Thursday, October 30, 2008
The Hungry Rush
Food is rarely the focus at a wedding. That is typically true, unless, of course, you are attending a Roach wedding - where the bride cares, the mother of the bride cares, the maid of honor most definitely cares, and all of their friends and family care too! This past weekend, I attended my sister's wedding. While the entire weekend was absolutely amazing and words simply cannot do it any justice, I can attempt to fill you in on the delicious food that was consumed at the various events. If the setting and traditions were not enough to make you feel like you were in the south, the food surely did the trick.
The Bridesmaid luncheon was held at Redfield, a Virginia Historic Landmark that was built in 1853 in Halifax County by James R. Edmunds, my great-great grandfather. This classical villa-style residence served as a plantation home and sitting inside the estate, we were immediately brought back a few centuries. As we were surrounded by southern history, our plates echoed southern food. The hostesses had brought twelve boxed lunches from
Sally Bell's Kitchen located in Richmond. Each lunch contained a chicken salad sandwich on their homemade rolls, a cup of potato salad or macaroni salad, one deviled egg, a cheese wafer topped with a pecan, and a cupcake - not quite a light lunch that a typical bride might want the day before her wedding! I am pretty sure each item is made with Duke's mayonnaise - the secret to most amazing southern food. These delicious box lunches brought back memories of my childhood and made us all so happy to be bridesmaids to a hungry bride.
That night, the party moved into downtown Halifax for the rehearsal dinner. While the chic interior of Molasses Grill takes you far from its small town location, the cuisine remains true to its setting - serving excellent southern inspired food. For those who had visited Halifax in the past, they were shocked that such a sophisticated restaurant has entered the scene. And, for those who had never been to Halifax before, they were completely taken aback by a restaurant in such a small town serving New York quality food. The sweet potato crusted salmon was perfectly prepared in a butter sauce. But, it was the simple dessert - chocolate and vanilla mousse - that was the talk of the evening. Just when I thought I was full, I somehow had room for an entire champagne glass of this rich dessert and could not quite figure out why this usually basic dessert was so much more tasty than usual. It was nearly impossible to leave any behind - a great way to guarantee that the bride would go into food coma to ensure a great night's sleep before the next day's festivities.
The wedding day started out with a bang. It is hard to go wrong with a Brunswick Stew gathering at Easley Downs. A party at the farm is always guaranteed fun, but even more so when a pot of stew has been slow cooking for nearly 24 hours out in the yard. Brunswick Stew is the ultimate southern cuisine - a thick, spicy, tomato-based stew that could almost be the soup form of BBQ. This is more than a full meal on its own, but a slice or two of corn bread served as a great way to soak up all the flavors. And, for those with a sweet tooth and to truly bring us back to our childhood, we were served mini Mississippi Mud Pies. They may look like brownies, but the gooey chocolate and marshmallow interior takes the dessert to a new level. Overall, the farm feast was a wonderful last meal as a singleton for any bride and groom.
Since the bar had been set high at the gatherings leading up to the actual wedding, it was obvious that guests were excited for the main event at the breathtaking Berry Hill Estate. Within minutes of the start of the cocktail portion of the evening, every one was wowed by the passed hors d'oeuvres - in particular, the fried oysters on Ritz crackers. This is a specialty from the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond who so generously donated their recipe to the wedding. It was refreshing to see the bride and groom enjoying these delicacies and even eat a whole meal throughout the night. But, the number one, most talked about item was the dessert - caramel cake from Caroline's Cakes. There is no need for an actual wedding cake when you can serve something as delicious as these cakes. As with almost all of the southern fare served throughout the weekend, this cake is extremely rich and flavorful. I have had many caramel cakes in my day - and this one is hands down the best. With its seven layers of yellow cake and caramel icing, you only need a thin slice to do the trick - but I am pretty sure I saw several people heading back for seconds, maybe even thirds.
With such a southern feast all weekend, the only thing left to do was dance. The minute Complete Desire hit the stage, the guests hit the dance floor and never looked back. It was a good thing every one had stored up on food to carry them through the night. In my books, dancing makes a wedding - and hungry guests will not last long on the dance floor. So, in the end, whether people realize it or not, even at weddings, it all comes back to the food. Serve it up and people will dance the night away.
Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Rush! Our glasses and forks are raised to you!