St. Simons Wedding Planner :: Island Destination Weddings | cocktail hour
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Event Vision: New Orleans Cocktail Hour Part II

 

New Orleans inspiration board for weddings and events

 

 

We talked about food and drinks in Part I of our Event Vision: New Orleans Inspiration Series.  Today, we’ll focus on décor.  Since your cocktail hour will be a less structured and traditional part of your wedding reception, you can really embellish with details and color.  Unfortunately many people believe that the only thing available for New Orleans inspiration is Mardi Gras—which can quickly turn your event from a stylish fete into an instant cheesefest.  There is so much more to New Orleans than Mardi Gras and food—however, the same principals can apply to your décor:  go big and bold…with no apologies. 

 

 

Hanging Parasols for decor unusual unique wedding inspiration ideas Hanging parasols for wedding decor ideas lighting

 

One thing New Orleans is known for is parasols.  You can opt to use them as props for your pictures or photo booth, but definitely consider having them become an integral part of your décor.  Don’t confuse them with the oriental parasols, but seek out colorful and ornate Victorian parasols and hang them from the ceiling of your tent or reception venue.  They make a great entrance or lighting fixtures!

 

 

 

French Quarter in New Orleans

 

If your wedding is outside, you can still have your bit of New Orleans. One of my favorite things is the French Quarter’s wrought iron balconies.  You can have your own variation by bringing in your own iron elements such as arches, gates and fences and hanging lush ferns from them. 

 

 

 

 

Tufted bench for weddings lounge furniture 
Purple Baroque mirror frame for weddiing decor Tufted bench sofa seating Lounge furniture for weddings parties and events

 

 

 

New Orleans is an old city—full of rich history and culture.  Many of its architecture and design influences come from baroque periods and designers.  You can bring the old world into the new world by  incorporating modern pieces like these tufted benches for seating and baroque mirrors and frames.

 

Roses, ranunculus, peonies stock centerpiece bouquet arrangement elizabeth anne designs melissa schollaert

Photo:  Melissa Schollaert via featured wedding on Elizabeth Anne Designs

 

 

I really do love this arrangement of lush flowers on this antique gold stand.  Its fullness makes up for its size but provides soft colors (but feel free to go bolder!) which will look great on cocktail tables and bistro sets. 

 

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Speaking of bistro sets, toss a few around in your cocktail hour if it is outside, along with some vintage street lamps.  Both are a part of the New Orleans experience and can easily transport your guests. 

 

 

Don’t forget your décor for your reception either—small touches like naming your tables after New Orleans’ famous streets, making your food buffet look like it’s part of a Mardi Gras float can bring so much authenticity to your event.  Don’t forget about the music, either (you’d better not!):  Play songs from natives like Louis Armstrong, the Marsalis brothers, etc. to get people in the spirit.  If you really  want to get people moving—when it is time to get your guests to move on to the reception, do it Mardi Gras style with a trumpet player playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” taking them into the reception pied piper style.  If this doesn’t work for your event, you could always do it for your wedding reception entrance or send off, where guests can toss feathers and beads.

 

I hope this inspires you for your New Orleans’ themed wedding! 

 

*Garnish*: for more inspiration, check out these links:

http://www.mailelaniphotography.com/blog/martini-and-adam-•-married/

http://eventjubilee.com/blog/on-royal-street-french-inspired-photoshoot-in-new-orleans-part-ii/

http://www.projectwedding.com/wedding-ideas/new-orleans-wedding-dress

Event Vision: New Orleans Cocktail Hour

New Orleans wedding ideas food drink sezerac, st charles, gumbo, crawfish po boy inspiration ideas

New Orleans is world-famous for its food. The indigenous cuisine is distinctive and influential. From centuries of amalgamation of local Creole, haute Creole, and New Orleans French cuisines, New Orleans food has developed. Local ingredients, French, Spanish, Italian, African, Native American, Cajun, and a hint of Cuban traditions combine to produce a truly unique and easily recognizable Louisiana flavor1.   But it is not just the flavors of Louisiana that makes it special, it is the soul and spirit behind it. I come from a family that has roots in Louisiana and this passed down from generation to generation. You show your love by feeding people good, hearty meals.  I laugh as I write this now, because it doesn’t matter when you walk into my parents’ house, my dad will say “You want something to eat?” (he makes a mean gumbo, by the way).

