It’s not uncommon for a couple to ask us to include dishes that reflect their culinary heritage. Sometimes the ideas sound painful but more often it’s just the sort of push out of our comfort zone that ends up producing a spectacular dish or even a permanent addition to the menu. Last February was our first Persian wedding and after a bit of research we rolled the dice with our version of 2 traditional dishes, Fesenjen (a braised duck or chicken dish made with a pomegranate walnut sauce) and Tah Chin (a layered casserole with a crispy saffron yogurt rice crust). In our interpretation of fesenjen we took some liberties and made it into a kebab with the duck skewered and seasoned with spices and served with the pomegranate dipping sauce over rice. For the Tah Chin we layered chicken, spinach, prunes and the yogurt rice into single-serving 4” timbales. The results were spectacular and the fesenjen is on our permanent menu as “Persian-style Duck Kebabs with Pomegranate Walnut Sauce”.
Often when the couple come from separate backgrounds, one culture will dominate the guest list. When that’s the case, we like to include a nod to those guests who may feel somewhat out of their element with an amuse bouche or other small touch taken from the “minority” cuisine. For example, when we produced a wedding for an Italian gal from “the old neighborhood” on Arthur Avenue, who married a Lebanese muslim from Detroit, it was the Bronx crowd that dominated. Even so, between the caprese and cannolis, we were able to start off the dinner with a mini fattoush (Lebanese salad of pita, tomato, cucumber and sumac), that went a long way to making the groom’s family feel all the more welcome.
But there are limits. Trying to recreate something from Grandma’s kitchen or an experience from childhood is a recipe for disaster. Instead, we prefer to interpret old favorites, using not only our own food sense but also the size of the party and the limitations of whatever venue. One such new favorite came out of a Filipino wedding last December; our Halo Halo Bar.
Halo Halo is a traditional Filipino dessert of condensed milk, shaved ice, custard, ice cream and a variety of add-ins like jackfruit and candied chickpeas. Unlike the authentic original we made a ginger simple syrup-infused granité mixed with ice cubes passed through a Sno-Cone machine. It was a smashing success and now a permanent and unique dessert bar option.
So if you have an idea, pass it along and let’s see if it works. Couples in NYC have a global palate and we’re always delighted to expand our repertoire especially if it helps make your day, all the more, your own.