Tuesday, March 6, 2018

What You Missed: Feast of Verai 2018

by Steven "Therian" Matulewicz
Also by Kelly "Twenaria" B.

I will tell you now:  there are going to be a lot of aspects of this event I am going to miss in the review.  That is because, while the venue was intimate, there was a vast variety of things to do and try.

So let’s get to the food.  Many people have tried to throw feasts with Eastern flavors and dishes.  This was, hands down, the best one I have been to.  Every item I tried was able to capture a complexity of flavors.   There was not a single dish that I tried that I did not like (which is also rare, by the way).

Talking with the staff, while I know after the fact that the “tapas” style of serving was accidental, I really liked the waves of food without the traditional removes.

The two new Gambling Games that were at the event I felt were wonderful additions to the casino scene of the Realms.  Camel Races, which was 4 camels racing on a board using  1-9 in a deck, betting every round if you want to your camel to continue… had some great Drama.  I admit that what made this game for me was James’ colorful commentary as we raced.  The second game, Pyramid Builder, was a wonderful new card game .  While I am sure the next time I see it, there will be some tweaking, the core mechanics is a bit of luck and strategy so that it was entertaining to play.

The Premise of the event was Verai’s day of balance:  where for the day the low (slaves) were the lords and vice versa (i.e. the Lord was cooking in the kitchen).  There were plenty of RP moments   and intrigue.  That and a rash of stabbing.  There were a few  things lurking in the woods, however I am not sure how much was  the event and how much was  PC shenanigans.
There were many things going on that I was not involved in, such as the cribbage tournament (free to enter, 100 gold to the winner).    What I can say is simple.  It was a solid event with many immersive opportunities.  If you get a chance to go to another Feast like this, you should not hesitate to pre reg.

The menu, in no particular order:
Hummus with fresh baked Pita
Fruit Plates (Dates, Grapes, Peaches, Pears, Apples)


Falafel w/fresh baked pita
Lentil Soup
Tomato Shorba
Caprese Salad
Folkestone Chicken Bites
Kofta Kebabs
Broccoli, Chickpea & Pomegranate Salad
Goat Stew
Caprese Chicken
Fig & Goat Cheese Salad
Egyptian Green Beans with Carrots
Egyptian Meatballs

Honey Sweet Balls
***For a more in depth review of the food, see below**

And I will leave you with some pictures.


Ok, I think he's done with his writing.  Now, it's my turn.  I want to talk about one of my favorite parts of the feast, which is the feast.  We all know going to a feast can be a bit of a gamble.  How many of us have left a feast still pretty hungry?  Maybe the beef was too dry, or the chicken, uh, not dry enough?  Not the case here.  Now, considering the kitchen staff, there should be no surprise.  The food was AHHHHH-MAZING.

The day board was filled with fresh fruit, like different grapes, peaches, pears, dates and olives.  This was a pleasant surprise, and helped set the culinary tone for the day.  Two types of soup were served up, a curry lentil, which sounded great, and the tomato shorba.  I asked the kitchen staff to pick for me, and got the shorba.  It was out of this world.  I could have easily put away 3 more bowls of it, and been happy.  The soup was rich, full of bright flavors like roasted peppers and garlic.  It was velvety on the tongue, and just filled your whole being with delight.

Photo by  Jason Rosa

The koshari was not super impressive to look at, at first.  All I saw was cooked tomatoes and onions on top of pasta.  Maybe some meat thing under it?  NO!  It was a delightful lentil mix, topped with macaroni, topped with nicely seasoned tomatoes and onions.  Like most of the dishes, it needed salt.  The kitchen put salt and pepper out on each table so people could season themselves.  Personally, I would have liked a bit of salt to have cooked into the food, but I do understand this tactic.  This hearty dish was available for some time, which is for the best, as I had multiple helpings.
Homemade falafel went out, although I didn't find it until it was cold.  The flavor was great, well seasoned, and the tzatziki sauce complemented it well.

Photo by Jason Rosa

Photo by Jason Rosa

The caprese salad, folkestone chicken bites, and the caprese chicken were both very good, but fairly standard fare.  Let's keep going with the more adventurous dishes.

Photo by Jason Rosa

Kafta balls.  OMG.  People passed on these delightful little morsels because they are fools.  The beef and lamb was seasoned with garlic, parsley, and, I think, cinnamon and allspice.  I'm sure there is more to it than that, but it was just delicious. There were also another type of meat ball that went out.  These were very good, with a nice crisp to the exterior.  Not because they were dry, but because they were well done.

Photo by Jason Rosa

Another dish that caught my fancy was the goat stew served over rice.  The goat was very tender (a feat if you have ever tried to cook goat), and the broth was nice and peppery.  Large bits of carrot added a nice color and tasted great.

Photo by Jason Rosa

I also enjoyed the Egyptian green beans/carrots/onions.  Again, the dish needed salt to really shine, but that hardly stopped me from getting seconds.

Photo by Jason Rosa

Dessert was a master piece of out-of-the-ordinary sweets.  There were honey/fig/nut balls that went perfectly with the kheer.  Kheer is a sweet rice pudding.  This kheer was almost perfect.  The flavor was spot on, with cardamon, cinnamon, raisins, toasted nuts.  The liquid was just amazing.  The rice was a bit undercooked, and slightly crunchy.  BUT WHO CARES, BECAUSE KHEER!  The other pleasant surprise came in the form of basbousa.  I had no idea what this was.  It looked like sticky cornbread.  But it was heavenly.  Imagine what would happen if cornbread and baklava had a fight.  A sweet, honey laden cake called basbousa is what would come out of that situation.  And the winner is whoever got to eat it.

For a moment, set aside the usual work it is to throw a feast.  Let's not discuss how many hours of menu search clearly happened here.  Instead, pay attention to the details that went into keeping the theme of this event, how hard it is to step outside of the culinary box of feast throwing.   All while keeping plot content flowing, keeping NPCs well garbed and interesting, and having new and fun games for the gamblers to try.  This event was immersive and delicious.

And if the Magistrate is reading:
Please send soup,


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