Being Thankful…Shanghai Thanksgiving

I think I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving a few times in my life with different Americans across the globe…any excuse for a celebration…and to give thanks. I’m in a very lucky position, in fact a lot of people are in the world but they just don’t realise it. So last Thursday, and again today, I’m giving thanks to everyone who has helped become who I am and get me to where I am today…a big thank you to my friends and family for being amazingly special people…and another big thanks for all that I have in my life. On this Thanksgiving occasion, I spent it with Lisa, her boyfriend Barry who is from Utica, New York, and Steve, one of Lisa and Barry’s Brazilian Jujitsu friends originally from San Francisco, California. My Belgian friend Tania and her boyfriend were supposed to be joining us too, but her business trip and flight back from Hong Kong got delayed. A real shame but I’m sure there will be more dinners to come.

Earlier in the day, Lisa and I went for lunch ‘Baker and Spice’…for me it consisted of a hearty tuna niçoise salad and sunflower seed roll. We went there for lunch so I could show her the new Starbucks vendors in the pillars of the building on Nanjing Xi Lu. The left pillar would take the orders and the right pillar would make the drinks. Rather clever, and further proving that every ounce of space is used in this city.

Lisa, Barry, Steve and I went to ‘Yu Garden Café’ for Thanksgiving dinner. It is a restaurant on the first floor of the Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden Hotel. It was an all-you-can-eat affair for 288 kuai (£28) that I found online, which I was sold on as it offered 25 different types of pie for dessert. Disappointingly there weren’t that many…still a great selection though. We arrived for 7.30pm and I was like a child at Christmas. The selection of food was overwhelming…there were some that I had eaten in couple of months so I was a little too excited. I’ll start with the savoury choices…cheese platters, meat platters, salads, patés, fresh seafood, sushi, sashimi, small Japanese taster dishes, condiments including mango chutney, a full ham and turkey roast, salmon, beef, roast vegetables and potatoes, fig and cherry stuffing, a tempura station, a miso soup station, a Chinese and Japanese food bar, Thai curries…

…then onto dessert where you could choose from pumpkin pie, chocolate mousse cake, pumpkin cheesecake (super nice), chestnut cream brulle (their spelling not mine…and it was HORRIBLE), a traditional Chinese eight-treasure rice pudding (bābǎofàn 八宝饭), sticky walnut and date syrup slices, small cake and sweets selection bites, Chinese buns, macaroons in all different colours and flavours, small bite-sized cookies and seeded biscuits, and jars of sweets to dip into…not forgetting a choice of soft drinks, fizzy pop, freshly-squeezed juices and waters.

From all of these foods on offer, this is what I chose…my five-course Thanksgiving meal. I started with a mushroom/mozzarella/pesto/peppered tuna salad selection with sushi, sashimi and Japanese dishes…followed by a main of salmon with mixed vegetables, most of which weren’t that nice so they got left on the plate…third course was a cheese fest with black olives…then came dessert…pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, a tiny slice of the horrid chestnut cream brulle which is shown below with the cherry printed white chocolate detail (I nearly spat it out), a selection of multi-coloured macaroons and a walnut and date syrup cube. I did go back for more of the cheesecake and macaroons as they were lovely. All of this was followed by a much-needed pot of German peppermint tea. Such a lovely evening with good food and good company…I’m definitely thankful for that night too. What are you thankful for?

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