Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Our wedding meal – Bailbrook House Hotel
Phew it's been a while since I last came on this blog! Been so busy busy busy that even the thought of editing pics and writing words were chucked out the window, but now that I have some free time (in between work, housework and more eating), I can finally post up the pics of the Wedding Meal!
Obviously, I didn't take the pics at the wedding; what with being the bride and all. It would take one mean, lean, and very dedicated blogger to start blogging about the wedding meal while the speeches were being made.
With some cunning ingenuity, these pics were taken at the meal tasting which was done about a month before the wedding, so instead of seeing only the meal we had at the wedding, you get to see what we didn't have as well!
Kinda like watching the X-Tra Factor.
Note: This might be one long, boring, detailed post for those of you who like short, interesting, vague ones. I just wanna note down all the details of the day, so please bear with me.
Venue: Bailbrook House Restaurant, Eveleigh Avenue, Bath
Date: Meal tasting date (2nd April 2011), actual wedding date (30th April 2011)
Even more details:
So we got up bright and early on 2nd April, a Saturday, and off we went for my make-up trial session. After what seemed like a truck load of make-up being chucked on my face, I appeared looking fresh-faced with a trace of barely-there make-up. Wonderful stuff. As the whole business of looking fresh-faced is quite a tiring one, it was just as well we had the meal tasting session scheduled for lunch that day.
In the UK, I've noticed that most venues charge for the meal tasting session, though usually at a subsidised price. In Malaysia, not only do you have the meal tasting session free, you also get to do it maybe twice, and usually for a table of 10 each time.
Anyhow, since we were paying for this, and since the sunshine was out in full force that beautiful Saturday, I took A LOT of pics. I don't think the waiting staff had ever seen someone take that many pictures of some lamb on a plate.
As we'd already decided on the 2 meal sets we were going to try, the food just kinda came seamlessly as we sat down. The menu we were given to begin with was huge. We had about 15 starters to choose from, about the same amount of main meals and about 10 desserts, from which we had to select 2 to try, and finally zone down to the 1 meal to be served on the day.
For 2 people who pretty much eat anything indiscriminately, this was a mammoth task.
For mammoth appetites. Which we were well-equipped for.
Factors contributing to our decision of meal choice:
1. Fish - not many people like fish. When trying to serve the same meal to 80 people, it is crucial to serve something commonly accepted by everyone, because the last thing I want at my wedding is cheese on toast being brought out of the kitchen in sheer desperation. Despite this very logical reasoning, I still gave it a go and tried out a fish starter just for good measure.
2. Chicken - has the tendency to dry out somewhat, even when cooked as one portion on its own. Imagine it being cooked for 80. Leather on plate does not a good meal make.
3. Goats cheese - mmm no.
With these things taken off the list, the only other 3 farmyard animals left in the ring would be Beefy, Porky and Lamby.
Crab and tiger prawn salad, lemon grass and ginger dressing
We decided to try this one out even though we kinda knew we weren't going to serve fish because I just wanted to taste it. There, I said it. Pure shellfishness. :)
I'm glad we tried it, because despite reading the menu several times over, I couldn't find anything which would have been globally appealling, so when I finally picked the ham hock dish below, and had to decide on a second choice, I figured, why not just go with what I like. This didn't disappoint.
What I really liked about it was the creamy ginger dressing (or so it said ginger, I don't think I tasted any in there) in which the prawn and crab were mixed.
There's something about creamy seafood which really appeals to me. In fact, I didn't even know that it was meant to be lemongrass and ginger until I read the menu for the purpose of this post. To me, it tasted pretty much like seafood salad sauce, if such a thing exists. It was nice, it was more-ish, and it went well with the toast.
Pressed ham hock and new potato terrine, onion chutney, olive bread
Then, they brought this little guy out. At first glance, I kinda thought, hmm a nice square piece of meat.
Then when I tried a mouthful, the explosion of flavours in my mouth made me see this dish in a whole different light. Texture-wise, it was kinda like biting into a sausage/gammon thingee. Slightly chucky, yet with a hint of mince from the mixtures of meat in the terrine.
Taste-wise, it was salty, then sweet (from the chutney), then meaty. The lovely sauce that was drizzled around the ensemble tasted like a denser version of the chutney sauce, which went well with the olive bread. Plate mopped clean.
By then, the sun was beginning to shine through the French windows with quite some strength. Mmm, nothing like a bit of sunshine to bring out the appetite in me.
Noisettes of Somerset lamb filled with spinach and mushrooms, thyme roasted potatoes, rosemary jus
Picture perfect. The fiance (at the time) and I literally gasped in awe when the plate was put down in front of us. OK fine, we're easily impressed, but even then, come on, this is one fine looking specimen of a dish. With the Battle of the Forks raging in the centre of the table, he won by a small margin and managed to take the first bite of the dish.
After about 5 minutes of chewing with eyes closed, he proclaimed that this was THE dish. I had one mouthful and nodded my enthusiastic agreement.
Here's my pathetic attempt at describing what this tasted like.
