Wedding Party - Goat Cheese and Spinach Grits with a Fried Egg
We did it. We pulled it off. And it was the best time I've ever had. I didn’t think it would be. It’s such a cliché. But to be simultaneously surrounded by so many loved ones was overwhelming. It was the entire weekend that was so phenomenal. It was a recognition of my love for Will, our mutual admiration. And everyone came out to recognize it. Toast to it. Dance to it. We had our wedding party at Rappahannock Cellars (RC) on June 11, a week after our family ceremony in Cape Cod. I wouldn't change a thing.
The night prior to our party, we went to Jalisco Mexican Restaurant in Front Royal, Virginia for dinner. There were long tables set up in a back room. My extended family, Will's family, and my home friends all came. It already felt celebratory. After, we headed to PaveMint—a brewery nearby with Virginia beer on tap and picnic tables outside. We sat at the long tables, side by side. We chatted with my parents friends, who lived in DC for five years—he was a member of the Radio TV Gallery in the early 90s. We talked about why they ultimately left. Will’s best friends from New Hampshire, and it was so meaningful to Will that they came.
Saturday morning was game time. We devised a plan. My friends would come to RC with me to get everything ready. With several assembly lines, we filled the “hangover to-go bags,” consisting of take-out boxes with a pint water bottle, mints, Ibuprofen packets, and chewy bars. We put the charms on the stems of the wine glasses, helped Will's sister arrange the flowers. My mom and I snuck upstairs and shared a glass of the VX2.
As I looked around the Barrel Room, all of my friends diligently preparing for that night, an extreme sense of gratitude came over me.
Once everything was set, we took a walk down the back path. We walked past horse stables on the pebbled road.
By 3 p.m. we all congregated to get ready and with prosecco in hand.
My friends picked out my jewelry and help me slip into my dress. I was really excited. I met Will in the hallway and we hand in hand, quietly escaped out the backdoor, to take some pictures ahead of time.
When we got to RC, everything looked amazing. The flowers, the barn, the ambiance. A tremendous sense of calm washed over me.
I wasn’t nervous, everything was already planned, in place. By 6 p.m., guests started arrive. It was oppressively hot earlier, but the heat subsided. We had large platters of crudité and flatbreads.
I smiled, squeezed Will’s hand, this was it. It was a gorgeous night. I got glasses of the VX2 for me and Will. Took a deep breath, and made the rounds.
By 7:15 p.m., time for the father-daughter dance. I couldn’t believe how fast the night was already going. My dad made a speech that so him. He talked about all of my injuries, the confusion of us having “five weddings,” and ultimately the accomplishment of us finding each other. How I found “the guy.” We danced to “As” by Stevie Wonder. Once we started dancing, I realized it's a much faster-paced slow song that I anticipated. We danced for about 45 seconds, and cut it. Regardless, it was a highlight. I just don’t think of my dad as a dancer!
It was time for dinner. The menu was: Three stations: 1) Mediterranean style mezzes: falafel, fattoush salad, hummus, baba ghanoj, tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves, olives, spicy peppers and feta with pita and flatbreads. 2) Mini kabob station: chicken and pineapple with an ancho chili honey glaze, garlic and herb marinated beef with peppers and onions, roasted vegetable kabob of eggplant, portabella, summer squash and a rice, black bean, corn salad. 3) Southern hospitality station: shredded pork sliders, Chesapeake crab cakes, sweet potato biscuits with Virginia country ham and honey cheddar and pimento.
It was the shrimp and grits that everyone raved about. We sat at a picnic table with friends as the sun set. I finally told our table we had to go to make more rounds. I migrated to chat with friends who flew in from out of town. Emily joked, "Look! It’s all your favorite people!"
By 9:45 p.m., it was time to cut the carrot cake. I was impressed with how cleanly we cut it.
Outside, the s’mores bar was a hit. There were two fire pits going.
And I danced and danced. We danced to Footloose, to salsa, to Beyoncé, Shakira. It was too much fun.
The night was going too fast and I wanted it to slow down.
I was in shock when 11 p.m. came. I was laughing the entire time, the epitome of being in my element. We took the cookies on the bus and passed out the remainder of the beers. I showed pictures of Caribbean Will, from the Bahamas. I was laughing the whole trip back.
At the hotel, we planned to go out to a bar to continue the celebration. However, the bars were closing at 1 a.m., and the hotel graciously allowed us to stay. So we did. And it was awesome. Everyone had beer, even bubbly. I then went outside, it must have been 2 a.m., by this point. My friends were outside, and we talked for another hour. By 3, we crashed.
We woke up Sunday morning in a haze. We did it. It was the best night of my life, despite the cliché, to be surrounded by so many loved ones. It really was. We couldn’t believe how well it went. It was even better than I could have ever anticipated. I remember laying there thinking: we can start our married life together. This is it. It was the very best feeling. Accomplished, in love, blissfully happy. We met everyone at Wynn’s Diner for breakfast. It’s family owned right on Main St.
We said good byes to everyone. They thanked us for the best weekend.
Will and I went back to RC to pick the rest up. We brought back leftovers, which lasted us dinners all week. We had shrimp and grits literally every night. We catered from A La Carte. We were later told they came in so early, to wash and clean the fresh shrimp and making the stock for grits from scratch. That’s why they were so good. I knew it. The care that went into the dish resembled the goat cheese shrimp and grits I made a while back. Slowly made from a homemade stock , cooked slow, fresh shrimp. Because if you put time, effort, and enough love and thought into a dish—it seems elevated. Like my version of shrimp and grits. And like this party, there was a ton of thought that went into it. But also love, which is why it was so phenomenal. Why it was the best night of my entire life. Thought and love. Makes fora stellar recipe.
Goat Cheese and Spinach Grits with a Fried Egg
1 cup stone-ground grits, dry
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup sweet corn, frozen
1 cup spinach, frozen
3 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
3 tbsp. butter, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp. thyme
Salt and pepper
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil
Once the broth boils, slowly pour and whisk in the grits
Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover the corn to help soften the flecks of corn
On an extremely low heat, simmer for 45 minutes, every 5 to 10 minutes to prevent a layer of grits from cooking on the bottom of the pot
After 15 minutes you may think the grits are ready, but it’s too soon
The extra simmering and stirring results in creamy grits
Add thyme, salt, and pepper
In a separate medium skillet, to fry the eggs, melt 1 tbsp. of butter
Cook slowly until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken, are are not hard
Carefully flip for 1 or 2 seconds, then flip back so the yolk is still runny
If ready before the beans and rice, turn off the burner and cover with a pot top cover so the eggs continue to steam and keep warm, but not over cook
, fry two eggs over easy
With about five minutes left to cook, add the corn and spinach and cook to defrost
Continue to cook on a low heat, add 2 tbsp. butter and additional salt and pepper to taste
Add grated Parmesan
Whisk in goat cheese
Divide between two bowls and top with a fried egg on each
*Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay, Food & Wine (2006)