Spend Thanksgiving with Lady Gaga

Ga ga gobble gobble

After the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie have been gobbled up, the next tradition is to plop in front of the TV for the rest of the day. For music fans and little monsters, ABC will air A Very Gaga Thanksgiving which the network describes as “an intimate look inside the life of Lady Gaga as she performs, in front of a small audience, eight songs including a duet with guest Tony Bennett.” As seen in the clip, she performs “Bad Romance” with what looks like a mutant sweet potato microphone.

DEETS: WFAA-TV Channel 8. 8:30 p.m. ABC.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Beyond Turkey

There’s so much more than the ordinary to be thankful for from Dallas restaurants

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LITTLE LAMB | The earthy depth of lamb, mushroom risotto and a rich demi-glace conjure up autumn without cleaving to traditional ideas of the holidays. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Thanksgiving always conjures up thoughts of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, and while those staples are comforting, there is so much more to an autumnal menu than those familiar standbys. And Andre Natera, executive chef at Pyramid inside the Fairmont Hotel Downtown, has come up with some inventive ways to ring in fall without cleaving to the ordinary.

Mixing it up not just for the season, but for specific plated dinner offerings on the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, Natera’s theme exudes sophisticated comfort, starting with the butternut squash bisque (available now only on Turkey Day, but hopefully on the full menu soon). A dollop of oil and slight bite from chorizo turn a simple vegetable soup into a tremendous savory experience.

But you don’t need to be there on Thursday to fully appreciate the scope of the flavors, from a surprising heirloom carrot salad ($10) wrapped around goat cheese to a butter-poached lobster perched on a stone-grits-stuffed ravioli provides a whimsical — and wholly satisfying — variation on the Southern specialty of shrimp and grits.

The hearty, earthen flavors of roasted lamb ($33), served with mushroom risotto and crisp Brussels sprouts, are accented by a rich Zinfandel demi-glace and pitch-perfect preparation.

As always, desserts are a winner, especially the smartly conceived pineapple upside-down cake, which turns a ‘70s-era dinner party joke into a robust and tangy closer. With his current fare, Natera has devised probably his best menu since coming to Pyramid: Inventive, thematically unified, intensely seasonal and executed with all the warmth of a hearth on Christmas Eve. And he did so without relying on turkey or ham. That’s something to be thankful for.

Pyramid is open for brunch buffet and a plated dinner on Thanksgiving Day ($49.95), and offers “turkeys to go” as well.

TASTING NOTES: THANKSGIVING EDITION
Many Dallas restaurants will be open on Thanksgiving, offering those who don’t feel like cooking at home the chance to still enjoy a feast. Among the specials:

Craft — Prix fixe dinner including appetizers, desserts, a selection of side dishes and choice of turkey, prime rib, salmon and more for $85/adult, available 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

Nana — Both a four-course brunch and a select menu for dinner (including bottomless mimosas) are available, starting at $65/adult.
The Second Floor — Chef J Chastain has the kitchen at his Galleria restaurant going all day, with a three-course dinner from 11 a.m.–11 p.m. for $49 (add $20 for wine pairings).

Mignon — In Plano, enjoy a traditional buffet of butternut squash soup, roasted turkey, stuffing, dessert and more from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for $40/adult.
Some restaurants have pre-Thanksgiving takeout services. The Grape will prepare a smoked Amish turkey dinner or a maple-glazed ham with all the fixin’s from $165–$275 (serves up to 15). La Duni is offering its luscious cakes for pickup on Wednesday until 9 p.m. Pre-order online at LaDuni.com and get a 5 percent discount with the promo code CAKE.

The annual Beaujolais Festival, which for me has always symbolically kicked off Thanksgiving week, comes to a new locale (the new Omni Hotel) on Nov. 18, 7­–9:30 p.m. You can roam around the fancy new digs while swigging some good French (and even Texas!) wines, and tasting bites from local chefs. Tickets are $55. Visit FACCDallas.com for more information.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘Holidazzle Act II’ readies for Christmas release

Two years ago, a cabal of five gay North Texas theaterfolk, calling themselves DFW Actors Give Back, gathered their friends and colleagues in a recording studio and laid down tracks to seasonal carols like “O, Holy Night” and frigidly fun songs like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” all sung, played, arranged and produced by the area’s significant local talent. The album, called Holidazzle, was sold during the Christmas season in theater lobbies throughout the Metroplex, will all proceeds raising money for Jonathan’s Place.

We don’t wanna sound ominous, but … they’re ba-aaac-k! And bigger than before.

A total of 40 singers and musicians appeared on Holidazzle; the new CD — called, surprisingly enough, Holidazzle II: Dazzle Harder (not really — I made up that last part; it’s really called Holidazzle II: Electric Boogaloo … No, I lied again; it’s really called Holidazzle Act II) — gathers 150, including a children’s chorus, on just one track, Carly Simon’s “The Night Before Christmas.”

If you can imagine it, they were doing all this work during the stifling heat of summer; as of today, Holidazzle Act II is in the can, with people like Doug Miller, Denise Lee and Bob Hess, pictured, doing their best work, and all for free.

Once again, sales — which start in November at area theaters and performing arts venues — will benefit the charity Jonathan’s Place. But you don’t have to wait till then; you can pr-order now at DFWActorsGiveBack.org. Yeah, it doesn’t feel much like Christmas to me, either, but give retailers a week — they’ll be decking the malls with boughs of holly before your first pumpkin pie.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tasting notes • 11.12.10

If your last name is “Wines,” you’re probably destined to become a sommelier, and that’s just what Emily Wines is. In fact, she’s one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to earn the title master sommelier (even fewer are women — Barbara Werley at Pappas Bros. is another). Wines works for the Hotel Palomar in San Francisco, but she’s coming to its Dallas cousin Thursday for a fundraiser for Resource Center Dallas. For a $20 donation, you can enjoy Emily’s “Wines for the Season” intro to white, red and sparkling vinos, as well as Central 214 executive chef Blythe Beck’s tasty bites. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 18.

Landmark Restaurant inside the Warwick Melrose Hotel is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its parent company with “Three for $30 Dinner” during the month of November. Come in an order an appetizer, entrée and dessert, and even taste some house wine, for 30 bucks. To book a res, visit LandmarkRestoDallas.com.

Kent Rathbun’s three local restaurants — Abacus, Jasper’s and Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen — will do something they haven’t before: Sell the same item on all the menus while raising money for the North Texas Food Bank.

At a tasting this week, local foodies chose from among three yummy entrees to pick one that would make it on the menu. Anyone ordering that dish for $15 through Nov. 17 will get a complimentary pumpkin pie empanada dessert and earn a contribution to the NTFB, courtesy of Capital One Bank. The winner: A phenomenal chile-seared sea scallop on chipotle corn mash, pictured.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens