315 of 322 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2012
I unfortunately ordered The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook: From Direwolf Ale to Auroch Stew - More Than 150 Recipes from Westeros and Beyond before this one (my incessant need to buy anything asoiaf-related), and it was a disappointent. Recipes that weren't related to the book, no pictures, no glossy pages....pretty much BORING. This, on the other hand, the "official cookbook." It was made by diehard blog fans and GRRM even gives you an introduction. I'm going to break the book down so that you can decide whether or not this book is for you.
INTRODUCTION - you get a short and sweet introduction from GRRM
LOOK/STYLE - this book is gorgeous, with glossy pages and tons of pictures. Looks beautiful!
STOCKING YOUR MEDIEVAL KITCHEN - this will tell you how to properly prepare your kitchen for these recipes (it's not too difficult or expensive) and common substitutes for medieval ingredients. For example, they tell you that aurochs should be replaced with beef or bison (aurochs are extinct). They also tell you how to make sauces that may be required for recipes (examples - roux, medieval pastry dough, medieval fish sauce).
RECIPES BY REGION - the book breaks down recipes for you by region. Pretty cool, huh? There's the Wall, the north, the south, King's Landing, Dorne, and across the Narrow Sea.
BOOK RELEVANCE - recipes are taken from meals straight from the book, and the book is even quoted.
DIFFICULTY - since a lot of these recipes are obviously medieval-esque, it's not always easy. There are lots of pies, soups, and wine, and not always the most common ingredients. However, some of the recipes have two versions: a "medieval" and "modern." For example, there is Medieval Leek Soup and Modern Leek Soup. They have different tastes, and the medieval one calls for Poudre Forte (which they tell you how to make in the "stocking your medieval kitchen.") They do this for a LOT of recipes and I think it's a really neat idea, since medieval dishes can be too unusual for some people's palates or too complex to make.
Basically, this book is just all-around amazing. With its beautiful, glossy pictures and pages, varieties of recipes, and best of all - GRRM's stamp of approval, you can't go wrong with this.
95 of 102 people found the following review helpful
If you love to cook, and you're a fan of the George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, than you probably already know about the blog Inn at the Crossroads. If you've only watched the HBO series, Game of Thrones, then you've missed the wonderful descriptions of food in the series. A big part of Martin's world building is trying to make you experience things on a visceral level, which includes rich, detailed descriptions of meals that you can almost smell and taste.
The authors decided to try and cook their way through the books, and more than that, to do it as authentically as possible using modern ingredients and techniques. They also wanted to update the recipes for modern palettes as well and provide information about both versions. So that required carefully reading the series, then doing the research in old cookbooks, some of which were in other languages. As someone who has researched medieval recipes, I really admire their commitment and dedication. A lot of those recipes aren't exact, and a lot of the words for ingredients aren't commonly used anymore which requires even more research. They succeeded brilliantly.
I got my copy about two weeks ago, and have made a few recipes from it. They all turned out very well, the instructions and ingredients are accurate. A lot of the recipes use exotic ingredients that you may not want to try or that may be hard for you to acquire, the authors have included some recommended substitutions.
While the recipes are heavy on the meat, there are a lot of great side dishes as well including a buttery, cheesy turnip dish that is absolutely a favorite in my household, either the layered, baked version that's more authentic to the period or the mashed, creamy modern version.
The Sister's Stew is my favorite of the recipes I've tried out so far. Living in Alaska, most of the ingredients can be locally sourced and it's rich and delicious with bread on the side. It's one that I plan to make at least once a month come winter, just as a special treat.
My daughter was also very enthused about it, she hasn't read the books and dislikes the tv show, but has enjoyed the blog quite a bit. She sat down and read it like a novel, the recipe introductions read easily and conversationally. Then she grabbed a saucepan and made herself the iced honey milk which she declared is one of her favorite drinks.
