Tony and I had a gang of friends over for an early-afternoon Thanksgiving dinner: Jack, Hanif and Mark, Hanif's cousin Anita, Rich and Vince, and Vince's friend Duke.
Like last year, we had everything at least prepped if not cooked before our guests arrived. Tony even had a shakerful of Loganberry Liqueur cocktails chilling outside:
Here's the menu Tony sent to our guests—and to other friends who don't live in the area and so wouldn't be able to come—so they would be impressed with everything we were preparing. Click on it to embiggen it:
We didn't follow Tony's menu to the letter. I didn't use white pepper in my gravy, which I thought turned out nicely. I ate a couple of the browned bits from the pan before I added my slurry of arrowroot and water, turkey broth from Trader Joe's, black pepper, salt, and sage from the greenhouse. And I patted myself on the back mentally for making sure the sensitive-perennial herbs made it inside there this year.
The turkey Tony got from Fresh Direct was a little under 14 pounds; he had requested one in the 14-to-16-pound range. He was concerned we wouldn't have enough meat, but we were fine and still had enough left over to eat for lunch on Saturday.
Tony's deep-fried polenta was a big hit. He served sage polenta with jarred marinara sauce and plain polenta with a hot-and-spicy sauce made with (among other ingredients) ginger, dried Thai chili pepper, ketchup, and rice wine vinegar. He figured our Vietnamese guests would appreciate some heat:
We did only the roasted potatoes. I had thought about setting some of the boiled potatoes aside for mashing but decided that would be one too many things to try to accomplish. Plus, I didn't have any dairy milk in the house. We usually steam the potatoes before roasting them, but because of the volume, we boiled them. I peeled the potatoes for Tony. I've been peeling taters since I was boy in my Granny's kitchen, so I can crank 'em out fast. We did probably 6 pounds worth.
In addition to the nuts, Tony made three kinds of cranberry sauce the night before: plain, with Cointreau and orange rind, and with ginger and lime.
I made Brussels sprouts with garlic and turmeric on the stove just before we sat down to eat. And my lettuce salad also featured purple cabbage, carrot, and an apple-Chinese five spice vinaigrette.
Here's my plate:
Mark wasn't fond of the Lúcuma Ice Cream. Jack and Hanif thought it tasted like mocha. It still tasted like sweet potato and maple to me.
After dessert and after RV&D had gone to another gathering, we played the Scrabble edition of Catchphrase. Jack's team (with Tony and Hanif) beat Mark's team (with Anita and me) pretty handily.
We went to the Gerbers' on Friday. Poor Dad, who had driven up on Tuesday, had to endure two strange-to-him restaurants that day. We went to Cravings, a tapas place in Ridgewood, for lunch. Tony got a safe-for-him Mango Cucumber Spinach Salad. Mike and I ordered the Shortrib Quesadilla, which was so good I'm glad no one wanted to try a bite of mine. (Matt had a bite of Mike's.) There was a watercress salad on the side:
Dad got Abondigas—veal meatballs in tomato sauce with pecorino and basil—and he let me have a couple. And there were two kinds of bread and oil and dips to dunk them in.
In the afternoon, we all put up the Christmas tree, which, goodgat, I realize now I didn't take a single photo of. Then the 'phews kicked my ass all over the place on the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. The highlight for me was getting to play as my Mii:
Dinner was at Aoyama, the French Thai and Japanese restaurant in Wyckoff where Tracey, Mike, Matt, and I ate last December, before Gerbstock. Dad didn't get anything too Asian; he ordered Steak au Poivre. Actually, Tracey ordered it for him because he hadn't brought his reading glasses, which reminded all of us of Granny asking Dad to order for him. Our wonderfully helpful waitress later brought Dad a box of reading glasses to choose from, so he could see the food on his plate. She was also terrific when it came to telling Tony what was safe for him to eat. She warned him that because the coconut milk the restaurant uses is from Thailand, it might contain traces of soy.
