The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than having friends over and preparing a themed meal. You see, hobbits love food and drink. That’s common knowledge. Who hasn’t heard of second breakfast and supper and dinner (well, other than Aragorn)? Even more perfect, food is a key part of The Hobbit and the first installment of the movie trilogy. The company of dwarves unexpectedly shows up at Bilbo Baggins’ home to begin their journey and promptly clean out his pantry. Poor Bilbo.
Luckily for us, Tolkien mentions the food they ate while crammed around the table at Bag End. Some of it is ridiculously easy and some of it requires a little work. You can also get away with including food in the same spirit even if it’s not exactly the same.
Read more and get recipes after the break.
A few foods are specifically called out in “An Unexpected Party.”
“Now we are all here!” said Gandalf, looking at the row of thirteen hoods—the best detachable party hoods—and his own hat hanging on the pegs. “Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink! What’s that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think for me.”
“And for me,” said Thorin.
“And raspberry jam and apple-tart,” said Bifur.
“And mince-pies and cheese,” said Bofur.
“And pork-pie and salad,” said Bombur.
“And more cakes—and ale—and coffee, if you don’t mind,” called the other dwarves through the door.
“Put on a few eggs, there’s a good fellow!” Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. “And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!”
This is after Balin asks for seed cake and beer, and the dwarves devour all of it and also eat buttered scones.
Plenty of food to choose from for a menu!
My feast included a roast chicken, mashed potatoes, a light salad with cucumbers and red onion, hard boiled eggs, buttered scones, cheese, seed cake, and berry pie. Obviously a couple of those aren’t referenced in the book, but Samwise does talk about potatoes in Lord of the Rings:
The chicken is simple. Follow this recipe if you’d like (stuffing optional) and serve it cold like Bilbo did or right off the bone. Mashed potatoes are pretty standard and other than the baked goods, this meal was quick to put together. I especially liked the seed cake. I followed a recipe adapted from an 1861 pound cake recipe. It took forever to bake and the pound of butter in it (seriously) bubbled up and over the top of the loaf pan and made my house smoky so if you make it, do yourself a favor and put it a baking sheet that has a lip. Get the recipe here.
I got lazy when it came to drinks and only had wine (Gandalf mentions red wine!), but tea, mulled cider, and any sort of British beer would fit in quite nicely with the meal.
If you’re going for a full on fantastic theme, don’t forget to serve the dishes on the right kind of serving ware. I like themed meals and I know that my tastes fall towards food in fantasy books (Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Hunger Games) so I make it a point to look at the clearance section of places like World Market and Pier 1 because you’ll often find plates and serving dishes that have the right look. Ikea is also a great, affordable resource. I’ve used my plates for themed meals for all the franchises listed above as well as Firefly (I incorporated those with some Asian style dishes).
So, go ahead and splurge on a few ceramic mugs at the renaissance faire. Get a nice wooden salad bowl. Find some earth tone ceramic serving plates. You’ll use them time and time again, and if you like cooking and having dinner parties, it’s worth the investment. Let me again mention the cheap wonder that is Ikea.
Now for my recipes!
As far as I know, berry pie doesn’t make an appearance in The Hobbit but it is within the realm of reason that hobbits would eat it.
Store bought package of pie crusts (they come with two) – you can also make one from scratch
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 pint blackberries, whole
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 400F (or whatever the pie crust package says). Get the pie crust package out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while you cut strawberries. Unroll one crust and place in a 9″ pie plate. Mix the blackberries and strawberries in a small bowl then put them in the pie crust. Sprinkle the cornstarch and sugar over the fruit and mix with your fingers. Unroll the second crust and put over the top. Cut a few slits in the top crush with a knife. Seal the edges and cut off the excess crust. Bake per the directions on the package (for about one hour).
Hobbits and dwarves like scones. Scones are often too dry for my taste, so I make them with buttermilk. I’ve tweaked a recipe over the years and it yields perfect and moist scones every time. You can easily add dried blueberries or currants to it.
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup dried blueberries, raisins, etc (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut the chilled butter into approximately 1/2″ cubes and sprinkle them over the flour mixture. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture is coarse – like tiny peas. In a separate, small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. If you are adding dried blueberries, etc, stir them in gently.
Flour your hands and pat the dough into a 8″ circle on an ungreased baking sheet. With a knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges (cut 3/4 of the way to the bottom of the dough, not the whole way). Bake for 18-20 minutes until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the wedges comes out clean. Let cool for five minutes and completely cut into wedges. Serve warm with butter or cool or however you like!
Now get out there and make a themed meal or several breakfasts!