Principality of the Mists
Bardic Competition and Feast
Courses Five and Six

These were the final two courses. Roman meals often had both sweets and savories, such as spiced meats, in the final course. While none of these dishes was savory, some of them were not very sweet.

Secunda Mensa : Second Course

Cena Prima : First Table

Conditum Paradoxum : Spiced White Wine/Grape Juice
Pine Nut Patina
Sweet Must Cakes

Cena Secunda : Second Table

Savillum : Roman cheese cake
Almond Paste Peach Pits in Sugar Plate Chariots
Mixed Fresh Fruit Salad

NOTE: All recipes serve 80 to 100

Roman Frieze

Secunda Mensa, Cena Prima
Second Course, First Table

CONDITUM Paradoxum : Spiced White Grape Juice Surprise

Conditum Paradoxum:
Spiced Wine Surprise is made as follows: 15 lb. of honey are put in a metal vessel into which you have previously put 2 pints of wine, so as to boil down the wine while cooking the honey. It is heated over a slow fire of dry wood, stirring all the while with a stick; when it begins to boil over it is checked by adding [cold] wine; it also sinks when removed from the fire. When cool it is heated once more. This must be done a second and third time, and only then is it removed from the fire, and skimmed on the following day. Then take 4 oz. pepper, 3 scruples of pounded mastic, a handful each of aromatic leaf and saffron, 5 roasted date-stones, the dates softened in wine, having previously been soaked in wine of the right kind and quality, so as to produce a soft mash. These preparations completed, pour over 18 pints of sweet wine. In the end add coals, if it is too bitter.

[ ----- Apicius, Book I, Chapter I, Recipe 1]

My Version:

5-1/3 cans White Grape Juice Concentrate
Water, enough to make 2 gallons of juice
10 fresh Dates, soaked in juice
3 lb. Honey
1/2 cup White Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Verjus/Sour White Grape Juice
1-1/2 Tb. ground Black Pepper
10 Tejpat/Malabathron Leaf/Bay Leaves
3/4 tsp. Saffron
3/4 tsp. Gum Mastic

1. Reconstitute juice.
2. Soak dates in a small amount of juice until soft.
3. When soft, put in blender with a bit more juice and blend until pureed and liquidy. 4. Mix 6 cups of juice with honey and bring to boil.
5. Add seasonings and dates and cook on medium-low heat for a while, until mastic melts.
NOTE: The mastic never completely dissolved and some of it stuck to the bay leaves.
6. Add remainder of juice, then stir in vinegar and verjus to taste.
7. Let stand overnight.
8. Strain/decant. Some of the pepper settled out, and i intentionally left it behind when the juice was decanted. I like the bite it added but i was concerned many diners might find it unexpected and unpleasant.
9. Serve.
10. Diluted to taste with water, if desired.

-- Many scholars believe that the aromatic leaf in this case was malabathron (Gr.) / malabathrum (Lat.). This is still used in South Asia where it is generally called tejpat, which is botanically called Cinnamomum tamala. I really tried to find tejpat leaves. There is a significant South Asian community where i live and i went to South Asian markets and asked for them. I was shown some leaves that looked a lot like bay, and when i asked the proprietors they said that this is what they use in the US and it tastes a lot like the original. While I am not utterly convinced they taste the same, that's what i ended up using.

-- I skipped the roasted date stones.

-- This should have been made with wine. However, SCA rules do not allow the purchase of wine or other alcohol for serving as beverages with organization moneys. Therefore I substituted white grape juice, spiked with Middle Eastern sour white grape juice so it wouldn't be too cloying.

-- This was a surprise hit. Several folks who said they very much disliked white grape juice asked me for the recipe.


Original: An Inverted Patina as Dessert: Pine nuts, peeled and chopped nuts, are roasted, grind with honey, pepper, fish sauce, milk, eggs, a little undiluted wine and oil. Turn into a plate.

[ ----- Apicius, Book IV, Chapter II, Recipe 16]

Feast Version:

Modern recipe courtesy of Cordelia Toser, who cooked them all for the feast including a special one for the Prince that had soy milk instead of regular milk.

