I’m madder than Andy Rooney’s eyebrow stylist on any given Sunday night over the fact that I just don’t understand kids these days. I mean, who the heck sends a black invitation to a wedding? When it came in the mail, I thought I was going to have to RSVP to a funeral for the first time in my life!
But just because the wedding invite comes in black, doesn’t mean I can’t go and have a great time, and you all know that if the Screecher is about anything, he’s about having a good time, and that’s exactly what I did at the wedding of Kristin and Joseph Esposito last Friday night.
First, for the shocking part: everybody was dressed in black and wearing white Converse sneakers — you know, the ones Chuck Taylor made famous that don’t have any air in them. And when I say everybody, I mean everybody, from the bride and groom all the way down to the 5-year-old ring bearer and 6-year old flower girl.
So I know what your thinking: “Carmine, how the heck did you get invited to such a weird wedding? You’re an Italian wedding soup guy, are you not?”
The answer is simple: Kristin is mishpucha, the niece of my son-in-law. Her mother is Irish and her dad, like my son-in-law, is Italian. The groom’s family was 100 percent Italian.
So I ran the numbers in my head and got right down to business: I told Sharon that the food, which, as you all know is the most important thing at every wedding, was going to be 75 percent pasta, 12.5 percent corned beef, and 12.5 percent vegetarian, because Kristin and her mother only eat plants.
Of course, my stomach was saying this wasn’t going to add up to a good time.
Well, folks, the Screecher’s belly is rarely ever wrong, but as you all know, when I am wrong, I admit it. And this time, I couldn’t be more wrong.
In fact, once we made the drive all the way up to the Lakefield Manor in Northport, NY (which, by the way, had the lady on my Garmin hoarse because of all the rush-hour traffic) and I saw the spread from high atop Tornado, I knew immediately that my biggest concern would be getting a taste of everything.
I nearly panicked when old Tornado had some engine trouble as I made my way into the cocktail hour, where I could smell every morsel awaiting me, but couldn’t get the wheels to roll ahead. Thankfully, my trusty old scout settled down after a brief recharge, and I was able to get my hands on as many things as I could in what became the shortest hour of my life.
Oh, and I forgot to tell you: I put my own table on Tornado’s steering wheel, so I didn’t have to find a place to sit. It worked out great for me and for Sharon, who already was holding a plate of cold antipasto when I rolled in. She put it right down there and got us some drinks.
Now’s the point in the column where I give you the secret I’ve used for years to get the most out of a cocktail hour: get two plates! And I’m not talking about those little saucer plates they give you, I’m talking about big dinner plates. The bigger the better. One time, I even used two chargers — those big plates they put beneath the dinner plates!
With two plates in front of you, you never have to worry that you won’t have a place to put food when someone brings it by. And even if the plate is full, you can just pick one thing up and put it in your mouth while the server puts the new thing down in front of you. Wow! Writing about it, I can still smell it — and taste it!
But when you play the two-plate game, you have to keep an eye out for the busboy: he is your enemy. I can’t tell you how many times he tried to take away one of my plates when it was momentarily and temporarily empty. But after a couple of slaps to the head, he left me alone.
I was in heaven. There was such an abundance of delicious food, that for the first time in my life I couldn’t get to taste it all. But I did have an exotic array of foods, skewered and otherwise, that I’ll break down for you in this long list, separated by semi-colons for your reading pleasure: sliced filet mignon on seasonal baguettes; coconut shrimp; chicken pinwheels with shrimp; spinach and julienne carrots; fresh mozzarella with tomato and basil; beef teriyaki; brie purses with toasted almonds; baked clams arreganatta; grilled chicken Satay with sesame seeds; hand-rolled franks in a puffed pastry; spinach and feta cheese in filo; grilled marinated lamb chops; beef Wellington; mini New Orleans crab cakes; as well as the customary favorites shish kabobs, pizza, spinach pies and everything you had ever been served before — but a lot more!
Later on, I found out that the owner of this incredibly beautiful catering hall was Greek and a cousin of the Three-Star Restaurant on Ave U and E. 16th Street. Well, that explains the excellent Italian food! Now again, I know what you’re thinking: “Carmine, you grew up in Little Italy. How could you say something as traitorous as ‘Greeks make great Italian good?’ ” Well, I'll tell you this: they sure make it better than that Rachel Ray, who uses so much garlic you'd think she's trying to scare off werewolves and vampires!
But I digress. I just want to be clear: this was the Wedding of the Year. Everyone made piggies of themselves at the humongous cocktail hour and any attempt to sit down and consume a full course dinner after that was futile. So Sharon and I had our entrees packed up so we could take them home.
The next day, I inhaled my cooked-just-right filet mignon so fast, I didn’t have time to taste it. Ah, I’m fooling. It was totally delicious and, even as big as it was, I could have eaten two more!
Best of luck, health and happiness to Kristin and Joe Esposito!
Screech at you next week!
Carmine Santa Maria is living proof that you can have your cake and eat it, too. His column appears every Sunday on BrooklynPaper.com, except on weekends when Andy Rooney passes away.