Wedding Bells

Ah, weddings... there must be a reason that there are both wedding bells and dinner bells...

Wedding bells have been ringing steadily across cyberspace among food bloggers for the last several months – including Shauna, Diane, Molly and Clare, and already a month behind me now, my own.

LB and I were married in Bend, Oregon on August 12 (see that honey, now you have a virtual reminder that will be catalogued for as many years as this blog remains online, so that you never have an excuse to “forget” our anniversary!). First, let me give credit to my fabulous photographer, Marisa Chappell, who was so personable and laid back that everyone in attendance raved about how cool she was (plus, the woman takes incredible pictures of food too, as you can see on her website - so how could I not fall in love with her?) Almost all of the photos in this post were taken by her, unless otherwise noted, and she has so graciously allowed me to pilfer them off of the web to put here. Oddly enough, since LB and I were the center of attention, as were my lovely foodie bridesmaids, none of us had cameras or wherewithal enough to have someone else take pictures of the food that day. Worse, it appears that we were the only people who would be crazy enough to want to take pictures of the food at all - because after scouring friends and family’s photos for these types of pictures, I couldn’t find a single one!!

South and Middle Sister at Black Butte Ranch - Photo: Michelle

Alas. Regardless of my obvious lack of foresight to capture the food-related props of the day, I can still tell you about them. LB and I were married in front of the Three Sisters Mountains at Black Butte Ranch in Sisters, Oregon (see above photos). There were nearly 100 of our friends and family in attendance and we did everything we could to make the day unique to our lives, and us, including writing our own ceremony and vows and having my stepfather officiate. We (ahem, by that I mean: I) incorporated food into as many aspects of the day as I could...including a wine ceremony. Instead of a unity candle, we sealed our marriage by the combining and sipping (er, drinking) of two wines – a red and a white.

Now, finding a red and a white wine that you can mix together (to make a visual “rose” of course!) and still taste good (like something you would want to SEAL your marriage to) is no easy feat. I knew right where to get the wine though – Ryan Dawe-Stotz, the wine manager at my favorite gourmet food store here, Marche Provisions, is a man in the know and he picked out the perfect wines to combine. This is how much I adore Ryan: when I told him what I wanted, he simply asked, “Do you want a particular region or style?” We chose two Italian wines since LB’s family is Italian (I’d tell you what they are, but I’m blanking out right now!).

Our reception was held in an outdoor courtyard at the McMenamins Old St. Francis School - the funky, wonderful place where LB asked me to marry him and an Oregon (and Washington) institution. In the middle of the courtyard was a cigar and whiskey bar – one of LB’s favorite drinks. For our guests, LB made 120 miniature jars of blackberry jam and blackberry ice cream topping from fresh blackberries picked in our back yard (all by his self, with only a little advice from me – I was so proud!), and we packaged them with papers and little tags saying “Spread Love.” Instead of a guest book, our guests were also asked to sign a handmade ceramic plate (handmade by Amy from Brush Strokes in Massachusetts - LB’s home state).

Ah, but what about the real food? This is a food blog, after all. McMenamins makes its own beer and wine – I recommend the Pinot Noir (very Oregon) and a glass of the Rubinator (a ½ and ½ mixture of the Ruby Ale and the Terminator Stout) if you’re ever in the area. They also make their own spirits (try the Pear Brandy!) as well as roasted coffee too. Choosing the place meant losing the ability to choose our own caterer, so we had to use the caterer at the McMenamins for our wedding food (I know, it did feel like a bit of sacrilege, considering that I’m not usually a huge fan of McMenamins food). But over-all, the food was tasty so I didn’t have any complaints. We made little buffet menus for everyone with the classic quote by Virginia Woolfe across the top:

"One cannot think well, love well, or sleep well if one has not dined well."

