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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wedding Cocktail Hour at the Estate at Florentine Gardens

Weddings are no longer held in a set format.  A ceremony does not have to be held in a house of worship.  A reception can be personalized to make any statement the couple would like with many of the details customizable, upgradeable, or disposable.

Gone are the days of bouquet tossing and garter throwing.  For many, the thought is "good riddance" while others hold on to the traditions they knew and loved.

Brides may wear a gown of color, shoes of color, and have attendants in varying colors or the same color dresses in various styles.  Nothing is taken for granted and guests have learned to not be surprised by the continually evolving and modernizing of weddings and receptions.

I loved the recent wedding we attended in which guests were offered a choice of champagnes with either raspberries or blueberries or still or sparkling water.  Lovely.  Further changes in the future may even offer guests small amuse bouche pre-ceremony.  Although, feeding folks increases the chances of stained formal attire.  Everyone would be disappointed that all the pictures of Aunt Mabel include a tomato sauce stain on her chest or some such tragedy.   



After a lovely, funny and personalized ceremony, the bridal party and family were immediately whisked away.  Guests were directed to cocktail hour and I did miss offering the happy couple a few words of congratulations but understand every husband and wife write their own script.

The room filled quickly and guests dispersed to either immediately have a drink, sample the appetizers or simply save a seat at a table.  The selections were vast and seemingly limitless.



While I could never be considered a wine drinker (I only indulge in an occasional holiday or special event glass), I do appreciate a pretty and thoughtful display.

Some of the first foods I saw were a beautiful paella,
the saffron colored rice was loaded with clams and chorizzo.  I believe it was one of the first things I tried.  After scooping a serving into a bowl I added a spoonful of mussels and calamari.  I could have easily stopped and been satisfied until dinner, but with such decadence all around, one must of course conduct further investigation.

A large buffet in the center of the room is quite striking in color, placement and overall design.  Small square plates which are both functional and easy to carry as well as eye catching contain layers of geometry and flavors.  Tomato and mozzarella (one of my absolute favorite pairings) can be found with  roasted red pepper or tomato with Parmesan shaving and capers...I am sure to skip an ingredient, but you can see for yourself.



I chose the bottom one.



A touch of gourmet.  My sons (and a few of their cousins) were drawn to foods they have not yet experienced and I have to admit, I enjoyed watching their expressions, fielding their food questions and  sharing the cuisine portion of the journey.

It could have easily turned into a game.  Name that food....

We also enjoy the music accompaniment of two young ladies while perusing more dishes and tables and tables of food.


While trying to pay attention to my surroundings, select treats for myself and snap a few photos, I notice not one, but two ice sculptures.

I will almost always speak with staff at events.  It's how I learn the behind the scenes details.  The mold for the above sculpture is property of the Estate and so it can be made on site.



Like a movie broken into scenes, I move from one frame to the next and find myself in a seafood lover's paradise.  Scallops to order, seafood salad and iced trays of shrimp and oysters (shucked before your eyes) are now a top priority.

Prefer to have your seafood in a mixed salad, no problem.



Thinking ceviche, in a spoon...


Here are those oysters...

For something on the traditional side, but quite updated in presentation, the cheese board.  Hard and soft presented with crackers, grapes and of course salty cured meats are hard to pass by.



Guests and staff pause for a moment when they see me coming with my camera and though I try to be less noticeable with my phone, I am never truly incognito.  Some family members know exactly what I am up to.  Once I explain myself to a few staff members, they are quite helpful and let me know what else is on the food agenda for the evening.


The meats are a particular favorite among my family.  I wonder, do guests eat more or less when left to their own devices at a buffet?  My eyes want everything, but I am very aware of the small plate and only taking a taste of the items I really can't resist.


The feeding frenzy slows.  Conversations resume.  The guests mingle and smile.  Music continues in the background.  We are calmer and looking forward to the rest of a fabulous evening.



The cocktail hour at the Estate at Florentine Gardens was a grand success.  With a wide spectrum of seemingly endless selections, all guests regardless of age and home zip code (guests were from across the country as well as Ireland) could find delectable, fresh and beautiful bites to eat.  We are Fed Well as we move on to the Grand Ballroom for the rest of the wedding reception...

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