Principality of the Mists
Bardic Competition and Feast
Courses One and Two

Normally a Greek or Roman feast had one appetizer course. Because I was serving 6 courses, I made two appetizer courses. I tried to balance savory, mild, and sweet dishes in each course.

One of my cooks had some lovage in her garden. Unfortunately 2003 wasn't a good year for it, so there wasn't enough for the feast. At least I got to taste it. Then, in the ever-glorious Berkeley Bowl Market, I found something called "Chinese celery". I figure this is similar to medieval celery - tiny thin short fibrous stalks with lots of big leaves. I used it instead of lovage herb. Lovage seems to have a menthol finish which this lacked, but it was close enough in taste to be a good substitute.

Oh, yeah, I divided my recipes among a group of experienced cooks. We made most of the food off site. I bought the ingredients and took them to the cooks. Then we brought the prepared food and other ingredients to the site and finished those dishes that needed finishing, and cooked things on site, like the tuna and chicken (I hate the taste of reheated chicken)

First Course
Promulsis - Hors d'Oeuvre

Epityrum : Chopped Olive Relish
Ius cum Ovis Hapalis : Eggs with Pine Nut Sauce

Second Course
Gustatio - Appetizers

Moretum : Garlic, Herb, and Cheese Spread
Artichokes in Herb Sauce
Fresh Tuna with Date Sauce

NOTE: All recipes serve 80 to 100

Roman Frieze

Promulsis - Hors d'Oeuvre - First Course


Wulfric of Creighul, a Laurel who got his peerage for baking, made the bread for the first and second courses.


Eibhlin nic Sullibhain, a woman who specializes in cheese was making the cheese for us - and apparently did quite a bit of research about Roman cheeses - but something didn't work out, so she donated a fabulous Gorgonzola instead - she works in a specialty food shop.


How to make green, black or mixed olive relish:
Remove stones from green, black or mixed olives, then prepare as follows: chop them and add oil, vinegar, coriander, cumin, fennel, rue, mint. Pot them: the oil should cover them. Ready to use.

[ ----- Cato the Censor, On Agriculture 119]

My Version:

4 lb pitted Green Olives
1 cups Red Wine Vinegar
2 cups Olive Oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh Fennel Leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
1/3 cup chopped fresh Parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh Mint
3 Tb. Coriander Seeds, ground

1. Chop olives coarsely.
2. Chop herbs.
3. Grind coriander seeds.
4. Mix herbs and seeds with vinegar.
5. Mix with olives.
6. Pour in olive oil, mix.
7. Cover and let marinate several days in the refrigerator.

I wanted to use a mix of black and green olives, but decent black olives were too expensive - and no way was i using those tasteless little rubber gaskets that come in cans at the supermarket.

This turned out a bit too wet, according to the cook who made it, so i'd suggest making sure the olives are well drained, and using only 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup oil.

Ius cum Ovis Hapalis : EGGS WITH PINE NUT SAUCE

For soft-boiled eggs: pepper, lovage, steeped pine kernels. Moisten with honey, vinegar, blend with fish sauce.

[ ----- Apicius, Book VII, Chapter XIX, Recipe 3]

My Version:

Pine Nut Sauce

3 lb. Pine Nuts
1 liter Sweet White Wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh Lovage Herb or Chinese Celery Leaves
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup white Wine Vinegar
2 tsp. ground Black Pepper
1 Tb Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Tiparos (brand) Thai Fish Sauce

1. Soak pine nuts in white wine to cover over night.
2. Drain and process to a smooth paste.
3. Add lovage, honey, vinegar and pepper.
4. Process until smooth.
5. Set aside a dish for the vegetarians, and add 1 Tb. soy sauce.
6. Add fish sauce to remaining sauce.

This was a tad sweet for my taste. In the recipe above i've reduced the amount of honey, but i'd suggest gradually adding the honey, vinegar, and fish sauce to taste - you might want more or less of any of these ingredients to suit your taste. I took home some leftovers and added a lot more fish sauce, which it needed, in my opinion (but, then, i'm familiar with fish sauce from eating and cooking Thai and Vietnamese cuisine).


80 Eggs (6-2/3 dozen)

1. Put eggs in a deep pot and cover with cold water.
2. Bring water to a boil.
3. As soon as water boils, remove pan from heat.
4. Cover pot and let stand 12 minutes.
5. Drain out all hot water and refill with cold water.
6. Pour out new water as it will now be hot.
7. Refill with cold water. Repeat this a couple times.
I put the pot in my freezer so it will cool quickly - but DO NOT let it freeze!
8. When eggs are cold, drain out water and refrigerate eggs until feast.

At the Feast:

1. Peel eggs.
2. Rinse eggs, drain and dry.
3. Slice eggs in half lengthwise.
4. Place on serving dishes and top with sauce.

The sauce specified soft cooked eggs, but it seemed to me that would be far too difficult for an SCA feast. So instead i hard cooked them. I find that in cooking them as i do - not boiling them - they are not rubbery and generally the yolks do not turn green.

Roman Frieze

Gustatio - Appetizers - Second Course

MORETUM : Garlic, Herb, and Cheese Spread

Derived from the poem, Moretum: The Ploughman's Lunch
author unknown, attributed to Virgil
translated by Andrew Dalby, in The Classical Cookbook, Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger

lightly digging into the ground with his fingers,
he pulls up four heads of garlic
with their thick leaves;
then he picks slim celery-tops
and sturdy rue and the thin stems
of trembling coriander
With these collected
he sits before the fire
and sends the slave girl for a mortar.
He splashes a grass grown bulb with water
and put it to the hollow mortar.
He seasons with grains of salt, and
after salt, hard cheese is added.
Then he mixes in the herbs.
With the pestle, his right hand
works at the fiery garlic
then he crushes all alike
in a mixture. His hand circles.

