It’s almost here! We’re actually, really, truly getting married this Saturday and I’m so excited I can’t sit still. This is the last post in this series on our reception food, and after that I’ll finally stop yammering to you about it — in three days, we’ll be noshing on these caramelized onion & Boursin tartlets, this spicy ahi poke parfaitini, and slicing into a real-people version of this cake, among other things (like a rosemary-perfumed short rib and vibrant purple Okinawan sweet potato puree, be still my heart). And as our wedding favors, we’ll be handing out this last recipe!
It’s our wedding menu! Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing homemade versions of some of our reception eats, our cake, and our wedding favors. You can see the recipe for one of our cocktail hour appetizers here!
As much as I care about food, choosing our wedding caterer was kind of a black box for us. We wanted the food to be, you know, good, but other than that, all we really knew was that we really, really wanted poke. Spicy ahi poke (preferably from Foodland) is one of B2’s favorite foods, and even though we figured we’d be going with the standard beef-or-fish-or-vegetarian choices for our entrees, we were really hoping it could make an appearance elsewhere. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t briefly consider asking whoever would be the ones making our food to please just buy out an entire Foodland stash and serve it up as our second course, plating optional.
Right around this time two years ago, I christened this baby-blog with a little birthday series for Bowl #2 — they were something like my third, fourth, and fifth posts, and they were recipes for some of his favorite foods from back home in Hawaii. With another one of his trips around the sun approaching (and because I can never have enough food from Hawaii), I thought that this would be a good time to do a repeat of sorts — this time with a little bit extra! His birthday is just a couple weeks before a little event I can’t stop talking about (sorry) and ever since we figured out our reception menu, I’ve been planning to try to recreate some of the dishes to share with you. Since we happen to be getting married in Hawaii, it seemed perfect to mash it all up! So for the next six weeks or so, I’ll be sharing a couple more recipes for his favorite childhood Hawaii dishes, mixed in with a few homemade versions of the eats from our wedding menu. Since I can’t invite you all to our shindig, I figured this was the next best way to celebrate it with you. <3
So Bowl #2 and I have just come to accept that we’re the kind of people whose well-being depends a little pitifully on warm weather. I feel like that should have been obvious to two people from Hawaii and South Carolina, but with every Northeastern spring that’s come along we’re still baffled at how suddenly we’re real people again, wanting to do things and go places and see folks, hatched from gloomy, hibernatory sofa-dwellers who would never do a crazy thing like, say, leave the house. But that weather is here now, and we’re at the park on weekends and rattling iced coffees and out and about, and it’s amazing! I think the thaw is even more pronounced this year, now that we have less than two months to go until our wedding and we’re getting into what feels like the best parts of planning — the (strangely fun) seating chart, music playlists, naming our tables, planning out the program. Evenings where we plan to go to bed at a reasonable hour launch suddenly into late nights because we can’t stop talking about what readings to do at the ceremony and when during dinner the toasts should be. It’s beginning to feel real, and I love it.
I’ve written a lot about how much I love the food in Hong Kong. I’ll probably write more even after this. I’m a food-oriented person to begin with (I know, shocker) and the places I’ve been and the memories I have are, a lot of times, defined by the things I ate and savored and enjoyed in any one place at any one time. But all that said, Hong Kong might still be the greatest food city I’ve ever been to.
The first real meal I had in Hong Kong was courtesy of my cousin, who is lucky enough to call HK home and to whom I owe about 85% of my HK food journey. He took me to a traditional Cantonese restaurant, the sort with the ubiquitous Lazy Susan crowded with small plates and bamboo baskets, and the first dish he ordered was, fittingly, a plate of the most perfect char siu, lacquered ruby red and glistening, sliced into pieces with the fat and lean distributed just so. I’m pretty sure from that first bite (or, that first plate, since I think I single-handedly ate all of it) I didn’t have a bad meal for the entire four months I was there. Chewy, crumbly pineapple cakes from Kee Wah, nibbled in their plastic jackets on an open-air walkway from Central to Sheung Wan; fish ball skewers in electric yellow curry on a narrow street in Causeway Bay; “quicksand” lau sa bao filled with molten egg custard at a dim sum joint that opened at 3 AM for the late night crowd. Creamy yuan yang and silky-soft scrambled eggs on toast at Australia Dairy Company. A mountain of ground pork with a single salted duck yolk perched exactly on top, the most umami-filled dish I’ve ever had, ordered for me in fluid Cantonese by a friend and shared under fluorescent lighting in a hole-in-the-wall on a balmy fall night. I used to take the bus to a random neighborhood and just wander, window-shopping food things, until I found something I wanted to eat, and from the KFC egg tarts to the best, penthouse restaurant hairy crab, it was all some of the best food I’ve ever had.
You guys, I had my wedding dress fitting this Monday! It might have been the most excited I’ve ever been for a Monday morning. Now I’m wishing workweeks always started with a trying-on-a-very-beautiful-tailored-for-you-thing appointment. It would be zero percent financially sound and one hundred percent awesome.
