Recently, I was asked by Sydney boutique caterer Delectable Dishes to be part of a team to put together a wedding at the National Art School in Sydney. This venue has quite a history, having been a prison from 1841 –1914. It’s one of Sydney’s oldest, and best-preserved examples of colonial architecture; the buildings are a gorgeous yellow sandstone, and I’m sure if they could speak would have so many amazing stories to tell. And after this evening there will be another story to add: one of a beautiful bride, loving families and friends, long banquet tables in the old cell block covered with flowers of sunset hues and glowing candles, and in the courtyard, two grazing tables groaning with fresh seafood and antipasti to be devoured by guests before the main course.
Our part in this lovely wedding was to put together the grazing tables and a wedding cake made of cheese – and not in the traditional sense. I love jobs like these because, although they require a lot of planning and work to look effortless, it’s like play time, and the end result is always stunning! With a job like this you need a lot of props, flowers and produce. It has to look bountiful, and you need to over cater and replenish during the evening. A week before the wedding, we started making rosemary and fennel seed grissini. I have no idea how many dozen were baked, I do know quite a few were consumed by us as they came out of the oven. ‘Quality control’, we called it. We also prepared char-grilled aubergine, zucchini and colourful red and yellow capsicums, roasted baby Roma tomatoes, and made bowls of crimson red beetroot hummus, pale pink taramasalata and earthy baba ganoush. Kalamata olives were marinated with chillies, preserved lemon and herbs. Crudités were plentiful. Fabulous charcuterie was ordered, as well as fresh Sydney rock oysters and prawns. The cheeses for the wedding cake had been ordered and were in prime condition. They were for your interest, Ossau-Iraty, Le Conquerant Camembert, Irish Cashel blue and Epoisse. Oh, the aromas were unbelievable and very enticing.
A couple of days before the wedding we and the father of the bride made a very early visit to the flower and produce markets in Flemington, Sydney to purchase flowers and interesting foliage, boxes of lemons, figs, baby carrots, and whatever else we thought would look fabulous on the day. It never ceases to amaze me, having done this for many years that you always think you have too much: but you never do. It all gets swallowed up when you start putting it together. Magic happens.
The day of the wedding arrived, and there we were, on site putting it all together as planned. As usual, it was chaotic in an organised way, if you know what I mean. But it all came together with the cake being the last of the items to be arranged. And although having no fixed ideas about how to style the cake of cheese, I was very happy with the end result. It was pretty, and feminine, surrounded with pink roses, figs, fresh pink peppercorns and camellia leaves. I would love to say that we were able to stand back and admire our work, but no. As we finished, the guests arrived and the party began.