Parties & Entertaining

Foodbuzz 24×24: Beyond Turkey, A Modern Thanksgiving Dinner

Who would have thought that I would be this lucky to get an opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving as sponsored by Foodbuzz? It’s not a tradition in the Philippines to celebrate Thanksgiving and I was fortunate to have been given the chance to participate in this month’s Foodbuzz 24×24 to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends for the very first time. As some of you already know, Foodbuzz 24×24 is an online round-up of dinner parties hosted by Foodbuzz’s Featured Publishers and this equates to 24 epic meals hosted within 24 hours in 24 different parts of the world!

This is my second participation in Foodbuzz 24×24 (first time was in September) and for this month, we’re asked to create an over the top meal for family or friends. My proposal for a luxurious Thanksgiving dinner was accepted and here goes my blog entry about my very first Thanksgiving meal which I celebrated with hubby and friends who, mostly, also celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time. So technically, we’re Thanksgiving virgins no more! 🙂


The Preps

After some research and inquiries with friends from the United States, I still came up with a decision to divert from what they usually serve for Thanksgiving not only because some of the things I want to prepare would require unavailable ingredients but more importantly because I want to show that we can still celebrate Thanksgiving and have fun even without turkey. Thus, I called our meal  “Beyond Turkey, A Modern Thanksgiving Dinner.”

Instead of turkey, we had chicken and pasta; in place of the sweet potatoes, we had roasted potatoes with carrots and yellow onions; instead of the cranberry chutney, we had stuffed prunes; and instead of having pie, we had a trifle. To make the dinner a little more luxurious, we had wine pairings from the appetizer all the way down to the desserts.

No one in our group is a wine expert so it was an exciting night of discovery and learning for all of us. I did a lot of research beforehand and sought the help and recommendation of some friendly people from Wine Depot in Reposo, Makati. I showed them my menu and they made suggestions on what would pair well with my dishes. Apart from wines, Wine Depot also sells other gourmet stuff and I’m probably going back for that white truffle oil I saw at the counter.

photo from

To help us know a little about wines, I made a wine tasting grid and basic wine terminology printout for each of my guests. Armed with the very basic tips on hosting a wine tasting event, I shared how to check the color, aroma, flavor and finish. Based on these tips, we filled out the grid for each wine we had that night.

wine tasting grid (click to enlarge)

Now, as with any of the meals I host, I want to make sure that the table setting is pretty. I set up two 6-seater tables and a buffet table in between. I used decent plates from Multiple Choice, and red/white wine and water glasses from Pasabache. I paired them up with my fancy WMF utensils and finished off the setting with a table napkin, printed menu, and a hand-made name card in the shape of a maple leaf for each guest’s plate.

Just a little tip when you’re hosting a party. You don’t have to splurge on expensive pieces. You can combine non-expensive items with expensive ones and still create an elegant setup. Go expensive on what your guests would put in their mouths like utensils and glasses, and go easy on those that would generally just be visual like plates and decors 🙂

handmade name card

I called one table the “red” table because obviously, the dominant color is red. The entire table setup was pretty simple. I used a red tablecloth (P500 from SM Home World) and a table runner in gold, green, and red stripes (P180 from Dapitan Arcade). To complete the look, I placed candles in glass bowls at each side of the table (glass bowl is P300 each from Landmark) and a candle-trio on a bamboo holder in the middle (P250 from Dapitan Arcade). The setting had a romantic feel.

the "red" table

I called the other table the “yellow” table because of its dominant color. I used a yellow tablecloth (P480 from SM Home World) and a hand-woven native table runner (P150 from Dapitan Arcade). To complete the look, I placed my three handcrafted candle holders in the middle. In making the candle holders, I used acetate paper, Japanese paper in light yellow and orange, and gold ribbons and accents. The end feel of the setting was elegant and warm.

the "yellow" table

For the buffet table, I just arranged the food and drinks including the wines. I used an old square dish for the appetizer, a round serving dish for the chicken, and two huge bowls for the potatoes and pasta (P180 each from Dapitan Arcade). As much as I’d like to show the wines on the guest tables in view of our wine tasting activity, I was afraid that there wouldn’t be enough space to hold all the wines together at the same time. Instead, I served the bottles as we move to each course and this allowed my guests to appreciate the wines one at a time.

the buffet table

The Food


Stuffed Prunes with Bacon

paired with

2009 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva

The stuffed prunes were baked using pitted prunes with cream cheese filling and then wrapped around with a slice of bacon. This was the most favorite dish of the night and I did a really bad estimate of how many pieces each guest would consume. I was so afraid I would run out of stuffed prunes and disappoint my guests!   Lesson learned: If I were to serve this again (and judging by my guests’ response to this dish, I most certainly would), I’ll approximate about 4-5 pieces per guest. It was an absolute hit!

stuffed prunes with bacon

I paired our stuffed prunes with a 2009 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva from Casablanca Valley, Chile. It was a refreshingly crisp white wine that offers citrus and tropical fruit flavors with aromatic notes of green chilies and gooseberries. I think the wine paired well with the stuffed prunes.

