In homage to one of my favorite sports writers, ESPN's Bill Simmons, I decided to put together a blow-by-blow diary to convey the wonder and spectacle that is the wedding-tasting event. For the uninitiated, the tasting is where you get to test a multitude of foods at your reception location before you make up your mind about what the guests will eat at your wedding dinner. For any food lover putting together a wedding, this is the equivalent of the NCAA tournament.
1 PM: We arrive at the Mayflower. Much like one would prepare for surgery, I haven’t eaten or had anything to drink since midnight.
1:07: The actual eating portion of the tasting is delayed slightly—we need to take a look at the table settings and make decisions on linens and plates. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes, tops.
1:35: Any one ever heard of a “charger” before? They tell me it’s the name of the decorative plate that goes under the plate you eat actually off, and it’s on the table no more than a grand total of ten minutes. When I ask why they call it a “charger,” they explain that they cost an additional $5 a person. I’m then told to “respect the charger.”
1:40: I say: “Honey, I’m not making the call on the seat cushions. I’m saving what few bargaining chips I have for a decision I actually care about.”
1:55: I ask: “Is it possible we leave the charger thing on the table for the whole night? I want to get our money’s worth.”
2:03: Time to eat—finally! We head downstairs to a private dining area. The walk through the bowels of the Mayflower is very similar to the scene in Goodfellas where Henry and Karen meander through the kitchen of the Copa Cabana. “Then He Kissed Me” by the Crystals rings in my ears, and I don’t feel like a little girl for humming it to myself.
2:05: Upon sitting down, like a good little gentleman, I grab my napkin to put it in my lap. “Wait, how was that napkin folded?” Kristin asks me. Apparently all the napkins are folded differently at the table. Another decision to make.
2:16: Wine tasting: Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot. And here . . . we . . . go.
2:24: Salads hit the table for the day’s first battle. The Napolean of sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella makes a coup d’état over the field greens. Toasted pine nuts and cilantro vinaigrette on the Napoleon are the greens’ Waterloo.
2:59: One fish, two fish, three fish, main dish. We try three types of fish, and while I’m thinking the rockfish with a Key-lime salsa is going to take the crown, the herb-and-Parmesan-crusted Chilean sea bass can’t be denied. I ask the chef if the Parmesan crust is what makes the fish endangered. The chef looks at her reflection in her knife, then looks at me. Kristin clears her throat to break the tension.
3:21: If you can believe it, the chef has prepared four types of filet for us to try. My dream of doing the reception dinner at Fogo de Chão is coming true. Ten minutes later, a beef-flavored tear rolls down my cheek.
4:01: It’s a wheel of cake! The chef reappears and says, “Bust a deal, face the wheel.” It’s Mad Max: Beyond Buttercream.
4:06: We’re making our way through the cake, which has 12 combinations of cake, filling, and icing, all placed around the plate to look like the face of a watch. We decided the one at 10 o’clock is the way to go: amaretto-soaked yellow cake with raspberry filling, covered with unicorn-horn shavings.
4:30: A bell clangs, and the tasting is complete. Kristin and I have reached another key milestone in our planning process with less than 50 days to go.