Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hero of the Chalice - A Feast in Review

So yeah...Chalice.

Sorry I haven't updated this blog in a while, life has been a whirlwind of things in all of December. Started my new job (which is going GREAT), been helping two friends with moving into a new place and of course all the planning for the feast at Chalice. Now that Chalice is over I can dedicate more time to working on the Queens Tea for Gulf Wars, but that's another post for another day. Today will be covering and talking about the feast itself! It was exciting and one that will stick in my memory for a VERY long time. I had so any people offering help and providing services to me that I can barely remember all their names, and I could never have done all this work and pulled off such a wonderful feast without their support and aid.

So...Hero of the Chalice was my first feast ever!I spent many days and days planning it, testing recipes and checking in with my Laurel to make sure I was on track that when the feast actually rolled in I was pumped and excited. The feast went better than I hoped it would, the hall decor clicked great and everyone really loved the food. Some reactions to the dishes were surprising while others were expected, and everyone left full. I learned a lot of lessons, and was very patiently taught a few others, and this was an overwhelmingly positive experience!

This ended up being my final menu, I was pretty happy with the results. Almost every dish was taken from Plain Faire, a collection of camp recipes assembled by a Laurel in the Kingdom of Drackenwald:

 Travelers Faire:
. Verbotene Eintopf
This dish is a dangerous secret, forbidden from use for its potency of flavor. Tender beef roast is slowly stewed with a collection of spices, stoked over a flame and drowned in red wine to provide the perfect introduction to a weekend of merriment.Just don't tell Mistress Madhavi that her apprentice cooked this!

. Rührei
Eggs are cracked and scrambled, tossed with salt and shredded cheese and served with a side of ground pepper.
. Glasierte Toaste
Loaf bread covered in a freshly scrambled egg glaze, lightly dusted with cinnamon and brown sugar then grilled till light and crispy. Covered with a helping of powdered sugar and maple sauce.

. Zitrone Rindergulasch
A rich and hearty stew, cooked with fresh mixed herbs and peppercorns. The salted lemons provide a sweet twist to complement the dish, and the warm feeling will accompany you through the remainder of the day.

1st Course -
. Brot und Äpfel
Baked loaf bread served with a side of butter (both salted and honey) and freshly cut apples drizzled with a hint of honey.
. Gewürzgurken
Fresh cucumbers sliced and generously coated in salt, pepper, fennel seed and caraway. A light coating of vinegar helps to seal in the flavor and accent the sweetness of the spices as well as the wet crispness of the cucumber.

2nd Course -

. Pilze und Zwiebel Suppe
A clean and warm soup of mushrooms and onions, simmered for hours and stewed generously with saffron and fresh sea salt.
. Frikadellen
Ground beef mixed with bread crumbs, garlic and a pinch of pork belly meat that are rolled into balls and boiled to a juicy finish. Served in a small pool of beef broth.
. Salat
A fresh lettuce and herb salad, lightly dusted with salt. Goes great when eaten either with the meatballs or the mushroom and onion soup.

3rd Course -

. Wurst in Apfelmus
Pork sausages coated in a ground pepper and salt mixture, grilled in a sauce of fresh diced apples. These can be covered in either the fresh green herb sauce or hearty saffron sauce provided with this course, as well as be eaten unadorned.
. Carbonadoes gegrillt
Grilled beef steaks, covered in a ginger glaze that are coked over open coals. These can be covered in either the fresh green herb sauce or hearty saffron sauce provided with this course, as well as be eaten unadorned.
. Teigwaren
Lightly boiled pasta, coated with a thin layer of sweet butter. These can be covered in either the fresh green herb sauce or hearty saffron sauce provided with this course, as well as be eaten unadorned.

Dessert -

. Funnelcake
Fried cakes, cooked in a hot oil, shaped into a circular style funnel. Topped off with powdered sugar and happiness.
. Termine Speckmantel
Pitted dates, wrapped in bacon and baked in a warm oven until done. Its bacon, its dates, its amazing.

Of all the dishes, the mushroom and onion soup was the only surprise. I knew the meat portions would do well, as would the bread because who doesn't love fresh bread, but the veracity that they attacked the soup was overwhelming! Everyone got a 9oz portion of soup, and when I got the pot back it had been scraped clean of every last drop!

What went right:

. Pre-planning, dear lord I cannot praise this enough.

Multiple copies of my recipes and schedules saved me many a time, and countless tests of each dish let me know immediately if something was working or not. Keeping my Royals in mind saved me when our Paleo diet King surprised us by dropping in, planning with him in mind I was able to ensure he could eat most dishes in each course.

. Knowing when to trust, and when to do myself was spot on.

I knew I could trust my Hall Steward to handle servers, heralding, decoration and food distribution once it was plated and handed off. All day I had server/seating/decor questions and all day the answer was "speak with my Hall Steward", because I knew I could trust her totally! I also knew that sometimes the quickest route was doing it myself, which I felt safe doing because I trusted the help in my kitchen. Too often I've seen messengers delayed/distracted when the head cook NEEDS and answer, so I resolved this problem by finding the answer myself when it was most important. Its not that I didn't trust them; I just knew the messages would be passed accurately and quickly if I did it, and I trusted my kitchen help to stay to task.

. Mandatory rest!

I scheduled time to rest, which was key to me being successful I feel. I made sure to set time aside for me to sit and eat, to take time to converse with friends and even a small meditation break to calm my nerves. Keeping myself hydrated and rested really helped me steel my nerves during crunch time.

 What went wrong:

. Know when to plan, know when to go with the flow!

I am a rather organized and scheduled person by nature, and its a habit for me to try and schedule everything. One thing that didn't fit my schedule no matter how hard I tried was court/royal timetables. Court ran late, and thus the mood of the gentles eating changed as they desired chitchat time prior to and during the first course. Also I should have checked with the lyst field for lunch, while lunch was set for noon the fighters didn't finish a set till 12:30 thus delaying lunch. In the future, being more flexible during these flux times is key.

. Take more than I need, instead of exactly what I need.

The camp we were using has a good amount of cookware available to be used, but you have to check it all out for loan. I'm always nervous about other peoples gear, so I checked out exactly what I needed instead of a few pieces extra just in case. The idea was to lessen my stress AND have less dishes to wash, except that it turned out I needed extra pots and pans quicker than I had thought. I was scrambling to wash dishes, and later scrambling to get extra pots when I should have been resting. The same goes for milk and creamer, I thought what I had was enough exact but there are a GREAT many more coffee drinkers than I had counted on.

Lessons Learned: 

. Planning is good, planning will save your butt! Always give yourself extra time. 
. Overprep, don't prep straight to the line. Accidents happen!
. Trimarian's GUZZLE coffee! Bring extra creamer and milk!
. Assume on blah days people will be late, delay food prep fr maximum freshness.
. Always prepare with Crown/Nobles in mind, you never know when they'll surprise you with a visit!
. ALWAYS have things for people to do, they'll be happy to work!
. Don't forget to QUADRUPLE CHECK with the nobles, they have a bad habit of forgetting what thier food preferences are!
. Get extra utenils and bowls, don't get just enough. Have extras is never bad!
. Check if its plugged it, don't be a doofus!