[Sca-cooks] Stefan's recent Nobles Luncheon at the BG 30th

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Fri Nov 6 22:10:03 PST 2009

Talking about quinces, I said "But at that price, no wonder folks have  
said it was
cheaper to buy the pre-made quince paste than to make it yourself.
Which is what I did for my recent Nobles Luncheon."

To which Ranvaig replied:
"I agree though about using premade quince paste for a luncheon, if
you don't have a tree or other cheap source.  How did that go?  I
don't remember reading a report about it."

I ended up buying two cans, of about 6 inch diameter, for the  
luncheon. Only about half of one can got eaten, so I won't charge the  
barony for the second one and will save it to use here at home  
sometime. But with the single quinces costing a dollar each and the  
can of paste being about $3.50, it was cheaper and easier to buy the  
paste. The quince paste probably would have gone over better had I had  
something to eat the paste on.

I was cooking the Nobles Luncheon at my barony's, Bryn Gwlad 30th  
Anniversary Celebration. The theme of the event, from a tongue in  
cheek idea, was a celebration of the SCA 30 years ago. Since the  
evening feast was going to be bbq served from the back of a pickup  
truck, I decided I would do something a bit different. A meal showing  
how far the SCA *had* come in 30 years. Not all feasts were non-period  
meals 30 years ago but then not all feasts today are good, period  
meals either.

My intention was also to celebrate with some of my area's favorite  
period foods (ie: cheese goo) and to introduce folks to some new  
period dishes (Clarea de Aqua, Alows de Beef).

A major restriction was that all the foods had to be "finger foods".

This is what my final menu ended up being:

Taste of 1979
1. Grapes
2. Yellow and white cubes of cheese
3. Sliced meats, sliced cheese
4. Hard-boiled eggs (plain)
5. mustard sauce
6. horseradish sauce
7. Butter, Honey-Butter
8. manchets (rolls)
9. Excellent Small Cakes

10. Iced Tea

Taste of 2009
1. Hais (from al-Baghdadi)
2. Stuffed dates
3. Quince paste, olives
4. Pretzels
5. Savory Tosted Cheese (from Digby) (served with more manchets)
6. Alows de Beef (Beef rolls) (from Two Fifteenth Century)
7. Chicken Sour (braised chicken thighs) (from Apicius)
8. Champignons en pasté  (mushroom / cheese pasties)  (from Managier  
de Paris)
9. pork/beef pasties (from Pleyn Delit)
10. Confiture de Noiz /Sugared Nuts (from Menagier de Paris)

11. Clarea from Water Clarea de Aqua (from De Nola)
12. Pomegranate Drink  (from Anonymous Andalusian manuscript)
13. Sekanjabin


This turned out to be way too large a number of dishes for just one  
person to do. I guess I was lucky (???) that my contract job had ended  
two weeks earlier so I could dedicate more time to preparing this  
meal. It might also have helped to have made some of these items ahead  
of time and then frozen them. I got caught in a time crunch because I  
didn't feel I could buy a lot of stuff more than a day or two in  
advance, such as the meat, but then had to prepare all the dishes that  
needed the meat in the last day or two. There was a limited amount of  
work which could be done a week ahead of time.

I was cooking the pasties until 3 am Friday night for the luncheon the  
next day. For some items I simply ran out of time. The plain hard- 
boiled eggs were supposed to be balanced by period, stuffed hard- 
boiled eggs, but I didn't find the time to make them, although I had  
hard-boiled all the eggs. I had also planned to make some shortbread  
but didn't have time for that. I was also going to make some cheese  
only pasties by leaving out the mushrooms, but ran out of time to do  
those, also.

I had no facilities at the site, other than two tables to serve on,  
and one I brought to fix food on plus a hose for running water and an  
electrical outlet 60 feet away I could plug into. I used the electric  
outlet to run an extension cord to heat up and keep warm my savory  
tosted cheese.

While I had been told to plan for between 16 and 20 (landed) Nobles  
and the Ansteorra Crown, I think I only had half-a-dozen Nobles and  
the Crown. But the populace finished off much of what was left and  
then some of what was left went to the Principality Tea. More would  
have gone to the Principality Tea except I had put the rest of the  
meat pies and the chicken and grapes in the ice chest to keep them  
safe and then forgot to tell the Principality Tea folks about those  
items. Oops.

The most popular dish, by far, was the Savory Tosted Cheese.
The mushroom and cheese pasties also went over well. Probably by luck,  
they were not overcooked which folks said is why they liked mine  
better than others they had had. I used won ton wrappers for the  
pasties for ease of creation and I had cooked them at 425 degrees for  
about 12 minutes, which is higher than some redactions call for. The  
meat pies redaction said to cook at a lower temperature, but I ended  
up raising the temp to a higher temperature as well.

The Chicken Sour which I'd done with chicken wing drumlettes, did not  
go over very well. Since very few were tried, I suspect that folks  
were full on other items or thought these were too messy for finger  

The Alows de Beef all disappeared and I had compliments on them. I was  
going to let them sit in the zip lock bag in the sauce and had filled  
the bag but decided that would be too much and poured the sauce into a  
separate bag with the idea of pouring the sauce over the alows in the  
serving dish, but forgot to do that.

The hais went over well, but a little bit goes a long way, so I  
brought some of that home. The stuffed dates I had mixed the filling  
up at home and planned to fill the dates out there. I ran into trouble  
splitting them and getting the pit out, but got that procedure down  
well enough, but ran out of time, so only about half of them got made,  
but all those got eaten.

I probably overcooked the honey in the Confiture de Noiz. The  
redaction called for a soft ball stage and I've always had trouble  
determining the sugar stage with sugar, much less honey. In the past  
that has meant to soft and sticky items, so this time I over did it  
and the Confiture de Noiz was more like peanut brittle and it stuck  
together. A few people tried it and liked it, though.

I was going to shell all the hard-boiled eggs, but ended up having to  
put them out in their shells.

The grapes went over well. They were huge grapes and people liked  
them. However, knowing I was over budget when I bought them, I bought  
seeded grapes since this was an outdoor site and they were cheaper.

I had planned to mix up the concentrated drinks in pitchers, but ran  
out of prep time and decided this way people could mix their drinks to  
their own preference. The Sekanjabin was the most popular drink but  
did get a few people to try the Clarea de Aqua and the pomegranate  
drink, although I had trouble with getting the Clarea de Aqua to mix  
with more water well.

Since you are diluting a honey syrup, you really need to mix it up  
well. Otherwise, like I did, you get a weak drink which suddenly gets  
overly strong as drink the water off the top and suddenly get to the  
honey syrup below it. I also badly mis-judged the quantities on this.  
I cut the amount in half, but still ended up with 2 liters of syrup  
and have over half of that left over.

My budgeting could have been much better, but I got caught in that  
some items really have a minimum size and for this number of people I  
often didn't use most of what I had to buy. Flour for instance. I also  
don't make that many items at home from scratch, so I didn't have as  
good a feel of some of the costs as I should have had. Honey, and  
dates, were much more expensive than I had expected.

I expected the sliced meats, for the first half, to be expensive. But  
I cut that expense back by buying a roast and then roasting and  
slicing it myself. I ended up with individually packaged sliced cheese  
since it was cheaper that way and decided just to put up with the non- 
period wrappings. And overheard someone say "Ohhh, plastic wrapping,  
just like 30 years ago!"

Next time, if I ever do this again, I'm either going to find some  
folks to help me out or it's going to be a much simpler menu!

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas          StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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