First, the exciting news — my sister eloped last weekend! Well, being a blood relative of mine and all, even elopements need to be properly catered — enter the explanation as to why I’ve gone missing for the past few weeks.
It’s been a lesson-learning sort of experience. Lessons in limitations. Lessons in remembering to breathe. These are good lessons, truly. But in the interest of getting back on the blog bandwagon, I’ll leave the details on that for another post.
Instead, let’s start with the food. (It’s a very good place to start.) My sister will be honeymooning in Italy, so we decided on an Italian theme for the food. Owing in no small part to the Italian blood that likes to hijack all sensibility during menu planning, we had not one, not two, but three different eating times set up during the day.
First up was the pre-ceremony course (because even elopements require a certain amount of ceremony). We agreed on an antipasto course for the pre-ceremony, including breads, cheeses, meats, condiments and miscellaneous other bite-sized mouth poppers.
Before I get into the details, take a look and commence salivating! Oh so yummy.
Now for the breakdown. First, the lovely meats & cheeses, which I got from Salumeria Italiana, an Italian food importer in Boston’s North End. (I should add that, conveniently enough for those of you not living in Boston, they do mail order business around the country as well).
- Pecorino Toscano Fresco (my favorite): Young Tuscan Pecorino is made from the milk of pure-bred ewes. Mild, pliable and full of sweet grassy flavor, the cheese has a D.O.P. designation that guarantees it is produced within the region of Tuscany and meets special standards.
- Umbriaco del Piave (my mom’s favorite): Cow’s milk cheese immersed in Cabernet, Merlot and other red wines, from the Veneto region. Ubriaco del Piave is very mild, but the wine must and grape leaves from its 40 hours soaking give it a special character, a fruity finish, and a lovely aroma.
- Taleggio: Rich and creamy cow’s milk cheese from Lombardy, named for Val Taleggio near Bergamo in Italy’s Lombardy region. It is an uncooked, semi-soft cheese made from whole cow’s milk that is aged in cool cellars.
- Bianco Sardo: Sheep’s milk cheese from Sardinia. The flavor could be compared to Manchego, but with a freshness and sharpness from its six months of aging that make it unique. The texture is smooth, and there’s a little nuttiness in the aftertaste.
- Finocchiona Soppressata: Rich, moist, fennel-studded sliced soppressata with a robust flavor. As authentic as those made in Italy centuries ago, the rich and distinctive flavor of the meat is enhanced by a natural, two-month aging process.
- Bresaola: Air-dried, extremely lean beef; an exquisite delicacy originally from the mountainous Valtellina area of northern Lombardy.
- Leoncini Prosciutto Cotto with Rosemary (this was TO DIE FOR good!!!!): Cooked Prosciutto accented with herbs and black pepper; made in Italy. Baked with lots of black pepper, rosemary and other herbs, Prosciutto Cotto resembles American-style baked ham in appearance.
For condiments, I made the following:
- Cipolle e arancia (Caramelized onion & orange conserve)
- Castagne al miele aromatico (Chestnuts in spiced honey)
- Composta di pere e zenzero (Pear & ginger compote)
- Gelatina di mango al moscato (Moscato & mango gelatin)
Then to round things out, I served some artichoke hearts, mixed olives with caperberries and garlic, pepperoncini, grissini, crostini, and ciabatta.
ROUND TWO: Post-ceremony cocktail hour
The cocktail itself was a unique creation called the Proserpina, a mix of Plymouth gin, ginger, club soda, and pomegranate seeds. The drinks were accompanied by Scallops and Applewood Bacon with Port Reduction. I really can’t recommend this recipe enough as it will make you a superstar for the evening. Not to mention it tastes damn good.
For good measure I also added my ubiquitous Pepper Clam Dip — a family recipe that has a way of showing up at nearly every event I have a hand in planning.
PEPPER CLAM DIP
- 1 stick butter
- 1 med onion, chopped
- ½ green pepper, chopped
- 1 t. oregano
- 1 t. parsley flakes
- dash black pepper
- 2 cans minced clams
- 1 t lemon juice
- dash tabasco
- ½ c italian bread crumbs
Sauté first 6 ingredients until soft. Add clams with liquid; bring to boil. Add lemon juice, tabasco, and Italian brad crumbs (use more or less bread crumbs as needed). Turn into baking dish (may now be frozen). Sprinkle with Italian grated cheese and bake 20-30 min at 325-350° until hot and bubbly.
The final phase of food took us to Waltham, MA, for a sit-down meal at La Campania, where I got to hang up my chef’s coat and revert to my preferred role of Skilled Eater. The Salt Encrusted Branzino (sea bass) was delicate and finely seasoned, the chocolate soufflé delightful, and the red wine plentiful. I would be remiss if I weren’t to add that the wedding itself was intimate and personal, the company highly enjoyable, and my sister stunningly beautiful.