We live in the tropics, where people hardly ever heard of Thanksgiving. I thought it would be great to have a nice dinner party introducing the concept of Thanksgiving to our family and close friends. There are a lot to be thankful for all year round of 2008, and what would be best to sum it up with a nice dinner in the garden?
The preparation started two weeks ago with party theme, choice of menu, guest list, cutleries and dinnerware, music list and basic party needs such as tables, chairs, light fixtures. Then I moved on to the shopping, cooking schedule and deadline, decoration. Read on to see how it all went.
Thanksgiving in the Tropics – the theme
I have always wanted to organize a great party in a garden with tropical flowers, beautiful moonlight, decorative lights, and tropical table setting. The location is in Medan, a city in North Sumatra, Indonesia on Thursday, Nov 27th 2008. The theme Thanksgiving in the Tropics took place in our front yard – flowers bloom all year long here. I managed to come up with some wood planks for tables and some heirloom wooden bench as chairs. I have hoarded many decorative items from around the country all these years – those were great as accent pieces around the party spaces. We have throws, pillows, statues, traditional bamboo baskets. The serving dishes used were thick glass serving dishes and white dinnerware. Some traditional wooden bowls and earthenware were great addition too. My first time around, I was a bit thrown back by the lack of dinnerware to be used, so there were many mix and match of what we already had which looked quite strange at first. Candles, orchid, banana leaves were part of the small but meaningful garnishes of the night.
Invitations – guest list
Invitations were sent last week, printed by me and designed by my cousin. She picked a nice brown shade with some wild flowers. Accented by golden ribbons and raffia string, I slid a personalized name tag to each and delivered to offices and houses of our guests.
Everybody was excited and looking forward to the party. The guest lists include family, relatives, close friends of me and my parents.
Yam cake with dried shrimp
Gado-gado salad with spicy peanut sauce
Spicy potatoes chip
Roasted turkey with apple and cinnamon aromatic
Mushroom giblet gravy
Old fashioned bread stuffing
Mashed potatoes with roasted garlic
Chicken satay and rice cake with peanut sauce
Grilled rice with basil and lemongrass
Red and green chili with shrimp paste
Prawn and stinky beans with chili
Anchovies with green chili
Mixed fresh and preserved fruits
Traditional fruit punch
Wyndham Estate Merlot
Absolute Vodka – Currant
Assorted of beer
For recipes, click on the menu lists. All recipes are for 30 – 40 guests
Food and ingredients shopping
The food preparation started on Sunday. The shopping of ingredients was done in our traditional market. The vegetables were fresh and cheap. It was my first in many months shopping in the wet market, which was normally not my choice. To think of it, I have never frequented the markets without my mother. It was 6 am, but the place was almost impossible to walk through.
This is the most popular wet market in our city. Why? Probably because it is not all that wet. And it is in open area – with fresh air and sometimes – rain water. It is located on a street stretching about 50m, which is closed half a day for the sellers to do their business. I am a strong believer of “the law of turnover” in grocery stores, market and restaurants - the busier it is, the fresher the goods are.
The lady in pink shirt has been selling us vegetables for almost 15 years. My mother likes to shop at her stall. Maybe I would too. But no promises made yet. If you see the previous shot of the market, you would see that it was packed – and that was 6.30 am in the morning. Everybody seems to be convinced that if they arrive one minute later, the fresh vegetable would be all gone and they will be left with nothing but wilted cabbage.
The next one is my mother’s favorite snack stall. I think it is getting bigger by the day. Owned by a couple of cool ladies, they have the yummiest snacks for breakfast.
The big bird
I managed to purchase 14 lbs of Norbest frozen turkey from our local grocery store. After thawing in refrigerator for 3 days and brining for 24 hour, it was ready to be roasted. My first turkey ever and I am proud to say that it turned out nice. I have only seen briefly how it was prepared – once – a couple of years ago. A lot of other food websites have great and useful information that was extremely helpful.
Compliment should be given to my auntie who was so attentive in roasting it.
She performed some minor surgery of stitching and tying the legs together. The bread stuffing was baked in the same oven.
Grilling chicken satay on charcoal grill, organic palm sugar block for satay and grilled rice with basil and lemongrass
Make your own chicken satay shots.
The most overwhelming part of the party planning was the decoration and the placement of everything. It was my first time, and I wasn’t sure how to do it properly. I am certain there is a whole set of rules in arranging tables, food. There was too much traffic at the turkey area and the dessert and fruit area were kind of deserted. A lesson learned there.
My mother was working on the rice cakes and displaying the chicken satay on the glass platter. She loves entertaining and this was a great fun for her – a little bit intimidating, since we have never hold a party where nobody is getting married.
These are some of shots taken by fellow photographers. I was doing some last minute tidying up on the food display.
Shots of the party
Night shoots of the table setting and the overall view of the party area
My favorite shot of the candle, traditional South Sumatra wooden house and Buddha statue. The next one shows the vibrant activity – such an interesting shot. The drinks looked quite artistic. The next shot was taken slightly after 5.30 pm, a great shade of blue. Calalily, one of my favorite flowers.
These are some of the menus of the night. Typical Indonesian cooking fits everybody’s taste and they were certainly a hit.
The star of the show is of course, the turkey. These are different shots from different cameras and photographers.
I have read a lot of articles on thawing, brining, roasting – I forgot to read the part on carving. I had no idea what I was doing. I tried to snap off the drumstick – with tens of people behind me waiting to be served. Err .. help? Anyone? Please?
Strawberries and pickled green berries are the most photographed food item. They do look great together.
Everybody had great time, me included. Eventhough I was a bit too overwhelmed with the preparation and anticipation to actually eat any of the food prepared, the atmosphere was really nice and enjoyable. My family and friends had a great time to dress up and just have a great time together. I would say it was a big success. I would like to thank everybody who had been helping so much and of course, FoodBuzz played a great role in making this possible.
All photos are taken by my friends. Thank you so much to Roni, Tjitro, Rusdy, Gunawan, Fajar, Aris and Budiman. Those are great photos!