Five years ago, on a sunny early-September afternoon, I married my best friend. And what a beautiful five years it has been. As I sit here reflecting on the past five years, I am eternally thankful for all we have. Love, trust, respect, humor, empathy. We are acutely aware of how fortunate we are.
After a long dating relationship, begun during our college days, we decided to formally tie the knot, which we’d informally tied long before. We carefully crafted all of the details of our wedding to represent our tastes and the result was a memorable wedding day, which our friends and family continue to remark on.
We married at the Thomas Birkby House in Leesburg, Virginia; a lovely property, circa 1770. We said our vows in front of the carriage house, where 130 or so of our closest friends and family had gathered. The bridesmaids wore warm autumn brown and carried rust colored Leonides roses. I carried a bouquet of ivory roses with moss green hydrangeas.
Immediately following the ceremony, our guests enjoyed a cocktail hour in the courtyard to the sounds of a harpist. Hors d’oeuvres were passed and guests mingled while enjoying the assortment of wines and specialty beers we’d hand-selected.
Passed Hors d’oeuvres Menu
Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with Tangy Cocktail Sauce
Little Washington Tartlette ~ Melange of Virginia Country Ham, D’Anjou Pear, Baby
Arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano,
Dried Figs with Gorgonzola garnished with a Poached Cranberry
Smoked Salmon on Sweet Potato and Apple Pancakes
Crispy Tomato Toast with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil
Following the cocktail hour,we moved into a large white tent with a ceiling of soft, gathered fabric and a brass chandelier, where the pièce de résistance of our wedding awaited; the food. Of all the details we’d carefully planned, the food was our highest priority. Well, at the very least, it was my highest priority. And when it came down to planning the meal for our wedding, our plan was certain. Skip the traditional multi-course dinner in exchange for a wider assortment of unique, carefully-crafted, decadent hors d’ouevres; arranged on tables scattered throughout the tent. Casual but elegant. Enough food to fill everyone’s bellies, all in bite-sized portions. My favorite way to dine.
Stationary Hors d’oeuvres Menu
Domestic and Imported Cheeses
Savory Cheese Torte with Sun-Dried Tomato
Creamy Brie with Apricot Preserves
Saga Bleu Polenta Rounds with Beef Tenderloin
Smoked Duck on Pecan Crackers with Red Currant Chutney
Bouchees with Brie, Chutney, and Almonds
Miniature Maryland Crab Cakes on a Bed of Creole Slaw with Red Remoulade Sauce
Sate Station – Grilled Beef, Chicken, and Pork with Hot Mustard, Indonesian Barbecue and Peanut Sauces
Scallop Tostada – Seared Sea Scallop on a Salpicon of Lump Crabmeat and Sweet Yello Corn with Poblano Pepper Aioli
Baby Vegetable Crudite with Yellow Pepper Thyme and Black Olive Feta Dips
Butternut Squash Bisque with California Fruit Chutney and Crunchy Cheese Straws
The surprise standout of the menu was the bisque, which we added to the menu at the last minute after enjoying an amuse bouche of pumpkin bisque at a local restaurant sometime during the months preceding our wedding.
We used a wonderful Washington DC area caterer, Ridgewells, who made our vision become reality. Ridgewells is well known in the DC area and they more than fulfilled our expectations. They even worked with us to design custom hors d’ouevres, including a special Little Washington Tartlette, based on one of the courses we enjoyed at The Inn at Little Washington on the evening we got engaged.
Oh, and the cake! The cake, the cake, the cake! Honestly, while planning the our wedding, the cake was not incredibly high on my list of priorities. I had an idea for the design and, of course, I wanted it to taste good, but I felt no need to run around to various bakeries looking for the perfect wedding cake. We’d tasted a few of the cake selections which Ridgewells offered and it was enough for us to feel comfortable having them provide the cake. We requested a Rich Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse and Raspberry Filling. I remember the moment the first bite of that cake entered my mouth. It was a complete surprise. I had expected wedding cake. Know what I mean? Doesn’t it seem like wedding cake always tastes like wedding cake? Well, not this wedding cake. I was floored by how rich and moist and utterly delicious our cake was. Seriously the best wedding cake I’ve ever tasted.
In honor of our 5th anniversary, I decided to prepare two of the items from our wedding menu, entrée style. An anniversary surf and turf duo of Beef Tenderloin on Sage Blue Polenta garnished with Julienned Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Jumbo Lump Crab Cake on a bed of Spicy Creole Slaw.
I seasoned the tenderloins with salt and pepper and seared them in a hot pan with a bit of olive oil. Then, I placed them several inches under the broiler and cooked in the oven until they reached our desired doneness. After allowing the beef to rest for a few minutes, I sliced the steak, which I served over warm polenta. To the polenta, I added some Saga bleu cheese. Any other bleu cheese would be delicious as well. I garnished the steak with thin slices of sun-dried tomatoes.
For the crabcakes, I used my recipe for broiled jump lump crab cakes, which you can find here. I served the crab cakes on a bed of creole slaw, which added the perfect amount of crunch and spice to the dish. Leftover crabcakes and slaw make to-die-for sandwiches the next day.
- 6 cups Cole Salw Mix (Shredded Cabbage and Carrots)
- 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 Tbsp Worchestershire Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Creole Mustard
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Salt
Combine the mayo, vinegar, worchestershire, mustard, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Toss with the cole slaw mix. Make several hours or a day ahead if possible.
Later this morning, we take off to New York City for our 3-night getaway, courtesy of Bertolli. Tonight we’ll be attending a welcome dinner at Aureole, which is certain to be a treat! We’ll have a chance to meet the winners of the other categories and the Bertolli team. Tomorrow evening we’ll get dolled up to attend the Zac Posen show, followed by the afterparty, where my winning Braised Lamb Shanks will be served in passed hors d’oeuvres form. Should be a very exciting weekend! Stay tuned for more details.
In totally unrelated news, my little man started nursery school yesterday. Unbelievable.