The grand finale is an intoxicating mix of seafood, rice, herbs and saffron simmering slowly in the largest paella pan I’ve ever seen. Chefs from The Mill House man the station, feeding broth ever so slowly to the fattening grains of rice. A wisp of steam rises from my dish, plump mussels and fish with a touch of tomato-fennel infusion and ocean brine in every bite. The crusty rice from the bottom of the pan gives an earthy chewiness to the rustic dish.
Revelers move to the dance floor as local band Black Cadillac and DJ Chris of Clarity entertainment stir up foot-stomping music. While we dance, the wedding cake makes its way past the crowd, courtesy of former Mill House Pastry Chef Krista Garcia, a graduate of the Napa Valley Cooking School whose résumé includes pastry chef de partie at The French Laundry. The vanilla-bean cake is napped with five layers of white-chocolate/cream-cheese frosting alternating with tart liliko‘i curd and sheathed in Italian meringue buttercream. Krista says, “Jeff and Kaili are dear friends, and this cake is my wedding gift to them.” Two cream-colored magnolias grace the top of the cake. “We love the statement of simplicity the flowers make,” Kaili says.
At another table, another dessert: Haleakala Creamery “goatlato” ice cream sandwiches. Owner Rebecca Woodburn tells me her interpretation of gelato is made with 100 percent goat milk. “We have twenty-five milking goats — every one of them named!” I sample the three flavors she’s brought: vanilla made with Maui vanilla beans, goat milk caramel, and chocolate. Delicious!
When it’s time to leave, my feet hurt from dancing, but my tummy is happily sated. The memory of this “simple” wedding will last a very long time — almost as long as my good wishes fro this handsome young couple. Congratulations, Jeff and Kaili!