The Unveiling

The holidays are off and running. At 08:13 the day after Thanksgiving I don’t feel hungry. Even Hale said she wanted to wait for breakfast this morning. We probably over did it for just our little family but then again Thanksgiving and all the trimmings (or leftovers) only come around once a year.This year’s dinner was more than an unveiling of our finished bird. I threw in a little surprise announcement for the family which I will share later in the post. First things first though… the food.(I had a request to post some recipes earlier this week but I think I would rather spare the space and post the menu. Where I have a link to a recipe I’ll do that. Anything else, just shoot me an email or post a comment and I’ll share the recipe.)

The Bird. She was placed on the grill about 9am after receiving an injection of roasted garlic infused olive oil, beer, and cayenne pepper eighteen hours previously. She was a gorgeous bird before Turkey smoking in Weber Kettle Grillbeing cooked; a fresh 13lb. Bell and Evans turkey. She received a nice rub down with a roasted garlic paste before hitting the grill and it took her almost six hours to finish cooking. She was so tender I could have pulled the breast like a pork shoulder.

The Trimmings. We have three staple trimmings each year and those are Tracey’s mac and cheese, brussels sprouts with pancetta, and a pineapple and sausage stuffing. Tracey makes the mac and cheese from scratch with gruyere and cheddar cheeses. The brussels sprouts and stuffing recipes we found many years ago to try but we liked them so much they come back each year. The only changes we’ve made to the base recipes are to double the meat.

We tried two new recipes this year. The first being the standard candied sweet potatoes with a twist and the second was a cranberry sauce courtesy of Bobby Flay. The twist on the sweet potatoes was soaking the marshmallows in bourbon for about 30 minutes before spreading on the potatoes as it hit the oven. WOW! I’m not a big fan of the cranberry but the recipe I saw Flay make on TV turned out to be the bomb and an incredible accompaniment to the bird. Thanks Bobby!

The Beverage. We cooked with a Pinot Grigio from Barboursville and that didn’t make it to the meal. I had to polish that off while snacking during the Dolphins/Lions. Our main attraction was a wine I had heard about from my friend Mac. He’s of French lineage and each year with the new harvest he always buys Beaujolais Nouveau. Nancy got some in from Domaine Manoir Du Carra at the wine shop so we had a couple of bottles of that for dinner. It was very nice.Black Walnut cake from Bittersweet Bakery

The Baked Goods. No special celebration in our house would be complete without an assortment of goodies from our friends at Bittersweet Bakery in Staunton:

  • For the “night before the feast” I chose a tray of pumpkin gooey cake. Oh, baby. This was so deadly that we gave half of it to our neighbor.
  • A pan of homemade orange rolls got us moving while we watched the Macy’s parade.
  • Hale demanded a pumpkin pie so that was a given and I have to admit that Sheila’s is hands-down better than the Beverley’s.
  • Aside from the yeast rolls for the dinner, Sheila and her gang also made us a Black Walnut cake. I have never had a Black Walnut cake but read about it and thought “why not?” Sheila’s was great – kind of like a spice cake, lighter in color, spicier, and nuttier in taste. She topped it off with a cream cheese icing.

Round two will hit this afternoon while watching the LSU/Arkansas game.

Now for the big surprise… While visiting my aunt last week it became clear to me that given what we’ve been through the last several years with the fall of Adelphia and what could conceivably be our last Christmas here in our current home, I should do all I can to make it memorable. So what better memory can I provide than to blow this Popsicle stand for a family vacation in winter wonderland? My aunt recommended a historic city known for its Christmas charm. So we’re off to Quebec City this Christmas.

The family didn’t know. I booked the trip last week to surprise the crew. To aid the announcement I gave everyone a “gift” as we said our thanks around the table yesterday. For her sense of culture, Hale got a “speak French in 15 minutes a day” CD set (she immediately went to work on it). For her sense of adventure, Taylor received the Frommer’s guide to Quebec City. For her support of me, Tracey received the overview of the vacation from Travel and Leisure (found by coincidence after I booked the trip) as well as copies of the air and hotel confirmations.

I’m pretty stoked and the family seems to be too. We’re staying at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac which is the center of old Quebec and right in the middle of all the festivities. We’ll be planning some activities over the next week but certainly a sleigh ride around the Citadel and city is in order, as well as ice skating and sledding in one of the parks. There’s an old toy store close to the hotel that I understand Santa favors. Something we’ve talked about but never done is attending Christmas mass and the Basilique Cathédrale Notre-Dame, which was founded in 1647, has three services on Christmas Eve.

If any of you have been to Quebec City and have suggestions, let me know. It’s always good to have some help in planning a trip and best to have some advice that comes from a source of experience.

The holidays are off and running, and soon to be flying. Hope yours is safe and joyous.

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