Thursday, March 15, 2012

Margaritas a la Wendy

Last weekend, Mr. Wendy and I went to a wedding.

And, oh, what a wedding it was!  Our friends had a flash wedding:  all the guests, the bride and groom, and the officiant (Mr. Wendy) gathered on the lawn of the Texas capitol building, beneath a pre-designated magnolia tree, and in three minutes they were man and wife.

We then reconvened in the couple's backyard for a lovely evening of food and drink.

The bride had asked a florist for "some flowers," and stated a preference for varied textures.  Before the wedding, I helped arrange flowers on the table centerpieces (which otherwise consisted of candles and bleached bones ... a perfectly normal thing for a Texan to have lying around).  We found spots all over the rest of the yard to stash the extra flowers, creating tons of beautiful surprises everywhere you looked.  The whole effect was very much in keeping with the couple's eclectic style (witness the garland of multi-colored Christmas lights stuffed into spent shotgun shells).

The food was incredible:  barbecue for the omnivores, and Korean fusion for the vegetarians.  The Asian food was actually catered by a food truck owned by Paul Qui (this season's brand new Top Chef):  some sort of heavenly braised eggplant, grilled romaine lettuce with a spicy/creamy Thai dressing, an apple kim chi (that technically went with a pork belly dish), and these stunning rice balls seasoned with some unknown deliciousness (seaweed? soy sauce? some combination?).  For dessert, there was a huge selection of gorgeous tiny pastries and cookies (including macaroons!).

Mysteriously Delicious Rice Balls

In addition to mineral water and a well-loved keg of beer, the bride made pitchers of margaritas.  No frou-frou blended drinks here.  Just lime juice, simple syrup, and tequila.  Served over ice and sipped slowly in the cool night air, they were the perfect blend of tart and sweet.

They inspired me to make some of my own margaritas.  I confess I do like a tick of Cointreau in my margarita, just a hint of orange to soften the lime, but I didn't have any at home.  I made do by infusing the simple syrup with orange zest.

Here's the result ... not too shabby, if I do say so myself.  You can play with the proportions if you like a drier margarita, less tequila, whatever.  But these proportions satisfied both my own sweet tooth and Mr. Wendy's love of straight, good tequila.

Margaritas a la Wendy

1 c. sugar
1 c. water
zest of one orange

1/2 c. fresh lime juice (no pulp)
1/2 c. tequila (100% agave ... don't use really cheap tequila)

ice (we didn't have crushed, so I smashed some cubes in a freezer bag)

Start by making an orange-infused simple syrup:  combine 1 c. water, 1 c. sugar, zest of one large orange in a non-reactive saucepan, heat to a boil, then cool.  Strain the syrup through a mesh sieve to remove the orange zest.

Combine 1 cup of the simple syrup with 1/2 c. lime juice and 1/2 c. tequila.  Cover, chill, and serve over crushed ice.

[If you want to salt the rim of your glass (something I don't do), rub the cut side of a lime or orange around the outside rim of the glass (not the inside, because you really don't want salt falling into your drink).  Invert the glass and set it carefully into a plate or shallow bowl of kosher or large-flake sea salt.]


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook. She also writes the Pet Boutique Mysteries under the name Annie Knox; you can follow Annie on Facebook, too!


  1. I've been wondering all week what a "flash wedding" was, Wendy! And yes, it IS perfectly normal for a Texan to have bleached bones lying around...

  2. Well I don't drink but those margaritas looks yummy. I wonder if there is a way to make them non-alcoholic.

    Being from an Italian family I can relate to Rice Balls. I make those 3 different ways.

  3. Oh wow, the decor is gorgeous Wendy! and the food sounds amazing...almost makes me want to get married all over again...

  4. Shawn, In addition to pitchers of margaritas, the bride had pitchers of "limeade" -- the lime juice and simple syrup, minus the tequila. While the tequila provides some complexity, taste-wise, the juice and syrup is pretty awesome all on its own.

  5. You've really got me wondering about those bleached bones. I assume they aren't human?

    I was rooting for Sarah from the beginning on Top Chef, but I wasn't disappointed when Paul won--lucky you to actually eat his food!

  6. I have to say that the term "flash wedding" is new to me. But what a lovely celebration. Your friends are certainly clever. Who would have thought of lights in shotgun shells? Maybe that's a Texan thing like the bleached bones? Why do I think there might be a ghost story in bleached bones that are on the table at a party?

    I, too, like a bit of orange in Margaritas. These sound delicious!

    ~ Krista

  7. What a great wedding! I'm so envious that you got to try some of Paul's food. I adored him on Top Chef. Too bad my time in Austin didn't coincide with his!

    @ Sheila-you actually liked Sarah?!?!?!

  8. @ Sheila - bones were definitely not human. Way too big. I would guess all cow. The vertebrae in particular were beautiful with flowers poking from the holes (foramen?).

  9. @Krista & Sheila: Cow bones, usually, and no ghosts - unless it's the ghost of a cow. Which wouldn't be a very good party guest. I think even in Texas you'd probably have to do some pretty fancy explaining to the local constabulary about why you had dead human bones laying around! The lights in shotgun shells is also a Texas thing; I can so see some of my friends there doing that. Y'all are making me homesick, LOL.

  10. Hate to be a nudge, but it's "husband and wife", not man and wife. Otherwise it would be "man and woman". Right?

  11. @Libby - interesting point! Actually, in this brief service, it was simply "the married couple may now kiss." I guess I was harkening back to my own wedding, in which they definitely said "man and wife" (because I remember thinking it was awfully heterocentric to phrase it that way). So kudos to the religious traditions (and secular ones) that have made the switch to the more grammatical (and tolerant) phrasing!