The Most Talked-about Holiday Dessert Recipe

December 24th, 2009
Holiday Pumpkin Shortcake at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Pumpkin Shortcake with Caramel Apples

The Best Pumpkin Dessert in the world is at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub in Santa Monica. My friend Michal Mitchell, who now lives in Virginia, is one of the best home cooks I know and she sent me this recipe to make for the Thanksgiving dinner at my home.She always has fabulous ideas. Of course I tweaked the recipe a tad and used buttermilk instead of whole milk.  It is the lightest of any shortcake I have ever made. The caramel apples will melt in your mouth, and the ginger whipped cream is an ethereal and clever topping for this dessert. It is so easy to make and will grace any holiday table. I brought a batch of them to my friend Diana Temple’s house for dinner the night before and every one raved about them. Diana is a professional chef so I was very proud to have her compliments.

 I like it so much because I am not a pumpkin pie lover, I prefer sweet potato pie. So we served it as a special at our Irish pub on Thanksgiving. The shortcakes also received rave reviews so we are featuring it throughout the holiday season. My mother used to say a moment on your lips, a lifetime on your hips! The diet starts for real in January.

Happy Christmas to all of you and all of our very best wishes for a safe, healthy, prosperous New Year. 

Michal’s Pumpkin Shortcake with Caramel Apples & Gingered Whipped Cream   Makes 6

FRUIT:

4 tablespoons sweet butter

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut in ¼-inch wedges

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat and add apple slices. Sauté for 10 minutes until tender. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and cream and cook slowly over low heat until thick and caramelized. Set aside.

Starting the mixture for Pumpkin shortcakes at finn's

Pumpkin Mixture for Shortcakes at Finn's

SHORTCAKES:

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon                                              

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into ¼ inch dice

½ cup pumpkin puree

⅓ cup buttermilk

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup sugar

 1. Heat oven to 425º F.  Butter a cookie sheet. Sift the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl of a mixing machine.

Mixing Shortcake Dough at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Mixing dough at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

2. Add the butter and mix until flour resembles coarse crumbs. Beat together the pumpkin, milk, egg and vanilla. Add into flour mixture with the machine running on low and stir until it combines. Dough should be sticky but hold together in a sticky ball.

Shortcake Dough at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Shortcake Dough at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

 3. Flour hands well and turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Press out and cut dough into 6 three inch rounds with a glass or a cookie cutter.

Shortcake Dough ready for the Oven at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Shrtcake Dough ready for the Oven at Finn's

Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Baked Shortcakes at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Shorcakes hot from the Oven at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

WHIPPED CREAM:

1 cup heavy cream

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

⅓ cup sugar

2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Place cream and vanilla into mixing bowl with wire whip and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Slowly add sugar and continue beating until cream holds soft peaks. Stir in ginger.

ASSEMBLY:

Split each shortcake in half & place a large dollop of whipped cream on top. Spoon warm apple mixture over cream and make sure to serve a generous amount of sauce. Place top of shortcake and drizzle with a little more sauce.

Finn McCool's Irish Pub Holiday Pumpkin Shortcake

Pumpkin Shortcake with Caramel Apples at Finn McCool's

Finn McCool’s Irish Pub for Vegetarian Food

November 21st, 2009

FINN McCOOL’S IRISH PUB BLOG by INDIA

I’m not your typical vegetarian.  Most of my tofu-loving friends made the decision to forego meat some time in elementary school.  When they realized that that rack of lamb is a rack of baby lamb, or that their hotdog used to go “Oink”.  My parents, however, raised me on a vegetarian diet from birth. So essentially, the decision was made for me.  It is one I have chosen to uphold but it’s inspired an interesting attitude towards meat for me.  A lifelong curiosity that some of my veggie friends would only describe as morbid!

Working at Finn McCool’s has only fueled my little obsession. Bacon.  Good God, does anything smell better than sizzling Irish bacon? 

Someone just ordered the Shrimp and Avocado Salad. Were I so inclined, I’d pop those juicy shellfish like candy. 

Shrimp Salad - Finn McCool's

Shrimp Salad - Finn McCool's

How about the Shepherd’s Pie topped with buttery champ.

