The formal dinner in Dardinia is a course meal.
The most basic form of the course is an apéritif, a platter of hams and cheeses, which is an appetizer. Then there are cooked vegetables, fish and meat dishes. Either fish or meat, often stewed, and usually accompanied by a vegetable dish. And finally, raw vegetables…that is, a salad or fresh fruit are served as a dessert, ending with an after-dinner tea.
This time I made it a more elaborate course.
Fufufu. Not a single dish was skimped on.
The first thing I prepared for an apéritif was an apple wine. I chose a fruit liquor that was easy to drink since women were also participating, but since some of them might not like sweetness, I chose a less sweet kind of apple wine, and I added a squeeze of the green lemon to it, which is refreshing to drink.
If it’s too sweet, it wouldn’t go with the food.
Then, instead of the ham and cheese platter, which was the appetizer, we opted for a quiche with plenty of ham and cheese.
The plates were removed from the incubator and served in front of us. As it came out of the incubator, a rich, buttery aroma wafted through the air.
Come on, eat, eat.
It’s best to eat it while it’s warm.
A balanced mix of four cheeses on a crisp tart base, half of the four hams were cut into cubes and half into slightly thicker strips, and mixed with a large, yolked Faroese egg, which is said to be raised only at the Royal Palace Farm. I changed the cuts of ham because of the different crunch and saltiness of each. I struggled to find the right balance for both the ham and the cheese.
When I glanced at His Highness, his eyes widened slightly, and then he let out a huff of laughter.
Maybe he’s already noticed…
‘No way,’ I thought, but I’m not sure, because it’s His Highness Nigel.
The plate that was brought before me was perfect to look at.
The charring looks delicious and the cheese is perfectly melted!
I pick up a large piece of cutlery, cut it into bite-sized pieces and bring it to my mouth.
I can feel my face loosen up at the sight of the melted cheese as it pulls at the strings. The aroma alone is delicious.
When I took a piece of it, I could smell the butter in the air. Then the saltiness of the ham touching my tongue…the rich egg and cheese nestled together in perfect harmony, playing happy tunes in my mouth.
If you look around, you’ll see that each of them are mildly surprised, or you’ll see a small smile on the face! It makes me feel good.
This is as calculated!
Then I sneak a glance to the side. His Highness is bringing the quiche to his mouth with a sober face, but I can see that his eyes are loose.
Somehow, it’s a bit cute!
Maybe it’s a little strange to describe His Highness as ‘cute’, but it really is kind of cute. Hmm, I wonder what it is…Oh, yeah. This is ‘gap moe.’* That’s how it feels. I probably won’t say it out loud because I don’t think anyone else would agree with it at all. (***gap moe = When someone does something completely contradictory to their usual character, creating an irresistible/cute attractiveness)
Next up is a dish of cooked vegetables. The people who served the food were very good at reading the atmosphere.
They brought our food to us when we had finished our quiche and were ready to take a break.
For the vegetable dish, I opted for a simple hot vegetable dish. We chose delicious seasonal vegetables, steamed them and served them in a colorful array.
These vegetables have a strong flavor to begin with, but steaming them makes them even more concentrated.
The sweet pumpkin and the hot potatoes. Then there’s the zade, whose bittersweetness gives it a unique flavor, and the slightly sweet ragula carrots…yellow turnips and onions, which are enough without anything else…
Beside the plate of hot vegetables is a sauce with a base of garlic and anchovies, prepared with butter and cream.
Garlic is one of the least favorite vegetables in Dardinia, as it has an overpowering smell and taste, although it is appetizing to me. I thought it was a waste when I found out that the most popular use of garlic is as a folk remedy for colds.
I’m pretty sure it’s also famous in the north…
The types of produce that can be harvested in the northern part of the country are unevenly distributed because of the harsh climate. It could be said that it’s a cold climate, so it’s not surprising.
Well, it turns out that that’s why brewing is so popular over there.
