Monday, July 13, 2009

More on the Food

When it comes to the reception menu, finding the right caterer to keep our guests needs in mind and still keep things tasty may prove to be a little tricky. Our guest list includes vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, people with gluten-allergies, meat-and-potatoes-or-nothing people, picky-eaters and two raw macrobiotic vegans. This makes us not the easiest group to create a make-everyone-happy menu for, but I do like a challenge and we've got a couple ideas.

Option 1:
8-10 various apps, passed around for what would have been dinner hour and then set up for stations for the night. Possibly with a mashed potato bar set up (with a vegan mash and raw jicama with mustard seasoning, of course) and an array of a buffet of tater toppings, including: cheddar cheese, blue cheese, vegan cheese, scallions, bacon, fakin’ bacon, corn, shaved fennel, roasted garlic, sautéed mushrooms and more.

Option 2:
Mini veggie, (free-range) chicken and shrimp kabobs with four different sauces. Passed for an hour and then set up at the buffet table with the afformentioned mashed potato bar and probably a couple other apps, but we have no idea what those would be just yet.

Ultimately, we are going to have to go with whatever fits the capabilities of the caterer we choose, but to help us get a better idea of what we'd like, we've been checking out our favorite vegan/veg cooking websites and the the online menus of some of our favorite Chicago restaurants for a little extra inspiration. Here's a few foods we feel would really make our menu:

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If you've ever been to Mana on Division St. and not had the sliders you are seriously missing out. The brown rice, mushroom and mayo-y goodness is incredibly delicious and if I would have known about then before the first time we went there, I would have probably made a meal just of these and not gotten around to trying anything else for awhile.

Karyn's Cooked was the setting of our second date as a couple and a birthday night for two of Johnny's closest friends. Johnny broke his straightedge streak with a glass a mead that day (and has had an addiction to craft beers and other adult bevarages ever since) but what also caught our attention was the food. It took two years before I even knew about the Karyn's Raw location, but the sliced shiitake mushroom cap carpaccio seasoned with pink Himalayan salts sounds like the right amount of fancy for this occasion.

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Chicago Diner, another Chicago veggie/vegan-friendly destination - and home of the tasty Cookie Dough Peanut Butter shake pictured above - is another favorite of ours. It’s a little pricey and kind of a hike from our apartment (these are honestly the only two factors that keeps us from being regulars), but the food and service is always fantastic. The Radical Reuben (voted “Best in the Midwest” by a Vegetarian Times reader’s poll) has been one of my go-to dinner choices for a long time, and the spicy seitan hot “wings” are a staple for Johnny. To get some more gluten-friendly, vegan and raw ideas we checked out the menu and the gluten-free quesadillas, vegan tamales and raw thai lettuce wraps all sound tasty.

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Lastly, as a nod to my favorite Chicago restaurant (5 stars for tastiness, great servers, price, location and indoor/outdoor seating) I would love to include something as tasty as their smoked gouda mac n' cheese. I had my first bite of the stuff years ago, and have nicknamed it mac n' crack ever since, due to my inability to restrain myself from ordering it every time we got there. I have no idea how to make mac and cheese work for our wedding menu since we're doing apps only, but if I can figure it out finding something as tasty as the smoked gouda mac n' cheese at Handlebar it would be amazing.

Some other delicious ideas include:

  • Free-range and faux grilled chicken skewers with a honey mustard, spicy BBQ and some kind of Asian-style dipping sauces
  • Battered pumpkin or zucchini blossoms with a couple sauces.
  • Panko stuffed mushrooms
  • Warm tomato-basil soup with mini gruyere grilled cheese skewered sandwiches
  • Grilled apple and pear slices with some kind of caramel dipping sauce
  • Crostini with gorgonzola, caramelized onions, and fig jam
  • Asian seasoned ahi tuna tartare
  • Endive spears with hummus or vegan-style mushroom pate
  • Focaccia with hoisin sauce, sauteed onions, rosemary
  • Puff pastry tart with sundried tomato walnut pesto, roma tomatoes, and rosemary
  • Herbed puff pastry cheese twists
  • Smoked salmon cakes with some fancy aioli-type sauce
  • Curried butternut squash soup (served in shot glasses)
  • Spanakopita triangles
  • Jerk seitan on plantain chips
  • Bruschetta
  • Mozzarella ball, fresh basil, sundried tomato skewers
  • Veggie egg rolls with peanut sauce
  • Pumpkin ravioli bites
  • Vegan pumpkin sage balls with spicy dipping sauces
  • Vegan meatballs with dipping sauces
I worked in catering for awhile, and I've seen the usual - crab cakes, herb and ricotta cheese-stuffed cherry tomatoes, mini quesadillas and baby quiches - but if you have any suggestive spins on old favorites or there's something you've had a wedding that you loved and would never forget, let me know.


  1. how about just some chips + salsa and margs from el cid?

  2. I think I've taken in all I can do with that least for this week! :)

    Yesterday was a blast, I'm glad you broke your edge.