Greetings from the Harraseeket Inn! As the holiday season approaches, the lower kitchen here at the inn
Chef Elizabeth studying menu
where all our prep work is done bustles with activity. Thanksgiving Day Grand Buffet has been in the planning stages for months, the food orders have been placed, the farmers and growers have been arriving in a steady stream with the best and freshest harvest foods, and now the work begins. Not being a chef, I find the entire prospect of preparing and presenting a feast for a thousand people extremely daunting. This past week I asked Secha, one of our chefs, if she dreaded Thanksgiving because of the additional work load. "Not at all. I look forward to it!" she said with a wide, genuine smile. "This is the biggest event we put on. It's a tremendous challenge and and an opportunity for us to showcase what we can do." This wasn't the answer I expected and she guessed as much from my expression. Her smile got bigger and she said, "I really love what I do." This sort of dedication is what makes the Harraseeket Inn such a special place. We're very lucky to have so many talented and enthusiastic employees as part of the Harraseeket family. They're the heart, soul and spirit that makes this place feel like a home away from home, and to top it all off they can put an outstanding Thanksgiving Day Grand Buffet together for a thousand guests! Bravo and many thanks to all of you!
Harraseeket Inn Banquet Staff
Historically speaking, not all Thanksgiving Day feasts were elaborate or even bountiful. In fact, some were downright austere. A Civil War soldier, John Dillingham of Freeport, (who may very well have been born in our Carriage House, next door to the inn) in an 1862 letter home to his mother, described his Thanksgiving dinner thus:
"I forgot to tell you what we had for thanksgivin dinner first we had hard bread and water then come the desert you had ought to have seen that desert shall I tell you what it was? well I will it was hard bread we had something else about three o clock but we stole it that was hard bread to."
Here in Freeport, shopping is a year round competitive sport that rivals football in popularity and after Thanksgiving, this small village hosts the Serious Shopper's Super Bowl. With all the challenges of checking names off that holiday shopping list, what better way to unwind after a busy Thanksgiving than to hop aboard the Amtrak Downeaster and take a relaxing ride to Freeport for Midnight Madness - an extraordinary Black Friday Rail Sale experience - for just $5 each way! On Thanksgiving night, Train 697 will arrive in Freeport at 10:35pm and Train 699 will arrive in Freeport at 2:05am on Friday morning.
Check out the Moonlight Madness and plan your strategy, or if you're not the sort to go overboard on midnight holiday shopping marathons (especially on a stomach full of turkey) and want to get into the spirit in a more genteel way, Sparkle Weekend kicks off on December 6th, with all sorts of fun activities including the Amtrak Downeaster's Polar Express, (a HUGE hit with kids) and my perennial favorite, the Tuba Concert.
Guests gather around the fire pit
There's lots to see and do in Freeport during the holiday season (and every season, for that matter) but the Harraseeket Inn is also the perfect place to relax and do nothing at all. Read a book by the fire, sneak a nap before afternoon tea, make new friends around the fire pit. Just taking a stroll to admire the village of Freeport all dressed up for the holidays is fun and sure to get you in the mood even if you're the bah humbug type. The halls at the Harraseeket Inn will soon be decked out in festive finery, and we're offering our special holiday buffet luncheons in the Maine Harvest Dining Room again this year on Friday, December 14th and 20th for those of you who want to make a day of shopping with friends and have an enjoyable gathering over great food. This is also a great way to throw a small office party without spending a fortune.
For our guests who will be staying with us over the holidays, don't forget to bring along an ornament toput on our "Family Tree". This tree that is decorated by ornaments brought in by our guests and employees and it's the most special Christmas tree at the inn. Another special holiday event will be the appearance of three gorgeous Pet Assisted R.E.A.D. therapy dogs, Burnese Mountain dogs, no less! who will preside over the children's reading hour. This will be the third year we have hosted this special event where children read aloud to these dogs, and the photos are really something special! Let us know if you would be interested in signing your children up for the reading hour. There are three sessions scheduled!
The following is a bit of trivia about Thanksgiving that many of you no doubt already know:
The pilgrim's leader, Governor William Bradford, organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621 inPlymouth, Massachusetts. He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast.The Wampanoags were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land so the fact that there was a feast at all was due in large part to their help.The Pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers. Mostly with their fingers. Plates were optional. All the food was placed on the table and was not passed around so where ever you were seated, whatever you could reach was what you ate. I would imagine this was how musical chairs originated. The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days, probably until the food ran out, and the feast and festivities were enjoyed by all. November's trivia question has to do with the first Thanksgiving, and it's another easy one!
Which one of the following foods was
NOT served on the first Thanksgiving feast table? Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squash, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, goat cheese and mashed potatoes.
Each correct answer wins a voucher worth $5. toward food or lodging on your next visit, and from all the correct answers one grand prize winner will be drawn to receive a gift certificate for dinner for two in our Maine Harvest Dining Room or Broad Arrow Tavern. You may redeem up to one years worth ($60.) of vouchers at one time. Keep your eyes peeled for special double voucher value dates as we head into the off season!
Finally, as we gather with friends and family to share this Thanksgiving holiday, our thoughts turn once again to those in the military and those whose lives have been thrown into turmoil in the Phillipines. Our prayers are with them, and our thanks go out to all who pitch in wherever and whenever help is needed. This generosity and boundless compassion of the human spirit binds us all together, gives us hope for the future and a reason to give heartfelt thanks for all of our blessings.
Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving,
The Gray family
Happy 81st Birthday to Nancy Dyer Gray, Innkeeper, November 10, 2013!!!