The image of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth Colony is indelibly imprinted in the minds of all who have glimpsed artistic renderings of the celebration. Anything but a luxury-draped affair, this al fresco dining experience took place on the rugged coast of the New World, with autumn’s chill winds penetrating the Pilgrims’ thin outerwear. If the paintings are proof, some got a seat at the table, others downed their meals seated on the ground.
The feast of venison, fowl, corn, chestnuts, artichokes, garlic, barley and peas must have momentarily taken settlers’ minds off the hardships they had suffered and would continue to endure. Almost half of their shipmates, including more than three-quarters of the women who made the trip, had lost their lives in the previous 12 months. Moreover, it would take a full five years to establish a self-sufficient Plymouth Colony.
So just having survived that first year might have been about all the luxury they needed.
For many of today’s Thanksgiving revelers, feting the holiday without posh luxury just wouldn’t do. So it is that some 398 years after that first thankful feast, south along the same coastline, Thanksgiving 2019 will be the opposite of rugged in many quarters.
At Gurney’s Residences in Montauk, N.Y. and Timbers Kiawah Ocean Club and Residences on Kiawah Island, S.C., buyers savor splendor undreamt-of by America’s first settlers and their Native American dinner guests from the Pokanoket tribe.
Folks who live in the Hamptons aren’t there to rough it. Gurney’s Residences treat them to the swank lifestyle to which they’re accustomed. Located on the water in the choice East Hampton community of Montauk, Gurney’s Residences place the fortunate few in homes along a stretch of unadulterated, private oceanfront not too far from the iconic Montauk Lighthouse or invigorating hiking and cross-country skiing at Montauk Point State Park.
Fittingly, the resort lifestyle they savor will carry over for some to Thanksgiving dinner today. Gurney’s residents can enjoy a holiday feast of locally-sourced dishes prepared by the community’s expert culinary team right in their own homes. Whole roasted turkey carved table side, cranberries, sweet potatoes and warm pumpkin pie await those hopefully not too satiated by the s’mores dished out around Montauk’s legendary beach bonfires.
Not to be outdone is the idyllic paradise of Kiawah Island, where Timbers Kiawah Ocean Club & Residences offers a gated community featuring 21 exclusive oceanfront residences cocooned by tall pines in a secluded and intimate setting. Over the past couple years Timbers Kiawah has gained a reputation for an enlightened approach to Thanksgiving.
Most of the pampered buyers here opt to wine and dine their holiday invitees within the graceful confines of their own luxury residences, rather than escorting them to one of the island’s exclusive restaurants. They are the first to recognize their luxe homes were designed for big gatherings, from the massive kitchens and expansive terraces to groaning boards serving a minimum of eight for Thanksgiving dinner.
The Timbers Kiawah staff is there to assist, in every endeavor from providing recipes for turkey, side dishes and pie to helping with catered orders to furnishing a clean-up service so residents can relax with guests after dinner is done.
Timbers Kiawah has gone so far as to enlist the resort’s chef Teddy Folkman to personally guide one household’s maiden voyage into Thanksgiving turkey preparation.
The crowning touch is the resort community’s signature “Thanksgiving Leftover Kit,” which assembles each family’s dinner leftovers into gourmet turkey sandwiches accompanied by such epicurean fare as cranberry preserves, imported brie and fresh-baked baguettes that complement the sweet and savory flavors.
The Thanksgiving Leftover Kit is only the latest culinary development to be grateful for in the four-century-long evolution of a classic American tradition.