Does anyone ever eat at their own wedding?
I’m coming to grips with the fact it was four years ago I picked out these flowers for my brideslaves.
Four years ago that we smiled shyly like this.
And four years ago that I wrote this about wedding food.
There’s no pressure ok?
You just have to select a menu – that like the flowers, the music, your dress, the readings, brief for the photographer and your partner’s tie, sums up in a physical form, exactly what your relationship is all about.
It has to be in budget. It has to satisfy a multitude of tastes. And if you are all about food in your life, then you’d also like it to be pretty special.
Because whatever you choose is then going to be photographed, discussed and re disgested until you’ve got indigestion from the overwork.
I was pretty sane about many of the details for our wedding- ( I think) but I admit, when it came to the food, I went a touch nutty.
The selection of the location for us, was key. We wanted to feel like we were out to dinner at a great restaurant with all of our favourite people. We wanted a place with classy cutlery, and more, a place that had significant stemware. At the moment we still drink wine out of $1 IKEA glasses. Nice glasses is one way we really know we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Being out of Sydney wasn’t a problem- in fact, it could even be an asset.
A variety of locations were sourced, but in the end we decided on Terroir at the Hungerford Hill winery in the Hunter Valley, about 2 hours out of Sydney.
The fact that we could say with a lisp “Torwee’s getting mahwied at Terroir” was a scarily large influencing factor.
Things were going great- there were Riedel glasses that matched to the wines, we were quite partial to the 2006 Pinot Gris from the winery- so much so that we bought 3 cases of it to cellar under the stairs, just in case they couldn’t guarantee it would be available a year hence for the reception.
Then the chef quit. I was pretty calm. Then they got a replacement who had worked at Est in Sydney. I was a happier being to be around after we found out that.
The Hungry One weighed in on certain elements. He loves a canape or two ( or nine) so we decided on an extended walking entree. More than a canape, he loves a buffet- so we decided on a dessert buffet. I had a few ground rules for the main courses. I was going to be ok with alternate drop- so long as I’d happily eat either. There’s nothing quite like receiving dry chicken stuffed with chalky ricotta and a pesto jus when your partner’s been served rib eye, groaning with portobello mushrooms. That involves a level of negotiation I’m not capable of after four champagnes and some empathetic tears during the ceremony while subtly sucking my stilettos out of the grass.
I wanted what was served to cope with flexibility in the wedding’s timeline. If I’ve been cornered by someone, I don’t want to have to peel them off my veil and say- ‘we have to go- the kingfish is cooking through as it sits and I’m sure it’s drying out…’.
I want the food to be easy for chef to plate. Happy chef= happy reception. I don’t need anyone who’s not part of the bridal party, or the designated hecklers swearing throughout my reception.
I want it to use local ingredients. The Hunter Valley is known for its Binnorie dairy, which does the most incredible goats cheese- if there wasn’t a suit and a dress for us to squeeze into, we would have locked ourselves in the dairy the entire night before.
I don’t want to be double starched. I don’t want a side of du puy lentils and mash potato with my protein. I don’t want gnocchi AND breadcrumbs. I want a nice blend of protein and accompaniments that’s not too heavy, but will still soak up some of the booze.
I want some choose-your-own-adventure sides to be placed down the table- some green salads, some roast potatoes to dig into.
When it came to canapes, I went even nuttier. There were lists circulated via email. There were polls taken. There was research done. In the end, I was content with the selection, in its progression of weight, variety of textures and tastes.
On the actual day, I made the brideslaves have roast tomato soup for lunch, so not to spoil our appetites.
On the actual day, there were berry daiquiris served as part of the pre dinner drinks. Don’t think that the vibrant fuchsia of the drinks wasn’t chosen exactly to complement the brideslave’s flowers.
There were little prawn and basil tarts, and tarts with Binnorie goats cheese, caramellised onion and thyme. There were peking duck pancakes, crostini with steak tartare and aioli. There was sesame crusted tuna with pickled cucumber and sesame and chicken and almond croissants. Then, just as people were having too much of the Dalliance sparkling wine, Hungerford Hill rose, Coronas and lime and Coopers green there were portions of pea and mint risotto with ricotta and lemon oil.