dgw-beignets-project foodie  oyster-poboys-sl-258232-l--myrecipes

So when you ask your guests if they want something to eat, offer them unique specialties like  beignets (French doughnuts served with coffee and chicory, known as café au lait).  Oysters are an area favorite, and one way to get them with another favorite the Po’boy, above.   There is also absolutely no way anyone will let you leave New Orleans without trying a crawfish.  You can incorporate them into your cocktail hors d’oeuvres by offering  New Orleans French Bread Pizza – with Andouille Sausage, Crawfish and Provolone.

 

 

gumbo healthy-delicious

You can also serve “mini” version of New Orleans staples like étouffée, jambalaya, gumbo, and other Creole dishes.  The Monday favorite of red beans and rice (Louis Armstrong often signed his letters, “Red beans and ricely yours”).

 

But what about your drinks?

 

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Well– everyone gets a Hurricane when they are in New Orleans.It’s an extremely sweet alcoholic drink made from lime juice, passion fruit syrup and rum.  Wikipedia says: “The creation of this passion fruit-colored relative of a Daiquiri drink is credited to New Orleans tavern owner Pat O’Brien. In the 1940s, he needed to create a new drink to help him get rid of all of the less popular rum that local distributors forced him to buy before he could get a few cases of more popular liquors such as scotch and whiskey.  He poured the concoction into hurricane-lamp-shaped glasses and gave it away to sailors. The drink caught on, and it has been a mainstay in the French Quarter ever since.”

 

First: awesome story.  Second:  I want one now.

 

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The official drink of New Orleans is the Sazerac.  It is said that “Hurricanes are for tourists, Sazeracs are for natives!”

 

Sazerac
2  1/2 oz Rye whiskey
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters (remember him?)
1 small dash Angostura bitters
1 sugar cube
absinthe
lemon twist
couple of drops of water

Tools: spoon to stir and muddle with
Glass: two Old Fashioned or Sazerac glasses

 

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Of course, there is also the beautiful St. Charles Punch.  It’s just as rich as it is beautiful, so be prepared for robust flavor!

St. Charles Punch

Adapted from Stanley Clisby Arthur’s Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em:

1 teaspoon rich simple syrup (2:1)
1 teaspoon orange curaçao
1-1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 ounces ruby port
1 ounce Cognac

Arthur’s original instructions: “Dissolve the sugar with a little water in a mixing glass. Add the lemon juice, the port wine, the Cognac, and last the curaçao. Fill the glass with fine ice and jiggle with the bar spoon. Pour into a long thing glass, garnish with fruit, and serve with a straw. […] Don’t omit the straw; this drink demands long and deliberate sipping for consummate enjoyment.”

 

Gorgeous picture and recipe from Chuck T’s Flickr Stream.

 

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If you really want to go authentic, create a mock Bourbon Street—with stations featuring cocktails some of the best establishments on the avenue.   Each station can be an ode to the local bars, such as Pat O’Brien’s, Bourbon Pub, Napoleon House and other bars and restaurants.

 

With New Orleans being full of such color and flavor, there will be no drought on inspiration for you to draw upon for your cocktail hour for your wedding reception.  Stay tuned for Part  Deux for inspiration for décor and other elements

 

 

 

 

 

1. Food in New Orleans, Wikipedia

Signature Drink Idea: Jello Cocktails

jello shots in martini glass

Photo by Unique Reflections Photography

One of the four major food groups from college makes a repeat, but upscale appearance for weddings.  If you are looking to do something fun and quirky for your wedding’s cocktail hour or your signature drink, think about gelatin cocktails.  These edible cocktail scan be in the shape of small circles (think caviar) or cubes.  These are a less cost intensive on your catering/bar budget (translation: less expensive).  They have less alcoholic content, so guests won’t get too intoxicated before the wedding (yes, this happens. I’ll tell you a story…one warm and cozy night by the fire).  Additionally, they are easy to make and can be made in advance.

 jello shot signature drink for wedding in martini glass Signature drink for wedding

Photos from Catersource

Jello shot in martini glass cocktails signature drink for wedding peach jellow shot in martini glass cocktail hour signature drink

Don’t forget your favorite garnishes (whipped cream, sugars, etc.)!  Just like your traditional jello—add fruit (like the peaches above) for what can be a unique twist on an old favorite.

