Sharing Our Love Through Food
by Michelle Altman and Josh Stern
From the moment we landed on doing our wedding at Wave Hill with Great Performances, we would convene for dinner and discuss work and this crazy thing coming up…our wedding! For years Josh has been a member of a CSA in Brooklyn. Coming together and figuring out the best use of whatever was in season was not only fun, but also helped us eat our way through the wedding planning. Whittling down our invite list while figuring out what to do with carrots, leeks and asparagus. Preparing for our combined bachelor/bachelorette weekend while chomping many lettuces, chard, herbs. And sitting there biting fingernails in the final countdown with an overflowing fridge of bursting tomatoes.
We still use cooking and food as a time to reconnect, laugh, and talk through whatever might be weighing on us. And as the wedding planning vacuum has taken hold, planning and cooking meals has become a daily way to share our love for each other. As the work day winds down, the ‘what are you thinking for dinner?’ text is a mainstay. Sometimes it’s, ‘What are you in the mood for?’ or, ‘I’m home first so I can start din!’ or ‘Are you eating rice this week?’ but no matter what starts the conversation, thinking about food always means thinking about each other.
We pretty naturally split cooking, both of us love the process and the result of making something for each other, to share. A lot of what makes meals memorable and full of love is putting in that extra step or homemade touch. As the winter rages on, we have been making a lot of homemade broth from veggie scraps we accumulate during the week — a tip Josh picked up from the cookbook Sylvia’s Table by Liz Neumark. It’s a really sustainable and thoughtful way to add depth to a meal. The process reminds us of our wedding, actually, not because we had soup (we didn’t) but because there was no team more thoughtful in their small, medium, and big touches than Great Performances. It’s very easy to get caught up thinking about how others will experience your wedding while planning, but Great Performances made sure WE had the best time at our wedding. Not once was a drink missing from our hands or a grumble in our stomachs. And it didn’t stop at the food! After a tropical storm swept in and left Michelle with a wet train (oh no!), one of Great Performances’ magical fairies (aka staff) swooped in and helped pin the dress into a perfect bustle, while her sweet GP sidekicks poured us champagne and brought us trays with two of every appetizer. Never did we imagine or expect that when we chose the delicious seared tuna appetizer, that GP would be serving it to us while simultaneously jerry-rigging Michelle’s wedding dress into a gorgeous, totally incognito bustle. Miraculous. Incredible. Unforgettable. Are we talking about the tuna? The staff? It’s hard to tell!!! We barely know…
We wanted the food at our wedding to celebrate our love as well as share it. From the minute people walked in the door, they were greeted with a bright, sweet beverage. How would the contrasting pink of the beverage look against the background of the venue? We were floored that GP seemed genuinely as interested as we were to talk about a detail as minute as this. But they did! To celebrate Michelle’s Persian ethnicity, the team set up a Persian tea table stocked with dried fruits, nuts, and Persian cookies. Great Performances made sure the table looked and felt exactly as we envisioned and it’s something we’ll never forget. Sending our family and friends off at the end of the night with VERY full bellies was also something we wanted, and Great Performances had the genius idea to pull out their classic soft pretzel machine and hand those out, as well as Greenberg’s Black and White cookies, to each guest on their way to their cars. They cared as much as we did about our wedding, which seems hard to believe because we cared a LOT.
Even though the wedding is over, we’re still showing our care, love, and compassion for each other through food. For Valentine’s Day, we plan to stay in and recreate one of our favorite restaurant dishes at the moment, the Green Curry Mussels from Greenpoint Fish and Lobster (huge shoutout to them). Instead of going to the restaurant, we’ll pick up mussels from their fish market instead! Even though we could easily spend this special night at one of their dimly-lit-to-perfection high top tables, it’s much more appealing to us to clean and steam the mussels together over a glass of wine and the new André 300 flute album because it’s something we can do for each other with each other. There’s little else outside of food that provides this opportunity as often or as richly as food does. Happy Valentine’s!