Wedding Food & Cake Tasting

What a night!

Our wedding food and cake tasting last night was more than I ever could have imagined.

From start to finish, we were continually impressed.

When we arrived, we met with Jennifer, the events manager at the Vinoy, to head to a private room to begin the tasting.

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The private room had two tables set up: One for us to enjoy our meal and another to show us how the tables for our wedding will look when fully set.

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Our tables will have floral centerpieces and other decor to add a romantic feel and bring in our wedding colors and will not have the gold charger plates.(We will also have chiavari chairs! 😉 )

After ooing and ahhing over the intricacies of the tableware, we sat down at our table to begin our meal.

Hors d’oeuvres

We began by trying five different hors d’oeuvres.

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Up first was a beef and artichoke bruschetta with olive aioli and a citrus shrimp with horseradish aioli.

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Both were tasty, but the beef stole the show!

Next we tried a ricotta fritter, duck wonton and a lobster spring roll that Jennifer added to our tasting menu as a surprise.

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The lobster spring roll got rave reviews from all of us but the other two were only meh.

In the end we actually chose both the beef and the lobster and two other hors d’oeuvres that we didn’t try but seemed appealing.

Appetizers

Next up were the appetizers.

First we tried black pepper shrimp, served with exotic fruit and avocado salad.

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We all loved the presentation of this one, but I was the only one who thought it was delicious. Ryan gave it the lowest score of the bunch, with a 6.5.

Our second option was a pan seared lump crab cake with sweet corn puree smoked bacon-tomato relish.

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I am so picky with crab cakes because my mom makes amazing crab cakes that are basically egg and crab only. I love really crabby crab cakes and these were delicious. They were packed full of crab meat and all of us agreed we found a winner!

Salad

The salad decision was a pretty easy one for me.

First up was a spring salad with bleu cheese, spiced pecans and pears.

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The second salad was a Boston Bibb salad with raspberries, brie fondant crostini and a port vinaigrette.

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Ryan and I both really do not like bleu cheese, but love brie, so the second salad was clearly the winner. It had a light and fresh taste that we all enjoyed.

Entrees

To sample our main course, we were each provided with a sampler plate that included mini portions of three different entrees.

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The combinations we sampled included sea bass + filet, lobster + filet and herb roasted chicken + scallops.

We all agreed that the sea bass stole the show. It tasted moist, fresh and buttery. So, so good! We also loved the spinach Gruyere soufflé that came along with the lobster and filet combo, so we are going to add that into our main meal as well.

If the sea bass and filet can fit into our budget (based on how many “yes” RSVPs we we receive), that will be the winner!

Cake

Woohoo! Dessert!

I was so excited for the cake tasting portion of this meal, but was shocked at how hard it was to choose our cake!

First, we sampled a variety of different cake flavors.

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Then we tried a tray of fillings and a tray of mousse (which I forgot to photograph).

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In the end we decided on a red velvet cake with a white chocolate mousse filling and buttercream icing.

I could literally bathe in the buttercream icing. It reminded me so much of my mom’s homemade buttercream icing and I couldn’t get enough!

The Final Menu

If all things go according to plan, our wedding menu will look like this:

Hors d’oeuvres

Butler passed:

  • Beef and artichoke bruschetta with olive aioli
  • Lobster spring roll
  • Tuna, toasted peanut tartar, soy ginger gelee
  • Spinach and feta cheese purse

Displays:

  • Fruit display: Colorful array of seasonal fruits and betties with key lime yogurt
  • Antipasto display: Marinated mushrooms, assorted olives, feta cheese, mozzarella, basil, grape tomatoes, roasted peppers and hard salamis

Appetizer

  • Pan seared lump crab cake, sweet corn puree, smoked bacon-tomato relish

Salad

  • Boston Bibb with raspberries, brie fondant crostini and port vinaigrette

Entree

  • Grilled filet and seared sea bass, spinach Gruyere soufflĂ©, Pesto green beans and carrots

Cake

  • Red velvet cake with white chocolate mousse filling and buttercream icing

***

I am so excited about our menu! I think it will be absolutely delicious! 😀

Today

Today will be a day full of wedding errands! We have plans to hit up a bunch of different craft stores to assemble our escort card boards and check some other crafty projects off our wedding to to list.

Also on the agenda is visiting some local bakeries to taste some cookies that will play a part in our wedding favors.

