A Feast For Bros: The Game of Thrones Season 4 Red Carpet Premiere and Cast Party

This writer, foodie, and long-time fantasy geek got the extraordinary opportunity to join the cast and crew of the HBO Original Series, Game of Thrones, for Season 4’s grand premiere screening and swanky after party. The Red Carpet was rolled out at Lincoln Center and a specially designed statue of Queen Daenerys’ pet dragon, Drogon, greeted guests with a toothy grin, as did I.

Music is the Food of Love (and Murder–at least on this show)

At Avery Fisher Hall, some of the fabulous string musicians of the New York Philharmonic performed moving renditions of the show’s opening theme along with other fan-favorites like “The Rains of Castamere” and “Mhysa” with Ramin Djawadi, the show’s composer, conducting his own masterpieces. Lucky enough to sit in the second row, the epic music wafted into my ears—each string onstage feeling like one within my own heart. I must admit, when the title credits started rolling, it saddened me that the Philharmonic’s version can’t be the main one. It was THAT awesome! At the start of the ceremonies, Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) graced us with a stern warning (really some threats) about the dire consequences of leaving one’s cellphone on or recording the show. Before the screening began, show runners David Benioff and Dan Weiss as well as HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo left us with some triumphant speeches.

The Cello solos really stood out!

The Cello solos really stood out!

Food of Thrones: Inside the Episode and Its Characters’ Stomachs

While I was thrilled to get a sneak peek of Season 4’s first episode, I won’t be going out of my way to spoil anything too specific about the episode’s plot. However, as this is a food blog, I will be happy to divulge what the main characters ate, and there was actually quite a bit of feasting going on in Westeros. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) watched her sweet dragons flambé an unlucky goat with fresh pepper breath. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) had trouble eating pigeon pie and lemon cakes after receiving some troubling news about her family. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) continued to drink red wine excessively while bossing people around. The Wilding Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and her crew watched some bloodthirsty tribesmen eat some of their enemies while thinking of better fare. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and the Hound (Rory McAnn) resorted to desperate measures for some delicious roast chicken. It’s a yummy start to what Michael Lombardo promises is the best season of [one of] the greatest show[s] on television!

Everybody has those days... You know it's bad if Sansa won't even touch the lemon cakes!

Everybody has those days… You know it’s bad if Sansa won’t even touch the lemon cakes–they’re her FAVORITE!

The Feast

I found it borderline impossible to engage with the actors on the Red Carpet or at the premiere itself as they were preoccupied with the paparazzi, but the cast party sang a different song as I had the opportunity to wine and dine with several of the stars—really got the royal treatment! Held in the Hall of Biodiversity and Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History Uptown, the Season 4 Cast Party featured animated flames all across the walls and over the exhibit’s signature fiberglass whale—that’s right, we were greeted with something as outlandish and mythical as a flaming whale!

For us smallfolk, there were opportunities for some virtual reality games based on the show, costume exhibits, and a photo on the Iron Throne, but I think I had a much better time trying the delicious party food and mingling with the cast and crew!
Better than a royal wedding! And less violent :)

Better than a royal wedding! And less violent 🙂

Of the positively kingly buffet offerings, I most fondly remember the fillet of beef, arctic char in miso glaze, and gnocchi in crimini and shiitake mushroom cream sauce. There was also a kingdom of appetizers, including tuna tartare, minced chicken with peanut sauce, and asparagus wrapped in pancetta, as well as an open bar with some show-inspired cocktails—I heard The White Walker was to die for!

Fillet of Beef, Gnocchi with Mushrooms in a Cream Sauce, Arctic Char Marinated in Miso
Fillet of Beef, Gnocchi with Mushrooms in a Cream Sauce, Arctic Char Marinated in Miso

For dessert, we were offered an assortment of cupcakes, pastries, cookies, and other treats, but I settled for the tasty blueberry almond tart a la mode.

