Last month I launched my author newsletter, Among Other Things. I’ll be sending this out monthly, with a little slice of fiction, some reviews, and other dark mutterings about stuff I like which you might like.
You can be the lucky recipient of said fiction, reviews and mutterings in your inbox by signing up in the box at the top right of the home page. Just over there.
A week after we all finished partaking of the Wild Magical Banquet, and I’m still not hungry. Guess that says something. Anyway, to make it easy to look back at this culinary experience, I decided to put the whole menu together into a single place, so you can easily look back and maybe give some of these fantastical recipes a go yourself.
Also, if you take a look back, you’ll find excerpts from not only Brothers of the Knife and Sons of the Curse, but also the third book in the series, Sisters of Spindrift, to whet your appetite.
Give one of these a try, with or without the official ingredient list, and you can score a copy of Sons of the Curse from publisher Omnium Gatherum just for posting the photo on their Facebook page.
Akmenos, Son of Bane, is the kind of guy you wished you had making you breakfast while you were playing games of blood and empire, so you could regret not believing in him more when everyone else thought he was guilty of murder and espionage. Learn all about his adventures in the Children of Bane series, starting with Brothers of the Knife, and continuing in Sons of the Curse, by Dan Rabarts, published by Omnium Gatherum Media.
Welcome to Day 8 of your sneak peek at my special 5-Course Wild Magical Banquet menu!
With your palate cleansed and some of that sugar-fire burning in your veins, you’ll be ready at last to sample our final course, the dessert to see you off for the night.
It’s been an epic journey, from appetiser to dessert, even if not nearly as epic as the journeys I have been on and, fates be damned, am no doubt destined yet to endure. But it has been nice, for a brief moment in time, to recline here in my fantastical restaurant of the mind, a place of apertifs and aspirations, and enjoy some time imagining good food and good friends.
Thank you for sharing this time with me. And for sharing this time with everyone you know on your social town-crying medium of choice. Nudge, nudge.
Now, before I hustle you out into the crisp night air, and the promise of snow on the mountains, and dire wolves in the shadows, let’s have some pudding.
Maybe you’re not a big dinner-chef, but with this simple sweet dish you might want to consider that Omnium Gatherum, fine purveyor of literature dark and twisted, is offering you, dear reader, a free copy of a certain tome, recounting my latest adventures, entitled Sons of the Curse, for the mere act of recreating these recipes yourself, and somehow painting them in invisible fragments of light on this infernal window. To learn more, click your clicking thing on this scrawl of letters.
Elvish Tossed Cream Trifle
It’s well known that elvish chefs pride themselves on their attention to detail, their precision and focus, and that to them, the very act of cookery is akin to the creation of an enduring work of art. I have seen balls of spun sugar with perfect puffed souffles baked within, bedecked with sauces so sweet and tart as to open the mind to stunning new vistas of experience.
Get outside the elvish dining halls, however, and you will find that the average elf is perfectly content with a simple, well-balanced pudding which is simple to create, can be prepared ahead of time, and leaves plenty to go around. For practical purposes, this is how we will end this banquet, with a generous serving of Elvish Tossed Cream Trifle.
Not even any special ingredients required for this one, you can almost certainly make it yourself (presuming you make it past the dire wolves lurking in the streets on your way home).
1 x 8″/200mm square sponge cake
Boysenberry or other slightly tart Fruit Jam (about 1/4 of a jar)
400g of tinned/stewed peaches or plums
1 Pint of custard (although I’m an egg custard purist myself, for this recipe I will allow you to use the instant powder type, since the custard will not separate during the chilling process)
300ml cream, whipped
1 x block of chocolate with nuts, for grating (and eating little bits when no-one is looking)
Spread one side of the sponge with the jam and slice into cubes. Spread through a large serving bowl. Pour the juice from your stewed fruit over the sponge and spread the fruit over the top.
Pour the custard over the top of the fruit and sponge.
Spread the whipped cream over the top of the trifle.
Grate the chocolate liberally over the cream. Stand in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. The trifle, not you, unless you have a very warm coat and nice thick mittens.
Serve with ice cream and/or jelly.
This trifle is even nicer after a night in the fridge, because all the juices and flavours soak right through the sponge.
And that’s it, the end of the final course in the Wild Magical Banquet. What an evening it has been!
If you’ve enjoyed imagining all this deliciousness as much as I’ve enjoyed imagining bringing it to you, please consider helping me acheive my dream of a cosy restaurant by the riverside by purchasing a copy of Brothers of the Knife or Sons of the Curse or, if you’ve read them already, posting a review on The Place That Sells Books With The Name of the Big River (also known as Thplathsllsbokwthnam’Bigriv, I believe. Or maybe it was Amazon, I’m not really sure about your strange world names).
Now farewell, goodnight, and don’t let the dire wolves bite!
