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Banquet Subtlety

Banquet

A sumptuous feast…the Abbey Medieval Banquet

Not so Subtle is the banquet Subtlety

In the Middle Ages, a medieval banquet was a feast of epic proportions. The tables were laden with sumptuous and multitudinous dishes, an expression of a nobles wealth on display for all his guests to see.  Every day foods like pies, fruit and stews were accompanied by magnificent animals and birds such as peacock, geese and swans kept for such occasions.

A highlight at any medieval banquet was the presentation of a special sugar sculpture known as sotiltees (or subtleties).  Nobles would compete to have their cook create wonderful sculptures in all sorts of curious forms – castles, ships, animals, birds or scenes from ancient tales. The more spectacular and unexpected the sculpture was the better!  Another form of subtlety more common on the Continent was the ‘entremet’. This was traditionally an elaborate form of entertainment dish and included acted performances. You may recall the nursery rhyme “four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie” this was a form of “entremets”.

Abbey Medieval Banquet…food, more food and fun!

At the Abbey Medieval banquet, not only will guests dine on a variety of delicious medieval food and drink, they will also be richly entertained with music from Musica Prima, dance from Shuvani gypsies and other medieval mischief.  Phoenix Entertainment will present a fire display based around the story of St George and the Dragon.  Stories of dragons abound in the Middle Ages, they were often called ‘draco’ and portrayed fierce flying fire-breathing reptiles.  Definitely not trainable… well that is not until the advent of the modern movies!

The dragon theme will be seen throughout the banquet so keep your eyes pealed for our very own fire breathing, but very tame dragon subtlety.

There are still a small number of tickets available for this year’s medieval banquets. Check out our menu , it’s sure to make your mouth water!

Purchase your  banquet tickets now and join in this unique experience of medieval fun and festivities.

 

 

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New Banquet Bowls!

A lovely new handmade addition to our Medieval Banquets..!

banquets bowls

Expertly handmade by the lovely Bribie Island local Potter Bev Porter (as shown above), these new Banquet bowls have been made to specifications required for a medieval feast!

These bowls will be used for the salads, and will stay on the tables throughout the Medieval Banquet nights, so our guests can ‘pick’ throughout the evening, taking second and maybe even third helpings!

banquets bowls

Some more things you can expect to see and experience at the Medieval Banquets 2016:

  • Trenchers – 10 points if you know what these are 😉
  • Blazing fire
  • Rich, authentic Medieval costumes
  • Full platters, bursting with delicious Medieval foods, and mulled wine
  • Dancing, and authentic Medieval entertainment
  • Courtesies and manners, gallant words and gaudy tales of old!
  • Delight your sense of smell with the aroma of baked lamb shanks, veggies and much more
  • Taste the essence of medieval herbs and spices which make this a feast like no other
  • The touch of rose water to cleanse your hands in preparation for your night ahead.
  • Leave with full stomach and possibly wake up with a sore head!

Whether you have never been to a Medieval Banquet before, or if you are a regular guest, don’t miss this years Medieval Banquets – a true feast for all your senses!

Buy your tickets now as we are almost ALL SOLD OUT!

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with all things Banquet and Festival!

 

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New to the Abbey Medieval Banquet in 2015

What’s New to the Abbey Medieval Banquet in 2015?

• The banquet is being held in celebration of a gift of an important relic from the King to the people of Abbeystowe
• The relic has been brought back from the Holy Land. And is of such great importance that it is expected that many thousands of pilgrims will flock to the Abbey
• The king is expecting that his gift will bring great wealth to the people of Abbeystowe and in return the King will charge an appropriate levy….
• The King’s Envoy will present the relic within a beautiful, gilded reliquary at the banquet and it will also be carried in the opening parade at the Festival on display for all to view with the appropriate awe.
• A parchment, detailing the gift of the relic to the Abbey will be read at the banquet and available on display thereafter..

Abbey Medieval Banquet goes Gluten Free

New to the Abbey Medieval Banquet? Check out the menu to get a taste of what is on offer..

New to the banquet and not sure about how to get your ticket? Check out page for info on banquet tickets still available …..

