October 09, 2008

Wedding weekend

Well I've been totally wiped out after a packed four-day weekend trip to Philadelphia to attend a niece's wedding extravaganza. Haven't even READ any blog posts since before we left on our trip, let alone write one. I prescheduled something to post last Saturday and even completely forgot I had done that but, after two intense days back at work that just added to the exhaustion, I'm home today and starting to feel somewhat normal again. So, here's the "condensed" version of the weekend.

Tempeh reuben from French Meadow Bakery

Last Friday, I dressed at 6:30 a.m. (in Wisconsin) in the outfit I planned to wear at the rehearsal dinner some 12 hours later in Pennsylvania. And I discovered that if you wear a long skirt for air travel, you will get patted down at security. Good thing I didn't tape a soy yogurt to my leg. We changed planes in Minneapolis and headed to our favorite pit stop, French Meadow Bakery Café, for an early lunch. I've posted about this before and it's still a great airport find. I had a bowl of vegan chili that was too much to finish. It was a bit too heavy on tomatoes and light on beans but still tasty and filling. It came with two slices of sourdough bread. Ken ordered a grilled tempeh reuben. After 20 minutes he went to check on it, and twenty minutes later went to cancel it and get his money back. This was an airport—we had a plane to catch. This brought the manager out and she got the sandwich, packaged it to go and gave him a refund! (French Meadow has two airport locations. The main, full-service restaurant (packaged food also available) is at the end of the main shopping area just before entering concourse C. There is also a small satellite shop with packaged food and beverages at a different location.)

When we arrived in Philadelphia, we picked up the most garish red rental car I've ever seen and headed to Lai Lai Garden restaurant in Blue Bell. An indication of the festivities to come, the rehearsal dinner had 90 guests! I first want to say I had plenty to eat—was, in fact, obscenely stuffed and loved my dinner—but since I'm writing about vegan stuff here, there are a few things I'd like to point out. When the appetizers came, the non-vegetarians (NVs) received plates with a large egg roll, a large spare rib and a third thing. It may have been a fried shrimp—can't really remember. We vegans (Vs) received a plate with three small steamed dumplings. Okay, ours was probably much healthier, but theirs was much BIGGER. Quality and quantity are different things altogether, but still. They had three DIFFERENT things. Why didn't they get a dumpling? Why didn't we get some other interesting vegetable thing to go with our dumplings?
We Vs were then given a choice of three entrées. We could have tofu and veggies, string beans or a third thing that I can't remember. (I do seem to have a problem with third things.) We all chose the tofu.

Their food (only some of it!)

Then the NV entrées started coming. There was a giant lazy susan in the middle of our very large table and it was soon filled with meat, chicken and seafood dishes. More and more kept coming until the turntable was packed to capacity. And still more dishes came. The Vs were each brought a plate with tofu and veggies. It was really good, and I couldn't finish it, but it's the principle of the thing I'm pointing out. Is it assumed that NVs should be provided with an extreme assortment of food and Vs are limited to only one thing? I also wonder why NVs are unable to have vegetarian dishes along with their meat. None of this is meant to be a reflection on our hosts, just on the general state of food consumption in the US.

The wedding the next night was very beautiful and very big. There were 270 guests, making this the biggest wedding I've ever attended. The bride was beautiful and the groom dashing. Everything was in good taste, especially the food. After the ceremony, we had a cocktail hour with lots of interesting dishes. I'm sorry to say I was so involved in eating that I completely forgot to photograph anything so a description will have to suffice. I visited the pasta bar first and received a plate of perfectly cooked pasta on which I chose to add a chunky tomato sauce. There was all sorts of non-veg stuff to add for the so- inclined, but I was happy to find a bottomless bowl of black olives and another of a finely chopped kohlrabi salad. After that I headed to the bruschetta station where all sorts of spreads (including hummus) were stacked up. There was a vat of artichoke salad, a gorgeous roasted red pepper salad and who knows what else. Roaming the room, the Vs found plenty of delicious food to eat, as did the NVs. A cosmo from the bar, artichokes and olives and I was happy.

When we finally started dinner around 10:30, I wasn't all that hungry, but managed to eat my baby greens and a good portion of my —guess what?—tofu and vegetables. Good thing I never get tired of tofu and veggies. It was delicious. I wish I had some now.

