A Feast of Ice and Fire by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer
|Book Name:||A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook|
|Author:||Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Nonfiction / Cookbook|
|Release Date:||May 29, 2012|
Having spotted this on the Inn at the Crossroads blog, I was utterly intrigued and decided I simply had to add it to my reviews list. Firstly because it was being published by Random House, and not by Harper who publish A Song of Ice and Fire, and I was curious about why, and secondly because well, I’m a bit of a foodie as well as a fan of the series, so I figured there wouldn’t really be anything not to like in the book. I was really impressed that two fans conceived this project and brought it through to publication for the benefit of the rest of us, and the amount of research and hard work that has clearly gone into this really shows through.
It would have been utterly irresponsible of me not to test out some of the recipes for the review, so I took great delight in diving into food from Westeros and beyond. The book is split by region and each recipe is accompanied by the quoted passage from George R. R. Martin’s books in which it appears – a fabulous touch in bringing fans right into this rich world.
The recipes also have beautiful photographs, notes from the authors, details of the medieval source recipes, and where appropriate they offer a second, modern version of the recipe. So no matter the state of your cooking prowess or the emptiness of your pantry, there will be recipes here that are easy to replicate for dinner parties, picnics or fantastic evenings in.
Modern Pork Pie
For starters, I went for a pork pie from The Wall, and selected the modern version because I was after a savoury dish to begin the feast. This was surprisingly simple to make and the layer of apple is a fantastic touch keeping the pie moist and far tastier than a shop-bought equivalent. I added some pepper to give it a little kick and there was enough left over for a picnic the next day too.
Iced Green Minty Drink
I served the pie with a refreshing Iced Green Minty Drink from Across the Narrow Sea. This was easier to make than it looks as well, and I opted for the traditional version in the book. I used green teabags that I already had in the cupboard and brewed them with fresh mint, lemongrass and honey. I then chilled the tea and served it cold with a slice of lemon. Again this is a recipe that you could easily tailor to individual taste, and like much of the book is inspirational with simple recipes that can be adapted for different situations.
Almond Crusted Trout
For the main dish, I opted for Almond Crusted Trout accompanied by a Sansa Salad from King’s Landing. The fish crumb again was easy to make. The book details step by step how to put the dishes together and leaves room for creative meddling – perfect for someone like me who has trouble following recipes exactly. What can I say? I’m a natural rule breaker. Anyway, the fish crumb cooked to a lovely golden colour and was deliciously lemony. The fish looked pretty striking when laid out on the dishes too. I cooked whole fish but the recipe does give the option to use fillets for the more squeamish eaters among us.
After raiding my parent’s fabulously well-stocked garden, I gathered up some wild greens (Rocket, Swiss chard and mixed leaves) and arranged them on the plate with some vibrant, edible pansies. I had to switch some ingredients to compensate for the fact that my stock didn’t quite match the ingredient list but that was fine. I used some mixed seeds and pistachios instead of walnuts and giant sultanas in the place of prunes. I topped it all off with some raspberry balsamic and the result was a flavoursome salad full of great textures which was perfect for a sunny afternoon.
To go with the meal I baked Black Bread from The South. This was without contest the best bread I have ever made, and this time I did follow the recipe to the letter. I used granary and white flour, though the recipe does allow creative licence here and can also be used to make sour dough if that’s your bag. The bread was so flavoursome, with the dark ale giving it a deep taste and moist texture, and the honey giving just the hint of sweetness in the aftertaste. I have made three more loaves using the recipe since, and suspect that dark ale and granary flour will become a permanent fixture in my kitchen from now on.
Last up was the Medieval Crème Bastard or Iced Blueberries in Sweet Cream from The Wall. The blueberries are simply frozen and then a five minute infusion of cream, egg whites and flavouring creates a thick, rich cream to accompany the blueberries as they thaw. The result is a sort of assemble it yourself ice cream. I wasn’t sure about when I read the recipe, but it worked for me. I don’t have an overly sweet tooth so instead of honey this time I used vanilla and cardamom pods to flavour the cream. The result was divine and finished off my feast perfectly.
– – –
I think the real beauty of this book is that every recipe, as I have demonstrated, is easily adaptable to personal taste, and you would probably find that without a special trip to the shops or an extensive out of the ordinary shopping list you would be able to create many of the dishes without any trouble. I am not a fan of cinnamon and unfortunately, as would have been the case in medieval times on which a lot of the recipes are based, cinnamon runs riot in this book, but there is ample opportunity to switch out the cinnamon flavours for say nutmeg, ginger, cumin or coriander.
There is not really anything else I can add. A Feast of Ice and Fire is a fantastic extension of the blog, and offers exactly what it promises. There are region themed menus for dinner parties, tips, suggestions against each recipe about what other recipes would accompany it, plus tips on how to be economical with ingredients, and an insightful introduction from George R. R. Martin himself on food, writing and his fantasy series. I really enjoyed testing the recipes and writing the review, and highly recommend this book. It is unquestionably a must for anyone who loves Martin or food or both.