I had a pretty-boring-choicewise but totally tasty Green Curry Chicken. Tracey, Tony, Dad, and I shared a delicious white Burgundy that I should seek out for myself; it was a bottle Tracey brought:
Matt and Mike both got sushi. Here's Mike:
And here's Matt helping his Pop Pop post a photo on Facebook:
That afternoon, we had snacked on Tony's homemade nuts* and had drunk a Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau. We had asked Hanif to bring a couple of bottles for Thanksgiving, and we had drunk only one with dinner (along with a couple of white wines). I don't think Dad had ever drunk BN before. He really enjoyed it (as did we all), so I'll be sure to have a bottle on hand at Christmas.
I didn't make as many attempts at a cute selfie with Molly as I usually do, so I didn't get a really good one. Here's a nice close-up shot of the little doll baby in which she's totally obscuring my head:
On Saturday, we had a great day hanging out with Hal and Stacy at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then having a fine meal at the Candle Cafe on the Upper East Side.
I never knew the Met had an Egyptian temple on display. It's really something to see:
Tony and I should totally take Dad to the Met to see the temple and the museum's expansive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts.
Here's a photo Stacy took of us three dudes near the temple:
Actually, when Stacy posted it on Facebook, she called us "three cute boys." *says "We're cute! We're cute! She said we're cute." in Rudolph's voice*
And speaking of Egypt, Tony got a kick out of the winged baby heads in The Last Communion of Saint Mary of Egypt and had to point the painting out to the rest of us. And to anyone who thinks Christianity doesn't include its own set of strange notions, like those crazy other religions, let me repeat: winged baby heads!
We had planned to go to Candle 79 for dinner, but it was fully booked. So we went instead to its sister vegan restaurant, and I couldn't have been happier with my meal. And it only helped that our waiter was utterly adorbs. :-)
I started with the tasty Celeriac Soup, which I took a photo of but I won't run here because it just looks like a bowl of brownish-green liquid. Look at me all photo editing! For my main, I got the hearty and delicious Paradise Casserole, which the menu says consists of "layers of sweet potato, black beans and millet over steamed greens with country gravy":
I should cook millet for me and the boy. It's gluten-free. And not just for birds anymore!
Stacy, Tony, and I shared a bottle of perky German riesling. (Hal had a beer.)
Here's a sweet pic of Stacy and Hal, who's wearing his museum-pass sticker and Tony's:
Tony was very pleased with his dessert: the Live Pumpkin Cheesecake. He said it was the first time in quite a while that a GF and dairy-free dessert he ate at a restaurant was worth every penny and not just meh:
On Sunday, the Tonester and I saw Roundabout Theatre Company's production of The Real Thing, starring Ewan McGregor, Cynthia Nixon, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The play, by Tom Stoppard, had some wonderful turns of phrase and some interesting plays-within-the-play stuff going on. And it was great to see McGregor, who's such a dreamboat, on stage mere feet from me. (We were five rows from the stage on the far right of the theater.)
But now that I've read some more reviews of the play (the only one I read in its entirety before the show was this mostly enthusiastic essay by New York magazine/Vulture's Jesse Green), I wonder whether McGregor was the right choice for the role. We were supposed to not like his character, Henry, at all in the first act; he came across as somewhat dickish but not so bad. And Nixon was supposed to gain our sympathy as his wife, Charlotte, but I didn't feel that kindly toward her, at least not in the first act. I thought Gyllenhaal was pretty solid throughout the show as Annie, who becomes Henry's second wife.
The high-walled-apartment set reminded me of the horrifying sky-high fence from Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Picnic that threatened to crush us all. And by "all," I mean everyone in the vicinity of Broadway.
The text certainly gave me a lot to think about. I've spent more time mulling over this play—and whether I thought it was a success—than I have any other one for quite a while. For his part, Tony found the first act to be a struggle to get through; he had less of a problem with the second act.
*I was careful to add homemade, so there was no joke implied about Tony's gonads. Because, gross, that's my family eating the nuts!