December is and always will be the month of Middle Earth. For over ten years now, my winter breaks have been marked by regular cinematic ventures into the world of The Lord of the Rings. Between each installment of the LOTR trilogy, Decembers were when my family and I would sit down and discover the extended editions of the films and all the accompanying appendices. Each December since, I’ve made it a tradition to watch all three extended editions over the course of the month, often in one long weekend. Of course, this December was extra special with the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The weekend after I went to see The Hobbit in Regal Cinema’s RPX RealD 3D HFR (all the bells and whistles save for IMAX), I sat down at home (with my much more modest screening system) to continue the story where it picks up 60 years later. Of course, I needed some fuel for the journey. With a kitchen stocked with Trader Joe’s items and a little imagination, my menu was set.
Potatoes and onions from the Greenhand farm in The Shire and the freshest eggs to be found-scrambled-which were traded for a heaping pile of mint. The egg dish was served alongside fried bread with a modest amount of butter spread over its crisp surface and a fresh pot of apple tea, a black tea that was just the thing on a cold December morning.
A quiche made with spinach and Bamfurlong mushrooms packed quite nicely. The mushrooms, I’ll have you know, were acquired quite rightfully from Farmer Maggot in the Eastfarthing. The grain for the bread from the Sandyman mill right in Hobbiton. Another cup of apple tea made with boiled water from a mountain stream accompanied.
Crisps, nuts, and waxed cheeses for ease of individual consumption when traveling-though I admit to eating all three in one sitting. The cheese and the butter for the crisps were both, of course, from Tolman Cotton’s farm and the nuts-a rare delicacy in The Shire-were imported via a series of trades originating with the Easterlings. A third cup of apple tea-why not?
During this first day’s journey into Middle Earth-the two subsequent days featured somewhat more modern fare-the remnants of afternoon tea largely satisfied my appetite. I did have a few sweets-caramelized sugar pressed between two thin biscuits-but what really hit the spot for me was hot spiced mead, which I drank out of my grandmother’s clay goblets. Amber in color, richly floral in scent, with just the slightest bite for that little pick-me-up.
Of all the things I had this day, the warm mead was that delight that felt most like coming home. While I had intended to make mulled wine with a variety of spices-cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, and star anise-I stumbled across Chaucer’s Mead in the wine section of Trader Joe’s: “Elegant wine made from 100% pure honey” which came with its own packet of spices. With a $10.99 price tag, it was an indulgence worth taking.
I imagine The Green Dragon and The Prancing Pony serving something just like this elixir…by the pint.