July 8th is my birthday. I generally don’t make a big fussÂ over it – no specific reason, just… I dunno. As time goes by, you start caring less about those things. I’m perfectly happy with spending some normal time with friends on that day, no frills.
On the other hand, I also very much like to do something special for my friends’ birthdays. I function by inspiration – if an idea strikes me, I’ll use it, but I won’t really scrub my brains to find one if it doesn’t come naturally. Same way with gifts. If you don’t have a gift idea that’s a little bit special and personal, better not to offer anything, you know?
Anyways. As it happens, my Monday culinary ventures had given me a vague desire to try and do something sci-fi themed, just for the crack. But as I kept having ideas about what to cook, I quickly realised doing this for only 3 people was a bit of a waste – too much material available. Maybe I should make a special evening out of it? A party of sorts? But what occasion would justify this?
Funnily enough, my friend Sean’s birthday is on the 9th of July. Now there was a happy coincidence! So, in full cooperation with the interested’s wife Kim, I set about putting together a sci-fi menu for about 15-20 people.
Let’s start with a view of the buffet table at the start of the party – it’s only missing the two hot food items I’ll describe later, and the special gift from Kim to Sean. Fully nerded folks among you might want to stop reading here and try to recognise as many of the foodstuff as possible – the little flags might help there.
Got them all, didja? Â
After thinking about it for a while, putting our heads together and sorting through what was possible and what wasn’t, Kim and I settled for food from the following movies/series:
- Star Trek
- Star Wars
- Soylent Green
- The Lord of the Rings (I know, that’s fantasy, not sci-fi.)
- And of course, Aliens!
Okay, so let’s start from the left, with a bit of Firefly:
Firefly actually came late in the brainstorming, as I could not remember any food really specific to the series – aside from fried tomatoes, protein-rich chocolate cakesÂ and the general Chinese feel of the series. Then 3 things hit in short succession: first off, Kim remembered that line in Our Mrs Reynolds – Wash asking of Saffron: “Did she really make fresh Bao??” Now, I wouldn’t have been any the wiser alone, since I don’t know how to cook Chinese and you can’t find Bao in Ireland. Fortunately, her Kimitude is a bloody amazing cook, and she tackled that particular bit with gusto and impressive skill. I regret that there weren’t any pics taken of the BBQ Pork Bao she made, by the time they came onto the table the party was in full “inebriated-guitar-plucking” mode (they’re all musicians, the silly buggers!) and this was sadly overlooked. In any case, as good-looking as they were, no picture could do the taste – or the gorgeous smell as we were cooking that afternoon – any semblance of justice…
Anyway. Once the Bao idea came up, we realized that if our guests were a tad hungry, we’d need something more than finger foods to satiate them. Adding a few store-bought spring rolls and other Chinese munchies could pad our buffet – and would fit in an idea I’d been toying with but had not finalized yet, suggested by LSKIV from the Aliens Legacy boards: get some of those ubiquitous (at least in the US – I had to order them online) Chinese take away boxes and decorate them with logos from Firefly, Blade Runner or the 5th Element.
So, only Firefly made itÂ through the final cut, and we didn’t make any of the store bought munchies at all. Still, the savvy among you will have recognised the Blue Sun logo – simple sticker made from an internet-sourced file (http://xaonon.dyndns.org/logos/ thanks Ripper).
As for the third thing, you can see it in front of the boxes: took me ages to find a suitable wooden box, but that was simply too good – and specific to Firefly – to pass up. The strawberries were also the only thing on the table to be polished off before the end of the party! No wonder either – look at the gorgeous little things:
Moving away from Firefly we go to Star Trek territory. Starting, of course, with Klingon Gagh:
My friend Rob had slaved a fair portion of the day to build us a system that would make the Gagh squirm – a small motor at the bottom of a dish. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out, which is kind of a pity in a way but might have been a blessing – Kim was already having problems with the very idea of Gagh, if it had moved I could have lost my partner in crime there!
Anyways, the Gagh was a simple panfull of Chinese noodles boiled with red food colouring and a sprinkled with soy sauce to give taste and a little ‘tan’ to the original pinkish colour. Worked out well enough, didn’t taste nearly as horrible as it looked, and was cheap enough that wasting it wasn’t a problem.
The other Star Trek dish was Hasperat Sandwiches, a Bajoran delicacy (approximated, of course!) that also happened to be vegan-friendly. And, I must say, quite tasty as well. It’s basically a tortilla with a spread of hummus, filled with grated carrots and sliced cucumber marinated in soy sauce and rice vinegar, and a layer of baby spinach. I added a few Jalapenos to give it some kick rather than use tabasco, which can sometimes kick through a brick wall… For the full recipe, go check the original creator’s site: http://veganyumyum.com/2008/02/hasperat/Â because, no, I didn’t make it up myself. This is what mine looked like:
Moving on we reach the buckets at the back. First one is our only offering from Star Wars: Aunt Beru’s blue milk (Thanks Sarge!), party version (Warning: not suitable for breakfast, or forÂ children at any time! You have been warned!). 1.5 parts vodka, 1 part Blue Curacao, 2.5 parts milk. Tasty, and surprisingly mild – also sneaky as a Bothan trader. A few people wereÂ moaning about the blue milk for a couple of days! Â
Next to it is one of the Dune offerings: Spice Beer. Made with Fuller’s HoneydewÂ and a liberal dose of cinammon powder (as we couldn’t find cinammon oil), it worked out pretty well. Advice if you want to try it: beer+cinammon=lots and lots of foam. Keep that in mind as you pour!
