Category Archives: Food

The Italian Dish Of Crisped Flatbread?

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: we’re having pizza at our wedding.

This is a homemade sourdough pizza I made one time with an egg on it. We will not be serving this at our wedding so don't even ask.

“Surely you jest,” you say with a doff of your hand and a knowing grin.

“Surely I just what?” I reply.

“No, I’m mean…” you say, flustered at my poor vocabulary skills. “I mean, surely you jest, j-e-s-t, like surely you’re joking.”

“Ah,” I say, “yes. But no. I’m not jesting. We’re serving pizza. At our wedding.”

“You’re pulling my leg,” you say, incredulous. “Pizza? The Italian dish of crisped flatbread topped with tomato juice and curdled milk?”

“That’s right,” I say, nodding, “that’s 100% right. Well, it’s tomato sauce, not juice, and cheese isn’t exactly curdled milk, so maybe it’s more like 50% right.”

A faint smile of understanding teases your lips. “I get it,” you say, index finger aloft in a gesture of Aha-ery, “I get it now, you magnificent bastard. You’re serving artisanal pizzetas! Broasted Swiss chard and nettle pizzeta with julienned yogurt and Bald Eagle cheese, and caramelized pancetta and biscotti pizzeta with a wine-glazed radicchio reduction, that kind of thing!”

I sigh, grab you by the lapels, hoist you off the ground and stare deep into your scarlet orbs.

“No,” I say very calmly, “not pizzeta. PIZZA. Bread and cheese and tomato sauce slash pesto, with toppings like sausage and mushrooms and pineapple and extra cheese.”

It finally dawns on you. Pizza.

Not pulled pork sandwiches, not barbecue.

Pizza!

The story of how we arrived at that decision will be for another post, but the general gist of the decision had to do with (1) budget and (2) logistics. First it was “can we really serve pizza at our wedding?”, then we moved on to “well, everyone likes pizza, right?” and then finally we graduated to “Hey everyone! We’re serving pizza at our wedding!”

We’re pretty stoked about it. Pizza’s not the only thing we’ll be serving, but it’s the main dish – for now I’ll keep the other stuff a secret for our guests. You know, to keep ’em honest. If I tell you everything now, someone’ll show up at the wedding, elbow everyone out of the way, and demand to know where we’re hiding the churros.

Note: to my knowledge, we will not be serving churros. I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.

So, yeah. Pizza. We love pizza. One time I ate so much pizza in college with Andy that I broke my stomach and couldn’t eat for a week. One time I made 24 pizzas all by myself for a fundraiser, which actually wasn’t very much fun at all, but the point remains: pizza.

So if you’re coming to my wedding, be sure to wear your pizza shoes.

Love,

Bret

Monday Bits Of Tid

It’s Monday. You may be aware of this. Garfield the cat famously hates Mondays, for no apparent reason – he’s a cat, and has no job nor earthly responsibilities to speak of besides a self-imposed mandate to be rude and lazy and vicious to his owner and co-pet Odie. What’s the deal with that? Why does he hate Mondays? Or is that the joke? That he’s a cat and has no rational reason for even caring what day of the week it is, let alone latching on to the western custom of despising the day that demarcates the end of freedom and the onset of despair? That’s no joke, my friends. That’s cutting social satire.

You tell 'em, buddy

Anyway, since I have no earth-shattering news about our wedding nor ground-breaking words of wisdom to impart, I thought I’d simply run through some wedding miscellany and minutiae. Misc & Minoosh, as the case may be. That sounds like a fun show about two oddball detectives who solve crimes by poring laboriously through over little odds and ends before finding boring but incriminating evidence. They earned their nicknames by being the best of the best in the field of forensic miscellany. Actually… that doesn’t sound fun at all.

Firstly, I was curious about the word tidbit. It turns out that “titbit” is an acceptable alternative, though I can’t say I’m in any danger of using it. The word may have come about in the 1600s from “titmouse” + “bit,” hence bits of food eaten by a titmouse. How about that.

Hey: try saying “titmouse” without giggling or at least smiling. It’s not juvenile – it’s human nature. Like people falling on their butts. I hope I’m never too old to be amused by that. Unless they break something, then it’s not funny. That’s just mean.

Secondly, I now have a Twitter account, conveniently named @AllThingsZilla. I’m not so sure about Twitter. OK, that’s not true – I am sure I think Twitter is a great medium for a great many purposes. What I am unsure about is my ability/desire to update it with any regularity, not to mention make it interesting. I’ll try to put jokes up there and other little bits of wedding tid. Check it out! Twitter for all!

