Maybe you’ve heard, Thanksgiving is next week. If you need to get a turkey you should probably figure that out right now, especially if you want something local, but there’s no need to panic–quite yet. Whether you’re hosting, attending or heading home, here’s a resource guide to where to order sides and pies, how to find something for a vegan or gluten-intolerant guest, where to make a reservation and what to watch once the eating is over. There are also plenty of pre-Thanksgiving activities to get you in the spirit of the day, and check out this guide to hosting from Gabrielle Sierra, and this notes on being a great guest from me.
Before the Food, Fun Looking for Thanksgiving Eve debauchery? Tiki Disco, Brooklyn’s most insane dance party is happening at Sugar Hill Disco and Restaurant in Bed-Stuy starting at 10pm, and tickets include fried chicken and sides. I mean, the thought of waking up with a stranger on Thanksgiving morning makes me feel so very old, but go forth and get it on, if that’s your deal. There’s a Friendsgiving pop-up happening in an as-of-yet undisclosed location in Downtown Brooklyn on Thursday, Nov. 19. Cranksgiving, a combination bike ride, scavenger hunt and benefit for the Bowery Mission is this Saturday, Nov. 21, and looks like a lot of fun. And, if you just can’t get enough turkey and stuffing in your life, Talde, in Park Slope is serving Thanksgiving ramen (turkey, stuffing, pickled cranberries, creamed spinach, wontons and gravy) at the bar only, from 9pm to close, from Monday, Nov. 23 through Friday, Dec. 4. Only 10 orders a night, $15.
Need help? First, take a deep breath. I’ve cooked a lot of Thanksgivings for a lot of people. I’m competent in the kitchen, but not like, professionally so, and I’m going to let you in on a little secret–it just isn’t that hard. At least, it’s not as hard as the yearly media frenzy surrounding it makes it out to be. No one dish in the dinner is a big deal to make, it’s really about delegation and timing, especially if you just go straightforward and don’t mess with some crazy recipe that requires a four-hour time investment to make one bowl of squash. That said, there’s also lots of help available. Stressed about the bird? Check out this visual guide to cooking a turkey on Vice Munchies–my husband, a certified turkey expert, wrote it and I’m here to tell you I have roasted birds following this method and they have all turned out great. Want even more help? Naturally Delicious will deliver the whole meal, with ready-to-cook turkey (it comes in a pan, all brined and trussed, you just turn the oven on) and ready-to-eat sides and pies, either as an entire meal or a la carte. Order through Friday, Nov. 20. Fresh Direct will deliver an entire meal that just needs roasting and heating. Runner and Stone in Park Slope is also taking orders on their fantastic breads (which make for easy appetizers when paired with cheese or charcuterie), rolls stuffing mixes, cranberry sauce, candied yams and sweets through Nov. 24.
Sweets There’s a lot of pie pressure out there, I get it. If you just don’t care about being able to make a pie, you can throw money at the problem and get something delicious to serve, or to bring to wherever you might be celebrating. And you know what? I’m giving you permission to pass these off as your own. Marlow & Sons is selling spiced pumpkin ($41), cranberry bourbon pecan ($44), apple with oat streusel ($41) and malted milk chocolate tart ($44). James sells loaf-shaped cheesecakes in pumpkin or lemon ricotta, to serve six ($55) or 12 ($75). (They also have a three-course, prix-fixe dining option that looks pretty delicious, if you insist on dining out.) If you want to go very neighborhoody, Millicent Souris, author of How to Build a Better Pie is selling apple pies with cheddar crust, pumpkin with pepita praline and old school pecan pies for $40 each. Pick-up is at Dandelion Wine in Greenpoint, and you can order at the shop or via email.
It Takes All Kinds Are you a vegan? Are you hosting a vegan? Are there gluten issues afoot? There are options above and beyond Tofurkey and crouton-free kale salad. Vegan Shop Up has a pop-up market at the Pine Box Rock Shop in Bushwick on Saturday, Nov. 21 where you can buy pot pies, empanadas, desserts–all vegan. If you want to try your hand at cooking gluten-free sides and sweets the Court Tree Collective in Carroll Gardens is holding a cooking class and tasting event on Friday, Nov. 20. Learn to make pumpkin cornbread, sweet potato dumplings, apple pie jars and more. And, if you want to impress a vegetarian guest or just get a little crazy with some vegetables, check out the history of the, wait for it, squashducken on Food52.
Restaurants To be perfectly frank, restaurants are just not the right thing for Thanksgiving. Hear me out on this. If you’re the type of person who just is not into Thanksgiving in general and the whole turkey-stuffing-mashed potatoes thing, well, you’re a monster. But you still need to eat, so either make yourself something delicious and non-turkey based at home, or go get Korean barbecue in K-Town (well after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has ended, mind you). Thanksgiving dinner in a nice restaurant is a waste of both Thanksgiving dinner–turkey is just inherently not fancy food, plus there are no leftovers for Thanksgiving sandwiches or breakfast pie–and a trip to a nice restaurant–if you’re going to dine out you want to order off the entire menu, not some prix-fixe with a obligatory turkey option. If a restaurant Thanksgiving is unavoidable for some reason like in-laws, you could do much worse than to eat Thanksgiving at ICI in Fort Greene (local turkey roasted with confit legs, house-made ricotta cavatelli or roasted sea bass), Glasserie in Greenpoint (autumn mezze, grilled turkey breast with pomegranate glaze, stuffed vegetables) or Frankies Prime Meats and 457 Spuntino in Carroll Gardens–they’re serving their regular menus plus a turkey plate with pretzel stuffing. Make your rezzies now.
The Food Coma Ok, you made it through, you’ve eaten your turkey or squashducken, there’s a piece of pie hidden away for breakfast. What do you do now? You could play cards (get Phase 10–it’s so easy you can even play after too many glasses of wine and there’s no extended argument over the rules), but really, there’s nothing like watching something and really settling in to that post-meal daze. PBS, which you can watch on-demand on Roku or however else you watch TV these days has two Thanksgiving-appropriate shows, American Experience: The Pilgrims and Nature: My Life as a Turkey. Or take a stroll to Fort Greene (or recreate at home) this wonderful series of ridiculous movies BAM is calling, Turkeys for Thanksgiving. The discussion of eating dog food from Showgirls seems particularly apt. Or, go warmly melancholy and classic and watch The Big Chill. Have a happy Thanksgiving!