Some years you're feeling it. The peeling of the pearl onions, the procuring of the chestnuts, that one creepy moment when you're nearly elbow-deep trying to locate the bag of giblets. Thanksgiving is the most important cooking holiday of the year, the one that has you scribbling a week's worth of to-do lists, the one for which you need to allocate fridge space and oven time.
Unless you don't.
You can outsource the whole shebang, leaving it entirely to the experts. Let's break it down. There's the turkey and all the fixings, plus hors d'oeuvres; side dishes and veggie entrees; breads, pastries and desserts; and Thanksgiving-appropriate wines. Here are some ideas for where you can pick up the components of a glorious Thanksgiving meal in Tampa Bay. Many places prefer orders a week or so in advance, many stop taking orders the Monday of Thanksgiving week, and a handful accept walk-ins even on Thanksgiving Day.
Turkey and fixings
179 2nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 523-6304
8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; open Thanksgiving with designated pick-up times; delivery available (an extra $45)
It may sound pricey at $199, but this full-monty approach feeds eight comfortably (no substitutions), with lots of add-on doodads if your traditions include something specific. You choose either an all-natural roasted turkey or one that has been smoked (heating instructions included), which comes with Yukon Gold whipped potatoes, sweet potato marshmallow casserole, green bean casserole, classic dressing, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce and a choice of pie (apple, pumpkin, pecan). You can grab a gluten-free kit (dressing, gravy and pie for $19.99), class things up with lobster bisque ($13.99), or eschew turkey all together with an herb-roasted beef tenderloin with red wine jus and creamy horseradish ($99.99).
3225 S MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813) 902-8828
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday; 8 a.m to 3 p.m. Sunday; closed Thanksgiving
This longtime South Tampa fave offers a full Thanksgiving dinner to go for about $28 per person (this year's prices aren't yet finalized), which includes roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green beans, cinnamon whipped sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and fresh baked bread. And for the season, they do all the classic pies ($12 to $17), including a pumpkin cheesecake ($28) that everyone is gaga for. What makes Pane Rustica special is that it's also a dreamy place to pick up a loaf of bread for the holiday: seasonal specialties like cranberry orange, as well as great sourdough (offered in baguette, long baguette and pan loaf), a tangy light rye with caraway seeds, a seeded seven-grain bread, focaccia with rosemary or tomato and cheese, Venetian olive bread, rustic Italian loaves, breadsticks golden with olive oil and dotted with rosemary — I could go on.
Multiple locations; freshmarket.com
Hours vary; all stores open Thanksgiving
This one is a serious bargain. I purchased it last year as a gift for two elderly relatives: $49.99 buys you 3 and a half pounds of roasted turkey, 2 pounds of whipped potatoes, 2 pounds of traditional herbed stuffing, 1 pound of smoky green beans in bacon sauce, 30 ounces of homestyle gravy and 8 ounces of cranberry relish with walnuts. Reheating instructions are included and it easily feeds five people. For $79.99 you can get a full turkey with all the fixings to feed 8 people, or you can just buy the fully cooked whole turkey ($52), spiral ham ($27) or beef tenderloin ($128 to $160), then toss a pie (most $9.99) and a bouquet of flowers in the cart and it's Thanksgiving rapide.
Bella Vino Wine & Cheese Market
100 Indian Rocks Road N, Belleair Bluffs; (727) 584-5552
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Thanksgiving
Brian and Cheryl Franzese opened Bella 12 years ago. Their first love has always been wine, but they clearly have a passion for cheese as well. They offer 40 to 50 artisanal cheeses (Prima Donna aged Gouda from Holland, Cowgirl Creamery's triple-cream cow's milk Mount Tam, etc.), arrayed as platters on returnable wooden cutting boards or disposable plastic trays. A small serves 10 to 15 people with three different cheeses or meats and runs $45; 10 to 15 people, four different selections, is $60; and a large will serve 30-plus people with six selections for $95. Once your cheeses are selected, they are accompanied on the tray by grapes, crackers and flatbreads, with items like Italian hard salami or honeycomb and dried apricots optional. Bella Vino is also a retailer for Mike's Pies.
4812 E Busch Blvd #E, Tampa; (813) 984-9800
10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; open Thanksgiving
Middle Eastern meze make for no-fuss ballast early in the day while folks are assembling or watching football. A half pan of hummus ($25) or baba ganoush ($28) feeds 20 to 25 people, accompanied by thin Lebanese bread (six pieces for $1.75) or thicker, more pita-like Palestinian bread ($2.75 for a bag of eight pieces). Crunchy, hot falafel are sold for $5 a dozen, and a small pan of lemony parsley-and-bulgur tabouli ($30) completes a cohesive (and vegetarian-friendly) snack.
