Often times we go to a wedding where everything is just great, but the food is always so bad. And often times, we encounter special experiences in our lives where we feel the need to share with the world. Now you can ask - what do these two statements have to do with one another? I'll tell you. I attended the wedding of my best friend where I was his best man. The wedding was fabulous, the set up was breathtaking, the bride looked amazing in her beautiful wedding dress, the presentation, the food... impeccable. Catered by one of the best companies in Lebanon, Faqra Catering, I would say this wedding is the wedding of the year in my books. Congratulations my dear friend.
Faqra Catering was put to the test during this unique wedding which took place at Chateau Rweiss - they handled the welcome drinks, the seated dinner, self service buffet and desserts distributed along the vast areas this place boast. From 7pm until 4am the next morning - not a detail missed. After reviewing La Mie Dorée who did a great job at my son's baptism, I couldn't but share with you the fine art we witnessed during Raymond and Ekaterina's wedding. Saturday was the big day... The day we have all been looking forward to for the past year. The wedding of my best friend who wanted to come up with new and innovative ideas or at least try as much as he could to have it all under one roof. We were promised a lot and we've been waiting eagerly to see this wedding come to life. At 07:30pm, after the wedding ceremony ended, guests were invited down the reception area overviewing Beirut.
At the end of the day, music, entertainment and food all play a role in making the wedding a success. I'm going to focus on the part we're all interested in here at NGNO - the food. Faqra Catering, known to be one of the best catering companies in Lebanon, have really outdone themselves. The place, packed with guests, all visually indulged in the food presentations in various stations. Art work to look at and then enjoy tasting. Over 20 cooks busy working at their stations, making sure that they cater to all the guests needs on the spot. Three pastry chefs are working on appetizing your senses during dinner, building the anticipation of tasting the delicious sweet choices available and for the early hours of the morning, when you've danced yourself to hunger again, a breakfast chef is there to quench your early morning cravings. During the dinner, 45 waiters are there to cater to the needs of over 300 guests at this lavish wedding...
Come take a walk with me through the details of this wedding... food wise! The welcome area different sections:
- The arak station filled with four different falvors including mulberry, mint, watermelon and anise. Jellab, Rose water and amareddine juices placed on a table decorated with barrels, fruits and ice...
- An authentic old merchant, distributing blackberry syrup (charab et tout)
- Dancers walking around distributing cones of dried vegetable chips
- A vodka bar, created completely from translucent clean ice and offering red caviar, lemon juice, Belvedere shots coupled with special Blinis, Butter and Russian pickles
- A Salmon Station with different kinds, each tastier than the other. I had all of them twice. The salmon is fresh and non oily melting under your teeth. You could close your eyes and feel the different aromas (vodka, anise, sesame and tarama) served on bread rolls
- A Cheese and Ham Station offering freshly cut Spanish dried cured ham - Jamón, little cubes of Parmesan cheese and Tête de Moine: My favorite Swiss cheese
- A Falafel Station and not your ordinary falafel but a new and unique creation: Shrimps falafel that I found superb. King prawns covered with an authentic falafel layer then deep fried. Imagine an external crunchy crust and a soft shrimp inside. How creative!
- An Oriental Station preparing halloum and fetta cheese mini bites in local Kaak (the same used for knefe), slightly heated to soften the bread and make the filling melt under your teeth
- Hot fresh nuts offered in paper cones. Those were really good
- Chocolate fountains, white chocolate and dark chocolate served with fruits, sweets and marshmallows
At nine, and after cutting the beautiful cake made with 100's of candles, it was time for a change of ambiance and move along to the dinner area. The bride and groom decided to have the dinner inside, in an air conditioned environment away from this summer's intense heat and humidity. 40 meters away, under the grandiose Rweiss palace a superb setup was prepared to host all the guests around tables setup for a fine dining experience. An amber colored ambiance, dimmed lighting, a space lit with candle lights and a reflection of sparkling lights created by the many glass chandeliers pending from the ceiling. The setup was just awesome.