Thirdly, as I mentioned previously, I’d like to make bread for my wedding. Or at least, look into the possibility. It sounds a little bit like a logistical nightmare*, mainly since homemade bread really needs to be eaten the day it’s baked to achieve maximum deliciousness. And making enough bread to feed 150 greedy, selfish people on the day of my wedding doesn’t really seem feasible.

*[I know it’s hip to say “band name!” when a phrase comes up that sounds like a band name, but I still can’t resist it sometimes. And ‘Logistical Nightmare’ is a pretty good name for a metal band.]

BUT – and I can’t really figure out how I didn’t think of this before – what if I made the dough a week or so prior to the wedding, then FROZE the dough, and then had a friend thaw it and bake it the day of the wedding? WHAT IF THAT??? I will tell you: that sounds like a serious plan. I can even think of a friend already who might be just the guy for that, and his name is Isaac. He is an expert breadmaker, and in fact I just spent Saturday night at his housewarming party noshing on his fantastic homemade pizza.

via breadcetera.com

Of the questions that remain, one of them is: what kind of bread? My favorite bread to make is from the Joy of Cooking and it’s called Buttermilk Potato Bread. It’s dense, moist, hearty, and fantastic. It can be made as cloverleaf rolls, which might be just the ticket for the wedding. Two rolls apiece, so 300 total – I think a single recipe made about 36, so 8 or 9 recipes. Yipes! But really, making a lot of dough isn’t a huge deal on its own.

The worry, of course, is that as all these DIY things start to add up, it might get pretty insane. Bread, pulled pork, flowers, linens and dishware… oh my! Not to mention other stuff we haven’t though of yet. Luckily, we have a lot of time to plan, and I’m fully open to taking several days off work (which I’d want to do anyway) and just bust my ass doing this stuff. We may just end up buying baguettes from the Cheeseboard, and I don’t think anyone would complain about that.

Fourthly, I wanted to share this cool thing that my excellent friend Genevieve emailed me. It’s a short NPR story about a Washington couple that raised the $3,800 they needed for their wedding by collecting 400,000 recyclable cans. First I want to know how they’re doing a wedding for $3,800, and second I want to know where they kept almost half a million cans. And third, I want to know how they got so cool. Because that’s a great idea. Anyone have any creative ways Jessica and I can raise $10K? Spill it!

Fifthly, and finally, I wanted to say thank you. For reading. I owe you a debt of gratitude that cannot be paid, and I love you. Every one.

Good day and good cheer,

Bret

I’d Like To Call It “Fropupo,” If I May

There’s an old Halloween episode of the Simpsons where Homer buys a monkey’s paw from an old, mystical, potentially evil guy at a fair. The guy, in addition to selling odd items, also sells frozen yogurt, which he calls “Frogurt.”

In college, in the dining hall, there was a frozen yogurt machine, and everyone called it “froyo.” Every time I heard that I would politely correct whoever said it by saying, “oh, it’s actually Frogurt.” But no one seemed to agree with me, even when I referenced the Simpsons episode. I felt, and still feel, that frogurt is just simply better wordplay than froyo, which is perhaps because I am prone to portmanteaus.*

*[A portmanteau, also called a blend, is the joining of two words and thereby combining their meanings, like motel or spam.]

In any case, I bring this up because, as I make my way through life, I like to give new names to things and feelings and situations as they arise. This may help explain my glossary page on this site, populated by ridiculous expressions and terms that have come about because of my incessant need to make puns out of everything. My best man and best friend Drew knows all about this – in the past few years, our every interaction does not go longer than a few minutes without one of us making a pun about something, generally in the form of a portmanteau or a spoonerism. As I’ve mentioned perhaps too many times, we are crafting a blog of jokes that will go live at some point in the near future.

And so, as I get more and more serious about the possibility of making pulled pork for my own wedding, one of the first things that comes to mind – before questions of quantity, quality, price, logistics, and so on – is what am I gonna call it?

And in the end, it seems the only logical thing to call it is fropupo. In case it’s not painfully obvious, it comes from frozen pulled pork, and I find it sounds best when rolling the r and making it sound quasi-Italian, perhaps accompanied by a hand gesture. Try it out at home! Just don’t say it three times in front of a mirror – God help your soul if you do that.

Of course, it won’t be frozen when it’s served, but making that much pupo (see, it works without the fro) will almost certainly involve some freezing. It might be pointed out that were I to go for painful accuracy, I might be tempted to label it frotharepopu, from frozen thawed reheated pulled pork; but punnery is not an exact science, and sometimes we must forego accuracy in favor of linguistic ease and aesthetic beauty, both of which fropupo possesses and frotharepu does not.

In any case, I’ve started doing some research on the feasibility of making fropupo for 150 people, and my initial reactions are: I’m hopeful. Cautiously optimistic. Guardedly excited. Reports on this research will be forthcoming over the next few weeks and months.

We’ll see!

Have a great weekend.

More Like “Hatering” Am I Right!

Jessica and I have experienced, shall we say, frustrations surrounding the issue of catering. As excited as we’ve been about landing such a sweet deal on such a sweet venue (and we’re still thrilled about it, bien sur), we’ve encountered a certain amount of sticker shock when it comes to catering. The Bridezilian Room has a list of approved caterers that range from semi-cheap to very expensive, including one that justified its minimum of $90/person by claiming that they use only organic ingredients.

I wonder if they know that I’ve actually been shopping before? Like, at a farmer’s market?

In any case, it’s becoming more and more clear that we’re not going to be able to afford a traditional catering job for the wedding. We had some promising leads, but whether it was caterers not getting back to us or being unwilling to cut the price by allowing us to, say, provide our own linens and tablewares, fitting food for 150 into our $10K budget has become untenable.*

*[Recent joke from Drew, which you unfortunately already know the punchline to: Did you hear about the guy who wouldn’t accept Hamiltons as payment? He was untenable.]

The benefits of using a caterer include more than just the food. They do all the set up of chairs and tables, for both the ceremony and the reception, they either serve the food or (if you choose a buffet meal) maintain the food, and they clean up. Since there’s a $1,000 cleaning deposit on the line, this is a major benefit.

Luckily, because we are having our wedding on a weeknight, we have other options available to us. As far as we can tell, these are the main permutations we can choose from:

  1. Catered wedding. Not looking good at this point.
  2. Drop-off. We’d use an approved caterer, but just for the food itself – they would drop it off and then high-tail it out of there as fast as their little caterer-legs can carry them. This would reduce the cost significantly, but we’d have to figure out how to do all the setup, breakdown, and cleanup.
  3. Potluck. Or some sort of variation thereof. On weeknights, the Bridezilian Room allows you to skirt the approved caterer list, for a $600 fee. The main requirements are that you cannot pay another caterer, and the volunteers who help set up and clean up and serve food must attend a meeting or two with the staff. We’ve gotten more and more excited about this option and are exploring it – would we get, say, 10-20 friends and family to cook up big batches of delicious food? Could I make enough pulled pork in advance to feed 150 people (minus a couple vegetarians)? Does pulled pork freeze well? Would we just buy food from a restaurant? A combination of bought food and prepared food? Who’s going to do all the work?
  4. Secret Option 4. Secret Option 4 is one we only recently discovered, after Jessica called the Room to inquire about all this. It turns out that we can do the following: Officially use the “non-catered option” (so, $600), but hire two staff from an approved caterer at $30/hr each (so for 8 hours, $480), and get whatever food we wish. Even though we’re already down $1,080 in this case, we could reduce the food costs by a TON and probably come out way ahead, and it would settle the issue of setup and cleanup. A lot of questions remain, of course: Is two staff really enough? (AG Ferrari, who Jessica called afterwards and who are familiar with the Room, seems to think so, but we’re a bit suspicious) Who’s gonna make the food? How did Carrot Top ever get famous, and why does he look so odd?

After a period of moping and kicking things and generally feeling sorry for ourselves, when we decided to actually embrace the non-catered option, we started to get really excited. We love to cook, and so do many of our friends and family. We can pretty much choose whatever we want – a hamburger bar, a taco station, or even a hamburger-taco fusion bar. Or something else, if that’s not your thing. When seeing proposed menus from caterers, we just weren’t all that excited about rosemary chicken breasts and arugula salads and pomegranate polenta and stuffed this on a bed of grilled Chilean that. It’s not that we don’t like that food – we do. It’s just not thrilling, especially because before we got into all this we had dreams of barbecue, which is very thrilling.

So, there’s a lot of work to do yet. But we’re feeling much better about our options – and the fact that we have options. I do love the idea of Jessica and I actually making some of the food for our own wedding, as well as having our loved ones contribute some as well. I keep having to remind myself that we don’t need that many different items – a main or two, a salad, a few appetizers – we just need a lot of actual food.

Any thoughts or suggestions, dear readers?

I’ll leave you with a few photos of stuff Jessica and I have made in the past, to whet your appetites:

Cutting gnocchi dough

The gnocchi balls, about to go into the boiling water

Chocolate mousse

Pizza!

