Eunice Power - Outside Catering Company, Waterford, Ireland.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Eunice Power's bumper guide to getting married

The Irish Times
Friday February 14th 2014

Video Link: What's On Trend For Weddings In 2014

What's big in the world of weddings for 2014? Caterer Eunice Power has the inside track on current trends

WHAT'S IN

Friends instead of family
Guest numbers have taken a dramatic drop so the focus seems to be on quality rather than quantity – and it's all about friends. Family guests are forensically chosen and kept to a bare minimum. It is only closest comrades and confidants who are getting the golden invites. With the benefit of hindsight, I question the wisdom of this trend – friends come and go, family are here to stay, for better or for worse.
While the wedding parties are getting smaller, the bridal parties are getting larger. Can't choose your nearest and dearest? Couples are upping their numbers to four-plus bridesmaids and groomsmen. And of course there has been the introduction of bridesmen, to create a role of honour for the bride's male best friend.

Humanist ceremonies
Since the change in legislation last year the demand for Humanist ceremonies has exploded. Solemnisers from the Humanist Association are already almost completely booked out for 2014.

What day? What season? What forest?
Sunday weddings are becoming more and more popular, as are winter weddings – personally my favourite. There's nothing quite like dusky afternoons, heavy velvet, soft fur, candles and roaring fires. Think slow cooking, poached pears, mature Cashel Blue, baked quince and starry nights. Woodland ceremonies are also an emerging trend, with long wedding veils, flowing dresses, twinkling fairy lights and the crunch of twigs underfoot. Together with a lush green canopy overhead, the setting amounts to a very beautiful, natural, sophisticated affair.

A room of one's own
Alternative venues such as barns, theatres, tents and warehouses are becoming "the" thing for 2014. Couples can personalise such places and create unique experiences for themselves and their guests.

Canapés
Traditional canapés are still popular but there has been a rise in tapas – little dishes such as warm black pudding combined with chickpeas, raisins and pine nuts, cones of vegetable crisps and spiced nuts to accompany the "bridal Bellini".

Signature cocktails for bride and groom
These allow for beautiful presentation at the drinks reception, especially when they are served from a crystal drink dispenser. The cocktails provide an elegant talking point and encourage guests to mingle. They are a great alternative for those who don't love bubbly.

Sharing platters
The whole idea of "Bring me food" platters creates an informal-feast mode of dining. Sumptuous sharing platters along with good bread, dips such as beetroot hummus and baba ganoush, contribute to a more communal experience around the wedding dining table, making everything much more convivial and natural.

Banquet tables
Long tables, often humbly dressed with battered silverware, honest-to-goodness earthenware and cotton table cloths, are taking over from traditional round-table dining.

Simple and elegant main courses
Quality ingredients well sourced and seasonal, served simply and elegantly is what it's all about for 2014. Side dishes and accompaniments contribute hugely to the overall experience.

Just desserts
There is a return to homemade favourites, chilled light soufflés, Eton mess and, believe it or not, traditional apple tart and good vanilla ice cream.

Turophile heaven – the cheese cake
Couples are also opting for a cheese cake, reminiscent of Roman times. Beautiful tiers of cheese with apples, grapes, chutneys, membrillo, decorated with fresh herbs and flowers. These are usually served after dinner on big wooden boards where turophiles gather and feast.

Trendy food for afters
Late-night snacking on something a little different has spread to encompass a myriad of options including barbecue burgers, pizza, hot dogs, even paella. People want a treat after all that dancing.

Naked cakes
Stacked sponges left un-iced but filled and decorated with fruit and/or flowers are huge at the moment. They're rustic, natural, look homemade and are soaring in popularity, especially in Ireland where we like things to be a little imperfect and homey.

WHAT'S IN BETWEEN

Homemade favours
Little pots of marmalade, shortbread with the couple's initials, packs of homemade postcards of the bride and groom are all really sweet, thoughtful and time-consuming gifts, 50 per cent of which are left on the tables at the end of the night. Is all that effort worth it ?

Wedding signage
Love, this way...

WHAT'S OUT

Chocolate fountains
These have definitely bitten the dust. A rare sighting since 2010, they're a bit too Celtic Tiger for today's couples. Personally I'm grateful for their demise – strawberries and marshmallows dipped in cascading chocolate were never my idea of a perfect hors d'oeuvre.

Four-hour drinks receptions
I know photographs are important but you want your guests to have a vague recollection of your wedding day.

Carving meat at the table 
Seriously, who wants to don an apron over the silk dress and carve beef for the masses?

Late food 
Sambos and cocktail sausages served as a barman bellows, "Last orders".

Pastels
Baby blues and pinks are fading away, making way for neutral palettes with metallic accents; rich berry tones with gold; cool teals and mint with alabaster white.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

A Good Wedding Reception


Irish Times
Saturday May 11th 2013

The secret to a successful wedding is to have a clear idea of what you want and the right people in place to make it happen. Wedding caterer Eunice Power has the inside track.

