'Game of Thrones': How to plan a premiere feast worthy of Westeros
The Season 3 premiere of "Game of Thrones" is only days away, but it's not too late to plan a delicious feast for the event. Food is a big part of the world of "A Song of Ice and Fire," and it's always nice to tie that part of the series into the TV show even if there isn't a major meal in every episode.
In honor of the Season 3 premiere, "Valar Dohaeris," airing on March 31, Zap2it spoke to two experts in the "Game of Thrones" food community. In lieu of speaking to "ASoIaF" author George R.R. Martin himself, we asked "The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook" author Alan Kistler and "A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook" co-author Chelsea Monroe-Cassel for their help putting together a foolproof guide to planning a "Game of Thrones" premiere feast:
Do or do not, there is no try. If you're going to throw a premiere party, make sure you're ready for it ahead of time and don't leave all the planning until the last minute. Both Monroe-Cassel and Kistler recommend coordinating what you need to do anywhere from a few days to a week ahead of time, be that prepping your invite list, coordinating a meal or buying ingredients.
"A couple of these dishes will take hours or maybe a day to really get right," Kistler says. "If you do it a week in advance or a few days in advance, it just takes the pressure off that Sunday you aren't running around in the morning to only relax that evening. The whole day can just be fun."
Focus on one region of the "Game of Thrones" world
The people of King's Landing have a different cuisine than those in northern Westeros keeps like Winterfell, while Daenerys is dining on completely different foods beyond the Narrow Sea than those the Night's Watch at the Wall are. Make sure you stick to one region when you're crafting your perfect "Game of Thrones" feast and you'll find you have a much easier time.
"I think you really have got to decide whose side you're on," Kistler advises. "Go for that region, go for that House. If you really want to have some fun, a couple of you can be from two different regions and maybe you can eventually come up with some trade between the two of you."
"House Stark is always popular, sort of like a King of the North celebratory supportive kind of theme. Some people still like the Lannisters, it's sort of baffling to me," Monroe-Cassel says, adding for those find that approach too complicated, "I think just sort of a generic sort of medieval feel to the party is usually a good way to go."
Have one main dish
"For a 'Game of Thrones'-like atmosphere, I think it really goes with the whole 'I'm in a House celebrating with my clan' if you have a larger central dish," Kistler advises. Monroe-Cassel agrees, saying, "I think it's great to have a central dish, kind of like sort of the showpiece dish, whether it's the honeyed chicken or creamed swans from the ['Feast of Ice and Fire'] cookbook."
The dish should be something people can pick at throughout the meal. Kistler prefers a rib roast or barbeque ribs, while Monroe-Cassel says she recommends items like the chicken or pork pie. That being said, there can be side dishes as well. Feel free to either choose your own person favorites -- Monroe-Cassel suggests mashed potatoes -- or find inspiration from one of the many "Game of Thrones" recipes at your disposal.
Make it a group activity
"One thing I've found that's really fun is doing it potluck style," Monroe-Cassel says of her party-planning experiences. "Everyone brings a 'Game of Thrones' dish and you end up with a feast but you don't need to spend two days cooking." That's something else that can be planned ahead of time: cook the main dish yourself, but have everyone else attending bring a different side, dessert or beverage that sticks with your overall theme.
Don't forget the booze
It's never been easier to find medieval themed alcohol. Hard cider and mead are growing ever more popular, and Brewery Ommegang is releasing their Iron Throne beer just in time for the "Game of Thrones" Season 3 premiere. Remember, nothing completes a feast like a nice alcoholic beverage.
Stick to the tried and true favorites
When it comes to crafting the perfect meal, pick the dishes that most appeal to you. However, if you're having difficulty coming up with a perfect main course, it's always good to refer to the experts. Kistler says he's partial to Tyrion's leg of lamb and as well as Bran's venison burger. Monroe-Cassel says she's eaten her fare share of pork pies, and also loves desserts like the medieval Arya's tart and Sansa's modern lemon cakes. There are also always the go-to dishes like the honeyed chicken and Baratheon boar ribs with apples. Inn at the Crossroads has a comprehensive list of Recipes by Region that is a good starting point, and we've compiled a short list of suggestions at the bottom of this article.
Don't be afraid to splurge
"If you want to go for some of the duck dishes, don't just go for, 'Well, the supermarket down the street has something resembling duck,'" Kistler says. "Get something decent that you and your friends are really going to enjoy. Maybe it requires you to go a Google search for a better place, but is that really so bad?"
Also feel free to dress up party invitations and party favors to make an especially memorable gathering. Monroe-Cassel says she likes her parties to be "immersive" experiences, whether that means having friends come in costume or setting up a photo booth. Does that seem like too much effort? Then just focus on cooking a great meal that will have people hoping you throw a similarly awesome premiere feast for Season 4.
"Game of Thrones" returns to HBO on March 31 at 9 p.m. ET. For help planning a full "Game of Thrones" party, check out Monroe-Cassel's new eBook, "Game of Thrones Party Planning Guide," or check out the party-planning section of Inn at the Crossroads. Here are some recipes for inspiration for your "Game of Thrones" premiere feast: