If you recall, the food was one of the most important things for us. With me being in the industry, I have met a TON of caterers. And if you have reached out to me about my preferred vendors list, are one of my clients, or if you just know me and how I work when it comes to my events, you know that I only recommend people that have great attitudes along with great quality. They could have the greatest food ever, but if their attitude stinks I don't really want to work with that person nor do I recommend them to my clients or even family and friends. So long story short, I worked with a caterer named Rolando who owns Marna's Catering. I had worked with him....gosh, I don't even know how many times when I managed 2 venues out in Stillwater as he was on our preferred catering list. He was always such a pleasure to work with, we always had a blast! And if you recall, we wanted a mixture of Hispanic food since I'm Hispanic, well....it worked out because Rolando is Hispanic!! But let's take a step back a little bit....
Do you know many caterers say, "We can make Hispanic food!" A LOT! Now I'm a foodie and I know Hispanic food when I have it. I lived in Phoenix so I had authentic Mexican food. I lived in Miami and so I definitely know Cuban and Puerto Rican food when I see it. And I also have been to weddings where they have Mexican food and it's just not quite there. So let's just say I'm picky. I mean when we were looking at sports venues, their caterer said they could make Hispanic food. I was like "Ummmm, they normally make bar food...I don't think so." So because I knew Rolando and knew he could make authentic food, I based my venues off of where he was a preferred vendor or if they allowed outside caterers (I know I mentioned that in a past post, but I'm repeating it again as a little refresher). Trust me though, finding venues that way doesn't always work for everyone. Again, the food was important to US, but there are going to be other important things for a couple that will help them narrow down their choices too!
Since the fiance had been to Miami a few times and with me being a foodie, we knew what we really enjoyed and wanted. So we wrote down what we both liked so we could send it to Rolando in order for him to prepare it at our tasting. We sent him the following:
Yucca with chimichurri sauce
Rice and beans
Carnitas (fried pork chunks are amazing)
Carne asada (steak)
Chicken marinated in mojo
Plantains (and maduros - sweet plantains)
Cuban sandwich sliders (only if made with Cuban bread)
Now with all my friends coming from Phoenix and Miami and with my family being Hispanic, I was fine with having all Hispanic food. However, with the fiance being Caucasian it was a different story. Going into the tasting, we knew that we would have to come up with an American version of what we were having as well as a kids version as his family his HUGE and most of them have little kiddos. But what was it going to be? No idea! It's hard to think on the spot, right? But we thought, "Maybe Rolando will have a good option."
First thing Rolando brought out to us to try was chicken pupusas! Wait, no! He first brought out some wine. Ha! Definition of a pupusa: The pupusa is a popular El Salvadoran dish made of a thick, corn tortilla filled with anything from meats to cheeses to refried beans to pork rinds. It's an arepa as most of you have heard of, but just a different name based on the country. He put a little pico on the top and man, oh man, was it DELICIOUS...or should I say "delicioso?"
We thought maybe this would be a good option for an appetizer during cocktail hour and he suggested that we make mini versions so we said, "Let's do it!" One item down, several to go.
Next thing he brought out was tacos. Now if you know be personally, I'm OBSESSED with tacos. I could eat those things for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He brought out a marinated chicken taco that had cilantro, onions, and pico on it (there might have been something else, but I don't remember. I forgot to take a pic - sorry) with rice and beans. The black beans were good, but the rice just wasn't sitting right. The fiance loved the rice though. I don't know why I am so picky with rice, I mean it's just rice! Ha! So I told Rolando and he was completely understood. Obviously he couldn't prepare another version of rice right then and there so we asked if we could come back again and try some other kinds and he said definitely. We also had mentioned that we would like to come back and try his chimichurri; there are so many versions of it, it's unreal. We personally like the creamy version. We had one at a Cuban restaurant here in Minneapolis and it was just too herbal tasting, if that makes sense. I think the creaminess comes from mixing a little sour cream into it? No clue! I'll leave that up to Rolando since we showed him a pic. Weird, we know haha!
Everything was great and we were glad that we tried different elements of what we wanted. So again, we have to go back to try a few different items like the chimichurri, yucca, empanadas, and the rice, but this is what we're working with so far....
For appetizers during cocktail hour: beef empanadas, yucca with chimichurri sauce shooters, sweet plantain canapes, and the mini chicken pupusas
For dinner: taco bar (or they can have the stuff all separate) with either shredded carnitas or chicken, rice (suggested yellow - if you haven't had Vigo yellow rice, it's flippin amazing), black beans, and tostones.
Nothing is finalized yet; we wanted to see how much the items we loved and enjoyed were and we are going to base it off that that. Especially for the appetizers, we don't need that many different apps ;p
Towards the end of the tasting, we mentioned that we needed a kids meal which will also be good for the adults on the fiance's side of the family. For some reason we couldn't think of anything until finally we thought of a quesadilla bar. It was a vegetarian option, kid friendly, and adult friendly too! I mean, who doesn't like quesadillas? So that was that; we were going to have a quesadilla bar too! That definitely had to be in the final running since we absolutely needed an option like this.
Hint: Although it's your wedding, you want to make sure that you're thinking of the guests too. Put yourself in their shoes or even think about the times you've been to a wedding; what were some things that you didn't like or like when it came to the guest experience? We'll go more into this when we start doing our Save The Dates and invitations ;) But food is an important element of the "guest experience."
Now onto dessert!!!!!! So this is kind of a long story, but not really...? So my fiance's parents got engaged up in Breezy Point because that's where their parents cabin was. So in the long run, it was a very significant place for his parents so they decided to purchase a timeshare up there several years ago (for dirt cheap may I add). The family has been going up there every July. I had the pleasure of going with them starting last year. They used to get these pies called Marietta's which are now called Grandma Betty's. I'm sure if you have gone up to Brainerd, you know these pies. THEY. ARE. AMAZING! It's insane how good they are. They're mostly fruit pies, but some of them are creme pies too; I believe she has a key lime creme pie and a Hershey's pie too! Again, AMAZING! So these were definitely an option.
We also were considering Menchies. Menchies is found on like every corner in Florida so when the fiance was driving me around the St. Paul / St. Thomas area to show me where he used to hang out, we drove past this and I FREAKED OUT!! It's a frozen yogurt place and if you haven't gone, you need to! I mean they have cheesecake bites as one of their toppings! Yes, please! We looked up on their website if you can rent their machines and it said to contact your specific location.
A week after we had our tasting with Marna's Catering, my event staff called Menchies and it was $5 a cup. Kinda spendy since we were going to have about 250 people. I mean, a cake is more expensive sometimes so it was still cheaper, but meh :/ They then called Schaefer's in Brainerd (a grocery store that distributes Grandma Betty's pies) and they said they could make enough pies, but would need us to call back about 1 month before the wedding. If I remember correctly, the total was going to be in-between $300 - $400. However, they don't ship the pies because you could almost imagine what the pies would look like once they got to Landmark. And these pies are baked fresh everyday so we would need to get them the Friday before our wedding. Our wedding rehearsal is at 3:30pm (long story, I'll save it for another post) so we can't go up ourselves nor can our family. So that part is TBD, but we definitely want them! Plus it's a significant item that means something to the family, they just gotta make a debut ;) So long story short things are finalized, but just need to finalize the little details like flavors of the pies and the final items for the food.
Another major milestone checked off our list. Now onto planning the day since we have multiple people involved. Till next time!
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