A Persnickety Thanksgiving

It’s been a week since we stuffed ourselves silly at Thanksgiving, and I’m only now catching up with real life again! Thanksgiving at my brother’s Manhattan apartment has become a tradition for my family; this might have been the 5th year running! It’s only right though–for a holiday that is almost solely focused on food (and a wee bit of thanks thrown in), you gravitate to the best chef. In my family, the crown goes to my brother, and he certainly wears it with pride.

Dane always prepares a surprisingly traditional menu of dishes (i.e. turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc), but the food is so elaborately, carefully, and lovingly prepared, that it pretty much beats every other meal ever. But before that happens, we eat burgers.

Last year, we ate at 5 Napkin Burger, and this year, it was P.J. Clarke’s that provided our pre-Thanksgiving grease. The burgers are delicious, the gin & tonics perfectly refreshing, and a special artisanal ketchup on the table may have been slathered on every bite. PJ’s was also a fantastic example of a restaurant that trains its staff on a responsible approach to dietary restrictions. Our seasoned waiter knew everything about frying oil used, allergens in the kitchen, and completely quelled my concerns with his comments: “You have nothing to worry about–we have plenty of people come in with allergies, especially peanut allergies.” A great meal to expand our stomachs!

Cornbread Stuffing…wish it just didn’t look so delicious!

And now, for what you’re actually reading this for: the big Thanksgiving meal. I was the only one present with a dietary restriction, but since it was a small group of family and close friends, I was actually shocked to discover my brother’s intention of preparing a cornbread stuffing. It was my almost-daily intake of cornbread muffins at my work cafeteria that led to the development of my intolerance, so I have long had to turn my back on cornbread (and all other corny things – bad jokes not included). I grudgingly accepted Dane’s justification that he would make normal bread stuffing as well, there would be no worry of cross-contamination, and there would be a ridiculously large variety of other foods for me to eat. Yah, yah. Fine. I didn’t push–there was no need to make a scene, although I do feel that it would have been just as easy to have a perfectly allergen-free Thanksgiving. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue!

The preparation began at 9:30am with 2 pies made by my mother and I, and the kitchen was rocking for the rest of the day! Check out the dishes below!

Charcuterie spread for munching.

Our 14lb bird, and our 5lb gremlin.

A gorgeous presentation, as per usual.

The cauliflower and brussels sprout gratin.

The table is groaning at this point.

Quite the full plate. Polished off in record time by yours truly.

Don’t forget the pie! Pumpkin and chocolate-pecan with handwhipped (seriously) whipped cream.

Hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving!

Brunching in the City

AAaaannnddd…..we’re back! I’ve been on a bit of a Persnickety hiatus–for no good reason, mind you–but I’m happy to return with a decadent post in tow. Although Thanksgiving preparations are currently very much underway, I wanted to take a little tour of my recent brunch outings around the city. The DC’ers among you should know the minor (ahem…major) obsession that DC inhabitants have with brunch, and I have had multiple weekends with both a Saturday and Sunday sampling. There’s always a modicum of guilt associated though; I avoid the healthy options on the menu, and consistently gravitate towards the most decadent instead. So, from most recent…here are three brunches I’ve loved in the past few months.

Founding Farmers

Previously only having visited for dinner–which is marvelous–I finally planned a brunch with a good friend of mine. Without meaning to, we actually ordered the exact same meal: coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, and stuffed french toast with strawberries and whipped cream. (I mentioned the always ordering the most unhealthy item on the menu, right?). She mentioned that every time she’s gone, she’s lusted after the stuffed french toast, but never actually committed, so she was thrilled to finally order it. And I was thrilled to eat it. I have to say that we were so preoccupied with catching up that I delayed asking about peanuts until they had actually brought our food, but luckily everything had been prepared safely, and there were no cross contamination issues to worry about. Now – don’t ask me how they make this and don’t expect me to know what what makes it so gloriously rich (you can probably guess from the pictures). Just admire.

Shaw’s Tavern

Although I rarely choose a savory brunch selection, I had gotten up particularly early this Sunday, and had already had a full breakfast of oatmeal with cinnamon, brown sugar, dried fruit and pecans. I was sugared-out, so I chose the pulled chicken sandwich instead. It was actually quite lovely, with a great kick from the jalapenos mixed in with shallots, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and peppers. The sandwich came with potato chips, but after discovering that they were cooked in corn oil, the waitress graciously supplied me with a darling little bowl of blueberries and strawberries, and left the chips for my dining companions to munch on. Along with an absurdly delicious fresh squeezed orange juice, it was a pretty healthy and pleasing meal!

Cafe Sorriso e Gelateria

As part of my quest to visit all my local neighborhood spots, I wandered into Cafe Sorriso a few months ago to try out their coffee. A tiny little space, it’s full of character and extremely hospitable people. It’s relatively new, and unfortunately a bit hidden, but the place opens quite early for their weekend breakfast/brunch and provides a really nice option for a relaxed meal with friends. Three of us live in the same building, so it’s easy to coordinate a nice, early brunch on a weekend. On this visit, I ordered the whole wheat pancakes with banana, walnuts and maple syrup and accompanied the meal with a pot of delicious Earl Grey tea. My friends had oatmeal, and smoked salmon scrambled eggs, respectively, and each enjoyed the uncomplicated and delightful spread.

Now, as a teaser for you all, today we have completed our massive shop for the Thanksgiving meal at Chelsea Market in NYC, and have successfully retrieved our 14 pound bird. I’m baking a chocolate pecan pie, there will be two types of stuffing, multitudes of roasted vegetable goodness, and fresh home-made cranberry sauce. And of course, we have bottles and bottles of wine and about 7 different kinds of cheeses and cured meats for snacking during the day. Never fear, the Thanksgiving post will be epic, and hopefully completely absolve me from my disgraceful lack of posting for the last few weeks.