Perhaps We Can Convince Everyone To Fill Up On Bread

After work the other day I stopped by the Brazilian Room – excuse me, the Bridezilian Room – where a couple of caterers had set up tables with food and information, as happens there every Tuesday. The first table was manned by an extremely friendly man who, after a few minutes, determined that his company was way above our price range and gently and kindly steered me towards the other table. I smiled, doffed my hat, did a curtsy, and bid him adieu.

I got into a nice, informative conversation with a woman at the other catering company. The minute I started speaking with her I realized I didn’t have a ready list of questions, and so the first thing out of my mouth was probably in the vein of “Hi there, um, I’m getting married. Here. In 2011. July. July 28th. And, um, we will need some food. Dinner. We have a budget of $10,000. Not for the dinner, though, for the whole thing. Um.”

The nice woman was very patient and smiley with me, took down my name and contact info, and then we proceeded to have a delightful chat about food, photography, linens, cutlery, and other wedding-related odds and ends. She said that fitting food for 150 people into a $10,000 budget was not going to be easy, but was certainly doable, especially because in the current economic climate, many caterers are willing to work with clients to hash out a deal.

At one point she tried to get a sense of how fancy we were going for in our wedding planning, and I told her “to give you a general idea we’re strongly considering having a hamburger bar.”

Mind you, we’re not going to throw an entire wedding that aesthetically aligns with the concept of a hamburger bar, but we do want one that doesn’t scream opulence, money, too much attention to needless decoration, or really, does any screaming whatsoever. We want nice linens, good food, a beautiful place to dance, but we don’t need to have grilled Chilean sea salmon stuffed with lobster crab, served with arugula tartlets and filet mignon, or even Philly mignon.

She mentioned a few ways we could cut down on costs:

– Buffet-style food, rather than servers.

– Single entrée rather than two. To account for vegetarians, her advice was either to make sure we had lots of vegetarian appetizers, or, to simply make the one entrée meatless. I feel like since I carelessly put the mouth-watering idea of barbecue into peoples’ minds, serving them no meat at all might be a little cruel, though.

– Compostable cutlery. I think she was referring to those forks, knives, and spoons made from potatoes. I’ll be honest: they don’t drip with classiness. But at the same time, they apparently cost significantly less and seem to be cool with the environment. Plus they’re made from potatoes, so if something should happen and the guests are trapped at the Room for days, we’ll have something to eat besides our belts and shoes.

– The all-finger-food option. We were told not long ago from a couple who’d been to a wedding where they only served appetizers that it worked really well and was the best wedding they’d ever been to; it’s certainly something that’s at least worth a look. The woman cautioned me, though, that it’s easy to go a little nuts on appetizers and end up spending MORE than you would with an entree or two. And Jessica and I love going a little nuts.

I liked this place. They had a few samples out, including a salmon that was seriously kick-ass, and your typical plate of fruit and bread and cheese. We have a long road ahead of us, and food is probably going to be the most complicated and most expensive piece of the puzzle.*

*See how many metaphors I crammed into that one sentence? Impressive, I know.

A final note: I noticed only brides there, and only brides who had signed up with the caterers. My question is: where all the grooms at??

A Man Walks Into A Hamburger Bar. YUMSTERS!

This is the remnants of a meal we had in Mexico. This would have been an appropriate time to say "yumsters."

Jessica says “yumsters!” a lot when referring to food that either is delicious, was delicious, or is likely to be delicious sometime in the future. There is a certain specific way she says it, where the yum is the stressed syllable, and she will linger on the sters for a little while with a quiver in her voice. When she says it, you know that tasty food is involved. Greg, Cristin, and I are particular fans of the yumsters and have been known to utter it ourselves from time to time, ironically at first – like saying LOL out loud – but gradually it has become completely devoid of irony and is now a staple of the “calling things delicious” word category.

Jessica and I both invoked the yumsters simultaneously the other day when going through the list of approved caterers for the Bridezilian Room, which, btw, is pretty much a 99% certainty of being our wedding location. I KNOW, RIGHT! I’ll post about that later. One of the (only) downsides to the Bridezilian Room is that their list of caterers is not really big on barbecue, which may kill our dream of a pulled-pork-sandwich wedding. Frowny face! Let’s just put that one on the backburner for now, or perhaps more fittingly, on the back grill.

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Food Feud!!!

Although the title of this post might perhaps lead you to deduce that in-fighting has been taking place between me and la missus around the idea of food at the wedding, nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, there is one thing that is further from the truth, but I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to guess what it is – but that’s only if you dare to stray that far away from the truth. Only a few intrepid souls have ever attempted to venture so far from the truth, and none have returned.

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