See ya in a bit! 😀

As Jessie Spano Would Say…

I’m all packed up and ready to head to my parents’ house in St. Pete for the weekend.

All Packed!

(Ah! I’m wearing shorts!)

Ryan, Sadie and I are packing in my car and heading south because we have a very important activity on the agenda for this evening


OUR WEDDING FOOD TASTING!

As Jessie Spano would say, “I’m so excited! I’m so excited!” (Side note: Why is this the second time I’m referencing Jessie Spano on my blog in less than a month???)

I cannot explain to you how excited Ryan and I are for this event.

I know it’s common for most grooms to look forward to this activity and Ryan is no exception. The two of us are basically eating machines and have been asking about the cake tasting since we booked our venue back in November.

Tonight we finally get to try the food! This evening Ryan and I have plans with our mothers to attend our wedding food tasting at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, where we’ll be getting married in less than two and a half months.

Tea Garden

(The above picture is of the Tea Garden, where our ceremony will be held. Our reception will be indoors in a ballroom.)

Prior to our tasting we were asked to select several items off the menu to sample, including four hors d’oeuvres (aka the hardest word to spell in the entire world), two appetizers, two salads, three entrees and three wedding cake flavors.

Tonight we will be trying the following items:

Hors d’oeuvres

  • Beef and artichoke bruschetta, olive aioli
  • Citrus shrimp, horseradish aioli
  • Ricotta fritter, minted tomato sauce
  • Port roasted duck, raspberry wonton

Appetizers

  • Black pepper smoked shrimp, exotic fruit, avocado salad
  • Pan seared lump crab cake, sweet corn puree, smoked bacon-tomato relish

Salads

  • Baby greens with maple roasted pears, Point Reyes bleu cheese, spiced pecans & champagne vinaigrette (we’re asking for a different cheese in place of the bleu)
  • Boston bibb with raspberries, brie fondant crostini & port vinaigrette

Entrees

  • Herb roasted chicken breast & seared diver scallop with lemon orzo
  • Grilled filet & seared sea bass, Parmesan spinach soufflĂ©, pesto green beans, tomato ragout
  • Grilled filet & butter poached lobster, spinach Gruyere soufflĂ©, merlot demi

Cake

  • Red velvet cake
  • Two “surprise us” cakes

I’m pretty sure we’ll be calling in our second stomachs to get through these delicious dishes tonight!

Of Possible Interest

Question of the Afternoon

What is the single best dish you’ve ever had at a wedding?

I had the most delicious gnocchi in the world at a wedding Ryan and I attended last May. It was fantastic!

A First Attempt at Bridesmaid Dresses

Normally on the day after Christmas I cannot help but feel a little sad. All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season comes to an end, and I know I’ll be back at work, away from my family, in no time.

Fortunately my family had a lot on the agenda on the day after Christmas this year so I didn’t have any time to dwell on the fact that we have to wait another whole year to celebrate again.

Next year I will be a married woman at Christmas! Holy cow!

The wedding preparations continued yesterday when my mom, sister and I (once again!) headed out to try on wedding gowns. We ended up browsing around in the bridesmaid dresses section for quite a while and really enjoyed looking at all the different styles.

I want my bridesmaids to feel beautiful and look classy and a bit trendy at the same time.

Luckily my sister was on hand to model a couple of dresses. She’s one heck of a model though and everything seemed to look good on her!

The red dress below was our favorite.

Option Number One

The woman at the store encouraged me to try it on as well so we could see another body type in the dress.

...And Again

I loved how this dress looked on my sister, but wasn’t crazy about the dress on me. I am super-aware of my butt and hips and generally like more A-line styles on myself. I’m a lucky bride because all of my bridesmaids are gorgeous and have great figures and would look good in any style.

The second option was more whimsical.

Option Number Two

...And Again

I thought this dress was very romantic, but a little too casual for the vision I have for our wedding.

I really liked option number one, but when I showed pictures to Ryan he isn’t sold on the one-strap look. We’ll see!

Regardless of the dresses we pick, the bridesmaids will likely wear dresses that are a champagne color to go along with our color scheme of yellows, whites, creams, golds, etc.

I tried on dresses again and am still set on the Maggie Sottero gown I liked the last time. It’s more expensive than I want to spend on a dress though, so we’re still lookin’ around.

Lunch and a Boat Ride

After a couple hours spent trying on dresses, we headed home to meet up with my dad, cousin Ricky and his girlfriend Abby to grab a quick lunch before heading out on the boat.

