March 28th, 2013
07:00 PM ET
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The new season of Game of Thrones premieres on April 6. Whet your appetite.

Black swan. Unborn puppies. A hundred live doves “baked into a great pie” and prepared to “burst forth in a swirl of white feathers.”

Those are some of the dishes I decided not to attempt for my Game of Thrones-themed dinner party.

George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” books are famously long (1,040 pages for the latest installment), and roughly 50% of the word count is devoted to describing what the characters are eating. One wedding feast features an ode to most of its seventy-seven courses; even a rundown of frozen defense outpost’s dwindling supplies is good for a three-page litany about storerooms filled with “potted hare, haunch of deer in honey, pickled cabbage, pickled beets, pickled onions, pickled eggs and pickled herring.”

The HBO series embraces the books’ gluttonous spirit: The producers got a castle banquet into the very first episode.

For food fans, this is clearly a challenge. A thrown gauntlet. One week ahead of Game of Thrones season 3 premiere, I rounded up a few of my geeky friends - and some novices we hoped to convert - for our own recreation of a Westerosi feast.

My usual version of a “dinner party” is ordering pizza or making a big pot of pasta. This was the first time I attempted to serve guests anything with actual courses, so I started by drawing up battle rules: nothing I hadn’t made at least once before, nothing with finicky timing, and no baking. I have a decent repertoire of soups, salads and dinners, but I’m totally hopeless at dessert.

Of course, the next thing I did was start breaking those rules. I had a few dishes in mind I knew I’d incorporate, like a deceptively easy roast-duck main I make every winter and a blood-orange salad that bears a glancing resemblance to a salad of “spinach and plums, sprinkled with crushed nuts” served at the Starks' first Winterfell repast.

But there were some holes. I need appetizer inspiration and ideas for side dishes. So for that, I turned to the experts: Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, creators of the Inn at the Crossroads. Two years ago, the pair set out to devise recipes for “just a few” of the dishes Martin chronicled in his books. That project grew into an extensive blog documenting their medieval-cookbook explorations, and recently morphed into A Feast of Ice & Fire, an “official companion cookbook” for the series.

The cookbook is admirably adventurous. One recipe calls for “1 rattlesnake, cleaned and gutted”; another describes how to get your honey-and-pepper coated “freeze-dried crickets or locusts” to bake crisply enough that “the bugs are no longer quite so sticky.” I stuck to the tamer sections, and on page 193, I found my missing appetizer link: dramatically marbled hard-boiled eggs, seeped in a soy-sauce-and-spices mixture.

The recipe calls for gently cracking the eggs with the back of a spoon to create “spiderweb-like lines all over the shells.” I “gently cracked” and accidentally smashed almost a dozen eggs before I got five more-or-less intact ones able to stand up to the boiling.

There were also some unexpected successes. I broke my no-baking pledge to try out the cookbook’s “Elizabethan Lemon Cakes” recipe, because I grudgingly decided that no Games of Thrones party could get by without lemon cakes. (Martin seems especially obsessed with them - he keeps every castle kitchen stocked with a supply.) I’m not usually a big lemon fan, but these cookie-like cakes are basically addictive crack. I made them the morning of the party and went through at least half a dozen that day while I prepped the rest of the courses.

I had the “ice” part of the menu fairly well covered - a roasted meat-and-veggies main, with wintry oysters and stew - but I spent a few weeks trying to figure out something theatrical enough for the “fire” side. Dragons are a key part of the Games of Thrones storyline; clearly, I had to get flames or smoke somewhere into this meal.

The perfect solution arrived by serendipity. Earlier this month, a German friend arrived at a post-rock-concert, late-night-drinks gathering wielding a bottle of rum, two oranges, a half-gallon of red wine and bag of supplies. For a crowd of a dozen, he prepared a Feuerzangenbowle: A traditional German holiday drink in which a rum-soaked sugar loaf is dangled over a pot of mulled wine and set on fire.

It’s awesome. As melted sugar lava and streams of rum run into the pot, the flames go dancing across the wine’s surface. Every time you add a fresh ladle of rum to the mix (the ladle frequently catches fire), a tongue of flames shoots up. The whole thing always looks like it’s seconds away from requiring a fire extinguisher, but it actually burns pretty evenly, thanks to the metal Feuerzange holding the sugar in place.

The Feuerzange is a special piece of equipment designed exclusively for Feuerzangenbowle. It’s a single-purpose device for creating just one drink. This is German engineering at its finest. The sugar loafs are also custom inventions; they’re called Zuckerhut, and Americans can order them online from imports site I bought four.

