Think outside the holiday box this season

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Turkey may be a Thanksgiving tradition, but Norman Fenton, executive chef of Ale Mary and Tom’s Oyster Bar in Royal Oak, has a bold suggestion this holiday season: Consider roasting pork loin instead.

Fenton made a brioche-stuffed pork loin at Wednesday’s Dish & Design, presented by Homestyle at EuroAmerica Design in Troy. He served it over a roasted sweet potato puree with a special cranberry sauce (his secret ingredient: blueberries).

“Nobody wants to wake up at 4 a.m.” to roast a turkey, says Fenton, who suggests cooking with pork loin or turkey breast, which are quicker. “Think outside the box. Do a butternut squash pie instead of pumpkin.”

More than 100 readers turned out for Wednesday’s “Holidays with Homestyle,” where interior designers, floral experts, and chefs offered tips on everything from holiday table settings to floral arrangements and wine pairings. Many said entertaining and decorating for the holidays doesn’t have to be boring or traditional – or expensive.

It’s “not about spending a lot of money,” says Wyndal Chapital, general manager of West Elm in Birmingham. “It’s about adding little things.”

Chapital suggested creating a look that’s less-holiday specific and more winter-specific with faux fur throws, pillows, and shimmery accents.

“Think about what how you’re dressing for winter,” said Chapital, holding a West Elm throw that looks like a big sweater. “Your sofa needs the same love. It’s an easy, easy way to add a little touch of warmth.”

Chapital said candles are one of his favorite accents. And they add more than light and a wonderful aroma.

“They evoke memories,” he said.

Jon Gerych of Gerych’s, a floral design company with locations in Birmingham and Fenton, also suggested creating more winter-specific floral displays. He and executive assistant Dustin Rourke created a tall arrangement with amaryllis, pine cones, and greenery.

“The nice thing about a centerpiece like this is every bit of it would last through the holidays,” said Gerych.

On another table, Gerych and Rourke created a wintery display using a faux fur runner that looked like snow. On top of it, they perched larger glass jars with a single hydrangea inside each one. Nearby stood tall cylinder vases of winter branches, flocked in white.

“Runners are really hot this season,” said Rourke.

Nearby, interior designer Donna Brown of Dazzling Designs in Northville created her own tablescape with different shaped chargers, fruit, flowers, and crystal candlesticks.

“Make sure whatever you’re using you can see through,” said Brown. “Make sure people can see each other.”

Brown said when it comes to holiday decorating, focus on the mantel and staircase railing. Mix the heights of different objects (she suggests using books to stack items on) and don’t feel like everything has to be symmetrical.

“You always want to have a variety of heights going on with your food and with your table,” said Brown, who said it keeps the eye moving in a room.

And who says everything has to be red and green? Brown suggests throwing in a splash of purple, royal blue or celery green into your holiday decor.

“Use something unpredictable for color,” said Brown.

When it comes to picking the perfect wine for the holidays, Sean Markowski of Woodberry Wine said pick a wine that cleanses the palate, is easy to drink, and allows you to “notice every single thing.” He suggested Brumout, a rose blend of three grapes, and Rosse Di Napa, a red blend.

“View the wine as the glue that pulls everything together,” said Markowski.

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