IT WAS A combination wedding and busman's holiday, the Sunday afternoon garden party to celebrate the marriage of Mark Caraluzzi and Susan Straight. It was the kind of wedding where everyone talked about how beautiful the pork chops looked.
Not that the bride, who works as a color consultant and showed that white can be the most smashing color of them all, didn't look beautiful. But this was a party that definitely and overwhelmingly focused on food. Caraluzzi is executive chef of the American Cafe, and besides being the groom, he was the caterer of this feast for a hundred people. The guest list was heavy with chefs, food writers, wine collectors, American Cafe staff -- people whose work is indistinguishable form most people's play: appreciating food.
Thus, while most grooms might have been obsessed with tuxedos, rings, ushers and honeymoon reservations, Caraluzzi spent his pre-wedding hours designing an enormous cinderblock grill to build in his back yard and arranging to borrow for it lava rocks that his wine connoisseur friend Hito Suyehiro had brought back from Hawaii. The Friday before the wedding he spent shopping with interior designer friend and co-cook Charles Mount for the salad ingredients. Caraluzzi's best man, Matthew Spielman, rather than just worrying about rehearsals and travel tickets, was responsible for all the logistics of the dinner -- transporting, storing and serving the food and wine.
Even the bachelor party was not the traditional boozy blast, though boozy blast it was. Two limousines took the men to the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia, with gallons of champagne consumed during the trip and hors d'oeuvres set up in a park along the route. After a couple days to recover, Caraluzzi and Mount began the cooking.
The big push was Friday evening, six friends and co-cooks working at the American Cafe kitchen to prepare the sauces, construct the salads, marinate the meats (in plastic bags, which Caraluzzi says are efficient for immersing and turning the meats, as well as for storing compactly). The meats were leaps beyond the usual hamburger cookout: marinated racks of lamb and chicken breasts, and extra-thick pork chops marinated and then brushed with Caraluzzi's barbecue sauce as they grilled. Hors d'oeuvres were shrimp cooked in beer with the shrimp boil Caraluzzi devised by assessing his favorite commercial brand, Zatarain's of New Orleans. The cocktail sauce was also his own recipe. Raw vegetables arranged in baskets were accompanied by his dill-sour cream dip and a pesto variation. Salads included fresh yellow and green beans in a creamy mustard vinaigrette, potato salad made with red-skinned new potatoes and sliced tomatoes with fresh basil.
A tent was set up in case of rain, but whoever was in charge of logistics did something right: Sunday, June 28 was a glorious and perfect a day as Washington weather has ever managed to produce. With a chamber orchestra playing, hickory chips soaking in buckets of water ready to perfume the fire, Caraluzzi's wine cellar cooling the salads and hor d'oeuvres, bottles of wines chilling on the buffet table, the party began. Caraluzzi switched from chef to groom while Mount tended the meats over the wood fire. The pork chops did look beautiful. SHRIMP BOIL
This quantity of shrimp boil is sufficient for poaching 5 pounds of seafood in 1 gallon of water or 1/2 gallon beer plus 1/2 gallon of water. 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon mustard seed 3 tablespoons coriander seed 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper flakes 1 tablespoon chopped bay leaf 1/4 teaspoon dill seed 10 seeds allspice 2 whole cloves 1 tablespoon kosher salt 1/2 lemon
Bring 1 gallon water with the above spices to a boil, add lemon and simmer 10 minutes. For medium shrimp, bring water back to boil and at lowest simmer, cook 2 minutes; remove pot from heat and let stand 10 minutes. SHRIMP COCKTAIL SAUCE (For 5 pounds of shrimp) 1/2 cup catsup 1/2 cup chili sauce 3 tablespoon horseradish 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard 1/4 teaspoon white pepper Juice of 1 lemon Juice of 1 lime 1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix all ingredients well and refrigerate. SOUR CREAM DIP FOR VEGETABLES 1/4 pound sour cream 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 tablespoon fresh dill, minced 1 teaspoon chopped garlic 1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate. For a variation add 2 tablespoons of pesto sauce. PESTO (6 servings) 2 cups basil leaves 1/2 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 3 tablespoons sweet butter (softened)
