Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How I spent my long holiday weekend -- burp!

It was a festive Memorial Day weekend. My wife, that would be the lovely Miss Wendy, and I helped celebrate the marriage of the son of our good friends, Denise and Stan.

The wedding was a quietly elegant affair in Buckhead at the Intercontinental Hotel -- think expansive public spaces; chandeliers the size of small mountains, walls of granite and floors of marble; smiling doormen and wait staff. The guests were dazzling, darling and aglitter -- a few men in black tie, others in dark suits; the women in evening gowns and cocktail dresses. Black, with sequins, was the color of the night.

I had an epiphany when the evening was still young. The cocktail hour buzz had yet to wear off and the reception on Sunday had entered that almost perfect place that party planners worship -- the music was energetic, the food was warm, the company and conversation were familiar. That's about as good as it generally gets at such festivities.

Miss Wendy and I sat with our weekend playmates, Susan and John, making small talk as the band moved into its obligatory set of Jewish tunes, the kids swallowed up on the dance floor by wives grabbing for their husbands, all circling to the energetic melody of Hava Nagila.

It was right about then, as I swirled about the room in a frenzy of good cheer, that I realized that I had eaten the equivalent of a small elephant over the preceding 24 hours, somewhere around 11,263 calories. Have I mentioned there was drinking?

The chow fest started slowly enough the evening before with the rehearsal dinner, a lovely affair at 103 West. It began with a "chopped" salad -- crispy romaine lettuce, tomatoes, hearts of palm, avocado, sweet onions, peppers and garbanzo beans, all layered carefully beneath a creamy basil dressing.

The affair then quickly picked up speed as I revved my appetite and eating skills into second gear, opting for the sauteed Atlantic salmon, tantalizingly garnished with lemon parsley gremolata. I also managed to scarf down a bit of my wife's ricotta cheese ravioli in tarragon sauce, before moving on to Chef Joseph's Grand Dessert Display -- chocolate-covered strawberries, mixed fruit in dainty pastry shells, assorted cakes and cookies.

On Sunday, after the prayers were spoken and the glass was smashed (trust me, it's a Jewish thing), the marathon continued at the Intercontinental, first in one of the hotel's massive foyers, filled with tables holding an assortment of spreads -- hummus, eggplant and olives -- baskets of crackers and assorted flat breads, trays of sushi and other hors d'oeuvres that for the moment have been forgotten in an alcoholic haze. Did I mention there was drinking? Why, yes, I believe I did.

Then the seated dinner started and we finally managed to get down to some really serious eating -- organic greens in a radicchio cup, hearts of palm and tear drop tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries and candied pecans. But the piece de resistance of all this gluttony was the heart-shaped Vol au Vent with mushroom ragout. And that was just the salad!

Winded, but unwilling to call it quits, we proceeded with the main course -- roasted French chicken, amusingly presented with pearl onions, haricot verts, fingerling potatoes, wild mushrooms, squash and zucchini tornadoes.

And desert? Why, that would have been the marshmallow, pound cake, pineapple and strawberries, all conveniently diced and sliced for easier dipping in the CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN! Oh yes, there was also wedding cake.

We then were allowed to grab a few hours sleep, before the celebration continued with breakfast -- assorted breads and pastries, scrambled eggs with mushrooms, various cream cheese spreads, jams and jellies, cake, cookies and assorted fruit.

I'm not certain, but I think we managed to hit all the major food groups over the weekend. I'd worry about the alcohol in my system, but I'm pretty sure the simple and complex carbohydrates, proteins and other such stuff now floating through my veins have created such a vast array of roadblocks that booze is the least of my problems.

Of much greater importance, the happy couple, Amanda and Hilton, remain married after a day or two of wedded bliss. Here's hoping they make it to their first anniversary and I get invited to share a bite of their remaining wedding cake.

SERIOUS SALAD: Heart-shaped Vol au Vent with mushroom ragout (photo above), flanked with hearts of palm and organic greens, tear drop tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries and candied pecans.

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