New to the Banquet and not sure what to wear? Check out our costuming page ….

 

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First Medieval Banquet for 2014 a huge success

Were you one of the lucky ones, the ones who dined on countless removes of authentic medieval cuisine?

Two nights ago over 300 guests enjoyed the ultimate Medieval Banquet experience, including food, revelry and entertainment. How amazing does this banquet scene look!? The festive atmosphere has been captured perfectly by our wonderful volunteer photographers, a team led by Jeff Fitzpatrick.

Love these images? Did you know you can purchase printed copies via our online shop, they will arrive in your mailbox ( like, the old fashioned kind of mailbox!). Just mention the filename of the image you want to purchase in printed form,  in the notes section of the shopping cart.

We know you all love the entertainment, and here is a little video put together by the amazing people from Phoenix Fire Tribe, street performers who never fail to entertain our crowds.

Now to do it all again next Saturday……. #weloveabbey

Medieval Banquet Tickets – nearly all gone!

The Medieval Banquets of the 2013 Abbey Medieval Festival!

Now THIS is a banquet of a distinct style!

Medieval Style of Course.  Authentic Medieval Style.  Just for you (and for us too as we enjoy it so much)

Have you got your tickets yet?

Last year we heeded your calls, and planned for two Medieval Banquets in our Abbey Medieval Festival event this year.  Thank goodness we did. We’ve already sold heaps of tickets, and there are not too many left.
I just thought I’d give you a heads-up before they all run out as they always do every year.

Medieval entertainment combines with all the elements of our Abbey Medieval Festival's Medieval Banquet to create an extraordinaryily unique experience for our guests.

Photo: David deGroot. The Medieval Banquet 2012.

It’s the attraction of the atmosphere of our Banquet that actually creates some of the disappointment some of you experience every year.  The intimacy of our gathering limits our seating numbers; this is great for everyone who manages to acquire a ticket – and not so good for those who didn’t quite get their tickets in time.

Of course, one needs clothing for a Medieval night out.  We’ve an on-going series of blog posts right now, as well as some we presented last year.  {You could use our search button on the top right-hand of our site, or follow one of the category listings beside these posts.}  There is much info to be found on our Facebook page as well for you.

And before we start with the whole reason of the Banquet  {the food 🙂 }, should you need a run-down of authentic Medieval style etiquette, then this beauty of a post is not to be missed.    The intricacies of participating in an authentic Medieval presentation of foods require Medieval arts and skills and finesse when dining.  This post will both enlighten and entertain you.

Bring on the Food!

The Menu!

Goodness me.  Just reading the menu is enough to fill me for half a day.  Vegetarians will be really pleased that they will be able to be feeling as resplendent as their fellow diners.  Two removes no less – and each a feast in itself.  And then of course, there is the Issue to balance and finish the meal.

And as always, while the banquet is underway there is entertainment galore to be had.

The Experience of a Medieval Banquet.

Without giving too much away – we work hard to make each year’s Medieval Banquet not only memorable but unique in its own way – I can show you  some highlights from last year.Serving the centre piece of Abbey Tournament Medieval Banquet 2012

There will be our famous Medieval Banquet Subtlety.  This extraordinary dish is handcrafted for the Medieval Banquet each year and the designs are getting more amazing every time.  Here is the 2012 subtlety.

Dining by candle-light, you will be entertained  in true medieval style with authentic music and a show  hosted by our own MC.

And to top it all off you have of course, our amazing volunteer contingent whose entire pleasure all night is providing for your delight!

Don’t miss out!  Here is where you get your tickets.

 

 

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Food….preserving the body and soul!

I believe that there’s an inner ‘Foodie’ in most of us, and in reality,  food is linked to survival, a basic instinct.  Personally I’m really happy to see that nowadays food is starting to regain the rightful and honoured place it deserves in our lives.  It’s as much about giving our bodies required nourishment (and let’s not undervalue that) as being a secret ingredient in our social lives enabling us to communicate and connect.