"I know this is a challenge, but just do it . . ." those were the words of a wedding stylist a few weeks ago as I peeked into a beautifully decorated barn, which had absolutely no electricity point, not to mention anywhere a caterer could serve food. Any such practicalities had escaped the stylist, whose evening theme centred around dozens of suspended paraffin lanterns. I recalled the bride and groom's priorities at the menu tasting we had a few weeks previous - the finale of the meal was to be an after-dinner coffee menu, something which is now hugely popular at weddings. A specially sourced giant espresso machine and its attendant flown-in barista was the couple's way of treating their guests to an authentic Italian coffee house experience, performance latte-art being one of the specialities. Needless to say we frantically improvised for them, and it all turned out wonderfully.

In my day, weddings were quite different affairs. We went with the flow. Our parents invited every neighbour and living relative. Ed and I were just about allowed to invite a few friends. There was a fight over who made the cake. We had beef or salmon in the local hotel and danced to Gina, Dale Hayes and the Champions until the small hours. My type can be spotted a mile away as the inner Bridezella is unleashed when we turn 40 and insist on the big party, or worse . . . when we eventually arrive at planning our own offsprings' weddings.

From the viewpoint of the wedding caterer's chair which I occupy these days, the wedding couple are now very much in the driving seat and they have a clear idea of what they want, presenting it to me, quite often, on a detailed mood board. In the past few years there has been a distinct move towards formal weddings - undoubtedly attributable to the popularity of Downton Abbey et al - all empire lines and beautiful flowers.

At the moment there is a swing towards the 1920s and early 1930s, art deco, silverware, china, crystal, damask and black tie. This year it's most definitely out with the champagne flutes and in with the champagne coupes and the champagne pyramid with its cascading bubbly.

Specially created pre-dinner signature cocktails are also bang-on-trend, with tequila being high on the list of ingredients - so be warned before imbibing. I've had couples spend hours deciding on the composition of their particular wedding cocktail - flavours that conjure up their time spent abroad, ones which represent their favourite holiday destinations, even flavours that symbolise traits in each other. I recently had one groom tell me he wanted something hot and spicy to represent himself.

It has also become quite popular to draft in a professional mixologist to add to the drama of the cocktail-making on the day, or to give guests novel wedding favours by attaching the printed cocktail recipe to a quartet of miniature bottles containing all you'll need to "make your own at home".

This formal wedding trend is invariably interjected with an enduring leaning towards the pretty and vintage style, and the festival/carnival feel. Think bunting, mismatched crockery, maypoles, heart-shaped cheeseboards, pigs on spits, carousels and the strongman, or high striker. This romantic, floaty trend is definitely big at present, but it's wise to remain grounded in reality and have a plan B. We live in a climate where the hazy summer evening is often a misnomer and that perfect image of ice creams on the lawn can quickly become naturally occurring icicles on the lawn; so be flexible.

The weddings we cater for are generous, warm, relaxed affairs. Each one varies in style, reflecting the couple's individuality. Venues change from week to week - from castles to cow barns to wonderful tents in stunning locations. The couples all have one thing in common - they want well sourced seasonal food, beautifully presented in an atmosphere of conviviality and fun, in a location which will be forever special to them.

If I was to distil what most couples ultimately seek, I would say it is unpretentious, honest, memory-provoking, good food, full of flavour, with a homemade feel. I am impressed over and over again with my clients' knowledge of food and its provenance, and how they can determine precisely what they want, and their subsequent single minded quest to get it. We are frequently asked for names of suppliers, even names of individual farmers so that these details can appear on the wedding menu.

So what is the secret of a successful wedding party? Simple really, visualise the end result and then get the right people around you to make it happen. Delve into the detail months beforehand, embrace it, then delegate it and turn up on the day - it's as easy as that. But please don't forget to think about practicalities - see my opening sentence.

Weddings are electric affairs fuelled by great company, wonderful wine and delicious food. The attention span of guests will last for three hours over dinner, and after that it's all about the action - people will want to get up and move about. Plans for a lunch or brunch the day after the wedding are really important for the couple - the post mortem is such an important part of the unwinding and helps keep PWB (Post Wedding Blues) at bay until such emotions can be dealt with properly on a remote island in the sun.

So, returning to the big day - once dinner is served, we in the kitchen collect ourselves and our belongings, bid farewell to our colleagues front of house, pack the van and prepare for the journey home. We spend the first half hour going though every detail, and the remaining time being elbowed in the head as we each try to find a suitable position to sleep on the bench seat of the van. Fear not, we have a driver.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Feast In The Forest Sunday 3rd of March 2013


Waterford Festival of Food launched their 6th Festival of Food on Sunday. Eunice Power prepared a feast in the forest at Colligan woods on a glorious spring afternoon. Over a 150 guests attended - most arrived by bike! Guests enjoyed wild garlic soup, spit roast Comeragh Mountain Lamb cooked over a wood fire, and rhubarb and rosewater pannacotta.

