It doesn’t matter how old I get, because it’s inevitable…. every year at Thanksgiving Day dinner someone will ask, usually my mother, “so what is everyone thankful for?” And as mawkishly sentimental as it feels, it is indeed the reason for the holiday; so we stop stuffing our pie-holes with stuffing, and pie, just long enough to recount the people, places and things we’re most thankful for. [mental note….investigate pie-holes] So in preparation for the two Thanksgiving Day dinners we’re hosting this year, I figured I should jot down a few ideas. Here’s what I’ve got so far.
I’m thankful for brunch reservations and hollandaise sauce….and Mexican food! I’m thankful for Bravo, Jacques Pepin, and America’s Test Kitchen. I’m thankful for Bon Appetite Magazine, and Andrew Knowlton– although I wish he were gay. I’m thankful I live in a country where I can write whatever stream of consciousness comes to mind, publish it, and feel good that I’ve contributed to universal dialogue that is the evolution of the human race. I’m thankful for sarcasm and my ability to turn all things serious into a joke. I’m thankful for the people who get my irreverent sense of humor and know that it’s just a mask for all my insecurities that stem from my parent’s divorce. I’m thankful for facial exfoliators, and my teeny tiny pores. I’m thankful for pot advocates and the voters who will get marijuana legalized. I’m thankful for all things pickled and packaged in small glass jars wrapped in colorful ribbons. I’m thankful for chocolate; all kinds, and sugar; in general. I’m thankful for our housekeeper, though I wish she wouldn’t overstuff the dishwasher. I’m thankful for backhanded compliments. I’m thankful that my overindulgent narcissistic self-centered tendencies—as real as they may be– usually come off as charming, superficial and humorous, which is how they’re intended.
I’m thankful for hipsters, because they remind me I can never wear skinny jeans….or Lycra for that matter. I’m thankful for overly priced letter pressed stationary that’s blank on the inside. I’m thankful for national Opposite Day, and palindromes. I’m thankful I’m not a prostitute working street corners at night, because I’d be horrible at it. I hate shaving my legs and I’m way too chatty. I’m thankful for W-2’s and the people who request to see them before starting an intimate relationship. I’m thankful I’m a man… and a white one at that. I’m thankful I’m not expected to wear high heels, because my feet couldn’t handle it. What can I say; I’m a delicate flower. I’m thankful for Purell….and I’m thankful I’m not a paraplegic, or a quadriplegic. Not that hand sanitation has anything to do with the loss of my limbs, but I figured better now, to write down how appreciative I am to have the use of my arms and legs, rather than forget it to mention it later. I’m thankful I’m not persecuted for my sexuality, and that I can wear pink, and walk around with shorts covered in embroidered blue crabs, because I can. I’m thankful I’ll never truly know what it feels like to have the “wrong color” skin, and I’m also thankful for people… those more compassionate than I… who’ve devoted their lives to making “male” and “white” two socially-weightless adjectives. I’m thankful for the bubble that is San Francisco. I’m thankful for Jonathan’s employee stock purchase program. I’m thankful for all five of my nephews and nieces, and their parents too. I’m thankful I have two older brothers, because if it weren’t for their baldness hitting first, I wouldn’t have invoked Propecia and other precautionary measures in my early 20s.
And in all seriousness….I’m most thankful for butter, all kinds. And I’m thankful for my boyfriend Jonathan too. For he is the one who puts up with all 34 of my personalities, and who will inevitably be forced to edit this list down to the two things I’m most thankful for and that won’t embarrass him, or me, at either of our upcoming Thanksgiving Dinners.
This has been a perspective from a slightly asthmatic middle-class Caucasian Jew.
Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist in Las Vegas
Did I mention I’m thankful for food? Doesn’t matter if it’s the fancy French kind or the casual comfort food of my mother’s kitchen; I’m thankful for delicious meals with loads of choices. Like the amazing meal I recently had in Las Vegas at Pierre Gagniere’s Twist, the restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the Las Vegas strip. This is the wall of gold bricks lining the wall of the lobby you first see when you get off the elevators.
Then you walk down this dim-lit hallway lined with orchids in vases….
And under the installation of thousands of delicate butterflies dangling from string….the embodiment of what I think of when entering the spring and summer seasons.
Not only do we get to choose from a variety of three or four course menus, but each course was actually a compilation of smaller (but still very well-portioned) dishes meant to embody a single theme or ingredient. Chef de Cuisine Ryuki Kawasaki tantalized our palates with samplings of small-plate dishes (think tapas) each meant to hit a different note in what was clearly a single melody or song. Waiters approached the table at the start of each course with 3-5 plates per setting, leaving the table covered in designer chinaware as if it were a fine dining dim sum experience. Knowing how obsessed I get with having to order more food than anyone could possibly eat, because I want to try a little bit of everything—Twist was the perfect dining experience for us.
The food was fantastic. Not only was it visually stimulating and unique, but stunningly delicious. Every bite was memorable and I commend Chef Kawasaki for giving us foie-gras-junkies more than a few opportunities to get our fix on, now that it’s illegal to serve in California. Between the sophisticated techniques used to prepare the food, and the creative masterminds behind the beautiful platings, the flavors and ingredients dancing around in our seasoned taste buds. The service was also impeccable and the restaurant décor was classy, clean and rich with a little bit of playfulness. Oh, and the views of the strip alongside the entire restaurant are breathtaking…even from the restrooms, where you can wash your hands at the sink and stare out Sin City below.
Oh and did I tell you this amazing three-course meal was only $120 before wine? Talk about value!
Assorted amuse-bouches (here’s a sampling)
Carrot dusted marshmallow
Goat cheese discs
A creamy smooth corn mousse with a popped corn garnish.
A fancy cheese and crackers.
Savory little biscuits.
And of course, when they asked me which kind of the three breads I would like, I simply replied, “oui! all three!”
Stewed tomatoes with basil, coconut, tomato sorbet and fresh cilantro.
Burratta ice cream served with Rose grapefruit, peach and parmesan.
Green curry onion broth with English peas, baby carrot and French beats.
Roasted Apricot with rosemary, sliced baby artichoke and almonds.
Foie Gras Degustation
Terrine of Foie Gras with Old Malt, Semi-Confit melon and tomato concasse.
Ringo Starr sable (shortbread-Foie Gras Chantilly with red port, red pepper puree).
Duck Foie Gras roast with turnips, red cabbage bigarade.
Halibut fillet, salted and poached in butter, green bell pepper and horseradish.
Baby potatoes and celery with Kusshi oysters.
Grilled lobster with tarragon butter.
Cauliflower with seaweed, bisque and Mousseline.
Surf N’ Turf
Prime beef tenderloin, soft shell shrimp with green peppercorn and fine herbs.
The beef tenderloin was cooked perfectly, and cut like butter.
Corn and almond croquettes.
Grilled eggplant “Stiletto”
Petite foie gras burger with apricot.
Roasted tomato and chanterelles with parsley.
Tart: caramelized dry fruits, chocolate sorbet, vanilla ice cream.
White rum and orange reduction, milk chocolate Daquoise, white almond paste.
Chocolate meringue, chocolate coffee soup.
Pure Pistachio Souffle
Pistachio biscuit soufflé, raspberry meringue, peach bavaroise with rose water.
And the cheese plate….because I could.
And just when the button on my pants was about to burst, they served us one last selection of sweets. Each of us had a gelee, a macaroon, and pistachio truffle of sorts.
Check out our previous post titledA Clean Slate with a Free Plate
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