It’s no secret, as past posts will attest, autumn is my favorite season. The changing leaves and abundance of apples at the Union Square Farmers’ Market make me yearn for trips home to Connecticut to bake pies with my Mother, where we trade in our chilled chardonnay for spicier cabernets. Not only are autumnal foods among my most beloved, but fall is when I first fell in love, so how could I not blush each and every time green trees turn crisp and crimson? My Man and I had our very first date on 11/11/05, and have celebrated our anniversary in style for the past six years, always with a delicious tasting menu from our cozy West Village favorite—Po, Mario Batali’s Greenwich Village gem.

This year I had a feeling something special was in store, as the actual date of our 6th Anniversary was falling on 11/11/11. Instead of celebrating in the city, we opted for an out-of-town adventure, and My Man went out of his way to make it a surprise. Knowing virtually nothing about where we were headed, on 11/11/11 I was instructed to meet at Grand Central for a train ride out to our first destination. As we cracked open some icy cold beers (always a perk on Metro North), I immediately turned to him with a smirk, thinking I had figured out the surprise. He was taking me to Blue Hill Stone Barns! Wasn’t it obvious by the Tarrytown train ticket? But once we had landed in this quaint Westchester town, a cab driver drove us past Stone Barns and further up a windy road, upon which it was made clear that we were headed somewhere even more magical.

As we approached the metal gates, I saw before me a glorious castle with stonewalls and robust Medieval charm. It felt like he had swept me all the way back to Europe to the tiny town of San Gimignano we loved so much in Tuscany. We had arrived—not in Italy, but at The Castle on Hudson. I had never heard of this opulent palace, but was wowed on every level: our antique-filled guest room, the sprawling country grounds, and the 5-star dining experience at their in-house restaurant Equis. Everything just oozed romance.

As if the night could not get any better, after our 5-course tasting menu and the perfect bottle of Sonoma zinfandel, My Man revealed to me in the dim glow of candlelight, that we were leaving on an early flight the very next morning for wine country. That’s right! We were headed for five glorious days and nights in Napa. While I’ll leave some of the details private (a lady never tells all!), I can ecstatically exclaim that by the time we got on that plane the next morning, I was staring down at the most beautiful diamond ring I have ever laid eyes on, and I was holding the hand of my newly minted fiancée! Yup, I’m engaged.

And I must admit, this proposal and engagement-moon could not have come at a better time. Kimberly and I were running on empty after expediting some of our largest scale Dinner Belle events to date. October had us quietly working on a few intimate parties, including a film screening at the Gershwin Hotel and a private 30th Birthday party in a chic Soho loft. I also made it up to Beantown to visit Kimberly and Mr. Mix with his besties in tow. We had a blast exploring their new digs (and my first ever corn maze!), but the real headline story came in November, when we prepared 2,000 lunches over the course of just six days!

First up, we catered The Future of Web Design Conference for 1,000 hungry techies over the course of a 2-day event held at New World Stages. Attendees from all over the globe gathered to take a sneak peak at the latest web technology and were treated to bagged lunches featuring sandwiches such as Roast Beef with Caramelized Onions on a pretzel bun garnished with horseradish crème fraiche, and homemade Tuna Salad & Swiss with crisp red leaf lettuce on Zabar’s hearty rye bread. Side dishes included Autumnal Fruit & Nut Salad, House-Popped Kettle Corn, Chocolate Goddess Brownies and Red Velvet Whoopee Pies for dessert. While our client was thrilled with our level of service, I have to say, whipping out those lunches brought back some intense memories of our first ever event at Topshop some 7,000 cookies later.

After the conference wrapped, we went into prep for our new high-profile media client—CBS Interactive, who opened a holiday pop-up shop in Soho and needed an assortment of gourmet lunchboxes for their Adobe Photo Walk events and Mommy Tech panels. Filled with Green Goddess Wraps and Buttermilk Biscuit BLT’s, along with Truffle-Infused Kettle Corn, miniature Mediterranean Charcuterie boxes, and Chocolate Chubbies for dessert, the boxes proved a tasty and creative complement to the modern aesthetic of the pop-up space.

Looking ahead to December, The Dinne Belles will be ringing as we cater a variety of corporate and private soirees that will bring Kimberly back to New York. Our kitchens will be bustling as we gear up for the grand opening of Journelle’s 3rd NYC boutique on the Upper East Side, a huge office bash for a midtown marketing firm and merrymaking with a secret celebrity fashionista in a Soho shop. We’ll of course make room for some down time to celebrate my birthday and host holiday parties with our Tribe, which always brings back fond memories of the Friends Thanksgiving feasts Kimberly used to host in her West Village apartment before she traded in her Metro Card for a Massachusetts address.

Speaking of Turkey Time, having just returned from a wonderful and rustic Missouri holiday, I realize just how much I have to be grateful for: a wonderful family and a soon-to-be set of in-laws who I simply adore; a quirky Brooklyn pad I get to share with my love and our new, feisty feline—Wellington; all my dear friends, especially my bestie Belle and the many blessings The Dinner Belle has brought us both; but truth be told, I am most grateful that this Event Coordinator finally gets to plan herself the wedding bash of her dreams!

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