Tolkien News

A Feast Fit for a King, or a Hobbit!

If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration for your own Middle-earth themed feasts and parties, you may want to look at some of the amazing work of Emily Wert, fantasy foodie extraordinaire! Emily and her husband Jim Wert are well known in the Tolkien fandom community, and long-time regulars and Tolkien Track veterans at Dragon Con.

Emily is particularly known for her delicious food. I was fortunate enough to persuade her to do an interview with us this year in honor of Feast Week.


Valdís: How long have you been doing fantasy-themed parties?

Emily: I started with themed birthday parties for my kids, which got progressively more elaborate, but my first fantasy-themed party was for ‘The Two Towers’ release in 2002. This was followed by parties for ‘The Return of the King,’ the Extended ‘Return of the King’ release, the 3 ‘Narnia’ movies, the 3 ‘Hobbit’ movies and last year the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ (Harry Potter) movie. This year we are planning a Star Wars Party.

Hobbit Door cookies. Photo credit: Emily Wert.

Valdís: How did you get started in hosting Middle-earth themed parties?

Emily: Our son went to a party when ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ came out and asked me to make him a Gandalf costume. This started me thinking, and we planned a themed party for ‘The Two Towers.’ The rest is history.

Valdís: How do you go about developing a recipe for a Middle-earth party?

Emily: I start with the foods I like to make for parties (meatballs, cheese spread, raspberry bars, peppermint brownies, artichoke dip, whatever). Then Jim works on food names that pick up on the theme. I also search for recipes for particular things that seem to fit the theme (mushroom recipes for Hobbit parties, lembas bread, etc).

Radagast’s Magic Mushrooms. Photo credit: Emily Wert.

Valdís: How do you create food that differentiates between the different peoples of Middle-earth (hobbits, elves dwarves, orcs)?

Emily: I haven’t really differentiated foods by peoples of Middle-earth. Different people groups may be indicated by the names Jim comes up with.

Valdís: What are some of your favorite “signature” dishes?

Emily: Lembas (orange shortbread), raspberry bars (presented as Smaug’s scales for Middle-earth themed parties), a giant Bilbo’s Birthday cake, sweet and spicy meatballs.

Bilbo’s Birthday Cake. Photo credit: Emily Wert.

Valdís: What is the most elaborate party you’ve ever done?

Emily:  That would have to be the all day “Lord of the Rings Film and Feast Extravaganza” inspired by the Alamo Draft House Trilogy Feast. We invited 20 of our closest friends and watched all 3 LOTR movies (extended versions, of course!), with a course (and wine/beer pairings) served during each half of each movie. It was a long day, and took a lot of preplanning and cooking, but so much fun!           

Menu for the “Lord of the Rings Film and Feast Extravaganza”. Photo credit: Emily Wert.

Menu:

1st Breakfast (English sausage, poached egg with Portobello mushroom, roasted tomato, blood orange mimosa)

2nd Breakfast (cinnamon rolls, strawberries with cream, Chaucer’s mead)

Elevensies (caramelized onion tart, candied bacon, sautéed mushrooms with thyme, peach basil shortcake, Indian Brown ale)

Luncheon (herbed hobbit salad with blackberry vinaigrette and edible flowers, Guinness glazed lamb chops, sage honey mushrooms, Guinness or Pinot Noir)

Afternoon Tea (peach soup, star anis and lemon apricot scones, raspberry shortbread bars, assorted teas)

Dinner (coney and tater stew, cream cheese rolls, amber cider and Sauvignon blanc)

Supper (tarragon mushroom soup, blueberry and rhubarb pies, Return of the King’s Cake, Veuve de Vernay Brut)

Herbed Hobbit Salad from the Luncheon menu of “Lord of the Rings Film and Feast Extravaganza”. Photo credit: Emily Wert.

Valdís: What is the most elaborate single item or dish you’ve ever created?

Emily: Probably the themed gingerbread creations I make for each party. The domed roof and the molten sugar waterfall for the White Council chamber and the Laketown houses on stilts above poured molten sugar blue water were two of the most difficult.

Emily’s fabulous Lake-town Gingerbread creation. Photo credit: Emily Wert.

Valdís: What are your top 3 pieces of advice for someone who wants to start creating food for fantasy-themed parties?

Emily: Start with what you know/are comfortable making, and gradually add new/more difficult recipes. Balance authenticity with creativity. Get inspired by your theme, and add decorations, costumes, special dishes to your heart’s content. Don’t get discouraged. There’s always a learning curve, and if something doesn’t quite work the way you envisioned, you can improve the next time.

Valdís: Anything else you want to share with our readers?

Emily: I always make a themed gingerbread “house” for each party—Meduseld, Minas Tirith, Hobbit Holes and Green Dragon, White Council Chamber in Rivendell, Laketown.

Emily’s Rivendell Council Chamber gingerbread. Photo credit: Emily Wert.

Emily generously shared her recipe for her world-famous lembas! Give it a try, and let us know how it turns out!

Happy Feast Week!

Lembas bread. Photo credit: Emily Wert.

Lembas (makes 48)

4 stick (2 cups) butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

4 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup turbinado (coarse) sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. Blend together butter, sugar, orange zest, and salt in a mixer. Sift flour into butter mixture and stir just until mixture forms a soft dough. Press dough into an ungreased jelly roll pan. Prick dough all over with fork and sprinkle with coarse sugar, pressing it gently into dough with your fingertips to adhere. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until edges are golden but center is pale, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a rack 10 minutes, then cut into 24 rectangles (6 x 4 grid in pan), then cut rectangles into triangles while still warm. Let cool completely.

Here are more photos of Emily’s amazing culinary creations!

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One Comment

  1. This is just amazing! Very inspiring! I’ll have to try that lembas recipe and I’m fascinated with the idea of peach soup!