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? 

I could not be happier when my proposal for November 24 meals, 24 hours, 24 blogs was selected by FoodBuzz. That is a great opportunity that I had never thought would be possible. 

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

invitation card

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.

The Menu


Yam cake with dried shrimp
Gado-gado salad with spicy peanut sauce
Spicy potatoes chip

Main course

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
Quail satay


Mixed fresh and preserved fruits
Traditional fruit punch


Wyndham Estate Merlot
Absolute Vodka – Currant
Bacardi Lemon
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.

thanksgiving shopping

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. 

thanksgiving shopping

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

Cooking Turkey

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.

Roasting Turkey

She performed some minor surgery of stitching and tying the legs together. The bread stuffing was baked in the same oven. 

Food preparation

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.

fish eye view

Interesting shot. 

Shots of the party


Night shoots of the table setting and the overall view of the party area

Thanksgiving Party

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. 

Thanksgiving Turkey

The star of the show is of course, the turkey. These are different shots from different cameras and photographers.

Turkey Carving

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.

preserved fruit platter






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! 

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41 Responses to “November FoodBuzz 24, 24, 24: Thanksgiving in the Tropics”

  1. 1

    Linda — November 30, 2008 @ 2:46 am

    Hello, I am Medanese in New York. I found your blog from Tastespotting. Where was the party held? It looked like a lot of fun =)

  2. 2

    noobcook — November 30, 2008 @ 5:44 am

    wow! the photos are stunning and the write up is fantastic. Congrats on your foodbuzz 24 feature! =D

  3. 3

    Tjitro — November 30, 2008 @ 10:10 am

    Thanks to Rina for the great party. The food is fantastic, yummy…! the turkey is very tasty, yam cake is very delicious, etc. Also great people that attended the party there, Tini the artist, megumi and ayumi from japan, and other people. I was having a lot of fun.
    The bottom line is… SUPERB. Way to go rina.

  4. 4

    mycookinghut — November 30, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

    Wow!! So much food!!

    mycookinghut’s last blog post..Teriyaki Chicken

  5. 5

    Jaden, Steamy Kitchen — November 30, 2008 @ 1:37 pm

    Incredible party! The food looks fabulous.

    Jaden, Steamy Kitchen’s last blog post..How To Open A Pomegranate

  6. 6

    Tracy — November 30, 2008 @ 3:10 pm

    Congrats on the 24,24, 24, Your photos are so beautiful and the feast looks amazing.

    Tracy’s last blog post..Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Bookclub Dinner with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

  7. 7

    pablopabla — November 30, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

    Awesome! Now I regretted turning down the invite :(

    pablopabla’s last blog post..Murgh Nawabi

  8. 8

    Hugging the Coast — November 30, 2008 @ 3:53 pm

    What an amazing, magical looking Thanksgiving! Look like you did a tremendous job and the food looks wonderful!

    FYI: I’ll definitely be linking to your 24, 24, 24 blog post on my blog tomorrow!

    Hugging the Coast’s last blog post..Coconut Chipotle Mojo Shrimp With Pomegranate Relish

  9. 9

    Farina — November 30, 2008 @ 7:28 pm

    Jun, now THAT is what I call a party!! The foods look great (and so does the hostess!). Everybody look like they have fun. Looking at the pictures, I wish I was there. Thanks for sharing Jun.

    Farina’s last blog post..Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

  10. 10

    justine — December 1, 2008 @ 6:35 am

    I am so so so so sad that I cannot attend!!!!!

  11. 11

    Reeni — December 1, 2008 @ 7:07 pm

    Everything about your party was gorgeous! The setting, the food, the people! You did Thanksgiving proud. What an awesome job!

    Reeni’s last blog post..Pour Yourself a Big Glass of Milk!

  12. 12

    Maya — December 2, 2008 @ 11:24 am

    Dinner in the garden sounds wonderful!

    Maya’s last blog post..Truman Capote’s Chicken Hash.

  13. 13

    Nicole from : For the Love of Food — December 2, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

    Wow, your feast looked awesome! Mine was also nice, but your garden and decorations and buffet…just breath-taking! I wish I lived someplace tropical again…

    Nicole from : For the Love of Food’s last blog post..My *new* Kitchen – A Tour

  14. 14

    Diana @ AppetiteforChina — December 2, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

    Gorgeous photos! Everything looks amazing, especially the quail egg satays, and it’s obvious a lot of effort went into the food and the decoration. Kudos on your 24, 24, 24 post!

