- Sweet Cherry Bakery – Apex, NC
- Sassool – Multiple Locations (Cary & Raliegh, NC)
KD entered my life at a time when most people seemed to be rapidly exiting.
Dear readers, I know you are drooling for salacious details. (OK, a few of you might be drooling because you need rabies shots, and a few of you may need to have your meds adjusted.)
But really, it’s boring.
Some people did not approve of my dating a man with a different complexion than my own.
Some people did not approve of my choice to try to balance being a caregiver with having a life of my own.
Some people moved away.
Some people died. (Amazing, the lengths people went to, to get away from me!)
Even the man with the different complexion ditched me, taking a short-term contract job in Raleigh, commuting home on weekends.
Typical life stuff, I guess, but for a year or two it seemed everyone was stampeding out the door.
While I was standing there, alone, watching everyone leave, choking on their dust.
I needed new friends.
And so the universe provided me with one, under the most random of circumstances.
I was running a veg meetup group and had recently started this blog. Charlotte had just had its very first VegFest – in a PARKING LOT, of all places! (In 2019 VegFest was held at Park Expo and had over 5,000 visitors!) I was THERE, shamelessly shilling for Chelly’s Cakes & Pastries in the mud and drizzle, and I’d written about the event and posted pictures. Probably the only media coverage VegFest received that first year. KD was surfing the internet and came across my writeup and pictures.
“Hey!” he FB messaged me in surprise. “I’m in those pictures!”
A FB friendship began, and I encouraged KD to come to a VegCharlotte meetup. We met at Fern – along with this weird, wonderful dude Rob (who also, coincidentally, loves Halloween and costumes). The three of us instantly became lifelong friends.
From the first flowering buds of Spring, to the colorful falling leaves of Autumn, KD and I hung out. He was my movie escort to the “free movies” and my companion at Brixx after. He celebrated my birthday with me (along with other recently sent-by-the-universe friends) at Bean. We stayed way past closing and sweet Charlie never said a word – although he and Roy did start making more frequent stops by our table! Once we realized the time, we took our party elsewhere, and my new little group of universe-sent friends sipped wine and shared and laughed and cried until the wee small hours of the morning.
And that is probably the hallmark of my friendship with KD – we could be honest with each other, be our true selves, and get support, not judgment.
At about the same time the leaves ditched the trees and the frost set in, KD left Charlotte for Garner. We stayed in touch – albeit sporadically. We were BUSY! I had a challenging new job; KD enrolled in college. We experienced family tragedies and personal challenges. We surfaced in and out of each other’s lives over the following years.
Then, one day, I got a weird message from KD. KD needed my address; there was something he wanted to send me. He was quite cagey about it. I eagerly checked my mailbox for weeks until I finally received it: an invitation to the vegan, Halloween wedding of KD and the lovely Linda (whom he could never stop talking about).
I danced back into the house clutching the black and gold invitation and humming Billy Idol. No way in the world I’d miss this.
Such a beautiful October day – probably the only truly beautiful October day North Carolina had this year! (It’s been preternaturally hot – 90’s or upper 90’s every day – no changing leaves yet!)
Rain – actually storms – were predicted, but only gorgeous Carolina blue skies overhead as the man of a different complexion and I headed to Garner (with a stop at Waffle House for hash browns, of course!)
We made it to the Red Roof Inn (puppers, you know!) in just enough time to change into our costumes. One of the very many things I liked about this wedding – come in costume! Whatever you want! I didn’t have to try to figure out formal, or semi-formal, or afternoon formal, or garden-party semi-funky. I didn’t have to buy a new dress I’d probably never wear again or put on pantyhose (ugh). No outfit would be wrong!
Maleficent (a.k.a. Maria the Goddess in real life) presided over the vows. These two weren’t taking any chances, though. They also had a judge overseeing everything, and a blessing from Jesus (a notorious party crasher and photo bomber).
Cultural differences were set aside – in part because of the all-vegan booze? Whether you were from Heaven, Hell, or some place in between – this wedding brought people … err … Gods and Goddesses and ? … together.
KD and Linda nailed the decorations! It was a backyard wedding – simple, rustic, elegant, beautiful. More magical, fairy tale Halloween than creepy or gory – appropriate since there were children involved. Such as the little “spider boy” who walked down the aisle in front of the bride. Instead of scattering petals, he pelted the guests with spiders! (Tiny, glow-in-the-dark, plastic spiders, that is – the party would definitely gotten a LOT livelier if the spiders had been real.)
