Allegra Levy, a graduate of West Hartford’s Hall High School, got married at the Delamar Hotel – but went back a few years later for a chance to really sit down and enjoy the meal they had carefully planned for their wedding but never really had a chance to eat.
By Pattie Levy
Like too many couples, West Hartford native Allegra Levy and her husband JP Sistenich obsessed over the meal they would serve at their wedding, then were too busy greeting guests, posing for pictures, and dancing to eat a single bite.
Feeling famished after the festivities were over, they ended up getting a Domino’s pizza delivered after midnight. “It was the only place in town still open,” recalls Levy, a 2007 graduate of Hall High School.
So, when their second anniversary recently rolled around, the couple, who were married at the Delamar West Hartford in October of 2018, realized there was only one way they wished to celebrate it. They wanted a second chance at the one thing they thought they would never do: enjoy the meal that they had hoped to eat the night that they were wed.
Was it even possible? One call to the town’s only boutique hotel was all that it took.
“I spoke with the chef, and he loves the idea!” Erin Neagle, Director of Catering at the Delamar, soon reported back. Although their menu had originally been served to the pair’s nearly 200 wedding guests, she said it could indeed be recreated for only two.
Soon after, the still-happy couple, who now live in New York, returned to the site of their ceremony and reception for a second chance at their first night as husband and wife.
Having met in Hong Kong, where Levy, a jazz singer and composer, had spent a year performing, they had convinced the hotel to offer their guests a Chinese dumpling station during the cocktail hour. “We picked a menu to reflect our lives,” Levy explained. “The scallion potato latkes represented my Jewish heritage. We’d met for dumplings on our first date, and lamb chops are our favorite among JP’s mom’s home-cooked dishes.”
Getting to savor these delicacies now, without any distractions, “was a great opportunity to experience a major part of the wedding we couldn’t enjoy at the time,” said Sistenich, who is the senior tech analyst at the United Nations International School in New York.
Served outside at the hotel’s on-site restaurant, Artisan, the anniversary dinner did not include the dumpling station, but began with a trio of their other chosen hors d’oeuvres.
“They were exquisite,” said Levy of the entire elegant platter. This included fried cèpes with lemon parmigiano aioli; crispy chicken bites with garden ranch sauce; and tomato, Stracciatella and basil bruschetta – perfectly toasted baguette discs topped with fresh mozzarella, pesto, and grilled tomatoes. “They were an explosion of flavor,” Levy said.
From there, chef Frederick Kieffer recreated every single course for this private dinner for two, from soup to nuts … although there were actually neither soup nor nuts. Levy and Sistenich, who often post photos of food on Instagram as dumplingmeetsbagel, had opted to forego the typical soup-or-salad starter in favor of a creamy vegetable risotto.
“That was a tribute to my favorite season,” said Levy. “It tasted like a bite of autumn, studded with mushrooms and fall-leaf-like flecks of bright orange butternut squash.”
Next came one of each entree they had offered, which the pair now happily shared.
“The lamb – double chops – were delicious, encrusted with spices, perfectly seasoned, and cooked to medium rare,” said Sistenich. The fish – “melt-in-your-mouth” halibut encrusted with herbs in an orange brown butter sauce – was also excellent, he said.
Even the side dishes were tasty enough to almost deserve top billing. “The potato and scallion latkes were as good as my nice Jewish mom’s,” Levy enthusiastically declared.
To finish it all off, in place of the four-tier wedding cake the couple had originally served, the hotel offered not just one, but three miniature house-made desserts.
One was a refreshing lychee sorbet, “reminiscent of our meeting in Hong Kong, where the fruit lady on the corner sold fresh lychees for nearly nothing,” Levy said. This was accompanied by a profiterole filled with Nutella mousse and fresh strawberries, along with a small custard tart topped with blackberries and decorated with edible flowers.
The Delamar already offers a “Forever Package” for guests wishing to commemorate a wedding night, anniversary, or other special occasion, including accommodations for two, a bottle of Champagne, a floral bouquet, and a $100 dinner voucher for Artisan. But what the couple requested was something that had never been proposed before.
Now, though, Neagle said they “would definitely consider” offering the same opportunity to others who have held special events at the hotel. Having relished the experience themselves, both Levy and Sistenich highly recommend doing it without any reservation (although it is necessary to make reservations and all of the arrangements in advance).
“I hate to admit it, but our wedding was much more stress than romance,” Levy said. “This gave us a window into the highlights without any of the chaos. It was very romantic and much better than simply going to any nice restaurant,” she said.
At the very least, they both readily agree, it definitely beat ordering a Domino’s pizza.
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