Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DAY FORTY NINE - Planning for Christmas Dinner

"Cook? You're going to cook Christmas dinner? Why in the world would you want to do that?"

Cathy Harborow, NYU Abu Dhabi's Manager of Faculty & Support, seeing my dumbfounded expression then went on to suggest I order Christmas dinner from Gems Restaurant in the nearby Cristal Hotel. "They do a fabulous job", she enthused. Then I'd have no worries about cooking with my tiny oven, and who wants to experiment with a turkey on Christmas Day? No pots and pans to scour by hand (no dishwasher here), no mess, no bother. I warmed to the idea pretty quickly.

When I stepped off the elevator on Cristal's 17th floor this afternoon I spotted brochures prominently displayed on a table by the entrance to the restaurant. They were hopefully entitled "Cristal Hotel Abu Dhabi - 2013 Festive  Season". I opened one up and there it was: Christmas Turkey with Condiments. Save yourself the hassle of slaving over a kitchen stove. Let our Chef create a special whole roasted turkey with garnishes and condiments for you. Minimum weight is 4kg. 

Hmmmm, I wondered, so is that 4kg. off the bone? Or is that a 4kg. whole bird, which really isn't a big turkey? We Carlsons do love our leftovers, and I'd rather err on the side of too much than too little. 

A man I assumed to be the Maitre d' stood stiffly at a podium. I walked over with my brochure in hand and asked if I could order the turkey dinner with him. It became immediately apparent that his English comprehension wasn't all that great, and his thick accent made it difficult for me to understand him. 

"There will be three of us", I explained. I figured he could suggest an appropriate amount to order.
"You want three turkeys" he stated with authority, pulling out an order form and picking up a pen.
"No, there are three people. There will be three of us for dinner. I'm not sure how much turkey to order".
"Three kilograms?" Now he was looking a little irritated. "Four kilograms minimum", and he took the brochure from my hand and pointed out the paragraph where this was noted.
"Okay, fine" I said, "One turkey. I want one turkey". 
Pacified, he started filling out the order form. I waited a few moments and tried again.
"It says here garnishes and condiments. What comes with the turkey exactly?"
"The traditional. Potatoes, sauce, vegetables, Yorkshire pudding". 
Say what?!?!? Yorkshire pudding? That's not traditional in my part of the world. And are the potatoes mashed or baked or boiled or something else? I heard no mention of stuffing or dressing. Is there gravy or is that what's meant by as "sauce"? Or is the sauce cranberry sauce? SO many questions bubbled up in me, but based on the conversation thus far, I dared venture only one follow-up question.
"Is there dessert?"
He lifted his head up from writing and looked me right in the eyes. "No dessert".
I sighed, took my receipt, thanked the man and left. 

As it turns out I came upon Stove Top Stuffing in Lulu's Market a few weeks ago, so I have that as back-up just in case there is no stuffing with the turkey, and I'm not hopeful. I also found some cranberry sauce in the small gourmet section of a British department store, Marks and Spencer, so I am good on that score as well. Those are my "must haves", and I'm covered. After a little bit of hunting I found my Libby's canned pumpkin, so Doug will have his pie, and when I packed to come back to Abu Dhabi I included a box of Ghiardelli Brownie Mix, so Jeff will have his brownie sundae (he's not a pie guy). If all I get on Christmas Day from Gems Restaurant is a juicy turkey, then all will be well. 

And hey, maybe Yorkshire pudding will end up being my new favorite turkey side dish.

Yorkshire puddings. Up till now I thought they were the traditional side dish for roast beef. 

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