Blueberry Almond Tart a la Mode

Blueberry Almond Tart a la Mode

FOOD FOR OTT AND THE STARS

I drank wine with Queen Regent Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)

I drank wine with Queen Regent Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)

I jested with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)!

I jested with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)!

I met the incredible author of the books that inspired the series, George R.R. Martin. When I asked him for tips on combating writer's block, he reached for the wine glass!

I met the incredible author of the books that inspired the series, George R.R. Martin. When I asked him for tips on combating writer’s block, he reached for his wine glass… CLASSIC!

King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) showed me mercy and even allowed me a picture. He has no immediate plans to annex Manhattan to the Seven Kingdoms.

King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) showed me mercy and even allowed me a picture. He has no immediate plans to annex Manhattan to the Seven Kingdoms.

Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) agreed to a photo as long as I promised to scream with her. It was a long, good scream--made me feel like a warrior!

Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) agreed to a photo as long as I promised to scream with her. It was a long, good scream–made me feel like a warrior!

A Fiery Photo with Lady Melisandre, the Red Priestess (Carice Van Houten).

A Fiery Photo with Lady Melisandre, the Red Priestess (Carice Van Houten).

Sansa Stark (Sophie Wright) was kind enough to take this photo of me with Ser Loras Tyrell (William Finn). I kid you not when I say she declared us "SEXY!" Ser Loras was actually sipping an appropriately green party drink!

Sansa Stark (Sophie Wright) was kind enough to take this photo of me with Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones). I kid you not when I say she declared us “SEXY!” Ser Loras was sipping an appropriately House Tyrell-Green party drink!

I told Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) that he looks quite dapper in a suit and when he's not tied up or being tortured!

I told Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) that he looks quite dapper in a suit and when he’s not tied up or being tortured!

Schmoozing with Shae (Sibel Kikelli)!

Schmoozing with Shae (Sibel Kikelli)!

The Wilding Ygritte (Rose Leslie) looking especially demure out of fur and boots.

The Wilding Ygritte (Rose Leslie) looking especially demure out of fur and boots.

I asked Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) to do something menacing for the camera, but he doesn't take direction. Just look what happened to the King in the North... I asked Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) to do something menacing for the camera, but he told me “I don’t take direction from boys… Remember what happened to the King in the North?” Plenty menacing 🙂

Missandei (Nathaile Emmanuel) is happy to play an intelligent woman of color in a medieval fantasy drama.

Missandei (Nathaile Emmanuel) is happy to play an intelligent woman of color in a medieval fantasy drama.

HODOR!

HODOR! (Kristian Nairn)

The festivities went on until midnight. It was honestly one of the greatest experiences of my young life. These characters, experiences, and tastes will stay with me for a very long time.

If my name wasn't Otter, I'd totally take this flaming whale for my House Sigil!

If my name wasn’t Otter, I’d totally take this flaming whale for my House Sigil!
Food For Ott would like to thank the good folks at The New York Philharmonic for this exclusive invitation, the cast and crew of HBO’s Game of Thrones for being sweet and humoring a fan, and the HBO staff for hosting the perfect night.Game of Thrones comes back to HBO on Sunday, April 6th, 2014 with Season 4 playing for network subscribers at 9 PM.

Sel Et Poivre: A French Feast On the Upper East

For 25 years, Sel Et Poivre (French for Salt and Pepper) has brought traditional French cuisine to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Husband and wife duo, Christian and Pamela Schienle have cultivated a loyal following. Even on a lukewarm Thursday evening, the bistro’s cozy dining space was packed with plenty of customers–families (some with kids, some with elderly relatives), couples, coworkers. Romantic mood lighting and candles, black and white family photographs, and even some classic sconces bring to mind an elegant Parisian villa. It’s a lovely shift from the hectic day-to-day business of Manhattan’s streets and the change is palpable as soon as you step inside the bistro’s doors on Lexington Avenue (between East 64th and 65th Streets).

Chef Christian offered us a delicious and diverse five-course meal, consisting of an appetizer, a soup, two French-style entrees, and a dessert.