Must Have Hors D’oeuvres for 2012

There are so many trends that are set for events and entertaining in 2012.  These can easily become  staple and conversation piece for your next party or cocktail hour.  Serving as a precursor as to what is to come with your full menu– you can feel free to experiment, go bold, build anticipation, incorporate your favorite staples and basically anything your heart (and stomach) desires.

Just like with fashion and music, the trends ebb and flow with popular demand. If you are looking to try something new and exciting, here are some great ideas!

Southern Foods are Still a Huge Hit:
It’s just something about Southern food that adds a special soulfulness to your menu.  Although, not the healthiest food– you can make some alternative selections in your ingredients and still keep the great flavors that you’ve come to love.

Baked Bacon Wrapped Green Beans with butter, brown sugar, and garlic mixture.

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Stuffed New Potatoes

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Go Mobile
If you are having a cocktail hour at your wedding or you want your guests to be able to move around your home, being stuck with cumbersome food can put an early damper on the mood.  But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to chips and dip.  Some of the flavors and textures that have become a favorite at your sit down meals are available on the go.

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Grape and Bacon Goat Cheese Pops

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Mini colorful soup shooters

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Turkish salads in a tumbler

Clean and Healthy Food Choices Don’t Have to Be Boring:
As guests become more health conscious with their choices– either being vegan, vegetarian, on a raw diet or choosing to avoid fatty or fried foods, having fresh, clean alternatives doesn’t just mean a veggie tray.  You can get your gourmet on with your vegetable offerings.

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Cucumber feta boats

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French onion soup mushrooms

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A great alternative to the veggie tray!

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A PF Chang-esque interpretation of Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Comfort Foods are Still a Huge Hit:
One of the biggest fear of going to an event is wondering if you’ll like the food there. Offering a gourmet take on your favorite comfort foods are sure to be a hit.  Think of foods that you loved when you were a kid or ones that are you “go to” foods when you want to get in a good mood, scale them down and serve them up!

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Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Tomato Soup

mini party appetizersDelicious Mac and Cheese Bites

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Ham and cheese sliders

Explore Different Cultures
Looking for something to exotic to incorporate into your menu or break the monotony, don’t be afraid to look to other cultures for inspiration.  They can at vibrancy of color, bursts of flavor and a great conversation piece.  Choose something you’ve had before and can gauge how it should taste– plus, you can share why it’s your favorite and if you’ve traveled to the native area.

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Skewered cheese tortellini with pesto dip

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Mini Tacos with Tequila

asian pot sticker for party wedding appetizers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asian Pot Stickers

What are some things you are looking forward to trying or are your favorites?

Non-Alcoholuxe Drinks for Your Cocktail Hour

In addition to your wedding’s signature drink, you may also want to consider coming up with a non-alcoholic version for your wedding guests who choose not to indulge in alcoholic beverages.  Your options could consist of playful colored versions of your favorite drinks like lemonades and teas or you can tweak the recipes of popular libations.  Here are some ideas:

dark n stormy cocktail non alcoholic version

 

 

Not So Dark N Stormy

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. blackstrap molasses
1 cup ginger beer
Garnish: lime wedge

This little variation on Bermuda’s national drink, should be served in a highball glass and garnished with a lime.

 

 

non alcoholic drinks for your wedding 

The Sophisticated Lady

6 1/2-inch slices of peeled cucumber
Salt (just a dash)
6 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce simple syrup
Juice squeezed from half a lime
Garnish: salt and sugar, cucumber slice

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber wheel, Simple Syrup and salt. Add ice and the juices and shake well. Double strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with the spear.