Shepherd's Pie at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Shepherd's Pie at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

 

I like to live vicariously through my omnivorous co-workers at times. If Grant, one of our bartenders, orders the Corned Beef and Cabbage, I’ll perch on a bar stool and watch.

Corned Beef and Cabbage at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Corned Beef and Cabbage at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

          “How’s the beef?” I’ll ask, “It looks lean.”

          “Uh, yeah, India. It is” he’ll reply, fork poised in mid air.

“So…so is this better than Tele’s Crispy Chicken? ‘Cause that chicken looks good. And with the gravy? Delicious, right?”

          “I just want to eat my…”

          “Put some Coleman’s mustard on that bite before you eat it. It really compliments the meat.”

 This will go on until Grant’s meal has gone cold or it’s just too awkward to eat. Whatever comes first?  Richelle, another bartender, thinks I like to keep her company during her dinner break. But really I’m just keeping an eye on her Connemara Seafood Stew and how it’s working with that garlic saffron sauce.

Connemara Seafood Stew - Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Connemara Seafood Stew - Finn McCool's Irish Pub

At the end of the day though, as delicious as animals may look when sautéed, roasted, deep fried or grilled, I love them too too much to eat them.  And so, I am resigned to find my own culinary delights amongst the vegetable kingdom.  Lucky for me though, Finn’s has an entire page of our oversized menu devoted solely to veggie cuisine.  So often, vegetarians are forced to endure a meal where the meaty element has simply been removed.  A big plate of limp bell pepper slices and sad carrots with a gaping hole where the chicken is supposed to be.  But Geraldine and Hector have gone to great lengths to make sure that our vegetarian guests leave Finn’s as satisfied as their steak-loving friends.

It would be a feat for any chef to adapt Irish food into something acceptable for a vegetarian.  We’re a meat-loving breed what with our beef stews and Shepherd’s pies.  But Finn’s triumphs!  One can enjoy a traditional Irish boxty: crisp, tasty vegetables sautéed in a creamy garlic or spicy curry sauce and wrapped in our homemade potato pancake.  Cure your Sunday morning hangover with a Bloody Mary (minus the Worcestershire sauce; its fishy!) and a veggie Irish breakfast complete with Heinz Baked Beans and potato bread. Have a Cashel Blue Cheese salad, full of cranberries and yummy candied walnuts, for lunch.

Finn McCool's Irish Pub Signature Cashel Blue Salad

Finn McCool's Irish Pub Signature Cashel Blue Salad

Traditional Irish Boxty at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Traditional Irish Boxty at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or just have a big plate of champ, our delicious mashed potatoes with green onions.  It’s that good. And, of course, supplement your iron with a pint of Guinness!

We’ve even adapted some of our most popular dishes into something I can enjoy. The Blarney Bacon Skins are, by far, the customer favorite.  And the veggie skins don’t disappoint.  Instead of bacon, these little potato dreams are stuffed with avocado and chewy sun-dried tomatoes then smothered in Blarney cheese. Amazing. 

Order anything off our menu that involves a Portobello mushroom.  Portobellos are like the steak of the veggie world. Big, juicy and filling.  Hector roasts them in balsamic vinegar nd grills them to perfection.  The Portobello Salad is to die for but it’s the mushroom sandwich that rocks my world. A big mushroom cap topped with blue cheese, caramelized onions and spicy remoulade, served in a sesame seed bun.  I like to attack mine with a steak knife.  You know, just to pretend!

Vegetarian Portobello Salad at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Vegetarian Portobello Salad at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

                               

Portobello Sandwich at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Portobello Sandwich at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

      The latest and greatest addition to our menu is the Flatbread with Pesto, Sun-dried tomatoes, Goat Cheese and topped with an Arugula Salad
Vegetarian Flatbread at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Vegetarian Flatbread at Finn McCool's Irish Pub

And if you have any room left after all that, go for one of our traditional Irish desserts.  Meat-eaters and vegetarians alike can unite over our bread pudding. Or our rhubarb crumble. Or the apple pie. Or, oh God, our amazing chocolate box packed with bubbly mousse and fresh strawberries.   And don’t forget a creamy Irish coffee made with our brewed Organic Coffee to wash it all down!