Side dishes and veggies
1155 S Dale Mabry Highway, No. 12, Tampa; (813) 287-3667
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; closed Thanksgiving
Tampa natives and brothers Hans and Jake Koch saw a need when they moved back to Tampa: restaurants that delivered. So they started a gourmet cafe, with a flat $3 delivery charge on a minimum $15 purchase for close zip codes, a little more the further the drive. It's become a go-to spot for party throwers, with oversized brick-oven pizzas, big tossed salads and loads of crowd-friendly pasta dishes. They make a killer orzo salad with local roasted corn and red pepper, toasted almonds, raisins and herbs ($13 for a quart), and a truffle mac and cheese that elicits happy sounds ($99 for a full pan that serves 20).
204 N Westshore Blvd., Tampa; (813) 286-1152
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; open until 8 p.m. Thanksgiving
Have a bunch of vegetarians or vegans coming to your Turkey Day this year? Seasons 52 offers traditional to-go holiday dinners for omnivores ($26.90 per person with all the fixings), but their full menu is on offer as takeout that day, which includes a number of dishes that are festively meat-free. Start with the wood-grilled artichokes with remoulade ($10.90); then the oh-so-seasonal kabocha squash ravioli with crispy sage, walnuts and brown butter ($9.60); and I invariably like the seasonal vegetable tasting menu, which right now features a wood-grilled kohlrabi steak, vegan paella, broccoli and a spaghetti squash dish ($15.60). And if you're not a pie guy, Seasons 52 mini desserts are crowd pleasers.
Breads and pastries
Café de Paris Bakery
2300 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach; (727) 593-0277
7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; open until 2 p.m. Thanksgiving
Xavier De Marchi has owned the bakery for the past decade, adding crepes and sandwiches more recently. Breads are textbook, offered in 10-grain, wheat, rye and a classic baguette ($2.50 and $3), but the prettiest bread is the Marguerite ($2.95 small, $3.90 for large). The French word for daisy, it's a wheel of conjoined crusty rolls (the large portion comes with nine). As De Marchi says: "It's nice for when you have guests, because it's a table decoration and also a bread." Ordinarily French pastries are the main draw, but for the holidays he adds classic American pies (pumpkin, pecan, cherry).
Mazzaro's Italian Market
2909 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 321-2400
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; closed Thanksgiving
Mazzaro's always makes a broad array of breads, but adds different dinner rolls for the holidays. In slightly smaller sizes (you don't want to fill up on bread, after all), there's a standard white Italian dinner roll as well as a crustier roll like a ciabatta with a fluffy interior. They will stock their regular Italian bread, both seeded and unseeded, as well as a kalamata olive loaf, an Alpine or farmer's rye, and probably a pumpernickel ($2.75 to $4.50). Mazzaro's also adds to its lineup of sweet breads during the holiday season with a pumpkin bread, cranberry walnut bread and a cornbread loaf.
906 W Robertson St., Brandon; (813) 689-0320
7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; closed Thanksgiving
Susan and Jose Moreno have been generalists, a rare thing in this time of cupcake shops and macaron stores. They do it all, from napoleons and eclairs to iced cookies and loaves of bread. They make traditional Cuban breads ($3) with the palmetto leaves all year long as well as a mini Cuban roll (a 4-inch size) that people tend to order for Thanksgiving. The big seller for Thanksgiving is the Portuguese dinner rolls: white, sweet and soft, all the better to mop up gravy ($6 per dozen). On the sweet side, you'll find seasonal items like pumpkin whoopie pies, derby pies and pumpkin gooey butter cake.
La Casa Del Pane
7110 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach; (727) 367-8322
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday; open until 2 p.m. Thanksgiving
This place has had some of the best Italian holiday goodies in the area for the past couple decades. They make their own focaccia (tomato, garlic and onion; spinach, broccoli and cheese; potato, mushroom and cheese; artichoke and cherry tomatoes; $6 to $9) and import the traditional panettone holiday bread from a boutique producer in Sicily. Loaves range in price from $12.99 to $25.99, with six varieties to choose from. And while it's not strictly for the holidays, sfogliatelle are stunning: a ridged pastry that separates into delicate leaves like phyllo, cradling a filling of sweetened ricotta flavored with candied peel of citron. They're $3.25 each and make a distinctive dessert or brunch offering. Thanksgiving apple and cherry pies are also on offer.
