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Thanksgiving 2005
Feast and Raffle with Prizes
at Cafe Parizäde
November 24, 2005

The Triangle Vegetarian Society (TVS) had its annual Thanksgiving feast and generous raffle at one of Dilip's favorite Triangle restaurants, Cafe Parizäde in Durham. Parizäde is one of the Triangle's finest restaurants with a gourmet flair for fresh ingredients with Mediterranean influences, and this was TVS' 7th consecutive Thanksgiving there.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions provided a great deal of information about the event, and you can also see a flyer and press release that advertised the event.

Our menu began with a Fall Antipasto Buffet Table: wheatberry-wild rice salad with lavender-blueberry vinaigrette; fall lettuces with pumpkin seed-cider dressing; sweet and sour beluga lentils with cabbage; braised garlicky greens; lightly steamed corn-off-the-cob w/smoked poblanos & cumin, lime juice & salt; roasted exotic mushrooms w/ fennel & garlic, drizzled with white truffle oil; grilled asparagus with roasted red pepper; lentil-brown/wild rice cakes with lemon tahini; panzanella bread salad; artichoke salad; cardamom pickled beets; breads, crustinis & pita with Egyptian red lentil and artichoke-spinach hummuses & baba ganouj; marinated olives; and spiced pecans.

For main courses we enjoyed Dilip's macadamia nut blackened Cajun tempeh over brown rice; hearty exotic mushroom filo pie with fennel, wheat gluten, and garlic confit; roasted chestnut-barley risotto w/Brussels sprouts; shredded raw vegetable "pasta" with uncooked spinach pesto sauce; Greek pilaf with leeks, currants, pine nuts,a nd dolmas; smoked eggplant stuffed with carmelized onions and yellow lentils; spicy grilled polenta; baked Orecchiette pasta w/fresh tomato-basil sauce; roasted garlic olive oil mashed potatoes with chives; mushroom gravy, apple-pecan stuffing, fresh raspberry-cranberry relish, & black mission fig chutney; braised sweet potatoes with leeks and vegan maple "butter" chutney; roasted herbed squashes and fall vegetables; country cornbread; chunky mixed vegetable and barley stew; and sweet potato-leek velouté (thickened soup).

Desserts included fresh seasonal fruits, phyllo cookies, sauteed plaintains with cinnamon, pumpkin pie with pomegranate glaze, cherry crisp, & cinnamon currant apple pie. Cider, cranberry juice, herbal tea, and shade-grown coffee were available. All food was strictly vegan with no animal, egg or dairy products. No honey or white sugar was used.

As in previous years, we had a generous raffle with prizes ranging from gift certificates from area businesses to cases of whole food products, fine chocolates, non-animal gardening fertilizers, and much more. Check out the list of raffle prizes!

Summary from the event organizer, our president, Dilip Barman

We had 140 members and their out-of-town guests, 283 non- members, 23 children aged 5-10, and 29 under age 5 for a total of 475 people, a growth of 32% over the 360 we had in 2004! We sold 1229 raffle tickets for 125 raffle prizes worth more than $3,500.  It was another year of fabulous food and, we believe for the second year in a row, the largest vegetarian Thanksgiving in the country. We had record numbers of people calling in for reservations and actually sold out before Thanksgiving Day; we, unfortunately, had to turn away a number of people who tried too late to make reservations. The food at Cafe Parizäde was, as always, overwhelming in quantity and quality.

Our success overtook us a bit, and we had some unreasonably long food wait times. We did such a good job getting people in the door by requiring prepayment that the entry line moved quite quickly, but the restaurant didn't provide additional serving lines that we had expected. We expect to resolve this and make Thanksgiving 2006 the best ever!

During the event, we took a moment to honor outstanding TVS members. This time, we thanked a couple, Sam Taylor and Teresa Nunes, who give so selflessly and humbly of themselves, always are quick to volunteer, and who are generous with their time, labors of love, and resources to spread the word about how easy it is to move to a plant-based diet. A great example of their activism is frequent gourmet vegan breakfasts that they hosted. With such parents, we have high expectations of their lovely baby daughter Kiana, as well!  

Such an event would not have been possible without the help of many people. Biggest thanks are due to Ken Guttman, who maintains our website and does a fabulous job with online reservations, and Martin Blazevich, who took phone calls for reservations (it was especially time consuming this year to coordinate with callers and get their payment details). Big thanks are due to Michael Pocinki, who put in many hours before the event as well as at Thanksgiving, setting up and running the sound system. The night before the event, new member Eleni Vlachos, Sangeeta Godbole, and I set up the raffle prizes. Before the event, Rayna Rowell in particular, but also Ann Creech did a great job calling many raffle participants to organize getting them.

Tracy Morris, Brian Donlon, and James Balfour worked to setup the literature table and with other preparations just before doors opened. Guests were checked in by James, Eleni, Christine Stachowicz, and Barry Nakell. Sangeeta, Karen McCollough, Chris Kaman, Xiaofang Cheng and Zheng Huang, and Vicki & Stephen Fuentes helped to sell raffle tickets. Sangeeta did a great job keeping the raffle prizes organized and we had many people helping to run the prizes to the winners: Gary and Susan Klaus; Joy Anandi; Paige, Heather, and Hana Garriques; Vicki; Christine Stachowicz; and Terry Haggerty.

See photos that professional photographer Keith Dixon took of the event. Pictures taken by other guests are also available. Pravin Shah took video, and Brian and James helped to count money. Giorgos Bakatsias, owner; chef Robert Adams; pastry chef Lou Mincey; and especially manager Igor Gacina continue to make it easy to work with the classy Cafe Parizäde. Also, thanks to Linda Long, freelance food journalist and food photographer, who wrote the articles that were in "VegNews" and "American Vegan",  and Sharon Van Vechten for connecting us.

We had a number of out-of-towners, but especially recognize Bill Thourot who drove from New Jersey just for the event, and Myko Alexander who came from Sacramento, California. I believe that we were on three of the local evening news programs. Finally, I apologize to others who helped and whom I've no doubt rudely forgotten to mention for all that you did - thank you and please accept my apologies.

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