Opening her door that chilly morning Brandy was greeted by a group of smiling, handsome young men in fuzzy hats and brightly colored rugby jerseys. "Brandy?" one of them asked cheerily. Brandy gave a stern nod and he handed her a muddied and water marked envelope, which upon opening revealed the following note:
Greetings dear girl! These gentlemen are part of the Portuguese Handball team and have come to Chicago to play in a tournament. I met them in a pub in Uruguay and had a lovely chat with them about American foods and holidays. They seemed very interested in the traditions behind Thanksgiving and asked me to refer them to someone who could show them the ropes. As you're practically an American now, I thought you could oblige them. Much love to you! -Bunny
Brandy looked up from the flowery stationary upon which the note had been written to see the still smiling faces of the Portuguese Handball team looking at her expectantly. "Turkey?" one of them said, cocking his head to the left like a curious puppy. "Turkey, right, see the thing is," Brandy began, "I didn't make a turkey this year. We had a potluck at the Quilting Society meeting and I was in charge of the green beans and..." But her explanation didn't seem to be making any headway as the young men continued to smile and blink at her.
visited Pret A Manger this past summer with Bunny, Brandy knew they had lots of options that would at least be freshly prepared (every Pret a Manger location prepares their wears on sight on a daily basis, donating whatever is left at the end of the day to a local shelter). "Perhaps I can cobble together something," she mused. But once arriving at the Pret in Evanston (there are also several Prets in the Loop and a new one opening up inside Merchandise Mart this week), Brandy was simply delighted to find that they were carrying a whole range of flavorful holiday favorites and treats. Loading her arms full of everything she could find, Brandy headed home to divvy up the treasures just as the Handball boys were finishing their movie.
There were three sandwiches to choose from: the Holiday Lunch, the Holiday Cranberry and Goat Cheese, and the Holiday Ham and Fig Chutney. The Holiday Lunch consisted of a mix of traditional Thanksgiving flavors with moist slices of turkey, a crunchy nut roast stuffing, cranberry sauce, and spinach on soft granary bread. Brandy really loved the mix of flavors and textures in this sandwich and especially that the turkey remained the star of the show. The Holiday Cranberry and Goat Cheese turned out to be a vegetarian version of the Holiday Lunch with smooth, creamy goat cheese spread replacing the turkey. Brandy felt that the cranberry was given more room to shine in this sandwich. The Holiday Ham and Fig, which came served on a hearty baguette, provided a more Christmasy contrast with a smokey, tender ham, sweet fig chutney, and crunchy almonds.
For dessert, Brandy had purchased an army of Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies and Holiday Fig and Almond Yogurt Pots as well as a special coffee concoction, the Gingersnap Latte. The yogurt pots, which had a sensational sweet fig spread on the bottom that could be swirled through the rich Greek yogurt, were also topped with dried cranberries and toasted almond slices. The Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies were a true rich delight with their soft interior, deep chocolate flavor, and melty white chocolate chunks, which had been ever so slightly kissed with a cool minty essence. They made the perfect combination with the Holiday Gingersnap Latte, which boasted a more subtle sweetness and a nice spicy kick from the ginger.
Though it may not have been a typical Thanksgiving meal, the Portuguese Handball Team seemed mighty pleased with their impromptu feast, so much so that they all fell asleep, strewn across the various sofas and chairs in Brandy's parlor. "Well then," Brandy sighed, "I suppose they discovered this little Thanksgiving tradition on their own."
The writers of this blog were provided with gift cards from Pret a Manger in order to sample the holiday menu and give an honest review.