Thursday, 5 February 2009

DRAMA = Destination Weddings: How to create a menu when you are dealing with foreign food?

You love your oysters on the half shell and your seared tuna with lemon and caviar or you just adore fried chicken, crab cakes and mini burgers. You are dying for your specialized watermelon wedding cocktail that has a pink hue (to match your fuchsia pink peony bouquet) and a sugar coated rim. But your wedding is in Mexico, Italy, the Caribbean or Spain and they don’t do that type of food and don’t have a special mixologist to create your wedding cocktail. You could argue with the chefs and provide them with the menu from venues back home or recipes from your favourite restaurant but that would be forcing food and drink on them that they don’t really know how to make or know what the meals should taste like. How do you find your happy place when your dream menu falls apart?

You accept what you can’t change and remember why you chose your destination. Look at it as an adventure to explore the local cuisine. These chefs will know what is in season, what type of food is available and what will work with the climate. Trust them in this. Definitely do a tasting or two to make sure you like the taste of the food but trust that they know what flavours are native to that region. Your guests are travelling far and wide for an escapade to a new land to see you get married – make sure that you embrace the local culture. After all, if you don’t, then why did you select that location after all? Make the most of the cuisine and talk to the chefs honestly during and after the tastings regarding what you like and what you don’t. Food adds flavour to a wedding so keep that in mind when you think of your vision for your exotic destination.

As for cocktails, if your venue doesn’t do cocktails then stick with wonderful wines and simple mixed drinks but do find out if they have any local vineyards. Rather than focusing on cocktails you could focus on wine by serving a different wine specific to each course starting with a champagne or sparkling wine and ending with a digestif (after dinner drink) such as grappa, cognac, limoncello or scotch – try to find one from the region. If you are creating menus for the table be sure to add the wine that is matched to each course along with a description of the flavour so that guests can learn about the local wines and also find out where to purchase the ones that they enjoyed. Also, don’t forget that a bottle of wine or alcohol from a nearby vineyard or distillery could be part of a great welcome gift!

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