Akmenos, son of Bane, is in his own opinion the most handsome and best-insulated of all his brothers, and the least likely to commit regicide, which is why the events portrayed in Brothers of the Knife, Book 1 of the Children of Bane series, and Book 2, Sons of the Curse, seem so unlikely. Now that he’s done sharing his banquet menu with you, he plans to get back to pottering in the kitchen, smoking his pipe (if only he could find it), and drinking tea.
Read below the line for a super-secret extract from the third book in the Children of Bane series, Sisters of Spindrift.
With Guest Chef Akmenos Son of Bane, and Guest Barkeep Nicholas Diak
Twas a long while ago I first heard the phrase Unicorn Chaser.
At first I thought it a most obvious choice of phraseology, a Unicorn Chaser is one who chases unicorns, ergo, a Unicorn Hunter of sorts, and therefore a brave and daring huntsman worthy of the greatest praise and respect, as you will agree having so recently indulged in generous helpings of roast unicorn yourself.
Then it was expounded upon me that a Unicorn Chaser is in fact the application of visual things, heavily fashioned by unicorns and such nonsense as rainbows and fairy-dust, to ease an ill taste left in the mouth, or indeed in the mind’s eye, after being exposed to something unpleasant. A bright, cheery distraction from the ills of the world.
None of which makes any sense to me. Being presented with images of unicorns would simply make me hungry, and being hungry makes me upset, so how could that make me feel better?
Rather, I suggest we reclaim the phrase. A chaser is a drink, of sorts, and chasing is the act of pursuing, ergo, following, so I hereby decree that following the shared enjoyment of a lovely joint of spit-roast unicorn, that we all chase it down with a drink!
And what better opportunity, particularly for those of you who are less inclined to cook but more likely to tinkle a little rum over ice, to remind you that Omnium Gatherum, fine purveyor of literature dark and twisted, is offering you, dear reader, a free copy of a certain tome, recounting my latest adventures, entitled Sons of the Curse, for the mere act of recreating these recipes yourself, and somehow painting them in invisible fragments of light on this infernal window. To learn more, click your clicking thing on this scrawl of letters.
Unicorn Chaser: Blood in the Arena
Having crossed the howling voids that separate our worlds, I am most pleased to be joined by scholar and exalted alchemist of the drinkeous arts, Nicholas Diak for this very special bonus addition to the Wild Magical Banquet.
Nicholas has a wealth of experience in the arena, down there among the blood and the sand, the glory and the death, mainly mixing drinks for the victors as they swagger and stagger from the remains of their vanquished foes, adulated by the baying of the crowds.
Like a certain humble cook we all know, Nicholas has watched on from beneath the shade cloths as the mighty and the ignoble alike have had their moment in the sun, and he has quenched their thirst and they have raised their glass to him with a nod that says, Well done good sir; without you, I may not have had the strength to walk away. Without you, good sir behind the bar, victory may not have been mine this day.
In honour of the sacrifices and the carnage he has watched upon the sand, that glorious bedlam which has carved him into the gritty, unstoppable mixer of drinks he is today, Nicholas Diak has brought forth this ultimate homage to those bloody, heady battles, from which only the greatest shall emerge with their lives.
We give you:
Blood in the Arena
Oz White Rum (Plantation 3 Star)
oz Lime Juice
oz Passion Fruit puree
oz of Demerara Simple Syrup
oz of Dark Jamaican Rum (Plantation Dark)
a shot glass, mix the Grenadine and the White Rum. Set aside.
Fill a Rocks glass with pebble or crushed Ice.
In a shaker, add the lime juice, passion fruit puree, simple syrup, dark Jamaican rum. Add ice cubes. Shake. Strain into the rocks glass. Float the Grenadine-White Rum mixture on top.
Bottoms Up! Wash away the last taste of unicorn from your lips, and make way for the final course: Dessert!
Nicholas Diak has been working hard these past few years trying to establish himself as a scholar of different fields of pop culture: Italian genre films (particularly the Italian Eurospy genre), post-industrial music, synthwave music and outrun culture, and H. P. Lovecraft studies. He has contributed essays, chapters and reviews to various academic anthology and pop culture websites. He’s also into a few other endeavors as well: tiki culture, cooking, cocktail making, pinup photo and art collecting, video games and retrogaming, comics and lots of movie watching. Find out more about Nicholas at his home page.
Akmenos, Son of Bane, is a serial killer of innocent cocktails, a devourer of the cutesy bits of fruit they hang on the sides of the glass, and has been known to wear those little paper umbrellas behind his ears when he thinks no-one is watching. You can verify the truth of these unlikely rumours by reading Brothers of the Knife, Book 1 in the Children of Bane Series, and Sons of the Curse, its sequel, and he recommends you do so before the ice melts and the fruit juice separates, just to be on the safe side.
It’s all about looking the part, right? Read below the line for an excerpt from Sons of the Curse, when Akmenos dresses up like a gladiator heading into the arena, so long as there’s room for his pepper grinder
Welcome to Day 7 of your sneak peek at my special 5-Course Wild Magical Banquet menu!