50 large Eggs (4 doz. + 2 eggs)
5 cups ground Pine Nuts
5 cups Clover Honey
2-1/2 tsp Black Pepper
5 tsp Salt
2 Tb. and 1-1/2 tsp White Winev 2 Tb. Olive Oil
30 cups Whole Milk

Butter a 1-1/2 quart glass casserole.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In large bowl, beat eggs until uniform.
Add other ingredients and blend until smooth.
Place casserole in large baking pan that is about 2 inches deep.
Pour egg mixture into casserole and add warm water into baking pan.
Try to get the water level about the same as the egg mixture.
Gently place pan in center oven.
Bake until the edges of the custard should be brown and the center is no longer liquid. That should be about 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove casserole from oven and cool on wire rack until it reaches room temperature.

It may be served warm or cold. Leftovers must be refrigerated.

I figure this is not very much like the actual Roman version. But Cordelia's recipe is scrumptious and super yummy and it was a big hit. Some diners ate five helpings.


Must cakes to be made thus: two gallons of bread-wheat flour to be moistened with must; add to this anise, cumin, 2 lb. lard, 1 lb. cheese, and grate in the park of a bay twig; when you have shaped them, put bay leaves under them while you cook them.

[ ----- Cato the Censor, De Agricultura, 121]

My Version:

4 lb unbleached white wheat flour
1 cup must
- - - or - scant 1/2 cup red wine - plus - scant 1/2 cup red grape juice concentrate
- - - or - soak 1/4 to 1/2 cup dark raisins in 1-1/2 cups warm water until soft and plump. Strain out, squeezing liquid out of raisins. There should be about 1 cup of liquid
1 lb. butter alone or mixed with sesame oil
1-1/4 lb. farmer or pot cheese, or *real* cream cheese without gums (i.e., NOT Philadelphia brand or those like it)
3 Tb. lightly toasted anise seeds
3 Tb. roasted cumin seeds
80 bay leaves

1. Toast cumin and anise seeds separately.
2. Mix butter and soft cheese.
3. Work butter and soft cheese into flour by hand.
4. Mix in whole toasted seeds.
5. Mix in must or wine-and-grape juice or raisin juice.
6. Cover 2 jelly roll/sheet pans with a single layer of bay leaves.
7. Divide dough into two equal balls.
8. Pat each dough ball down a bit.
9. Lay one ball over the bay leaves on one sheet, and pat out until it covers the baking sheet completely. Repeat with other ball.
10. Bake 350 degrees F. for 15 min or until golden.
11. Score thoroughly into 50 bars per pan while still warm.
12. Cool in pan.
13. Break out bars to serve.

NOTES: To be perfectly honest, i didn't really have or use a recipe for these. I just winged it. I hauled the ingredients to the site kitchen, and with a some guidance from Euriol - since it has been a very long time since i baked cookie like things - i just faked it. So the recipe above is not really quite what i used or what i did. But since i just improvised, you can take this info and improv your own.

I used a tad over 1 cup of must as that was all the container had. It was expensive. Next time i will use homemade raisin juice, since it tasted a lot like that, and add more.

I left out the cumin seeds at the feast.

This could have taken some additional sweetener.

The resulting bars were somewhat crunchy on top, and soft and chewy on the bottom. I found them very pleasing. I guess others did too, as there were none left over. And I'd like to make them again!

Roman Frieze

Secunda Mensa, Cena Secunda
Second Course, Second Table

SAVILLUM : Roman cheese cake

Make a savillum thus: Mix 1/2 libra of flour and 2 1/2 librae of cheese, as is done for libum. Add 1/4 libra of honey and 1 egg. Grease an earthenware bowl with oil. When you have mixed the ingredients well, pour into the bowl and cover the bowl with an earthenware testo. See that you cook it well in the middle where it is highest. When it is cooked, remove the bowl, spread with honey, sprinkle with poppy, put it back underneath the testo for a moment, and then remove. Serve it thus with a plate and spoon.