 

faux kir nonalcoholic cocktail

 

Faux Kir

1 tsp. raspberry syrup (available in coffee and gourmet stores) or grenadine
6 ounces sparkling cider, chilled
Garnish: fresh raspberries

 

 

 

 

 

winter warmer  pear non alcoholic martini

 

 

 

Winter Warmer

3 parts pear nectar
1 part cranberry juice
A big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Garnish: lemon and cinnamon stick

Pour the pear nectar, cranberry juice, and dash of lemon juice over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Pierce a perfect round lemon slice with a cinnamon stick and add to the glass.

 

 

afterglow non alcoholic cocktail

 

 Afterglow

1 part Grenadine
4 parts Orange Juice
4 Parts Pineapple juice

Mix. Serve over ice.

 

 

 

 bora bora non alcoholic cocktail

 

Bora Bora

3.38 oz Pineapple juice
2 oz    Passion fruit juice
0.33 oz Lemon juice
0.33 oz Grenadine syrup

Prepare in a blender or shaker, serve in a long drink glass on the rocks.  Garnish with 1 slice of pineapple and one cherry.

Details: Faisselle Popsicles from Tartlette

Faisselle Ice Cream & Raspberry Popsicles

To say that I adore these sumptuous faisselle ice cream and raspberries popsicles from My Tartlette would be quite the understatement.  It is not that I feel like I can taste the delicious frozen treat through the images, but I love the presentation as well.  The story behind her love for faiselle was just as provoking as her description:

A few raspberries mulled with honey dropped at the bottom of a shot glass and topped with faisselle ice cream and there you have the perfect mix of tangy, creamy and refreshing.

Note the simple platter and delicate handkerchief upon which the ice cream sits.  It evokes charm, memories of home and a warm invitation, therefore all the more perfect to be served during your cocktail hour at your summer wedding. 

See the recipe and more beautiful images.

Event Vision: Coney Island-Carnival Wedding Cocktail Hour

vintage coney island carnival wedding ideas

I just lurv a Coney Island/Carnival inspired party.  There is something that is so nostalgic and fun about these types of parties and weddings that make it turn into an experience instead of just a party.  That’s why I’m not just going to give you eye candy, I am going to tell you the story behind this event vision.  Even if you are not 100% sold on doing an entire wedding based on this theme—it can be great for a cocktail hour or final hour of your wedding—or even an after party!

Food

Carnival food should be part of the food pyramid.  Pretty much convinced of that—but since it’s not, here is a fun way to bring back your favorites in a glammed up version  for your wedding guests.

cotton candy martha stewart wedding favor food funnelcake-dineanddishnetgrp_edr_mini_franks_sz2-yum sugar

Cotton candy, funnel cake and hot dogs make great treats to pass around as your party winds up or winds down.  The cotton candy from Martha Stewart, is colorful but packs much flavor.  Mini funnel cakes or even a funnel cake bar with various toppings (whipped cream, ice cream, fruit and gourmet sugar toppings) can be fun and cure any sweet tooth ailment (or cause one!).  These mini hot dogs from Yum Sugar can be paired with gourmet sauces like chipotle ketchup or honey dijon mustard.

french fry shooter hors d'oeuvres bridescafe french fries in holder with newspaper

What’s a carnival with out french fries? A travesty!  The first picture from The Bride’s Cafe is an upscale display of french fry shooters, which I adore.  Nevertheless, I am still captivated by this vintage version I found over at The Cinderella Project.  The only thing that would top it would be to personalize the paper that comes with the fries—shoot for making your own personalized newspaper with your names and life events for a realistic, personal touch.

Popcorn Bar at Wedding

Ever since I spoke at the Eventology conference this year, I have become obsessed with Garrett’s Popcorn (Thank YOU, Katasha!).  And nothing could soothe your soul more, end world hunger and solve the health care reform debate than a popcorn bar with Garrett’s.  There are other companies that provide a myriad of flavors and seasonings, but if you want to stay true to your carnival theme, opt for caramel and butter only served troughs—I mean decorative vases and containers.

Snow cones by Fresher than Fresh

Another favorite?  Snow Cones.  But not just your run-of-the-mill snow cones, I’m talking about Fresher Than Fresh snow cones.  Made with natural flavors and fruits, they are sure to be a hit.  Featured above are clementine, blackberry lavender, agave hibiscus, lemon prickly pear, and ginger rose!