I sampled some of the Crab Cake first. While crabcakes are usually thought of as American,  Sel Et Poivre’s variant was nicely breaded and came with fresh lump meat. It’s a safe, solid choice for an appetizer and is served with some mixed greens and a lovely orange-hued, ginger sauce.

Crabcake with Ginger Sauce. Entree portion larger.

Next, I tried Sel Et Poivre’s Asparagus Soup. Chef Christian told me about his choice to use potato to thicken it rather than cream for a healthier, vegan soup–a decision I approved after tasting. The dish was thick and hearty without being too viscous, leaving it tasty yet easy on the throat. Perfectly pureed and silky, I couldn’t stop dipping my complimentary bread in it.

Asparagus Soup

Sel Et Poivre treats its patrons to a wide variety of French delicacies with a menu that includes veal kidneys, calf’s liver, and frog legs among other classics…  Luckily, I was able to stay within my comfort zone as our group was treated to the Skate Fish in Lemon Butter with Capers and White Rice. Light, crispy and perfectly salted, it was a thoroughly enjoyable seafood dish. Now, people might be squeamish about eating something in the same family as the stingray, but I can endorse Sel Et Poivre’s version as much leaner and flakier than your average fish dish, and even a cut above other skates I’ve tried. I kid you not when I say the skate wing fluttered into my mouth!

Skate with Lemon and Butter Over White Rice

Skate with Lemon and Butter Over White Rice

Our fourth and last main course was the Pork Chops With Calvados Sauce. Calvados is a rich and aromatic apple brandy from lower Normandy in France. It’s not a dish I would order normally, but that sauce made me want to lick my plate clean. Chef Christian generously served mine with pommes frites on the side. All in all, it was an incredibly crisp, fragrant experience—think Steak Frites but juicier, and marinated after a fruitful autumn harvest.

Pork Chop in Calvados Sauce with Onions and Roasted Potatoes

Pork Chop in Calvados Sauce with Onions and Roasted Potatoes

Pommes Frites. I still don't know if i'm allowed to call them French Fries...

Pommes Frites. I still don’t know if i’m allowed to call them French Fries…

For dessert I had one of Sel Et Poivre’s adorable Profiteroles. Combining flaky and warm pastry with a refreshing ice cream interior, it was an incredibly delicious, well-rounded dessert.  Topped with chocolate sauce, mint leaf, and a raspberry, it combined everything I like in a good dessert without being too hot, sweet, cold, or doughy.  They come two to a regular dessert order and one with the prix fixe.

Profiterole

Profiterole

Sel Et Poivre offers an extensive selection of wines, beers, cocktails, spirits, and liquors with an emphasis on carrying drinks from all over the world. Full-service and food selection is available at the sit-down bar as well.

Sel Et Poivre offers an extensive selection of wines, beers, cocktails, spirits, and liquors with an emphasis on carrying drinks from all over the world. Full-service and food selection is available at the sit-down bar as well.

Sel Et Poivre has stood the test of time as a lively, classy French bistro. Whether you are eager for a familiar French favorite or want to go out on a limb and eat something more exotic, Sel Et Poivre’s refined atmosphere and culinary delights are worth a visit and certainly a taste. As Chef Christian put it “Cook with love, serve with charm!”

Be sure to check our Sel Et Poivre’s Game Tasting Menu, a special running for this week and the next (March 10th-23rd). It’s $59.95 for a three course prix fixe dinner with wild choices ranging from venison to wild boar to quail, though you can also get your game fix a la carte.

Sel Et Poivre

Address: 853 Lexington Avenue (Between East 64th and 65th Streets)

Telephone Number: (212) 517 – 5780

Website: http://www.seletpoivrenyc.com

Lunch served from Noon to 4:00 PM on Mondays to Fridays

Dinner from 4:00 PM to 10:30 PM on Mondays to Thursdays, 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM on Sundays

Brunch is from 12 PM to 4:00 PM on weekends.