Monday, December 1, 2008

A Boston Thanksgiving

I mentioned about a week ago that our Thanksgiving isn't quite the typical one. First off, I'm a food blogger who doesn't get to cook a thing (*GASP*) for the meal. Instead, we go to Boston to visit my family, and the meal is hosted by an uncle who lives there in the city. A confirmed bachelor who doesn't cook, he hosts the meal at a luxury hotel.
Thursday morning began with us meeting my father and stepmother for breakfast, and then going into Boston Common, (Boston's version of Central Park) with my brother-in-law and niece. We were trying to tire her out to ensure a good noontime nap, and thus a peaceful meal afterwards. Although most of the leaves on the beautiful old trees had already fallen, a few of the weeping willows were still looking magnificent.  
The brisk 35 F air was a quick reminder that holiday time was upon us, and after about 40 minutes, we headed back inside. A few hours later, we went to my uncle's apartment to meet up with the rest of the family, have a few cocktails, and catch up on what everyone has been up to. I have a large number of cousins, most of whom were in attendance, and everyone was very happy that we had made the trip north.  After a couple hours of chat, we headed to the private hotel dining room where we have the actual meal. The menu itself is very traditional and has a few amusing twists to suit our family. We always start with a choice of lobster bisque or shrimp cocktail. Seafood is a pretty traditional component to a New England Thanksgiving, and my grandfather and cousins are fiends for shrimp cocktail. Personally, I always get the bisque. It's divine. The next course is a choice of arugula salad with parmesan and vinaigrette, or iceberg wedge salad with italian dressing. The iceberg salad choice is there specifically for my grandfather, who believes it is really the only salad worth eating. None of those fancy lettuces or dressings for him, thank you. The man knows what he likes. By the way, has anyone else noticed that grocery stores have started labeling it "Western Lettuce"? Are they trying to duck iceberg's rep as the least nutritious green veg there is?
The room itself is beautifully decorated with damask, paneling, and a crystal chandelier, has a view of the Common, and the ornate place settings, candles, gourds, and floral arrangements are always impeccable. 
After the first two courses, one of the many chefs employed by this fine establishment enters the room to present our turkey. 
The rest of the meal is served buffet style, beginning with a carving station for the bird, and continuing with gravy, two varieties of stuffing (both with and without giblets), roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, whipped butternut squash, whole berry and jellied cranberry sauce (for my cousins, who insist the only good cranberry sauce is "the kind with the lines!' Sigh.), green bean casserole (Del Monte recipe only; I told you there were some amusing conditions.), haricot verts with almonds, and creamed onions, as well as several types of bread. 
Dessert is also buffet style, with pecan, pumpkin, and chocolate chiffon pies, chocolate satin cake, apple crisp, vanilla and cinnamon ice creams, and various sauces. 
Individual ice cream sundaes were brought out for my niece and nephew, both under age 2. They were heartily enjoyed! 

I realize that this is not everyone's Thanksgiving experience, and I'm always grateful to my uncle for arranging such a lovely and stress-free gathering. We are very lucky to be able to have it, and that is something we never forget.

No comments: