Let’s be honest. While the theme song “Here Comes the Bride” plays, how many of us are just a little bit distracted, wondering how soon we’ll be let into the reception, and what we’ll eat?
It’s human nature. And now that the days of pre-fab buffet foods are mostly gone, the anticipation is even higher, since instead of rubber chicken and gray broccoli out of a chafing dish, we might be dining on supremely fresh salt baked royal sustainable king salmon slathered in lemon aïoli and romesco sauce.
For a Wine Country wedding, the food can take on extra significance. Given the local bounty that thrives here, a good chef will feature just-picked fruits, vegetables and herbs, alongside locally produced meats, seafood and honey.
For guests at an event hosted by Ramekins Culinary School and Inn of Sonoma, a meal doesn’t get much fresher. The property has its own 5th Street Farms nearby, where the proprietors grow their farm-to-table produce. Based on what’s seasonal, the executive chef prepares a custom menu, and cooks it in the world-class kitchen right on-site.
While the ingredients boast a high pedigree, meals can be as casual or as formal as a couple likes. Lavish multi-course sit-down dinners are custom designed for as many as 175 people, and the feast becomes a talking point as guests savor the Sonoma-grown roasted 5th Street Farms beets with wild arugula, Black Mission figs, toasted pecans and La Bodega sherry vinaigrette, or honey-brined Petaluma chicken breast with mascarpone whipped potatoes, grilled asparagus and lemon zest.
Some events – ranging from showers, to rehearsal dinners to receptions and post-wedding family brunches – take place in the Great Room, elegant with oak beam vaulted ceilings and a fireplace. Others are held outdoors in the rustic European inspired courtyard which boasts an antique limestone fountain and French doors.
The couple can request a theme, too. Vegetarian plated entrées are increasingly popular, such as garden-fresh Summer risotto with Ronde de Nice squash with cherry tomatoes, basil and torn squash blossoms, or wild mushroom ravioli dressed in parmesan cream and arugula.
Or, they might go for a “Pasture & Ranch” party, with a variety of meaty small bites like curried chicken sliders with toasted almonds and Sultana raisins, thinly sliced Sonoma duck breast on potato gaufrette with tart cherry glaze, wild mushroom crostini with triple cream brie and caramelized pancetta, mini barbecued pulled pork sandwiches with shaved fennel and apple cider slaw, and beef bourguignon profiteroles with Point Reyes blue cheese mousse.
Ramekins does offer buffets, but these are jazzed up for sophisticated options like grilled bavette steak with horseradish crème fraîche and tomato confit, truffled white cheddar orrechiette pasta with toasted garlic and sourdough bread crumbs, and 5th Street Farms mixed lettuces with shaved fennel, Vella dry jack and candied pecans in whole grain mustard vinaigrette.
Here comes the buffet… um, we mean, bride.
Details: Ramekins Culinary School and Inn, 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma, 707-933-0450, ramekins.com.
Tip: Make the wedding transportation as local and memorable as the meal, with a Pure Luxury limo or Town Car.