Your dining experience is, sadly, nearing its end. You will by now be congratulating yourself on making such a fine choice of eating establishment because, for the price, you couldn’t have found a more astounding range of dishes and eating experiences, even if it was slightly disconcerting that the door needed to be locked and barred once you were inside. Even in the humble art of cookery, we must take precautions against the powers that draw their nets against us, out there, in the dark.
Hey, it’s not paranoia when you know they’re really after you.
However, don’t worry too much about what might be lurking outside when the time comes for you to take your leave. For the moment, you’re still my guest, and the best is yet to come. Oh yes it is.
Finding the ingredients might be a challenge, but remember that Omnium Gatherum, fine purveyor and literature dark and twisted, is offering you, dear reader, a free copy of a certain tome, recounting my latest adventures, entitled Sons of the Curse, for the mere act of recreating my recipes yourself, and somehow painting them in invisible fragments of light on this infernal window. To learn more, click your clicking thing on this scrawl of letters.
Main Course: Meat Dish the Third
Spit-Roasted Unicorn Forequarter
Be warned! Cooking this dish, or even partaking of it, has the potential to make you some unexpected enemies, or at the very leastmake you unpopular with some of your more soft-hearted *cough* weak-stomached *cough* neighbours. But it will almost certainly be worth it.
Sometimes our eating choices fall between the urbane and the astounding. Sometimes, according to some, they fall on the other side of the fence, in the realm of the reprehensible. This just might be one of those times.
The same sorts of people who object to eating things like cats and dogs and hedgehogs because they’re cute also seem to take umbrage at the fact that we even know unicorn has to be, bar none, the most delectable meat from here to Landaria and back. They seem to think that because an animal is beautiful and mysterious and mystical that it has some divine right not to be eaten.
Well, bully to them, I say. Polar bears are beautiful and mysterious as well, but I don’t see anyone complaining about them being a popular slab of ribs on the barbecue. Or whales for that matter. So they can quit their moaning, because I’m not listening.
Now, while for catering purposes I much prefer the whole beast, skinned and gutted and skewered right down the middle on a solid iron spike, then dressed and oiled and slung up over a glowering bed of coals for a good twelve hours, turning frequently, I understand that most of my clientele won’t have the means or the need to do this. So here is my trimmed-down home-friendly version, which you can do in your own cooking receptacle.
You just have to imagine the sight of that glorious conglomeration of joints, haunch, and horn, tenderloins and knuckles and cheeks, turning languidly over the coals, sizzling as the fat drips into the fire, filling the longhouse with the decadent aromas of one of the most beautiful, delicious beasts ever to fall prey to the hunter’s art.
It’ll still taste as good.
1 x Rolled Unicorn Forequarter Roast (If you didn’t get to the butcher before your neighbours bought up what limited supply the hunters could deliver, you can always substitute this for fresh spring lamb instead)
Season the unicorn forequarter with olive oil and freshly ground salt and pepper, then roll in the fresh herbs.
Quarter the onion and drizzle it lightly with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.
Place the unicorn and onion on a rack over a roasting tray and leave to rest in your icebox for an hour.
If you have a fire pit and a spit roast, then by all means use it! If not, use your confounded cooking receptacle, and roast at 190C / 375F (whatever that means) for 1 to 1 1/2hrs, depending how well done you like your meat. Personally, I enjoy my unicorn rare.
(Geddit? Geddit? Because unicorns are so freaking rare? Oh never mind)
Don’t let those drippings go to waste. You’ll want to scrape the tray and mix up some gravy with a bit of stock and flour, and of course the meat and gravy will be just gorgeous with a garnish of roasted pumpkin and fresh green asparagus.
Complementary sides, you see, since I have it on good authority that pumpkin and asparagus are a unicorn’s favourite foods. It’s only right that they should be together again in death.
Akmenos, son of Bane, has never actually seen a unicorn in the flesh, but he trusts those who sell him his meat, since for such extravagant prices how could it be anything but the most rare and dangerous prey they hunt? To understand our misunderstood hero a little better, jump into his adventures in Brothers of the Knife, Book 1 of the Children of Bane series, and Book 2, Sons of the Curse. Just as soon as he’s got the dessert course out of the way, he plans to get back to pottering in the kitchen, smoking his pipe (if only he could find it), and drinking tea.
Welcome to Day 6 of your sneak peek at my special 5-Course Wild Magical Banquet menu!
So what, you ask as you survey my restaurant in your mind’s eye, are all these other things hung around the dining hall walls, cluttered amid the green lampshades and the evocative tapestries, and why, you ask, did I not involve some interior designer so that the whole thing is not so utterly overwhelming in its mismatched grandeur? Why indeed, say I.