The great band stopped playing at 12:30 a.m. and we made our way back to the hotel room (we stayed at the wedding hotel for the night of the wedding.) by about 1 a.m., and crashed.

Pumpernickel bagel, roasted asparagus, marinated mushrooms, salad.
The next morning we attended a brunch at the hotel. You wouldn't think we could eat any more, but we did. The brunch was a revelation. I never got past the salad with ginger vinaigrette, marinated mushrooms, balsamic roasted asparagus, bagels and fruit, but the room was laden with every imaginable breakfast food an NV could dream about. And Vs could find plenty to be happy about, too, unless they were looking for protein! I wish I had photographed the long table filled with gorgeous NV pastries.

Bagel, salad, hash browns, fruit.
We are originally from Philadelphia, and still have family and friends in the area, so in between wedding events we visited with relatives and friends, trying to make the most of the short amount of time. It was wonderful to be with my family, my husband's family and old friends. I wish it could be like this all the time. It was exhausting but worth it.

Oh, and did I mention that our oldest son, daughter-in-law and their fabulously amazing baby were there from Seattle?


  1. What a weekend!! Does sound a bit like a food-fest along with the nuptials. I LOVE tempeh reubens--so glad you mentioned it, as I think I need to make some! Re: the NV vs. V options, I'm guessing the V food isn't their specialty and they make the minimum necessary(tofu always works, doesn't it?), though of course they could have thought it through a bit more, and you'd ALL have had more options, with the NVs having more veg! (Oh, and you never mentioned the DESSERTS. . .??)

  2. Thanks for your comments. The NV vs. V was interesting as it was an Asian restaurant, a most likely place to find good veggie food. Of all the dishes served to the NVs, none were vegetarian.

    I didn't say much about desserts because none were vegan so I didn't eat any. At the wedding it was wedding cake. At the brunch there was a LONG table of the most beautiful cakes and pastries. And lots of fresh fruit. Nothing to compare with the spectacular vegan desserts on your blog!

  3. I love the French Meadow Bakery at the airport! It has provided me with many a vegan meal when flights are delayed...

    I am sorry there were not more vegan options, but at least there WAS something for you to eat! Much better than having to make due with the non-vegan options and eating around the meat and cheese...yuck!


  4. About the NV vs. V dishes at both events...trust me, I would have gladly traded all of the NV dishes for your one V dish! It always seems to work out (from a NV point of view) that the V dishes are made with more care. I ordered the V dish at a recent wedding, and everyone looked at my food (pasta with local vegetables) with jealousy. FWIW the only food I touched at the rehearsal dinner was a bite of a spring roll and it left me very ill all weekend.

    We are going to have to find a national park to visit together now that there are no more weddings to go to!

  5. I agree that the V food at the wedding was really great. Our hosts did an amazing job of selecting interesting food. But having been a V since 1983, I can tell you that it's not always, or even usually, the case. I just wish that we were a less meat-dependent society and more creative with the abundance of foods that aren't from animals. (At the last wedding we attended everyone got a beautiful plate of food and we received a tiny portion of overcooked pasta with barely warm sauce.) "Just toss some lettuce at the Vs and they'll be happy" is often the theme of event dinners. It's sad that so few people can prepare a tasty and balanced meal that isn't dependent on animals.

    In a recent post I provided some statistics on the relationship of diet to global warming. If everyone could give up animal products even one day a week, we would make a lot of progress in the fight against global warming. And maybe develop more cooking know-how in the process.

    Vs are always in the position of being grateful when they are provided with something, to eat. And I AM grateful. Always. I just hope that someday it will be a bit more natural to provide everyone with healthful, animal-free choices, as well as the usual fare. And everyone can enjoy healthful, tasty food without feeling deprived.

    Whew. That's about enough from this soap box.

  6. the tofu dish looks so delish!

    this is really one of the simplest dishes to make anywhere in the world so long as you can get hold of tofu and sauce package.

    Here I bought a sauce pack so as to skip all the seasonings! and i will try this friday after work.

  7. Sophie,
    Thanks for your comment. I hope your tofu turns out great!


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