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.
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.
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.
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!