Our Summer Queen, S.J. Tucker, on Food and Drink

We remember the summer afternoon that SJ Tucker played for us on the Greensward. It was a perfect summer day — warm but not too warm, sunny with a gentle breeze. And SJ with just a guitar providing some of the best music we’d ever heard.

In honour of that amazing music experience which you can read ’bout in a back issue ofLe hérisson de sommeil’ (The Sleeping Hedgehog), the in-house newsletter for our staff, I decided to skip the all too common questions about her music as that’s covered by Cat elsewhere and focus on the really good stuff —food and drink.

First, what would you put in your ideal picnic basket? And what libation would be at hand?

I’d be sure to include olive tapenade, pomegranate seeds, sea salt and almond chocolate, hard salami, garden veggie crackers, smoked gouda cheese, a durable picnic blanket, a good pocket knife, plenty of drinking water, cloth napkins, satsuma oranges, and a travel bottle of port for my consort. This pretty much sums up the list of goodies my partner and I carry on our day hikes.

What is, for you, a great summer meal?

Cubed avocado covered in garlic salt, lime juice, and hot sauce, served with tortilla chips, and again, plenty of water. Generally this is prepared by a handsome wizard of my acquaintance.

What’s your favorite summer fruit?

Just recently, during a visit to Montana, I had my first chance to gather ripe apricots. There’s nothing like the scent and the taste of them, warmed by the sun.

Mrs. Ware, the Head Cook here, always asks our honoured guests what they want to eat and drink. She tries to comply even if it means getting The Fey members of our staff to lend a hand. It’s been a very long day of copy edits and Mrs. Ware, the Head Cook here, a generally understanding person about writers (though musicians drive her nuts), says she’s happy to make you your favourite dessert. What shall she and her staff prepare? No treat is beyond her doing!

Bless her sweet soul! If she has it in her to conjure my mother’s sour cherry pie, I will bow down at her feet.

Is there a perfect brownie in your estimation? Consensus here at Green Man is a dark chocolate brownie that is moist but not too moist — no nuts or other junk, just overwhelmingly chocolaty

I never met a brownie I didn’t like, though I tend to steer clear of brownies with coconut, or any hint of banana. It’s a texture thing.

In honour of your status as Summer Queen, you drink free in the Green Man Pub. Name your poison. We have everything known to man and elf.

There’s this stuff called Frobscottle* I read about once…its high effervescence is said to cause unfortunate and, ahem, musical side effects, but if everyone drinks a round, we’ll have a whole symphony going!

What makes for the perfect chocolate experience?

Great ceremony, and a lack of the need to rush. A night at home, with spiced cocoa. A beastly hot day and a chilly frozen pudding, frozen custard, frozen drink, or frozen yogurt. Even home-made avocado chocolate pudding, served late at night by the lady of the house, whose Hobbit powers are unparalleled in the kitchen! One should never limit one’s chocolate options, if chocolate is to be an option at all.

Have you tried any of the dark chocolates with bacon in them?

We once tried one here during a chocolate sampling. Most felt it was not terribly good as neither the chocolate or the bacon worked. Not bad, just blah.

I have visited places in this world where bacon chocolate is used as currency. Everything tastes better in the desert.

Which is more perfect food? Chocolate or peanut butter?

Depends on the day, the preference, and the allergies, my friend! If you’re safe with both items, why choose one over the other? What’s queendom for, after all?

Coffee or tea? And what makes for a perfect cuppa?

Tea. My favorite is a pu ‘ertea blend by Dryad Tea, based upon one of my songs: “La Sirene.” I take it hot or cold, with local honey and coconut milk creamer.

Once out of bed, what is breakfast? And when you do something special for breakfast, what is it?

I love a hard boiled egg, especially when that egg comes from chickens who belong to someone I know. When I am at home, I love to cook skillet hash browns from scratch, with herbs, potatoes, bacon, and cheese. I also love to cook my mother’s pancake recipe, with added vanilla extract and cinnamon. I have been known to devour a cinnamon roll with glee. Likewise all types of bacon, even the vegan kind.

Speaking of breakfast matters, we here at Green Man are very fond of cheese, particularly well-aged Cheddars. Which cheeses make you lustful?

Wensleydale with berries in. The aforementioned smoked gouda. Queso fresca, and all forms of restaurant queso dip. Most anything but Swiss and bleu.

So any last thoughts on food and drink? Anything our readers should really know?

Eating well is less complicated than you think. Take good care of yourselves, and pay attention to what your body asks for. Moderation is useful, but constant self denial is not. Finally, if you have food-savvy people in your life who want to feed you, you’re doing it right. Always give thanks to and for the kitchen witches and foodies in your world!

*Frobscottle comes from Roald Dahl’s The BFG, which I highly recommend.

Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

I'm the Librarian for the Kinrowan Estate. I do love fresh brewed teas, curling, English mysteries and will often be playing Scandinavian or Celtic  music here in the Library here in Kinrowan Hall if the Neverending Session is elsewhere. I'm a violinist too, so you'll me playing in various contradance band such as Chasing Fireflies and Mouse in the Cupboard as well as backing my wife Catherine up on yearly Christmas season tours in the Nordic countries.

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