Blogger Athena Calderone has one rule for both food and design: go for strong and surprising over muted and muddled.
A plate of food should have texture, composition, color and layers, just as an interior design should,” says Athena Calderone. The New York City actress turned designer turned blogger beautifully documents the intersection of food and style on her site Eye Swoon; she is a glamorous (and ubiquitous) presence in the photos with her signature bright-red lipstick and Jennifer Fisher bracelets and rings. She admits to getting “overly excited” about holiday entertaining—both the Christmas Eve parties she gives for her fashion- and art-world friends, and the Christmas dinners she and her husband, Victor Calderone, a DJ and music producer, host for their families.
The setting for her Christmas Eve gathering is the apartment she and Victor and their son, Jivan, moved into two years ago. She transformed the boxy white space with moody colors like gray and navy (except in Jivan’s room, which is covered in graffiti by a local artist). She painted the white kitchen cabinets with Benjamin Moore’s City Shadow, adding brass stripping on the edges. “Tweaks like that elevate a design, the same way lemon and sea salt elevate a dish, whether it’s a salad or a whole fish,” she says.
She loves to serve fish whole at parties: “It looks so dramatic.” A vivid green salsa verde makes the dish even more photogenic—and blog-worthy—and keeps the flavors bright. “I feel like a lot of winter dishes end up muted and muddled,” Calderone says. She started Eye Swoon to share the sources and tips she developed as a partner in design firm Rawlins Calderone, but the site is now full of recipes that explore her philosophy of flavor; the following dishes provide a sampling.