This year was a tempered down version of my past 7 Thanksgivings, but also one of the best. Being an ex-pat always meant 3-4 turkey spreads: one the Saturday before (friendsgiving and usually the largest at ~30 people), Thursday the day of (bests include dinner at Nina’s and dinner at Christina’s), Friday night (Boda’s annual orphan Thanksgiving-bacon explosion!), and occasionally the Saturday following with other world nomads.


This year I pared back the celebrations to a scant 2. The Saturday before Thanksgiving I was in Australia staying with some of my favorite people, Simone and Mark, where they threw a pretty epic feast. Mark got up at the crack of dawn to put 2 20lb turkeys into the smoker where they smoked away for hours upon hours leeching in flavor while maintaining moisture.

We enjoyed a smattering of wines, most notably, Delamotte Champagne, which is befitting because Salon always reminds me of Simone. This sister wine to Salon is toasty with a sharp acid spine, making it perfect to sip alone or aside smoke filled turkeys, although I don’t think it lasted until turkey time.


Thanksgiving morning selfies with mom

After a mini 3 day detox it was time to do it again, this time on American soil, with my family, for the first time in 8 years. I had to work Wednesday and Friday so my lovely parents agreed to make the trek into the city for a feast of Chelsea proportions.


Mom had made pies, applesauce, stuffing (bacon and apples- it’s the best and tastes like home), and bread ahead of time, so when she and dad arrived we popped the turkey in and got to more cooking.


I made roasted carrots and beets with a goat cheese dressing, above, roasted cauliflower with a tahini lemon dressing which was delicious and now a go to in my repertoire, and a coconut milk mashed sweet potato, everything generously covered in pine nuts. Did you know that pine nuts came from pinecones?? I just learned this recently and it blew my mind. Anyway…


Mom made mashed potatoes and gravy and my aunt brought deviled eggs, cranberry sauce -which has never made an appearance at a McPhate Thanksgiving- and a kale salad. How healthy are we?


While we cooked we sipped away at a very tasty 2010 Gramona Brut Cava Imperial which was super easy drinking with ample apples and light toastiness. Organic and made from 50% Xarel-lo, 40% Macabeau, and 10% Chardonnay, the Imperial is aged for 60 months like a fine Champagne, and has a dosage of 8 g/l which is higher than I would have expected, but perhaps what made it so easy drinking. At $25/bottle (as per wine searcher, this was a gift) this is a total steal.

makeshift dining room in the living room

We all, including my French roommate Yannick, sat down for a 4:30 dinner. After 2 weeks of non stop eating and drinking and sitting in Australia, it was nice to have a relatively healthy Thanksgiving- only one serving, lots of greens, and 1 mere slice of pumpkin pie.


Pumpkin pie. Is there a more perfect food? You’ve got color, texture, mild sweetness, and a butter laden crust. Good hot, cold, for dessert or breakfast, which is when I actually prefer it with a cup of Constant Comment tea, it just may be the world’s most perfect food.

And it always tastes exactly like home.img_1182

This year despite, or perhaps in light of, all of the craziness of politics both here and abroad, I am thankful for being so close to my family again, for being an American living in my home country among my countrymen, yet also in a land that celebrates and embraces diversity. The world is only getting smaller and I am most grateful for the formative experiences I have been blessed with and the incredible opportunities yet ahead. Happy Thanksgiving!


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