So in conclusion, if you are a confirmed meat lover, come on down to Finn McCool’s Irish Pub and sample one of the dozens of unbelievable traditional Irish dishes we have on offer.  If you are a vegetarian, you too, will be spoiled for choice.  And, if you are a weird, secret-fantasy-meat-loving committed vegetarian like myself, well then this is the only restaurant for you.

Holiday Tamales at Lula Cocina Mexicana

November 21st, 2009

Making Tamales a Christmas Tradition

Tamale Assortment at Lula Cocina Mexicana

Tamale Assortment at Lula Cocina Mexicana

When I first moved to the United States from Ireland in 1975, I met the Ortega Family who lived in Whittier, California. I was fresh off the boat, spoke only “Irish” (which is actually English but with a Belfast accent) and did not speak Spanish. The only members of the Ortega Family who spoke English were their sons; Ivan and Jesus. I spent my first Christmas Eve at their home learning to make tamales with Mama Ortega and her two daughters; Irma and Iris. I figured that if I could learn how to make Indian food in Belfast with non-English speaking Indian Women, then what the heck! I would give it a try.

Holiday Pumpkin Tamale at Lula Cocina Mexicana

Holiday Pumpkin Tamale at Lula Cocina Mexicana

Tamales are traditional treats for the Christmas Season in Mexican households and the Hispanic Community. Perhaps because they are so much work and so many are made, that families only make them once a year. There is nothing different about Christmas Tamales – they are simply made at Christmas. Tamales are basically Masa dough made from hominy, spread on a leaf such as corn husks or banana leaves, then stuffed with a yummy filling such as; Chicken in a Black Mole sauce (Mole Poblano), Pork in a Green Chile sauce, or fresh Vegetables and Mexican Cheeses, then folded and steamed for several hours.

There is great fun here as the entire family has a hand in the preparation of the Tamales! Most folks think of these steamed bundles of goodness as strictly savory and filled with chicken or Pork, but at Lula Cocina Mexicana we also make sweet Pineapple Tamales with thick Mexican Cream.

Juana with fresh Tamales at Lula Cocina Mexicana

Juana with fresh Tamales at Lula Cocina Mexicana

Our Tamale Lady at Lula, Juana (pictured above in her colorful Blouse) makes thousands of hand-made Tamales every month.

For the Holiday Season we are offering the following Tamales by the dozen:

Green Corn Tamales, Vegetarian Tamales (these are Vegan), Chicken Tamales Oaxaquenos in Banana Leaves and Ricardo’s Chicken Tamales in Black Bean Masa Dough.

Holiday Tamales at Lula served with Rice and Black Beans

Trish and Tyson’s Wedding in Malibu

October 3rd, 2009

Rancho Chiquita Wedding Blog – A Wedding in Malibu

Geraldine Gilliland, Chef, Author, Restaurateur, Malibu Weddings in Paradise

Geraldine Gilliland, Chef, Author, Restaurateur, Malibu Weddings in Paradise

Trish and Tyson’s Wedding

The Courtyard at Rancho Chiquita Malibu

The Courtyard at Rancho Chiquita Malibu

The Venue and Menu

I first met Trish and Tyson for a tour of Rancho Chiquita back in the winter of 2008. It was a cold and rainy day and we ended up in my kitchen, with the dogs of course, drinking my Signature Lula Margaritas and eating Green Corn Tamales and Red Velvet Wedding CupCakes with a Crème Anglaise.  Trish and Tyson then went straight to Lula Cocina Mexicana, my Mexican Restaurant in Santa Monica on their way home. They decided there and then that they had to have world class Mexican food for their wedding. We set up another Menu Tasting for them at Lula and this is really when the wedding fun began, to refine the actual wedding menu.  They chose to add one of the Signature Lula Margaritas to their bar, and serve Duck Sopes, BBQ Chicken Quesadillas, Spanish Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta and Swiss Chard Bruschetta; the salad was to be a Tijuana Caesar Salad; entrées would be Filet Mignon with a Wild Mushroom Tequila Sauce, Grilled Atlantic Salmon with a Tomato Epazote Sauce and for the many vegetarians, Green Corn Tamales with Crema Mexicana and Pico De Gallo. Platters of seasonal Oak Grilled Vegetables were placed on tables for guests to share family style.

