Social sharing themes for wedding menus
What better way to get guests talking to each and creating a relaxed occasion than by breaking bread over the table? We’re the only animal on earth that makes eye contact when eating and this goes a long way towards us being social creatures. It’s our social connections and forming bonds over food and drink that plays out way back in our history. It’s so natural for us to sit around a fire, a hearth, a table (or even on the floor with a picnic) and to share stories over a meal together. This last year, more than before, I’m seeing a move towards more social sharing themes for wedding menus and the way they will be served. I certainly think that people are missing social interaction (I know I am) and so planning for your wedding day and the wedding breakfast is a great opportunity to bring all of your loved ones together.
As I’ve said before, canapés during a drinks reception can act as a great ice-breaker, but I’m not going to focus too much on canapés with this blog. You can take a read of one of our canapé idea blogs for more suggestions there. I’m going to share with you a few ideas of how we’re incorporating a social sharing theme into the food and the wedding breakfast and hopefully give you a little inspiration for your big day!
SHARING STARTER COURSE
Sharing boards, full of food, dips, dressings and tasty ingredients are a wonderful way to create and energy around the table. Guests will pass plates and boards around the table, asking each other “what’s it like…”, “could you pass me the…” and “what is this”?! A really popular theme to this is a traditional Antipasti, however the ideas don’t need to stop at the most obvious elements that spring to mind. Here’s a few of my favourites:
Salami & Mortadella, Feta with Chilli & Mint, Harissa Artichokes, Labneh & Crudités, Marinated Tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella, Artisan Breads, Salted Butter, Balsamic Vinegar & Olive Oil
Chorizo in Red Wine, Salami & Prosciutto, Olives, Charred Peppers, Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables, Stuffed Chillies, Garlic & Rosemary Focaccia, Balsamic Vinegar & Olive Oil
Bresaola, Prosciutto & Coppa Olives & Sun-dried Tomatoes, Charred Mediterranean Vegetables, Tomato & Herb Salsa & Carta di Musica, Roasted Asparagus, Artisan Breads, Balsamic Vinegar & Olive Oil
Garlic, Lemon & Chilli Prawns, Whitebait & Aioli, Marinated Anchovies, Smoked Salmon Rillette, Pickled Cucumber & Caper Berries, Samphire & Sea Herbs, Crayfish & Saffron Tart, Crab Salad, Avocado & Rye Bread
Sweetcorn & Jalapeńo Fritters with Lime Yogurt, Mini Salmon & Sweet Potato Fishcakes, Harissa Beef Skewers, Charred Aubergine & Pepper, Guacamole, Tomato & Coriander Salsa, Cornbread & Chipotle Mayo
Sharing food ensures there’s something for everyone
There’s something for everyone here and no matter what your taste, what dietary requirements guests may have. Above all, it’s not the typical fare you’d find in the supermarket aisles. Cured meats are a wonderful, salty mouthful, but it’s not just Salami or Parma Ham that can hold a place on the sharing board. Bresaola is a cured beef cut from the leg, de-fatted and rubbed with spices, juniper, cinnamon and nutmeg, before being thinly sliced providing a different taste and texture to the usual Parma Ham.
Coppa is another type of cured pork, but as it runs through the loin of the pork shoulder, once cured, its marbling renders and melts in the mouth, providing a contrast in texture to the meat and a wonderful experience to eat.
Chorizo, stewed down with shallots in red wine, is another fantastic addition to the grazing, tapas style table. Bringing a smoky heat and a sticky, sweet result from the cooked shallots and wine.
If it’s fish and seafood that you enjoy, then I’ve got lots of ideas here too! Smoked salmon, prawns & whitebait will always have a place on my table, but these can be presented in a variety of ways. For instance, instead of just laying slices of smoked salmon on a board, we could chop it and turn into a rillette, bound with cream cheese, horseradish and lemon. This pairs beautifully with something pickled, my suggestion being cucumber or radish.
Crayfish and saffron tart is a lovely morsel to have, with the shellfish set into a saffron custard, before being topped with chopped herbs. Finally, I like to garnish the fish with samphire and other sea herbs – such as oyster leaf, sea aster, sea purslane and sea beets – each bringing the salty flavour of the sea with them, but all having their own flavour profiles.
More and more of our couples are asking for cuisines from around the world. Recently, I’ve been creating menus inspired by Mediterranean or Middle Eastern Food, as well as South American and Asian, and I love creating ideas based on these themes.
Sweetcorn fritters, harissa beef skewers, jalapeńo & sour cream cornbread with chipotle mayo – each of these help to create a sharing experience that your guests may not have seen or tried before. All of these little touches help to make memories of the wonderful, diverse food that you and your guests enjoy on your wedding day.