    Diana @ AppetiteforChina’s last blog post..A Peking Duck Thanksgiving; Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24

  15. 15

    lk — December 2, 2008 @ 3:52 pm

    What a grand celebration! Beautiful ambience! Excellent shots! Mouth-watering food! Congrats on being featured on Foodbuzz 24,24,24. You had done a great job!

    lk’s last blog post..Fried shallots

  16. 16

    Rusdy Suki — December 2, 2008 @ 4:55 pm

    TQ Rina, great job.

  17. 17

    Wandering Chopsticks — December 2, 2008 @ 9:19 pm

    Everything looks fabulous. I love the decorations and lighting. Made everything look so elegant.

    Wandering Chopsticks’s last blog post..Broccoli Bacon Pasta

  18. 18

    Marc @ NoRecipes — December 3, 2008 @ 3:32 am

    Wow your spread looks incredible! I love that you made invitations and little name cards for each dish, very professional!

    Marc @ NoRecipes’s last blog post..Crustless milk and cardamom “pumpkin pie”

  19. 19

    banana blossom — December 3, 2008 @ 4:57 am

    I enjoy reading about your Thanksgiving party in Medan. Everything (the setting and food) looks just fabulous. I, myself lived/grew up in Medan. Thanks for sharing and writing from Medan!

  20. 20

    Jun — December 3, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

    Thank you for dropping by. It was at our house in Medan. I totally forgot to mention that in my first post – updated already :D


    I am really glad that you had fun. You have no idea how nervous I was the whole time. The rain certainly didn’t make it easier. Thank you for the cool photos you took

    Actually, we ran out of food. I miscalculated the amount. I thought people would eat little at parties. Well, I was wrong. :D

    Thank you. It was a blast.

    Thanks – your 24 post is very original and interesting. I love the sweet potato quessadila

    I wished you were here. I think you were going to have lots of fun. Maybe next year?

    Thanks for the link :)

    I have made a mental note, next year I am going to invite all of you. Definitely. LOL

    It was not the same without you! We all missed you in that party.
    Thank you for the lovely design for the invitation and food tag! A lot of people were impressed, if I might say. LOL

    Thank you so much for dropping by.

    It certainly was a cool idea at first, I was very wary on how to pull it off. It worked out at the end.

    It is something to live in a tropical country. The bad news was that it was rainy season. After dinner, the rain started pouring in. We were lucky to take all the nice initial shots before the rain :D

    I will be posting recipe on the quail egg recipe soon .. it was just too much I was running out of time in posting all of those LOL

    Thank you. That was really sweet of you!

    Rusdy Suki,
    I love your food shots. I picked almost all your food shots for the thanksgiving posts. :) You are the best!

    That was amazing how old christmas lights and candles can me so much different huh.

    Yes my cousin Justine made those. She is very talented indeed!

    Banana Blossom,
    Definitely. I constantly miss food from here whenever I am abroad.

  21. 21

    Happysurfer — December 3, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

    Wow! That must have been one amazing Thanksgiving party. The food looks really delicious. Great photos, great post – the marketing, the food preparation, the party, the whole works – awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    Congrats on being selected. You deserve it, Jun. Kudos!

    Happysurfer’s last blog post..Zappos.com

  22. 22

    Happysurfer — December 3, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

    And oh, I forgot to mention that you’ve got a great blog here, nothing less of course, eh? ;)
    Keep it up!

    Happysurfer’s last blog post..Zappos.com

  23. 23

    tini — December 3, 2008 @ 6:57 pm

    Girl, the party”s atmosphere est tres tres magnifique….
    we feel so friendly even some of the guest just knowing each other at that party.. but.. we can discuss so many topics, ehm nice food, nice picture, nice people…..

  24. 24

    Linda — December 4, 2008 @ 12:25 am

    Oh you updated it! I read it after you updated and I was thinking why didn’t I read about the location earlier, I felt so embarrassed about the comment I left since you mentioned the location. Lol.

  25. 25

    Leng — December 4, 2008 @ 7:28 am

    wow what a thanksgiving feast! Love the photography!

    Leng’s last blog post..Yummers!