I was so fascinated by my friend Christian’s Feuerzangenbowle that he kindly let me kidnap his Feuerzange and bring it back to New York with me - along with detailed instructions on recreating the drink. The key point: Get 54% rum, he instructed. The more common 40%-alcohol rum won’t burn; anything closer to the 60% range, sold as “navy-strength,” will turn into a fireball.

Germany might have plenty of 54% rum, but New York City, it turns out, does not. We had a brief day-of-party crisis after my co-host/sous chef/fetcher-of-forgotten-ingredients discovered that none of the liquor stores within a mile radius of my apartment carried anything stronger than 47%.

“BOOZE SOS!” was the subject line of the email I sent out to the dinner guests about an hour before our kickoff. Happily, New Yorkers are really good at solving booze crises. One of our crew arrived soon after with a bottle of 50% rum - not the exact mark we’d been aiming at, but it burned just fine.

Three hours after we started dinner, fortified by hot mugs of Feuerzangenbowle, we settled in to re-watch the last few episodes of season two. A giant vat of booze is exactly what you need for the battle scenes of Blackwater.

“Don’t watch this bit!” we warned Mindy, our squeamish-about-violence friend, roughly every five minutes, while we tried to catch Nicole, our GoT newbie, up on the key political machinations. (We gave up when we came to Arya’s parting with Jaqen H'ghar. It’s impossible to explain that one when you’re drunk.)

We’ve got three days left till winter returns. So fire up your DVDs, make yourself a nice Dothraki blood pie, and get ready to head back across the sea and beyond the Wall.

A Game of Dinner Menu

Pre-dinner snacks: lemon-mascarpone stuffed dates, grapes, cheese and boiled “dragon” (ok, chicken) eggs

Oysters two ways, raw and in leek stew

Blood-orange and arugula salad

Roasted duck breast with fennel and rosemary, served with caramelized cauliflower and black riso venere rice

Feuerzangenbowle mulled wine

Lemon cakes from A Feast of Ice & Fire

Have you whipped up any Game of Thrones-themed treats? Share links and loving descriptions in the comments below

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Filed under: Books • Cookbooks • Entertaining • Make • Television

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Bobby Banks

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me just as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through, however I actually believed you would have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.

    June 22, 2014 at 12:06 am |
  2. kaiypov

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    The challenge is to create a moment of "pause" [a technical term from video language] in hostilities now and in the future, as well as to refusal to restart them at all. I believe that in this context, such "pause" in the war action seems do-able and practical, much more effective than the idealistic and utopian pressing of an imaginary "stop" button. In the future the first action will equate to the second: "pause" will become "stop". In order to alert the international community and potential supporters, I made a demonstration of my own at 18 October 2013 on the territory of Syrian embassy in Beirut, with poster "pause the war".

    The purpose of this demonstration, is to show through an example that:

    1) one person has the power to perform an action directed to the benefit of all mankind.

    2) no one should be indifferent, when war is concerned.

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    I suggest that countries be ready to support my initiative, in solidarity, by placing on the cloth of their national flags, the well-known pause symbol "II". I believe that in the course of implementation of this anti-war action, the reasons for which the suspended armed conflict began, will be resolved or continued in a civilized manner. This anti-war action will bring about a new peaceful reality, when there will be no state left, which "international army of peace" had not visited.

    The termination of all hostilities, will become the point of departure for further continuous progress in all directions.

    We are able to bring about the time, when the world will be fairly managed by a workable international organization which will be trusted by all citizens of the earth. When this happens, all kinds of weapons will be transferred to international United Nations control, the purpose of which, will be the preservation of peace and sustainable development of mankind.

    We live in a world, when the collective effort makes possible the colonizing of other planets in the foreseeable future. I believe, that we have enough strength and resources for the child born tomorrow to see a world, where uniform international standards of education, labor, pension and medical care, will be established everywhere. A world, where the primary human needs will be satisfied for free.

    A world, where nobody talks about freedom, because absolute freedom will accompany each person from the moment of birth, to his last breath. A world, where the happiness and freedom of the individual, will not happen in isolation but will include freedom and happiness of all of humanity. A world without war.

    A world without war is undisputed goal, that sooner or later humanity will definitely reach. It is the primary duty of every adult to fulfill a "world in peace"– everyone’s childhood dream. Every child surrounded by the horrors of war dreams that one day somebody will come and say "It is enough!" and by saying it bring war to an end. Then war will stop. That day has come! It's time to combine our efforts in order to make that dream come true.

    April 7, 2014 at 2:20 am |
  3. andgeesaid

    Check out the Feast for Crows we had here:

    April 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  4. ChestBrah

    Pics or negs. Seriously, OP? This thread is absolutely useless without pics. What–was this your attempt, you putrid fanboy, at writing anything remotely similar to the gluttonous writing of your glorified Dungeons and Dragons authors? Live your fantasy elsewhere, where even the slightest existence of your filthy writing is out of sight from the public eye.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Lounge M'aitre'd™@ChestBrah

      Bitter, party of one?
      Your table is ready in the STFU lounge.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  5. Dessert Shooter

    Oh! my god what kind of dishes they are.. I would really like to have these..Dessert Shooter ....

