Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Marie Antoinette Was Right

Okay, so she did not necessarily win that argument. Of course, in Marie's day the food item that we call cake was more of a bread then the multi-tiered extravaganza of confection that we currently identify as "cake".

So maybe she had a point after all.

In typical American style, we have taken the concept of cake and turned it into a competition. Not only are we providing our nearest and dearest friends and family with a fabulous slice of heaven to finish off their meal, but we are providing them with an edible work of art as well!

The higher, grander, and more colorful it is, the better. Want your dress' bustle re-created in fondant and cascading down the side of your Grand Marnier infused Strawberry and Chocolate decadent cake...we can do it! Want your favorite flower represented in detail blanketing the top tier...we can do it!

Lately, I have been addicted to shows like Cake Boss and Amazing Wedding Cakes. It just proves that if you have the imagination, there is someone with the ability to make it happen. But it also encourages us to go beyond the traditional. One of my favorite areas to encourage my couples to show off their personalities is their cake. They can have fun with it and express themselves to their guests in a new and creative way.

So, I say let them eat cake. We'll start a new revolution!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays From All of Us At Coastal Gourmet!

Confessions of a Shopaholic

It's Christmas Eve for many of us, and while the Christmas spirit is being spread in some households, I know quite a few people that are terror-stricken with the realization that the big day is right around the corner and their holiday shopping isn't done yet.

I knew that this was a busy month for me, and feel good about the fact that I planned accordingly. I was out there in the trenches the first few weekends of December; like a warrior, beating off the crowds and fighting my way through to the shortest check out line. In fact, all of my presents have been wrapped and under the tree for at least a week. I feel triumphant, and consider myself a Christmas shopping superstar.

My other half, however, just started his shopping yesterday. Weekend after weekend, he would shake his head in disbelief as I trounced through the front door, 8 hours of shopping under my belt, with 11 bags on my arm. "I don't understand why you put yourself through this" he would say as I collapsed onto the couch in exhaustion. To me, there is no other way to do it. By nature, I am a planner, and an organizer (just look at my profession!). There was absolutely no way I was waiting until the last minute to rush out in a frenzy.

I thought I had the game beat.

It wasn't was until he came home yesterday (after waiting until the last minute to do his shopping might I add), that I felt like maybe he might have a point. Bags in hand, he actually had a smile on his face (this was extraordinary odd, since this guy usually only shops for soap and despises stores). He had gotten everything done, gone early in the morning, and missed the crowds. To top it off, he wasn't stressed! I couldn't figure it out. Was it simply the fact that he had procrastinated and gotten lucky, or was he onto something?

It got me to thinking about different shopping personalities. I did some research and found out that there are a wide range of them. Which shopper are you? Find out Here and learn the difference between impulse buyers, online shoppers and serial returners.

I might be a little neurotic, but I am glad that all my shopping is done, and with Santa fast approaching, I feel good that I can finally sit back, relax, and enjoy the holiday.

Now, it's my turn to shake my head in disbelief, because even though my guy's shopping might be complete, I know for a fact that he has yet to touch any wrapping paper. His battle isn't over yet!
Merry Christmas to you all & safe shopping!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Silk, Satin & Chiffon

Taffeta, Charmeuse, Tulle & Organza!! Oh wait... Brocade, Eyelit & Peau de Soie!! Ok, I think I've gotten it all out of my system. Yes, ladies & gentlemen, I am speaking in my new favorite language... FABRIC. You see, I got caught up in a sort of love affair this past weekend, and it was lust at first sight.

I had the opportunity to go wedding dress shopping with my sister on Saturday. She is getting married next November to her long-time love, and I couldn't be happier for her and my future brother in-law. Dress shopping is actually something that I have little experience in. It is an aspect of the wedding planning process that as a Catering Sales & Event Manager, I am usually not a part of. My clients reserve the time they spend dress shopping with their family, and for the most part, I don't get to see THE DRESS until the big day.
So, as you can see, this past weekend was a special treat!

The experience was actually less stressful and a little more emotional than I had anticipated.

Both mothers were on hand (mine and her future mother-in-law), as well as my younger sister and I (her two fabulous bridesmaids!). As soon as we arrived, we were escorted to a comfortable sofa, where things got started rather quickly. My sister wasn't exactly sure what she wanted, so we encouraged her to try on everything. The fabrics and different dress styles started flowing, with the bridal store attendant giving us a little bit of information on each dress before my sister tried them on. I tried to pay attention to everything the bridal attendant was telling us, but I quickly realized that as beautiful as each dress was, it didn't matter what any of them were made of, or how they looked. The only thing that mattered was that my sister felt like the bride she aways dreamed of being in the dress she chose.

After many different dresses, it turned out that the second dress she tried on struck her the most. She tried it on one more time after she had finished with all the others, and proudly exclaimed, "This is it!" With a that, we all cheered, and a few tears were shed. It was as if this whole wedding process was finally becoming real. All of the pieces were falling into place, with this dress as just one more piece of the puzzle that was now set. She kept saying, "I can't believe this is my wedding dress, this is so surreal!"

If you ask me, what was most surreal was the fact that she picked out a dress within an hour of us being at the store! My little Speedy Gonzales... "Arriba Arriba!"
Thank you, Maura, you rock!

