Sunday, May 19, 2013

Garden update and my take on the Medieval Romp and Stomp

My Garden designer (Graham of course) got 1.5 yards of gravel delivered Friday for the inside of our Garden. It was hard work as we had to shovel it into a bucket then Graham walked it in and spread it around the garden beds as the door to our Garden isn't wide enough for our wheel barrow.  However, a few hours of hard labour and the garden enclosure looks as swish as any botanic garden.  time to show up and the 3 of us went to get Elwood's bones and some libations as I was determined to have a glass of wine in our beautiful enclosure. To be frank, after a glass of wine, we had a quick comfort food dinner of cornflake chicken and sacked out in front of a movie.

Saturday Graham went the extra mile and put tiles at the doorway and gravelled the entrance area. Lucky veggies. Elwood isn't keen on the gravel but he perseveres and follows me around hoping for some ball tossing. Next we went to the ....

The GrandvEwe Medieval romp and cheese stomp.  I was soooo looking forward to this event and had plans of throwing myself into the day with great abandon!! 

Hooray costumes!! I immediately gave them high marks for ambiance. We were greeted by a Monk who directed us to the sheep shed for the Romp and Stomp, and advised us to find “Conan the Barbarian” to find our seats.  Passing several 'wenches' and ‘peasants’ bustling about, we entered the shed.  

It had been set up with long trestle tables, aligned with hay bales with rough wooden planks on top for seating. It crossed my mind-to wonder how many slivers were discovered later. I have to say I was a little nervous when I noticed a spider running in and out of the hay at one of the seats at another table.

The tables were set with a very heavy whole-wheat plate, a knife and a plastic goblet per person, and salad with mice shaped blue cheese, and herb encrusted hard-boiled eggs set upon a rich red runner down the center of the tables, with chunky candles spotted here and there. We looked along our assigned table for our place tags, and grabbed our goblets.

Blue Cheese Mouse with Liquorish Tail
 The back of the shed had about a dozen sheep behind a fence, with one of their relatives on a spit at the other end - (I'm not sure what the sheep thought about that) – however the spit was supervised by the black hearted hangman who alternated his accessories between a giant wooden sword and beheading axe.

As we entered, in the entry corner was the grape stomping station attended by a Medieval milkmaid. A hay bale to sit on while you washed your feet, 2 half wine barrels filled with grapes (grapes and mark were supplied by the local Hartzview winery) ready for stomping with a clean water bath to rinse off your feet when your stomping was completed.  

Graham and I stomped with glee and abandon. OK, I stomped with glee and abandon, I had to cajole Graham into it, and although he started with nervous anticipation, he was soon stomping like a pro and I watched as his smile grew with his enthusiasm! 

Then you were given your cheese to wrap in calico and a permanent marker to write your name on with. 

Next step was outside to the Cheese pit, which was a square hole dug into the ground, lined with hay, ready to receive the cheeses. Thankfully there was a bucket of "Mark" to pile over the cheese - which is the end bi-product of wine making (also donated by Hartzview) and still having a fairly high alcoholic count - so no foot stomped grapes were actually used in the process.  Whew. When all the cheeses were put into the pit, at the end of the day the hole was filled in with hay and the lid closed. They'll call in 3 - 5 months when it's time to take them out.

Our “Mistress of the Manor” told us the history behind this came from Europe where villagers used to bury their food to hide it front raiders. Apparently the villagers found they preferred the flavour of the aged buried chess so much, they just kept doing it. Well it's a good story anyhow. Adding the grape 'Mark" was a new thing the GrandEwe people were experimenting with. (On our cheeses. Go us guinea pigs, and fingers crossed).

Back inside were tables of local wares for tasting and sale (as well as the regular sheep cheese tastings in the restaurant).  A woman from Margate had some jams and chutneys - one outstanding dish was cherries with hot mustard. Wow!  Pagan Ciders were there from Cygnet with a new cider with 40% cherry juice - my personal favourite, Elderberry drinks, and the Harts Winery with their meads and fruit wines and liqueurs. Well, we couldn't go past a hot mulled mead now could we? The plastic goblets with their jewels were a nice touch - you brought you goblet to the stall and they filled it for you.

It’s a top spot to stand around with your goblet of grog – watching the activities amongst lush green fields with the stunning view of the channel behind. I loved the 3 dogs which wandered about as well, and secretly hoped for a bone to toss over my shoulder.

They called for everyone to take their seats at noon – telling us, everything on the tables was edible including the plate. We had our knife and fingers, so could figure out what to do, or something along those lines.

A recorder band (who knew recorders could form a band?  I would have kept up my school recorder practice had I known) dressed in period outfits, with recorders like I've never seen before, arrived and set up in the corner. One huge wooden recorder was as tall as a person with a curled brass mouthpiece – which they told us you had to start blowing well before you played the note to get the air flow going. All very interesting and certainly added to the ambiance. Several guests came in costumes, which also added to the festive air. 

Unfortunately the banquet was disappointing. It was quite disorganised.  I would much rather have had  the most excellent centre salad starter setup to be clearly shared between each 2 opposing diners (to avoid confusion on who was sharing in what part of the table centre-pieces) Also a platter set down between the opposing diners with the whole roast dinner components at once would have worked nicely. 

So, the concept was good, the set up interesting, we'll see how our buried cheese turns out, but our feast was disappointing.  An enjoyable afternoon overall.