By Kelli Hall, Minted Event Stylist
I recently traveled with my sister to Panama to help her put some plans in place for her upcoming wedding. We headed to the Pacific coast near Rio Hato, where we had her caterer’s tasting and picked up some great wedding menu planning tips along the way….
If wedding planning is supposed to be difficult, then, hands down, the most fun part has to be the menu tasting. Experiences can vary based on your caterer and can be a little more complicated if you’re having a destination wedding. Thankfully, armed with a pre-selected menu and some tips from our caterer, we had an extraordinary meal and gathered some of these great pointers…
Amanda chose a beautiful venue for her wedding on Panama’s Pacific coast .
Approaching Your Menu Tasting
Most caterers will provide a list of menu options and ask you to narrow down your picks to a select number prior to your tasting. To really maximize your experience, arrange to try the items you’re not sure about. You can even ask the caterer to add in a ‘wild card’ dish–throwing something in your way that you would not have expected to like. It may also be helpful to bring along a friend or family member to add an outside perspective. Just be sure to avoid too many opinions and limit your group to a manageable number.
Narrowing Down Your Favorites
A wedding menu can be the perfect place for a subtle reference to your culinary heritage or the flavors that you and your fiancee love. It’s a tricky balance though, You may have very specific or adventurous things you prefer (Amanda adores octopus Ceviche) but a good amount of your menu selections should determined be what your guests will enjoy. Also consider items that are in season, show off the local flavors, can be easily eaten and are unfussy in presentation.
The whole table oohed and ahhed over the Cioppino, But in the end, Amanda nixed it. The light broth beautifully showcased local mussels and octopus, but ultimately she decided it would be too much fuss for guests to self-serve and eat this dish.
Amanda was an easy to please bride, enjoying the experience and scribbling notes on flavors, favorites and menu changes.
Our favorite starch option: Cous Cous with pine nuts, chardonnay grapes and mint.
Amanda tends to like lamb and was on the fence about incorporating it into their menu. Luckily, her fiancee’s mother was on hand to share that most of the groom’s family are not big lamb eaters. After the caterer also shared that it’s not a big preference in that region of Panama, the lamb was swapped for a pork dish that’s a local favorite (and a consistent crowd pleaser at the resort’s events).
Having originally picked an apple tart as a choice for the dessert tasting, we were presented with a wonderful Summer Berry Mousse option instead. The chef shared that the pastry in the tart wouldn’t hold up to the humidity and he worked with Amanda to propose some alternate choices.
Architectural details at Buenaventura, Panama.
If you’ve planned a destination wedding and are unable to make arrangements for an onsite tasting, Consider asking your caterer’s guidance in recommending consistent guest favorites. If you still feel in the dark, you might even ask to be referred to a couple that was previously married at your venue and was satisfied with their food experience.
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