I think it is really important to have a food tasting with your caterer before the wedding. It is not necessary to taste every single dish, but it is important for a couple to know the quality of the food they are ordering. Some caterers do not offer this service and I believe it is a mistake as a couple must feel secure in the knowledge that their food will be excellent

Outdoor Weddings and Weather

Trish and tyson's Ceremony with the View at Rancho Chiquita

Trish and Tyson's Ceremony with the View at Rancho Chiquita

We consider ourselves very lucky to live in Southern California because the weather is generally lovely during wedding months, however during certain months one must put a contingency plan in place in case of an unexpected heat or showers. The week of the wedding arrived with a full blown heat-wave and wildfires burning throughout Los Angeles – temperatures were 20 degrees hotter than usual for this time of year; at 10am it was 101 degrees. Fortunately all of our rentals are kept on-site and we are able to whip out extra umbrellas and canopies to shade guests during the hot afternoon sun.  Trish had also ordered beautiful parasols for guests to hold during the ceremony and cocktail hour.

Trish and the Bridesmaids at Rancho Chiquita Malibu

Trish and the Bridesmaids at Rancho Chiquita Malibu

Transportation: Valet versus Shuttles

Another big decision for Trish and Tyson was transportation. At a private Estate like Rancho Chiquita we offer our couple a choice of valet parking, shuttle buses, or a combination of both. As their Irish last name implies (Murphy’s on both sides), they wanted their guests to be able to have a good time, party and not be worried about drinking and driving. Let’s face it folks, no one likes a good party better than an Irish man or woman – I should know as I come from Belfast myself!  Trish and Tyson opted for shuttles which are more expensive than valets and really cut into their wedding budget, but they decided guest comfort was most important and they would cut their budget elsewhere; we are expert at showing brides easy places to cut back. There is always and up and down side to any form of transportation. The upsides of shuttles are that guests can be picked up and dropped off at their hotels and not worry about maps and driving in summer traffic. The downside is that if two guests want to leave early (why in the world would they?) then they have to wait until a shuttle is scheduled to leave with a full load of other guests.  

Wedding Planning/Coordinating: How much help does a couple need?

Trish and Tyson were so easy to work with during the whole planning process that we were really looking forward to enjoying their wedding ourselves.

When we first meet our clients, it soon becomes obvious whether we have a low or high maintenance event, or couple. There is nothing wrong with either – some events or couples just need more help than others. At Rancho Chiquita, we require that you hire our site logistics coordinator to assist with the many and various site tasks required to stage a wedding at a private Estate, such as regulations, permits, rentals and vendors. If you require additional wedding planning or assistance we offer different packages that provide a wide array of support to help create your wedding vision and ensure that your wedding day runs smoothly. 

With every phone call or email Trish apologized for being a bother – which she certainly was not.  This dream bridal couple made decisions easily and took our advice when asked for – they were both a delight 

The Bridesmaid's Bouquets - Wedding in Malibu

The Bridesmaid's Bouquets - Wedding in Malibu

Flowers and Décor Dilemmas

Rancho Chiquita is such a beautiful venue with an abundance of flowers and landscaping, so most of our bridal couples don’t feel a need to spend tons of their hard earned money on expensive and exotic floral arrangements; some brides we meet have a budget of $7-8,000 for flowers that they end up putting toward a higher-end menu, bar or shuttles. Trish decided to use potted plants as her centerpieces – generally a truly excellent choice. There were two problems that developed: first the heat and second their choice of plant. Trish bought beautiful lilac colored hydrangeas (one of my personal favorite flowers and very popular in Ireland) several days before the wedding, placed them in lacquered wooden boxes, and then tortured herself keeping them healthy with tons of love and water – because unfortunately hydrangeas do not like extreme heat, and the blossoms are delicate and have a short lifespan. 