I made myself a cheesy sandwich with Provolone cheese, tomato, portobello mushrooms and spinach.

Open Faced Sandwich

Provolone and Veggie Sandwich

My Lunch

I also enjoyed two Reese’s peanut butter cups that I got in my Christmas stocking for dessert. Mmm, mmm.

After bundling up in multiple layers and bringing several blankets onto the boat, we were ready to head out!

It was a beautiful but chilly day on the water.

Captain and First Mate (Dad and Mom)

My Cousin Ricky and His Girlfriend Abby

While boating we saw lots of dolphins! They even swam right under the boat so we got a close-up view. It was really neat!

My dad also took us by the Vinoy, our wedding venue.

The Vinoy

Once we were frozen solid, we headed back inside to hang out a bit before heading off to The Clubhouse for dinner.

Dinner

Ryan arrived at my parents’ house after spending the day with his dad in Bradenton. Before leaving for dinner he was kind enough to snap a picture of our little gang.

The Gang

(Yes, my sister and I are wearing the same Ugg boots. Wanna know what’s worse? Underneath her jacket is a black sweater. Why do we dress like twins? It was unintentional but happens way too often!)

Once we got to the restaurant, our waiter brought us complimentary shrimp dumplings to enjoy.

Shrimp Dumpling

Before my meal, I ordered a miso soup to enjoy.

Miso Soup

It was salty and tasty!

My main course was sushi. I ordered the California roll with cucumber instead of rice. I also shared a Philly cheesesteak and fries with Ryan.

California Roll (Sans Rice)

Philly Cheesesteak and Fries

Yummy!

My Love-ah Love-ah

Dinner was delish!

Afterward Ricky and Abby headed on the road to visit Abby’s uncle for the rest of the evening. We came back home to make homemade Neiman Marcus cookies.

Cookie Time

Abby told us about these special cookies while we were on the boat and we knew we wanted to make them.

Neiman Marcus Cookie Dough

The recipe makes a lot of cookies! Fortunately we cut it in half, but we still had several dozen cookies!

Freshly-Baked Cookies

I think we all were sick off of the dough by the time the cookies came out. Still, that didn’t stop us from enjoying some of the freshly-baked goodness.

These cookies are amazing! Definitely add them to your list of cookies you must make.

Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. soda
2 cups sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal**
24 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

** Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder.

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.

Break Begins

I woke up today feeling icky. I guess my tummy ache decided to stick around for a bit.

My mom gave me some medicine and by mid morning I was feeling much better. It looks like my Thanksgiving break is officially on!

With my appetite back, I enjoyed a late breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios with milk and blueberries before heading to a Jazzercise class with my mom and my sister, Leslie. My mom is a regular Jazzerciser and Leslie and I love to go with her when we get a chance. The music is fun and the aerobic workout is always entertaining.

Getting into Position

The Ladies

Smilin'

We had a great time and worked up a nice sweat.

Afterward we stopped off at T.J. Maxx to find Leslie a planner for the upcoming year. Of course we left with some other fun purchases (namely black Paper Denim and Cloth skinny jeans for $25!). I felt bad that Ryan was hanging out at home alone (my dad is working today), so we swung by Dunkin’ Donuts to pick up a treat for him

Wanna know what Ryan’s favorite doughnut is? A glazed doughnut with pink icing and sprinkles. Manly, huh?

Needless to say he was quite excited for his surprise treat!

Lovin' His Pink Frosted Doughnut

What a happy boy.

Our day’s plans include taking Sadie to the dog park

Sadie Girl!

…and dropping off our wedding contract at the Vinoy!!! It’s 100 percent official… we’re getting married at the end of October at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club in St. Petersburg.

Vinoy

Hope you are all enjoying your Tuesday!

A Wedding Venue is Set

Today we get to cross several major decisions off the wedding-planning to do list!

  • Select ceremony site – check!
  • Select reception location – check!
  • Select caterer – check!

All these decisions became quite easy after we went over some financial details and met once more last night with Jennifer from the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club since the ceremony, reception, food and alcohol would all be provided by the facility.

Numbers were crunched, budgets were adjusted and various dates were discussed, but eventually we all agreed that the Vinoy would be the perfect place for our upcoming wedding. It’s honestly the location of my dreams! I can’t wait and am so excited that several BIG decisions are finalized.

