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The NZ Sew & Eat Historical Retreat 2019: A Medieval Feast

Dragon bread thedreamstress.com

I’m in the midst of planning an 8 course historical-meets-Hawai’i* Christmas Eve feast, so it seems like the perfect time to blog about some of the food we ate on our Sew & Eat Historical Retreat 2019**.

The food was so amazing, and I have so many photos, I’m breaking it into two posts: one just on our Medieval feast, and one on the rest of the food.

A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com

Nina was the mastermind of the Medieval feast: researching recipes, and orchestrating the cooking. I just contributed a few ideas and ingredients and chopped and assembled dishes and instructed. And Nina & Hvitr were responsible for the real showpiece of the night. Making it had been my idea, but I skived off and took photos while they made it (although I did make the emergency flour run to the grocery store 30ks down a small country road that made it possible).

Menu:

Mashed Peas

A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com

Asparagus

Breney (non-alcoholic version)

Wild Rabbit & Barley Salad with Caramelised Russet Apples

A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com
A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com
A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com
A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com
A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com
A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com

Purple carrots with ginger

A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com

Not based on an exact recipe, but I was inspired by the spices used in many Medieval recipes – and hey, purple carrots! So historical!***

A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com
A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com

Poached Fish on Lemons

A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com
A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com

Sambocade Cheesecake with fruit compote

A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com
A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com

Pine Nut Candy with gilding

A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com

And for the centrepiece…

(drumroll here)

Dragon Saffron Bread with a marchpane and candy hoard

Since our protein was a salad, and we wouldn’t have a big impressive bit of meat or something as a centrepiece, and we’re not quite up to stuffing peacocks, I felt our table needed a little something spectacular to finish it all off…

Dragon bread thedreamstress.com

I suggested a dragon shaped loaf of bread, and Nina and I collaborated on the idea of a marchpane ‘hoard’ for the dragon. Nina made the saffron dough, and I meant to shape the dragon, but was off taking photographs when the dough was at the perfect rise, so Hvitr and Nina got artistic, and came up with this fabulous fire-breathing beastie!

Dragon bread thedreamstress.com

The gold on the hoard is edible foil.

Dragon bread thedreamstress.com

Isn’t he fabulous?

And the next morning Hvitr got to be St George and ‘slay’ him! And then we ate him for breakfast.

Dragon bread thedreamstress.com

Nom nom nom…

Here’s to our amazing chef!

A medieval feast in New Zealand thedreamstress.com

*Macadamia nuts instead of almonds in Medieval recipes, tropical greens Swiss Soup Meagre, etc.

** Here’s 2018’s post, if you want more inspiration for your own cooking.

*** OK, these are probably a modern varietal rather than an original pre-orange-carrots carrot, but probably still closer to what existed in the 14th & 15th centuries.

9 Comments

  1. Elise says

    Oh, that looks wonderful! The dragon is a real standout.

    I once read a list of foodstuff in a collection of Carolingian documents: trout, leeks, mustard…it all sounded so good.

    Have a lovely time in Hawai’i with your family and assorted ‘ohaha! Mele kalikimaka!

  2. Seconding that dragon being too cute for food! 😀
    Caramelised apples: mental note.
    Pinenut candy sounds delicious and toothache-inducing!

    • It’s always a lottery whether the comment will post. Longer continuation:
      I’m greatly amused by the modern recipe for the cheesecake messing around with cream and cottage cheese and ricotta when what the original uses is basic 100% curds. Tvaroh. The advantage of not living in a modern English-speaking country! What I see described is more or less your regular tvarohový koláč filling, except that modern recipes (okay, 1920s recipe in my case…) tend to include vanilla, and maybe also raising, and lemon rind or almonds rather than elderflowers. 😀 There isn’t butter in the recipe I’ve been using, but have just found a recipe online that does use it, rather than the egg whites, so maybe I could try taking a cue from the historical recipe and use both next time… (Also, the whites, when included, are beaten.)
      Should try to remember that recipe / idea for when there are elderflowers. And this also ties neatly into the ongoing Facebook conversation about what grows where because I’m also greatly amused by buying dried elderflowers when around here elderbushes grow like a weed and in late spring / early summer you can take your fresh pick anywhere away from roads! Did you have fresh, or did you have to buy, too?

  3. That dragon is epic! And also kinda cute.

    I don’t think I would have done well as a medieval European food-wise: I don’t like sweet and savoury mixed, and there would be No Cup Of Tea! Horrors!

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