The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine offers fine dining with Geralt
In The Witcher franchise, Geralt, of Rivia, has taken on many trials, challenges and monsters. From the beginnings in The Witcher, released in 2007, to the latest expansion of The Witcher 3 Blood and Wine, released as DLC this year, our intrepid adventurer has seen and done quite a bit in his career.
In Blood and Wine, Geralt travels to a new land, which he has apparently visited before but players have never really explored. He has been summoned by an empress to find out who or what is responsible for a series of deaths to some important people.
As part of his reward, Geralt is gifted an estate, Corvo Bianco, and all the lands that go with it. Included in the gift is a majordomo, Barnabas-Basil Foulty, who runs the estate for Geralt while the witcher is out doing witcher things.
Foutly makes requests, side missions, to help restore Corvo Bianco’s former glory and bring prestige to Geralt and himself. It also foreshadows a potential end to Geralt’s traveling, giving him a place to truly call home and relax without the trials and swordplay of his witcher life.
There is a shift in the tone of the game when he visits Corvo Bianco. Geralt takes an active interest in decorating and sprucing up the place, making it more than just a rest stop. Decorative armor, upgraded furniture and a collection of paintings are more the actions of a man who is reflective rather than destructive.
When the highly successful witcher stares directly at the player after the conclusion of the final main quest, there is a sense of calm and peace at his place in the world and history where he feels comfortable. It is a journey that deserves an ending like this, even though we’ll miss him.
There are quests that will help Geralt with his “retirement” plans by adding to his collections or possibly saving someone who will join the household. As part of saving a wight, who can join his household staff as a cook, he eventually comes across the cookbook of a legendary elven chef, Ra’mses Gor-Thon.
Some of the recipes were saved, so I wanted to see if they would truly create a dish or just a creative way for flavor text, pun intended, by the writers of the game.
There were three recipes that were saved. A crayfish boil seemed like a fairly straight forward recipe to boil water, add seasoning and cook crayfish.
There was also a recipe for a honey spice cake, which required leaving the dough in a cellar for a few days. While I do have a very cool first floor in my home, I didn’t feel like leaving dough down there during the hot and humid days of the Mid-Atlantic this time of year.
The final recipe seemed very reachable, an “etoile blanche” pasta. While I’d have to fake some of the ingredients just because I can’t shop in Geralt’s world, it seemed very doable.
The instructions are clever, written in the style of a very demanding chef. But they are perfect in their construction, and the result ended up being amazing.
Of course being a rather experimental cook myself, I thought I would make some “improvements” on the technique. Just don’t tell Gor-Thon.
Here is the original recipe from the game. I’ve made notations on how I modernized it for today’s kitchens.
1 hearty scoop of thick yogurt (preferably Gemmeran style) [I used a plain Greek yogurt, about ½ cup]
1 handful of chanterelles
1 glass of red wine, semi-dry [choose a cabernet sauvignon that isn’t too fruity, use enough to come up about half way on the turkey breast in the skillet]
1 turkey breast [a split turkey breast should feed about four people easily or one hungry witcher]
tagliatelle pasta, to taste [enough for four servings should be good]
6 cherry tomatoes
1 bunch of arugula
1 Zerrikanian bouquet garni (the kind with exotic herbs and spices) [basil, thyme and rosemary replaced the Zerrikanian herbs]
Dun Tynne olive oil
1 small bowl of ricotta
salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic
Instructions with my notations:
Rub the turkey breast with salt, then immerse in a marinade made of the yogurt, Zerrikanian bouquet and crushed garlic. Leave in a cool place for at least two hours. [Use a large Ziploc bag to help the marinade make good contact with the turkey breast. Put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours]
Boil the chanterelles till they are soft, but don’t make jam out of them – remember, al dente, you fool! Prepare the tagliatelle in the same way. If you make mush here, you might as well hang up your apron, for you’re no chef. [Wow. I’d hate to work in his kitchen, but he’s right. The mushrooms should be soft but not squishy. Cook the pasta to the directions on the package]
Once the turkey’s taken on the bouquet’s fragrance, throw it in a pan with the heated olive oil. Pour in the wine – once it’s boiled off, toss in the pasta. Let it fry for a bit. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add them to the noodles. Give it all a good peppering. Add two tablespoons of ricotta – mix thoroughly. Plate the dish and decorate with the arugula.
[Here is where I diverged quite a bit from his recipe, because I feared just frying the turkey breast wouldn’t get it done on the inside. If your meat is thin, go ahead with his directions, but mine was thick, so I opted for frying to give the outside a nice dark finish and baking to make sure the meat was done on the inside. Be careful of hot oil splattering when the breast is placed in the heated olive oil.
After a bit of frying on both sides, I added the wine, the chanterelles and the tomatoes. Covering the skillet, pop it into a 350-degree oven with a probe thermometer set for 175 degrees. After it hit temperature, remove the skillet back to the stove top and plate the turkey breast on a bed of arugula. Place the cooked tagiatelle around the turkey breast.
Add about ¼ cup of ricotta to the skillet and mix together with the wine, mushrooms and tomatoes. Give the sauce about 30 to 40 grinds of fresh ground pepper, then pour the entire mixture over the breast and pasta.]
It makes for an elegant dish with vibrant flavors throughout. When serving, use the pasta as a side dish to the sliced turkey breast. They go very well together and bring different textures to the palette.
While Geralt never sampled the dish in the game, I feel he would enjoy this particular meal in his retirement with the honey spice cake as a flavorful dessert.
The fact this recipe actually works shouldn’t be a surprise. The writers for The Witcher delved deep into lore and details. It is what makes the franchise so fun to play and such a time sink, never realizing how long you’ve been roaming the countryside, looking for a monster nest or a new herb for a potion.
If this is Geralt’s final ride, it has been a pleasure to share in those adventures with him. I’ll miss his scarred face and his teleporting horse, Roach.