[ ----- Cato the Censor, de Agricultura (84)]

My Version:

Prior to Feast

1 lb Flour
5 lb Ricotta Cheese
1/2 lb Honey
3 Eggs
(pinch of Salt might be good)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter baking dishes (a Pyrex bowl for each table would be nice... dream on...)
Mixed flour, cheese, honey, and eggs well.
Pour into baking dishes, cover with foil.
Bake until set (not dry) in the middle, about 30 minutes (test with toothpick or knife).

On Site

additional Honey
Black Poppy Seeds

Spread honey on top of cheese cakes and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
Put under the broiler briefly to melt honey.

This was rather thin and dry. I think it was cooked too long. The original implies that it isn't a thoroughly dry dish. Needs further experimentation to perfect. It was mostly all eaten, anyway.

Almond Paste "Peach Pits" in Sugar Plate Chariots

These are not at all authentically Roman, but they were for show. They could NOT be served to the Princess who is deathly allergic to almonds.

Gianetta experimented with sugar paste to make the chariots.

Feast Version:

Faux Peach Pits

I must thank Mistress Rose de la Mans who very generously taught me and Gianetta del Bene how to make the peach pits and loaned us the molds she had made.

Huessos de duraznos -- Peach pits
Take half a pound of almonds, and blanch them, and grind them, and take a pound of sugar, ground and sifted, knead it with the almond until it is well kneaded, and if it does not stay very firm, cast in a little more almond, and take an ounce of very fine cinnamon, and two adarmes of red sanders, all very well ground and sifted, cast it in the paste, and knead everything very well, until it takes on a good color, and the dough being well-tempered, which is not soft, sprinkle it on top with sifted sugar, so that it doesn't stick, and make pieces, and in each one put an almond, or a half, and sprinkle them with sugar, and put them in your molds and remove them, and set them to dry.

[ ----- Diego Granado, Libro del Arte de Cozina (Spanish, 1599),
Trans. Lady Brighid ni Chiarain (Robin Carroll-Mann)]

almond paste
whole almonds
red saunders
true cinnamon

1. Powder the red saunders in an electric coffee grinder or tiny blender jar.
2. Knead almond paste with hands.
3. When the right consistency, add the powdered red saunders and the true cinnamon powder.
4. Work with the hands a bit
5. If using home ground almonds, you may need to add a few drops of almond flavor or almond oil depending on freshness of almonds...

So we cheated again. I bought almond paste (NOT marzipan) at The Berkeley Bowl, since previous experiments with blanched almonds ended in failure, as the nuts and sugar just weren't moist enough. The marzipan they sell is very white, very finely ground, and quite sweet, whereas the almond paste is very pale tan, has more texture (isn't chunky, just not as fine), and is a bit less sweet.

Rose used some kind of polymer clay to make the molds from genuine peach pits. She loaned them to us. Gianetta make at least 80 of these things herself. Whew!


Traditionally a Roman banquet ended with fresh fruit. I figured we wouldn't need much, since folks ought to be pretty full. I also felt that a bowl of whole fruits on the table wouldn't go over that well, so i took various fruits the Romans ate and turned them into a simple fruit salad. This is not historically authentic. I added sugar and flower waters.

My Version:

red grapes
black grapes
1 ripe yellow melon (not cantaloupe)
1 ripe green melon
2 ripe pomegranates
a few each pears and apples
a little white sugar
rose water
orange flower water

1. Wash fruit.
2. Peel and/or cut up fruit, as necessary. For pomegranate, slit skin and carefully peel away from seeds. Release juicy seeds from pith.
3. Mix together.
4. Toss with a handful of sugar, two bottle caps of rose water, and two of orange flower water.
5. Let stand for at least 15 min. to macerate.

Back to the 2003 Mists Bardic Menu and Introduction
Back to the 2003 Mists Bardic First and Second Courses (Appetizers)
Back to the 2003 Mists Bardic Third and Fourth Courses (Main Dishes)

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Page created 14 May 2004