Dar Anahita > Front Hall Directory > al-Iwan Dining Niche > 2002 Feasts

Principality of the Mists
Bardic Competition and Feast 2002
Mediterranean Tour Feast

Conchobhar, the Bard of the Mists and Autocrat for this feast, at which his replacement is chosen, wanted food from different countries in each course. I used this opportunity to pick food cultures that had ties to each other, so the courses wouldn't be too jarring.

I decided to begin and end the feast with courses that mixed dishes from all three cultures. Then each feast course would feature one culture. Because this was a bit ambitious, i kept the number of dishes in each of the middle courses to three.

Feast Menu

First Course - mixed cultures

  • Bread - mix of sourdough bread and dinner rolls
  • Butter - unsalted
  • Mostly Period Cheese Plate: emmenthaler, fontina, munster, provolone
  • Carrot Paste - Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook
  • Meatballs - Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook
  • Sinab - Almond-Honey-Mustard Sauce - Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook
  • Almond-stuffed Prosciutto-wrapped Dates - Catalan
  • Steamed Asparagus - asparagus tossed with olive oil, vinegar, salt - Italian (Apicius, Anthimus, Platina)

Second Course - Catalan

  • Salmon Casserole - salmon, orange juice, almonds, pine nuts, raisins, galingal, pepper, ginger, saffron, fresh parsley, fresh mint, fresh marjoram - 16th c. Catalan
  • Cazuela Moji -Chard Frittata - eggs, toasted bread crumbs, aged grated cheese, chard, oil, ground coriander seed, caraway, salt, pepper, cloves, ginger, saffron, honey - 16th c. Catalan
  • Escudilla of Millet - 16th c. Catalan

Third Course - Italian

  • Sommachia - chicken, olive oil, sumac, vinegar, prunes, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cloves, salt, saffron - 14th c. Italian
  • Melon Soup - ripe melon, eggs, vegetable broth, saffron - 14th c. Italian
  • Pulentium - Barley Polenta - barley grits, vegetable broth, whole coriander seed, flax seed - Pliny (Roman)

Fourth Course - Near Eastern

  • Bustaniyya - chicken, lamb, almonds, peaches, pears, spices - 10th c. Persian
  • Buraniyya - eggplant, yogurt, sesame oil, cinnamon, etc.
  • saffron rice - rice, water, milk, saffron - not-quite-historically accurate Medieval Near Eastern

Dessert Course - mixed cultures

  • Baqlawa - flaky pastry with almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, and raisins, topped with pistachios and sugar syrup flavored with rose water, orange flower water, and fresh lemon juice - modern Eastern Mediterranean
  • Persicate - Peaches, vegetable broth, almonds, sugar and ginger - 16th c. Catalan
  • Bizcochos - Anise Biscotti - 16th c. Catalan
  • Hypocras - Spiced Wine - 14th c. French
  • Toronjas de Xativa que son Almojavanas - Deep fried ricotta cheese balls with honey - 16th c. Catalan

Wiggly Divider

Preparing the Feast

In order to keep the kitchen quiet while the various Bards were performing, most of the food was made ahead of time in the privacy of our own kitchens. I had the assistance of several excellent cooks:

  • Mungo Mor made the meatballs from my recipe.
  • Duquessa Juanna Isabella de Montoya y Ramirez made the bizcochos and the dates, both from her own recipes, and provided a quart of Seville orange juice for the salmon.
  • Carol B., who was actually unable to attend the feast, made the Chard Frittata Casserole from my recipe and provided additional needed roasted eggplants.
  • Gianetta made the Persicate from my recipe. She and Carol are sisters, in a family of seven in which all siblings and their mother are good cooks.
  • the mother of Carol and Gianetta made a bread sponge for the Toronjas
  • Eliska z Javala donated the silver salmon, which was caught by her father in Alaska
  • I made the Carrot Paste, Mustard Sauce, Melon Soup, Bustaniyya, and Buraniyya at home. I had also intended to make the Sommachia and the Baklava but ran out of time and energy, so we made them at the feast.

Let me add that each of the cooks who used my recipes had to use their good sense to make the food turn out well, as my recipes sometimes need a bit of tweaking. So they brought their skill and taste into play to prepare their dishes.

