Thursday, October 20, 2016

Game of Thrones Season 6 Finale Party: A Feast at Highgarden

“The war had not touched the fabled bounty of Highgarden. While singers sang & tumblers tumbled, they began with pears poached in wine, and went onto tiny savory fish rolled in salt and cooked crisp, and capons stuffed with onions and mushrooms. There were great loaves of brown bread, mounds of turnips and sweetcorn and pease, immense hams and roast geese and trenchers dripping full of venison stewed with beer and barley. For the sweet, servants brought down trays of pastries from the castle kitchens, cream swans, spun-sugar unicorns, lemon cakes in the shape of roses, spiced honey biscuits and blackberry tarts, apple crisps & wheels of buttery cheese.”
– A Clash of Kings

Pink, turquoise and Gold tablescape for a game of thrones banquet

This elaborate feast greets Catelyn Stark as she meets with Renly Baratheon on behalf of Robb Stark (The King in the North!) at Bitterbridge. It also served as my source material for my third annual Game of Thrones season finale dinner party.

Game of Thrones: Pears poached in wine, served with prosciutto and arugula.
"They began with pears poached in wine...."
I had set out to do a Highgarden themed finale feast. One of the chief reasons was to make use of a set of elegant glass vases and pink fake flowers I had recently acquired, which seemed to fit best within the “fabled bounty of Highgarden.” It also seemed, halfway through Season 6, that the Tyrells had reached a pretty high point in terms of power over the Iron Throne, and it seemed fitting to award them with a finale dinner.

Game of Thrones: capons stuffed with onions and mushrooms
"Capon stuffed with onions and mushrooms."
Having settled on this theme, I set out to find dishes served in the Reach. To my surprise, we don’t see a lot of noshing in this region of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire. There was a mouth-watering description of a suckling pig (“Suckling pig in plum sauce, stuffed with chestnuts and white truffles. A man must eat.” – A Feast For Crows prologue) however suckling pigs turned out to be well outside my budget! [Let me know if you know how to source a suckling pig in the Bay Area for under $250/20 lbs! I’d still love to give it a try!]

Game of Thrones: pease, cooked with herbs and pearl onions
"Mounds of turnips (not shown) and sweetcorn and pease"

Instead, I based my feast around the above passage from A Clash of Kings, set at a smaller keep not too far from Highgarden. Serving fewer people than Renly’s entire force, I omitted the roasted geese, spun sugar unicorns and apple crisps. I served hippocras (“We have Dornish red and Arbor gold, and a fine sweet hippocras from Highgarden.” – A Feast For Crows), homemade mead brewed especially for this purpose, and Wassail – a medieval-sounding drink that has proved to be exceptionally popular with my guests at previous parties.

Immense hams: Ham roast with cherry glaze
"Immense hams"
For decorations, I went with pink (to match my large stock of plastic pink flowers), turquoise (to go with my turquoise dining set), white and gold. I used plastic & origami flowers and fruits as the main motifs on my dining table. In total, I spent ~$15 on the decorations (thank you, Dollar Store!). I was able to make use of many items I already owned, and just needed pink table cloths and napkins, and gold origami paper.

Place setting: turquoise plates, with white and gold menus and pink napkins
Simple place settings: dollar store napkins and gold paper origami roses.
The place settings were pretty simple, napkins plus the menu: gold-bordered print-outs showing an artistic imagining of Highgarden with the Tyrell house words on one side, and the Clash of Kings passage on reverse.
Trenchers dripping full of venison stewed with beer and barley
"Trenchers dripping full of venison stewed with beer and barley."
I served everything in the order presented in the passage. I took a little liberty with the poached pears, serving them with prosciutto on a bed of arugula (sorry, George RR Martin! You don’t use many green vegetables in your feasts!) – shown in the top right. Out of the hundred photos taken at this event, the “tiny savory fish rolled in salt and cooked crisp” and the turnips didn’t make it into any of them.

Game of Thrones: Pate a choux swans filled with vanilla cream
"For the sweet, servants brought down trays of pastries from the kitchens: cream swans..."
I was particularly proud of my solution of “lemon cakes in the shape of roses.” I contemplated piping roses with icing onto cupcakes, or doing something like the apple rose pastries with candied lemons, but it all seemed a little fussy and unappealing to me. After a night of tossing and turning, I came up with using lemon mini-madeleines with stems & leaves! I used plain old green construction paper and kabob sticks dyed with food coloring and I think they turned out adorably!

Game of Thrones: Lemon cakes in the shape of roses (Madeleines with paper stems and leaves)
"Lemon cakes in the shape of roses."
Want to throw your own Bitterbridge feast? 
Here’s the source of some of my recipes:

Now to plan what to make for the Season 7 finale….?

Spiced honey and lavendar biscuits and blackberry tarts
"Spiced honey biscuits [silver plate] and blackberry tarts [front]"
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