A Culinary Guide to a Countryside Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving brings together everything we love about the fall season—the food, the colors, the warmth and intimacy, the cinnamon-flecked crispness of the cloudy, cool air—and consolidates them into one grand and often tumultuous evening, where family and friends come together simply to share their love, affection and gastronomic stamina.

Here on the East Coast, the spirit of Thanksgiving is arguably at its most consum- mate. I think we get spoiled in this part of the country around Thanksgiving—we take the luminescent hillsides and pumpkin-topped haystacks for granted and begin dreaming of warmer days before winter has even arrived. Try to imagine, for a moment a November family gathering, with a golden roast turkey, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, tannic red wines and pumpkin pie... in the 80-degree heat of Miami, Fla.

No thanks.

So, to best appreciate a true and spirited Thanksgiving around Washington, why not leave the city and take to the countryside? Whether searching for a quiet holiday escape with your better half, or gallivanting about with the whole family, there are a number of places just outside the city that offer the tranquility of the season in its quintessential form, as well as some traditional and brilliantly unique Thanksgiving dinners—and it takes the edge off cooking a 15-pound bird for those loved ones that never cease to offer their critique.

Here are a few of The Georgetowner’s favorite Thanksgiving lunch, dinner and weekend getaway opportunities. Make your reservations before they fill up.

The Robert Morris Inn Oxford, Md.

This small gem on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is the perfect waterfront setting for a traditional Thanksgiving. The culinary team, headed by chef Mark Salter, has put together a traditional and creative menu for this special occasion as an opportunity for regional produce to shine. For large groups, their Tred Avon Room is available for a family group booking.

Their Thanksgiving menu starts with dishes like spiced butternut squash soup with smoked bacon and cinnamon whipped cream, and red and yellow beets with crumbled goat cheese, toasted walnuts and mixed greens. The main event is free-range turkey and baked ham with roasted potato, onion and celery stuffing and seasonal vegetables, with cranberry, orange and ginger relish. There are also alternative main courses, such as oyster potpie, salmon on creamed sweet onions with kale, pancetta and baby potatoes, and beef tenderloin with a Burgundy-truffle sauce. Desert includes apple and blackberry crumble with Chantilly cream and pecan pie with bourbon ice cream.

Price: $58 per person, plus beverages and gratuity.

For more information or to make a reservation visit www.RobertMorrisInn.com, or call (410) 226-5111.

Keswick Hall Keswick, Va.

Keswick Hall is truly a luxury resort that overwhelms the senses. Their magnificent and secluded estate in the foothills of the Southwest Mountains outside of Charlottesville is itself enough to bowl you over—never mind the fact that Condé Nast rated them the number-one small resort in the country.

At Fossett’s, the resort’s award-winning restaurant, executive chef Aaron Cross will present a four-course tasting menu featuring traditional holiday entrees, as well as beef and fish options. Keswick Hall will also serve two Thanksgiving Day buffets, featuring all your holiday favorites and more ($55 – $65 per person).

Price: $75 person, $25 for children ages 4 – 12.

For more information or to make a reservation visit www.Keswick.com, or call (434) 979-3440.

Sherwood’s Landing St. Michael’s, Md.

St. Michael’s, an intimate, secluded waterside haven, rests along the “Bay Hundred” stretch that runs to Tilghman Island on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The Inn at Perry Cabin is the town’s premier luxury escape, with a waterfront property that offers a gorgeous panorama of the Shore at its finest. The resort’s restaurant, Sherwood’s Landing, overlooks the Miles River, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily in a delightful waterfront setting.

Its Thanksgiving menu starts with a choice of soups: harvest quash veloute, with caramelized pistachios and popped corn mouse, or oxtail consommé with black trufle, Madeira, savoy cabbage and oxtail ravioli. The main courses, on top of roasted local turkey, include honey-glazed Virginia ham, pan-seared duck breast, roast wild rockfish and tomato tart tatin, all served with whipped sweet potatoes, caramelized root vegetables, sage stuffing, cranberry relish and natural jus. Desert include pumpkin pie flan with maple cream and caramel, caramelized apple and fennel tart with lemon and allspice creams, and cranberry walnut bread pudding with honey, bourbon anglaise and vanilla ice-cream.

Price: $74 per person, plus beverages and gratuity

For more information or to make a reservation, visit www.PerryCabin.com, or call (410) 745-2200, ext 213.

The Silver Thatch Inn Charlottesville, Va.

The Silver Thatch Inn is an intimate luxury bed and breakfast that seamlessly weaves culinary and historical experience. Its kitchen offers a special dining experience in its candlelit dining rooms, working with local farmers to ensure that the finest, freshest produce will reach dining guests, and holiday dining is one of its specialties.

The Thanksgiving menu includes seared scallops with warm radicchio and pancetta, carrot-ginger soup with candied orange peel, and fall greens with persimmons, goat cheese, hazelnuts and a Clementine dressing. The featured entrée is the legendary Turducken: a boneless turkey with cornbread and sausage stuffing, filled with a boneless duck with spinach and Parmesan stuffing, which is filled yet again with a small chicken with cranberry jalapeño stuffing. It is served with pan gravy, cauliflower and potato au gratin, braised kale and pear-apple chutney (good luck getting through that one). Other Thanksgiving entrees include Angus beef with onion-mashed potatoes and flounder with lobster stuffing and sweet potato risotto.

Price: $55 per person, children under 12 half price.

For more information or to make a reservation visit www.SilverThatch.com, or call (434) 978-4686.

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