Thanksgiving is rarely celebrated in the Philippines. While we’re grateful people—we hold fiestas to show our thanks—thanksgiving just isn’t something an average Pinoy family celebrates. I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to celebrate thanksgiving with the U.S. Potato Board, so despite it being held at a place so far from my usual haunts, I made an exception and came.
Thanksgiving dinner was prepared by the renowned chef Myrna Segismundo, served at her Restaurant 9501 at the ABS-CBN Compound in Quezon City. Attended by people from the potato board, restaurant people and food suppliers, and some lucky people from traditional and new media, the event sought to express thanks for another year of blessings.
Because it was sponsored by the potato board, it’s only natural to showcase the crop closest to their heart–the potato. All of the dishes, from starter to dessert had potatoes in them. An idea that was both intriguing and welcome for me, a self-confessed potato lover.
First things to come out of the kitchen were bowls of potato bread and dishes of tomato jam and adobo pate. The bread was dense yet moist, reminiscent of cake rather than bread. The tomato jam was a surprise. Because of its appearance, I was expecting something similar to marinara, but upon trying it, it was sweet like, well, jam!
For the salad course, we had seared scallops, straight cut potatoes on an apple waldorf salad with basil oil. The potato wasn’t obvious on the plate, which leads me to wonder. Was it part of the waldorf? I’ve never tried raw potatoes so I honestly can’t tell if some of the crunchy cubes were potato.
The soup course featured a truffled mashed potato soup with a porcini mushroom froth. I love potato soup in all forms, so this was a definite winner for me. Smooth and earthy, you could serve me a big bowl of this and I’ll happily eat it all night.
The star of the evening, of course, was the turkey. We had a roasted U.S. Tom Turkey, stuffed with a bread & nut stuffing then served with a minted orange-cranberry relish, creamed spinach, giblet gravy and candied crinkle-cut potatoes. The plate featured an eclectic melange of flavors, from sweet, to savory, to fruity, to creamy to earthy. The sweetness of the cranberry relish complemented the rich, flavorful giblet gravy, letting it shine.
Dessert was another pleasant surprise. We were served a mashed potato crepe with vodka sabayon, served with poached pears and grapes. Torched right before serving, it had a wonderful burnt flavor that was far from bitter, adding a depth to the sabayon. Eaten with the distinct potato-laced crepe, grapes and pears, it was simply magnificent.
Everything we ate was complex, with multiple ingredients and layered flavors. Serving as the perfect vehicle to showcase a good harvest, dinners like this serve as a wonderful reminder of our life’s blessings and how much we have to be thankful for. That said, Happy Thanksgiving everyone, from my family to yours.
Many thanks to the US Potato Board for the lovely evening.