There are recipes for fruit dishes, desserts, vegetable side dishes and breads.Main courses are made using all sorts of ingredients like different kinds of poultry, beef, bacon, rabbit, fish and even rattlesnake.
Gorgeous photos, well researched and delicious, impressive rustic food. I recommend this not just to fans of The Song of Ice and Fire, or of the show Game of Thrones, but to anyone who is interested in food history, cooking or medieval reenactment.
[I received a complimentary copy of the book to review on my craft blog- Don't Eat the Paste. My reviews are always my honest opinion]
66 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2012
Okay, I've been reading the blog this cookbook is based on - innatthecrossroads.com - almost since the beginning. Their recipes are wonderful, and I am so glad to see they received a well-deserved book deal. In a market where it feels like every other celebrity is using a ghost writer/chef to assemble their big glossy books, these two did an incredible job researching historical and modern recipes and tweaking the historical ones with modern ingredients. This could have been a really boring book with bland recipes, but it isn't - it's a wonderful book with absolutely great recipes. The sweetcorn fritters alone are worth the price of the book.
But that being said, I do wish the book was executed better. Without doubt, the recipes and photography are five-star. And the writing of the Monroe-Cassel and Lehrer is warm and accessible. However, I think Bantam rushed the book to market, and the recipes could have used a more careful edit. So my problem isn't with the authors, it's with the editors, who should have known better.
I have no issue with the grouping of recipes into the different geographic regions of the literary world (i.e - "The Wall", "The North", "Kings Landing", etc.). That is how the blog is organized, so that makes sense. And when you read the book, you tend to think of where the scene is set when you think of the meal anyway, so it truly makes this a companion cookbook to the series.
But some of the recipe instructions aren't clearly written for a handful of recipes. On the blog, this wasn't (and still isn't) a huge deal - you comment on the recipe with a question, and Chelsea and Sariann update the post with a clarification. However, that can't happen with a printed book - a closer read by a good cookbook editor should have cleaned up directions that weren't originally well-executed on the website.
Also, the index is not alphabetical or by ingredient - it is only by meal/food type ("Breakfasts", "Breads & Buns", "Salads & Sides", "Soups & Stews", etc.). For a blog index - where there's a search engine - that's one thing, but for a traditional print cookbook index, it is irritating. Especially as within those groupings, the items aren't alphabetized, either - they are listed by page number order. It's as if they are in blog post publishing order. But this is a book, not a blog.
And some of these groupings don't necessarily make sense within the context of the meal in which they appear. The "Fingerfish" recipe is grouped under "Salads & Sides", but it actually appears in the context of a "Breakfast" filled with multiple items where there's no real stand-out main ingredient. But the "Breakfast" category just refers you to the overview breakfast presented at the beginning of each region without the individual item breakdown. So you would have to remember the right region the item appeared in. For the blog, it shows up twice - mentioned once on the Wall (for Tyrion's breakfast with a link to the recipe), and once again as a Kings Landing item. In the cookbook, it only appears in the Kings Landing breakfast.
A simpler, more traditional index - or even groupings by ingredient type (Seafood, Poultry, Beef, Lamb, etc.) - would make it easier for the reader to find the recipe they are looking for. I hope for subsequent editions - and there should be subsequent editions, the book is worth it - they can update the index appropriately.
Bottom line - get this book, but be prepared to flip around a little if you know what you're looking for.
55 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2012
Well. As a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire books (and tv show!), I must say this is excellent. I just made the quails drowned in butter and summer greens salad...not only were the recipes easy to follow, the end products absolutely delicious, and the photographs mouthwatering, but the medieval recipes are fascinating to read about and the dishes really do make the books come to life.
