Our First Tasting Table

Outlands Kingdom Arts And Sciences, October 13, A.S. XXXVI (2001 c.e.)

As posted to the Stewpot list by Elaina de Sinistre:
Despite the fact that the 10am court did not happen until nearly 1:30pm - our part of things went well. We got permission from the autocrat to set up in the lounge near where folks entered a hallway to go towards the display rooms. We set up two tables of food and had the wonderful little cards that Arwen designed as handouts in front of each dish.  Folks started browsing as soon was the food went out - but we told them we would be open for tasting "later" when everything was out. I got some excellent photos of everything before the hordes descended - and quite a few people came and looked and smelled and took cards even without eating.

Once we did open, folks were reasonably good about the fact that it was NOT lunch - it was a tasting table. I think we need a sign that says something like "This is a TASTING table - to satisfy the palate not the appetite."

All of the Excellent Small Cakes, Cheese and Mushroom Tarts, Pies of Paris, painted Shortbread, Pickled Beets, and Stuffed Eggs went. There wasn't a crumb left. Almost all of the quail eggs with mustard sauce (WONDERFUL sauce!) went and we managed to take home a few meatballs.  Not sure if there was leftover Pickled Beef. I'm sure there was leftover Salmon Caudle.

What to do better next time? A container of toothpicks for the meatballs - that way people would have "tasted" without having to get a plate. Spoons and tiny cups for the soup - maybe like the ones they use for samples in grocery stores? Master Kay said the soup was absolutely wonderful but totally inaccessible with only plates and forks. He refrained from licking his plate only through his mother's years of rigorous training.

All in all, a very good "tasting".  Let's do it again!

To which Arwen Southernwood added:
The other problem was that in order to keep the caudle and vinegar beef hot, they were plugged in at an outlet a small distance away. My lord and I have a made a note to ourselves that a heavy-duty, long extension cord, suitable for crock pots and such, would be a good investment for future tasting tables.

But yes, on the whole, I'd say the reception was good, and the feedback I have heard has been positive. Lots of people told us how good everything tasted. Many people took recipe cards, and a few took information cards.

Lots of people thought we were one of the Arts and Sciences competition entries. I decided it was easiest to explain that this was a display, not an entry. A few thought we were the donation lunch. They were politely redirected upstairs (after being encouraged to have a bite or two to tide them over, of course). I think bigger signs would have helped this -- the ones Mistress Tatiana put together were wonderful, but rather hard to see through the crowds. :)

And we did have crowds. Even Their Majesties stopped by and sampled a bit -- Her Majesty seemed to enjoy the meatballs, in particular. Moreover, there were a lot of people who came for the food, but stuck around to chat afterward and actually learned a little about period food. Many people expressed surprise that stuffed eggs were period, and several were enlightened regarding the difference between "small cakes" and "cookies".  I am told that Master Robin Vinehall waxed effusive in his compliments over our efforts.

Dishes Presented at the Tasting Table:

(pictures to be added soon!)

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