There was an alternate drop of ocean trout, cooked in a light confit style so it was rosy pink and almost indestructible. It came with an almond tartator and a pickled vegetable salsa. I claimed that. Looking around most of the boys on the day inherited the lamb loin with a garlic, roast mushroom and breadcrumb salsa.
There was chocolate nut wedding cake, lemon tarts, vanilla panna cotta with nectarines and strawberries for dessert. There was Earl Grey tea and chocolate truffles.
On the day, I drank 2 glasses of sparkling- one very quickly following the ceremony, and two glasses of pink wine.
|Photography: a favour by the insanely talented Cameron McNee|
I ate a peking duck pancake, bending over like a kid at a bubbler, so it wouldn’t drip on the dress. I played with a forkfull of ocean trout and at the behest of a brideslave some salad and two nuggets of roast potato.
I have a distant memory of eating a tiny piece of cake.
I have many memories of smiling until my face hurt and crying just a little bit.
But- I didn’t really eat.
I woke up in the morning with my belly aching. I woke up the next morning hungrier than I’d ever been. I woke up the next morning as someone a bit different. Bridezilla was gone and a very hungry caterpillar had emerged in her place.
You see, I’m now Mrs Hungry One and I couldn’t be happier.
Four years on, it’s about time I ate that dinner.
A tarator is many things to many cultures. This version is a Middle Eastern nut based sauce. It’s what we chose to go with the ocean trout at our reception. Beyond wedding fodder it’s a great as a dip for crudites. It would also be nice dancing partner with roast lamb. But I think it is best friends with pink fish. Then it’s like a classic trout almandine has gone on an exotic holiday.
You can have the tarator blonde, but I’ve given both the almonds and the bread a little burnished tan by toasting them both first.
As for the rest of the sauce, there’s lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and some water to thin it to a manageable consistency (otherwise it can be a bit like spackle). But the most important element to me are the pickles- some finely diced cornichons bring some much needed zip and crunch.
The ocean trout fillets at our wedding came as a confit, but grilling is a little easier for home and helps ensure a good crisp skin. All that’s needed is some sweetness from pea puree and the clean tangle of mint, watercress, baby spinach and zuchinni ribbons.
This would be a great lunch for ladies (keeping in mind English Mother’s Day this Sunday).
But it’s also a lovely dinner over which you can clink a glass of wine and celebrate four, very good years.
Looking forward to many, many more.
Almond tarator with salmon, courgette and mint
Serves 2 (though makes enough tarator for 4)
1 small blender. 1 microplane. 1 fry pan. 1 stick blender.
Salmon, salad and peas
2 salmon/ocean trout fillets, skin on (around 150-200 grams each)
2 cups of frozen peas
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 courgette, shaved into ribbons
2 handfuls of mixed rocket, baby spinach and watercress
1 handful of mint leaves
1/2 cup of flaked almonds
1/2 cup of whole meal bread, torn and toasted (I used half a wholemeal bread roll)
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove
zest of half a lemon
Juice of half a lemon
Water to thin
2 cornichons, cut into very tiny dice.
Here’s how we roll
1. To make the tarator soak the toasted bread sections in milk for 20 minutes until the bread is sodden.
2. Place the toasted almond flakes, lemon zest and grated garlic in a small blender and whizz to combine.
3. Add the milk, bread and salt and blend to combine. Add the olive oil in a trickle to emulsify.
5. To make the pea puree defrost the peas. Puree with a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and warm through before serving.
6. To make the salad combine the ribbons of courgette with the juice of half a lemon. Toss with the mint leaves and salad leaves. Dress with a little olive oil and salt and pepper just before serving.
7. Pan fry or bbq the fish fillets, making sure that the skin is very dry and seasoned with salt before placing it in a hot pan. Cook skin side down until it is opaque half way up the fillet. Then turn and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and keep skin side up. Nb it will continue to cook a little off the heat. If it is good quality, fresh salmon it’s a real pity to cook it all the way through.
8. To serve add a stripe of the pea puree down the centre of the plate. Place the fish, skin side up (so the skin remains crisp) and add two tablespoons of the tarator. Sprinkle over half of the diced cornichons. Serve with the salad and a lemon wedge. Chilli sauce is optional.