Last Thanksgiving, we passed platters of carved turkey, mashed potatoes, buttered rolls, green beans and pumpkin pie across tables crowded with family and friends.
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging, this year shouldn’t be celebrated the same way, health experts warn. Maybe some hearty souls will gather outside warmed by heat lamps and heavy blankets. But most will be indoors sharing a smaller-scale Thanksgiving dinner. For those of us happy to exchange a sink filled with dirty dishes for takeout containers, local caterers and grocery stores have us covered.
Catering jobs dried up this year for Chef Mark Lopez, who runs Gather and Feast Farm in La Center and Portland-based Crave Catering (1324 S.E. Eighth Ave., 503-224-0370). So he has focused his chef-y urges on a holiday menu featuring such dishes as shaved Brussels sprouts Caesar salad with dinosaur kale, bacon lardon and lemon Parmesan dressing, and Northwest stuffing made with artisan bread, local mushrooms, hazelnuts, onions, sage and rosemary. Lopez believes his offerings bridge the gap between traditional and nontraditional Thanksgiving meals — family Thanksgiving meets Friendsgiving.
Crave’s menu includes starters, sides, mains, pies, and a variety of bottles of their sangrias ($30). It’s completely a la carte so you can order a meal that fits your party size and tastes. In an unusual move, turkey isn’t offered as a main dish. Duck confit with cranberry gastrique ($70), applewood-cured salmon with pickled pomegranate gremolata ($60), or a hard cider brined smoked pork loin with an apple-bacon cognac reduction ($50) fill the entree section.
Lopez isn’t a turkey-hater. He loves to use leftover turkey to make enchiladas with a Oaxacan manchamantel sauce infused with pineapple and bananas. Leaving turkey off the menu was more a practical matter; it’s hard to properly cool a whole cooked turkey. Also, customers were requesting alternatives.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said.
Keri Buhman of C’est La Vie (1307 N.E. 78th St., 360-553-5836) created a decadent a la carte Thanksgiving menu inspired by recipes from her family’s Thanksgiving traditions and ideas from her chefs at the bistro. The artichoke spinach cream cheese bake is one of her childhood favorites.
For starters, Buhman offers a festive brie en croute with cranberries and rosemary ($50) and various sizes of her popular charcuterie platters ($80-$180). Sides vary from a hearty green bean casserole en croute ($50) or spinach, artichoke, and cream cheese bake ($50) to a refreshing ratatouille ($50). Desserts like pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust ($40) and sweet potato macadamia nut pie ($35) appear at the end of the menu.
C’est La Vie’s menu also lacks turkey. A bird can easily be added to your Crave or C’est La Vie order through a separate service, Alpenrose delivery. Alpenrose recently added holiday free-range turkeys ($49.99-$69.99) to the regular list of dairy, produce and bakery goods delivered to doorsteps in Vancouver every week.
Chef Tamara Leibfarth of Simply Thyme (14020 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., 360-891-0584) gives eaters two different menu choices. There’s a full menu with a hearty winter blend salad, rolls, several sides (like roasted fall vegetables, smashed potatoes, and butternut and leek stuffing), an apricot rosemary glazed turkey, and choice of two pies (pumpkin, bourbon pecan or Northwest berry) for eight people ($225). She has a second menu of a la carte sides for four people ($9-$18) as well as a la carte pies ($20-$24). For vegans and vegetarians, there’s a stuffed butternut squash entree ($26 per person).
Also for vegans, vegan-curious eaters, or parents who want to make their millennial still stuck at home happy, Kat Magsaysay, owner of Cruelty-Free Charcuterie, recently posted a selection of holiday boards that can be ordered through her website at cruelty-free-charcuterie.squarespace.com. Sizes vary from a fun-sized platter ($215) for five to eight people to It’s A Partyyyy! Platter ($365) for eight to 12 people. Platters include cheese, crackers, nuts, faux meat and luscious spreads like fig jam and olive tapenade — beautifully arranged, delicious and Instagram-worthy.
The Smokin’ Oak (501 Columbia St., 360-433-2755) has a variety of options for barbecue and bourbon lovers. Twelve- to 15-pound smoked turkeys ($99) and sides can be ordered a la carte or all together as a meal that feeds 10 to 12 people with leftovers ($249). Sides ($35 each) include garlic mashed potatoes with brisket gravy, house mac and cheese, smoked sausage stuffing, house slaw and sweet potatoes. Smokin’ Oak’s legendary Old Fashioned kits return for Thanksgiving home dining, as well as Bloody Mary kits and vacuum-sealed whisky sours, margaritas, mai tais, and sangria. Beer, wine and growler fills are also available. Pre-orders can be placed by calling the restaurant or emailing Thesmokinoakcatering@gmail.com. Pickup is on Thanksgiving Day between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Chuck’s Produce (2302 N.E. 117th St., 360-597-2160; 13215 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., 360-597-2700) offers a traditional Thanksgiving menu for six to eight people that includes ready-to-cook turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, candied yams, rolls and pumpkin pie ($149.99).
New Seasons Market (2100B S.E. 164th Ave., 360-760-5005) offers a variety of options for various dietary needs, including a traditional turkey dinner for four to six people ($99.99) with mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, turkey gravy and cranberry sauce with clementines, as well as a gluten-free version with turkey and sides ($104.99) and a Vegan Harvest Field Roast en Croute ($24.99). Pre-orders come with an appointment time for pickup at a special window. If you’re not interested in venturing to a grocery store, orders can be placed and delivered to your home through Instacart.
Three different meals with all the trimmings can be ordered through Rosauers (101 S. 47th Place, 360-887-6119) in Ridgefield. The proteins and sides vary, but each dinner feeds six to eight people and includes two 2-pound sides, a dozen dinner rolls, and choice of apple or pumpkin pie. The Longhorn ham option ($59.99) comes with sweet potato casserole, scalloped potatoes and green bean casserole. A turkey meal ($59.99) has mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey gravy and cranberry sauce. Mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and gravy accompany the prime rib dinner ($84.99). Customers should order these in advance because quantities are limited. Orders can be picked up as late as early afternoon on Thanksgiving Day in the store or curbside.
This has been a rough year, but disruption of the normal Thanksgiving festivities provides an opportunity to reexamine our holiday routines. Instead of a group activity laden with the requirements of tradition, this year Thanksgiving is more personal and quieter, allowing for come slack and modification.
The carrot souffle that takes two days to make that some relatives request every year isn’t necessary when Thanksgiving is virtual. Setting a formal table and dressing up may morph into a lazy day of grazing in front of the TV in comfy pajamas. In this shake-up, old traditions may give way to a new wave of rituals that celebrate the bounty of fall.