The weapons slung upon the walls are relics of battles gone by, most of which I will admit I had very little to do with, and which I might have picked up along the way in the hopes of outfitting my dastardly mercenary army who would flock to my banner if, indeed, I ever had a banner. I think the closest I ever came to having a banner was that time I slung my apron off a fallen halberd to wave surrender at the hordes of kobolds who thought I’d stolen their sauces basket, but that’s another story for another day.
The point is, it’s all very well going on wondrous, perilous adventures into foreign places, but why bother if you can’t bring some trophies home and lord them over the common folk, right? Plus, they make for good conversation starters. Let’s carry on with the main course, then.
If today’s offering happens to whet your appetite, remember that Omnium Gatherum, fine purveyor and literature dark and twisted, is offering you, dear reader, a free copy of a certain tome, recounting my latest adventures, entitled Sons of the Curse, for the mere act of recreating my recipes yourself, and somehow painting them in invisible fragments of light on this infernal window. To learn more, click your clicking thing on this scrawl of letters.
Main Course: Meat Dish the Second
Seasonal Slow-cooked Gryphon
To everything there is a season, they say. Plant the crops, sow the crops. Love your brother, frame your brother for murder. You know how it goes.
Now, when most people think of Gryphons, all they see are the wings and that tremendous curved beak, all the pomp and theatrics and drama of the monster in its supremacy over land and sky alike. Maybe they hear the high shrieking of the beast as it sweeps down from above to snatch up its prey, and the shredding of flesh and bone as it rips its meal apart, devouring it whole as it returns to the skies. Maybe that meal was something, or someone, that person loved, and so they will always remember the beast with blood in their eyes, which seems a bit unfair when it’s just an animal doing what animals do.
No-one sees the tenderness of the lion at rest, the beauty of those lean, well-toned muscles that cook up so nicely in a big ceramic pot over a low heat.
The rarity of the beast is another problem here, because there are so few, and someone writing laws somewhere decided it ought to be against that law to hunt them, at least all year round. Accordingly, there’s only a small window of opportunity, in the late summer when the fledglings are leaving the nest, for beast-hunters to bring a Gryphon down, delivering them to the butchery where we can all appreciate their true value: As a well-anticipated crock-pot dinner.
Seasonal Slow-cooked Gryphon
1 x Rolled Forequarter Gryphon Roast (If you didn’t get to the butcher before your neighbours bought up all the Gryphon to come in this season, you can always use Hogget in the form of Colonial Goose instead. But I will be sad.)
1 x Onion, finely chopped
1 x Onion, cut into 6ths
1 x Cup breadcrumbs
Grated Zest of 1 lemon
Salt & Pepper
Semolina or Plain White Flour
Stuff your Gryphon forequarter with the finely chopped onions, lemon zest and breadcrumbs.
Toss the roast in freshly ground salt and pepper, olive oil, worcester sauce and balsamic vinegar.
Roll in flour. The meat, not yourself. Unless that’s what you’re into, and who am I to judge?
Rest in your icebox in the crockpot dish on a raised tray for about 5 hours. (Did I mention you need to start this one early in the morning?)
Cut an onion into 6ths and place around the meat. Place the dish with the meat and onions in the crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours.
Remove the meat and rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, use an infernal electrified spinning blade wand and blitz the onion and the juices in the crockpot dish to make the gravy. Season to taste.
Slice the meat and the stuffing against the grain.
Serve with boiled potatoes and fresh veges, and lots of that lovely gravy.
Akmenos, son of Bane, knows you aren’t really reading these unique and witty bios which he had to go to all the effort of writing in the third person, and really hopes you’ll follow his adventures in Brothers of the Knife, Book 1 of the Children of Bane series, and Book 2, Sons of the Curse. He’s looking forward to the end of the Akmenos-hunting season, after which he plans to get back to pottering in the kitchen, smoking his pipe (if only he could find it), and drinking tea.
Welcome to Day 5 of your sneak peek at my special 5-Course Wild Magical Banquet menu!
By now, you’ll have started leaning back in your chair, hunger tickled but not yet sated, and you’ll be taking a long draught from your tankard, while looking at the tapestries on the walls, hanging above the green lampshades. In their weird light, you will have noticed the scenes of epic derring-do, so fraught with peril it almost seems too dangerous to have committed these images to hessian and yarn. Leaping flames so very fierce it’s surprising the tapestries don’t turn to ash by the very nature of their narrative. Villains and heroes so much more real than they have any right to be.
Those are my stories up there, with perhaps just a little embellishment. You have to admit, that heroic hornung with the shield and the pepper grinder cuts quite the striking figure, even if he’s a little less plump than ought to be lifelike.
So hard to find good artists, who will stick to the truth of the thing instead of trying to hide it behind what an audience has come to see. Ah well. Enjoy the melodrama, but when the night grows long, mayhap we shall sit in the warmth of my little corner of the world, and share a pipe, and I will tell you how it all really came about. Indeed. Now, do you smell that? The freshness of the bread, the wildness of meat sizzling over open flames? The main meals are rolling out. This is the part of the evening you’ve really been waiting for.
