Oh, Columbia Whole Foods. You make it so easy to fall in love with you.
You’re located in a beautifully refurbished building. You have really nice people working for you. You tell me where my meat comes from. You have a really good prepared foods section for when I’m in a time crunch (or if I’m craving chicken thighs prepared in a variety of ethnic ways).
And you invite me to an intimate, sit-down, chef-hosted full Thanksgiving dinner three weeks before it’s actually Thanksgiving.
|OMG IT’S THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!|
Last week, the Whole Foods marketing team put together an awesome sampling from their Thanksgiving holiday menu, composed of dishes that you yourself (yes, even you in the back pretending you don’t lurk on my blog) can order for the big day. A limited number of HoCo food bloggers were invited to participate, so Sous Chef and I jumped at the opportunity.
|Way more than we were expecting – Whole Foods pulled out all the stops!|
Fresh turkey (natural free range, organic, and kosher are just some of the options). Cooked turkey. Soups. Stuffings. Side dishes. Full throttle, all-out, you-don’t-have-to-do-a-damn-thing-except-put-up-with-your-extended-family meal packages.
After an Asian-inspired amuse bouche of coconut shrimp and a shrimp dumpling, we dived right in to the Turkey Day fare. We started off with two organic soups – triple squash and cream of mushroom. The squash soup was light and sweet but still had a savory edge to it. My favorite of the two was definitely the cream of mushroom: rustic and grounded, with an earthy flavor you expect mushroom soup to have.
I love culinary fungus.
|Organic cream of mushroom and triple squash soups|
When the staff placed the second course in front of us, you could hear the collective gasps of surprise – we had been expecting tiny samplings of things, but what we got was a full-on meal.
Roasted free range turkey with gravy (we were told the turkey we were eating scored a 4 out of 5 on the animal welfare rating scale Whole Foods uses – awesome!). A tart cranberry orange relish that just begged to be dolloped on top of the turkey, perfectly cutting through the richness of the meat. Organic biscuit and mushroom stuffing. Yes, biscuits in stuffing. Thick and creamy mashed potatoes. Roasted Brussels sprouts that – go pigure – managed to be delicious even though they weren’t accompanied by bacon. Glazed carrots with pecans.
And a butternut sweet potato casserole that almost made me cry. Tiny bits of melted marshmallow and even graham cracker were swimming among a creamy pillow of sweet potato. I don’t know how Chef Pat did it, but I’ll have a lot of fun figuring it out in my own kitchen.
I didn’t even need dessert after the sweet potato casserole, but I did take a few bites of my pumpkin pumpkin pie (so named because the pie was topped with pumpkin mousse). After that, we were more than stuffed – we were satisfied.
|Chef Pat explaining the Thanksgiving holiday menu|
Whole Foods offers ordering options for any need – whether you want to make the whole meal yourself and just want to spring for a special heirloom bird (or other game bird, like goose, duck, or quail to name a few), or need a few side dishes that are ready to go, or an easy yet decadent dessert, or if you want to just sit back and let Whole Foods do all the work for you. It’s all pretty darn affordable, too; $200 can get you a full meal for 12-16 people – that works out to about $12-16/person.
Check out the online ordering site for more info.
A special thank you to Mia at the Whole Foods marketing team, Chef Pat for his lovely introductions to the food and for sticking to his whisks and not telling me his secret recipes (I admire your tenacity), Suki (manager of the prepared food department) for her energy and positivity, and everyone else involved!
P.S. Did you know that the artwork on the signs throughout the store (colorful pictures and designs decorating displays and end-caps, for example) are hand-drawn by store employees? Jesse and Courtney, the artists at the Columbia store, are super-talented – make sure to take note of their artwork the next time you’re shopping!