November 20, 2013 – Turkey-phobic or pie-challenged hosts and hostesses in the Monterey Bay area have nothing to fear this Thanksgiving. Help is just a phone call away, with more and more excellent options for Thanksgiving dinners to go—many of them organic. EMB’s annual list of indispensible holiday helpers allows you to spend more time with your guests. But beware, most Thanksgiving items need to be ordered by Friday, Nov 20, so don’t delay.
High-end restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula are always a good choice for celebrating the holidays, but this year several top dining spots are offering their gourmet meals to enjoy at home. Carmel Valley Ranch will prepare the whole shebang including Apple Cider Brined Diestel Turkey, soup, sides and pie in sizes for up to 14 people. Award-winning Aubergine chef Justin Cogley will also be cooking for the to-go crowd offering Juniper-Orange Spiced Brined Willie Bird Turkey from Sonoma County and an array of gourmet sides, along with desserts like Pumpkin Custard and Pecan Pies. Each dish can be ordered individually. Schooners Coastal Kitchen is another fine restaurant offering complete Thanksgiving dinners and pies to go, including Sage and Herb Crusted Free-Range Turkey.
Earthbound Farmstand’s chef Sarah LaCasse can also help with organic turkey and sides like Organic Creamed Kale with Bacon, Organic Cranberry Sauce and luscious pies. Gourmet shop Stone Creek Kitchen has more options, including Roast Diestel Turkey or alternative entrees like Beef Tenderloin or Prime Rib and inventive sides such as Sweet Potato Casserole with Pumpkin Seed Dill Pesto and Cranberry Fluff—a retro creamy-crunchy treat.
Caterer Aqua Terra Culinary has put together an extensive list of Thanksgiving dishes. You can enjoy two types of stuffing with Roast Natural Turkey and sample Pumpkin Ginger Soup and choose from an array of hors d’oeuvres that include Caramelized Onion Tartlets, Dungeness Crab Cakes or Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Likewise, Wild Thyme Deli and Café offers the complete dinner with Slow Roasted and Carved Natural Turkey, two types of stuffing and chef Terry Teplitzky’s famous “don’t call it gravy” turkey sauce.
In Santa Cruz County, there are three great gourmet options. Try Carried Away, where chef Tom McNary offers sliced or whole Roasted Diestel Turkey, a fresh salad made with local apples, fennel, persimmon, walnut with creamy lemon dressing, as well as Organic Pumpkin Pie. Chef Andrea Mollenauer’s Lifestyle Culinary is also preparing ready-t0-roast Boneless Stuffed Turkey Breast and Whole Cider Brined birds, along with her signature Cranberry Chutney and delicious pies. Ever popular Gayle’s Bakery is firing up the ovens to provide Roast Free Range Diestel Turkey or Turkey Breast and an elegant vegetarian entrée of Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagne, along with a dizzying selection of sides and tempting desserts—like Pumpkin Cheesecake, Mincemeat and Three Ginger Gingerbread.
And let’s not forget the grocery stores that can also help with this foodiest of holidays. New Leaf Community Markets will roast your Diestel Turkey and provide sides like Mushroom Lentil Timbale and Organic Brussels Sprouts with Whole Wheat Orzo. They also have Vegan alternative entrees like Organic Millet Yam Patties. Whole Foods in Monterey, Santa Cruz and Capitola allows you to order Organic Heirloom Roasted Turkey Dinners with all the trimmings and stunning cold seafood platters online from the comfort of your home. But you’ll still have to get dressed and go to the store to pick it up!
And even if you are a dedicated cook, you may want to consider outsourcing the pie. There are so many delicious options available in our area. In addition to the ones mentioned above, check out Companion Bakeshop’s classic Pumpkin Pie or non-traditional Thanksgiving cakes from the Buttery.
Consider the heritage Olallieberry Pie or sky-high Apple Pie from Gizditch Ranch in Watsonville. In Salinas, the Bakery Station has Pumpkin Pies and Cheesecake, as well as Pumpkin Piloncillo Pop Tarts.
We also love all ten flavors from pie specialist Sweet Elena’s in Sand City, the Pumpkin Cheesecake to go made by Chef Cy’s wife Inga at Rio Grill in Carmel and the Pumpkin-Apple-Cinnamon Cake make by Parker-Lusseau Pastries.
Whether you choose to get some dinner-to-go help from our fabulous local chefs or go it alone, we wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Deborah Luhrman is publisher and editor of Edible Monterey Bay. A lifelong journalist, she has reported from around the globe, but now prefers covering our flourishing local food scene and growing her own vegetables in the Santa Cruz Mountains.