[Sca-cooks] Atlantian Twelfth Night Feast

Elise Fleming alysk at ix.netcom.com
Tue Jan 16 12:33:59 PST 2007

The Atlantian Twelfth Night Feast (13 January) in Charlotte, NC, was
delicious.  His Royal Highness, Prince Valharic, was the head cook and was
admitted to the Order of the Laurel for cookery at the end of the feast. 
The food was based on recipesfrom the German Das Neue Kochboch (or some
such spelling), according to His Highness.  He kept to the spicing of that
time period, even to the point of not allowing his assistants to bring
their own spices just in case they were tempted to add different flavors to
the dishes.  

The first dish was a pretty presentation of diced smoked chicken, salmon
(like lox), pickled cucumbers, sliced egg, red cabbage with a light
dressing and three mustards - honey, cranberry and stone ground.

The second dish consisted of roasted chicken (served in half-chicken
pieces) on a bed of barley, carrot and parsnip slices.  Sauces were sour
cherry (my table mates' favorite) and parsley (my favorite).  My quibble is
that I question whether (in period) a half a chicken would be set before
several people, making them carve it up themselves.  We had three
half-chickens for 10 people.  Sir TJ (who was given a writ to be put on
vigil for Pelican) carved the hunks of meat for us which was a blessing. 
The chicken was moist, tender, cooked and oh-so-flavorful!

We then received pickled beets, or maybe one could say "horseradish" beets
since that was the flavoring.  There also was sausage on a bed of
sauerkraut with cooked apple slices.  I forgot to ask Valharic about the
sausage.  Since everything else was "homemade", I am guessing the sausage
was, too, but it looked so uniform that I assumed it was
commercially-purchased.  The apple slices were sour, like the kraut, and my
brain expected them to be sweet - to provide a contrast with the
sauerkraut.  I asked Val later about his choice to make them sour and he
thought it worked better that way.  It wasn't bad-tasting; just unexpected.

The next course consisted of a large round of roast beef on a bed of rice
with a lemon/breadcrumb sauce (which was excellent).  Again, the meat was
unsliced and Sir TJ provided assistance.  At least four of us at the table
had no knives that would have allowed for carving.

Dessert was small squares of pastry with two different "fillings".  Mine
was nut and (honey?).  I will admit to looking at them and thinking it was
too bad that Valharic purchased commercially-made pastry after such a fine
meal had been served.  I found out later that night from Valharic that the
pastry was not commercially-made but it was professionally-made.  Valharic
works for one of the universities and deals with food provisions.  He had
asked their pastry chef if he'd be interested in trying the German recipe. 
He was, and he taught Val some of the techniques while the chef made 300 of
each pastry.  They were far more flavorful and delicate than the
commercially-made kind that one can usually find in a large grocery store. 
For some reason, I hadn't ever really thought about the skill of the period
pastry workers.  They specialized in their craft and could have - indeed,
would have - produced uniform, well-made items.  Somehow I've gotten used
to the irregularities that many of us produce when trying to reproduce a
period pastry.  I am not meaning this as a criticism of our amateur SCA
cooks.  Most of us aren't the professionals that would have been working in
the high nobility's kitchens.  I was just taken aback by my assumption that
since the feast's pastry looked uniform, it must have been purchased and
made by machine.  It wasn't commercial; it was _professional_.

If you can ever attend a feast cooked by Valharic - soon to be King
Valharic and then Duke (Sir) Valharic, OL, send in your money early!  The
feast is certain to be sold out!

Alys Katharine, longing for another piece of that moist chicken!

Elise Fleming
alysk at ix.netcom.com

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