February 02, 2004

Midwest Gluttonfest

We hit the ground running after touching down in Chicago on Thursday night, stopping for a quick dinner at L's parents' before leaving to make L's appointment at a salon called Mario Tricoci. I bought some coffee while L was preened by the stylist. When I came back, L looked fantastic, but we shared a laugh as her salon-done do simply didn't groove with the army-green pants and "Brooklyn" t-shirt she had worn that night in anticipation of hanging out with her friends in the city.

On Friday we attended a wine tasting and sale. If you can, picture the Barney's warehouse sale, only in a room not much bigger than a high school classroom, with shopping carts snaking around the middle and cases of wine stacked impossibly high, and you'll have an idea of how crowded it was. The floor was wet, a combination of the winter slush and spilled wine that probably wouldn't smell too good at the end of the day. There were so many people tasting and carting away so many bottles of wine that the term "fire sale" would have been appropriate had it not been fourteen degrees outside.

We drank from small medicine cups and selected one red and one white for the wedding. L's dad bought a number of cases which the store's staffed loaded into his car. I can only imagine how many people drove home drunk from that sale because, like in most suburban towns, walking home was not an option. Had the police set up a checkpoint down the street and administered breathalizer tests to every other driver who left the store's lot, they could have ticketed enough people to fund the town for decades.

Friday night we drove to Milwaukee. It was a cold and gray outside, and most of the cars on the road were covered with salt. By the side of the highway the Mars Cheese Castle, along with a some fireworks warehouses and a few adult bookstores,heralded our arrival in Wisconsin. We passed a sign showing the time and temperature: five degrees below zero at five o'clock. I suddenly understood the appeal of destination weddings in Florida or Hawaii.

That night we ate a delicious home-cooked meal and had a lot of fun playing with the two cutest kids on earth at L's sister's and brother-in-law's home before going to sleep. But with a three-year old in the house excited to play with her Aunt L, we didn't need an alarm clock to wake us up and after a few jumps on the bed we were downstairs getting ready to go. I foolishly ate breakfast before L, her parents and I left for our first cake-tasting appointment. Barely fifteen minutes after finishing my bagel and banana we were sat down at bakery number one for our first few slices of cake. We liked what we tasted but knew that with two more tastings to go it was not time to make a decision.

As we drove through Milwaukee and its environs to our next appointment signs reminded us of the nation's newest obsession: low carbs. From Subway and Wendy's to Burger King and A&W, each restaurant advertised new Atkins-friendly menu options. But we were on the opposite of the Atkins diet: eat as many carbs as possible. (Can we call that the Snikta diet?) Although 2004 will find me training for the New York City marathon, I don't know too many runners who carbo-load ten months in advance of the big race.

By ten o'clock we were at Simma's Bakery, which even a few readers of my site had recommended. We were not disappointed. Free coffee accompanied some of the most delicious cake I've ever had. Irina, the bakery's owner, told us we could come back if we needed to narrow down our choices. I joked with her and asked if we could come back after dinner.

Other couples were there for tastings. No one asked them for proof of engagement and it hit me: with so much free cake being offered with no questions asked, our nation's hunger problems could be solved if everyone simply paired up and walked into bakeries pretending to be engaged.

We then drove further out to a salon where L had a test run of her makeup. There wasn't much for anyone else to do for the hour, so the rest of us sat around reading magazines. I happened to pick up a copy of People magazine with a cover story on American Idol judge Randy Jackson's recent gastric bypass surgery. With more food in store for the afternoon, I wondered how long it would be before I was a candidate for the surgery.

L looked beautiful when the makeup artist was done with her but once again we had to laugh at how made up she was for an afternoon of running around Wisconsin. Talk about contradicitons. With bags under my eyes and wind-dried skin, L and I must have looked like quite the odd couple.

Amazingly, we were all a little hungry after L's makeup appointment. Our stomachs were getting used to eating and probably started to wonder why it had been so long since our last meal. We stopped for a light lunch.

Our next appointment was with a woman who ran her own cake baking business from home. As much as we enjoyed her cakes, I think we had alread decided on Simma's before we got there. We thanked the woman, complimented her on her cakes and left.