Overall a very well-written and clearly well-researched cookbook. I've bought another as a gift.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2012
Obviously, I haven't tested many of the recipes yet, but I have done enough medieval style cooking to know that the ones in this book will be tasty. Whenever possible, the book gives you medieval and modern methods for the same item. The recipes are fairly easy to prepare and where some of the ingredients may be exotic, there are substitutes provided. For those who are fans of A Song of Ice and Fire or Game of Thrones, the book is divided into the regions of Westeros with recipes from each region based on what is mentioned in the novels. You can dine at Winterfell one evening and lunch in Dorne, the next afternoon. The only fault I've noticed so far is a publisher's error in the table of contents. It lists "Bowls of Brown" on page 158, when it is actually on page 152. It looks delicious, so now you will know where to find it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2013
I've been having fun going thru this book. The recipes I've tried thus far have been pretty easy. The only criticism I'd give it would be to be a little more descriptive on some of the cooking terms for the cooking illiterate, like myself. But it's accomplishing it's goal, which is to get me to try cooking more so that I'm no longer so cooking illiterate. (example: poached pears, the terms parboiling and poaching. I had an idea what these terms meant, but went to the all mighty google to confirm while I was making this dish)
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Obviously as the title states this cookbook targets fans of the Game of Thrones saga. The entries include what a reasonable Medieval Kitchen requires like Aurochs, Savory and Grains of Paradise, etc. and easy substitutes like in these cases beef, thyme and black pepper. The recipes are divided into the six regions with the entries enabling the modern chef to bake with contemporary equipment or the fanatical chef cooking in a medieval manner.
With a nod to Renaissance Faires' food fare and homage to George R.R. Martin's super series, fans will enjoy learning how to properly prepare Dragons Eggs in diverse styles and dining by region with Mutton in Onion-Ale Broth at the Wall; Aurochs with Roasted Leeks in the North; tasty Poached Pears in the South, scrumptious Sweetcorn Fritters at King's Landing that rival in taste the Atlanta south-side bakeries and Bowls of Brown; Dornish Snake with Fiery Sauce in Dorne; and Honey-Spiced Locusts Across the Narrow Sea. With colorful mouthwatering pictures fans will relish this cookbook, but should be warned we armchair warriors are a tad less active than Tyrion and others in the Seven Kingdoms.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2012
What a fun cookbook for fans of George R. R. Martin! The photos are beautiful; I love flipping through it and day-dreaming about what to try next. Be warned that this isn't a step-by-step cookbook ... recipes here are for the fearless! Most only show pictures of the final product. If you're a fan and a foodie, this is for you. If not, well, it's still pretty and the excerpts from medieval recipes are fun to try and read.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2012
Fist I want to say that while this book is aimed at fans of George RR Martin's epic novels A Song of Ice and Fire, I think that anyone would enjoy making most of these recipes. As a fan of the books myself I have always loved George's descriptions of his characters foods, the detail draws you into the world and sometimes makes you hungry just reading about it. Thanks to Chelsea and Sariann we can actually have some of those foods.
The book itself is well written with some fantastic old world recipes as well as several modern versions of the same recipe. I really have enjoyed cooking some of these and so far everything has come out amazing. The instructions are simple, pictures are great, and the ability to be apart of a fantasy novel in such a real way is truly a unique kind of experience. Sister Stew has been my favorite so far and I highly recommend trying this one out. If you're also a fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones using this book to recreate some of Westero's meals would be a real fun way to sit down with friends and/or family and watch the show. Just don't play Rains of Castamere when you're doing it...
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2013
I just held a dinner party for the premiere of season 3 using dishes from this book. The best thing about it? It provides both the traditional medieval recipe and a more modern version for many dishes. It also shows pictures of each dish plated, which is helpful. For my party, I made:
Salad at Castle Black
Crusty White Bread (Highly Recommended)
Roman Buttered Carrots
Onions in Gravy (Highly Recommended)
Thyme Crusted Rack of Lamb (Highly Recommended)
Pork Pie Sweetened with Dates (Highly Recommended)
Quails Drowned in Butter
Medieval Mulled Wine (Highly Recommended)
Frozen Blueberries with Bastard Cream
Snitched Berry Tarts