Gradually the ingredients lose
their individuality; out of the many colours emerges one -
neither wholly green
(for the white tempers it)
nor shining white
(since tinted by so many herbs).
The work goes on;
not jerkily as before,
but more heavily the pestle make its slow circuits.
So he sprinkles some drops of Athena's olive oil
and adds a little sharp vinegar,
and again works his mixture together.
Then at length, he runs two finger
round the mortar,
gathering the whole mixture into a ball,
so as to produce the form
and name of a finished moretum.
Meanwhile busy Scybale has baked a loaf.
This he takes after wiping his hands..."

My Version:

120 cloves (approx. 10 heads) Garlic
1 Tb. Salt
5 large handfuls Cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh Lovage Herb or Chinese Celery Leaf
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) Parsley
1/4 cup plus 1 Tb White Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 Tb. Olive Oil
2-1/2 lb. Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Separate and peel the garlic cloves - I bought already peeled garlic cloves for the feast.
2. Optional: The cook who made this recipes decided to parboil the garlic. The original doesn't, but this makes the garlic less harsh. If you prefer strong garlic, don't parboil it, or only parboil part of the garlic. I thought it was perhaps a bit too mild, but i suspect diners appreciated it.
3. Grind garlic with salt in blender or food processor.
4. When pureed, add greens and olive oil and grind.
5. When pureed, add remaining ingredients.
6. Taste and add more salt only if needed.
7. Form into 10 balls and chill overnight.


Another cardoon recipe: rue, mint, coriander, fennel, all very green. Add pepper, lovage, honey, fish sauce, and oil.

[ ----- Apicius - Book III, Chapter XIX, Recipe 2]

My Version:

Artichoke Hearts

two 5-1/2 lb cans of halved or quartered Artichoke Hearts (in water, salt, & citric acid)

1. Drain artichokes of can liquid.
2. Rinse with fresh running water.
3. Drain well. While draining, make sauce.

Romans would use cardoons, but they aren't readily available these days, so i used their more easily found relative, artichokes.

I disliked the taste of the pre-made artichokes - i think what i objected to was the citric acid. It isn't really a *bad* taste, but the flavor seemed out-of-place to me. This would have been much better with tiny baby fresh artichokes. But they were too expensive and the prep time involved in snipping off the thorns at the tops of the leaves and cooking them was too great for a large feast.


3 Tb. and 1 tsp. Honey
3/4 cup Tiparos (brand) Thai Fish Sauce
5 cups Olive Oil
3 Tb. and 1 tsp. chopped fresh Lovage or Chinese celery
3 Tb. and 1 tsp. chopped fresh Cilantro
3 Tb. and 1 tsp. chopped fresh Fennel Leaves
3 Tb. and 1 tsp. chopped fresh Mint
2-1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
2-1/2 tsp. Lovage or Celery Seed

1. Mix together honey and fish sauce until well-blended, then stir in olive oil.
2. Chop fresh green herbs.
3. Grind spices.
4. Mix liquids and seasonings.
5. Pour over well-drained artichokes, and mix gently to coat well.
6. Cover and marinate over night.


Original Recipe:
Ius in Cordula Assa: piper, ligusticum, apii semen, mentam, rutam, caryotam, mel, acetum, vinum et oleum. convenit et in Sarda.

Sauce for Roasted Young Tuna: pepper, lovage, celery seeds, mint, rue, Jericho dates, honey, vinegar, wine and oil. Suitable also for (sarda).

[ ----- Apicius, Book IX, Chapter X, Recipe 5]

My Version:

Date Sauce

7 Tb. Lovage Herb or Chinese Celery Leaves
7 Tb. chopped fresh Mint
3 Tb. chopped fresh Rue (Opt.)
80 pitted Dates
5 tsp. Celery Seeds
1 Tb. Ground Black Pepper
Salt, to taste
2 cups Olive Oil
1-1/4 c. Vinegar
1-1/4 c. Wine
1 c. Honey

1. Chop herbs in food processor.
2. Add dates, spices, and salt to herbs in processor, then add liquids and honey into processor container.
3. Puree dates and liquid.
4. Taste and adjust seasonings.
5. Warm sauce.

Serve with cooked tuna as dipping sauce.

The sauce is light golden tan in color, although because of the dates many people expected it to be dark brown.


10 lb fresh Albacore or other inexpensive tuna or bonito

1. We cut the tuna into serving pieces - that took some time.
2. Then we baked it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, then checked on them.
3. The slabs were thick and moist so they took a bit longer to cook than i had expected - they needed another 10 minutes or a little less.

I called around and finally found fresh locally caught albacore for around $7 per lb. at a Japanese fish market. I bought about 2 oz. per person. This was a "treat" in the meal, since most of the meat in the feast was inexpensive (chicken $.99/lb and lamb $1.99/lb).

It is important not to overcook the fish. It should still be moist inside. The fish will continue cooking a bit after it is removed from the oven. Of course, no one wants under cooked fish, but overcooked fish is dry and fibrous and tough and no fun to eat at all.

In this case, the tuna was cooked to perfection (well, my idea of it), and most of it was eaten. The bits and pieces that remained were taken home and i got compliments a few days later from one of my cooks who'd taken it home.

On to the 2003 Mists Bardic Third and Fourth Courses (Main Dishes)
On to the 2003 Mists Bardic Fifth and Sixth Courses (Desserts and Afters)

Back to the 2003 Mists Bardic Menu and Introduction

Back to the Dining Niche in Dar Anahita
Back to the Directory to Dar Anahita

Comments? Questions?

Page created 14 May 2004