Lunch

Ryan and I drove back to Orlando early this morning because he had a soccer game. Post-win (yay!), we cooked up some Kraft organic macaroni and cheese for lunch.

mac & cheese

It's the Cheesiest!

I love mac and cheese from the trusty ol’ blue box, but the never-ending list of ingredients deter me a bit. The organic option has a much shorter ingredient list and the sauce has a less-intense unnatural orange hue. Much better!

I actually don’t add any butter or milk to the mix. After draining the noodles I just stir in the sauce powder and it’s still delicious.

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Cheesy Noodles

What a yummy childhood throwback meal!

Sunday To Do’s

Ryan and I are now off to run some Sunday errands. Target, Best Buy and the grocery store are on our list of stops. Our apartment is also looking pretty horrific, so cleaning is in my future.

Also, Ryan has already pre-warned me that he’s in the mood “to eat some crap” tonight, so I’m not sure what deliciously-greasy junk food will be on the menu. I think our pizza date last Sunday put him in greasy Sunday night date mode. 🙂

The Wedding Planning Begins

Whoa what a busy weekend! This was the official kickoff of our wedding planning!

On Friday we headed for St. Petersburg to meet up with my parents to check out Feather Sound Country Club as a potential venue for our big day.

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Feather Sound County Club

The facility was very nice for a reception site, but I wasn’t sold on the club as a ceremony site. If possible I think we all agreed that we would like to have the ceremony and reception in the same location. I loved the views from the possible reception room though. It overlooks a gorgeous golf course with lots of palm trees.

That night we headed to the dinner at the Vinoy, an amazing hotel where we had an appointment to meet with  a wedding coordinator the following day. We ate dinner at Marchand’s at the Vinoy and it was unbelievable.

Ryan, my mom and dad all ordered the three-course special: salad with marinated grilled shrimp, seared scallops and filet with gourmet macaroni and cheese followed by chocolate mousse. SO delicious. They definitely made a fantastic choice. I ordered the shrimp cocktail appetizer and the mussels and clams with sausage. Also quite tasty!

We left full and excited to return for our appointment the next day.

Saturday

On Saturday we woke up hungry and made a big breakfast of oatmeal pancakes.

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Oatmeal Pancake Mix

This mix provided a great base for some yummy pancakes.

I topped mine with strawberries.

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Oatmeal Pancakes and Strawberries

Ryan and my dad used lots o’ syrup.

pancakes with syrup

Yummers

Once my mom returned from her doctor’s appointment, we drove out to the beach to check out a community center as a potential venue before walking through the Don Cesar hotel.

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Don Cesar

The ballrooms at the Don Cesar were so neat. We loved it, but after receiving the wedding packet with pricing information, we basically took this out of the running for a potential venue.

After stopping for lunch at Coney Island for hotdogs, we headed over to the Vinoy for an appointment with Jennifer at 2:30 p.m.

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Vinoy Hotel

Jennifer was very friendly and immediately took us on a tour of the various rooms used for weddings in the hotel.

Our first stop was the Tea Garden, used for the wedding ceremony.

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Tea Garden

The Tea Garden was gorgeous and would be an unbelievable location for a ceremony. The foliage added so much to the location and it was nice and secluded from other parts of the hotel.

We then moved on to look at ballrooms, including the Sunset Ballroom, located approximately 1.5 miles from the hotel at the golf club.

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Sunset Ballroom

This ballroom was built in the 1920s. It was beautiful and the example pictures Jennifer showed us highlighted the various ways the rooms can be transformed to create a romantic reception site.

Jennifer also gave us a little gift from the pastry chefs at the Vinoy.

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Mini Chocolate Wedding Cake

This cake was unbelievable and soooo fudgey. We split it four ways, but I easily could have enjoyed a whole one by myself.

After walking around the Sunset Ballroom and asking questions, we returned to the main hotel and talked prices and enjoyed some drinks on the veranda. We all agreed a wedding at the Vinoy would be memorable and a dream, but we want to visit some other places and compare prices to make sure our decision makes sense.

Dinner

We worked up one heck of an appetite and headed over to El Cap, home of the BEST hamburgers in St. Pete.

hamburger

Big Burger

This burger was great and very juicy.

fries

Basket of Fries

Dinner was greasy goodness!

Yesterday was a very productive day in the wedding planning process. I feel better knowing the basic prices for a few facilities. We have quite a lot of work cut out for us, that’s for sure!