The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Domain


Review of the Official Game of Thrones Cookbook

Returning triumphantly to ground that she broke almost 12 years ago, Chelsea Monroe-Cassel‘s The Official Game of Thrones Cookbook: Recipes from King’s Landing to the Dothraki Sea, has shown her growth as a writer of cookbooks since that first effort long ago. Now a veteran cookbook writer with well over a dozen cookbooks under her belt, all based around popular genre properties such as World Craft, The Elder Scrolls, Star Wars, and Star Trek, she brings her formidable experience and talent to bear as she provides fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, and (next year!) A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, 80 brand new recipes to satisfy any craving.

Click for full-sized image

Beginning with a forward from none other than George himself, who holds forth on why he writes “gratuitous” descriptions of food and feasts (and violence and heraldry and sex) in his “big fat novels”, explaining that for him the journey for the reader of fiction is to engage emotions through vicarious experience. From there, the book follows with a brief note from Monroe-Cassel, explaining that she was approached to take on the task of modernizing a curious, antiquated manuscript, and has done her best to thoroughly labor at providing readers notes to help them succeed at making the recipes using a modern kitchen and modern ingredients. What’s this, you may ask, about an antiquated manuscript. GRRM’s foreword makes it plain enough, but the introduction that follows the author’s note makes it plainer still as we are told it is authored by one Maester Alton (a nod, we’d guess, to famed celebrity chef Alton Brown) who provides a brief biography and then sets out his intentions behind having compiled this collection of recipes. Fans may recognize that a similar introduction, from Maester Alton’s contemporary Maester Yandel, opened our own The World of Ice and Fire, so we particularly appreciated Monrose-Cassel taking this approach.

What follows are eight primary sections, beginning in “The Pantry” where foundational recipes that will be used throughout the text—for things like Oldtown mustard, pasty crust, three distinct spice blends, various syrups and sauces and broths, and more. What follows are sections devoted to breakfast, side dishes and snacks, soups and stews, varous breads, main courses, deserts and sweets, and even drinks. To top it off, besides a really smart addition of a section that organizes all the previous recipes by the regions of the world of ice and fire that they represent, there’s a set of five suggested menus with themes such as a day in the North and a feast in the Free Cities.

Click for full-sized image

Complimenting all this wonderous effort from Monroe-Cassel are beautiful photography by Lauren Volo and—to our particular pleasure—illustrations by Brian Reedy. These latter illustrations are all black-and-white images made to look like medieval woodcuts, and have a great deal of charm in them such as the occasional hidden detail like a little boy stealing a pastry or a wildling lurking behind a tree as men of the Night’s Watch dine beneath the Wall.

The first cookbook added a couple of recipies to our regular cooking rotation, such as the “Dornish Eggs”, and we suspect this book will be no different. We tend to enjoy spicy food, and the “Dragonstone Jaerhilla”—a slow-cooked stew with lamb (or mutton), red curry paste, the “Freehold spice blend”, and diced apricots—will likely be joining that rotation, as will the “Spicy Lentil Stew” with its ground cumin, a pinch of cinamon, and smoked paprika joining more lamb, spicy sausage (the recommended chorizo works well, the hotter the better), and beef broth. The next dish we’ll try? It’s a debate between the “Highgarden dumplings” or perhaps putting on the baker’s hat and trying the “Cinnamon Swirled Loaf” which uses a healthy amount of dried fruits as well as ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves which sounds very rich.

All in all, for the fan who loves to cook, or simply an amateur chef looking for ideas, we think The Official Game of Thrones Cookbook is an exciting addition to the bookshelf. Fingers crossed that we might eventually see a supplementary follow-up, like From the Sands of Dorne: A Feast of Ice and Fire Companion, to add just a few more recipes from Monroe-Cassel’s arsenal, and give us just a few more anecdotes from Maester Alton.

Click for full-sized image

The Official Game of Thrones Cookbook: Recipes from King’s Landing to the Dothraki Sea is out now everywhere you buy books.

(A brief disclaimer: We’ve never met or spoken personally with Chelsea, but have suggested some possible dishes to her in the past. And of course, her book is published through Random House Worlds, a subsidiary of Random House, our mutual publisher. We received an early review copy, but otherwise all the above are own thoughts and opinions!)