If you have ever visited European countires, particularly Spain, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere,  we see openly how food is loudly lauded in the home and community.  And in our own lives, we all know TV cooking shows and celebrity chefs; we have food festivals and gastronomic holidays, we are award of the role food plays in our health,  we learn about slow food and organic food and as conscientious parents we try to make more time in our lives to give home-cooked food to our children.  So, I think it would be neglectful if we didn’t address the question about how our ancestors ate in the Medieval era of 600AD – 1600AD.  What did they eat? and how did they cook and …….I wonder what it tasted like?

Experience a taste of Medieval times at the Abbey Medieval Banquets
Experience a taste of Medieval times at the Abbey Medieval Banquets

 Good news! For those attending the Medieval Banquets, you will have a fantastic opportunity to experience medieval food at it’s best.  The authenticity of the food available at the medieval banquet, right down to the medieval etiquette on show,  is indisputable and the ingredients and dishes on the menu are exactly as they would have been in that era.  You may be surprised to hear that basic staples of our daily diet today, such as potatoes and tomatoes had not yet reached Europe, so you can search but you won’t find them on the menu!

And outside of the noble classes, for a lot of people in the middle ages, having food meant survival.  And sadly, sometimes, people just didn’t.  A staple diet of the lower classes was ‘The Ploughman’s Lunch’, so it proves to us that a good dish lasts.  Meat was not available for many of the lower classes, untill ironically after the ‘Black Death’, which wiped out a third of the world’s population around about the 13C.

So, over the next few blog posts, I’m going to stay on the subject of food, so that you our readers can have a little ‘taste’ of what was available during the Middle Ages, and surprisingly is still available now.  This will be another opportunity for you to experience an additional dimension of preservation, which is at the heart of the Abbey Museum, in more ways than one!

Till next time.

Caroline

Abbey Medieval Banquet - a taste of the past!

Abbey Medieval Banquet - a taste of the past!

 

 

 

 

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Medieval Eye for the Modern Guy

How to make your mark at a banquet without leaving a stain!

Popular culture has done medieval dining a great disservice. A feast was a communal ritual which was governed by a precise etiquette. Gnawing on steaming haunches of boar and throwing the bones over your shoulder is best left to bad Hollywood movies.

banquet is an opportunity to eat, drink and enjoy and if you follow the advice in this short guide you can do so in a way that shows your superiority over those sitting at the other…lesser… tables.

Give me my robe, put on my crown
I should state at this point that this guide is mostly for gentlemen; the ladies do not need my advice on fashion nor manners.

So what’s in for the late Middle Ages?  Hats are in for gentlemen, you can go bareheaded, but hats (without horns) do make a fine statement. Luxurious fur trims are always fashionable, provided of course they have been removed from the animal. Swords are simply passé at dinner as it proclaims that you don’t have a body of armed retainers outside the hall awaiting your call.  All you need know is for your valet to lay out your tightest hose and finest robes for the big event.

Always dress to impress

The Tools of the Trade
To dine in a truly civilized manner you of course need servants, if however you are travelling light you will require the following: a spoon (gold, silver, base metal or horn), a knife (sharp), a bowl or two (clean), a napkin (white linen)] a goblet, glass or other suitable drinking vessel . These items can be used individually, sequentially or in combination with each other; but preferably not all at once. A generous host, such as the Abbey, will provide you with all that is necessary for enjoying the evening’s repast.

Upon arrival at a feast it is customary to be offered a bowl of scented water to freshen up from your journey. This is used for washing your hands; no plunge bathing.

Spoons are employed for eating soups, pottages etc. When not in use they are placed in your bowl, not in your hat or your neighbour’s lap when not in use.  The napkin is for wiping of your fingers, mouth and utensils (eating).

The knife is used for cutting dainty morsels (gobbets) to pick up in your fingers and eat. The knife should be not used to hew and hack at food in the serving dish, nor should it be employed to intimidate fellow diners in standoffs over the last brie tart.  On no account use your knife to carve your name into the furniture, most of us know someone who  can read  and are not easily impressed.

