For Thanksgiving tabletop inspiration every year, we spy on our friends at Le Marché St. George, a cafe and market in Vancouver. (Canadians are ahead of us; their harvest holiday falls on the second Monday in October). This year, Le Marché’s three owners–sisters Janaki and Klee Larsen and Janaki’s husband, Pascal Roy–gathered family and friends at the shop. With foraged branches, juice bottle vases, and painters’ rag napkins, they transformed the shop into a romantic dining room. Come step inside.
Photography by Luis Valdizon via Le Marché St. George.
Above: Friends Lance and Aimee arrive with their kids and this year’s favorite dessert: spicy apple pie. Janaki and Pascal’s daughter, Lola (in the yellow skirt), holds her hands over her mouth in excitement.
Above: Janaki (shown at left, with friend Sarah Klassen) oversaw the cooking and decorating, assisted by her young daughter: “Lola was in charge of laying silverware, prepping the juice, and decorating the table: She added one chestnut on each plate.”
Above: “The table was adorned with my usual casual array: “ots of fall flowers and branches from our garden, including quince–they’re so beautiful, we simply laid them out here and there,” says Janaki. “This time of year, most plants are in their seedhead stage, which is so sculptural and textural.” Note the shop’s refrigerators, visible but unobtrusive.
Above: The table was topped with a linen tablecloth and set with mismatched silver cutlery, knotted napkins created from muslin painters’ rags, and plates handmade by Janaki, who is also ceramic artist. “We always serve plenty of wine and sparkling French apple cider for the nondrinkers,” says Janaki. “The only thing I ever match is the glassware; in my mind, it makes a table of mostly mismatched elements feel intentional.”
For inventive napkin ideas, including Le Marché’s, see 5 Quick Fixes: Elevating the Napkin, Thanksgiving Edition.
Above: “We collected the little glass bottles throughout the week at the cafe: They’re Italian juice bottles.”
Above: Prepping the tabletop: the materials include champagne grapes, roasted chestnuts, yams, fingerling potatoes, parsnips, onions, and quince.
Above: “The roasted chestnuts were brought to us by our local cheesemaker,” says Janaki, who served them as an appetizer with Farmhouse Camembert and champagne grapes. The cutting board is by Tuscan artist Andrea Brugi, and the knife is from Catalan company Pallares Solsona (both will be available in Le Marché St. George‘s soon-to-launch online store; stay tuned).
Above: Yes, turkey is the center of Le Marché’s Thanksgiving. The secret to the perfect bronze? Janaki prepped the bird with lots of butter mixed with chopped fresh herbs, and rubbed garlic on and under the skin. “I usually cook the turkey for half an hour at 450 degrees, then tent it with foil and turn the heat down to 325 degrees. I always forget that fresh organic turkeys take less time to cook, and often start too early.”
Above: “Klee is the gravy master,” Janaki tells us. “We used an antique gravy boat bought at a thrift store.”
Above: “We had an abundance of quince in the shop this year, so I added them along with Italian prune plums to the cranberries,” says Janaki. “It was a beautiful, aromatic sauce, the perfect fall flavors.”
An enamel Dansk pot of cranberry sauce rests on a silver platter: “I love this big silver platter; it carries things up and down stairs all day.”
Above: Aimee’s spicy apple pie, topped with dollops of whipped cream (and served on mismatched silver plates).
Above: Highlights of the evening? Along with the dancing that capped off the night, one of the biggest hits was the can of whipped cream that made it to the celebration: “What else do you do with a can of whipped cream but spray it right into the mouths of all the kids?” asks Janaki.
Last year’s Le Marché Thanksgiving took place in the woods: See Into the Wild: A Canadian Thanksgiving. If you like the outdoor table setting, learn how to re-create the elements in Steal This Look: The Last Outdoor Dinner of the Season.
Thanksgiving Dinner at Le Marché St. George chronicles the first feast at the cafe.
Did you know that Le Marché rents out an apartment above the shop? It’s impressive–see Living Above the Shop: Le Marché St. George in Vancouver.