For those who do not cook, Williams-Sonoma is the palace of haute cuisine cooking gadgetry available via their catalogs and at retail outlets in America’s larger cities.
Even if one does not cook, Williams-Sonoma’s slick-page catalogs are a delight. Laden with beautiful pictures of yummy things and necessary accoutrement for making said yummy things, the catalog is sure to inspire the most culinary inept among us.
The cover of this year’s Thanksgiving catalog is adorned with a beautiful roasted turkey, and stuck in its side is a probe attached to a gadget that looks to be counting down the bird’s launch into outer space.
Upon further inspection, I learned it is actually the first Wi-Fi-enabled kitchen thermometer. The W-S product development team worked more than two years to create a device that “tracks the temperature of your meat for great results time after time.”
The thermometer anticipates the cooking time remaining on your holiday meat of choice and sends updates to your iPad or iPhone so there is no need to be tied to the kitchen. True, perhaps, if the only thing cooking is Thanksgiving turkey.
Not only does W-S offer space-age thermometers, it also has roasting pans, turkey brines, brining bags, turkey fryers, appropriate cutlery, turkey adorned dishware and turkey table linens — it’s enough to send most into turkey nirvana.
But as W-S points out: “It starts with the bird.” To that end, there is also a line of free-range or organic birds by Willie Bird ranging from $75 to $185. One could easily spend a couple thousand dollars buying turkey paraphernalia. Anyone reaching for the phone to make reservations for Classic on Noble’s Thanksgiving spread yet?
Many, myself including, long for the traditional Thanksgiving feasts of old. In thinking about those meals of yesteryear, I consulted Mrs. Eva Purefoy’s “Purefoy Hotel Cook Book” published in 1941. The opening instruction for her Good Roast Turkey follows: “Kill turkey a day or two before it is to be cooked.” So much for Thanksgivings of yore — I hear Butterball calling my name.
Whether Thanksgiving meals are modern or traditional, pairing wines to a spread with such an array of food can be relatively free of angst. Consider offering a buffet of wines and let guests make their own selections, but start with something sparkly. Consider the following:
J Cuvée 20 Brut. $22.25 at Tyson Fine Wines and Things in Golden Springs. From one of America’s premier sparkling wine producers, fruit is sourced from the famed cool-growing region of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.
This light, crisp and sparkly wine, excellent on its own, is also good when used to make a simple vintage cocktail. For an excellent aperitif, soak a sugar cube in Angostura bitters. Place cube in bottom of a Champagne flute. Pour chilled Cuvee 20 over cube, filling glass ½ to ¾ full. Add a strip of lemon zest to really make it zing.
2012 Conundrum White. $16 at Tyson’s. A white blend from mystery grapes — hence the name Conundrum meaning, “that which puzzles” — made by the Wagner family, one of Napa’s pioneering wine families best known for their Caymus Vineyard cabernets. Winemaker Jon Bolta says aside from a dash of creativity, the blend consistently includes chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon, muscat canelli and viognier. This slightly sweet, honeyed wine should appeal to multiple palates and with varied multicultural cuisines.
2012 Conundrum Red. $16 at Tyson’s. If the Wagner family told us what is in this blend, they would have to kill us. Approachable red wine for those who prefer less heavy reds. Versatile blend that should pair well with the diversity of the Thanksgiving menu.
Robert Mondavi 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet. $24.99 at Publix. From a winery established by the late Robert Mondavi who almost single handedly put Napa on the map. After control of the winery was taken over by a conglomerate, Mondavi wines lost some of their cache but they are coming back strong and this is a prime example. Excellent Napa cabernet with lush dark fruit flavors, well balanced with nicely integrated tannins.
Contact Pat Kettles at email@example.com.