Drinks

Drinks can be made just as much fun as the food!  In addition to your regular bar, add some fun like these mini root beer floats found on the San Diego Food Stuff blog :

Mini root beer float shooters

Of course, what would this party be without a signature drink?

caramel apple martini-thegoodlifeinthecity

Check out these caramel apple martinis by Good Life in the City.  Perfect mix of tart and sweet, as well as reminiscent of the all-time carnival favorite.  FYI, traditional candy apple mix makes a great candy apple martini as well.  Here is the recipe for the caramel apple martini:

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add ½oz vodka, ½oz Sourz apple liqueur and ½oz butter ripple schnapps. Shake and strain into a Martini glass rimmed with caramel syrup.

Okay, luxelings—we’ve talked food and drink;  stay tuned as we start incorporating other fun details!

Overheard at Your Wedding: “When is This Thing Gonna Start?”

It’s pretty well known that the party cannot start at the wedding without the bride and groom.  Your caterer will ask if they can serve your guests if you are not around or if they should extend the cocktail hour.  if you plan on taking photos during your cocktail hour, discuss with your planner and photographer the amount of time needed to complete these expeditiously so that your guests are not kept waiting.  This is especially true if you have a wedding during a very hot or cold season or with little entertainment during the hour.  If you take too long, you run the risk of running out of food, or running up your bar tab (when people are bored or nervous, they eat and drink). 

One of the biggest questions couples face today is whether or not to see each other prior to the ceremony.  I, as a die-hard romantic, felt like there was something magical about the groom’s face as he sees his bride ascend up the aisle for the first time.  That being said, I understood my brides’ concerns and desires to not see their grooms before walking up the aisle. 

Then there was Caryn—gorgeous, smart, and dare I say it, practical.  Caryn decided she would  see her groom prior to the ceremony.  As we built the timeline for them to secretly meet at Jekyll Island’s historic Villa Mariana, I crossed my fingers that the we could keep it private, intimate and magical.  Since Caryn and Jonathan’s wedding was at the Jekyll Island Club’s Crane Cottage, the Spanish Colonial, Villa Mariana was the perfect getaway that was close by.  Caryn described it as one of the most beautiful moments of her life.  She walked up behind Jonathan, put her hand on his shoulder and he emotionally turned around, visually took her in and swept her into a long embrace. 

It doesn’t get much better than that.

And the pictures prove it:

 

jekyll island wedding

 

jekyll island wedding

jekyll island wedding

jekyll island wedding

C and J hold hands

jekyll island wedding

Jekyll Club Wedding

       Jekyll Island Wedding

 

These moments, captured by the illustrious Scarlett Lillian just go to show that the same intimacy and magic you wish to capture at that moment going up the aisle, can still be present at a first meet.  Can’t you sense the anticipation and tingling in your toes when you see Jonathan’s back to Caryn?  You can almost feel his heart racing and see his unrelenting smile as the seconds tick away until that slight touch on his shoulder.  Imagine how he felt at that moment—not having to share Caryn’s beauty, that moment, that love—with anyone else.  It was theirs, and theirs alone.  Time had stopped.  (well, for them. The wedding planner was hard at work 🙂 )  Linens didn’t matter, the bar tab didn’t matter.  What mattered was that the most important person in their lives were together.  And in love.  Not only does it save you a lot of time during your cocktail hour, but it also gives you private moments that you may not have again until the end of the evening.

Still not convinced?  Check out what event engineer Saundra Hadley has to say, as well as photographer Jennifer Stone’s thoughts.  Either way, it is your moment…whether you spend it at a “first moment” or going up the aisle.  I know you’ll make it fabulous.

 

PS—The ceremony for Caryn and Jonathan was just as emotional.  I bawled the whole time. I know….Crybaby Wedding Planner. But I’m still awesome.

Southern Food for Your Wedding

When brides come here to Coastal Georgia for their destination weddings, they are looking to incorporate some of the Southern beauty into their event vision.  Extending that vision to your menu is no different.  You can add special twists to your menu while enhancing the charm of southern fare.

