Or the hardest meal you’ll ever plan…and never eat
You may have noticed a distinct lack of activity on this blog recently that’s because…we got married! My wife and I both work in events for a living, but I have to admit planning our own wedding was more work than I ever imagined possible. I had naively imagined I could combine planning a wedding whilst maintaining a functioning blog…not so!
Happily married (and of course we had an absolutely brilliant, amazing day that we will treasure forever) I now have time to reflect on one of the most important aspects of the wedding day for us both – the food!
So no new recipes today, just my reflections on the day from a catering perspective.
Our wedding took place in one location, a rural venue in the middle of the countryside with guests arriving at 12:15 and leaving at 23:45 – 10 hours, a long time to keep appetites sated and our guests happily fed and watered through the day.
To look after the food for the big day we hired a company called Jacaranda Catering – which downplays quite how much they do – they basically staff and event manage your whole wedding day from start to finish, and an absolutely brilliant job they did of it too – our event manager Johnny Robinson was a real star.
Jacaranda offer a menu of 130+ options of canapes, starters, mains, deserts and evening food choices to create your bespoke menu from. So much choice! We must have gone through 30 or so different variations whilst planning the day.
Here is our final menu:
Our Wedding Menu
Crab salad with tarragon and shaved fennel on teardrop spoon
Thai duck and mango salad on teardrop spoon
Brie katifi with cranberry dip
Seared beef fillet with rosti potato and chimichurri sauce
Slow-cooked guinea fowl croquettes with quince jus
Scallop and pancetta with roast garlic pea purée and deep-fried sage
Warm cured salmon with pepper crust, pea puree, pea shoots, pancetta and tomato and lemon dressing
Tomato tart tatin with creamed mild Sussex goat’s cheese infused with basil, wild rocket salad and rocket pesto
Butterflied legs of Southdowns lamb cooked over charcoal with rosemary and garlic, minted new potatoes, chargrilled Mediterranean vegetable salad and mint, pomegranate and apple jelly
Portabello mushroom Wellington with a watercress sauce
Individual white and dark chocolate torte with summer berries, chocolate crumbs and raspberry coulis
Tapas sized Beer battered fish and chips with mushy peas and tartar sauce
South West style pulled pork with Louisiana slaw, spicy tomato salsa in a soft floured bap
I didn’t manage to take any pictures of the food on the day myself…I was busy getting married! But here are a few pictures of some of the dishes:
Scallop and pancetta Canape:
Tomato tart tatin vegetarian starter:
BBQ Butterflied leg of lamb main course:
Portabello mushroom Wellington vegetarian main course:
White and dark chocolate torte desert:
Tapas sized Beer battered fish and chips, evening food:
The cake! Made by my Father’s wife, she did an absolutely brilliant job:
As mentioned we spent months agonising over the wedding food and different menu combinations for our big day, everyone knows we really love our food and that I am a keen cook…there was a lot of pressure to get it right!
It is hard however reconciling your own tastes with those of a large group of people with differing likes, dislikes and tolerances. Whilst my wife and I will eat pretty much anything and are pretty adventurous eaters, it was clear from our guests’ dietary requirements that we were going to have to rule out some of the more challenging options and go for a more classic menu.
At the end of the day I had to accept our basic responsibility was to feed as many people as possible, appealing to the broadest range of tastes. If you can make it memorable, so much the better.
As such we decided to go for fairly traditional combinations for our starter and mains. Our choice of main course was easy as it is a recipe I have covered in this blog previously, the starter – whilst a fairly classic combination of peas and salmon – was still creative in it’s treatment and beautifully plated.
The canapes were where we had the opportunity to branch out a bit and express our own tastes a little more. Shellfish, rare beef, chili and spice..all the good stuff!
For evening food we just wanted something tasty, easy to eat, that would line people’s stomachs and soak up the booze a little.
If I could change one thing it would be the way main course was served. We opted to have this course served sharing style, i.e. on big wooden serving platters. I thought this would add a bit more spectacle to the occasion, and encourage interaction and conversation at the tables.
In retrospect I think I have perhaps watched too many episodes of Great British Menu and became slightly obsessed with the spectacle of burgeoning platters of exquisite food being served at a banquet.
Whilst the platters looked nice, asking guests to lean over tables to serve themselves and pour gravy whilst wearing their finest glad rags probably wasn’t the best idea. Also Jacaranda are renowned for their excellent presentation, opting to remove that aspect from the plate for the main course was an opportunity missed I feel.
So what did it all taste like I hear you ask?! To be honest I have very little idea.
I managed to try 2 or 3 of the canapes, snatched in between photo calls and other responsibilities, which were very good as far as I can remember. As for the main meal, I could barely eat any of it. I was nervous about having to give the groom’s speech and completely lost my appetite. What I did eat was very good though, the lamb was cooked perfectly – no mean feat for that number of people on a BBQ.
As it turned out my wife and I decided to give the groom’s speech together as a couple at the very last minute, which eased all my nerves – this is why I married her…teamwork!
So what are the lessons learnt?
In the planning stages I became overly concerned about how our menu reflected us as a couple and spent months planning various different combinations. I should have been thinking about our guests and what the majority of them would actually like to eat, which is the conclusion we came to in our final menu.
We didn’t wow anyone with vastly original dishes or radical combinations, but I think we did ensure that as many people as possible got to eat a tasty meal with broad appeal.
If you do want to be experimental, don’t do it in the main meal. Canapes and evening food are added extras, if people don’t like some of the options on offer there are other choices available. This is where you can express yourself without fear of people going hungry.
Main lesson learnt…relax and have a good time. Planning a wedding is a lot of work but a huge amount of fun, take it all in, take your time and enjoy yourself!
In my next couple of posts I will take a look back at our honeymoon in Italy and be reviewing some of the fantastic dishes we ate on our trip from Verona to the Amalfi Coast. I’ve tried to replicate some of them since our return and will be offering up my own take on some of the recipes.
Catering: Jacaranda Catering
Venue: Ramster Hall
Music: Screamin’ Miss Jackson and the Slap Ya Mama Big Band
Photography: Mick Shah of Miki Photography
Most of all thanks to my beautiful wife, love you Princess.