Sunday, 18 October 2015

Cakes and Pies at the Heart of the Proceedings

Wedding Pies
Following on from the amazing BBQ post, I thought I would share the final installment of our wedding feast! We asked some of our lovely guests to contribute a pie or a cake for the desserts and evening buffet tables in the marquee. Some opted for homemade favourites, some chose to carefully carry a pie from their local butchers. One group of friends clubbed together and ordered a custom made 'friendship' pie!

Guests contributed to the pie evening buffet
The display was impressive, but more impressive was the fact that there was very little remaining by the end of the night.

Lancashire cheese and onion pie
Aunty Sharon's cheese and onion pie was a big favourite and it had already disappeared by the time word got round quite how good it was.

Sliced wedding cake
I made my own wedding cake much to the dismay of a few experienced brides who denounced me for taking on more than I could chew. But I loved making my own cake to the same recipe I have used for friends and family in the past. It was tried and tested and I knew it would make a lovely moist cake which we decided to serve with a massive cheese board! Unfortunately no pictures of the cheese board seem to have materialized. I fed the cakes with two different liquers. Two layers were lovingly glugged with Yorkshire Tea and brandy while the middle tier was fed with Taylors of Harrogate coffee and ameretto.

Guests provided homemade cakes for dessert
I didn't realise until quite late in the day that a couple of the bridesmaids had printed some flags for the cakes with pictures of family childhood parties. Photos pictured us dancing and singing at various parties and all of them a precursor to this very big party!

Wonderful Jenny made some chocolates
Jenny Culver, my fantastic and talented friend made a selection of handmade chocolate truffles and caramel cups.

Love the names on the flags.
My Homemade fruit wedding cake to accompany the wall of cheese

Gorgeous cake display and photos

It was a fabulous spread, I was so proud of everyone who made such an effort to produce a wonderful selection of scrumptiousness!

I'll meet you in Strasbourg!


As a pre-wedding treat I took the chance to spend some time with my bestie. We looked for some cheap and cheerfully accessible city breaks. The usual Amsterdam and Dublin options were proving evasive as the times were all wrong and a few very obscure places later, Soph and I settled on Strasbourg (not to be confused with 'The Hills are Alive', Satlzberg). We knew very little about the city other than that fact it houses the EU Parliamentary buildings.

On arrival we realised we could be in trouble as we struggled to speak French to a group of youths and the lack of planning sunk in. We had no idea where our hotel was other than the fact it was near a rather large cathedral. We wandered through the old town’s twisting alleys lined with crooked half-timbered houses and the breath taking cathedral which sat opposite out hotel emerged. The whole place was like something from Grimm's fairy tales and the little timbre houses reminded us of Hansel and Gretel. It was later that we noticed all the references in the gift shops to gingerbread and the Black Forest! Doh!

Hansel and Gretel-esque Liz
 An education followed. Strasbourg is located in the Alsace region of France, very close to the German border and the influences of both are found all over in the architecture, food and culture. The region has it's own defined dialect and we certainly felt the passion the inhabitants had for their unique region. Strasbourg's historic city centre, the Grand Island, was classified a Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. 

 Our hotel, L'hotel Rohan was the quirkiest we could find. The dining room was a bizarre mix of highly designed furniture and mounted animal heads. For example what hotel has a stuffed fox holding a drinks tray in the reception. The room was small but well dressed, clean and tidy. The location was amazing. A one minute walk to Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. A gorgeously tall (sixth tallest church in the world) Roman Catholic cathedral, with architecture inspired by Romanesque and Gothic influences.


We tentatively entered a tavern down near the canal side and we were greeted with fluent french to which we again both panicked as we had completely forgotten anything Monsieur Pepper had taught us at school! The menu however was pretty easy to fathom as even English restaurants use a great deal of French and I had looked up the local cuisine if nothing else (standard)!  Choucroute is a local variety of Sauerkraut which is left to ferment in wooden barrels. Traditionally it is served with pork sausages or smoked knuckles. Served alongside are often roasted or steamed potatoes or dumplings. I can only describe our meals as 'hearty' and the German influence was more than apparent in the volume of meat on the plate! 
 

The following morning we had a wander down by the canal side into Petite France which was delightful! You felt as though you were in a movie set. We walked around for a few hours and then realised that without any guide book or knowledge we had very little insight into anything and we wanted to know more!


So... we signed up for a Segway tour. Now one thing I can say about spending time with Soph is that you literally can't envisage what will happen but something fabulous always does. The girl attracts glamour and attention wherever she goes! This occasion was no disappointment. 

One City Tours were happy to oblige us on our Segway adventure, only one problem, our one hour tour may be a little longer as the French version of 'The One Show' would be filming us on our way round. Would we mind?? Hell no, this would be fun!


