My husband Ed’s sister Ann, recovering from major surgery and not really up to the long drive from Rancho Cucamonga, deserved a home delivery of catered treats on Thanksgiving. Within a day or so of the suggestion, her energies rallied and she took charge. Forget the advertisements from supermarkets and well-known pie restaurants that we knew could do the job. Ann ordered from a local restaurant; well local for her and hours away for us, to tempt us. It was a small restaurant chain called Lucille’s.
At the very least we could bring the wine…
We started with two Chardonnays: Nickel & Nickel and Chalk Hill. The Nickel & Nickel, having cost almost double, was richer in color only–both were outstanding in flavor. And stood up quite nicely to the only uncatered part of our evening: Chex Mix and, our old standby, Tortilla chips and jarred salsa over Philadelphia cream cheese.
But then came the fare: juicy turkey and ham, sweet potatoes (with…what is that cloves?), tart & sweet whiskey apples, green bean casserole (Is it so much thicker because it might be made with homemade mushroom soup?), crumbly buttermilk biscuits with whipped apple butter, creamy garlic mashed potatoes almost better than Ed’s, thick gravy perfect for teaching Uncle Jake how to make volcanoes out of said potatoes, and a boring green salad that no one touched. But we did touch a nice Merlot, usually our choice for lighter meats, from Cuvaison Winery. This Merlot, the label picturing the trademark uncentered wine glass image in stained glass, seemed perfectly matched but, if you can believe it, paled in comparison to what our palates were experiencing, as is sometimes the case with very flavorful dishes.
Then we entered the land of dessert. I kept to my policy of not needing a rich dessert to go with a dessert wine. I stood alone. They all enjoyed something different than the usual pie; a chocolate mousse cake, which they all preferred as it was Ed’s birthday as well. The wine was a dessert Cabernet from a favorite small winery, Van Der Heyden. As they plunged their forks into whipped chocolate I closed my eyes; picturing myself back in Napa, tasting this wine for the first time, on an old white resin chair, outside the warm tasting room as it couldn’t accommodate more than 3 people at a time. I was beginning to feel that we had all outgrown the room we had this extraordinary meal in and our need to spend two days preparing meals and, maybe, even pies.
Fast forward back to Santa Clarita. I found that Wood Ranch caters any time. I could feed 20 people for $10 each if their website is correct! With 3 different meats and eight (who could possibly need more?) sides. Other people recommended catering from Stone Fire Grill, a little less expensive with a little less fare. I also checked with the owner of Route 66, George Thomas, as he has the best creamed corn this side of Rancho Cucamonga. His prices are competitive with these others I have mentioned and his restaurant is not part of a chain. He agreed that it is sometimes less expensive to cater but that some people like the camaraderie of preparing a holiday meal. Heck with that I say we can have the camaraderie during the clean up where all we have to wash is the flatware! (Although I did rent flatware one holiday from AV party rental and since they have to sterilize everything we didn’t have to wash anything! I got over feeling bad about that real fast.)
Route 66 offers both full service catering (including full bar service if desired) and the most common for holiday family gatherings….. to-go. They offer holiday dinners that can be picked up either on Thanksgiving / Christmas Eve, or Thanksgiving / Christmas day by appointment.
Their most common holiday entrees are Grandma’s Baked Turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, or George’s personal favorite Honey Glazed Smoked Ham. They offer the following sides for both meals: Caesar salad, creamed corn, garlic seasoned mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, yams smothered in caramelized marshmallows and freshly baked dinner rolls. The average cost per person is $9.95 per dinner; deserts are not included, but available. (You can’t see me dear reader but I am drooling now.)
It’s hard to compete with a fresh pie right out of the oven, but their freshly baked Granny’s Peach Cobbler has been immortalized on the set of HBO’s “Deadwood”. HBO orders their cobbler baked in Deadwood era pots for all dinner scenes. According to the Prop master who picks it up, the cast ask for their cobbler exclusively, to be included in every dinner scene!
And by the by, if you think the next thing for me to suggest is dinner out on the holidays—forget it! That would increase the budget too far as the wine prices would be doubled or more! This way we could have more wine! And more opportunities for pairing with a Route 66 meal the next time. More research…it’s always such a demand…