Everything old is new again…. with a twist!
By Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro, Maine
Mingle the bold colors and 1980s vibe of the past with eco-sensibilities and the concern for sustainability so prevalent with today's couples, and you're on trend for this season and next. Maybe GREEN is the new and predominant color?
At Laura Cabot Catering, we enjoy allowing the season's bounty to drive a menu. What ingredients are "of the moment"? What feels appropriate to the time, occasion, and place? Are there elements of shared experiences or travel the wedding couple would like to employ? How can we infuse a menu with the natural feel of the land and sea?
I feel the same way about seaweed and use it judiciously in my cooking and presentation. Wine is undoubtedly known for terroir, but how about oysters, for instance? The waters which sustain them also give them unique mineralogy and flavor, and here in Maine, we are blessed with so many expert growers and sea farmers.
Along the same line, the carrots in my gardens taste much different than those from another farm. Supporting our boutique farms is a passion of mine personally, and I love to incorporate this into my wedding menus.
Speaking of trends, I have noticed discussions on the re-emergence of bows in wedding couture. Still, unless we're discussing farfalle pasta, I am not including them in the menu conversation. I do see a renewed uptick of interest in grazing tables. Super-sized and elaborate charcuterie boards with antipasti elements are a specialty here at Laura Cabot Catering. Also, small plates are seeing a comeback and are such a fun way to taste many things and mingle without getting overly full.
For my ideas on a larger scale crowd-pleasing menu that checks all the boxes, I'll use an example of a wildly popular menu we presented at a Fall island wedding event this past season. It featured a raw bar with Islesboro oysters and Gulf shrimp representing the two domiciles of the family I was serving. We also had charcuterie as a stationed appetizer.
Passed items were varied to include seasonal aspects (butternut, late-season spinach) and dietary concerns such as veganism and an allergy to tree nuts.
We offered a plated salad course, which served to upscale "the feel" of more service with an eye to budget and coupled that with an assortment of rustic breads and butter, always a good way to "break the ice" with dining table companions.
The two-sided buffet allowed the crowd to move gracefully and efficiently. The menu offered three entrees: a bespoke heritage herbed pork loin roast with demi-glace and morels, an airline chicken breast with optional caponata, and a vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan Ratatouille with parmesan on the side. The sides were a mixed rice pilaf, local parsley potato, and a medley of seasonal farm vegetables. I find that creative and hearty side dishes are one way to satisfy many different diets and tastes, and preferences. We've also deliberately moved to using exceptionally high-quality oils for cooking and finishing our foods as another way to please our discriminating clientele.
Although this next season marks our fortieth at Laura Cabot Catering, every season brings its lessons, trends, challenges, and triumphs. And we love every bit of it and all the wonderful families we have yet to serve.
More experts to learn from: