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Thanksgiving with Jamie and Friends

Posted: Nov 26, 2007 6:00am ET

I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving. I sort of celebrated. I guess I have been out of America for Thanksgiving for too long. I lost the tradition while I was living in London when I was married. My ex-wife was English so it didn’t make a lot of sense. But I miss it. It’s a good time to share wonderful wine and food with friends.

In any case, I did have a sort of Thanksgiving moment last Thursday night at Fattoria Petrolo, the highly esteemed Tuscan winery. We had a big dinner with Jamie Oliver, the British celebrity chef who is better known as the naked chef, as well as actor Jason Flemyng and cookbook writer Gennaro Contaldo. Jamie also bought about a dozen of his apprentice chefs from his restaurant in Cornwall called Fifteen.

I have known Jamie for a number of years, and he is a super-cool guy. He is incredibly successful and has made a bundle of money, but he puts it back into the community through hard work and creative ideas. I have the highest respect for him, and I love his honesty and passion for hearty food and good wine.

The apprentice chefs from his restaurant in Cornwall are living examples of his goodwill, and of Thanksgiving. He essentially takes disadvantaged kids from the streets and puts them in the kitchen in hopes of teaching them a trade they can use. He does the same in London.

Anyway, there was no turkey on Thanksgiving night at Petrolo. We had suckling pig, roasted for hours in a wood-burning oven. (I am not sure if they roasted it in my honor!) The first course was a yummy piccini pasta with wild boar sauce that I had to have seconds of! And combine that with the 2005 Torrione and 2004 Galatrona from Petrolo. The 2004 Galatrona is an awesome pure Merlot. I brought a mag of 1997 Roberto Voerzio Barbera d'Alba Vigneto Pozzo dell'Annunziata Riserva. I thought the juicy Barbera went perfectly with the pork. We had a lot to be thankful for.

There was lots of merrymaking during the evening. And as much as Jamie tried not to believe we were celebrating Thanksgiving. We were. Check out the video of him with the owner of Petrolo, Luca Sanjust, and Jason. They are hamming it up a bit ­—must have been the pork and wine.

And the apprentice chefs? They were lovin' it. By the end of the night, they looked converted to Thanksgiving … though I am still not convinced about suckling pig on the festive day!
Fine-rare Wines Limited
London UK —  November 26, 2007 8:43am ET
James,I grew up with Jason, have not seen him for years, sounds like he was in good form, must have a been a fun night.Bud
Greg Neidballa
Chicago, IL USA —  November 26, 2007 10:57am ET
I "give thanks for the Americans taking over America" as well. Hmmmmm..
James Suckling
 —  November 26, 2007 11:04am ET
I am used to English humor after living there for 12 years... It was friendly banter. I gave them a good thrashing about being British later!
Greg Raynor
November 26, 2007 12:17pm ET
I also found that comment a little bit odd. Care to give us some perspective, James? Also the concept of an internationally celebrated chef "not understanding," a major American holiday primarily focused on a meal is a little suspect as well. I hope you explained it to him.
James Suckling
 —  November 26, 2007 12:22pm ET
He was joking around... Of course, he knows Thanksgiving. But, for obvious reasons, the British don't celebrate it.
Greg Neidballa
Chicago, IL USA —  November 26, 2007 3:57pm ET
James, I'm glad for that. You knew that little exchange at the end would draw a rise, yes? The evening looked great (by the way, I love the added videos to your blog). Family and I celebrated Thanksgiving in Florence thanks to the excellent offerings of the Mercato Sant' Ambrogio and, of course, your steerings on the vini d'Italia over the years. We're now in Montepulciano for a while. Jamie Oliver remains my favorie "celebrity chef".
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  November 26, 2007 8:12pm ET
Those British should celebrate more American holidays, especially Independence Day. So when do you get to taste the 2005 Bordeaux in bottle?
Peter A Siddiqui
Chicago —  November 26, 2007 10:09pm ET
Funny stuff. I spent a year abroad in school, and, when Thanksgiving rolled around, some other Americans and I felt home-sick. We talked a restaurant into serving roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatos, etc. The meal was terrible, but the celebration was great. We drank Australian red wine out of a box (we were students), which did the trick. Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for the blogs and videos.
Albert Jochems
The Netherlands —  November 27, 2007 3:37am ET
The meal itself must have been something to give thanks for! The presence of Jamie, Luca and a Galatrona '04 is a great example of what wine and good company is all about!
And you Americans, well I think everyone has his own right to celebrate. The more, the better. But I still can't understand how you where able to turn a day of giving thanks to the Lord for the harvest into a turkey......
Apropos, harvest, how is the Petrolo merlot harvest from 2004 in the shape of the beatifull Galatrona developing in your opinion?
Rosa Morabito
perth, australia —  November 27, 2007 8:00am ET
We have been visiting the wonderful Fattoria Petrolo for 11 years. We base ourselves there for 2 weeks every October as we escort a tour. We sit at that very table for a wonderful meal every evening, with lots of Petrolo wine. Jamie Oliver, we would love for you to visit when we are there. just ask the wonderful people at Petrolo for our dates. I am a huge fan.
James Suckling
 —  November 27, 2007 11:29am ET
Karl. I begin on Monday going through 1000 samples in Bordeaux in blind tastings. Wish me luck!
Terminal City Club
Marbella Spain —  November 28, 2007 12:25pm ET
Hey Jamie, I just read your thanksgiving bit, and saw the clip, sounds like a nice dinner, but I feel your pain. Although, I¿m a Canadian (Vancouver) and have just moved to Spain, I really missed a turkey dinner. Think I'll have to put one together for these Spaniards for Christmas. Hope you are having as much fun with the wine scene in Italy as I am in Spain...CiaoWendy

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