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St. Simons Wedding Planner :: Island Destination Weddings | hors d’oeuvres
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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?




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.



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


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

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




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.





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

From Fashion to Wedding: The Minimalist

This week we are taking a look of converting a fashion trend into an event vision for a wedding.  One of the big things in fashion right now is “minimalism”.  Of course, we can expect to see this spill over lusciously into weddings—be it decor, paper design or even food.  While being minimal may mimic monochromatic, it embraces and celebrates simplicity.  The look is very chic and contemporary, and done correctly it can create a timeless look.  The key is to find the correct balance between all of the elements involved so that your décor does not look sparse.  Here are just a few concepts to inspire you.

Wedding Reception Centerpieces:

white phalaenopsis rochid in blue vases with blue linens White orchids in square vase art contemporary centerpiecs

Meg Perotti Photography

Branch Tree centerpiece with small green poms pomanders hanging Submerged white Orchids with black river rocks stones and floating candles  Trailing centerpiece of purple phalaenopsis orchids on top of cylinders with blue glasses

(last picture of purple orchids by Greg Bumatay)


Drinkware by Crate and Barrel

image image image image image image


Summer Verrinea verrine of White Peach and Honey Mousse.






White Chocolate Cardamom Mousse white Chocolate Cardamom Mousse with Spekulatius Crumbs






White Tea Mousse & Apricot Puree White Peony Tea & White Chocolate Mousse on a Fresh Apricot Puree







Wedding Cakes:

Hexagon shaped wedding cake with flowers cherry blossoms Round Yellow Wedding cake with Yellow Ribbon on white cake stand Round Three tier wedding cake with silver ribbon and offset flowers


Hors D’Oeuvres:



Endive with Chipotle Cream Cheese (Weight Watchers followers…only one point!)






Salmon canapés

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?

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.

This Week’s Gossip….

Check out this week’s gossip from other fabbloggers:


DIY Bride had a great post on determining your tent size.


Casa Sugar talked about 10 awesome ways to display your new wedding pictures in your home.


The Luxury Spot gave a date  and location for the upcoming Swap Party


Yum Sugar gave some awesome ideas and recipes for Seafood Cocktail which would make  great hors d’oeuvres for your wedding’s cocktail hour.


Whitney from Southern Weddings showcased the retro chic wedding of Alison and David.


Katasha from K. Sherrie + Co. gave an outstanding post about plus size wedding gowns.

Sway and Cake announced their June 27th Denim Trunk Show with Rich and Skinny:



Know any good gossip?  Did you feature something awesome on your blog?  Share it with us in the comments!

Me, You and Your Cocktail Hour: Romance Style

With today being Valentine’s Day, you may be looking to take the romantic atmosphere to your cocktail hour.  If you want your wedding to be reflective of your love, passion and adoration for one another, don’t just incorporate it into your design…share some with your signature drink and hors d’oeuvres.  With the sensual flavors of chocolate and champagne, these are sure to be a hit!


Hors d’ouevres:

  Grilled Shrimp with Cocoa-Nib Romesco Sauce

With rich chocolate and nutty flavors, partnered with the fusion of roasted pepper are a succulent mix of flavors to seduce the palate.


Full Recipe






Signature Drink:

image Passionate Kiss


2 oz. Intrigue (a mixture of vodka, XO Cognac and passionfruit juice)
2 oz. Champagne
Serve in champagne flute

Wine Pairings for Dummies

Are you just not that keen on the types of wines that should go with food for your next cocktail or dinner party?

Have no fear! The Amazing Food Wine Company is about to make life a whole lot simpler.

It can’t get any easier than finding a bottle of wine with a big picture of its complementary food on it.

What makes it even better is that it has the cutest names like “Wine that Loves Chicken” or “Wine that Loves Tomato Sauce”. Others include “Wine that Loves Grilled Steak” or “Wine that Loves Pizza”.

Wine That Loves, $12.99, available from

{AP Photo/Larry Crowe}