Bearing mind that now could be the perfect time to try your hand at wild magical cookery, since Omnium Gatherum, fine purveyor and literature dark and twisted, is offering you, dear reader, a free copy of a certain tome, recounting my latest adventures, entitled Sons of the Curse, for the mere act of recreating my recipes yourself, and somehow painting them in invisible fragments of light on this infernal window. To learn more, click your clicking thing on this scrawl of letters.
Main Course: Meat Dish the First
Dire Wolf Bread Stacks
Who needs dire wolves? Yes, OK, hobgoblins who ride them back and forth between the farm and the market need them, just like regular folk need horses. But no-one else needs dire wolves!
Yes, OK, those farmsteaders out in the hinterlands of the Southern Reaches, so wild that even the wolves are considered tame by comparison, those people so hard and brutal that the dire wolves cleave to them as kindred spirits, and together they carve a life out of the snow-driven wastes, also might need their wolves. But they’re kind of weird, so they don’t count. Stop contradicting me. Who, I say, needs dire wolves?
What? That’s ridiculous? What even is an apex predator? And how can “keeping the deer population under control so they don’t eat the entire forest” possibly be a thing, at all? I beg your pardon? What is this science of which you speak? Never heard of it. Go eat your ecology if you like it so much.
No more questions. The answer is, dire wolves are big, smelly, pesky, a bit scary, and their howling always used to keep me awake at night, back in Kriikan, before… Well, you know. Before I had to run away because of that elf keeling over at the banquet table, and… And what followed.
In any case, dire wolves. Any good forest patrol ought to bring one in at least every couple of days, and although they’re a bit stringy, you can put the whole carcass through a mincer and come out with a good load of ground wolf mince, which you can do all sorts of things with. It’s like meat-clay, and you, the cook, are the sculptor. Get that meat in your hands, and turn it into art for the mouth.
Also, I know no-one does this, but: I fry the meat and put it in between a sliced bun. I know, right? It’s going to be some sort of trend, you watch. Maybe not as big as Akmenos-Bread, but still, it’ll have its day.
I give you: Dire Wolf Bread Stacks!
Hand-made Bread Buns
300g Hi-Grade Flour
200g Semolina Flour
2 T Surebake Yeast
1 T Sugar
1 t Salt
315mls tepid water
Dire Wolf Mince Patties
200g Dire Wolf Mince (You can always use beef mince, but it just doesn’t have the same taste of danger about it)
Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper
1 Large Free Range Egg
1 T Worcester Sauce
1/2 t Paprika
1/2 t Dried Mixed Herbs
1 t Mustard Powder
2 T Potato Starch
Hand-made Bread Buns
Mix all ingredients together. If you don’t have Surebake Yeast, which I use in this strange whirring contraption Araxtheon threw at me one day to get me out of his kitchen, and which does all the hard work, you’ll need to prepare your yeast with warm water and sugar before adding it to the dry ingredients.
If you don’t have a magic contraption like mine that mixes the dough, then knead it and knead it and knead it and knead it. At least 10 minutes. Don’t stop. I’ll be checking, and I still have that whip around here somewhere if I see you slacking.
Once the dough is done with being kneaded, leave it somewhere warm to rise for an hour. Now roll the dough out on a floured bench, into a long snake, and cut into a decent number of round clumps. Place these on some of the paper you stole from the library, on an oven tray, and put back in your warm place to rise.
While it’s doing this, make your dire wolf meat patties (see below).
After an hour or so, get your kiln up to a good heat (about 200 degrees C or 290 F, whatever that means), and bake the buns for 20 minutes. You’ll know when they’re done, because if you tap the bottom they’ll sound hollow.
If anyone tries tapping my bottom to see if I’m hollow, I swear I will hit you with my spatula.
Move the buns onto a wire cooling rack to, erm, cool. This will stop the bottom going soggy.
Dire Wolf Mince Patties
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Get your fingers in there, squash it all together, get those flavours mixed in. Art for the mouth, remember?
Shape into patties using a couple of spoons drenched in flour, and lay on a floured plate until you’re ready to start cooking.
In a lovely big heavy iron skillet, the sort that might be mistaken for a murder weapon if the head chef was mysteriously found with a broken skull at the bottom of the dry store pantry (not that I’ve ever fantasised about that), fry the patties for about 10 mins on each side in hot oil, with a chopped onion cooking around the sides of the pan.
Place a slice of cheese on top of each patty for the last 8 mins of cooking, to melt.
Slice the buns, butter and dress with mayonnaise, sauce, relish, sour cream, aioli, plum sauce, spider mash, or whatever you prefer, and layer in lettuce, tomato slices, a dire wolf mince patty, some of the cooked onion, cucumber slices, and pickled beets.