The beloved plants were brought to us at the rehearsal the night before and I carefully placed some in the shade and some in an air-conditioned room, but alas, even though I watered them lovingly that afternoon and at night, by 8am the next morning, half of them had completely wilted.  What to do?  A ‘911’ call first to our Site Director.  She called her plant-mart contact and Home Depot – no hydrangeas.  She referred to her trusty 15 page Trish & Tyson Wedding Spreadsheet and called “Aunt Paige” (who created the beautiful boutonnières and bridal bouquets) to see if she knew where Trish had bought the plants – Aunt Paige would try to find some and if she couldn’t, she would page our Site Director who would stop at the two nurseries on her drive up to Malibu.   The problem would be solved – and without troubling our bride! Aunt Paige not only saved the day, she made the most remarkable bridal bouquets.

The Couple, the Pool, the Bouquet, the Parasol

The Couple, the Pool, the Bouquet, the Parasol

By the time Trish arrived, I was able to start with “we have replacements” for the sadly wilted plants that greeted her.  A lot of brides would have lost it by then, but Trish was completely calm and cracked us all up when she said she was “so over the centerpieces”. There were not quite enough hydrangeas for each table, but since we always ask for extra cut flowers for the hors d’oeuvres trays and to create our signature Wedding CupCake Tree, we had enough flowers to fill in the pots wherever they needed an extra bloom or two. 

Another thought here is to really know what it entails when you ask a family member to help you with flower arranging and decorating the ceremony site – and then having to change into wedding finery in time for the wedding.  It is a lot to ask – so much work. One minute Aunt Paige was up a ladder decorating the Pergola, and the next minute she was changing into a little black cocktail dress to be a guest at the wedding. She missed the ceremony entirely.

Grooms in General; Tyson in particular – and breaking the rules!

For most of our weddings during the last two years, Grooms have taken an integral, and sometimes the entire role of creating the wedding day.  Whether they do or do not, dealing with two families (and often with divorces and remarriage) can be a challenge for the both the Bride and Groom.  At Rancho Chiquita we have an incredible team that can alleviate a great many of the logistical needs of creating your wedding day, but may be less effective in lightening the stress of loving and well-meaning family and friend opinions, critic, interference, suggestions, and on occasion a tantrum or two.  Most of our bridal couples pay for the wedding themselves but are still considerate of trying to meet every member of the families wishes.

When Tyson arrived I could tell right off the bat that he was tense – and it was 104 degrees which typically doesn’t help anyone’s frame of mind when there are tons of things to do.  It is actually a very personal experience to be of service at a wedding, and important that we are able to read the mood of our clients, the immediate family and the bridal party.  The smallest thing can make or break the joy of a wedding – I always want to make the bridal couple as happy as possible and help alleviate any concerns for them.

The groom’s party headed for the shade and breeze of the pool terrace as the heat pushed to 105 then 106 degrees.  Having been given strict instructions that they could not put even toe to water, they were wistfully looking at the cool inviting salt water infinity edged pool, obviously dying to jump in to cool off and delay donning tuxedo suits and ties.  I went into the house, grabbed a handful of pool towels and told the guys to go for it.  Pretty soon they were lounging on the pool bar stools drinking sodas and feeling completely relaxed. The photographer found them so we have some great photos.  Tyson asked me “Can’t we just get married in the pool?”  No, Tyson!

Breaking the rules - Tyson and the Groomsmen

Breaking the rules - Tyson and the Groomsmen

Trish thanked me profusely as she knew it was the perfect solution to take the edges off her husband-to-be’s stress.  For me it was just the right thing to do – even though it’s against the strict rules about using my beautiful Rancho Chiquita and, I’m afraid, it’s not a rule that my Site Director will let me break again!!   

Dresses and Headpieces

Trish in her Green Wedding Dress

Trish in her Green Wedding Dress

Trish wore 2 beautiful wedding dresses at her wedding. A lovely Celtic green dress for $100 from The Dresser in Fullerton – then at her final fitting she found her “dream” dress for only $400. How many brides can say they found 2 beautiful dresses for $500… and considering the heat of the day it was unique and lovely to switch looks like a movie star? Trish wore a hair flower from www.etsy.com – a must-see website for any bride to be. As well as being able to support artists through the site, Trish spent $20 on a unique headpiece for which most bridal stores would have charged $200. I like brides that enjoy a good bargain. 