Pies and desserts
12777 Walsingham Road, Largo; (727) 593-1884
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday; open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thanksgiving
No fillers, no apple sauce, just real sliced apples seasoned with cinnamon and other homey spices. That's why the Pie Factory sells more than 500 apple pies the week of Thanksgiving. The other big sellers are the holy triumvirate of pumpkin, pecan and key lime. The storefront and cafe debuted in 1990 and is still going strong. They take orders until Nov. 20 but can accommodate walk-ins. Standing in front of the glass case at the Pie Factory can be daunting. Which to choose? Another option is to pick single slices of a range of pies to appeal to all your Thanksgiving guests' tastes.
Wrights Gourmet House
1200 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; (813) 251-5242
7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday; closed Thanksgiving
With a serious remodeling just under their belt, these longtimers are justifiably famous for pecan pie. No doubt, its flaky crust, deeply toasted pecan flavor and sweet, custardy filling is among the best around. They are $31, which includes a $5 deposit on the returnable Pyrex dish (and I'm telling you, because it's in Pyrex, it's pretty tempting to offer it up as your own handiwork). Order as early as you can, because at some unspecified point they stop taking orders. There are also pies in the case for walk-in business (butterscotch, coconut cream, pecan or pumpkin), but I've seen them sell out.
Multiple locations; villageinn.com
We scarcely needed to write those two words. They sell so many pumpkin pies during Thanksgiving week that some locations station a freezer truck outside, selling the pies right off the truck. They move thousands, which you can order from the website or just walk in and get yours topped with fresh whipped cream. Each year the Village Inn sponsors a charity, all leftover pies going there the day after Thanksgiving. Customers can purchase extra pies to donate. Classic pumpkin runs $10.79, but there are plenty of other tempting options, from caramel pecan silk supreme ($10.99) to chocolate peanut butter cup ($12.99, not very Thanksgiving-y, but no one will complain).
785 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs; (727) 943-2400
10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Thanksgiving
This has been the go-to place for kourambiethes for years. What's that? It's a little Greek shortbread cookie dusted with powdered sugar. There are any number of similarly intimidating-sounding cookies on offer at the bakery attached to the restaurant. For the holidays, pick up a tray of those, or some melomakarona (walnut-orange cookies dipped in a honey-orange syrup) or classic baklava or kataifi (flaky shredded dough filled with spices and chopped walnuts, then drizzled with a honey syrup). Phyllo dough, honey, nuts and custard, working in tandem diabolically with butter to yield exotic and delicious trays of treats.
2506 S MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813) 831-1117
Noon to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Thanksgiving
Jen Bingham, a certified sommelier, opened her little wine shop and wine bar in the Palma Ceia neighborhood some years back. Her focus is small-production wines from all the major wine production regions, mostly family-owned wineries with a real emphasis on wines under $50 and with special attention to wines made naturally (organic, biodynamic, etc.), and in recent years the food in the cafe has really taken great leaps. Wine director Zach Groseclose suggests grenache blanc as something new for this Thanksgiving, a full-bodied Spanish white with the palate weight of a light red. Best part: They've got a couple under $20.
B-21 Fine Wines and Spirits
43380 US Highway 19 N, Tarpon Springs; (727) 937-5049
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; open until 5 p.m. Thanksgiving
It's hard not to ask precisely why this world-class wine shop is ours. It's been around since 1948, in this location since the mid-1960s, and has one of the top selections in the country. B-21 is really a generalist, with deep offerings from the U.S., Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Rhone Valley, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Chile, Australia and South Africa. It's easy to get a little overwhelmed here, so associate Rhett Beiletti has some Thanksgiving selections. He says cru Beaujolais suit the holiday, but so do American zinfandels, which are "nice and fruity and vibrant but at the same time don't have such tannins and often not as oaky (as a California cab)." He says the leanness of turkey makes it not super forgiving with tannic wines. And for white, he suggests Loire whites — chenin blanc, Vouvray, Sancerre, things with nice ringing fruity qualities.
West Palm Wines
2009 N 22nd St. Tampa; (813) 241-8587
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday; closed Thanksgiving
If your Thanksgiving includes words like Petrus and Château Haut-Brion, this is the place for you. They stock more than 1,000 bottlings, dense with all the French, Italian and Spanish heavy-hitters, its Beaunes Wine Bar attached so you can sample some of the goods. It's also among the area's top places for Champagnes and dessert wines, and they offer 20-student classes at the Tampa Wine Institute, six to eight wines in a roundtable format. For Thanksgiving, store manager Mark Lasky says they like to stock up on Beaujolais, not necessarily the nouveaux, but some of the 13 different crus. And for white, where he thinks there is more latitude given the turkey-or-ham strictures, he suggests pinot gris, a versatile grape.