The seated dinner:
- First Course: Olive tapenade, bread and butter. Crisp fresh greens salad of orange infused shrimp with avocado and carrots, drizzled with an orange reduction. I was amazed to see such beautiful plates distributed to all the guests at once. The salad was so fresh. Green leaves that are standing straight like English guards, a couple of fresh crunchy shrimps, carrots cut in thin layers, well cooked broccoli, and a thin transparent slice of bitter orange. The only unfortunate detail was that it was a bit dry. More dressing would have been better. Even so, this plate amazed me.
- Second Course: Piece de resistance as they say, when a dish covered with a cloche landed in front of guests. Underneath it was homemade cheese ravioli covered in a truffle sauce, with grilled asparagus topped with Parmesan shavings. Beautiful! Few fine dining restaurants serve such a high-end plate, decorated with gold leaves. Two crunchy fresh asparagus covered with Parmesan cheese layered peacefully next to four ravioli bites cooked aldente and floating in a truffle sauce. Wow! Really amazing. A premiere for me in the hundreds of weddings I have been invited to in my life. Even though the ravioli was cold, the plate was so majestic that I couldn't but finish it all.
If you think dinner is over... and it was time for dessert, you are just as wrong as I was. We were surprised when the backdrop of photos were lifted to shed light on a beautifully long line of live stations. A theater-like anticipation of what lies behind those curtains... Yes, after tasting all the appetizers that included a salad and a pasta dish it was time for the buffet. 9 different plates, all hot and tasty were just waiting to be devoured. I tried to taste all of them, and was amazed after every bite. There was nothing to be said: Soft, tender, well heated, perfectly seasoned... Everything was just perfect.
Assorted Live Stations :
Treasures of the Ocean:
- Salmon steak encrusted in crushed nuts and Basil
- Tahitian grilled fish filets wrapped in Papillotes
Birds of a Feather:
- Morel stuffed chicken rolls with wild mushroom sauce
- Caramelized duck with mandarin crepes and hoisin sauce
- Sautéed pork chunks with Lychee and cashews
- Beer marinated piglet
- Aromatic herb encrusted beef filet
- Baby lamb chops with stuffed grape leaves
- Eggplant upside down rice cake with Arabic meat balls and sour cherry sauce
Even more was yet to come. Desserts were served. Getting to meet one of Faqra's pastry chefs, I got the chance to discover the passion behind these creative pieces of art. I wanted to taste as many as I could. I tell you, it was not easy, especially after eating all of the above. I can only tell you that the macarons are good, the tarts are adequately sweet and with a crunchy crust and the oriental delicacies are really up to the standard of the specialists out there around town.
Cakes and Desserts:
- A wide choice of exotic fruits
- Cheese cake, chocolate mouuse and praline verrines
- Tropicana cake
- Framaboise chocolate cake
- Snow white cake
- Concerto cake
- Red fruits tart
- Mango tart
- Lemon tart
- Oriental corner (mafroukeh, halewet el jeben, karabige, halewet el riz, bohsalino)
- Sorbet ice cream
- Bread and cheese corner
What a day, what an experience:
- The wedding was perfect from the very first minute it started until it ended at 4am
- The organization was very good
- The groom and bride made us all want to dance non stop
- Faqra catering did a great job out there
- My latest favorite discovery are the dried vegetable chips that deserve an article on its own
Faqra's needed improvements:
- The bread used for the salmon bites is too thick covering on the main filling's taste. They should be thinner and softer, served without their borders
- The salad needed more sauce to become perfect
- Although covered and served with a cloche, the ravioli were unfortunately cold. Using a cloche means that all guests should be served at the same time and the cloche taken off at the same time... they should think about this point next time as well as work on a new heating system for these big events
It makes you happy to know the level of professionalism available in this country even though everything has its price at the end of the day. Eating food that is that tasty in a wedding is not something you always expect knowing that a lot of service providers do not deliver their promises most of the time. Mabrouk my dearest friend again and thank you for a lovely evening.