Updated: Feb 19, 2021
As you all know, planning a wedding can be very laborious. Even though our wonderful wedding planner Belinda does most of the heavy lifting, we still have a good deal on our plates. So when we had the opportunity to schedule a cake tasting and a full tasting of the wedding menu, we jumped at the chance. When your “work” is to eat food, you know that Yelena and I will be putting in lots of overtime.
The morning started with a cake tasting at 9:30 am with Chasing Wang at the Contemporary Arts Center. Is there anything better for breakfast than almost ten different flavors of cake? As we all know, cake is the breakfast of champions.
The cake samples were all so delicious that it was almost impossible to choose which flavors we wanted. While happily tasting the many varieties of cakes, Belinda was pulling up pictures of what the cake design should look like. To say that we were impressed with how much thought Belinda put into the design and how willing and eager Chasing Wang was to make our dream cake a reality would be an understatement.
We cannot wait to see and taste the final masterpiece.
Our caterer is the amazing Joel Catering based out of New Orleans. When we heard they were available on our date, we jumped at the chance to have them cater our wedding. Joel Catering is a top caterer in the city and the chef is able to create high quality dishes across a wide range of culinary styles and cuisine types.
Our tasting was at Il Mercato, which is itself a beautiful wedding venue, at 11:30 am. Excited to both eat the food and see the venue, we took our seats with Belinda and Yelena’s law school roommate and our hostess, Jess, and girded ourselves for a seven-course tasting. We started with a French 75 drink, which is one of their signature cocktails, while we settled in for a delicious meal.
We started the meal by tasting the sample passed hors d'oeuvres, which were duck confit on a grit cake, a blue crab beignet, and a mini brie grilled cheese, which was paired with a duck and green gumbo. Every dish was perfect - the duck confit was tender and rich, which paired really well with the crispness of the grit cake. As Marylanders, we were very excited to try the blue crab beignets. The crab meat was the freshest you could get your hands on, which made these lightly battered fritters incredibly addicting. Is there a better combination than brie grilled cheese and duck gumbo? Obviously not.
The 1st course, which was a caviar trio paired with a chilled vodka shot, was brought out to much fanfare and delight from our group of intrepid tasters. My personal favorite was the caviar on a chip with creme fraiche. The caviar and burrata was delicious and was a new pairing for all of us. We took a much needed vodka break in between our second and third caviar items only to quickly scarf down the caviar pie as soon as we put the shot glasses down. As soon as we were done with the 1st course, we were served a small plate of crab and mushroom gnocchi. Gnocchi is one of my favorite food items in general and I was extremely impressed with the combination of herb gnocchi, mushroom cream, and lump crab meat.
After recharging with some wine, we were ready to jump into the 2nd course. We started off with a crawfish ravigote, which was paired with tomato and onion. The next item was a butter lettuce and crab boiled shrimp, which was a mouthwatering combination of shrimp served in a butter lettuce cup with artichoke hearts and roasted tomato with a creole mustard vinaigrette. We topped off the 2nd course with a crab and celery root remoulade, which was served in an individual glass topped with pink peppercorns. At this point, we were stuffed but we knew that there were two more courses and a dessert to polish off and we aren’t known to give up in the face of hardship. The 3rd course was a fresh and tasty farmers market salad, which was topped with baby carrots, fennel confit, marinated mushrooms, pickled beets, confit winter squash, and fried brussel sprouts topped with a manchego emulsion dressing.
The 4th course had us thoroughly excited as it was the totality of the main dishes. We started off with a blackened redfish finished with a tabasco beurre blanc and served over a corn maque choux - the flavor was amazing and the redfish was cooked perfectly. The last main course meal was the braised beef short ribs served with bone marrow ragout, glazed root vegetables, and risotto. These were out of this world - the meat was very tender and just melted in your mouth. I definitely stole a couple of extra bites of Yelena’s short rib dish. We topped off the feast with a strawberry shortcake dessert, which was the perfect end to the tasting.
We cannot wait to taste the actual menu that will be even more specific to our requests and our themes during our wedding and we are excited for all of you to get a taste of it on the big day.