I’ll take this opportunity to talk about the other Dune dish: Spice Sticks. Simple cinammon fingers biscuity type things (recipe to follow – tasty little buggers, made by Kim) presented in a wax-sealed wooden box with the (adapted) Atreides coat of arms:
The box was one of Kim’s presents to her husband – a Victorian antique with mother-of-pearls inlay and satin padding inside. Beautiful thing. The sticks idea comes from David Lynch’s version – Paul munches on a spice stick after arriving in Arrakis, I think, and that triggers one of his first visions. Easy enough idea, tasty sweet dish, and the proper box and wax seal gave it an official appearance that went well with the intention. Unfortunately, as this was kept for last and offered as a special gift and all, we sort of forgot to take a picture. Ah well. No biggy.
Next on the table we have a couple of Futurama offerings:
Slurm was replicated in this case using the following proportions: for a 2 litres pitcher, 30 cl vodka, 20 cl Creme de Menthe, 20 cl apple juice, then top it up with soda water (or, if like me you run out of soda water, Sprite…). It’s called a Russian Spring, and it was almost as effective at taking people by surprise as the blue milk was. It also comes out in a colour that is pretty accurate for Slurm – and yes, it is strangely addictive!
Right in front was a little bit of trickery: simple bowls of peanuts with Bachelor Chow stickers. It kinda kept the ‘dry food’ imagery, and fortunately no one tried to put them in a bowl and add water or milk.
Next we have a couple of plates of Soylent Green:
These wereÂ savoury short bread with green food colouring. I’ll dig up the recipe at some point, it’s one of Kim’s. She did aÂ damn good job on those as well – they were tasty and lreally looked the part. Maybe too much actually – people tried them, found them good, but pretty much everyone (including herself!) chose not toÂ get more. I guess the green colour wasn’t to everyone’s taste. Or maybe the fact that a couple of people who had been invited never showed up might have made people wonder about exactly WHAT was in those crackers.
Next to that was our only foray into fantasy, with some Elvish bread wrapped in Mallorn leaves: Lembas!
Recipe to come (found online as usual). The Lembas was made by our friend Yasmine, who kindly offered to help us when she arrived at the party and saw us a tiny bit behind schedule. She did good, and saved our bacon on that one, and the Lembas was well received by everyone – very tasty.
As for the leaves, they’re simple green card paperÂ with a Mallorn template printed on, then cut, folded around the Lembas and held with twine, for that authentic feeling. Surprisingly efficient. I found the template there along with one recipe – there are a few others floating around. I’m not sure which one we used, that was Kim’s area of responsibility.
Now for the final two items, coming from my personal favourite: Aliens!
Starting with corn bread, from a recipe given to me by 101Radioman from the A.L boards (Thanks!). Now, I’d never made, eaten or even seen cornbread outside of that movie, soÂ I was sort of expecting something flattish, hard and probably nasty to a civilian’s tastebuds – but that may have just been the military version. Because what I took out of the oven was fluffy, beautifully golden, and tasty as hell. Definitely something I’ll make again!
For presentation, well, I happen to own a certain item of headgear that seemed rather perfect for the job, so… bread in a helmet. Ain’t that pretty?
And finally we come to the last bit, my pride and joy! At some point while researching this whole project I came across this page (probably on the advice of someone in the AL chatroom). And it was easy to make, looked tasty, and above all I immediately saw the potential for adapting it to my favorite universe!
So, I procured a pork tenderloin, some Parma ham (why did every single supermarket in town suddenly stop carrying Spanish Serrano?? Parma is twice as expensive!), and got to work. All the extra I needed was a small piece of pork cut, shapedÂ and stuck between the ‘jaws’ of the roast, and:
Voila! Roasted Chestburster ‘a la Coloniale’! Big hit with the crowd for the disgusting aspect, the uber-nerdness of the idea, and the fact that it was basically a nice bit of roasted meat, when all’s said and done. Yum!
Bit of a close up on the jaw. Pictures aren’t perfect because Kim declined to photograph that one (Her exact words were something like: “OhGodUrgh…”), and the man who stepped forward to do it for her had already sampled the blue milk quite a bit!
And that was our sci-fi dinner party! It was tremendous fun (and a fair bit of stress) to organise and cook, and turned into a nice music-filled night, although that had nothing to do with the food itself I suppose! I’m pretty sure it was a success with most people who were there, and it certainly earned Kim and myself some MAJOR Geek points!
On that subject, and for the record, I’d like to state first that Kim was outstanding in this collaboration, and did a fantastic job of getting everything ready on that day, not to mention refining my ideas and coming up with a couple extra ones – her Bao was nothing short of amazing. I made the sad mistake of not trusting her as I should have, and she proved me wrong in superb fashion, and forgave me for it too. There, folks, is a good friend. My public apologies to you, Kim. It won’t happen again.
And also, still about Kim but on a much more professional level: the lady cooks like aÂ devil, but she’s not selling her products yet. On the other hand, she’s also pretty impressive with a camera in her hands, and that is her job. So since she took those lovely pictures of the evening just so I could fill my blog with something vaguely interesting to say and show, the least I can do is direct anyone with a taste for photography to the following adresses:
- http://music.lightholder.com/blog/Â is the site where she collects and showcases the many pictures she takes of the incredibly active music scene in Athlone. She has an eye for the life, the vibrancy, the emotions of a live gig – maybe because she’s a musician herself.
- www.kimotay.com is another blog, temporarily on hold,Â where she has other, non-music related photographs on display.
- www.kimotay.com\photography is the sub-gallery where she puts whole series rather than choice examples.
- http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimotayÂ is her Flicker page.
Give he a try, she’s that good.
Anyways. That be all for today. I’ll post those recipes soon for anyone interested. In the meantime, sweet dreams, Qapla!, no power in the verse, etc… And I’ll leave you with a couple extra pictures of our table!