A Nice Day for a French Wedding.
Le Gourmand et La Gourmande
You know that saying Three times a Bridesmaid, never a Bride? Well, let me ask you a question about this curse. Does it mean once you have been a bridesmaid three times, it doesn't matter how many times you are a bridesmaid thereafter, you still aren't in with a chance of ever getting hitched? Or does it mean once you are honoured with this important task for a fourth time, the curse is lifted and your future as a spinster is no longer assured?
When my French friend Del asked me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding to Fred's ex-roomate, I was really touched. I didn't expect the invitation and I think I shed a tear or two. (I am so soppy). As the bride planned to be dressed in glorious colour, she asked her bridesmaids to dress in white or pale colours. Taking my role seriously, I hired a seamstress to copy my favourite black dress in white. Working with the seamstress turned out to be a nightmare. Worst of all, she kept delaying the delivery, eventually turning up with it at 10.00 am on the day of the wedding. And guess what - it was a $400 piece of rubbish. Not only had she sewn it with the sheen on the outside when I had specifically requested for it to be matte, the plunging neckline was puckered and gaping, endangering the modesty of my breasts. I think she left it so late because she knew she hadn't done a great job. Perhaps she thought by leaving it to the last minute I would have to accept it and, well, I did. Stupid me. She gave me $50 off the price but that didn't really make any difference to the fact I still paid someone $275 to ruin $120 worth of perfectly good material.
All was not lost, I had about an hour to spare before my hair appointment so I dashed to Macy's. I was planning to buy a brooch that I could use to attach a huge white scarf and therefore cover up the more unacceptable upper sections of the dress.
But when I arrived, I couldn't resist sneaking a peek on the fashion floor. I scanned the aisles super fast looking for splashes of white amongst the bright palette of Autumn shades. I was about to give up when I spotted the most beautiful, perfect, heavenly, off white, romantic fairy-fantasy skirt at the far end of the floor. By the time I arrived at the wedding a couple of hours later I had a whole, new bridesmaid outfit. Phew! That was cutting it fine.
So, just how do the French do a wedding? This marriage took place in a cool warehouse space in central San Francisco, so perhaps it was not totally, typically French. But the Bride and Groom, who planned the entire party together in just a few short months, are both Francais so the infuence was definitely on display. The groom, in particular, is a Gourmand and so I was looking forward to seeing what food and drink would be on offer.
The happy couple chose a caterer called Polly Legendre who runs a company called La Gourmande. Based in the East Bay, and buying most of her produce from the Berkeley Bowl, Polly lived in France for 9 years and was the first American to graduate from the Ecole Supérieure de Cuisine Française. She speaks fluent French and it is no surprise she was chosen for this particular wedding. The food was great. Shortly after the ceremony had finished, the servers started to bring trays full of canapes as everyone mingled over their glasses of champagne. Little cucumbers with wasabi cream and tobiko, prosciutto-wrapped figs and tiny tomato tartlettes were all welcomed by the hungry guests. Later on in the evening we were treated to a full buffet of French-influenced fare. Marinated shrimps, fish terrine, salmon, cheeses, green beans, braised beef, little pancakes, saucisson ail, pate and best of all, an amazing duck rilette. The rillette was super delicious, rich and fatty. The groom later told me he thought Polly had used white port in the recipe. At least, I think that is what he said. Whatever it was, it was fantastic. The best rillette I have tasted in the US. Maybe I'll see if Polly will let me have the recipe.
The traditional French wedding cake (pictured at the top of this post), is my favourite part of the ceremony. Having suffered so many rich fruit cakes with tooth-breaking white icing at British weddings over the years which I don't like, the mountain of petits choux, piped with fresh cream or custard, and coated with crispy caramel that the French celebrate with, is much more my style. It's great - every time you want another one, you just go and pop another one off the ever-decreasing mountain. Polly also made some tiny chocolate tarts and truffles which had a subtle, unusual flavour. Polly told me she used Chai Tea to add flavour. Even though I am not too hot on chai, it worked really well with the dark chocolate, believe me.
You might think that would be it, but not only did I forget to mention the limitless, never ending supply of French Champagne that lasted all night, I have to tell you about the onion soup. Fred always told me that French Onion Soup is traditionally eaten at French weddings, in the wee hours of the morning, when everyone is a little worse for wear. It's true and it's a brilliant idea. Just when you are feeling a little tired and jaded, along comes a savoury, steaming, hot bowl of onion soup topped with gooey, melting cheese. It gives you a little pick-me-up, so, long may the good times continue...
PS. I would like to thank the bride and groom for letting me play such an important role in their wedding. Please join me in congratulating them and wishing them the happiest of futures together. S&D, love you both. Thank you for the great party, Bisous X.
|Archive Alert! On this date in 2004 we were at one of our perennial favourites, Ti Couz.|
Food | Wedding | Bay Area | French | San Francisco A Nice Day for a French Wedding.