Barlimans regular Diamond_T is publishing a cookbook of Middle-earth recipes and sends us this report of this weekend’s Open House at Mandala Books in Pittsburg, PA.

“As you can well imagine, it has been a crazy weekend! Here’s a brief synopsis of what happened on our side of the street at Mandala Books during the Open House Saturday, 9/21 from 12 noon-6pm, in the Oakland section of the city of Pittsburgh, PA.

The bookstore opened at 11am, but we were there at 9am setting up and cooking. My daughter Areya made all the Lembas for the entire day, and she did a great job. I decided to make either vegetarian recipes or veggie versions of recipes for the occasion. Ekkaia normally has seafood in it, but for that day was a combination of colorful vegetables with brown rice and a variety of exotic spices… I also made Cirdan, named in his honor, a recipe of cabbages, onions and red potatoes that was hearty and filling, but not heavy. Culanna is a wonderful Shire recipe of a corn pudding and spices baked to perfection. It smelled up the entire block; it was very well received. The feature of the day of course was a birthday cake honoring Bilbo and Frodo. For the occasion, I decided on Minas Ithil the ‘Tower of the Moon’ cake which honors this once sacred area that was taken and then restored by having a three layer chocolate cake with a lucious chocolate frosting. Ur-dur Nahald (the dark secret) is my interpretation of the ancient Mayan hot chocolate recipe… made with two types of raw chocolate, a dash of cinnamon, no dairy, turbinado sugar and ground chili peppers. Yummy!

In addition to Areya and I, there were some other friends of the Shire who also helped work on the cookbook project. Zachary Jones assisted with the computer technology of putting the whole thing together, and was there to answer questions about some of the details of how that was implemented. Clayton Carlino is the book’s illustrator, and he was there to answer questions about the artwork and embellishments. Both gentlemen assisted in some of the food preparation from time to time.

There were about 1100 people for the day, and it was so wonderful to spend the day with fans of Tolkien’s works and discuss all the wonderful nuances of his writings. Poetry was read, songs were sung (some by yours truly), and many quotations were made. The Ent Draught, a glowing combination of fruit and vegetable juices was raised in glasses to celebrate the birthday boys in style. All in all, it was an exciting day, and I hope that we can continue the fun when the book is released and we have another party with a book signing! A very special thanks to Frank Carroll, the owner and operator of Mandala Books; to my co-workers, Frances, Elaine, Indigo; all talented practioners; and to Phantom of the Attic, to Scott, Jeff, and the rest of the crew for making this such a fantastic day! Can’t wait to do something fun with them again!”