So what is Sasha Smith, our New York City Correspondent doing on Thursday to celebrate the holiday? Read below to find out:
This year we’re headed to my sister-in-law’s place in Livingston, New Jersey. Her husband is a former chef who trained at the CIA, so we’re in good hands. I don’t love turkey, but he brines his bird, which is definitely an improvement. Sides are mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, and, yes, the green bean casserole from the back of the cream of mushroom soup can. It’s a tradition in my husband’s family, and not one I embrace. Fortunately, my husband’s also making the cornbread, broccoli rabe and Gruyere strata that was in The New York Times last week – his family is Italian-American, so while it might not be a traditional dish, it’s definitely appropriate. I just received Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food cookbook as a gift, and while I think she sometimes takes the organic/local/seasonal thing to impractical extremes, I’ve never had anything but success with her recipes. She has a great-looking one for Cranberry Upside-Down Cake, which, at the very least, gets me out of making a pie crust.
To loosely paraphrase the British wine merchant Harry Waugh, the first duty of a Thanksgiving wine is to be American. I believe in saving French, Italian, Australian, and German for the other 364 days of the year. I also like to choose wines that are a bit unusual, if for no other reason than to serve as a conversation piece at the table. But I don’t want anything so unusual as to be off-putting -- Thanksgiving is not the time to test your mother-in-law’s tolerance for brett by pouring a barnyardy Syrah. For the white, I’m bringing a 2006 Torii Mor Willamette Valley Pinot Gris. Pinot Grigio tends to be the family fallback white, so I’m hoping the Torii Mor will show that this varietal can make much more exciting, full-bodied, and aromatic wines than they may be used to. (And higher in alcohol -- the Torii Mor weighs in at 13.8% -- not necessarily a bad thing at the holidays.) As for the red, I wanted to go out on a bit of a limb and select something I’d never tried before. My wine store in Brooklyn stocks several Charbonos, an impressive feat given that there’s under 100 acres of the varietal planted in the U.S., primarily in Napa. According to the Oxford Companion, it’s identical to Corbeau, an all-but-extinct grape that hails from the Savoie. There’s also evidence showing it’s the same as Argentine Bonarda. And it shares a name with, but is distinct from, Italian Charbono, often cultivated in Barbera and Dolcetto vineyards in Piedmont. I’ll be bringing the Summers 2005 Estate Charbono. I’m not sure what to expect, but based on some online research and my (very limited) experience with Bonarda, I’m imagining a fruit-forward, deeply colored wine. Whatever you’re eating or drinking, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!