Segway Tour

 About 5 hours later, Soph had made her debut appearance on French TV, my legs would no longer function, Soph had also gone head first into an antique shop window and thank goodness nothing dramatic had happened to neither the window or my friend

Once we had got the hang of the slow moving road use and the fast paced pavement moves we were away. I have to say though, during all the commotion of filming and retakes we learnt very little about the city other than the location of our tour guides favourite cookie shop and a great many visits down a great many courtyards and windy streets! The cookies were bredele. The tourguide told us in three languages, that if you have the pleasure of being in Alsace at Christmas time, many home cooks make numerous batches of small cookies in an incredible variety of shapes and flavors. These are mixed together to make a collection. Our guide, the situation and the randomness of the tour proved hilarious and we laughed the rest of the weekend! 

Strasbourg Tour

The cookie knowledge provided outside various bakeries were in fact very impressive. A massive amount of gingerbread filtered its scent into the narrow streets and the sweet and spicy breads looked amazing. It was a window into German Christmas and there was even a shop selling purely Christmas themed gifts. 
  
 

Alsatian Breads





Gateaux l'opera in Alsace

The breads included Kougelhopf, a yeast risen cake similar to brioche bread. Every family has their secret recipe and you will find all sorts of variations. The French spice breads, were on every street corner in boulangeries which each seemed to have a different display. You can buy a loaf, or just a square from a huge block! Either way, it is authentic and delicious. We also had lots of fun exploring the Patisseries and tasting all the amazing Gateaux and l'operas.


Wine caves
  On the second morning we set off on foot, I feared my leg muscles had wasted away. We searched for the historical wine cellars of Strasbourg hospital which were not easy to find. Dating back to 1395, this brick-vaulted wine cellar hides beneath the hospital. It was originally built in a time when wine was considered a cure for all illnesses and now hosts a wine merchants selling Alsatian wines from Rieslings to sweet Muscats. One of its historic barrels is filled with a 1472 vintage and is locked up behind bars.


Enjoying a street cafe

No trip to France would be complete without wasting a few hours in a street cafe eating some measure of cheese. The croque monsieur was the perfect candidate. A baked or fried ham and cheese dish. A soft crust, topped with grated continental cheese. The bread is optionally toasted before and then dipped in whipped eggs, then the whole sandwich is finally baked in the oven so that the top cheese can melt and brown. It originated in French cafes and bars as a quick snack so we figured it would be rude not to try one! We enjoyed one of these while chatting about the hen party and other wedding gossip. But it was then that we determined we needed to seek out La Clouche a Fromage.

World's largest cheese cloche
La Cloche a Fromage or 'cheese bell', is a family-owned restaurant nearby the Cathedral Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg. The restaurant loves all things cheese and so they have installed the worlds biggest cheese-board according to the Gunniess Book of Records which houses between seventy five and one hundred and ten cheeses (depending on the seasonality). We nervously approached it at the front of the restaurant which honourably works with artisan cheese makers. The display is amazing!


Strasbourg Crepes with Nutella and Banana
Our final foray with food in Strasbourg was a hearty crepe reminiscent of ski trips to the Alps. This and an ameretto coffee to wash it down filled our boots and prepared us for the journey home. Trying to buy a ticket for a French train also proved rather difficult and inspired me to brush up on my basic french. It was mortifying to fail so badly!

We had the best time in Strasbourg and I cannot recommend it enough for a weekend break or if you want to live in a fairytale town!

 
 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Post Wedding Day Blues- Inspired BBQ flavours!

Zanzibar chicken
I keep looking at our wedding pictures and drooling at the sight of all that deliciousness. I was so excited and nervous about everything going well that I didn't actually eat that much of it on the day. But I can still smell the BBQ's big smoke and feel the warmth of the day!

We didn't want a standard formal wedding day lunch but more a feast of flavours and options reflective of foods we love. That's why we were thrilled that our big chef-pal Dave agreed to help us out on our big day and wow... did we enjoy the planning stages! Discussion took place over a cheese board at our house one late February evening and came to fruition on an early May windy day in Dave's back garden! Lots of tasting, development and a few recipes later and we were somewhere near our dream. A few points of non negotiation were agreed.

Firstly, the food and the preparation would very much have to be a collaboration of friends, family, ourselves and Dave. Without a professional wedding caterer and the security this would bring, everyone would have to help out. Mucking in and improving their knife skills would be a condition of our nearest and dearest attending the wedding! We didn't have loads of money to pay a caterer and due to Tom and I working in the catering industry ourselves, it was frustrating that we knew what we wanted to do and how to do it, we just couldn't physically do it on the day ourselves! We planned a preparation day the day before the wedding and we put our faith in them all to make our dream a reality.

Secondly, we wanted to incorporate best man Rob's lamb. Rob is a sheep farmer hailing from Yorkshire but farming in Northumberland and his gift to us on our wedding day was one of his very own sheep! Dave was definitely the man to give this delicious gift its rightful place within the menu. An Italian marinade of anchovies and rosemary and garlic proved an incredibly popular choice.

Thirdly all the food should be downright delicious.  We would never live it down if the food was a disappointment. We had no doubt with this team around us, we could deliver!