Trish's Entrance - Wedding in Malibu

Trish's Entrance - Wedding in Malibu

Let’s Dance – The Last Dance

Trish and Tyson's CupCake Wedding Cake in Malibu

Trish and Tyson's CupCake Wedding Cake in Malibu

As the last CupCake had been savored and the evening wound to a close with the last dance, it occurred to me that one more song was definitely needed and I asked the DJ to play “Last Dance” by Donna Summer. Everyone got up on the dance floor one last time as the stars twinkled above and the moon shimmered over the water.

The End (or The Beginning)

When I went to say goodbye and good night I found my Bride Of The Year actually cleaning the bridal suite!! You would really not believe the shocking state that many bridal parties leave the rooms, but that is not the kind of person Trish is.  Of course I stopped her immediately as she was about to mop down the countertops and guided her lovingly out of the door toward the transportation waiting to whisk our couple off down the hill.

Nightime at Rancho Chiquita - Trish and Tyson's Wedding

Nightime at Rancho Chiquita - Trish and Tyson's Wedding

Wedding Photographer: Jackie Lovato, Lovato Images http://www.lovatoimages.com

Weddings in Malibu – Rancho Chiquita

September 22nd, 2009
Geraldine Gilliland, Chef, Author, Restaurateur, Malibu Weddings in Paradise
Geraldine Gilliland, Chef, Author, Restaurateur, Malibu Weddings in Paradise

Rancho Chiquita Wedding Blog – A Wedding in Malibu

Mesha and Jordan’s Wedding

A Humble Southern BBQ, August 22nd

A dear friend from the hey day of my first restaurant, Gilliland’s, who wishes to remain anonymous, suggested that Mesha and Jordan call me and visit Rancho Chiquita for a potential venue and caterer for their wedding. As soon as they walked in the gates it was love at first sight. They didn’t want to leave. As we sat and chatted about their vision for their wedding day, it was clear this couple were unique in every aspect of the wedding, but particularly the menu. They wanted a humble Southern BBQ with Fried Chicken and BBQ Ribs…. It was so exciting to do something different than regular “wedding” food. Although I must make a disclaimer here that none of the food I serve at Rancho Chiquita is your typical boring rubber chicken hotel dinner.

Mesha in her Wedding Dress

Mesha in her Wedding Dress

Then the fun started. We arranged for a tasting of the menu at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub in Santa Monica, which I just happen to own. I did have a confession to make to the groom and that is I grew up in Ireland and never made Macaroni and Cheese before.  I begged the groom to share with me his family recipe. Jordan was insistent that I not add anything fancy like Truffle oil, or God forbid! Goat Cheese to the Mac and Cheese. Jordan was clear right down to the size of the macaroni… (I didn’t know there was more than one size of macaroni, did you?)

So the final menu was selected on that rainy February day at Finns and the planning began.

We could not have had a better day. The weather was beautiful, the view was magnificent. We could see all the way down to Palos Verdes and Catalina Island. It was a lovely warm, but not too hot day. The guests arrived, mostly by shuttle bus. They stepped onto the Spanish Courtyard and were lovingly escorted to the pool terrace for a glass of our delicious signature Hibiscus Cooler, while they listened to a special Music CD Jordan made for the guest’s arrival. It was so lovely to hear the all oohs and ahhs from people as they savored the view and discovered the lawn set for dinner.

Mesha and Bridesmaids
Mesha and Bridesmaids

Eric Powell, our wonderful friend and brilliant photographer arrived and photographed Mesha and Jordan before the ceremony. This is not unusual these days as many of the couples do not want to miss the yummy delicious cocktail hour with family and friends. Mesha was absolutely stunning in an off white Claire Pettibone Dress. A Truly beautiful bride. The groom and groomsmen all wore off white suits. The ceremony was held under the Pergola where local florist and artist, Marion Curson, had hung many strands of roses so they looked like they were floating in the cool Ocean breeze. Purple and blue parasols completed the look and gave some shade to the guests. Vows were exchanged. (Why do I always cry at weddings I ask myself?)

Groom and Groomsmen

Groom and Groomsmen

We hear clapping; a newly married couple is cheered as they walk up to the lawn. All systems are a go and the staff gets ready to receive the guests. The Bar opens. Servers walk around and tray pass glasses of Red and White wine. The groom hates long lines at bars so we made sure we had plenty of staff for the occasion.

