Want to start the Yuletide gay with a Friendsgiving feast? Whether you’re hosting, visiting or agreeing to eat out with your LGBT chosen family, there are a few sure tips that will help make the season bright.
It’s likely best to start by remembering why the folks you’re spending this special day will be your dinner companions. Some may be missing their relatives and unable to travel home because of the distance, the expense, the weather — or the state of their relationships.
How You Doin’?
You can show up (or have guests in) to simply eat, make chit-chat, and call it good. But you might also take a moment to visit with the others in your group to show a little warmth. Of course, all of that depends on how well you know your fellow diners. But even if you’re the shy type, ease out of your comfort zone long enough to acknowledge the occasion and the people around you.
If you’re hosting, do what you can to not overextend yourself. Keep your menu simple and doable. Remember to ask if anyone attending has dietary restrictions. Accept help. Keep in mind that many regard Friendsgiving as simply a fancy potluck. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If you commit to more than you should, you’ll have a home full of people chatting away in your living room, while you’re frantically trying to finish multiple dishes. You’ll completely miss the party you’ve thrown.
If you’re a guest at someone else’s place, let common sense be your guide. Do not bring Grandma’s prized chafing dish and expect that strangers will treat it like something from King Tut’s tomb. Tupperware is your friend — before and after. If you’ve agreed to bring a dish, make sure that what you’re bringing works with the rest of the menu. Some people who cook dressing bring two: one that’s traditional, and another that’s a personal favorite.
Do not show up with something exotic and expect that the diners will love it. Part of Thanksgiving is tradition. Respect that. If you’re tasked with bringing pies and you don’t ante up at least one that’s pumpkin, turn around and get one. No one wants to try Aunt Zelda’s rhubarb or the recipe for mincemeat bourbon that your family’s been holding onto since the Pilgrim era.
Watch Your Wallet
If you’ve agreed to bring liquor, look out. It’s often the most expensive contribution, since you don’t want to show up with just one liquor or just one mixer. And while it’s certainly okay to ask for leftovers of something you didn’t bring, the liquor stays put. It’s gauche to ask for your booze back. If you’re hosting, it’s always best to ask multiple people to pitch in for the hooch, or better yet, to make your event BYOB.
If you’re a guest, do offer to help do some cooking. Some of the best chats (and pre-meal grazing) happen in the kitchen over a bottle of wine, a little spiked eggnog or a classy cocktail. One rule throughout: Never tamper with someone else’s recipe to add “just a dash” of whatever. It’s rude. Some diners wince at others adding so much as salt and pepper at the table to their food, but that’s getting too granular. What you do with your plate is your business. But what other people provide is theirs. Do not share your opinions about how it tastes unless it’s a compliment.More From Metrosource
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There are also advantages to dining out as a group. The waitstaff cleans up, the kitchen staff does the dishes, and all you have to do is enjoy the meal and your company. The only real challenge is to pick a spot that reflects the kind of Thanksgiving environment that’s appropriate for all.
Michael King, the executive chef at the classy and cozy Irvington bar and restaurant on Park Avenue says he takes the meal seriously. “There’s no greater hospitality crime,” he states flatly, “than to give people bad food or service at Thanksgiving.”
King, whose restaurant adjoins the W Hotel on Park, says that along with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Easter, Thanksgiving puts a special kind of guest in his dining room. He knows he’s entrusted not with just creating a stellar meal, but with creating memories to last a lifetime.
“I think that for everyone, Thanksgiving is what you grew up with,” King offers. “I was fortunate to grow up loving family and we ate well, and so that’s what we try to provide. We’re lucky in that we’re right across the street from the Union Square green market, so we always have access to the freshest vegetables around.”
While some chefs might take the opportunity to serve an elevated or deconstructed meal to dazzle diners, King says this is one occasion where you really need to know your audience. “We’re not trying to be too avant garde on Thanksgiving,” he explains. “We’re doing the basics that we know our guests love and expect at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.”
Farm to Table
So, while King has ready access to a cornucopia of fresh vegetables year round, he prefers not to roll the dice when it comes to Thanksgiving.
This year, the Irvington menu includes rotisserie turkey, cornbread and apple stuffing, whipped potatoes and gravy and roasted carrots. There’s also a caramelized yam soup and roasted delicata squash with
farro, roasted mushrooms, goat cheese and pomegranate.
The one uptown choice: Desert is a pumpkin cheesecake mousse, says King. “It’s piped into a glass and very elegant looking,” he says with a smile.
He pauses for a minute, then wraps it up neatly. “We know that a lot of places are closed,” he concludes. “We know that people are counting on us to make their day special. So there’s a lot of extra staff training, and a lot of extra care put in, because the people in your dining room are choosing you, and you want to make them glad they did.”
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Last modified: November 25, 2019