I never really explained the reason why I planned my extra-long weekend in Vancouver , did I? Quite simply… I was invited to a wedding.
But not just any wedding (not that anyone thinks that their wedding is any ol’ wedding)… Elise and Pierre‘s wedding! This… this was big news. This was worthy of an extra-long weekend, fly across the country, type of trip. This was the day I was far too excited to pass up on.
I’ve known Elise (from this point on, she will be referred to as Lu) and Pierre for 10 years. Yep. 10 whole years. We all worked at the University of Ottawa together – they were residence advisors, and I was a residence life coordinator. Through leadership camps, middle of the night rounds, on-call duties and a lame running club (Lu and I being the only members, President and Vice-President respectively), we forged a friendship that has survived extended periods of silences as we live our lives thousands of miles apart (me in Ottawa, them in Abu Dhabi). But whenever we see one another it’s like nothing has changed… I heart those types of friendships; especially with these two.
Needless to say… I was beyond thrilled that they were getting married. Lu sent the save the date email months ago and I did just that; I saved the date: July 24.
Saturday morning Katie and I got ready (post Tartine carb overload); pretty summer dresses, fun sandles; grabbed our sunglasses and my camera and out we went: Vancouver to Mission, BC. A spectacular drive – I mean… check it out? Not an unpleasant way to spend just over an hour…
We did get a little lost (entirely my fault) but made our way to the church on time. It was great to run into old friends (Rob, Chantèle, Olivier) and make new ones (Bronwyn and Jason) while we waited for the ceremony to begin. Finally it was time for Lu and Pierre to walk down the aisle. HOORAY!!!! They both looked incredible: Lu was breathtaking in her wedding dress and Pierre dashing in his tux. But the best (absolute best) part was the expressions on both their faces! I love love.
Once the vows were exchanged, the rings slipped on correct fingers, and a couple of kisses sealed the deal, we all exited the church and made our ways to Lu’s parents place for the reception.
HOLY HECK do they ever have an amazing home and property! The yard was elegantly dressed up for the day: white everywhere, lights strung in the trees… and my favourite touch – a tree decorated with hanging framed photos of the happy couple… it was like a christmas tree decorated with their adventures together. AWESOME!
I won’t lie… I was also really excited about the wedding meal. No dry chicken breast here. No way! Pierre’s Lebanese background got to shine (I stole one of the menus so that I could share it with y’all).
We started with Arabic Mezze – in my humble opinion, the shining start. Fresh pita was dipped into hummous, moutabbal (eggplant dip), labneh w nana (yogurt dip with mint), tabouleh, warak enab (rice-stuffed vine leaves), and my personal favourite, shankleesh (cheese, onion and tomato tapenade). I didn’t even need to wrap the pita around the shankleesh – I was able to grab my fork and just dig right in (and yes, I believe all the guests were aware of my love for this appetizer).
Once we’d finished with the mezze we then enjoyed the entrées:
kabsa (lamb and rice dish with a mixture of spices – black pepper, cloves, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, black lime, bay leaves, nutmeg – topped with almonds, onions and raisins). The lamb melted in your mouth, and I would probably argue that it was the best spiced rice I’ve ever had. It was so well balanced – not too peppery or too sweet. I think Katie and I both enjoyed this dish the most… I kept taking pieces of lamb off her plate… ;0)
red snapper (served Lebanese style on a bed of vegetables and topped with tomato, garlic and mint). The fish was excellent. Fresh and light. Really and truly lovely.
roasted chicken quarters, roasted vegetables, spicy roasted potatoes. The chicken was ridiculously tender, and the potatoes were perfect to pair with some of that hummous.
Not a standard wedding feast. Thank you Pierre and Lu for that!
And then desserts.
We were invited to enjoy some baklava (homemade phyllo pastry with nuts, sugar and honey), mamoul (date-filled semolina cookie infused with rose water), knafeh bi jibn (layered cheese dessert, served hot and drizzled with sweet thick syrup) and halawt el jibn (sweet cheese-stuffed pastry topped with pistachio nuts). I absolutely adore baklava – and wasn’t disappointed by this one. Same with the mamoul. Sigh. Those dates… so wonderful and sweet.
But don’t worry. There was wedding cake. Of course there was wedding cake: I’d spotted it the moment we arrived at the reception.
4 tiered, buttercream frosted, almond, marble and red velvet cakes. It was… spectacular. It was topped with two birds (the wedding theme) – it wasn’t a cheesey wedding topper – simple, and elegant. Each tier of cake was frosted and then piped with more buttercream, simply decorated with fresh flowers. Really really pretty.
Lu let me in on a little secret… 3 of the 4 tiers were actually not cake! The baker had recommended making the top tier into a cake – the bride and groom could then cut into it… as tradition would have it. But all of us would then enjoy the cake in slab form. I figured that meant that we would have to decide on either a piece of almond, or the marble or the red velvet. Ok. I was wrong. Each piece was probably 3-inches wide: 1-inch of each cake flavour, filled with a cream cheese frosting and then topped with vanilla buttercream.
Genius. You know why? Well let me tell you why! Because: (1) each slab is only 1-inch thick – less baking time, less time to dry out. (2) since it doesn’t need to bake very long, it likely was made same day. (3) since it’s not very thick, it doesn’t take very long to cool – so you can slap the icing on it right away and preserve the natural moistness of the cake. And finally (4) it makes cutting it for a large group of people pretty darn simple.
Very smart. Oh yeah… and the cake? A-MAZ-ING! As mentioned, it was moist, the flavours were perfectly balanced, the cream cheese added a little tartness but then by topping it with the vanilla buttercream, you bite into a fluffy, yummy topping. Absolutely delicious cake. For Reals.
Oh yeah… I didn’t just have 1 piece… I had 2. Within a couple of hours. Just as good after the drive home.. the perfect before bed treat :0)
Congratulations Lu and Pierre. Loved your day and both of you! xxx