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  • Writer's pictureSharon Michalove

Turkey and Stuffing? What Else?

Happy Thanksgiving, if you are in the US. And if you aren't, I hope you have a great day anyway. For those of us who celebrate, this is a time for friends, family, football, and food. Lots of food. Whether you have the traditional turkey and stuffing or other dishes, I hope you enjoy celebrating however you choose.

Here's a short Thanksgiving vignette from chef Bay Bishop's journal. It takes place after the main action of Dead in the Alley.

Now that the murderer of Bay Bishop's husband has been found and she has reunited with her old flame, Greg, it's time for Thanksgiving dinner.

The idea of spending a holiday in Sherburne, Michigan, made my spirits plummet. After everything that happened, I wasn't ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. Then the miraculous happened. Greg's parents were planning a trip to Biltmore for their traditional holiday weekend and invited me along. Danny, Greg's business partner, was having dinner with my friend Terrie's family at their family cherry orchard, taking Greg's dog, Ace, with them. So it would be the Musgroves and me. I could hardly wait.

George Vanderbilt started construction on the 250-room French-style chateau after a visit to the North Carolina Blue Ridge mountains 1888. Opened to family and friends in 1895, the amazing structure in French Renaissance style boasted 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.

Our rooms at the Inn, where we are staying for the whole week, are magnificent, with balconies where we have terrific views of the estate, and meals in the historic Biltmore dining room. We take a helicopter ride, visit a brewery, take a tour of the mansion, have a wine and chocolate tasting in the winery, and wander through the gardens.

Thanksgiving dinner is not completely traditional, giving me free reign to sample new tastes and avoid turkey. As a chef, I waxed enthusiastic over each dish. Greg's family put up with my exclamations over the blue crab appetizer, braised veal shank ravaioli, and luscious pumpkin cheesecake. The hardest part for me was whether to order the rack of lamb or the butter-poached lobster tail instead of the turkey since both are favorites. Greg decided to forego the turkeyand ordered the lamb. I ordered the lobster, and we shared. Everyone else ate turkey and thought it was wonderful, but turkey isn't my favorite dish.

The trip back to Michigan was uneventful. Danny was already back in the house he shares with Greg, and will buy once Greg has our lakehouse built next spring.

My parents called while we were still at Biltmore and invited to come for Sunday brunch after we got home. Greg persuaded me to go. Things were still a little tense, Toby had just left for Europe, but my sisters were there and, with Greg, served as a buffer. We agreed to spend Christmas Eve with them and Christmas Day with Greg's family.

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