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Call your bannermen.
All of your sworn knights, lords and ladies are to come to your castle for a feast and a celebration for "Game of Thrones."
The show, returning for its second season Sunday on HBO, is popular with fans because it has very little magic (unlike other fantasy series) and its bloody violence and a sprinkling of sex make it feel a little more realistic than, say, "Lord of the Rings." The medieval series, set in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, deals with wars between noble families. It's based on a series of bestselling books by George R.R. Martin.(Warning: Since it's on a pay channel, blood and nudity aren't restricted. If it were a film, it would likely be rated R.)
"It's a compelling and complex story, and Martin takes the time to really develop some of the characters," said Omahan Joel Davies. "He's also ruthless with his own characters, and throughout the series kills off characters rather suddenly to move the story forward."
Fans have been looking forward to its return, and we think you should throw a party.
— Kevin Coffey
Divide your gathered guests into groups according to houses used in the series. If you want, you could even give each group colored T-shirts or nametags: Starks (Gray), Lannisters (Red), Baratheons (Gold) and Targaryens (Black).
Then play a few rounds of party games. You can play as teams with just about any game or try these suggestions.
We made bingo cards with spots to be filled from dialogue, characters and events.
The rules are like regular bingo, but you fill a space whenever something that happens in the show matches what's described in the space. Example: If someone says "Winter is coming," fill the space that says "Winter is coming." If you get five in a row, you win.
Ask questions such as the following:
» How many children does Lord Eddard Stark have? (Answer: 6)
» What are the undead people beyond the wall called? (White Walkers)
» What is the name of the dragon whose breath forged the Iron Throne? (Balerion the Dread)
You'll find more questions by doing an online search for "Game of Thrones trivia."
No, not with an actual bow and arrow. That would be dangerous. Pick up a foam bow and arrow — Nerf, perhaps — and see which house can hit the most targets.
If you don't want to spring for a toy bow and arrow, get some ping-pong balls and try to throw them into drinking cups. Whichever team sinks the most ping-pong balls wins the archery competition.
Party tip: Make some kind of incentive for winners of the "Game of Thrones" party games. We suggest that the winners don't have to bring a dish to the viewing party for the next episode. Or maybe the team that wins the fewest events has to host the next party.
"Game of Thrones" is set in a medieval fantasy empire, so it's only right to serve a fitting menu.
Among the food served in the novels and TV shows are burnt bacon, lamprey pies, beef and bacon pie, fish stew, buttered parsnips and one raw horse heart (no joke ... it happened in the first season).
Luckily, we have the Internet, where fastidious fans of George R.R. Martin's novels have prepared many (if not all) of the dishes he lavishly describes in the books.
We'd recommend hosting this party as a potluck since a lot of the recipes are quite time-intensive and some are heavy on somewhat strange ingredients.
We liked the "Game of Thrones" meal plan offered by Epicurious.com, especially the recipes for cupcake-tin pork pies, a Vidalia onion tart with bacon and a honey-roasted chicken.
Another option is to turn to the Inn at the Crossroads, a food blog based on the medieval foods served in "Game of Thrones." You'll find dozens of recipes at the blog or in the official cookbook the blog's authors wrote.
If no one wants to spend the whole day in the kitchen, have someone pick up an already-cooked rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store,
Party tip: Also try ordering out. To fit the theme of the show, try bone-in meats such as chicken wings, turkey legs, ribs or lamb.
Cupcake-Tin Pork Pies
Makes 12 servings
¾ pound ground pork
1 medium onion, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
½ cup bread crumbs
2 (9-inch) discs prerolled, refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
2 eggs, beaten
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Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease two 6-cup muffin tins with butter. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients but the dough and 1 tablespoon of the eggs; refrigerate.
Unroll the dough and cut out twelve 4-inch circles with a biscuit cutter or the rim of a drinking glass. Reroll the scraps, then cut out 12 more 2-inch circles. Line the bottoms and sides of the tins with the 4-inch rounds. Divide the filling evenly among the cups. Press the 2-inch rounds on top, pinching the edges together to seal. Poke a hole in the center of each pie. Brush with the reserved egg and bake until the tops are browned and puffed slightly, 30 to 35 minutes.
Let cool for 15 minutes before removing the pies. Serve warm.
Honey-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon
4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (3 1/2-lb) chicken, rinsed and patted dry
1 head garlic, left unpeeled and halved horizontally
1/4 cup mild honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
Special equipment: kitchen string; an instant-read thermometer
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 425°F.
Finely grate enough zest from 1 lemon to measure 1 tablespoon, then squeeze enough juice from same lemon to measure 2 tablespoons.
Stir together butter, tarragon, zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
Put chicken, breast side up, in a small roasting pan. Starting from neck cavity, work your fingers gently between skin and flesh of breast to loosen skin all the way to thighs without tearing. Put one fourth of tarragon butter under skin of each breast, then rub skin from outside to spread evenly.
Starting from large cavity, loosen skin on both sides of cavity with a paring knife (to provide access to thighs), then work your fingers gently between skin and flesh of thighs and drumsticks. Divide remaining tarragon butter among thighs and drumsticks, rubbing skin from outside to spread evenly. Season cavity and skin with salt and pepper, then halve remaining lemon and put inside cavity along with garlic. Tie drumsticks together with kitchen string.