I would love to tell you what each dress looked like and what her final choice came out to be, but I have been sworn to such a high level of of secrecy, that I am afraid if I give even a little hint I might be banned from the wedding completely!
(This is the only picture she allowed me to post of the entire day)

I can tell you that she chose a timeless, classic, elegant dress that she looks absolutely stunning in.

She found a dress that makes her feel like royalty, and she will certainly look like the princess she deserves to be on her wedding day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Elf Yourself!

I thoroughly entertained myself with this hysterical website yesterday. Check out the Coastal Gourmet Elves: Elf Yourself

Happy Holidays!

Good Eats!

Quote of the Day

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Showers, Weddings, Engagements, Oh My!

So I am at that point in my life where everyone I know is getting married. My calendar has quickly become filled with upcoming Engagement Parties, Showers, Bachelorette Parties and Weddings. Being in the catering and event planning industry and spending the majority of my day focused on the execution of these types of celebrations, I must say, it is fantastic to be on the other side and to just sit back, relax and enjoy being served! However, I tend to spend most of my time taking mental notes on what I love and hate about these events, and critiquing everything from the food to the service to the cleanliness of the venue (don't worry, I keep these notes in my head, of course!).

That being said, I am always looking for new areas of inspiration and this past weekend I found some! I had the fortunate opportunity to be a guest at a fabulous bridal shower for my dear friend, Margaret. Let me tell you, the mental notes were positive on every level, and I just couldn't help but be inspired by the entire day. I couldn't wait to write my first blog about this experience!

I arrived to Newport on a very rainy and windy Sunday and scurried into the private, quite cozy cottage where the Shower was being held. It was the perfect location for this small, intimate gathering, tastefully decorated and orchestrated by Fancy Pants Event Planning. I was greeted by a waitress with a tray of mimosas (delicious), a butler holding a hanger, eager to take my coat, and a smiling man in a suit, presumably the manager. I was immediately impressed by the presence of a manager on a Sunday, at such a small event, and I gave them a check mark for excellent attention and service.

We all enjoyed cocktails in front of the fireplace, a much appreciated addition on such a cold, dreary day, then mosied into the main dining area where a long table was set up for lunch. The center of the table was lined with a runner and topped with candles, cranberries strung together with fishing wire, pine cones and all sorts of fall-inspired items, one imparticular that struck a heart string: peeled oranges with cloves (these took me back to my childhood in a flash - I used to make these with my mom when I was a kid)! Super cute idea for the centerpieces...and the room smelled delicious! But even the beautiful surroundings and edible decor couldn't upstage the meal. I selected the personal cheese plate with toasted breads, honey, quince paste and candied nuts (what more could a girl want?) and a pan-seared salmon with crispy skin that I could not get enough of, over wild mushroom risotto with kale. Dessert included a trio of chocolate treats or a pumpkin cheesecake. My favorite: the chef's gourmet take on s'mores (as some of you may know, we all love s'mores here at Coastal Gourmet!). The servers were so attentive and I was thoroughly impressed with their routine - like a well-oiled machine, they quietly moved around us, refilling our waters and clearing dishes, never in the way, but always at an arm's length if your mimosa was running low. For each course, they would surround the table and drop each plate at the exact same time, side step and continue around the table. As a caterer, I can appreciate these little details and am always impressed to see another company mastering their trade!

Check out the photos below!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mini Me

Throughout the years, I have seen everything pop up on top of a wedding cake. I've witnessed real flowers resting up there to the traditional bride & groom cake topper. My brides & grooms never cease to amaze me, and it seems as thought they keep getting more creative each year!
If you are someone who is looking for a one of a kind element to your next event, Dawn Stubitsch is your girl.

Dawn Stubitsch of Thumbprint Kids has been creating custom cake toppers (she calls them her thumb print kids) for brides & grooms alike since 1983. Located in South Carolina, Dawn has a unique talent for capturing who her clients are, and creating a figurine that matches them. The resemblance between her clients and her sculptures are so close, its scary! Dawn makes Thumbprint Kids for weddings, anniversaries and pretty much anything else you can think of.

What Do you think?

Friday, December 10, 2010

That's The Spirit!

One good thing about the cold weather in the winter is that it gives you an excuse to enjoy some cocktails to warm you up! We've been loving these winter cocktails lately, and we have a feeling you will be loving them as well. Cheers!

Pour 3oz of rum, 2oz of peppermint schnapps, and 1/2 oz of grenadine into a cocktail shaker over ice. Cover, and shake until the outside of the shaker has frosted. Strain into a chilled martini glass, rimmed with finely crushed candy cane (or sugar) and garnish with a mini candy cane to serve. 

Pour 1 1/2oz of your favorite vodka, 1/4 oz of chambord raspberry liqueur, and 1/4 oz of fresh pineapple juice into a cocktail shaker over ice. Cover, shake & strain into a chilled martini glass. Add a chocolate kiss for a little something sweet.

Mix 2oz of light rum, 6 oz of milk, 1 tsp of powdered sugar, 1 whole egg.
Stir until frothy & top with whipped cream & nutmeg.