Roses Frame the couple

Roses Frame the couple

The appetizers, Smoked Potato and Corn Hush Puppies, and Red Yam Tortellini with Crispy Sage Garlic, were served on the lawn and covered terrace of the newly built Spanish Guest home. A croquet field was set up just for fun. Vases full of lavender Dahlias were set on tables. Mesha and Jordan had a crossword puzzle on each place setting of their life together so far. They are really a very clever, unique and artistic couple.

Mesha and Jordan Exchange vows

Mesha and Jordan Exchange vows

Dinner was served family style: platters of Sweet Potato Gratin, the now famous Mac and Cheese, Collard Greens, Poppy Seed Coleslaw, and platters of Buttermilk Fried Chicken and BBQ Ribs. There were 12 Vegans at the wedding so we served them our beautiful Portobello Mushroom Napoleon with Polenta, Spinach and Ratatouille on a bed of fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce. We have many vegetarian and vegans at weddings these days and we always try to make their entrée very interesting. I was so worried about the chicken not being crispy because we were cooking for 130 guests on a portable 6 burner stove …in a makeshift outdoor kitchen. But the chicken was perfect (legs and breast were served). You do know that when we do a wedding at a private Estate… that we have to set up a kitchen basically in a field!!!! Not as easy as cooking in a restaurant kitchen.

The Groom, The Bride and the Bridesmaids

The Groom, The Bride and the Bridesmaids

The guests loved being served family style and they loved not having to wait in long buffet lines… I walked around the tables and chatted with so many happy people.

Mesha and Jordan's Wedding in Paradise, Malibu CA

Mesha and Jordan’s Wedding in Paradise, Malibu CA

Mesha and Jordan Wedding in Paradise II

Mesha and Jordan Wedding in Paradise Malibu, CA

More fun when the bride did an interpretive sexy dance with 3 hula hoops to entertain her new husband. Mesha did not miss a beat and never dropped one Hula Hoop. What a gal! Then Mesha did a cabernet version of “Fever” with 4 of her girlfriends as her backing group.  It was absolutely fascinating. The crowd was stunned they loved it and it was so much fun. A little latter another surprise…Some friends’ donned monster masks and did a dance to “Monster Mash”. It was so funny.

Mesha and the Hula Hoop

Mesha and the Hula Hoop

Mesha and Jordan Hula Hoops

Mesha and Jordan Hula Hoops

The cupcake wedding tree was a combination of homemade (by me) Red Velvet Cupcakes, Vanilla Bean with Lemon Frosting and Devils Food Cupcakes with Mocha Frosting. I always suggest baking extra cupcakes as guests always want to try more than one flavor. After the bride and groom cut the cake, we take the cupcakes back into the kitchen and remove the paper and serve them with a delicious Crème Anglaise. We must always fight people off as they try to grab cupcakes from the tree. (I must admit I gave my friend one as he wouldn’t take NO for an answer).

Wedding Cupcake Tree

Wedding Cupcake Tree

Cupcake Tree for a Wedding in Paradise

Dancing under the Carnival Lights crisscrossed over the lawn, toasting and great fun, along with a sliver of a moon and later the dragon’s breath engulfing the main land below and whisping far below my mountaintop Estate. The City lights we call the Queen’s necklace illuminated the sky along the coastline.

Mesha-Jordan Wedding - to Infinity

Mesha-Jordan Wedding – to Infinity – Wedding Photos by Eric Powell Photography

http://www.ericpowellphoto.com

As the evening wound down and the guests left the Estate through a row of Tikki Torches – kind of felt like that reality show when they leave the Island.

Off to a local hotel where the bride and her girlfriends, The Aqualillies performed their Esther Williams routine in gold lame bathing suits in the hotel pool. I wish I could have gone to that after party but we still had to clean up. The Staff leaves at 11pm, lights off and then we sneak into the kitchen and eat some of the delicious left over Macaroni and Cheese. I have never before eaten Macaroni and Cheese and it is delicious. Good going Mesha and Jordan.

The Aqualillies Perform

http://www.aqualillies.com