Whisk together honey, lemon juice, oil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Roast chicken 30 minutes, then brush pan juices and half of honey mixture over chicken and roast 10 minutes more. Brush chicken again with pan juices and remaining honey mixture and continue to roast until thermometer inserted in fleshy part of a thigh (do not touch bone) registers 170°F, about 20 minutes more.
Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let stand 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Skim fat from pan juices and serve juices with chicken.
Vidalia Onion Tart with Bacon, Local Honey, and Fresh Thyme
For the Pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold, unsweetened butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
For the Filling:
4 slices bacon
5 large Vidalia onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons local honey
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons whole cream
1 (12-inch) tart pan or 2 (9-inch) tart pans
To prepare the pastry, pulse together the flour, butter, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic blade until the butter is about the size of small peas—about ten pulses. Gradually, drizzle in the ice water while pulsing. The amount needed will depend on the moisture content of the flour. Add just enough water for the dough to form a loose ball. Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and quickly form the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to three days) to rest. Preheat oven to 375 degrees about 20 minutes before you're planning to bake the tart.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon in a single layer and cook, turning as needed, until the bacon is crispy and the fat has been rendered. Remove the bacon to drain on paper towels to cool, chopping coarsely once cool enough to handle. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat (discarding the rest or using for another purpose) in the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook over medium heat until the onions have softened, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Do not let the onions brown!
Add the wine and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until the wine has cooked down to a glaze, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the honey and reserved chopped bacon. Stir and cook 5 minutes more. Remove the onion mixture from the heat and spoon into a shallow pan; refrigerate to cool. When cooled, drain off any excess pan juices and stir in the egg and cream. Adjust seasonings as needed.
To assemble, roll the reserved dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Line the pan(s) with the pastry and form even edges. Refrigerate another 10 minutes, then line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the paper and weights and bake another 15 to 20 minutes to brown the bottom. Allow to cool slightly before filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Fill the pastry crust with the onion mixture and bake until golden brown and the filling is set, about 35 minutes.
In the show, wine is usually the drink of choice. They drink spiced wine, honeyed wine, mulled wine and all other kinds.
Mulled wine is heated and then spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and others) and citrus fruits (lemon, orange) are added. Sometimes the wine is fortified with brandy and you can also add sugar or honey to sweeten it.
The Inn at the Crossroads blog recommends heating the wine to a simmer, removing it from the heat and adding spices, sugar and fruit, then stir. Serve with a ladle and make sure you serve it in a heat-proof mug or cup.
Another option is mead, a drink similar to wine but fermented from honey, not grapes. Around here, you can get mead from some liquor and wine stores.
You could also try Moonstruck Meadery in Bellevue, but they're currently out of stock. The meadery is expected to have more of its locally-made mead ready in mid-April, so you may have to hold off until later in the TV season.
For a non-alcoholic beverage, try tea, a relatively common drink in "Game of Thrones." Just don't try the tansy tea from the book. It can be toxic. Seriously.
Party tip: Instead of buying a bag of ice for your guests to chill their drinks, pick up a large block of ice. Refer to it as The Wall and send people there to chip a few chunks (be careful!) when they need a fresh drink.
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GAME OF THRONES MERCH
You know a series is becoming big-time when you can't get away from its merchandise. “Game of Thrones” stuff seems like it's all over the place: DVDs, posters, clothes and games just to name a few. These are some of the biggest items and some of our favorites.
“A Game of Thrones: The Board Game”
In this strategy game, players take control of the great houses of Westeros (Lannisters, Starks, Baratheons, Tullys and others) to win dominance over the land. Players control armies and important characters from the series and also gather resources. After all, winter is coming.
“A Game of Thrones: Genesis” video game
This strategy game was released in 2011 and takes place 1,000 years before the events of the novel and TV show. The game involves capturing towns, castles and other spots in order to win the Iron Throne.
“Game of Thrones” video game
A role-playing game expected to release for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows, “Game of Thrones” follows a red priest and a man of the Night's Watch during adventures set in the time of “A Song of Ice and Fire.” It's supposed to be released sometime this year.
House sigils coasters and mugs
HBO sells official coasters and coffee mugs with sigils of houses Stark (direwolf), Lannister (lion), Targaryen (four-headed dragon) and Baratheon (crowned stag). They also include each house's family motto: “Winter is coming” for the Starks, “Hear me roar” for the Lannisters, “Fire and blood” for the Targaryens and “Ours is the fury” for the Baratheons.
One of the series' characters, Hodor, can only say one word. It's “Hodor.” Thus, we find a T-shirt sold by HBO really funny because it says “Hodor Hodor Hodor Hodor Hodor.”
“Summer is Coming” T-shirt
“Winter is coming” are the family words for house Stark. While there's plenty of funny T-shirts playing on that phrase, the best one is “Summer is Coming,” a shirt from BustedTees.com that shows Ned Stark in swim trunks and holding a surf board in addition to his sword.
— Kevin Coffey