I ate a light brunch in anticipation of the afternoonâ€™s offerings. My daughter and her fiancÃ© were in town to do a â€œtastingâ€ at the caterers for their upcoming wedding. Back in my dayâ€”not quite horse and carriage, but not uber $$$, glitz and glamor eitherâ€”I don’t recall ever hearing about food tastings for weddings.
My parents hired the local Lutheran Ladies Aide group to cook a turkey dinner with all the fixings at my first wedding. Based on their list, we made a run to the grocery store and bought enough food to hopefully feed 150 plus people. I also paid my high school bus driver to make our wedding cakeâ€”three layers of chocolate with chocolate frosting. I bought the ingredients for that as well and she performed her magic. Truly, it was excellent and I think I paid something like $45 total.
At my second wedding, my fiancÃ© and I went to the hotel where the ceremony would be held and looked at the menu offerings. â€œWeâ€™ll take that and that and that for about forty people,â€ we said. Done. The manager never offered to give us a taste of anything before hand. We just trusted it would be good, and to our relief nobody went away hungry or disgruntled. Lots of alcohol is the great palate equalizer I now know.
When my daughter mentioned the tasting for her wedding, I was intrigued. What happened at these things? Did they give you a teaspoon and unleash you in the kitchen? Did they slap your fingers if you strayed into off-limit offerings? Did a person with a sliver tray and towel-draped arm dribble a tiny amount onto a plate and wait for your reaction? I didnâ€™t know. “Come with us!” she said. I did.
My son was asked to join too, and the four of us descended on Keys CafÃ© in Forest Lake. â€œWeâ€™re here for a wedding tasting with Noelle,â€ said my daughter to a headset-wearing young man. He smiled broadly and escorted us to a table in the back of the cheery space. â€œSheâ€™s just finishing with another tasting. Iâ€™ll get you glasses of water as you wait.â€ We settled in. A few moments later another waitperson asked if weâ€™d like anything other than water to drink. I thought that was either quite nice, or we were getting numerous dehydrated samples.
Noelle, a gorgeous petite package of positive energy, arrived with a woosh. â€œHi! Please remind me who is who!â€ She had catered my surprise graduation party a year earlier so I knew we were in good hands. After a quick peek at her notes she said, â€œYou are interested in the turkey dinner, right? Would you like to try the roast beef as well? How about if I just bring a plate of this and that and you decide what you like.â€
I was still in the dabble of this, and dabble of that, mindset. Imagine my surprise when Noelle arrived with four incredibly heaped plates of beef, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, green beans, stuffed mushrooms, rolls and butter. It was a lumberjack sized meal.
My son had been told by his sister that his main duty was to rub his stomach and make yummy noises. Once the food arrived we were ALL doing that.
Noelle came back a while later and asked what we liked. Our mouths were full so it took a minute before we could answer her. With sheepish grins my daughter and her fiancÃ© decided they would take everything. â€œWeâ€™ll do the beef and turkey, and the rest of it.â€ Noelle smiled. She knew the food would sell itself. Sheâ€™s goooooooood. â€œHave you thought about cake?â€ she said innocently.
My daughter and her groom-to-be looked at each other with â€œwhat do we do nowâ€ faces. They finally admitted they had tried a piece of gluten-free chocolate cake at another Keys location and werenâ€™t impressed.
â€œDo you need gluten-free?â€ she asked.
â€œNoooo,â€ was the slow and curious answer.
â€œWell then, let me bring you a piece of my chocolate cake and a piece of carrot cake.â€
Again, forget the â€œtasteâ€ part of the day. Nibble? Hahahahaha. Mini munch? Uh uh. Two large wedges arrived with four forks. We passed them around, and around, and around, and they hardly shrank. The groom liked the chocolate and the bride liked the carrot cake. â€œI can always do cupcakes in both flavors!â€ was Noelleâ€™s response.
After numbers were crunched for the various items and services my daughter and her fiancÃ© were surprised at the cost. “You’re certainly reasonable,” was my daughter’s response. Noelle said she didn’t think it had to be complicated. Just good food at a fair price.
Then Noelle looked at me and said, â€œLet me get you a tasting for your husband. Iâ€™m sorry he wasnâ€™t able to join in.â€ A hefty, full, to-go box arrived moments later.
My daughter asked what we owed her for the time and tasting. â€œNothing. Itâ€™s all part of the deal.â€
Wow x 10.
Sorry church basement ladies. The times they have a-changed and Iâ€™m a convert! Although, I must admit I havenâ€™t seen Noelle rock a hair net yet.