shapeimage_2This year for Thanksgiving, the eastern jetstream kindly brought us our dear friends Kate and Paul and their adorable, slightly elusive, salami-loving daughter, Lainey.  Kate is one of my college roommates, a tequila-loving, hilariously cynical, bon vivant who just happens to be one of my favorite people to cook and feast with.  She married a fellow Wisconsinite named Paul, whose genial, sweet nature, unassuming brilliance and funny stories have endeared him to us in degrees far surpassing the amount of time we’ve actually spent with him.  Doctor Dash and I have made it our life’s mission to convince these guys to move to Minneapolis where they would not only have the pleasure of seeing us daily, but more opportunities for ice skating and hockey than they would know what to do with . . . not to mention superior dairy and pork products than those found in chichi-foodie-organic-everything Seattle.  

We kicked off our visit with empanadas, salad and lots of delicious red wine.  For an Argentine like myself, empanadas are a Pavlovian bell signaling good times.  No one ever eats empanadas when they’re sad . . . or maybe no one can be sad when eating empanadas.  Regardless, on Tuesday afternoon, I took great anticipatory pleasure in whipping them up with the ground beef from this year’s grass fed bovine.  The empanadas did their job of shaking their booties and singing: Welcome friends!  We’re so glad you’re here!  Paaaahtay!

Wednesday was a sunny, comfortable blur of meal plotting, shopping, some prep work and hanging out with the kids.  Inevitably, the conversation would circle around to our other housemates and we tuned into Heather’s hubby’s kick-ass community radio show, Hip City out of Saint Louis, for some bodacious r&b, soul, funk, and hip-hop to entertain and edify us while we hung out in the kitchen.  Devil Baby took quite a shine to Paul, drawing on all her feminine wiles to usurp Lainey, and he spent his day gracefully negotiating the vying, coy attention-seeking of two two year old girls.  God bless him.  Supergirl was big sisterish with Lainey, taking her under her wing to spy, play, and hide from her mother – eventually marking her with the ultimate badge of acceptance by coloring her nipples with a green marker.  Oy.  Saint James took every opportunity to lure Paul outside to kick a soccer ball around or show him cool soccer moves on YouTube.  The day slid by in happy chaos and when Dash returned from work, we piled into the minivan and went to Yum for a tasty, kid-friendly, easy-peasy dinner.  It was our first time there and a bit of a gamble for us to try a new place with our friends – especially given our mission to convert them to the idea of a MPLS relocation – but we were all pleased with our dinners and I, for one, will be back for the tuna melt.

On Thursday, the kitchen was filled with the sounds of sizzling, chopping, music and chatter.  We were expecting our friends Martin and Betty, their two sons, Martin’s mom and their nanny at around four.  We had an unexpected but lovely pop-in from our friends Big and his foxy wife on their way to another Thanksgiving celebration, so we cracked a bottle of wine at three o’clock with them and were deliciously sandwiched when they came back by for desert.  

Our dinner was a knock-out, a true group effort, and honestly, not something I think I could have pulled off without my girl, Kate, by my side.  Or it certainly wouldn’t have been as fun and relaxing.  Here’s the blow by blow:

We started with an array of cheeses:  Humbolt Fog, a delicious weedy tasting goat with two textures and a line of ash in the middle, an aged Mahon, a creamy, nutty tasting hard cow’s milk cheese from Spain specked with intriguing flavor explosion crystals, Fromage D’ Affinois, a pungent, oozy and decadent double cream, and St. Agur Blue - always love a blue and this one is especially creamy.  We also had my not-yet-famous-but-worthy-of-being-famous smokey, spicy, carmelized almonds for snacking.  I’m trying to come up with a better name, and so far the frontrunner is Deez Nutz- crooned à la Snoop Dog.