There was also this beautiful little Renaissance Princess busting a move.
This was the tableware … disposable but oh so pretty. Which finally brings us to … THE FOOD!
The Food – Sassool
The food was VEGAN. All of it. The dinner, the booze, the cake … All vegan.
The buffet dinner was catered by Sassool – a restaurant with three locations in Cary and Raleigh. KD and Linda must have been reading my blog, because what I always recommend for mixed parties (vegs and omnis) is “whole foods” and “go ethnic”. Don’t try “converting” people with Beyond Burgers or vegan mac and cheese or what not – that just makes people want to “contrast and compare.” Instead, serve ethnic food – Mediterranean, Indian, Asian, whatever! Food that just happens to be “accidentally vegan.” Food that makes no pretense of being meat or cheese! Then, people just think, “How exotic!” This food from Sassool was so phenomenal, I guarantee no one at the wedding was thinking about the meat!
From the best of my memory, the above plate (starting at 9:00 o’clock, and going clockwise) consisted of:
- Pita Points, both soft and toasted/crispy. I liked that we had both to choose from.
- Baba Ghanouj – A creamy, roasted eggplant dip/spread. Usually, it’s not a favorite of mine. But this version was deliciously creamy and smoky. You gotta either do baba ghanouj right or not do it at all – and Sassool does it right.
- Stuffed Grape Leaves
- Pearled Couscous Salad. D’ya know, I’d never had pearled couscous before? My mom used the tiny couscous, so that’s all I ever used. This turned out to be one of my favorites, though! From the website, the ingredients were: Pearl couscous, chickpeas, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, celery, lemon juice, olive oil, mint, parsley and spices.
- Sweet Potato Salad – Roasted sweet potatoes with spinach, raisins, and spices.
- Mujadarah – Rice and lentils.
- Falafel. With lemon tahini sauce! Not tatziki (yogurt-based) or, worse, the kind of mayo-based “white sauce” falafel places attempt to pawn off on you in Uptown Charlotte.
- Fruit Salad
- In the middle: Tabouli. This rocked because I prefer my tabouli to be mostly parsley, not grains. I can’t remember if it was the cracked wheat tabouli or the quinoa tabouli! 😦
- Also in the middle – I think there was a little cabbage or kale something going on. I can’t remember! I should have taken notes and more pictures, but I wasn’t expecting this much newsworthy vegan food to write about!
Words that came to mind while eating were “delicious,” “fresh,” and “healthy.” Two additional words were “authentic” and “Lebonese.” Not sure why I was thinking Lebonese; maybe the mujadarah tipped me off?
So I wasn’t surprised to find Sassool is a family-owned business whose oldest members immigrated from Lebanon in 1976. The restaurant is named after the matriarch of the family – Cecilia, nicknamed “Sassool.” Most of the dishes are her recipes or based on her recipes.
Sassool has three locations – one in Cary, two in Raleigh. While I’ve never stepped foot inside the restaurants, they certainly did a bang-up job with the catering! And I probably sampled most of their vegan dishes at KD and Linda’s wedding. So I whole-heartedly recommend Sassool if you are in the area!
The Cake – Sweet Cherry Bakery
The wedding cake was from Sweet Cherry Bakery in Apex – another family-owned business.
At first I was just going to say the cake was beautiful, delicious, and VEGAN!
There were three tiers of flavors – chocolate, stawberry, and vanilla.
And – did you notice how the black lace on the cake matched the lace on Linda’s skirt?
Then I went online. And became majorly impressed. This is not just a bakery that does vegan cakes; this is a bakery that tries to accommodate all sorts of dietary preferences/ restrictions/allergies. From the website:
Our cake bakery offer 100% vegan cakes and cupcakes … No dairy, no egg. We can accommodate no soy. We offer vanilla, red velvet, chocolate, strawberry, lemon, coconut, etc… Please ask us for the flavor you are looking for. We can accommodate any special requests with ingredients in the cakes or allergies. … Our cake bakery (also) offers completely gluten free cakes and cupcakes.
Plus, whoever is making these cakes is not just an artist; they are a maestro! Here is a small photo gallery – can you believe the beauty and creativity? (photo credits: Sweet Cherry Bakery)
Perhaps through the combined efforts of Maleficent and Jesus, the predicted storms held off until all the guests went home. And then the rain came, washing away a night of magic.
But not the magic of KD and Linda’s new life together!
Wishing KD and Linda (and all my readers) much love, happiness, and magic always!