to share all of these things with his granddaughter.

I am also lucky to have a husband that is an incredible father to his daughter.  A partner who let me sleep in on Father’s Day because I had a late night of work.  I love watching my daughter’s face as he comes in the door after a day of work.  She adores him.  I hear him talk about all of the things he can’t wait to teach her and I melt.

So, to all of the Dads out there, we here at CUE wish you a Happy Father’s Day.  May your day be filled with all of the things and people you love (and hopefully a little BBQ).  🙂

xoxo,

Danielle

My daughter opening presents with her Pop Pop

A Flintstone Halloween with Daddy

 

A Mother of a Day

We here at CUE would like to take the time to wish all of the Moms out there a very happy Mother’s Day.
I LOVE being a mom.  Every day I look at my little girl and wonder, “what happened to my baby?” and, “how  did she get so big so fast?”.
We all struggle with the dilemma of whether or not we’re spending enough time with our children, did we make the right choice in letting them eat that?, and feeling guilty because we yelled at them.  Mother’s are incredible people.  We can multi-task better than anyone and live on 3-4 hours sleep.

My mom is one of the most amazing examples of what a mother should embody.  I am so lucky to have been raised by someone who is so fearless, strong and resilient.  No matter what obstacle, she manages to conquer it.  I am in awe of her every day.

Here’s to my mom, being a mom and to all of the mom’s out there who need this day to step back and take a little time for themselves.  We here at CUE honor you.

xoxo,

Danielle

Ringing in the New Year with my baby.

Valentine Inspiration

As the smell of chocolates, perfume, and candy fill the streets this Valentine’s Day take a few minutes to step back and simplify yours. Here are a few tips to inspire you.

If you have kids, do what Danielle is doing and throw a Toddler Valentine’s Day Extravaganza! Find fun activities for the kids such as arts and crafts or baking cupcakes!


Instead of going out to an overbooked restaurant, eat in! Nothing is more romantic than having a secluded, candle lit dinner cooked exclusively by you. Spend the evening proclaiming your love for one another without any interruptions from a waiter eager to bring the check and get the next tip-payer seated.

It’s easy to run into a store and pick up yet another generic gift. This year, to give that special someone something truly original and from the heart, try making something yourself. Find out what they like and work from that. Here is an idea we spotted from a crafter online who loves cherry blossom trees:

craftster.org

The girls at CUE hope these ideas help spark your own romantic creativity and wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

xoxo,
Kiki

From CUE to YOU

We at CUE couldn’t let the New Year roll in without taking the time to say THANK YOU.  We owe so much to our amazing clients, talented vendors our friends, families and everyone out there who supports us in what we do.  We are so proud of the events we create and produce and feel lucky to be able to wake up every day and know that we get to go to work with people we love and respect.

This year has been a whirlwind!  Every event was unique. We faced many challenges, overcame many obstacles and were rewarded with seamless, beautiful and fabulous events at the end of the day.
We’re so excited about what 2011 will hold for us and look forward to sharing it with you!

Wishing you peace, prosperity, love and happiness in the New Year.

xoxo,

Danielle and the CUE team

 

‘Tis the season to be Giving!

Christmas is in the air! People are bustling from shop to shop seeking out gifts for friends and family, wondering what gift would be the perfect one. In years past, the newest piece of electronic equipment or the coolest new toy were the must-have items to get your hands on. This season, however, people are being a bit more conservative with their gift giving. Instead of giving wild and ostentatious gifts this year, many people are turning to alternative presents.

This year let us not forget the spirit of giving and additionally, charitable giving. As a different choice this season, try to think of a charity that means something to you or to the ones you love.  Research the charity online and check its website for a donations link (most will have one), or call to make a contribution in the name of the person on your gift list. Not only will such a gift warm the heart of the person you’ve honored, but it will also help those less fortunate or contributes to further research for an important cause.

This season the Curtain Up Events team will be giving as well.

Danielle will be giving to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society  in honor of her Mother. (nationalmssociety.org)

Meredith has chosen to give to the National Breast Cancer Foundation in honor of her Aunt Holly. (nationalbreastcancer.org)

Lastly, Kiki has decided to donate to HOPE International in honor of her relatives and victims of the natural disasters that occurred in Indonesia. (hopeww.org).

Remember, make your giving this season twice as nice by giving charitably!

Project Holiday Organization

The holidays have FINALLY arrived and there is still so much to do! It starts with brainstorming for those perfect gifts, then braving the holiday hoards of mall madness, and culminates in executing the most gorgeous gift wrapping since Buddy the Elf walked through the Lincoln Tunnel. Gifts: check! What did you forget?

Decorating. Some may ask, “What’s so hard about placing a little holly here, a few lights there, picking out a tree, setting out the menorah, or finding the right candles for the kinara?” Well, actually finding those decorations tucked way in the back of the closet, stuffed in a box with other holiday miscellanea, can be a bigger headache than hunting down that one bad light keeping half of your tree unfestively dim. Organization is key when tackling such a project because you don’t want to have to deal with a mess before and after you set up.

Lisa Zaslow, founder of Gotham Organizers, is known nationwide for her expertise in organization. She helps her clients find customized solutions that help them become more organized and, therefore, more productive. She shared some tips with the CUE team on how we all could be more organized throughout this holiday season.

Gather

Go through your house and collect all the different holiday items that you have stored in a variety of places: the jack-o-lantern cutting knives in the kitchen, the menorah in the hall closet, the ornaments in the basement. You’ll probably have to open a bunch of “mystery boxes” in the process. This is a good thing. Have a thick black marker handy so you can label the carton with your high school memorabilia when you come across it in the attic.

Prune

Now that you see your complete holiday stash, toss or give away the items that you’ll never use: the lady bug costume that your daughter wore four years ago, strings of bulbs tangled beyond any chance of liberation, impulse-purchase ornaments that you have never once displayed, and wrinkled wrapping paper that you wouldn’t use even for the anonymous office grab bag.

Contain and Store

Now that you know how much space your decorations take up, treat yourself to some new containers to store them in. Sturdy plastic bins that stack will save space and protect your decorations from dust, water and breakage. They even make color-coded containers for this purpose – orange for Halloween, red and green for Christmas, etc. Label the containers so that you can see at a glance what’s in each one.

Designate an out-of-the way place to store your seasonal stuff since you don‘t need to get to it often. The basement, attic, or garage is perfect, if you have one. Apartment dwellers can use a high shelf in a closet or under-the-bed boxes.

Congratulations! You’ve solved a major holiday headache. Now if there was only an easier way to deal with all those relatives who‘ll be visiting …

Thanks Lisa, for all of your wonderful tips! They have already made my holidays less of a mess and allowed me to spend more time on the things that are more important in life.

To find out more on how Lisa Zaslow can help your organizational skills, check out her website at gothamorganizers.com.

If some of you are still having difficulty finding time to juggle work or school, decorating, and holiday gift shopping, the CUE team is here to help YOU! We can take care of all your holiday decorating, home or office. Need inspiration? We have plenty! And don’t worry about the dreaded post-holiday undecorating. Not only will we set everything up, but we will also break it down and stow it all away again.

You can e-mail us at info@curtainupevents.com. We look forward with working with you soon!

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Xoxo,
Kiki