Friday, October 30, 2015

Sourcing Local Food for My Wedding!

By Jenna Messier
Organic Land Care Program Director, CT NOFA
Jenna Messier and Chris Antezzo, Sr.
From the beginning of our October 12th wedding planning process, my husband Chris and I knew we wanted to have local and organic food at the Lighthouse Park, New Haven, reception. We both believe in supporting CT NOFA member farms, we prefer healthy organic produce and we want to support local businesses.
I expected it would be difficult to find a caterer who would be willing to spend time sourcing locally from multiple farms. Fortunately, we found an energetic, young couple who were up to the task, and as our guests can attest; the food was absolutely local and delicious!

I started meeting with Jim Calkins and his wife Michelle of Seasonal Sweets and Catering last summer, as I outlined our desired menu and the particular farms and products which we would like to source.  It took 3 to 4 meetings to work out the many details. Jim spent a lot of time reaching out to busy farmers over the summer to identify product availability and costs. We planned for 100 guests with 15 children and 85 adults.

appetizer table next to the carousel
I imagined fruit and cheese plates with veggie crudité for the appetizers and a bar with organic wine, local soda and apple cider, and kegs of local tasty beers.  And voila, all of this came to fruition!  Our guests were thrilled with the varieties of local cheeses and veggies for appetizers.

wines and re-usable glass mugs are lined up at the back counter
We selected sodas from New Britain's Avery Beverages and cider from Beardsley Cider Mill in Shelton.  I selected a few organic wines of my choice including Eppa SupraFruta Organic White Sangria from the North Coast of California and the red was Le Grue Cendree Cabernet Sauvignon from France.  I just have to insist on organic wine, so local was not an option!  The beers on tap were from Two Roads Brewery located in Bridgeport, CT and Brooklyn Brewery.

Planning the main course proved more difficult, and trying to stick to our budget was even harder. It appears that local, organic growers are not producing at a large enough scale to sell at wholesale rates to caterers and restaurants.  This was our experience.  So we had to create a menu with a mixture of local and organic produce and meats as these products could be sourced. In the end, our guests were thrilled with all of the dining options.  The full menu and list of contributing farms are listed below.
Pear cupcakes were delightful AND local!
My favorite part of the meal was our dessert. I really wanted to use our Anjou pears which we cook down and freeze every August. Let's just say that the pears are our family heirlooms, as Chris' grandfather planted the trees 70 years ago! I worked with Michelle to create a recipe for pear cupcakes.  She is such a talented baker, to say the least!  She came up with a pear cupcake recipe using small chunks of pear, a cream cheese frosting and a honey-pear glaze using with the remaining juice from the bags of frozen pears.  Luckily, we have some left over and frozen so we can sample them on future cold and wintry days.

Flowers in barn prior to bunching
I am so grateful to my best friends from North Tabor Farm in Chilmark, Massachusetts for picking every flower in their field and bunching the loveliest, brightest, most magical flower bouquets ever! While the flowers were not from Connecticut, they did travel by car along with my guests instead of by plane. A heartfelt thank-you to the Miller-Dix Family! And, don't forget to buy local flowers.

Matthew Dix, Ruby and Rebecca Miller


I am sharing this very personal story with you all for one reason: so I can spread the message that we will only be able to eat local and organic food - if we ask for it, seek it out, and are willing to pay a higher price within our own personal limitations. I am so happy that we did!  Food for thought...

Full Menu and Farm List for October 12th, 2015 Antezzo- Messier Wedding

Stationary Hors D’oeuvres
Local Artisan Cheeses, Fresh and
Dried Seasonal Fruit, with Flatbreads
Seasonal & Local Vegetable Crudité and Dips
Main Course
Artisan Bread
Vegetable Infused Butter
Local Organic Garden Greens Salad
Roasted Garlic Potato Salad
Pasta, Local Tomato Marinara
Basmati-Ancient Grain Rice Pilaf
Seared Salmon Medallions
Smoked Local Raised Pulled Pork
The Finale
Organic Pear Cupcakes with Local Honey Glaze
Local Organic Fair-trade Coffee & Hand Crafted Artisan Tea
Local CT Farm & Business Sources:
Before & After Farm - CT NOFA Business Member
Beardsley Cider Mill
Massaro Community Farm - CT NOFA Business Member
Laurel Glen Farm
These Things Take Thyme
The Farmers Cow
Stone Garden Farms
Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters

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