What we had at Sawley Village Hall, was a rather large basic kitchen with four gas hobs and a domestic amount of cooking space and apparatus. We didn't consider that using a fold away wallpapering table in the centre of the kitchen would pose a few problems for our 'chefs' who, with direction from Dave and Tom, ploughed through an army's worth of food. It didn't help that the willing helpers were a little hungover and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of salad prep... after a couple more beers they began to feel a bit better although the table movement made them feel as though they were working at sea!

We agreed we would utilise the BBQ space outside the hall on the veranda and have three equally tempting meat dishes and a vegetarian option. Guests could choose the meat and then the accompaniments to complement the dish. We wanted one dish to be inspired by our honeymoon destination of Zanzibar. Dave was handily familiar with east African cuisine as his sister lives in the region and he had tasted the flavours while out visiting her.

Dave cooking BBQ




And here is the finished menu.....


Starter
Traditional Italian Antipasto - cooked meats, olives, mostarda fruits, turnip tops, chickpea pate, pea puree, selection of breads.

Main Courses
Salt Beef, Russian Potato salad, Sauerkraut, Rye bread
Zanzibar-spiced chicken, Fattoush salad
Italian-marinated lamb, garlic and rosemary new potatoes, fresh salad, Bagna Cauda mayonnaise
Spiced Polenta Cake, Fennel and Orange Salad

Dessert
A table full of delicious cakes contributed by a group of generous ladies - served outside in the marquee

To Drink
Aperol Spritz / White Sangria


Marinaded shredded lamb
The BBQ flames became a little engulfing on the day as the canopy we had erected to shield from any potential rain, had the effect of encasing the smoke and the glorious sunshine laughed on, leading to streams of tears and struggles which further exemplified the amazing efforts as the team carried on regardless! A standing ovation for Dave and his assistant Jed echoed around the hall and went some way to thanking both for their determination!

Garlic and herb sauteed potatoes

Salt beef on the BBQ
Fattoush Salad to go with Zanzibar chicken
Along with an amazing force behind the cooking, our talented bridesmaids designed menu cards for the tables which matched our invitations and colour scheme! The BBQ and accompaniments looked beautiful and were a testament to all the lengthy chopping. Well done boys. (Might I add the girls were busy titivating the hall).

Salad cups for Italian marinated lamb.

Wedding guests choosing the Salt Beef option

Full menu choices
Mik and Sara's stylistic photos
The collaboration continued into dessert as we had asked a selection of willing ladies from the guests to bring along a cake for our dessert table. The WI would have been proud!

Mik and Sara captured the food with some gorgeous shots and I can't thank any of them enough for their efforts on the day. 

So Happy with the delicious food! Well done everyone!



The Wedding of Mr Tom Hoare and Mrs Liz Ellory-Hoare

Starring….

(In no particular order!)



Our gorgeous bridesmaids; Maid of Honour Sophie Brook, Jennifer Ellory, Victoria Ellory, Hannah Berry, Vicki Spencer and Jennie Webber

Our handsome groomsman; Best Men Rob Airey & Ben Taylor, Declan Hoare, Mark Eyton Jones and Grat Maslin.


Jenny Culver, and her wonderful chocolates, a perfectionist to the last!

Emily and Rich Chapman, their fancy hall dressing skills are a must, plus thanks for the bread delivery and calming manner!

Stuzzi of Kings Road, Harrogate gave their amazing authentic Italian wares! Yummy.

David Haynes’ mad BBQ skills, general appreciation of lush food, excellent idea generating and ‘great guy’ persona.

Nikky Manning and Sam Barber; hanging on to all that wedding paraphernalia helped us out loads!

Pete Manning, his cheese knowledge and safe cheese carriage all the way from Settle.

Paul and Vicky Spencer for their generosity, helping us arrive in style!

Pauline and Bob Berry’s kind efforts creating the amazing flowers and offering supportive green fingers.

Brian Kerrigan for hooking us up in the first place!

Richard and Janis Ellory discussed pros and cons of beautiful platter boards at length before agreeing to help make the dream a reality. Hopefully not too many splinters!

Jennifer Milligan and Jennie Webber provided our gorgeous invitations, what awesome teamwork!

Rebecca Arthur is available for fabulous hair like ours and embodies the wedding ‘support’. She’s here because of the cat that ruined the plants... to prevent further nervous breakdowns!

Mik and Sara are professionals- available for photography, capturing the day in their relaxed and creative style! Absolute treasures, both of you!

Rob, Zoe and the Airey’s, their fine lamb and hay bales, plus the effort lugging it all!

Bettys and the Walker’s for all your jars! Jane Ellory, Nana and Victoria Ellory for beautifying them!

The readers; Beck Penston, our beautiful mothers, sisters and brother!

The dedicated team of cake and pie makers! Your delicious treats are an inspiration and made our day even more personal and special. Can’t wait for a nibble!

Sawley Village Hall- Stuart at the bar and Rachel for finding that extra table.

Set up crew! Hope you enjoyed wedding day-eve as much as we did!

Our wonderful families for their constant support!

Everyone else for being here to share in our special day! You have all contributed in so many ways we cannot possibly detail. We couldn’t have done it without you.



!!!THANK YOU!!!