…barbecue and mashed potatoes! Spoiler alert! Mr. Wallaby and I are pretty much already saving our appetite for our wedding-day food, which should be super delicious if the tasting was representative of the culinary prowess of our caterer. This guy is good.
Mr. W and I LOVE food. Well, OK, who doesn’t love food? We love to eat out, eat in, snack (Mr. W gets a case of the snack attack most afternoons…we’re going to start limiting his intake of chips sometime soon), talk about food, watch movies about food, gaze at food at the farmer’s market…I could go on. It’s also something we try not to take for granted, and we have had some really cool experiences volunteering at our local food bank. If you’ve never had the opportunity to help out with organizing packaged food at a food bank or feeding the homeless, I would strongly recommend that you take some time away from wedding planning to help out your community. It’s really, really rewarding and puts a lot of things into perspective.
Anyway, the subject of this post is food, as Mr. W and I just attended our tasting at Oak Tree Manor. Our venue works exclusively with one caterer—Chef Mark—so we didn’t have to go through any hoops to book a catering service for the wedding. We brought Mr. W’s family along, because they didn’t want to miss out on the festivities and we wanted a few more opinions, since the bulk of our budget is going toward food and drinks.
Before the tasting, we emailed the caterer three entrees and four sides that we wanted to taste. Chef Mark cooks a wide range of cuisines, from Caribbean food to Cajun fixins, so narrowing down the menu to three choices was a difficult decision (especially for Mr. W ). Since none of our family or close friends are Cajun, we opted against Cajun food. We also vetoed Mexican food, since we are hosting our rehearsal dinner at a South American restaurant. Our favorite dishes on the menu were mostly barbecue and Italian food, so we ended up sampling barbecue-style brisket, grilled chicken with mushrooms and basil cream, and chicken parmesan. We also sampled sides of green beans almondine, potatoes au gratin, risotto rice, and savory cornbread stuffing.
The barbecue was a huge hit with Mr. Wallaby’s family. Everyone loved the brisket, and Chef Mark also prepared some smoked sausage, BBQ chicken, and ranch-style beans for us. The Italian food was also really delicious—especially the chicken parmesan and the potatoes au gratin! We even had one extra stroke of luck: a wedding had taken place at Oak Tree Manor the night before, and there was a lot of leftover cake that the bride left for the vendors to enjoy. The wedding coordinator shared some of the cake with us, so we had a delectable dessert to follow up our savory choices for the tasting. Yummm!
On the drive home, we discussed the menu options. Everyone was torn between the Italian dishes and the barbecue options. We also called my parents to tell them about the tasting, since they live in Seattle and couldn’t make it. We finally agreed that the barbecue was just a little bit better, and it would be very apropos for our Southern wedding. It’s also easy to source local ingredients, so we can support the local economy and help reduce our carbon footprint by serving local food. And that’s how it was decided…we’re throwing a Texas cookout! I can’t wait for my out-of-town relatives to try Texas brisket for the first time. And we are going to enjoy some other foods that weren’t at the tasting, too—our guests will start with a fresh salad, then have a choice of barbecue chicken, barbecue smoked sausage, barbecue-style brisket, and barbecue roasted pork loin. Chef Mark will prepare sides of ranch-style beans, corn on the cob, and cornbread with maple honey. Plus, we have a little surprise for our guests…we will have a mashed potato bar, with all of the fixins! Hopefully after shimmying on the dance floor for a couple hours everyone will have some room for cake and ice cream, or we’ll be donating a cake to Oak Tree Manor as well.
Mr. W and I also put some thought into vegetarian options. I was a vegetarian for many years, and sometimes weddings don’t have a lot of options for veggies or vegans. Make sure you keep this in mind when you are planning the menu for your reception! Mr. W and I were very pleased to find that Chef Mark offers some delicious vegetarian options of pasta primavera with seasonal fresh veggies and herbs, and vegetable risotto. We will also have a big spread of fruits and vegetables, which are staples in Persian entertaining, at least in Houston. I’m hoping that even the picky eaters among our guests will find something that they enjoy.
If you haven’t determined your menu or booked your caterer yet, think about your “audience” as well as the location of your wedding. Local food is almost always a crowd-pleaser! Also remember that certain dishes are seasonal. If we were getting married in the summer, the chances are pretty likely that we’d serve fresh Pacific salmon, since that is Mr. W’s all-time favorite food and a pretty good bet for entertaining in summer months. But alas, since the wedding is in November, we selected foods that will be plentiful that time of year. And just have fun with the tasting—this seems to be a fun part of wedding planning even for those who take little interest in the rest of the details. Bon appetit!
What inspired your reception menu? Did you serve—or are you planning to serve—any local specialties?