  26. 26

    fajar — December 4, 2008 @ 3:59 pm

    Wow, what a wonderful party. Thanks for uploading my photos

  27. 27

    Jun — December 7, 2008 @ 2:59 pm

    You are one of my very very first blog buddies. You have no idea that you are my inspiration to keep on blogging :D

    Thank you so much for coming. I am so glad you had fun. You were one of the favorites amongst the guys. Way to go, girl

    LOL. Sorry about that. It was really boohaa of me to miss out the location, don’t you think? Weird …


    I love you guys! You guys are such talented photographers. Let’s do that again some other time!

  28. 28

    ben coolen — December 11, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

    Excellent stuff, looks like a good time was had by all :)

    ben coolen’s last blog post..PICKLED ONIONS

  29. 29

    Tuty — December 12, 2008 @ 12:39 am

    Fantastic organization! Kudos for your post and beautiful presentation.
    Cheers… (albeit late…)

  30. 30

    Pepy — December 12, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

    Jun, this looks fantastic and really well-organized

  31. 31

    myf — December 14, 2008 @ 2:16 am

    Beautiful party, Congrats, U did a great job! :-)

    myf’s last blog post..Pan Fried Bread with Eggs & Tandoori Cheese Chicken Sausages

  32. 32

    _ts of [eatingclub] vancouver — December 16, 2008 @ 3:44 am


    I’m finally able to devote time to carefully read this post; it’s been bookmarked for the longest time. =)

    What more can I say? [Insert SUPERLATIVES here.]

    Oh, we have a turtle similar to yours, hehe. (The turtle figurine.)

    _ts of [eatingclub] vancouver’s last blog post..Thai Fried Chicken (and the Ultimate Compliment)

  33. 33

    eating&reading 23rd Dec 08: The superduperspecialchristmaseatingbingeingjunkalongextravanganza roundup — London Eater — December 23, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

    [...] Jun cooking in her indochinekitchen is the perfect woman. Let’s see how can I describe her. Demure, silky flowing hair, intensely soulful eyes and a smile so sweet I can’t help but melt. She was last seen prepping for an exotic party in the tropics with friends and family – wow, she can really cook. [...]

  34. 34

    eating&reading 23rd Dec 08: The superduperspecialchristmaseatingbingeingjunkalongextravanganza roundup — London Eater — December 23, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

    [...] Jun cooking in her indochinekitchen is the perfect woman. Let’s see how can I describe her. Demure, silky flowing hair, intensely soulful eyes and a smile so sweet I can’t help but melt. She was last seen prepping for an exotic party in the tropics with friends and family – wow, she can really cook. [...]

  35. 35

    Nate — December 25, 2008 @ 8:37 am

    Just catching up on old RSS posts and I have to say…DANG!

    This was an excellent post about an exceedingly awesome dinner. I wish I was there.

    Forgetting to read about carving the turkey – too funny!

    Nate’s last blog post..Merry Christmas from House of Annie

  36. 36

    thepinkpeppercorn — December 26, 2008 @ 10:21 pm

    Wow! What a party!!! Beautifully photographed as well, awesome!! :)

    thepinkpeppercorn’s last blog post..another hint?

  37. 37

    Ivy — January 6, 2009 @ 7:04 am

    Happy New Year. Thanks for adding me as a friend in Foodbuzz and I am really glad to find out about you. The write-up itself must have taken hours to be written and you have done a great job. All your recipes look fantastic and well presented.

    Ivy’s last blog post..Kalikantzari and Theophaneia

  38. 38

    Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. — January 8, 2009 @ 6:25 am

    WOW!!! Everything looks so gorgeous and delicious. What beautiful photos and colors. Happy New Year!

    Nurit – 1 family. friendly. food.’s last blog post..Home-Made Food is the Best!

  39. 39

    Sene-Li — January 9, 2009 @ 3:13 am

    All I can say is wow! I need to be in Medan the next time you put on a feast! The food looks fantabulous!

  40. 40

    Thanksgiving Meals Around the World: A Culinary Remembrance of Meals Past | Hugging the Coast — July 11, 2009 @ 7:49 am

    [...] Blog: Indochine Kitchen Post: November FoodBuzz 24, 24, 24: Thanksgiving in the Tropics [...]

  41. 41

    candice — June 8, 2012 @ 2:35 am

    Love this party and what I really love about this is that you have gone into so much detail of showing from prep to party, that is really interesting. What I would have also liked to see is the table in more close up photos.The dessert table is extremely wonderful and appetizing and I would like to know what is the kind of short table you used for this. It looks like the fruits are sitting on top of ice on a long dish on some kind of bench. I would also like to know what the food was in those large jars. thanks and again a great job

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