Summer unofficially kicks off with the celebration of Memorial Day. Beaches and pools are open, the weather (generally speaking) starts to cooperate, and grilling related commercials dominate television. For the first time, we can actually say that “winter is NOT coming.” No celebration would be complete without ample food and drink, but sometimes we’d rather just skip the menu planning and move onto the part where we devour delicious food in between the clinking of glasses.
This year, we’re going to try and make your party planning easier, by designing a feast suitable for any party celebrating the beginning of the summer season. And when planning a feast, where else would we take inspiration from than Game of Thrones? What does George RR Martin’s epic have to do with Memorial Day? Nothing, but who says we can’t celebrate both? Also, considering what is on the horizon for that show, we may all need a bit of a pick me up afterward.
All of the recipes and ideas come from our archive. Is this a bit of a shameless ploy to promote our previous work? Yes. Will this help you impress your party guests and celebrate in style? Yes. Everyone wins.
A couple of our favorite finger foods. Both of which pair nicely with any kind of beverage and are great starters to any great party meal. The onion dip is the perfect mix of salty and savory flavors, with the smooth texture that is just screaming to have a cold beer wash down.
The crispy bat wings, inspired by our time spend in World of Warcraft (a dark time we’d rather not discuss) have a bold flavor that are nearly impossible to resist. These snacks are easy to put together and will be perfect to hold over your guests while the main dishes are being prepared.
When planning and serving a large meal, dishes that are versatile, easy to put together, and that lend themselves to self-service are really important. Tacos can be a great solution, but for a feast of this magnitude, we wanted to have an impactful centerpiece. Braising the pork in beer and spices, and pairing it with two amazing sauces (chipotle bbq and green chile crema) will definitely make an impression.
To expand the dish to satisfy vegetarians or anyone with food restrictions, roast up some fresh veggies or lentils to give everyone an option. You can just set this up on a table, put out the toppings, and let your guests go to town. The other nice thing about the dish is that while there’s some upfront work, the pork is going to cook for a long time, leaving you free time to prepare the other parts of your feast.
Seeing as this is a feast, we can’t have just one main course. But, braising seems to be the cooking method of the day, so how about some ribs to take the meat quotient up to an unspeakable level (Robert Baratheon would be proud).
These are fall of the bone good (literally) so stock up on napkins, unless you want to take the barbarian title a little more literally and just rely on sleeves or your friend’s shirt. The recipe has it’s own ingredients for braising the ribs, but if you’re making the pork as well, you could just double up on the braising liquid and use it for both. Half the work for double the value and none of the trouble.
A meal can’t be a feast if it just has a single main dish. While there’s always a centerpiece, feasts are, by definition, about excess. So, we choose a few dishes that would expand the menu a bit, but mostly go really well with the pork tacos. There’s some spice in the main dish and we thought it would be good to turn that up to 11 with a really nice chili. Chili, like the braised pork, is a dish that requires some prep, but then sort of takes care of itself as it cooks, meaning more time to party. We’ve got two different chili recipes to choose from, both are great though the ingredients differ slightly.
While pushing the heat and flavor intensity is all well and good, something a little more mellow was in order to bring balance to the meal. Enter our lemon and basil pasta salad, that focuses on the flavor of fresh basil and should be a refreshing departure from the heat of the other dishes. This dish goes great will grilled shrimp, but if you’re feeling motivated, create a few toppings and give your party guests a little choice.
We can’t skip dessert! This is the time of the feast where everyone grabs their second wind. Rather than trying to find one last good chip to dunk in onion dip, just roll out the next course. If you look back over the menu, there’s a lot of bold flavors, and nearly every dish has some sort of bite to it. Your guests are going to want to cool down after that, and dessert is where we get a little more mellow.
The lime cupcakes and lemon cakes highlight some of the citrus flavors that you’ll see throughout the menu, in both the salad and some of the sauces for the tacos, but finally bring them to the forefront. The vanilla custard is a nice canvas for other flavors and grabbing whatever fresh fruit you can find will give you another light and refreshing dessert option.
What feast would be complete without some awesome beverages? By all means, grab a cooler and fill up on sodas and your favorite beer. But if you’re going to all the trouble of planning a great party, have a few custom beverages can make all the difference. The drinks we choose all continue the theme from dessert, which is to be cool and refreshing, and perfect accompaniments to the spicy and bold centerpieces.
You’ll probably have extra basil from making the salad, so grab some extra lemons as well and whip up some Basil Lemonade. The summer season is the perfect time for Sangria and rather than hoping all of your guests enjoy red, make both red and white let them duel it out for popularity. Finally, our Game of Thrones inspired cocktails could almost be desserts unto themselves, but are a nice finishing touch if you’re already stuffed full of pork tacos and onion dip.
A feast like this will have you eating, drinking and partying well into the evening. You and your party guests might even feel the desire for song. Just a little warning, “The Rains of Castamere” is not the best song to play at a party, or a wedding, or really ever. You know what, just hit up Pandora or Spotify for a summer mix, it’s much safer.