And when you’re done with that lot, ask yourself this question, one more time: Who needs dire wolves? We all need dire wolves! Because we all want more Dire Wolf Bread Stacks!
Akmenos, son of Bane, has only occasionally been mistaken for a wolf, and even then not because of how dire he looked but more because of his puppy eyes. Follow his adventures in Brothers of the Knife, Book 1 of the Children of Bane series, and Book 2, Sons of the Curse. Once you’re done chasing him around the kitchen trying to tap his hollow bottom, he plans to get back to pottering in the kitchen, smoking his pipe (if only he could find it), and drinking tea.
If you’d like to know why Akmenos harbours mildly homicidal urges towards his (former) head chef, read below the tag for Chapter 2 of Brothers of the Knife, where Akmenos’ quiet life is turned upside-down, forever.
Welcome to Day 4 of your sneak peek at my special 5-Course Wild Magical Banquet menu!
Do you like the furniture I picked for the restaurant dining area? Yes, I know you have to imagine it because right now I’m somewhat, er, between real estate opportunities, but just close your eyes and take a look. Lovely deep umber timber from the Wrianglia Delta mangroves, hand-carved into chairs which have these very convenient gaps in the back for a tail to slip through. Not like those pesky human chairs, which show no consideration for the anatomy of an upstanding hornung like myself. Although, I guess I would be upstanding if I couldn’t sit down, wouldn’t I? Ha!
But I digress. Marvel at the furniture, at the dark polished grain of the table-tops. The soft shimmer of green-glassed lanterns that cast the whole floor in a light just the right balance of intimate and festive. And behold, as your loyal cook (who most certainly wouldn’t accidentally poison you, at least not deliberately) brings forth your next side dish.
And let’s not forget that Omnium Gatherum, fine purveyor and literature dark and twisted, is offering you, dear reader, a free copy of a certain tome, recounting my latest adventures, entitled Sons of the Curse, for the mere act of recreating my recipes yourself, and somehow painting them in invisible fragments of light on this infernal window. To learn more, click your clicking thing on this scrawl of letters.
Main Course: Side Dish
Dwarvish Smashed Potatoes
If there’s one thing dwarves are good at, it’s smashing things. Rocks, hostile empires, potatoes. Pretty sure they have to smash their bread too, but I’m hoping my last time among these fine folk will have cured them of that for good. I imagine the fusion of bread and beer will spur something of a cultural revolution among the dwarves, and they might even be calling it “Akmenos Bread” by the time the phenomenon reaches the outside world. Rolls off the tongue much more neatly than “Beer Bread”, don’t you think?. But we’re not here to reminisce about places I’ve been held prisoner by people much smaller than me, we’re here to learn how to smash a potato, Dwarvish style.
The trickiest part about this will probably be getting the paper. Paper, as you know is a precious commodity much valued by warlocks, sages and seers, and can only be purchased at great expense from those colourful traders who make the trek from Farport and places beyond, over the horizon, places of silk and spice and other mysteries. The secrets of paper are such that even a highly travelled adventurer like myself remains oblivious to how it is constructed. Parchment, no problem. Rice sheets, I can do. Even Papyrus, which can actually be soaked in wine and chewed on for a handy snack with digestive benefits. But paper? Nope.
So, before you start, sneak into your local library, find the dustiest book you can find in the darkest corner, slip it under your cloak and make haste back to the kitchen before the librarian sees you and sets her gargoyles on you.
1kg roasting/baking potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
Salt & Pepper
Dried Mixed Herbs
Finely Chopped Garlic
Boil a pot of potatoes, cooking 1 – 2 per dinner guest as required. When cooked, toss lightly in olive oil. On an oven rack, place a piece of your stolen paper and brush oil on that, too. Don’t worry if the inks run, most inks are either delicious or, at the very least, not deadly. Place the potatoes on the paper and gently crush with a potato masher, so they look like so:
Dress up the potatoes with a generous dose of freshly ground salt and pepper and olive oil, then add your favourite toppings. I used onion, parmesan, Italian herbs, and finely chopped garlic, but there’s no reason not to add salmon, bacon, diced starfruit, pickles and even crispy locusts. A family favourite. Place under the grill and brown.
Serve alongside your mains, which are very nearly ready to roll out of the kitchen. Charge your glasses, folks, the main event is on the way!
Akmenos, son of Bane, is the youngest and least murderous of all his brothers, preferring a nice lime souffle and a spiced caramel sauce to the sorts of political intrigue, assassination and global destabilisation he has found himself embroiled in, ever since that unfortunate incident in the imperial banquet hall back in Kriikan. Unexplained poisonings aside, he’d really like it if you followed his adventures in Brothers of the Knife, Book 1 of the Children of Bane series, and Book 2, Sons of the Curse. The more of you who read his book, the sooner he can get back to pottering in the kitchen, smoking his pipe (if only he could find it), and drinking tea.
Welcome to Day 3 of your sneak peek at my special 5-Course Wild Magical Banquet menu!