One of the things I was especially happy to learn and research in preparing the menu for this lunch was that Dardinia is one of the world’s leading liquor producers.
They make barley wine, rice wine and fruit wine made from all kinds of fruits…and even potatoes and corn. Some were distilled, some were blended and some were mixed. There are many renowned breweries, especially in the northern region.
Agricultural products are not so abundant, but alcohol is plentiful, and I hear that Sedona, the capital of the Duke of Grachie’s domain, is known as the Drinking Capital of the World.
It’s one of those places I’d love to visit someday.
The Duke of the North is a sight to behold.
He knew immediately what that distinctive smell was caused by. He looked at the sauce sullenly attached to it and then put a little bit of sauce on the potatoes in his fork and brought them to his mouth.
You can enjoy the vegetable as it is, or you can eat it with the sauce.
But this sauce was the ultimate weapon that even got His Highness Nigel, who was not a big fan of vegetables, to eat vegetables more often. As expected, the Duke of Grachie also continued to eat the vegetables in the sauce in silence, dipping them in the sauce incessantly.
So did His Highness, who secretly stole a glance at me from the side.
I’m eating, I’m eating.
The room was very quiet.
As the manner of eating in this restaurant, there is no need to eat in silence.
Rather, at a table like this, people are supposed to be chatting and laughing with each other, but everyone was absorbed in eating.
Yes, yes. I understand…When you’re eating good food, you can’t help but be silent.
Then, when everyone was roughly finished with their vegetables and the air was loosened, a small glass cup was brought in.
The cup was filled with a white, sludgy liquid, with a thin layer of golden liquid on top of it.
“…What is this?”
“It’s yogurt. Try it for a palate cleanser. That’s honey on top.
I stir it with the little stick that comes with it before drinking it. The cup is so small that even I can drink it in about three sips. I’m sure His Highness would only need one sip.
“…I see. It’s refreshing for my mouth.”
His Highness gave a look of admiration.
Yogurt is not a particularly rare thing. It is often used as a base for cardra, a home-style Dardinian dish of stewed chicken and pigeons, or used to season dishes, but never before has it been served as a stand-alone drink like this.
As His Highness sipped it, so did everyone else.
At a formal dinner party like this, it is considered good manners for the host to be the first to taste the food, and then everyone else to eat it.
His Highness once told me that this is to prove that there is no poison in the food and therefore it is safe to eat it.
It is one of the less strict manners nowadays, but His Highness told me never to eat food before others because of this.
“Although it is pointless if it is put in individual plates, it is still not useless to be careful. It’s important to be vigilant on a regular basis.”
It’s an overprotective attitude, but I’m happy about it. It’s what makes me feel like a girl.
The sour but mild yogurt refreshes the mouth, and the fish dish is delivered at just the right moment.
…I wonder who is in charge of serving the food.
I can tell by the steamy dishes that they were brought to the table as soon as they were made.
Even so, the timing is perfect as it comes to the table when the air in the room has calmed down.
I think this is what the Royal Palace is all about.
As for the fish dish, the sea bream from the East Sea, which is very tasty at this time of year, was served.
The surface was crispy and the inside was moist. The key is to make the skin crispy.
His Royal Highness basically likes things simple, right?”
The garnish is thick and sweet asparagus caught in the south. Alternate white and green asparagus sautéed with butter are topped with sea bream steamed with olive oil, and served with white wine-based scallion and ginger sauce.
The sauce is simple: plenty of chopped scallions and ginger, white wine and salt and pepper to taste. The proper amount of salt is very important, and the key is to make it slightly lighter, just enough to make it a bit thicker.
This is not only good as a sauce for fish dishes, but also for meat. I can’t stop eating it when I pour it on top of fried chicken.
This sea bream is really delicious…It would be good raw, too
There is not much of a tradition of eating fish raw in Dardinia.
It is not absolutely absent. From what I’ve heard, there are dishes like marinated fish in port towns and other places.