The curtain opened on dinner with a light and savory white bean soup made by Martin, who year after year, has proven himself to be the kind of cook who always manages to make it look effortless.  The rest of the luscious ditties were as follows: a beautiful 20 lb organic bird named Tom in honor of the nut pecker we’ve all grown to love and admire.  Creamy horseradish mashed potatoes.  Cornbread and chorizo stuffing made by Doctor Dash and unanimously agreed to be a worthwhile and delectable departure from traditional stuffing.  Bourbon yams brought by Martin and Betty – as happy as yams could possibly be, bathed as they are in a silky sauce of bourbon, butter and brown sugar – to die for.  Brussel sprouts topped in pancetta – also delicious with the salty pork playing nicely with the slightly bitter sprouts.  And last but not least, cranberry chutney – again, a departure from the standard, but the shallot and ginger manage to work the berries into a frenzy, their tart little voices singing with joy in your mouth.  For desert, we had apple pie, pumpkin mousse pie made by Kate and Supergirl, and regular pumpkin pie brought by Big and his foxy wife.  The latter became a victim to my late night snacking on multiple nights thereafter . . . the perils of being delicious and in my path when I’m up past two o’clock in the morning for four nights in a row.

We set up our Who table in our as-of-yet empty living room and this is the first time we fully used our wedding china – gravy boat and all.  I felt quite grown up, to tell you the truth.  The kids made place cards and napkin rings, giving the whole table a quirky, casual vibe.  And let’s face it – throw enough votives at anything and it looks pretty.  The food, wine, and company were as lovely as I could have hoped for and went a long way toward warming our house into home.  I like to believe that with each visit, each echo of laughter, each spilt glass of wine, each candle lit that melts down on its own, each story told and meal shared, our house shivers a little with pleasure, holding all of that warmth into itself, remembering and preparing for the next time.   

And Friday – well, on Friday Dash and I pulled out the big guns.  After an afternoon poking around the Lake Harriet Peace Garden and Bird Sanctuary, topped off with a trolley ride with Santa, we happily left the brood with a couple young sitters and busted a move for downtown.  A little nighttime driving tour by Dash ended up at the Guthrie, where we grabbed some beers and ogled the sleek beauty that is the theater and the stellar views throughout.  Aren’t we lucky to have such a pantheon to theatre in our city?  I love the Guthrie – we go there during the day with the kids after eating our way through the Mill City Market – we stretch our imaginations and intellects when we get the chance to take in a wonderful play – and now, we’ve discovered a great place for cocktails before a night out.  Just cool.

At nine o’clock we slid into a booth at 112 Eatery, my absolute faaaaaavorite restaurant . . . Cheshire cat grins and ready for a feast.  And 112, of course, did not disappoint.  Plate after plate of mouthwatering, unfussy, inspired vittles kept us contentedly eating and drinking and chattering for nearly three hours.  Dash and I lost our steak tartare virginity . . . andloved it.  Everything from the lamb scottadito in basil goat yogurt sauce, to the maple gorgonzola squash, to the spicy broccolini, to the prosciutto bread, to the crab salad, to the pan fried parmesan reggiano covered gnocchi, to the scallops on oyster mushrooms . . . was swoon-worthy.  We topped it all off with the banana cream tart, which Dash and I always get, and the chocolate pot de creme.  The four of us rolled out of there, licking our chops and rubbing our bellies. 

After dropping off the sitters and making sure the kids were snug bugs, we reconvened in the basement for a little Rock Band, and the Bradleys proved to be quite the dynamic duo on drums.  Paul brought an uncharacteristic rock n’ roll swagger to every instrument he tried and with these two virtuosos in our corner, we were able to unlock a bunch of new songs and fully rock the house.  Really, we were really really good.  And no band fights!


And now, after days and days of relishing our friends and feasting on salty foods and drinking delicious wines and beers and laughing and reminiscing and concocting all manner of new inventions and jobs for ourselves, I need to depuff  and detox . . . before the next round of parties . . . 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

One Response to “Thanksgiving.”

Leave a Reply