So pleased to have you back in this, my restaurant of the mind, where you can share in my grand plans to one day put aside all this silly roaming of strange worlds and fighting of nefarious villains, and get down to the business of what really matters: discovering all the divine tastes of the many weird and wonderful magical beasts that roam our world. Because why would whatever mad deity who created our sphere of existence have put all these awful and beautiful things here if not for us to eat them? And so that, dear friends, is my next grand quest.
Read on, prospective dinner guest, read on!
Oh, dare I remind you again that Omnium Gatherum, fine purveyor and literature dark and twisted, is offering you, dear reader, a free copy of a certain tome, recounting my latest adventures, entitled Sons of the Curse, for the mere act of recreating my recipes yourself, and somehow painting them in invisible fragments of light on this infernal window. To learn more, click your clicking thing on this scrawl of letters.
I hope you’ll understand when I say that I really, really don’t have anything specifically against wyverns, as a species, on the whole. I understand there are animals out there that really do need rending claws and slashing teeth and paralysing poison just to stay alive, and I respect that. I have brothers who are quite similar. And yes, I’ve had some near-death encounters in which the wings of wyverns have cast a heavy shadow, but this has simply taught me resilience, and also given me a rather literal and graphic insight into the physiology of the wyvern, leaving me convinced that it would make for a most unappetizing menu item. The very colour of their blood…
Ahem, where were we? The flesh isn’t palatable (unless you’re a starving wolf) but the eggs are a different story. For a start, the wyvern is a large beast and as such lays eggs relative to its size, meaning one egg can feed a large family for breakfast. Or a whole adventuring party, so if you’re in that line of business, this might serve you as practical field advice as well. Never thought you’d be taking survival tips from old Akmenos, did you? Ha.
I’m told the eggs are easy enough to gather as the wyvern is a stupid beast that spends more time hunting than protecting its nest. The only issue is getting them back to market without the wyvern spotting you as it flies home, since horses are one of their favourite meals.
Once you have your egg on hand, you’ll need to make sure you have a really big pan, lots of room over the fire, and something either very sharp or very heavy to break that shell. And lots of friends around to help you eat it.
Wyvern Eggs (Regular chicken eggs will suffice, but the meal won’t be Wild or Magical as promised. Ostrich Eggs might be closer to the mark. Boa Constrictor even closer, but watch out for the contents!)
White Vinegar or Cider Vinegar
Loaves for toasting
In a really, really big pan (have you seen the size of those eggs?) bring a good amount of water to the boil. Ensure there’s enough room in the pan for all that egg so when you crack it open you won’t flood the kitchen and scald your hooves.
Add a lug of vinegar and a generous shake of salt.
This next part may take two people. Holding a wyvern egg in two hands is one thing, but holding half a wyvern egg in one hand is quite another, and the last thing you want is eggshell in your egg. Get your kitchen-hand to carefully crack the egg, using a heavy-bladed sword or axe. I recommend wearing chainmail gloves for this, just in case whoever is wielding the blade is somewhat less capable with a blade than they might need to be. Stop looking at me like that.
The egg should hit the boiling water and hold its shape as it starts to cook. Now watch it carefully until the white cooks through and the yolk just starts to turn from dark yellow to warm orange.
During this time you should have some loaves sliced in half, dusted with oil and parmesan and garlic, browning under the grill.
Getting the egg out and ready to serve is the next big challenge. Place your biggest metal colander in the sink, carry the pan to it, and tip the egg and water slowly into the colander, allowing the water to drain away and not breaking the egg yolk in the process. Slide the egg gently onto a big serving platter, and garnish with more grated parmesan and lots of cracked pepper.
Deliver to your eager guests with the toasted loaves, a very large knife and a pie-serving slice to share the egg around.
If, after sampling this fine meal, you find you have developed a liking for Wyvern egg, ask your local merchant to keep them in good supply. The more people who pick up a taste for it, the better it will be for all of us. What? You think I’m trying to encourage some sort of passive extermination of a whole species by culinary consumption, just because I was traumatised by the sight of a wyvern being beheaded in front of me? I deny such terrible accusations. But if you can ask your local market for a dozen eggs at a time, you won’t ever run short. Sheesh, I’ll even swing by and cook them for you…
Akmenos, son of Bane, used to be an imperial cook until a poorly publicised misunderstanding and a royal corpse have led him to a life of subterfuge, sleeping on couches, and an irritating lack of condiments. His efforts to clear his name, often leading him to engage in impromptu food-based diplomacy, have been documented for your degustation in Brothers of the Knife, Book 1 of the Children of Bane series, and Book 2, Sons of the Curse. As soon as he’s able, he’d just like to get back to pottering in the kitchen, smoking his pipe (if only he could find it), and drinking tea.
Welcome to Day 2 of your sneak peek at my special 5-Course Wild Magical Banquet menu!