I’d like to try some sushi or something like that…Oh, but I haven’t found good rice to cook yet…
I haven’t come across the white rice that I once took for granted in my memory.
There are long rice varieties as a grain that can be used as a garnish for stews, but Dardinia is in a food culture where bread is the staple, and rice is not very common.
It’s probably only generally recognized as a grain that’s used to make a soup stock…
Sometimes I miss white rice, and I can’t help but crave it.
I put some chopped scallions and ginger on a piece of shredded bread and brought it to my mouth.
Yup. Nicely done.
The bread, served in a small basket beside the cutlery, is coupé and beurre.
The crust is crispy and the inside is moist. Both are my favorite breads.
“…Your Highness, did you change your head chef?”
The Duke of the South opened his mouth.
“No. It’s still Ridley.”
His Highness replies with a slightly amused look on his face.
“You seem to have changed your taste quite a bit.”
Nodding, His Highness looked at me, and I smiled at him.
His gaze takes on a soft color. It may seem somewhat sweet, but His Highness is basically sweet to me because he considers me to be something important he must protect, so perhaps this is just part of normalcy.
“It’s very delicious.”
The Duke of Alhane’s daughter lets out a murmur of feeling.
Before the Duke of Alhane can open his mouth with an expression as if he wants to blame her for it, Duchess Grachie expresses her agreement with an enraptured tone of voice.
Then he turns to His Royal Highness and continues.
“Your Highness, is there always so much good food being served at the palace?”
His Highness shook his head lightly, and then he seemed to hesitate to speak, though he was about to open his mouth to say something but hesitated to say it.
A voice of wonder leaked modestly.
Everyone was distracted by the meat dishes that had been brought in.
Yes, I know, right? Well, you’d be surprised at first.
Served in a slightly deep soup plate are large chunks of meat and generously sliced root vegetables.
It’s salted pork and root vegetable pot-au-feu.
The meat is still in chunks so large that it looks like it might fill half a soup plate.
However, the meat is cooked so thickly that you can cut it with chopsticks. You could cut it with chopsticks.
“This is pretty wild…”
The Duke of the East frowns lightly. From his tone, it’s probably more sarcasm than admiration.
After all, Your Highness and Duke Elzevert are even better friends, you guys! When you see each other, you have a war of words.
Shut up, father.
Eat before you say anything else! With that in mind, I glanced at the Duke. The Duke of Elzevert noticed my gaze and fluttered his eyes.
Although the serving could have been more elegant, I dared to make it into a lump to make an impact. The thickness of this chunk of meat will make meat lovers cry when they see it.
When you insert a meat knife into the lump, the blade sinks easily into the softness of the lump.
Someone gasps quietly.
But it’s too early to be surprised!
I bring the slice I’ve cut up to my mouth, looking a little smug.
Instantly, my cheeks loosen up. Because I can’t help it! There’s a delicious piece of meat is melting in my mouth.
A small breath escapes somewhere, and an ecstatic sound leaks.
Mmmm, delicious~ As expected of the chef!
Then I took a bite of the stewed and well-seasoned turnip.
The broth, full of vegetable and meat flavors, has a beautiful golden color. One sip of it and that alone makes me feel happy.
“What kind of meat is this?”
‘I’m glad you asked.’ I reply, I’m in the mood for this.
I know people are dumbing down their ears!
“It’s salted pork.”
The Duchess of Alhane tilts her head as if to say she doesn’t understand the meaning of the words.
I nodded persistently.
I had agonized over what to make for the main course.
Even if I decided to have meat as the main course, there are many kinds.
The chef’s best recommendation was the guinea fowl, which is easy to get fat at this time of year, but this time I decided to use pork. It’s also a salted pork, which is a preserved food that is not normally special.
That’s what Viscount Rada said, right? We’re going to replace our stockpile of salted pork, so we want to use it up.
There is a considerable amount of food stockpiled in the Royal Palace.