2009 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva



Spaghetti con Gamberetti e Rucola

paired with

Banrock Station Frizzante NV


Our pasta was a simple tomato-based spaghetti with shrimps and arugula. I personally loved the pasta because of the great combination of flavors brought by the tomatoes, garlic, dried chilies, parmesan cheese, and shrimps.

spaghetti con gamberetti e rucola

This was paired with a Banrock Station Frizzante from Southeastern Australia. It’s a non-vintage wine but came highly recommended by the staff at Wine Depot. The Frizzante wine was bubbly but the bubbles were much lighter than those in a Champagne. It was light, crisp and very refreshing. The light fruit and tropical flavors pair well with our seafood and pasta dish. My guests loved the Frizzante. It was truly a celebratory wine.

NV Banrock Station Frizzante

Main Dish:

Perfect Roasted Chicken

paired with

2008 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir


2008 De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir


Instead of having turkey, I decided to just go with a simple roast chicken dish. I have made this before and I was requested by hubby to include it in the menu. I served it with roasted potatoes, carrots and yellow onions.

perfect roasted chicken
roasted potatoes, carrots, and yellow onions

The poultry dish was paired with a 2008 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir from Pfalz Region in Germany. It was a warm and medium-bodied wine with flavors of a dark cherry fruit. The winemakers say that six months of barrique aging gives the wine a smoky depth and a nice backbone of earthy tannins.

2008 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir

Alternatively, I also served another red wine. It’s a 2008 De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley in Victoria, Australia. It has a brilliantly clear color with fragrant cherry aromas, more like fresh cherry and plum. I personally think that the light to medium-bodied texture of the wine paired better with the roast chicken than the Villa Wolf. There are also great reviews for this wine after having been listed in UK Decanter’s 50 best new world pinot noirs.

2008 De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir


Bananas Foster with Vanilla Ice Cream


Chocolate Brownie Raspberry Trifle

paired with

2010 Banrock Station Moscato


I prepared two desserts; the first one was Bananas Foster with Vanilla Ice Cream. I decided to serve something cold to balance out the warmth brought by the wines. Bananas, cinnamon and ice cream just blend well together!

I also made Chocolate Brownie Raspberry Trifle. The raspberries added a great flavor to the semi-sweet chocolate brownies, and the vanilla pudding and cream made a smooth finish to the dessert.

The desserts were paired with a 2010 Banrock Station Moscato from Southeastern Australia. It was light straw in color and very light and fruity. It was infused with natural fruit sweetness, low in alcohol, and with a lovely, soft palate. The slight sparkle in the Moscato gave it a refreshing lift. It was perfect with the trifle. This was the most favorite wine of the night and because it was a favorite, we raffled off a bottle of Moscato so my lucky guest could bring it home!

The Guests

Now, let me show you my special guests 🙂

My office friends ~

L-R (sitting): denny, charade, shalu (standing): paola, me, marianne, christian

My good friends Albert and Charles  ~

albert and charles

Hubby’s good old high school friend and wife and adorable kid ~

ton, arianna, russell, hubby

All the elements of a great dinner party were there. We had great food and wines. I heard from some friends that the best part of Thanksgiving is the day after where you get to be creative on how to attack the leftovers. Luckily (or unluckily) for me, we didn’t have major leftovers to deal with! Either my guests really loved the food or I was really that bad on calculations 🙂

We also had fantastic guests. We had fun exchanging gifts with each other. We each came with a gift that represents something we’re thankful to have discovered this year. It was fun learning about each of our discoveries that varied from a foot spray, to sugar-free mints, to a carrot soap, to a local roast chicken, to instant mashed potatoes mix, and so on.

shalu and her favorite discovery of the year, Drydra from Halcyon

Also, the night wouldn’t be complete without Videoke! Here are my friends singing under the influence of wines 😛

It was definitely a great Thanksgiving dinner and for that, I’d like to thank Foodbuzz for sponsoring this dinner. Big thanks also goes to Christian Siruno for the beautiful pictures! Hugs and kisses go to Dear Hubby for always being supportive of me and my cooking. And I’m also taking this chance to thank everyone who wished me well for my surgery.

our house decor: Filipino Parol, a Philippine Christmas Icon

So there. I hope I was able to tell you how great our Thanksgiving dinner was even without turkey, and I hope you enjoyed reading this pretty long wall of text the same way that I enjoyed preparing for this dinner. The recipes for the Stuffed Prunes with Bacon, Spaghetti Gamberetti e Rucola, and Chocolate Brownie Raspberry Trifle are on their way so stay tuned 🙂

Meanwhile, I’m parking my laptop as I send you my warmest Thanksgiving greetings from way across miles.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 😉


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