Here at Brian Beal Moore Catering, we’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving… a lot! To be totally forthright, it is our favorite holiday!
One must realize that Thanksgiving is, by design, a truly multicultural holiday. Therefore, it should continue to grow and evolve with its participants. It is a time of sharing, discovering, and obviously, giving thanks.
Simply put, it is a feast with family and friends - even though it has been tried, there are not too many ways to commercialize and capitalize on it. I hope I never see a decorated “Thanksgiving Tree”!
Growing up, my family had only one Thanksgiving “decoration”. A large Cornucopia from the Frankoma pottery firm in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. It graced the dining room table, filled with an assortment of pumpkins, squash, apples, pears, various nuts, and just whatever else we found appealing.
Make your table personal, grandmother’s china, tag-sale silver, any item that is held dear. If you live in an area with deciduous trees - gather colorful leaves and scatter them about the table. If you’ve conifers in the yard, fill a bowl with the cones! One tradition that I have is making menu cards, with the guest’s name at the top. This alleviates the confusion of where to sit, but also lists all of the delicious offerings and who prepared them.
Thanksgiving fare is mostly traditional, especially in particular families. I know people who always have on their table Baked Bananas, and that tradition came from a great-great-grandmother, and now six generations later, the descendants proudly serve it.
Another family, who migrated to the United States in the 1980’s, didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving at all - no one took the initiative to explain what it was all about. Yes, they saw the Parade on television, but there is no history lesson in that two-hour long commercial of crassness! But once they did learn, it became one of their most welcome holidays. Yes, they roast a turkey, but they spice it lively with cumin, oregano, and garlic. Rice is an important staple in the culture, so they prepare the stuffing with that, with lots of fruits added. The pièce de résistance is the Pan de Jamón, a complex bread brimming with Iberian Ham, Spanish Olives, and Wine-soaked Raisins.
So over the next few weeks, Brian Beal Moore Catering will be exploring ideas that are a bit different, both in aesthetics and flavors.
Our first Menu and Table Setting is an over-the-top departure from the traditional, and are rather old-school opulent with updates to make it more palatable for today’s tastes.
The table is centered on nostalgic cream and gold heirloom wedding china, and modernized with gleaming gold flatware, set upon a strong patterned damask of patina on bronze silk. A polished brass vase holds autumnal hydrangeas and is surrounded by gold lined votive cups that increase the intensity of the flame held within. The linen napkins, have “been in the family for years” and sport an embroidered monogram. Demitasse spoons, used with salt cellars and coffee service were collected on travels to South America and Africa.
The menu is more formal and unusual than the standard fare.
During cocktails, about the room, silver bowls of superior tree nuts, which have been browned in French butter, are readily available. Colossal Wild Gulf Shrimp are presented on ice, and ready to swipe through a rich Saffron-Caper Aïoli. A silver salver offers scrumptious Cocktail Cookies.
As a first course, Chesapeake Bay Scallops are draped in a gorgeous silken cream delicately laced with fine sherry - don’t worry; the portion isn’t huge - so indulge a little!
Now our main dish really excites me, it is such a epicurean throwback! When I was a child I thought it to be the most elegant and sophisticated of all culinary creations. The mere thought of it made me delirious with delight. Yes, it is Pheasant Under Glass! Even now it elicits visions of grand tuxedo-ed evenings in a refined yet exotic locale.
One may ask oneself, “Why does it need to be under glass?” Well, the aroma is so dreamy that it must be captured and contained. It is brought to the table, the dome is lifted, and the beguiling scent will intoxicate your guests! (If need be, have a small hand fan ready to ensure this aromatic gesture travels to all at the table!)
It is carved table-side, and placed on a pillowy pilaf of North American Wild Rice, studded with fruits and walnuts, and accompanied by colorful heirloom baby carrots.
Of course, one must have dessert - and we will climb down off of our lofty epicurean hog and embrace the joys of conventional simplicity with a warm from the oven Apple Crisp. Topped with a scoop of incredible Vanilla Ice Cream, it is the perfect ending to a stunningly envisioned Thanksgiving Dinner!