Our last real stop of the day was with the florist and it was by far the longest. I knew about centerpieces and bridal bouquets and even flowers on the chupah but never really thought about everything else we'd need. Flowers for L's bridesmaids. Boutonnieres for my groomsmen. Stuff for our moms, dads and my grandmother. Thankfully, the woman who helped us was very patient as we discussed this all in front of her, going down a checklist item by item to see what we needed. She was very accommodating, getting up to bring us samples and answering every question we had. We might have been there for two hours, but then again I was under the influence of so much sugar that it could have been any amount of time.

After dinner that night with the entire family, we drove back to Milwaukee. I drove back with L's brother-in-law who told me the fight against weight gain was impossible while planning a wedding, what with all the travelling, parties and meals with family. I'm doing my best, but one weekend in Wisconsin undid months of running and yoga.

Thankfully Sunday was a low-cal kind of day. We met with Barb, the caterer, but only talked about the menu and didn't taste anything. For any of you who have planned a wedding, you'll know how great it is when you meet with someone who, for lack of a better term, simply gets it. Barb gets it and she left with us feeling like the weekend had wrapped up successfully.

We packed up our things and loaded up the car for the trip O'Hare Airport. Of course, there's one thing you can't leave Wisconsin without having: frozen custard. We made a stop at Oscar's, sailed through the drive-through and enjoyed our chocolate-caramel-pecan custard as we headed back, catching an early plane and making it home in time for the last few minutes of the Super Bowl.

Today I woke up very hungry. I'm doing my best to tell my stomach to slow down, but I think it's a little confused, like an addict who suffers from withdrawl after going cold-turkey. I'll hit the gym tomorrow to work off the calories, but I know it's only a Sisyphean task. There are only three weeks before we head back to Chicago for two wedding showers.

Posted by The Groom at February 2, 2004 06:24 PM

Now I know why your mom looked a little chubbier on Monday morning, OMG, eat much?? I would've been in a diabetic coma after the first bakery!!
Looking forward to your shower on the 29th. Sorry you didn't have time to come to school, WOULD'VE BEEN NICE TO MEET "D"!!! Oh well, I'll finally meet him at the shower. Glad you had a good and productive visit.


Posted by: Pam at February 3, 2004 09:19 AM

You will not be disappointed with Simma's. My fiance wouldn't hear of anything else once we tasted their cheesecake. We put our deposit in 2 years in advance, he was so adamant about it.

And, next time, stop at Kopps for custard. Oscars is good but nothing tops Kopps. ;)

Posted by: Cathy at February 4, 2004 08:44 PM

Well I don't know how long it will take to get the extra lbs. off, but it was fun to taste all of the cakes. Sorry to correct you, but the florist was before the last bakery. I feel like we planned the entire wedding last weekend, and I feel so good about all that we did except for the extra lbs!!!

Posted by: plk at February 5, 2004 12:03 PM

I stand corrected. I must have been in such a sugar-induced fog that my ability to notice chronology was hindered.

Posted by: The Groom at February 5, 2004 12:16 PM

"with so much free cake being offered with no questions asked, our nation's hunger problems could be solved if everyone simply paired up and walked into bakeries pretending to be engaged"

Careful, there. We all remember what happened to the last person who said "Let them eat cake."
; )

Posted by: Trevor.net's bride (Malinda) at February 7, 2004 12:17 AM

Inspired by your whirlwind week-end of planning


He thought, "When I propose, under moonlight with rose
That his greatest anxiety t'was shedding.

Felt all safe and secured, parent's blessing procured
Why's the gent still all pent up and dreading?

He and his bride-to-be, writing lists A to Z
Can't resist, gist is, lists keep on spreading.

Is the honeymoon done even 'fore it's begun
When it comes down to planning the wedding?

How many people can your folks invite?
How can we find the right venue?
Modern chic or antique, the gown ivory or white?
Chicken or beef on the menu?
Or a fish dish with knish could be simply delish
But should it be salmon or snapper?
A combo for mambo? Dixieland? Jazz Band?
Rock and Roll? Maybe Soul with a rapper?

Saturday evening in formal attire?
Sunday, an afternoon lunch?
A carriage that's horse-drawn or limo for hire?
White wine spritzers or pink champagne punch?

Three tiers of chocolate mousse and ganache?
A sheet cake with frosting vanilla?
It appears all this chasing the goose, well by gosh
For Pete's sake, it's exhausting the fella!

The best of advice
When the shoes and the rice
The love birds disturb and get down?
Remember that wedding is truly a verb
Wedding party's no more than a noun!

Posted by: CAGEY UNK at February 10, 2004 10:08 PM