This is not only to maintain the royal palace in the event of a disaster, but also to sustain the people and army living in the royal city. Although the items have been selected for long-term storage, they need to be replaced periodically.
This time in particular, it seems that the timing of the replacement of the items stockpiled in the military and the royal palace coincided, and the prices are inevitably falling. They even said that they might be charged a commission if they were not able to do so.
If we could consume those things ourselves, we’d kill two birds with one stone.
Spending it in the palace would save money, and it wouldn’t cost the merchants a commission for brokering, and it wouldn’t take a lot of time and effort to buy and sell.
Of course, it would be impossible to spend it all, but what you couldn’t do, you could just hand it over instead of paying down.
If you can’t make much money, they you can donate it to an orphanage or church.
According to His Eminence Shion, churches usually have orphanages as well, but all of them are always on the verge of running out of money.
I’m sure they would be very happy to have a good stockpile of food to eat.
The reason stockpiled food isn’t bought or popular is because the flavor is secondary to the shelf life of the food, and if it tastes good, I’m sure it will fly off the shelves.
But those places don’t have the same variety of condiments and ingredients as the Royal Palace, so you have to think of it in those bindings…
So I have a lot of thoughts in my head, but I don’t talk about it.
I think this is something that needs a lot of research.
I shouldn’t make a devious statement, because everyone will push through if I say it, even if it’s a little overwhelming.
Once I’ve calmed down a bit, I’m going to ask His Eminence Shion to speak to with me again.
“…Could it be the salted pork in the stockpile?”
I smile and nod at His Highness Nigel’s words.
“His Highness loves meat, but when he hears the word “salted pork” he looks disgusted.”
“Did I look disgusted?”
Though perhaps it wasn’t so much that he didn’t want to eat it as much as it was all the hassle associated with it.
“Try it with the accompanying mustard. It tastes different and is delicious.”
When it was cooked so thickly, it was a wonder that even a chunk of meat that he thought was so big could be eaten in a single gulp.
His Highness honestly put the mustard on top with the accompanying grainy mustard and brought the meat to his mouth.
“…Oh, I prefer it this way.”
That’s why I served it with mustard, even though I knew it would make the serving a little less beautiful!
I say with a clear face.
Ufufufu. This is a great success, isn’t it?
I can’t wait to tell the head chef and the Viscount about it. For sure, I’m going to finish my meal today!
“Does this take a lot of work?”
“In its own way.”
“…Is it possible to serve it at the Founding Festival Supper?”
“It’s possible, but wouldn’t it be too much to cook the same thing as today?”
“As long as it’s this good, the Four Dukes won’t mind if they get the same thing.”
Yeah, the one who is nodding very strongly is Duke Alhane. The other three dukes are also nodding in agreement, so I guess they have no objection.
“But the stewed tomatoes are also delicious with it. And it’s also delicious steamed with cabbage…”
“…Your Highness, are there so many different ways to eat salted pork?”
The daughter of Duke Alhane asks with a twinkle in her eye.
“Yes. I was surprised to hear it wasn’t very popular.”
I laugh, ‘even though there are so many delicious options.’
“Today, I dared to make something wild.”
“I thought that those who like meat would appreciate the larger chunks, and I also thought they would be more likely to appreciate the soft tenderness.”
To use it in a stew, you have to remove the salt, but if you cut it into thin slices, you can use it like a ham.
In the first place, salted pork is pancetta, isn’t it?
When you think about it, the menu expands dramatically, and I’m pretty sure pancetta can be turned into bacon if you smoke it.
Huh? If I made it into bacon, would it last longer?
“Then, Luthia, let me eat another dish at the Founding Festival Supper.”
His Highness says with a happy look.
I nodded with a big smile.
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2 thoughts on “Chapter 7: Luncheon part 2”
…Reading this when you’re hungry is torture. XD But I love this kind of stuff.
My trick is to always keep a bag of cookies next to me whenever translating 😂
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