Chef Tom’s Thanksgiving Feast 2011


Thanksgiving is always an amazing feast in our home, with a regular group of family and friends who have been joining us for over 20 years. In the leadup, my friend Chef Richard and I match minds over Mexican lunches at El Chubasco while paging through the Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue, debating which turkey it will be. After many years of shoveling way too much food onto the table, we’ve tried to come to our senses as of late and keep it simple. Well, maybe a bit simpler. It’s hard to keep two passionate chefs tied down when it comes to Thanksgiving.

This year’s bird was a debate between the Cajun Spiced Turkey and the Cider Brined Turkey with Star Anise and Cinnamon. Cider brined it is!

It’s Thanksgiving Day and we’re all frantically prepping in the kitchen. Checkout the photos and full review later!

Happy Thanksgiving!

2011 Thanksgiving Menu

Appetizers and Salad
Selection of cheeses, crackers, salami
Roasted Beet Salad – Hostess Carole

Main Course
Cider Brined Turkey with Star Anise and Cinnamon
Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Gratin – Chef Tom
Garlic mashed potatoes with apple cider gravy – Chef Richard (still King of Gravy)
Spinach, Fennel and Sausage Dressing (prepared gluten free and with vegetarian option) – Chef Tom
Gail’s Famous Cranberry Orange Relish

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake – Chef Liza (veteran of Letty’s Deer Valley Resort bakery)
Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie – Chef Liza

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Ancient Ampitheaters

Ancient Ampitheater, originally uploaded by tkellyphoto.

Standing in the midst of an ancient amphitheater takes your breath away thinking back to days of gladiators and lions, with thousands gathered in witness. The landscape along the Turkish coast is littered with huge outdoor theaters, many maintaining the same integrity they did thousands of years ago.

Today was a special treat, visiting arenas at Xanthus, a bit inland from the coast, and then Patara just off the beach west of Kalkan. Patara was a massive site with over 30 rows of seats. Alongside was a similar, yet small structure, in the midst of reconstruction. It was a amazing to watch the crews at work, sifting sand off one part of the ruins and using a crane to lift old blocks into place in the other.

The adjoining facility wasn’t another theater, but a government council gathering building for the region. Crews were working painstakingly to put it back together.

The bigggest challenge in Patara is the sand. The very reason the ancients opted to build at the inlet of a river into the Mediterranean was the nemesis that would wreak havoc over the centuries. Sand and silt created a swampy backwater, with groundwater continuing to rise in the area. And wind swept wind has covered just about everything, resulting in the tedious work of uncovering it all.

The beach at Patara is magnificent – over 15km of absolutely perfect, pristine sand. Along the entire beach, there’s not a twig, seaweed, anything – just fine sand. It’s also a nesting area for sea turtles, so access is limited to daytime only. All up and down the Patara coast, waves come crashing in to bring more sand.

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Colorful Harbor

Colorful Harbor, originally uploaded by tkellyphoto.

As you tour ruins along the southwestern Turkish coast, you get a clear sense of how thousands of years ago this part of the world was one. But Greece, today, is a world away – or, in this case, not more than a couple miles off the Turkish coast near our home base of Kas. So today we hopped a 20-minute ferry – the Meis Express – to spend the day in Greece.

Meis, also known as Kastellorizo, is a tiny village on one of Greece’s smallest islands. It’s somewhat standalone, with not much else nearby except Rhodes some distance to the northwest. But it’s a direct harbor-to-harbor shot from Kas, where we can see the lights at night and white houses glowing by day.

Over the years, the tiny island has had many rulers from Rhodes, Egypt, the Venetian Doge and the Ottoman Turks. In the 20th Century, it went through the hands of the French, Italians and British – and was reportedly bombed in World War II.

As tiny as it is, it comes alive each day as the ferry boats arrive from Kas and other Turkish ports, plus the huge Aegean ferries of Greece. Watching them turn the 300-foot long Proteus around in the tiny harbor after its five-hour cruise from Rhodes was a real treat!

It was a lazy day of walking the harbor, relaxing on the sun deck of the Megisti Hotel, swimming and snorkeling, enjoying a wonderful Greek lunch and a slice of locally made baklava before catching the ferry home.

Yet another stamp in the passport!

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DAY TWO: Ruins

Burial Tombs of Myra, originally uploaded by tkellyphoto.

The area around Kas is steeped in history, with ruins dotting the landscape. Our first adventure today took us to the burial toms of Myra located just outside Demre a half hour away.

The burial tombs of Myra stand out in a cliff near the present day city of Demre on the Lycian Coast of Turkey along the Mediterranean Sea. Myra was one of the notable cities in the Lycian League, with references dating back to 100 BC, although estimates are it may predate that era. The dozens of elaborate tombs overlook a massive ampitheater that still stands today.

More on today’s adventure later.