Eight wild boars roasted whole at breakfast, but twelve persons there.
The sharing of a meal was a ritual that central to medieval culture. This was referred to as messing together. A feast will generally consist of a few courses and is often served onto central platters from which everyone helps themselves. Solid foods are transferred from the platter onto your trencher, which is a plate made from bread. Do not eat the trencher, this is an insult to the host, feed it to the dogs or even give it to the poor- but don’t pick at it! Otherwise you are hinting that your hosts are so miserly that you had to eat the table setting to ward off famine.
Etiquette also demands you do not attempt to place a whole roast porpoise on your plate; take the opportunity to mess with the people around you (don’t think it).

Good manners impress the ladies!

Manners makyth man

Food will be served by the Abbey volunteers, do not call them wench or peasant as it displays a lack of breeding and suggests  that you may be one of those unfortunates who have not have inherited your own servants.

Should you need to season your food you wipe the tip of your knife (napkin, not sleeve or neighbour) and use it to gather salt from the open salt cellar and sprinkle it on you food. Spices are taken with the tip of the little finger, so it is good manners to keep your little finger ‘cocked’ whilst eating to avoid getting grease in the spice dish.
Whilst some  folk might stab their food and take it from the point of a knife, they generally are not the sort of people you would wish to socialise with, unless of course you get a kick out of dining out the back of the stables. Do not tear at food with your teeth, cut it into small pieces and pop it into you mouth. Surprise your neighbours by presenting them with a choice gobbet (see above)
Use the occasion as an opportunity to display your rapier/mace like wit and entertain your companions, though not whilst chewing your food.

I would give all of my fame for a pot of ale
It is very good form to share drinks, especially if it is an aged mead or fine wine of Gascony. Conversely if you are drinking cheap Lambrusco, it is good form to keep to yourself. If you are offering someone your cup, wipe the mouth of the goblet before passing it to someone else, they should then wipe their mouth before drinking [napkin not sleeve], drink and then wipe the mouth of the goblet (not gobbet) and pass it back. If you are drinking ale, the new hopped beer or some other heady drink it may be better to not share a cup but offer them a cup of their own.

Good wine is a good familiar creature, if used well

A banquet is a celebration and should be enjoyed. However it is advisable to temper your celebrations as you don’t want to wake up the next day and be informed that you have promised to loan money/go on Crusade/fight a duel/enter a monastery  or marry someone’s ugly daughter.

Remember no better statement of largesse and breeding can be made than to select some of your finest vintages and present them to a writer on medieval etiquette  at the next tournament !

Come, come good wine

 

Appologies to Shakespeare…….again

Damien

 

 

 

 

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A Dreadful Note of Preparation

 

Must Make a List!

There was a definite chill when as I set out for work on the last day of May. This was not caused by some Shakespearean Rough wind that shakes the darling buds of May, but the spine chilling realisation that tomorrow is winter and that means that it is Tournament season. For this medieval re enactor the first chill of winter does not herald cosy nights sipping mead in front of a warm fire; it bodes late nights making gear and fixing armour in a freezing workshop.

The Heroic Ideal

At some point last year I remember deciding that I would spread the workload so that I would not be trying to fit a new visor and padded liner to my helmet, make a new helmet crest and shield, replace my gauntlets, make a new coat and houppelande (high medieval robes utilising approx 10 m of wool), cast the fittings for two new belts, make a new heraldic surcoat to go over my armour ( Why did my ancestors choose such a complex heraldry?), a new hat and organise two full tournaments and five smaller Pas d’Armes combats in an impossible time frame.  Easy…..the Abbey Medieval Festival is at least five weeks and two days away! Not that I am counting the days in which I have to make fix and devise more things than I could poke a stick at (mental note: make poking stick).
Whilst working on my armour I may get a chance to ponder on why my breastplate appears to shrink between tournament seasons.  I might even have time to get in some extra training as the combats seem to be getting harder and faster every year.  I just need to prioritise and remember that we do this for fun- this tournament season should be Made glorious summer and not the winter of our discontent (mental note: fix tent).

The Unfortunate Reality

If you live near Toowong and hear hammering and swearing late into in the night I apologise just remember the prologue from Henry V:
Piercing the night’s dull ear, and  from the tents The armourers, accomplishing the knights, With busy hammers closing rivets up, Give dreadful note of preparation.