Put basil, olive oil, pine nuts or walnuts, garlic and salt in blender or food processor with steel blade. Blend until evenly blended. Pour into mixing bowl and beat in cheese and butter. Right before serving, beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons of hot water. Serve over fettucine, linguine or similar pasta. PORK CHOP OR SPARERIB MARINADE (For 10 pounds of meat) 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar 3/4 cup worcestershire sauce 1 lemon, cut in pieces 2 teaspoons garlic, coarsely chopped 2 tablespoons salt 2 cloves 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 cup sherry 3 shakes hot pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag or ceramic bowl. Marinate meat 24 to 48 hours under refrigeration, turning as frequently as possible. BARBECUE SAUCE (Makes 1 1/2 gallons) 3 cups finely chopped onion 1 stick butter 1/4 cup dijon mustard 2 quarts ketchup 1 quart chili sauce 1 quart white wine vinegar 1 1/4 cups worcestershire sauce 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic 2 lemons, cut into thin slices 2/3 cup lemon juice 1/2 cup brown sugar 3 bay leaves 1 tablespoon cayenne 2 teaspoons black pepper 2 teaspoons thyme 2 teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon white or yellow whole mustard seed
Saute onion in butter until wilted (approximately 8 minutes). Add remaining ingredients and simmer 7 to 10 hours. MARINADE FOR LAMB OR CHICKEN (For 8 chicken breasts or 1 chicken) 1/2 cup olive oil 2 1/2 tablespoons rosemary (fresh if available) 2 teaspoons sage 1 tablespoon garlic 1/2 lemon, cut in pieces 1 small red onion, cut in pieces 1/2 cup sherry 2 bay leaves
Mix all ingredients together. Marinate chicken for 24 to 48 hours under refrigeration, turning frequently. Use also for basting. MARINATED LAMB (8 servings as a main course) 1 large onion (red or yellow) 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled 5 cloves garlic 1 whole lemon 1 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder (imported from India) 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon fennel seed 1/2 teaspoons white mustard seed 2 teaspoons salt 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or 1-inch fresh cayenne or chili pepper 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 cup white wine 1 butterflied leg of lamb approximately 4 1/2 to 6 pounds with bone out or 4 racks of lamb
Chop onion, ginger, garlic and lemon in food processor or by hand until medium-coarsely chopped. Add olive oil, curry powder, cumin, fennel seed, mustard seed, salt, peppers and wine and process or mix until blended. Marinate the leg of lamb for 24 to 36 hours under refrigeration, turning once every 12 hours.
To cook, barbecue over charcoal or broil to an internal temperature of 135 degrees at the thickest point, approximately 25 to 35 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.
NOTE: At that temperature, the large pieces will be rare and the thinner pieces will be medium to well done. YELLOW AND GREEN BEAN SALAD (10 to 14 servings) 1 1/2 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup sliced, blanched almonds 1/2 pound yellow (wax) beans 1 pound green beans 1 tablespoon salt 4 scallions, trimmed and cut in 1/2-inch lengths sauce: 2 tablespoons dijon mustard 3 tablespoons lemon juice 12 teaspoons minced garlic 2 tablespoons heavy cream 1/2 cup olive oil 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Melt butter in small saucepan and lightly saute almonds until just starting to turn light, golden brown, 5 ro 10 minutes. Cook beans until just tender in 1 gallon water with 1 tablespoon salt. Immediately drop into cold water to stop cooking. Yellow beans will take slightly longer than green. Toss with scallions.
To make sauce, place mustard in bowl and whisk in lemon juice, garlic and cream. Slowly dribble in olive oil, whisking until sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over beans. Mix well and refrigerate. POTATO SALAD (15 to 25 servings) 2 1/2 pounds red wax potatoes 1 tablespoon kosher salt 3 eggs 1 small red onion, finely sliced 1 3/4 tablespoons dijon mustard 1/3 cup cornichons, finely chopped 5 tablespoons coarsely chopped red bell pepper 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon black pepper 9tablespoons sour cream 9 tablespoons mayonnaise
Put potatoes in 1 gallon cold water with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil and simmer slowly 12 to 20 minutes after the boil, depending on size, or until easily pierced with a fork. While they are simmering, add the eggs in their shells for 10 minutes of the cooking time to hard-cook them. Drain and allow to cool only until potatoes can be easily handled and cut into bite-size pieces. Cut the eggs, into slices and set aside. While potatoes are cooling combine all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl. When potatoes are cut, place immediately into the sauce and toss well. Then gently add eggs and toss. CAPTION: Pictures 1 through 3, Charles Mount and Jim Arnold grill chicken, pork chops and rack of lamb at the wedding reception of Mark Caraluzzi and Susan Straight; Picture 4, no caption, Photos by Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post.