Unrelatedly, if it’s one thing I’ve learned through this whole wedding process, it’s that I’m pretty sure I’m the world’s worst client. How is it possible to think you know exactly what you want (maybe) but also totally not be able to express it — at least, for me, without hemming and hawing and getting indecisive, or else getting too shy to speak my mind, or speaking my mind then thinking I’ve changed my mind, or emailing two hours later with said changed mind, or emailing again changing my mind after that?
I’m the worst. Any ideas for forgiveness-inducing thank you gifts are appreciated.
But it was still amazing.
Also, yesterday I had a dentist’s appointment. So that was the same amount of excited that I always am for Tuesday.
Oh man. So here’s a thing about me — I am really, really clumsy. Like, if I were a candy bar, I’d be this one. And if I were an idiom, I’d be a bull in a china shop. Sometimes I think it amazes Bowl #2 — who does everything thoughtfully and deliberately and un-clumsily — how little sense I have of space and time and, you know, where my body is. (It amazes me too.)
And I’ve been on a roll lately! I don’t know if I’ve just been really out of it from a few long weeks at work, but I am a bull in the china shop of life these days. Yesterday I was slicing a chicken breast and overturned the cutting board into a sink full of dirty dishes. A few weeks ago, B2 had to play ceramics doctor on a beloved Akiko Graham plate after I broke it and almost had a heart attack, and this weekend I spilled an entire ink bottle all over the table, myself, and the floor in the middle of addressing our wedding invites. I don’t even know. But all’s well that ends well — thanks to B2’s magic, the plate is as good as new (can you even tell?!) and thanks to Jesus, the ink missed our wedding invites (and our white couch, ohmygosh) and our first batch of invites actually made it into the mail this morning! We finally mailed (some of) our invites! Small miracles.
(I don’t know what to say about the chicken. Or my ink-stained legs, which currently look diseased. But otherwise, miracles!)
For the first time in recent memory, easing back into the “real world” after the holidays hasn’t been as gruesome as I expected it to be. After our fair share of family fun and impromptu New Year’s parties and various friends in town, I think these quiet January weekends are still suiting us all right. Any brief attacks of post-holiday bluesy-ness have been quelled by things like: spending a Saturday night giving B2 an impromptu man-makeover (new discovery: I love buzzcuts), eating leftover Christmas chocolate for breakfast, streaming Friends on Netflix, and ugly-crying super hard at the latest episode of Parenthood. (That show gets me every time. But at least bawling my eyes out is cathartic?)
Hi friends! How was your Thanksgiving? How are you faring back at work this week? We spent a slow and peaceful Thanksgiving here in Brooklyn, just us and dumplings (and ramen and musubis and pie), with snow and wintry mix drifting down outside our windows. Our work phones went off zero times, our butts stayed firmly on the couch, and I don’t think we stopped eating once after the first potstickers went on the (coffee) table at 4 PM. I’m so excited to see family over Christmas, but still, our tiny, cozy Thanksgiving was all I could have asked for. If you celebrated, how was your holiday? I’d love to hear all that you ate!
Happy Hallo-week!! Do you have any plans for this Friday? Are you dressing up? The fact that Halloween is right before the weekend this year makes going out on the town tempting, but in all honesty, it’s more likely you’ll find me in the kitchen this week, wearing fuzzy socks and making sweets for the kids who live downstairs instead of going out. I mean, I just bought these awesome new pajama pants (they have cuffs! they’re not threadbare! they don’t have holes!) and I’m pretty sure Molly’s pumpkin mini loaf cakes urgently need to be made into trick-or-treatable mini donuts. Urgently, you know?
So I admit that I’m kind of a homebody. (In case you weren’t tipped off by the extreme excitement over clothes that will never see the outdoors.) It’s just that home is so awesome. Home is free(r) drinks in a forever open bar. It’s a brunch wonderland. And this weekend, when B2 was suddenly inspired to buy a pumpkin and carve an impromptu Batman into it, which then inspired me to figure out an impromptu Halloween-y treat so that I could share both of them with you all, it was full of pumpkin shavings and apple-spiced fragrance. What’s not to love?
After my first magical experience with caramel a few weeks ago, these apple cider caramels by the flawless Deb seemed like the perfect thing to try for Halloween, with a little twist from an abundance of crème fraîche in my fridge (for a fun giveaway coming up next month!) that needed using. (In retrospect, making pumpkin caramels might have been nice symmetry, but I say you don’t shy from a Smitten Kitchen recipe when you have an opportunity to make one.)
And, as over a thousand comments on her recipe (!) might suggest, they were amazing. The apple cider reduces down to a spicy, aromatic syrup that itself begins to caramelize, then the addition of a good bit of sugar, crème fraîche and butter turns it into a pliable candy that tastes like chewy, melty apple pie. These don’t have quite the rich, deep butterscotch-y warmth that plain caramels do — but instead, the apple cider and crème fraîche add a lively, tart tang to what can otherwise be a heavy treat. If regular caramels are like sitting in front of the fireplace on a winter evening, swaddled in blankets, these apple cider ones are the joy of kicking up fall leaves in the fading dusk of a fall day, with just a hint of chill but a flush in your cheek. Both are pretty darn amazing in their own ways.