Last year was my first year to experience hosting a Thanksgiving in London. I ordered up a turkey and some sides from Whole Foods in an attempt to have an effortless and relaxing Thanksgiving. The turkey proved to be anything but relaxed.
Entertaining family in a new city, I knew that I didn't want to spend too much time in the kitchen. My sister and I jumped on the tube at the crack of dawn Thanksgiving morning to fetch our groceries. I knew I was in trouble at the butcher counter when my sister, a vegetarian thought something looked funny with the raw turkeys at the market. I brushed off her comments assuming a vegetarian wouldn't know what a raw turkey was supposed to look like.
I hadn't planned anything fancy for the turkey preparation, just throwing it in the oven with some butter and lots of basting, so I waited until the last minute to take it out of the packaging. Screams came from my mother who said after hosting Thanksgivings for 30 years she had never seen a turkey like this before and she wouldn't be helping out. Upon closer inspection by my father and I, we discovered that the Brits seem to leave the pin feathers in the turkey. Our turkey also happened to have a two black legs sticking out from its rear end that made it look as if it were in-flight in the oven. Basting was a blind effort as it was just too painful to look at the bird wanting to take flight in the oven. Luckily we had my fiancé/master carver to trim the skin off of the bird and just get to the meat of the bird. In the end the turkey was one of the juiciest birds to have ever been on my Thanksgiving plate. I guess the Brits really know how to keep the turkeys fresh!
The best part about Thanksgiving not being an actual holiday in London is that if you forget something important, all of the shops and grocery stores are open all day long.
Another invaluable tool for cooking in the UK is the iphone converter app for figuring out all of the metric conversions. Here is a list of some great places to quench the American need for a Thanksgiving celebration.
Whole Foods is the place to go for all things American Thanksgiving, particularly the Kensington branch which seems devoted to the following of ex-pats who shop there regularly. You can also pick up select American ingredients that most people expect to have at the table like Oceanspray Cranberry sauce in a can and French's fried onions.
Partridges is a small grocery store that sells raw and cooked turkeys along with traditional pumpkin and pecan pies.
Planet Organic is offering 15% off of their turkey orders from the Rhug Estate where the turkeys are hand-reared and live outdoors.
The Fifth Floor at Harvey Nichols is also a great place to grab some odd American staples like Crisco and marshmallows.
Even British chain Waitrose is joining in on the Thanksgiving fun this year with a tiny section of Libby's canned pumpkin, Stovetop stuffing mix, cranberries, and pecans.
If you aren't planning on cooking, there are some great options for dining out and enjoying turkey with all of the fixings.
The Savoy Grill is offering a four-course menu for £45 that includes unique takes on the traditions from cornbread stuffing to pumpkin pie served alongside cinnamon ice cream.
Christopher's American Grill wouldn't be very American without a Thanksgiving menu and it is one of the most extensive in the city.
Go casual at Bodean's, a BBQ joint that will be playing football on the big screens all day long.