Friday, March 5, 2010

Catering Shake-Up

On my last trip to Pittsburgh, back in December, I had a few missions: pick bridesmaids' dresses (easy as hell, check!), find a florist (a never-ending, ongoing saga, DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED) and plan our menu/sign the contract/place the deposit with the Children's Museum caterer, The Common Plea--which toooootes didn't happen.

Why? Cause when we arrived for our catering consultation at Common Plea, the very first thing we were told was that they were no longer the exclusive caterer for the Children's Museum. Apparently, the Children's Museum was planning to add a few caterers to the roster (!!), in order to give clients some options (!!!).


Now, the Common Plea was really great in the few exchanges I had with them, but my mind was spinning at the sudden possibility for comparison shopping (especially if it meant saving some cash money!!). After we left our consultation, I immediately got in touch with the event coordinator at the Children's Museum, who confirmed that they were in the process of finalizing the new list of preferred caterers, and that he would send me the new list as soon as it was finished.

A few days later, the catering shake-up reached new heights when the event coordinator e-mailed me the Children's Museum's new list of preferred caterers for me to choose from--and the Common Plea wasn't on it at all! So then, we didn't just have the option of choosing a new caterer, we actually had to! I have no idea why the Children's Museum and the Common Plea totally ended their affiliation; like I said, I would have been happy to use them, because they were great. It ended up not mattering, though, because guess who was on the list?

Big Burrito, the caterer that I had originally really hoped to use. The caterer that's both crazy delicious and sentimental to my groom and me, because of all the dates we went on in their various restaurants. Upon finding out they were an option again, first I did a backflip. Then I e-mailed them to get a quote. Then I peed my pants and screeched a little. Then I sat on my hands to keep from biting my fingernails while waiting to hear back, hoping and praying that they would be within our price range.

The first go-round for our proposal--in which I picked out my ideal, dream menu--came with a whopper of a price tag that left me blinking at my computer screen, dumbfounded, like a deer in headlights. In the second version, the price came in at exactly what I'd budgeted for, but the menu left something to be desired (and even Mom Octopus, who is normally extremely frugal in the wedding expenses department, said that she'd prefer to spend more, so the food would have little more oomph).

The great news is that on the third revision of the proposal, the special events coordinator put together a menu that sounds delicious, unusual, and fun, with a quote that did come in above what I'd budgeted for, but not by an unmanageable amount (and honestly, I'm pretty sure I had unrealistic expectations). So guess what? Big Burrito is our wedding caterer after all! But shhh--I don't want to say it too loudly, because I feel like I won the wedding lottery or am cashing in on the greatest stash of bridal karma ever, and I don't want to jinx it.

So here's what we're serving:

Cocktail Hour

(Sources, clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4.)

Cheese Board: A Selection of Domestic and Imported Artisanal Cheeses with Breads
and Crackers, Mixed Olives, Salted Nuts, Fresh and Dried Fruit
Crudités Basket of Fresh Vegetables with Herbed Dipping Sauce
A Display of Fresh Fruit

Mr. Octopus really didn't want passed hors d'oeuvres, because he was a special events waiter at his hometown country club all throughout high school, and his theory is that people get so excited about the deliciousness of passed appetizers (duh, warm brie in phyllo cups and mini quiches, who wouldn't?) that they eat lots and lots of them and don't eat as much dinner. I didn't care, because this option still features cheese.

Dinner: Stations Menu

Salad Station

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, center.)

Mesclun Greens
Diced Tomatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Sweet Peppers, Hard Boiled Eggs
Feta Cheese, Parmesan Cheese and Gorgonzola Cheese
Shredded Carrots, Sliced Black and Green Olives, Chick Peas
Roasted Beets, Capers, Sliced Scallions
Sherry Vinaigrette, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Ranch Dressing

Carving Station

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.)

Roasted Boneless Turkey Breast
Grilled Seasonal Vegetables
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Bread from Eleven Bakery

This is the one station that I'm a liiiiittle bummed about; I wish we could also serve a beef tenderloin alongside the turkey breast. Alas, the budget couldn't stretch any farther. Mom Octopus and I both agreed that if we have fewer RSVPs than we're expecting, though, the beef definitely goes back in.

Pittsburgh Station

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

Truffled Potato and Aged Cheddar Pierogies
Lucanicia Sausage-Stuffed Cabbage in Veal Sauce
Kielbasa and Penn Pilsner Sauerkraut
Rigatoni with Spicy Tuscan Tomato Sauce

Imagine me batting my eyelashes at this station. It's my pride and joy. Pittsburgh has very strong Polish and Italian communities whose roots go back a long way in the city's history, and the food at this station reflects that. It's also craaaazy delicious. This food is a little less formal, but I think (and I hope our guests think!) that it's fun and festive and unexpected. Also, craaaaazy delicious.

What do you think? And what's going to be on your wedding menu?

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