An artisan Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, the Hill and the Young families got together for the first time since our wedding in January 2010.

Kenley and I were staying with my parents in Columbia, S.C., where we lived before moving to Los Angeles. Kenley’s brother Logan caught a ride from Washington, D.C.; my brother, Patrick, drove in from Atlanta; and Kenley’s parents and his youngest brother, Kaith, came up from Georgetown, S.C.

It was the first and only holiday of the year we will get to spend with our families.

The Youngs arrived Wednesday morning. We had been trying to hit all of our favorite places while we were in Columbia, so we took Kenley’s parents to Thirsty Fellow near the Vista entertainment district and the USC campus. Though Thirsty Fellow is a relatively new addition to Columbia, it quickly became a favorite. It was the last place we ate before we hit the road for Los Angeles in January, so it made sense to go back. They have one of the best pizzas in town (Kenley says the secret is their sauce), and they also feature a really good brunch.

After lunch, we went to the historic Big Apple, the site of our rehearsal dinner, where we picked up Bone-In Artisan Barbecue that we had ordered for dinner. Kenley and I had heard about the Bone-In Artisan Barbecue food truck from all the way across the country, and we had been looking forward to trying it. So when we woke up in Columbia on Monday morning, one of the first things I did was send a tweet to @artisanbbqtruck to find out where we could find it. I was so disappointed when they said they were taking the week off for the holiday.

But just a few minutes later, they tweeted back that we could call in a takeout order and pick it up at the Big Apple, where they are the in-house caterers. Perfect! Wednesday night dinner for nine was taken care of.

I wanted to try everything on their “pickup-by-the-pound” menu, but I chose the smoked pulled pork (made with an Upstate vinegar sauce); chicken salad (with pecans and cranberries); mac and cheese; and collard greens and slaw (made with apple and carrots).

We ran into plenty of other customers at Big Apple who were buying their whole Thanksgiving dinner — including bourbon-brined turkey and bourbon pumpkin pie — from the Bone-in Artisan Barbecue truck folks. Executive chef Scott Hall had promised the collards would be some of the best I had ever tasted, and they were. Everything was a little tangy or spicy. Bone-In Artisan Barbecue lived up to the hype. I hope I can track down the truck the next time I visit Columbia.

If you live in Columbia or near it and you haven’t tried Bone-In Artisan Barbecue yet, what are you waiting for? Follow them on Twitter to find out where the truck is, or go to their lunch buffets at the Big Apple on Wednesdays and Thursdays. And you still have time to place orders for Christmas before their Thursday deadline. Watch this video featuring Columbia’s The Shop Tart if you want to learn more:

Shop Tart: Artisan BBQ Truck from Coal Powered Filmworks on Vimeo.

After dinner, I enlisted Kenley, Patrick, Logan and Kaith in a pumpkin-beer tasting. Read about it in my earlier post here.

For Thanksgiving on Thursday, my mom prepared a spread of turkey; dressing; cranberry and apple casserole; squash casserole; sweet-potato casserole; and asparagus. My mother-in-law brought cheese biscuits and red-velvet cake from Kudzu Bakery in Georgetown, another South Carolina favorite. My contribution was a pumpkin fluff dip served with ginger snaps that we munched on before the main meal. You can find the recipe on the Pumpkinheads: For the love of pumpkin Facebook page. It was great to eat a home-cooked meal!

The addition of Kenley’s family around the Thanksgiving table created a lively dynamic. The crowd was skewed younger — with five of the nine of us under the age of 40 — and more testosterone-heavy with six males. I’m looking forward to spending many more holidays together with my new family. The Youngs posed for a family photo below (Kenley would like you to check it out so that you stop confusing him with Logan and Kaith):

Kenley and I couldn’t return to Columbia without a trip to our favorite haunt, The Whig, so after his family left to go back to Georgetown, we headed downtown to the basement bar, where we met Kristin Morris, her sister Jordan, Tug Baker and Jonathan Sharpe.

On Friday morning, Mom made one of my favorite Southern breakfasts — grits and liver pudding! Yes, it sounds and looks disgusting, but if you like grits and spicy sausage, you’ll enjoy it. I promise. Just don’t read the label too closely.

You buy liver pudding in a block, slice it and bake it, and then mix it into your grits. When I was growing up, my grandmother and my mom bought it from a butcher in Saluda, S.C. Now, Mom buys it from Four Oaks Farm in Lexington. In a pinch, you can find Neese’s in grocery stores in the South.

You will not be surprised to know that on the way back, I had to pay an extra fee because my bag was too heavy. Too much shopping while I was in Columbia. And the extra pumpkin beer I smuggled into my check-on bag didn’t help. I will take an extra bag next time.

Read my earlier posts about our first trip back to South Carolina: “Going to Carolina” and “Tourist in my Famously Hot hometown.

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