First things first. You see the slight crust on the skin that looks so crispy and mouth-watering? That was good stuff. Each piece of lamb was like a tender, delicate drumstick of lamby wonder; crispy on the outside, and so very rare, tasty and juicy on the inside. The sauce was one of the best tasting sauces I've ever had; it was like a very meaty version of gravy, with a hint of something macho about it.
The potatoes, oh the potatoes. I'm sure they were cooked in something more than goose fat; perhaps they were cooked in Loveliness, who knows. Not only were they fluffy and so so like cake, but they had an amazing crisp on the outside which managed to hold itself even after we'd left it there till we finished with the meat.
However, logic began to rear its sensible head, and we begun thinking. 'Would it be possible for the chef to recreate this masterpiece of a dish for 80 people at the same time?'
The lovely waitress did mention to us, quite a few times in fact, that this would not be the EXACT thing that would be served at the wedding, because the chef was only cooking for us now, where as he would have to make modifications when cooking for 80. With that factor on the plate, the other things which sprang to mind were:
1. Some people don't like rare meat. This dish HAD to be cooked rare in order for the full flavours and textures to shine through.
2. Some people don't like lamb. Whoops.
3. Chef probably wouldn't have been able to replicate this for 80 people, not at the same time anyway.
So, lamb was relegated to second place.
Roast West Country rib of beef, Yorkshire pudding, thyme roasted gravy, garlic roast potatoes
Kinda like Eurovision, this little dude was deemed winner before he even left the kitchen. I know some people will say that roast is a pretty boring, if not somewhat obvious choice, for a wedding meal but after having gone through the laborious task of planning a wedding, I now know why it is the default meal choice. It is easily cooked for a large group, and beef is more often than not, eaten by a large majority of the crowd (in the UK anyway).
The fact that this version was possible one of the best I'd tasted helped. The beef was thickly sliced, and maintained its flavour and moisture throughout.
The potatoes were the same ones in the lamb dish above, ie amazing, and the Yorkshire puddings were fluffly and light.
How good does this look.
All in all, nothing I could fault about the dish, and with the only flaw being that it wasn't 'exciting' enough (through no fault of its own, poor thing), we decided to go with this one.
To be fair, I've had quite a fair few roast dinners, and this was one of the best, so I know it sounds like I wasn't that impressed with it, considering how much I raved about the lamb, but at the time, this was really very, very tasty, and we were seriously quite worried that we'd not be able to decide on which dish to serve.
Pavlova with strawberries, kiwi and mango, blackcurrant sauce
There's something about meringues which intrigue me. Like how it retains its shape, and the slightly white, but not quite white colour that it has before it's cooked. I usually like my meringues with custard, as I find the hot mixes quite well with the crumbly texture of meringue. This version wasn't bad either, and it kinda brought a light, refreshing end to a meal with its fruity flavours, and light texture.
Lemon mousse, almond tuilles, raspberry coulis
Because the starters and mains were so very good, we kinda felt a little let down by the desserts. I mean, they would have been good on their own, and even better than most of the stuff served in other places, but by then, we'd been set a benchmark of sorts, so it was with some disappointment when I had a spoonful of the mousse only to realise that it was more cream-like in texture than mousse-like, and that it tasted only faintly of lemon.
Like, it probably just smelled of lemon. We bravely ate through half of the glass and then gave up when we realised it was like wading through a creamy, un-lemony glass after a very filling meal.
On the day itself:
So, after all that tasting and careful consideration, how did it go on the actual day? Well, I was in a very tight dress and so could only manage a few small mouthfuls of everything, but from the reviews I gathered from the guests, the beef went down a treat, and the ham hock terrine was also well received.
The only course which brought out some hesitations was, as we guessed, the pavlova, as this is quite a foreign dish to Malaysians and it didn't help that they were so full by the time that was served.
Overall, I really enjoyed the items we chose, and I think the husband did too. I had the most wonderful time with fantastic weather, and couldn't have asked for the day to have gone any better.
Not of use to anyone else but me - these were the other items served on the day itself.
Tomato and butternut squash soup, red pepper oil
Fresh tagliatelle, grilled red peppers, pesto cream sauce
Canapes at the drinks reception:
Mini Yorkshire pudding, beef, Horseradish
Rosemary and Parmesan scones, red onion jam, goats cheese
Smoked salmon and cream cheese rosettes
And, just because I know I'll puzzle on this at some point in the future, and as a reminder to myself, this was what we had for the evening reception.
Classic Finger Buffet
Various filled soft filled baps (egg, cheese, and something else which I didn't try)
Parmesan and spinach palmiers
Indian curry chicken kebabs raita dip
Honey and mustard glazed pork and leek sausages
Tiger prawns skewers, chilli and ginger dip (apparently very nice, according to those who tried it, which was not me)
Mozzarella and sun dried tomato quiche
Thai style fish cakes, coriander and lime dip (mistakenly thought to be otak-otak by the Malaysian contingency)
Fresh fruit skewers
Mini lemon tarts
And of course, that lovely, fabulous, glamorous 3-tiered cake