 

Many couples choose to treat their guests to very elaborate meals to reflect their celebration.  One of the biggest staples in southern food is fried chicken, which can be done elegantly and uniquely for an unforgettable experience for your palate.  While most guests don’t expect to eat with their hands at weddings, this Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken by chef Thomas Keller  of Ad Hoc sounds delectable and well worth it!  The chef said that they only did friend chicken twice a month (every other Monday), but have now increased the frequency and expanded the menu due to the demand.  For those  looking for the real “down home taste”, opt for the buttermilk fried chicken recipe by Emeril.   If you’re looking for an intimate and engaging style reception, as your caterer or venue to provide the food in “family style service”.  Your servers will provide platters for each table of food, of which guests make their own plates and pass to each other.  It is similar to a buffet, since the caterer will keep the platters full, but guests aren’t forced to leave their table.  The key to serving something so simple is to amp up its presentation and taste.  With chefs Emeril and Keller’s recipes, we’ve got taste covered.  When served family style, look for platters, bowls, and other service items that are reflective of event vision.

photo by Jennie Chen

Here in the Golden Isles, every year we have the Shrimp and Grits festival on Jekyll Island with chef demonstrations, concerts and so much more.  So needless to say, Shrimp and Grits are big in southern coastal cuisine.  There are several great recipes like this one by Tyler Florence and or this one by chef Eric Kelly.  With the many variations and serving styles (i.e., as a shooter, amuse bouche, or as a side or entree), the possibilities are endless.

 

Instead of rolls, opt for the Southern foodie favorite:  cornbread!  Cornbread can appeal to so many of your guests with variations of recipes like Paula Deen’s Vidalia Cornbread (seen above), Emeril’s Cast Iron Honey Cornbread, or this amazing recipe for jalapeno cornbread.  Can’t make a decision?  Offer them all!

 

Being an avid John Grisham fan, I distinctly remember reading about his protagonist in A Time to Kill eating fried dill pickles (seen above)  and I thought, “gross”!  A few days later I went to the House of Blues in L.A. with my family and tried some. Pure Heaven.  Since we don’t eat a lot of fried foods, these are some of the few things I will occasionally prepare.  Looking for something a bit more healthy?  Try Joe Vitale’s Fried Green Tomatoes with Bacon Vinaigrette and Warm Frisée.  Both would make for great food at your cocktail hour along with these Southern Cocktails.

There are so many other great ideas out there, by some of your favorite well known chefs like Louis Osteen’s Charleston Cuisine, Paula Deen’s Kitchen Classics: The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook and The Lady & Sons, Too!,  Patti LaBelle’s LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About is phenomenal.  Her Over the Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese is the TRUTH.  We’re talking real mac and cheese, honey—the kind hat is not fixed in a pot but comes out of the oven.  And don’t forget Emeril’s Potluck: Comfort Food with a Kicked-Up Attitude.  These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Be reflective of your area—serve up local hot sauces and seasonings like Maryland’s Old Bay with your food, or garnishes, preserves, and drinks from the local area.  Food can inspire so much for the rest of your event vision, so go with what you love.

Fabuluxe and Delicious: Sorbet Trios

 

 

As much as I am a fan of any creme brulee, my next favorite is sorbet.  While Yum Sugar says she tires of sorbet trios, I for one, cannot get enough.  Texture and flavor, as well as temperature make sorbet the fabulousness that it is.  Sorbet trios would make great welcoming treats at a cocktail hour or wonderful way to cool down after hot evening wedding.  As you can see above in the picture from Cannelle et Vanille , the colors are exquisite—all reflective of the hot colors of the season. 

 

Incorporating the delicious flavors of your trios into your menu can be a wonderful way to enhance other flavors.  Think about expanding beyond the typical berry flavors—mix, garnish, add, and create frozen perfection of your own.  Here are some ideas to get your tastebuds going:

 

Cannelle et Vanille’s Blood Orange, Key Lime and Kumquat trios

Mr. Lou’s Lemon Mint, Tangerine Basil and Pineapple Raspberry trios courtesy of Emeril Live

Banana, Apricot and Kiwi with Raspberry Coulis courtesy of Epicurious

 

Think of different ways you can serve your trios:  all in the same cup or separately, as seen above.  Will you garnish with mint, edible flowers or sliced fruit?  The possibilities are not only endless, but also extremely delicious!

 

 

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