Our buffet menu included:
Antipasti, Fresh Fruit and Crudite
Pork Medallions with a Blackberry Sage Reduction and Yukon Gold Potatoes
Herb Crusted Halibut with a White Wine Butter Sauce and Wild Rice Pilaf

Mixed Green Salad

Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables

Freshly Baked Dinner Rolls

Iced Tea and McMenamin’s Own Coffee

We had our rehearsal dinner in a local park, catered by Incredible Edibles. The food was fabulous, and showcased a variety of food from Oregon, as well as touched on my more “gourmet” side –the gorgonzola butter was especially delectable.

Bacon and Basil Wrapped Chicken Breast Tri Tip with Gorgonzola butter
Roasted Red Potato Salad with caramelized shallot vinaigrette and bacon

Chilled Asparagus Salad with red peppers & sweet balsamic dressing

Mixed Greens w/ dried cranberries, hazelnut & bleu cheese

Locally Baked Breads

The best part of the rehearsal dinner, though, was having my lovely friend, fellow foodie and bridesmaid, Carina, make all the delectable desserts for us. I have a post all about Miss Carina and her incredible baked goods which will be coming soon, but let me just say that this woman knows how to bake AND to cook, and that I was unbelievably honored that she offered to make the dessert for our rehearsal. What did she make? Only a fabulous selection of her dessert menu (she has just recently started her own cake/dessert business in the Bay area)...

I wish I had some pictures, but the ones I do have just don’t do these beautiful desserts the justice they deserve, so you will have to feast yourself on these words instead:

Her famous Kerianne: a dense, sinfully rich flourless chocolate torte

An Italian-style Ricotta cheesecake with a pecan-coconut crust – lusciously creamy and decadent with the most perfect golden hue just around the edges
(both of the above had an organic raspberry coulis on the side)

Tom's Grandma's Favorite Cake:

Three moist, chocolate butter cake layers with a sweet cream meringue buttercream

And finally, her Baklava Bonanza: A rosewater-tinged pistachio and cashew traditional Arabic baklava (modeled after the famous Zalatimo sweets from the levant - Jerusalem to be exact)

But of course, for a foodie at a wedding, the wedding cake is the ultimate end. We chose a cake made by Linda Hickman and DeAnna Kinsey from The Cake Lady after tasting cakes from several bakers in the area. Moist, delicious, and using fresh ingredients, they had, by far, the best tasting and most moist cake. This could be a combination of nearly 50 years experience by the mother-daughter team - both of which are a joy to be around and Linda (the mother) was not shy about doling out marriage advice from her 50+ years of marriage. We chose a different flavor for each layer on the cake, and then covered the whole thing with a white chocolate buttercream:

Chocolate Rum Cake with Tiramisu Filling
Pink Champagne Cake filled with Bavarian Cream

and Lemon Poppyseed with Raspberry Filling

So there you have it my friends – our wedding fare in all its glory. Some of it was wonderful, some had incredible meaning to us, and some just made us fatter and happier. It was, all in all, a feast to be remembered.


some friendships were meant to be

I met my friend Caren years ago when I was living in Northern California, and we’ve maintained our friendship through both time and distance until I got lucky enough that her life brought her just north of me to Portland, Oregon. She’s been one of my closest friends for quite some time, and even honored me by being one of my lovely bridesmaids during my wedding.

For those of you that are already married, and/or have been through this before, you understand what I’m about to say already. For those of you that haven’t, weddings are one of the single most exhausting events ever!! Especially when you decide, for financial reasons (including an expensive upcoming move to an island called Hawaii), not to take a honeymoon and just go straight back to work. So, Caren, being the incredibly insightful friend that she is, whisked me off two weeks after my wedding for a girl’s camping trip in the Cascade mountains and a well-needed day trip to Breitenbush Hot Springs. I’ll extoll the virtues of that fabulous place in another post (and the amazingly fresh and beautiful vegan food they serve there), but for now, I want to extoll the virtues of having the wonderful friends I do, and how some friendships were just destined to be.