Additionally, Mungo, Duquessa Juana, and Gianetta helped enormously in the kitchen at the site to cook the remaining dishes and get everything organized, as well as doing much of the plating (Carol was unable to attend). Duquessa Juana also organized the servers, as this is an area with which i have no particular experience (although i have ended up serving the food at some of the feasts i have cooked).

The Bard had said to cook for about 60, so i originally mentally made the feast for about 72, knowing it could stretch up to 80 if necessary. But as more and more places were reserved, i knew we'd be feeding at least 80, and by the day of the event, we served close to 90. I made additional eggplant and chicken.

The first thing we did on site was make the Sommachia and the Baklava. Then we set about prepping (but not cooking) the Salmon. Then we cooked the millet in broth, mixed it with cheese and eggs, then let it cool. And we put the spices into the Hypocras.

Because we had so many diners, i needed more chicken. The Bard, who was the Autocrat, was out running errands, so i called him (thank goodness for cell phones) and had him pick up some more chicken - i also discovered i had forgotten to pack the rice, so he got some of that, too. What a wonderful man!

Gianetta grilled the new chicken pieces in olive oil on the giant griddle on the industrial stove. When it was pretty well cooked, i took out all the previously cooked chicken pieces from the Sommachia sauce, and put the new pieces into it, bringing the liquid to a boil, and then finishing cooking the new chicken in it. When it was clearly finished, i put the previously cooked pieces back into it.

We had one server for the High Table and one server for every two tables. I'd like to thank Vivienne, Solveig, Alys, Roween (sorry, i suspect this spelling isn't quite right), and Bronwen for helping to dish and organize and serve, and to Vivienne, Solveig, and Alys for all the washing.

First Course:

The Asparagus was steamed a few minutes before dressing and serving. My volunteer servers helped to set up the cheese samplers, bread and butter. Then they plated the other dishes in the course.

Catalan Course:

The Salmon took about 1/2 hour to cook, after prepping - it was cooked shortly after the First Course went out. Gianetta (who hates the grill) and Mungo grilled the Millet which was sliced into rectangular blocks after it had cooled. Carol was unable to attend, but send along the Chard Fritatta Casserole, cooked in about a dozen square pans, which made serving easier than round pans - we sliced the casserole, put it on serving dishes, then i squiggled honey over them and sprinkled them with Duke's Powder.

Italian Course:

I was not happy with the Sommachia. I had followed the Renaissance recipe and it had *way* too much clove for my taste. So to balance the flavors, i added more sumac, more vinegar, and quite a bit of sugar.

I had cooked the melons in broth at home, and i finished the soup by reheating it and adding the beaten eggs, tempering them first. The soup was lovely and custardy, tasting a bit like a winter squash soup.

We (mostly Gianetta) cooked the barley grits in vegetable broth with whole coriander seeds and flax seeds in the rice cookers. One of the rice cookers was not happy, and we had to finish a pan in the oven, which was still hot from the salmon. In the end the barley turned out quite well.

Middle Eastern Course:

The chicken and lamb Bustaniyya was reheated. It also needed to be finished, first with a sweet and sour mix of sugar and vinegar, then thickened with eggs beaten with ground almonds. Again, this was done between courses.

The eggplant and yogurt Buraniyya was dished and served at room temperature. A women i've chatted with repeatedly at events, and whose name i keep forgetting, decided that its grey-brown color needed some "cheering up", and she decorated the bowls with mint left over from the salmon (i think she was Baroness Kyra).

As soon as the barley was out of the rice cookers, the rice went in. It turned out quite well. However, Gianetta and i decided to make a smaller batch than we'd originally intended, what with all the other food that had gone out. This was an error, and several people showed up in the kitchen asking for more.

Dessert Course:

The bizcochos were plated, as was the bakalava - which was wonderful. I only had small bowls so the Persicate was served in two bowls for each table. The Faux Hypocras went out in pitchers

Unfortunately, i forgot to bring the flour for the Ricotta Balls, and by the time i realized this, it was late in the evening.

On to the recipes in the First Course
On to the recipes in the Catalan Course
On to the recipes in the Italian Course
On to the recipes in the Near Eastern Course
On to the recipes in the Dessert Course
Back to al-Iwan, the Dining Niche
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