It’s wedding season… again! A menagerie of formal sit down dinners, buffets, and lowered expectation. Vegetarians often suffer through meals which the cook –I hesitate to say chef—probably didn’t even bother to taste. We all love our friends no matter the quality of the event, but I can’t help but hold those with outstanding vegetarian options above the others. As I ready for this year’s weddings, which will take me from LA to NYC to South America, here’s a look at the most notable meals from last year’s season:
Carolyn and Robbie: Dunwoodie Golf Course Clubhouse, Westchester, NY
The bride, Carolyn, shows off her heavy lunch at her bridal shower. She claimed she’s allowed to eat such a gluttonous pile because she’s Irish, but I think it’s because these were the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had at a catered event!
Amanda and Shawn: Ici Fort Greene Brooklyn, NY
When Amanda’s bachelorette party went too late, with too much wine, close to too many bars, we ordered the classic New York pie: Lombardi’s! A lush benefit to living in the lowest part of the LES!
I’ll admit it, I was not a huge fan of Fort Green’s Ici before Amanda’s wedding. I’d had their brunch version of this dish, a bland monochromatic bowl of grits and a poached egg. But as a dinner starter they added a glorious portion of sautéed spinach and asparagus with a drizzle of hollandaise sauce and chives. This dish also had the elusive element of their bunch dish: salt!
The tender baby greens mingled with fresh strawberries are dressed in not-too-sweet berry vinaigrette. A truly faultless salad.
Though the official menu offered only chicken and fish, Amanda informed me of a silent vegetarian option. At a wedding, that frequently means ‘kitchen leftovers assembled in thoughtless or horrifying manners,’ but such was not the case here! The unquestionably fresh eggy pappardelle is tossed with gently cooked leafy greens, edamame, beans, and super light pesto… not only is this the best entrée at a wedding I’ve ever had, it’s a stand-out dish on it’s own.
With cookie cutter traditions already thrown out the door, Amanda’s cake was an unexpected German’s Chocolate Cake (I’m using the old fashion possessive form of ‘German’ because I like showing how educated I am on cakes)!
Liana and Rob: Laurel Island, CT
Feeding 60+ guest on a private island requires some ingenuity and teamwork. Luckily, the bride’s favorite meal “Liana’s dinner” –aka Frito pie– is an easy camp-style buffet that translates seamlessly into tacos. The table was full of Frito’s, corn tortillas, refried beans, real and veggie taco meat, cheese, lettuce, onions, olives, tomatoes, hot sauce and sour cream. A few people asked me if this photo is of mushroom tacos… they are not. What you see are olives, lot and lots and lots of olives!
Cocktail hour on Laurel Island brought my favorite part of the wedding day meal: CHEESE! Large wedges of mild milky nameless cheeses in an aluminum tub of olives. Unfortunately there was no knife… but we worked it out with plastic forks. A classic caprese salad was skewered into bite-sizes pieces along with grilled (steamed?) vegetables.
The actual dinner was a bit less then inspired, but would have been good if the pasta had not been overcooked. There was plenty of grilled corn to go around and, of course, cake!
The cake was a comedy of good intentions. Having submitted a photo from Martha Steward Magazine to a local baker (contrary to the fancy sounding name, East Hampton, CT is a “regular folks” kind of town), the cake showed up looking more Holly Hobby then ripped from a glossy magazine. For what it’s worth, it was Martha-licious…