    April 1, 2013 at 7:49 am |
  6. John

    Just to add more to the is a drink recipe that has both Ice and Fire in it!!

    Not sure what the food pairing for this would be. Thoughts?

    March 31, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
  7. hdgame

    It's perfect time to make some plans for the longer term and it is time to be happy. I've learn this publish and if I may just I wish to recommend you some attention-grabbing things or tips. Perhaps you could write subsequent articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!

    March 31, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  8. Yoruko

    For the 'dragon' eggs. I boil a dozen eggs normally, about 15 minutes. Then after cooking gently crack the shell. Then place them in water that has 2 tea bags black tea, 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 3/4 cup soy, and sichuan pepper (if you like spice) and let for 3 hours. bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 2 hours. After cooling remove the shells.

    March 30, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  9. Antronman

    If you want a dothraki meal, buy IKEA meatballs :P.

    March 29, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  10. Piotr

    Well, did you ever see George Martin's picture? Easy to understand...

    March 29, 2013 at 2:09 am |
  11. VulgarMarshmallow

    Total failure. Where's the meat and mead?

    And you don't eat dragon eggs, you hatch them and build an army. Fools.

    March 29, 2013 at 2:06 am |
  12. leslie

    I have the cookbook. This Sunday will be Sister's Stew with iced milk for the kids and honeyed wine for the adults. If I can get some good pears poached pears will be on the menu as well!

    March 29, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • lala

      i saw the first episode of s3 last night and poached pears make an appearance!

      March 29, 2013 at 8:20 am |
  13. Bert

    You can get into the spirit of dothraki blood recipes by doing a search for "morcillas," a blood sausage used in spanish "fabada asturiana," a thick bean,sausage and ham dish. Delicious and not very difficult to cook.

    March 29, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • Piotr

      That sounds damn good, but in this day and age isn't it rather risky to eat a "blood sausage"?

      March 29, 2013 at 2:11 am |
  14. Avery

    Hey how do you make those marbled dragon eggs?

    March 29, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • dx2718

      Look up "Chinese tea eggs." Basically, you put eggs in water, bring it to boiling, remove the eggs almost immediately, crack the shells, then put them in a mixture of soy sauce and spices (e.g. anise and cinnamon) and simmer for a few hours.

      March 29, 2013 at 1:38 am |
  15. ow

    those recipes are reminiscent of neither the book or the show. lame

    March 29, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Michael

      I agree. I was expecting to see a lamprey pot pie or some sort of pigeon/squab dish. These dishes aren't related to the series at all.

      March 29, 2013 at 1:24 am |
  16. sharoom

    Marbled dragon eggs? Aren't those just chinese tea eggs? Those things are delicious.

    March 29, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • dx2718

      Yep, tea eggs. Possibly a variation thereof without the tea (they describe "a mixture of soy sauce and spices"). Of course, he seems to have followed the wrong directions; he claims he destroyed a bunch of eggs trying to crack them, indicating he tried to crack *raw* eggs without breaking the thin lining underneath the shell. In the tea egg recipe, you cook the eggs for a moment *before* cracking them. They still get marbled but they're hard enough when you crack them that they won't explode even if you break the lining.

      March 29, 2013 at 1:36 am |
  17. Lila

    It's on Easter and the show has a lot of booze and ahem-hooking up. Slap on red wine and fun drinks to a normal Easter meal and you'll be good to go!

    March 28, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • IpseCogita

      Don't forget mead. It even tastes pretty good.

      March 28, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  18. gonziago

    Ok, all these la-dee-da recipes are great, but I want a Westros party with roast boar and mead"servers" (not sure if I can use the other word). Give me me some Dothraki recipes I can do with the guys and gals.

    March 28, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • IpseCogita

      Dothraki recipes? Easy, just have the slaves roast some slabs of horse over an open fire.

      March 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  19. hirolla74

    Dragon eggs? just substitute them for 'balut' eggs. There is a surprise in it.

    March 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • bakerbef

      oh yes there is!!!! heh heh heh...good suggestion!

      March 29, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  20. Bob1god

    Oh no, I'll have to try to figure what's going on again.

    March 28, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • moose2823

      Heres a quick overview of what happened last two seasons...everyone was being a douchebag except for the fat guy

      March 28, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
      • Piotr

        Huh? What fat guy? (I mean, everybody and their uncles seemed to be douchebags)

        March 29, 2013 at 2:13 am |
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