If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know my fiance and I will be getting married in May 2012. Our reception is being held at a gorgeous old mansion called the Stirling Guest Hotel.
This place started life in 1892 as a home for the Sternbergh family. Mr. Sternbergh was an iron and steel magnate in Reading, PA. The home was a private residence for the family for over 100 years. After the last Sternbergh daughter passed away, the home was sold to a hotel entrepreneur who turned it into a 15-suite guest house.
Events at the Stirling are catered in house, so Scott and I were anxious to taste the food and decide what we want to serve at the reception. The only problem is, they don’t do tastings. If you want to sample their food, you have to pay to attend a special dinner there. They have these 2 or 3 times a year so Scott and I signed up for the November 8-course dinner and I wanted to share the deliciousness with you all so here goes! Hope you’re ready for lots of pics and descriptions!
Of course the place looked beautiful. There were lots of candles and we had a small table to ourselves overlooking the porch There was also a trio playing music for the 100 guests. Very fancy!
We started with an amuse-bouche. In case you aren’t as obsessed with Top Chef and those sorts of shows as I am, that is French for “mouth amuser” and is a single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre. According to Wikipedia, it is a “little tingler for the taste buds both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to cooking.” Our amuse-bouche was a piece of seared ahi tuna with lemon caper sauce on a crostini. Now I am not a seafood eater. I just never learned to like much fish or shellfish. So I was a tad afraid to try this but I had made myself a promise that I would try everything we were served. And surprise, this was really good! We were off to a good start. Next!
Next came an appetizer. Our server called it an egg cocotte. (I’m not positive about that spelling!) It was a poached egg with a little pancetta and some leek sauce or soup. I can’t quite remember which. It sounded odd but it was probably my favorite course as a whole. It was quite breakfast-y, especially because pancetta is just Italian bacon, but it was simply delicious. I could have eaten three of these!
Course three was a soup duo. I am still not sure how they created this moon shape with no dividers in the bowl but it was so cute! On the right was curried crab and on the left butternut squash. I tried the crab soup and just didn’t care for it. I am not a crab fan. However the butternut squash was amazing! I scooped that right up and then passed the crab to Scott who said it was yummy.
Next up was the salad course. It was probably the least exotic of all the dishes. It was some baby arugula, candied walnuts, grapefruit and gorgonzola drizzled with a white balsamic vinaigrette. It was fine. This was nothing special in my book. At that, we were halfway done!
We were then each brought a warm roll fresh out of the oven. While not technically one of the eight courses, it was wonderful!
Course 5 was the first entree. Yes, I said FIRST entree. There was another one coming but you’ll have to wait for that one. This entree was a duck ragu over a black garlic and rice cake, a pierogi with Yukon Gold potatoes and roasted shallots over bok choy and a little truffle oil, and a gooseberry compote. I love duck so I was excited to try this. It was pretty great, as was the pierogi. The bok choy was just – meh. And the compote was good but we weren’t sure what we were supposed to dip in it!
The Intermezzo came next – an orange cranberry sorbet to cleanse our palates. This sounds great, right? Not so much. Neither one of us were fans. There were tiny pieces of orange zest in the sorbet which made for a weird texture. This was our least favorite course of the night.
Next came the second entree. This looked so delicious that I was partway in before I realized I hadn’t taken a pic! So I’m sorry for the not perfect photo! This was a roasted beef tenderloin with some fancy onions and wild mushrooms in a sauce that I later learned was a veal sauce, a diver scallop with white grape sauce, and a roasted mini zucchini, starburst squash and another mini thing in pepper sauce. Let me tell you, that beef was out of this world! It melted in our mouths and the sauce was amazeballs! I don’t eat mushrooms so I just scraped them to the side. The scallop was ok but I knew Scott would appreciate it more so I let him have what was left after I tasted it.
And last came the dessert sampler. I won’t lie – I had been looking forward to dessert since we had signed up for this meal! We had three desserts to sample – a Kahlua creme brulee, a crepe stuffed with goat cheese and cherries, and warm bread pudding with chocolate ice cream. I’ll start with my least favorite here – the crepe. It was a bit chewy and goat cheese just isn’t my idea of dessert. So I took a bite and left the rest. I am a huge bread pudding fan so this was wonderful! I just loved it. But the best thing we had that whole night was this creme brulee. I swear I had died and gone to heaven. It was the best creme brulee I have ever had in my life.
And we were done! We were stuffed but not painfully so. Each course had been small so we had room for it all. And after three hours we were both exhausted and so pleased with the results! While we didn’t love everything we had, we left there knowing the chef certainly has skills and that whatever we choose to serve our guests will be great and served with class and style. The night was a success!