Season 8 spoilers ahead! Beware!
There’s nothing I can say about Season 8 of Game of Thrones that a 1000 reviewers haven’t said already. While I didn’t think it was bad enough (as of the penultimate episode) to petition HBO for a “season 8 rewrite”, it does say a lot about the show where the memes are better than the episodes. Before I start grinding my teeth on why they royally messed up Jaime’s arc (turned into a circle) and Brienne’s arc (such a shame especially after the beautiful Knighting ceremony) and so many other arcs (Varys: sidelined then torched! Tyrion: got dumber and dumber! Bran: well, only the weird-wood trees know what he was up to!) let’s talk food! This post is fairly spoiler free.
So many times when I’m watching Game of Thrones, I feel, among other things, hungry! The big feasts, the beautiful tea cakes, the platters of cheeses, all the wine that Cersei drinks, the list goes on! Just as exciting as seeing food from another region, is seeing food from a different time period. You wonder how they measured ingredients, baked bread without any time table or weighing scales, and stuffed and roasted whichever animal they hunted down before being eaten by it.
As far as GoT themed food goes, I made some butter cookies in the weeks leading up to the premiere with these cute cookie stamps, because there is nothing quite as strong as a butter cookie to show your true allegiance:
The show does a great job showing the gorgeous medieval-time food in all its glory, beautifully arranged, what with the aurochs and quails and hens, but it’s nothing compared to the level of detail George R.R. Martin goes into in the books! My husband found the Game of Thrones’ companion cookbook, titled “A Feast of Ice and Fire” last year and I had been itching to make a themed menu from it but just hadn’t gotten around to it! A feast of ice and fire from this book would be a perfect intersection of the curiosity about medieval cuisine and my love for the show/books!
To that end, before the season began, my fellow GoT-fan friends and I planned an elaborate, multi-course Game of Thrones feast from the cookbook. We went through many versions of the plan once my friends saw the cookbook – from “can we please make EVERYTHING from this book?” to “I don’t think any of us knows how to make that swan on the book cover out of butter and egg whites” and everything in between. Finally, when reality set in, many cuts were made (thank the seven!) to the menu, to account for:
- the time/effort involved to cook 27 things for the very first time
- 3 naughty
kidswights running all over the house when we were going to cook the feast
- the time we wanted to set aside for drinking the various spirits (for research purposes, of course)
- the time we would have taken to discuss the finer points of the GoT Fantasy League and GoT polls that we had designed to determine who’s GoT the most knowledge
And we came up with the following, highly streamlined menu representing the various kingdoms of Westeros:
Roasted Mushrooms stuffed with caramelized onions, sausage, goat cheese and pine nuts (King’s Landing)
Catelyn’s salad (Riverlands)
Pork Pie (The Wall)
Black Beer Bread (The North)
Grilled Peaches in Honey (King’s Landing)
Chocolate cake with Cappuccino frosting (California :P)
Mulled Wine (The Wall)
Plum Wine (Dorne)
The small council convened and war plans were drawn up! Each house was assigned 1-2 recipes and the efforts began on war front!
In all the chaos (it’s not a ladder, it is just chaos), 3 good things happened – no one lost a finger, we made and ate some delicious food, and, we managed to get a few good pictures! These will help us ground ourselves the next time we have such grand ideas!
A friend of mine who’s recently gotten into bread making, took a stab at the black beer bread, which had the subtle bitterness from the dark ale and rye flour, giving the bread its gorgeous dark color.
We ate this sliced with European butter and boy was it good!
Onto the Mulled Wine! Did you know that using Instant Pot makes it super easy to make mulled wine? It warms gently and without supervision!
We used freshly squeezed orange juice and warming spices, and had way too much fun shooting up one particular orange with whole cloves!
We didn’t have muslin cloth at our disposal, so my genius friend cut open a few masala Chai tea bags, and stuffed with the ginger and the smaller spices so they could be fished out easily!
We knew this was THE recipe to choose, as my friend contained the exact same wine glasses in her cupboard as shown for this Mulled Wine recipe in the book!
We also referred to a few recipes on The Inn at the Crossroads, a companion food blog that has been around forever, and is doing a bangin’ job of it! While we didn’t find Hot Pie at the Inn, we did find the recipe for Catelyn’s salad, which we made for our feast – a simple salad with arugula, chopped apples, sliced fennel and orange slivers.
The roasted mushrooms stuffed with pork sausage, browned onions and ale were also to die for! Cooking the filling down with the ale is an excellent idea that elevates the boring mushrooms to a whole new level; the goat cheese crumbled on top doesn’t hurt either.
April is too early for Peaches but we did find some Nectarines for the grilled Nectarines recipe – grill the halved, then pitted Nectarines, and douse them in the syrup made with honey, orange juice and here’s the kicker: thyme! A splash of cognac will add to the depth. Spoon the syrup over the grilled peaches/nectarines and plop some mascarpone cheese on top, for an excellent and easy summer dessert. Unfortunately only a few of these survived for pictures.
Additionally one of my other baker friends wanted to make a cappuccino cake (dark chocolate cake with espresso, covered in whipped cream and dusted with cocoa powder) but with Game of Thrones themed decoration! So we covered it in blueberries, blackberries and strawberries and the Targaryen sigil that my friend printed out and then painstakingly cut out so we can dust the top!
My contribution to this feast (aside from being pedantic about GoT trivia and my cookbook) was the Pork Pie: a double-crusted pie made with cooked ground pork, onions caramelized in butter, spicy barbecue sauce, thinly sliced apples and cheddar cheese. We chose the modern version of the recipe (the book has both medieval and modern versions for most dishes) since it seemed more in line with our taste preferences. The Medieval version contained raisins and nuts, and we weren’t sure about it.
The ingredient list seemed strange (crushed Ritz crackers! Just like they used in Winterfell no doubt!) but I trusted the book and my friends put their faith in me, and we were NOT disappointed! The pie was rich and flavorful and came together really well!
We employed the wights to make the wee petals and leaves for the pie decoration and it was a good plan as their concentration on the task at hand gave us all a few moments of peace and quiet! They did a fantastic job of it too!
After everything was made, we set the table and marveled at our efforts!
And moments after, we started Season 8 with “Winterfell”, and another crazy ride began…