So I’ve already told you about my little corner restaurant, right? No, I’d prefer you don’t refer to it as imaginary. Visionary, now there’s a word I like. Anyway, I imagine, I mean, envision, that in this restaurant there’ll be a long feasting table for questing heroes with lots of friends who want to celebrate their bloody victories, as well as private little booths where an intimate group might enjoy a lovely plate loaded high with crispy appetizers and sauce, surrounded by tall glasses rimmed with frost from the exotic – and probably expensive – elvish liqueurs they’ll be imbibing. What flavour and texture will this stack of steaming nibbles take? Read on, prospective dinner guest, read on!
But don’t forget that Omnium Gatherum, fine purveyor and literature dark and twisted, is offering you, dear reader, a free copy of a certain tome, recounting my latest adventures, entitled Sons of the Curse, for the mere act of recreating my recipes yourself, and somehow painting them in invisible fragments of light on this infernal window. To learn more, click your clicking thing on this scrawl of letters.
Second Course: Appetizer
Bacon-Wrapped Baby Vrock Drumsticks
Following the potentially amazing, or possibly rather awkward, first course of Sometimes Soup, I’ll be serving a dish which I guarantee will, as the young folk say, rock.
One thing about staking my claim down there near the Skullspines, is the unusually high populations of magical creatures which roam the mountains and foothills, and the brave yet crazy hunters who bring them back for the gastronomical delight of my likely clientele. Free-range tastes best, as they say, and what can be more free-range than the Vrock, a vast winged beast which can soar the alpine skies and shift between this plane and elsewhere at a whim. Where they go I hope I never discover. Although, the way things have been going lately, there’s a good chance I may. I’ll try not to think about that. Which of course means I’m now thinking about it. Oh dear.
Anyhoo, don’t worry. I know all about Vrock, how the old birds are tough as boot leather, as much from the plane-hopping as from their general grumpiness. Gets into the muscles, the bones, you know? Makes them far less edible, the older and grumpier they get. Maybe it’s a survival technique. Who knows, I’m no ornithologist. I’m mostly interested in the bits of a bird you can eat, and you can’t eat their bad manners.
So, no old Vrock. Which means you gotta get them freshly hatched.
Tricky business, given how they build their eyries on high shrieking wind-shredded cliffs, and accounting for how the adult Vrock have a beak on them so sharp it can take your hand off, while their talons rip your guts open from stern to spleen. So you’ll appreciate my prices. But if a hunter can swipe a nest and make it back to the lowlands alive, that’s a whole lot of delicious, free range baby bird right there.
Luckily, Vrock lay extremely large clutches of eggs, since most the birds don’t make it to grumpy old adulthood. Probably because of the stupid high places they build their nests, the dangers of learning to fly in high winds, and no doubt the perils of transdimensional travel, which are many, I assure you. So in a way, we’re doing them a favour, making their short lives bring at least a little pleasure to someone before they expire. Namely you, dear guest. If you have a heavy purse.
Baby Vrock Drumsticks (Chicken Drumsticks will suffice if your hunter who promised to deliver your order upon his/her return from the mountains never returned)
Boar Bacon Rashers (Regular pig bacon rashers will substitute if boar is rare in your parts, but remember: Free Range is best!)
Jellied Cranberry Sauce
Trim the rind off the bacon and reserve.
For wide bacon rashers, cut in half down the middle to allow for a long thin strip.
Spread the cranberry over the Baby Vrock Drumsticks and then wrap a couple of long strips of bacon around each. Secure with a toothpick. Season with freshly ground salt and black pepper.
Lay the bacon rind on an oven rack, then place the wrapped Baby Vrock Drumsticks on top of it.This will help stop the bacon from sticking to the tray, and will also help baste the portions as you turn them during cooking.
I cook mine in a hot oven with a gentle open flame above for about 40 minutes, turning every ten minutes or so. You may have a combination oven/grill setting or some such on your infernal electric cooking receptacle, which you might like to use. Either way, you want the Baby Vrock to cook through, and for the bacon to go crispy. Don’t let it burn!
Serve up with a selection of sauces, including something sweet like plum sauce, something creamy like aioli, and something spicy like chilli sauce. Your dinner guests will appreciate the variety. You will appreciate the crispy grilled bacon rind which has charred up to perfection underneath the drumsticks!
Also, ensure you keep a good supply of enchanted arrows and combat spells on hand, because the Vrock just might come after their offspring at any time! But that’s all part of the dining experience.
Akmenos, son of Bane, is just the friendliest falsely accused murderer you might meet, and it seems completely unfair that he’s on the run from his empire and even his own brothers for something he’s pretty sure he didn’t do. He thinks. You can be the judge as to whether he poisoned that elvish prince fellow, by following his adventures in Brothers of the Knife, Book 1 of the Children of Bane series, and Book 2, Sons of the Curse. He’d just like to get back to pottering in the kitchen, smoking his pipe (if only he could find it), and drinking tea.