With spring around the corner, it’s time to start planning for Easter, Mother’s Day, and outdoor gatherings. When I think of spring, I am typically reminded of soft pastels, bouquets of daffodils, and grilled snapper on the open barbecue. Of course, in Texas, we weren’t as winter-weary as other parts of the country ―but we still welcomed the gentler hand of spring.
Years have passed since my spring times in Texas but we still come together with family and friends to celebrate nature, life, and a mother’s love. This year, look for nature to be one of the prevailing signatures of spring. My company recently provided the décor for a bride who loved nature. We translated that passion into wedding décor that featured a chuppah garlanded with foliage (the cover of the chuppah was made from cotton grown, picked, and ginned on the bride’s Mississippi family farm) and an actual tree stump that served as the wedding cake base. However, the most dramatic feature was the lush canopy ceiling treatment of Magnolia leaves suspended from a grid above the dance floor. A multitude of very large blooming branches created the appearance of a large arbor under which the guests dances. A host of iron lanterns ―each twinkling with candlelight ―was suspended from the grid of leaves and branches at various heights. The bride was thrilled at how we captured the essence of her personality with this nature-inspired wedding décor.
Spring menus will be bold, fresh, and organic. Utilizing locally grown fruits and vegetables straight from the farmer’s truck continues to be the most popular choice. Wild leeks, Vidalia onions, heirloom tomatoes, snap beans, yellow crookneck squash, peaches and blueberries are perfect springtime choices ― especially in response to clients’ requests more salads and healthier eating. Our Executive Chef was recently featured in Special Events Magazine for his “organic spoon-sized salads” composed of micro-basil, edible orchids, raspberry, caramelized Seckel pear, and pineapple relish with African blue basil.
In addition to fresh, organic, and creative ―“Mini” is also in. From gourmet mini burgers (photo courtesy of Lauren Ruebinstein) to cold shots of Vichyssoise ―it seems, bite-sized is the right size. “Petits fours literally fly off the trays at our events,” says Executive Pastry Chef Charles Barrett. Maybe smaller-sized desserts and pastries (photo courtesy of Ric Mershon) reduce the guilt. For some reason, serving smaller portions also seems to stimulate conversation. If you really want your guests to mingle, I suggest serving single, bite-sized hors d’œuvres.
For Mother’s Day I wouldn’t veer too far away from classic brunch dishes. Stacey Eames, owner of Atlanta’s trendy Highland Bakery says, “Our Crab Cake Benedict with sautéed spinach is by far our most popular Mother’s Day item. We’ve been at this location for over five years and Mom’s seem to order the same items year after year. I guess they like what’s familiar ― I find that to be very endearing.”
Easter fare can be a little more inventive. If you’re inviting guests, I suggest having the standard Honey glazed baked ham available so that those expecting it will not be disappointed. Do try an unexpected side dish like Orzo pasta salad or Cheddar Cheese Buns (extra delicious when served with ham slices and Dijon-styled or coarse German mustard). For dessert pick up something unique from your local bakery ―a Rhubarb almond crumble or Brazilian Carrot Cake ―quite different from the American version.
Regardless, of where you live or how frequently you entertain ― you’ll surely note this year’s bold, organic, locally-grown, miniature, alfresco, nature-driven, classic, colorful and creative signature of spring.