Details of the festival programme can be found on www.waterfordfestivaloffood.com

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Eunice's Column In The Irish Times Nov 22nd 2012

Eunice's latest column for the Irish Times Magazine, November 22nd 2012 is now available online. It includes features on Christmas gifts, chocolate courses, hampers, coffee and baked Christmas decorations.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wonderwomen of Business Award-Winners Announced


Denis McCarthy - Waterford County Manager, Eunice Power - Businesswoman of the Year, Mags Durand O'Connor - Dungarvan Enterprise Centre

The WEN Wonderwomen of Business Awards took place on Friday 15th June at Lismore House Hotel. Guest speaker, Lauren Fisher of Simply Zesty flew in from London to join the local businesswomen in their celebrations. Having started her business from her bedroom, Lauren successfully grew the company and sold it to UTV for £2million. As part of the deal, she still works for the company and is currently growing the UK branch.

"Anything is possible," says Lauren, "you just need to put the time into building your dreams. There's always an extra hour in the day that you can use, whether that means getting up an hour earlier or staying at it an hour longer in the evening, if you want success you'll find the time."

County Manager and Chair of Waterford County Enterprise Board, Denis McCarthy, congratulated all the finalists and highlighted the importance of female entrepreneurship to the achievement of the county's economic plan. Anike Tyrell, CEO of Waterford County Enterprise Board, who sponsored the top prize of €2500 worth of social media from Simply Zesty spoke about the impact of social media and about the female contribution to social media. This was the first time these awards have taken place in Co. Waterford and the standard of entries was extremely high.

The wonderwomen of business award winners were: Businesswoman of the Year, Eunice Power; Outstanding Professional Service, Tracy Quinlan; Outstanding Employee, Jenny Beresford; Outstanding Personal Service, Olivere Lannen; Excellence in the Arts, Miranda Corcoran; New Business, Breda Mackle; Tourism and Leisure, Imelda Walsh; Food, Audrea Hassett and Online, Emma Penruddock.

Dungarvan Enterprise Centre was proud to be involved in the Waterford WEN and also host the WEN meetings once per month. It is a free network open to all women in business. The network offers skills development, guest speakers, networking and referrals. We look forward to starting meetings again in September. More details about the network can be found on www.facebook.com/waterfordwen .

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Waterford Festival Of Food Reels In Some Big Foodies


By Conor Kane
Originally appearred in The Irish Examiner newspaper Friday March 9th 2012

An award-winning food blogger and writer will return from her adopted home in London to her native Dungarvan next month to help showcase the best of local food and pass on some of her expertise.

Next month's Waterford Festival of Food will be the fifth year of the event, which sees thousands of food lovers descending on the coastal town of Dungarvan for four days of eating, cooking and activity.

Among those taking part will be Niamh Shields, originally from Dungarvan but who, since her move to London, has published best-selling cookery book Comfort and Spice; was highly commended in The Observer's Food Monthly awards and named as one of the top 10 food bloggers in the world by The Times for her eatlikeagirl.com blog.

This year's Waterford Food Festival runs from Apr 12 to 15 and has an expanded programme of features including some new elements designed to promote health and nutrition and celebrate the European Year of Active Retirement.

Celebrity local chefs will be in town for the festival to offer cooking demonstrations, take part in competitions and showcase the best of local produce to the public.

Included on the personality menu are award-winning chef Paul Flynn of renowned eatery The Tannery who, along with Martin Shanahan from Fishy Fishy in Kinsale, will give festival visitors a sneak preview of their new TV series Surf 'n' Turf. This will be expertly guided by RTÉ's Master Chef judge Nick Munier of Pichet Restaurant and Richard Reeve of the Chop House in Lismore.

Local chefs Conor Foran from Lawlor's Hotel, Eunice Power from Powersfield House, Michael Quinn from Waterford Castle Hotel, and Louise Clarke from Nude Food will take part in a Ready, Chef, Go contest hosted by RTÉ broadcaster John Murray.

The festival programme was launched in Dungarvan with a "fish and chips feast" on the Quays and will also feature the "Three Deise Girls" - The Brewer, The Blogger, and The Baker or Claire Dalton, Niamh Shields and Eunice Power - who will create a Pop-Up Restaurant especially for the festival in the unlikely venue of the Civic Offices, which will be made-over for the occasion.

Also new is a special "concert and canapes" event in association with "Storytelling Southeast" featuring Fiona O'Reilly (soprano), Christina O'Flynn (mezzo soprano) and one of Ireland's foremost accompanists Annabel Adams, with refreshments served by Louise Clarke.

Once again one of the focal points of the festival will be the Farmers' Market Extravaganza in Grattan Square featuring the very best of artisan food produce from right across the South East and beyond.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Waterford Festival Of Food


We have had a busy spring at Powersfield House. Our rooms have been refreshed and refurbished, ready for the busy year ahead. Room reservations can be made via our website www.powersfield.com.

Our Waterford festival of food takes place on the 12, 13, 14 & 15th of April. We have an exciting line up of fabulous foodie events. Myself and two Dungarvan girls, Niamh Shields - AKA Eat like a girl, and Claire Dalton from Dungarvan Brewing Company have a pop up restaurant planned for Saturday the 14th of April at the Council offices in Dungarvan.

All festival details are available on www.waterfordfestivaloffood.com

Hope to see you in Dungarvan during the year.

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