Last weekend we threw Anthony a D&D-themed birthday party and in addition to it being a whole lot of fun it was really easy on the budget. Potlucks have worked out really well for our group of friends because we can feed a whole lot of people without spending an ungodly amount of money on food. It has taken some practice for us to get the balance of food just right – in the beginning we ate a lot of potlucks that consisted of mainly cookies – but we got better at it as time went on and now through the magic of social media we can loosely organize who brings what to enjoy a well-rounded meal.
The potluck for Anthony’s party was different, however, because it was a themed party and we wanted the food to reflect the D&D theme. Anthony wanted a banquet of what he called Tavern Food, but of course we’re talking imaginary taverns here as opposed to an actual nation’s tavern cuisine. We’re thinking warrior food–flagons of mead, crusty bread, thick and hearty beef stew, or perhaps a whole roast chicken you found conveniently on the ground while adventuring.
Anthony, who can make delicious pancakes and eggs and not much else, decided he wanted to level up his cooking skills and a few weeks ago made his first ever beef stew and it was fantastic. He decided to make a huge pot of it for the party (recipe here) and asked me to make a vegetarian soup to serve along with. Since rustic food was our theme I went with a tomato-based vegetable soup that I fortified with a few types of beans. I actually made this soup a couple of months ago with the intention of sharing the recipe here on the blog, but almost all the photos were on our old hard drive that has since been inaccessible. I made it the day before (with Isobel’s help) so it could sit around and accumulate some flavor.
Our friend Kyle, accomplished home cook and baker, made gorgeous rolls and loaves of sourdough bread. Fresh from the oven, they were absolutely transcendent; there’s no other way to describe them. Anthony envisioned a selection of cheeses to have alongside the stews and bread because in addition to being delicious they are also a staple in any hero’s knapsack. We had friends bring large blocks and wedges while others interpreted the cheese theme in creative ways: Zack and Lisa brought a heated cheese dip and Angela made a gorgeous pastry-covered baked brie. Cheese in any form was welcome at our table, even if they weren’t as likely to be found in a warrior’s bag of holding. It was all so, so good.
We thought about roasting chickens but frankly, it made more sense, time and money-wise, for our friend Jake to pick up a couple of rotisserie chickens from the grocery store. There were several kids in attendance and I saw most of them munching away on chicken packed into the rolls.
As for drinks, people brought mead which we mulled with spices at the end of the night, various ales and beers, non-alcoholic apple cider, Mountain Dew (of course), sodas of all sorts, and mixed drinks for custom-made potions. That’s right, magic potions. Anthony and some of his friends spent some time trying to figure out what one would put into a drink to make it a potion of haste, or barkskin, or bull strength. Some of their experiments were, in their words, undrinkably nasty, while others came out well enough to serve at the party. I’ll be post up the recipes at some point because everyone really enjoyed them. Our friend Brandon found some potion-shaped salad dressing bottles and filled them with candy-colored potion concoctions, and those were a lot of fun. I drank non-caffeinated rootbeer and water, available only at finer D&D taverns.
For dessert, our friend Laurel made some exquisite peanut butter fudge and I grabbed some pink-sprinkled heart-shaped Valentine’s cookies because I’m a sucker and I knew Isobel would love them. They were a huge hit with the kids so I’m really glad I got them. The highlight of the sweets course was the pie our pastry chef friend Valerie made. It had a crackly sugar crust and was filled with a delicate raspberry-vanilla-pear miasma. Anthony deeply regrets that it was all gone by the time he went looking for some.
We wanted to offer an array of fabulous goblets so each guest who was so inclined could feel like a warrior lord drinking out of their own personal holy grail. These we thrifted over a few trips to various thrift stores in the area. We had a large selection from which to chose and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
We are still wading through the mess over here and trying to distribute some of our many many drink leftovers among our friends. The party was such a great success that there’s very little we would change. Except for the mess, but that can’t be helped.