Friday, May 4, 2012

Nouvelle cuisine, move over: old-style rules at King's Landing

I remember, doing the Time Warp...

Well, not really - but you need to cut me a bit of slack and forgive me if I sound a bit delusional, imagining I've gone back in time.

But it sure seemed like we'd been transported back a couple of hundred years or so, as our group got off the bus for our annual Travel Media Association of Canada 2012 conference's "Dine Around" event.
Riding shotgun, I really wanted to yell,
 "Cue the Budweiser theme!" - but didn't.
(The event sends groups of travel professionals to various eateries around the conference host city, without telling them beforehand where they'll be eating.)

As we got off our shuttle bus, we were greeted by a lady in a bonnet and a dress that probably went out of style the same time men's tricorn hats ceased to be considered fashionable.

After introducing herself, she led us to our waiting transportation - an old red wooden wagon with a pair of draft horses yoked to it.

However, this was not Busch Stadium in St. Louis, so I had to refrain from asking where the Budweiser was being chilled and try not to hum the organ music played there whenever the Cards are in a rally.

Our two-horsepower wagon took us on a tour around the village and finished up at the King's Head Tavern, where we were to eat our dinner.

By now, you may have figured out that although I may be delusional for other reasons, I was not imagining that we'd gone back in time; rather, we were guests at
Kings Landing, a re-created historical village on the banks of the St. John River.

However, we would not get our dinner for free - like troubadours of old, we had to play for our dinner, that is to say, we had to provide percussion on spoons and Bodhran (Irish) drums for Michelle and Don, the entertainment committee for King's Landing.

After trying our best not to mess up the duo's singing, guitar-playing and fiddling too badly with our less-than-rhythmic drumming and spooning, upstairs we went. 

Hmmm..mmm...they look a lot like that crazy lady and mad maestro...

That's when it got really crazy...

We're sitting waiting for our salads and drinks, when this really strange lady screams and runs into the room, sits on the floor and proceeds to tell us how she's lost her maestro, then lists off all the rules of etiquette she's broken.

She tears off into another room, and she must have found him, because in a few minutes, she's back, male in tow. The maestro looks almost as crazy as she does - his hair looks a little bit like one of the wacky scientists from the TV show Ancient Aliens. (If you've seen the show, you'll know who I mean; if you haven't, you won't want to look - it might hurt your eyes.)

Anyway, they kept reappearing and disappearing throughout the course of our evening, she begging to be his protege, he constantly refusing. In the end, she composed herself enough to trick him into marriage, and presumably they lived happily ever after.

Meanwhile, we were enjoying a wonderful comfort-food meal, cooked completely old-style: roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, salad and home-baked brown molasses bread. It was all washed down with red or white wine - or, if you prefer malt to grapes, a pint of Simeon Jones' ale, a specialty product made by the Fredericton-based Picaroon's.

"Where's my maestro?"
That was all capped off with coffee or tea, some warm gingerbread with whipped cream - and a tasty alternative to pumpkin pie: Maple brandy squash pie.

The food was excellent, but the entertainment really made the meal.

Michelle (minus the crazy) and Don (minus the weird hair) performed a few more rousing numbers for us, then it was time to click our heals together, repeat, "There's no place like TMAC" several times, and lo-and-behold! we found ourselves back in our own century, on our bus heading back to the City of Stately Elms.

Want to see some pictures from our meal? Go to my Facebook album, A Culinary Visit to the Past.

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