Thursday, June 22, 2006

Salivating at Wedding Bells

A lot has happened since my last substantive post, the most eventful being my beautiful friend's wedding in the Alta Mira in Sausalito, California. The weather was perfect, the bride was stunning (and gorgeous and breathtaking), and most of all, the meal was decadent and absolutely irresistible. At parties and weddings, I try to pay particular attention to the meal that is being served--so that I may steal the entertaining ideas!

Now don't get me wrong, I am not getting married anytime in the remote future, but I love "borrowing" entertaining methods from the best entertainers available--wedding hosts.

I loved everything about everything, but there were two particular details that I found to be worthy of passing on:

Wedding / Entertaining Tip #1: Serve at least some portions of your meal "family-style."

In addition to the hors d'oeuvres that were continuously circulating through the crowds, the wedding guests dined on a luxurious Italian-themed dinner. We started with two sides: risotto milanese, which had been slowly simmered in a saffron-infused cheese sauce and penne alla putanesca, both served family-style. The beady caper buds and the olive tapenade in the putanesca provided a briny contrast to the powerful saffron flavor in the risotto.

I loved that only a few elements of the dinner were served family-style. It definitely started the meal on a more intimate note and it helped to break the ice between the strangers sitting at each of the individual tables.

The family-style sides were followed by an insalate caprina made of mixed greens, cubes of diced roma tomatoes, and rounds of goat cheese that were encrusted with walnut crumbles. The entire salad was delicately dressed by an artistic drizzling of light balsamic vinaigrette. It was very interesting that the chilled salad followed the hot and savory sides.

For the main entree, the non-vegetarian guests dined on chicken roulade or pollo valdostana made of a boneless chicken breast fillet which was rolled over a thinly-sliced ham and fontina cheese filling, coated in bread crumbs, and finished with a demiglace made of trebbiano wine, fried sage leaves, and dijon mustard. Baby carrots with steamed with their decorative tops, slender branches of broccollini, and roasted and herbed potatoes rounded out the main course.

The meal was both hearty and satisfying, but the dessert of the evening really "took the cake," and motivated my Tip Number Two.

Wedding / Entertaining Tip #2: Couple traditional party elements with non-traditional elements. That way, you can both impress your guests and simultaneously make them feel warm on their insides because of the familiarity of the dish--essentially, you've helped them to revisit memory lane, and that, in and of itself is very meaningful.

Here, the wedding hosts perfected the "something old, something new" wedding theme in their cake. If you think of the classic cake used at weddings, you'll immediately conjure up images of a simple white cake with the universal caulk-like frosting--it's probably the same cake at each of the weddings you've been to in the past. True, sometimes, the cake may be yellow or chocolate cake, but that runs the gamut. One thing that was delightful about this wedding, was that the cake was the non-traditional tiramisu! The tiramisu was a refreshing conclusion to the entire meal. Not that I wouldn't have enjoyed the plain white cake, but the tiramisu provided me with spunk and a little bit of caffeine to get me through the action-packed evening.

Sometimes, when something is unexpected, it makes you appreciate the original and the innovativeness of the new even more. That is exactly what happened here, and thus I thought it was worth a mention as a great wedding / entertaining tip!

I hope you'll apply these tips at one of your entertaining parties!


  1. hey p.e.!

    been M.I.A., D.O.A., R.I.P. lately... was awesome to hang with ya though, wish i coulda stayed longer... altamira is pretty awesome place, had lunch there many years ago when i was a mere lad... ;P

  2. Some wedding! We're attending a wedding ourselves tomorrow night. Not sure if I'll be able to get any photos of the food as it is not a sit down dinner. But I'll see what I can do!

  3. I had such a good time seeing you too Rick James! Thank you for breakfast! I do wish that I wasn't a half-an-hour late, and I am very sorry for that. I also wish that more of the Ferry Building stores were open. Next time, we'll do anything you want, promise! Maybe we'll even get to meet in San Dimas sometime! By the way, I laughed uproariously at your 4th of July invitation--loved it!

    Congratulations to your lucky friends Rachel! I hope that you have a lovely time at the wedding, and even if there are no food pictures, that is okay. I always look forward to any new posts that you have, even if there is no food involved!

  4. hey p.e. !

    you know nothing beats the smooth coating of smog left in your lungs on a skin blistering july afternoon in the 909.

    its too bad you're in cool, ocean breeze S.F., bet you really miss the feeling of sharp pains in your lungs after a nice smoggy day too. yes, the 909 misses you too..

  5. Hey there Rick James!! Actually, when I go down to visit my family in the 909 and 951 area codes, I fall in love all over again with the golden rays of sunshine and the beautiful, temperate weather. It is frigid up here in San Francisco, and I can't forget that in the month of March this year, it rained 27 out of 31 days! I do miss 909, but I agree that I like some aspects of 415 (San Francisco's area code) too!

  6. Now that's a wedding cake! And it's made of tiramisu even. As if the rose petals weren't already eye catching!

  7. I agree Elmo Monster, the cake was beautiful. The tiramisu wedding cake inspired me to think big--what do you think about a tres leches wedding cake? What about a chocolate volcano wedding cake? That might be a bit much...


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