Caren and I had no qualms about doing this camping trip up right – it was car camping after-all, and we were having ourselves a relaxing, pampered two days. But first let me say that I try to downplay my food geeky-ness, admittedly bordering on food snobbery at times, whenever I am around friends and family (I only let the true food geek come out here, for you, lucky readers, because I know we’re of the very same breed and that you are as big a food dork as I am). Caren offered to bring a one-pot meal for dinner, dessert, and coffee if I would bring a bottle of wine to share and breakfast. No problem there – being as burnt out as I was from a week of socializing and coming down off of the months of planning and orchestrating our wedding, I was happy to oblige. I brought three small tubs of greek-style yogurt (not knowing which flavor she would prefer), a bag of organic granola, some farmer’s market blueberries picked up the day before, and a nice bottle of red wine from our wine rack.

Caren, dear that she is, showed up for our camping trip (mind you: I said camping trip), with the following items:

Real wineglasses – made of glass
Peet’s coffee, complete with a French press
Fresh pasta, from Portland’s fabulous Pastaworks
Prosciutto and Pea béchamel, also from Pastaworks
Homemade bread pudding with whiskey caramel sauce

...and here’s the kicker...

One of her All-Clad pots with which to cook everything in.

Oh, how I love my friends.


a long overdue apology...

just where, pray tell, have you been michelle?

i have received numerous, lovely emails and comments asking me if i am still out there, if i am okay, and even a jovial, “what the hell have you been up to?!” (by the way, i both loved and appreciated each of these sentiments – so thank you very much to those of you that care).

i am sorry that i disappeared into thin air, as it pains me to realize that it has been nearly a year – yes, a year! – since my last post in november.
my dear friends and readers (if any of you are still out there), my life of late has been full of so many, many things.

in may, all of the hard work that i have put in over the last 5 years came to an end, when they handed me my degree – a PhD in biology. after nearly six months of day and night researching, reading and writing, i turned in my dissertation, orally defended it, and was released on my own into the “real world” (one word: frightening!)

a week later, i left for six weeks of intense research on a small island off the coast of oahu, hawaii. there, i met many wonderful people from all over the world, including africa, australia, england, new zealand, columbia, brazil and many others, and made some very close friends (although i didn’t get to cook or choose what i was eating for those six weeks, which was almost the worst fate imaginable for someone like myself who loves to cook and eat...especially for someone who prefers to ea
t healthy, unadulterated ingredients.)

three weeks after i returned home to eugene from hawaii, LB (now he really is a Lucky Bastard) and i were married in Bend, Oregon in a large ceremony in front of the 14,000 foot peaks of the Three Sisters mountains and surrounded by our families and our nearest and dearest friends. I'll try to post some pictures soon...

so hopefully you can see that i have been a busy, busy girl and perhaps, just maybe, accept my apologies?

each of these events deserve their own posts, and i’m sure that i will get to them at some point, but today i just wanted to say hello. hello!

as you can see, i’ve made some changes on my site to reflect that i’m looking at the world, and at food, with new eyes and from inside my new life. i’m a married woman now (weird!); i’ve got a new, very nice camera that was a graduation present that takes very, very nice pictures (and that i am still learning to use as you’ll probably see...); and i have a new, part-time job working for a winery during the crush season that i’ll tell you all about as my starting date gets closer and closer. i’m still a scientist, still working in my same lab full-time (mostly writing and doing a few experiments), still ramping up to make the move to hawaii, and still struggling to find balance in all of the things that are always going on and pulling me in a million different directions, including my love of blogging and of all of you.

but i am back. i have a computer at home now so that i can write my posts there (although internet access remains elusive), and a thumbdrive so that i can bring them into work to post them. but best of all, i have a brand-spanking new, shiny 10-piece set of all-clad 18/10 stainless steel cookware to test out as many new recipes as i can find time to try.

so hopefully, we’ll be seeing much more of each other and enjoying many meals together in the future.