SHARING MAIN COURSE
So now your guests are well and truly getting to know one another. It’s time to both build on these social bonds, as well as turn some heads. I bring you…. the sharing main course.
Now, the theme is basic, a central ‘star’ of the show, combined with a bounty of side dishes that allow experimentation with textures, flavours and experiences. All this at the whim of each guest – picking and changing whenever they choose to. Leaving the Mediterranean theme behind, here’s an American Barbecue style course that gets my juice going!
BBQ Beef Brisket
Maple & Bourbon Chicken
BBQ Pork Belly Ribs
House Sausage Sliders
Served with Sharing Sides of
Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Feta, Spring Onion & Pomegranate Salad
Blue Cheese & Bacon Potato Salad
Green Chilli Slaw
Corn on the Cob, Jalapeńo Mayo & Parmesan
Pickled Vegetable Slaw
3 Cheese Mac & Cheese, Crispy Potato & Onions
Baby Gem Wedge, Caramelised Onions & Ranch Dressing
Sharing side dishes are important too.
Imagine your feasting tables served with long boards of the central meats down the centre – sliced of smoked brisket, juicy pork belly ribs, sliced chicken breast glazed in maple syrup & bourbon. Add to this little slider buns of my House Sausage – a BBQ spiced mix of beef mince and cured gammon mince, wrapped in smoked streaky bacon before being smoked and then sliced. As these boards are brought to the table your guest’s heads will turn, the smell of the aromatics in the meats will probably make them start to salivate and they won’t be able to wait to dig in!
Before you and your wedding guests demolish the meat, however, they’ve got the entire table of sides to choose from to accompany their meal!
The richness of the meat needs to be balanced, and here I’m going with my pickled slaw – ribbons of cucumber, shredded red cabbage and red onion, marinated in a liquor of rice wine vinegar and palm sugar. This is genuinely one of the most fresh tasting mouthfuls you’ll ever eat!
I’ve added a green chilli slaw too, which is julienned green chilli, carrot and cucumber, shredded white cabbage and thinly sliced spring onion. Then bound with a dressing of green chilli mayo, milk and lime to keep it light and refreshing while also adding a kick of heat.
I’ve added some “heftier” side dishes, but with a few twists that I hope you like the sound of.
How about bacon and blue cheese potato salad, for example – a great twist on a classic BBQ side dish. Crumbled chunks of blue cheese, crispy onions and crispy bacon combine with new potatoes, chives, spring onion and parsley. This will be a salad you won’t be able to stop digging in to…you’ll never want to go back to your plain potato salad again!
For some respite from the heavy dishes, the gem lettuce wedge is a winner. The leaves are coated inside and out in a heavenly ranch dressing, with layers of caramelised onions floating around and topped with crispy onions for a texture-filled bite. This course doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase ‘food envy’, and neither will your guests when they tuck into this table full of treats.
I’ve got so many favourites for a sharing dessert. Eton Mess, Tiramisu, Chocolate Tart, Trifle – they all make amazing dessert platters…..it’s easy to get spoiled for choice when it comes to these interactive sharing style puds.
Whether you want your guests to dig in and serve up from a big presentation dish, or combine their own ingredients of a dessert, the choice is yours. For this example I’ve gone with an Eton Mess, but instead of the traditional British version, once again I’ve gone a little off piste with a Tropical one.
Tropical Eton Mess
Rum & Coconut Cream, Mango Salsa, Pineapple & Banana, Passion Fruit Coulis, Passion Fruit & White Chocolate Meringue, Whipped Lime Jelly
Imagine large serving dishes of each ingredient being served at the table, allowing each guest to dip in and essentially create their own “mess”. Whipped cream flavoured with rum and coconut provides the platform for the zingy fruit – chunks of pineapple, slices of banana and a silky mango salsa.
The passion fruit coulis provides acidity to cut through the cream, and the giant meringues flavoured with white chocolate and passion fruit bring the crunch, and also act as a mediator, bringing both the acidic fruit and the mellow, sweet, cream and chocolate together. Finally, lime jelly is whipped to become light and foamy with an intriguing chew to it. This accentuates the dish while providing levity in both flavour and texture. If you’ve not tried a tropical take on an Eton Mess before, I suggest you give it a whirl!
So there you have it. A few new ideas that you can add to your wedding catering plans with a focus on a family sharing style. Don’t forget that we have lots of ideas, tips and suggestions for planning your wedding menu. Take a look through some of our other blogs or head over to our sample menus with many more menu suggestions to whet your appetite!