Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mixed Plate: Lord of the Ringing in 2011

Last year we spent New Year's Eve at a friends' house with Joel and the 'Bots of Mystery Science Theater 3000, before turning on the TV to watch the fireworks at the Space Needle, hoping for embarassing technical difficulties and getting amused by drunkards in the background. This year, we set the Nerd Bar even higher by doing a Lord of the Rings marathon and feasting upon a Thanksgiving-style dinner. Why? Because the Precious told us so...

One meal to rule them all into the new year -- Photo by Wasabi Prime

No funny hats, noisemakers or sparkly dresses. Just a very small gathering, as in Mr. Wasabi, myself and our friend Ms Shutterbug staying cozy and warm as twenty-ten became twenty-eleventy. A cold blast of a winter storm dumped a few inches of snow and resulted in much road ice in the days leading up to the Eve, so much thanks to Shutterbug for making the trek out to our house.

We started the film fest in the afternoon, watching The Fellowship of the Ring, moved on to The Two Towers around dinnertime, and had dessert and cocktails through The Return of the King. No, we didn't time it just right to where Aragorn gets crowned king and regales us all with an oddly-placed Elvish song. When midnight hit, we raised our glasses amid much battlecries and carnage during the battle for Gondor, and thanks to director Peter Jackson's love of multiple endings, it was well past 1am before "The End" finally showed up on screen. Maybe it's just as well he didn't include the destruction of the Shire, as not only would that have been a serious mellow-harsh, we'd have still been watching until sunrise.

To paraphrase a line from Fellowship, during the part, Concerning Hobbits, Bilbo Baggins comments that it is not a bad thing to pursue a simple life. And so we did, but with hobbit appetite, as they are a hairy-footed folk who only think of food and drink. Sounds dandy to me -- put me on the next train to Hobbiton. I had a frozen turkey leftover from Thanksgiving. Call me a food hoarder if you want, but when stuff is cheap, I get all Gollum and start hissing, "I wants it! Gives us the precious -- and don't forget my five cent credit for bringing my own bag." What flavor is lost in mass farming methods for poultry, I try to infuse back in through brining. I broke down the bird into its parts and let it soak in a basic brine two days before cooking it up. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- it's worth the effort and the taking up of space in the fridge, as it will absorb flavor and the meat stays tender.

The power of the One Ring compels you to get freaky and EAT - Photos by Wasabi Prime

To go alongside the bird, multiple side dishes were made, including cranberry sauce, green beans and mushrooms tossed with pesto and crisps of bacon, a sweet potato gratin, and much like Aragorn in Return of the King, cauliflower puree returned to the dining table to regain its rightful place as a side dish, since it already showed up previously for Christmas. Plus enough gravy to fill up a huge Pyrex measuring cup. It's a lot of food, I know. But a lot of these dishes were made a few days in advance and just needed to finish off in the oven. And a great Middle Earth huzzah for not having to cook for a few days and just enjoy a wide array of mix and match leftovers. Thanksgiving food is one of Mr. Wasabi's favorite, so he's pleased as punch we have a fridge full of cranberry sauce and turkey.

So that we're given proper nerd credit, we went LOTR: Full Metal Jacket -- extended cuts, no theatrical releases. I'm sure if we went with the shorter versions, we could have timed everything just right for a happy new year toast during the final coronation, but if you're going to go totally geek, it's go big or go home. Personally, Two Towers extended cut is far superior to the theatrical version; as Ferris Bueller would say, "It's so choice." The movies watched all together are seamless and you don't feel like you're going too crazy, although all the longing stares between Sam and Frodo get to be a little much -- just kiss already, fellas. Ain't no shame! I can't wait until all the Harry Potter movies are out on DVD so that we can have a nonstop movie marathon until we're driven into a full psychological meltdown. You hearing me, 2012? I've got your number!

Overall, our night of movies, Thanksgiving sequel dinner and a swapout of cocktails for champagne made for a fun, if not gut-busting night. We faced the new year with full bellies and a feeling that you make your own merriment and good times, so bring on 2011!

Indy is looking ahead in the new year -- just kidding, it's a squirrel - Photos by Wasabi Prime

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  1. Never seen any of the LOTR movies--if you can believe it. Not my thing. However, I certainly like the looks of this delicious dinner to ring in 2011 which I expect to be a banner year. Love that photo of Indy, what a sweetie. Happy new year, wasabi!

  2. When I saw this I did a double take. My family has instituted an odd Thanksgiving tradition of watching the LotR trilogy start to finish (extended cuts, because what else would be festive enough).

    While not quite like your feast, definitely close enough to say been there, done that. However, with the Hobbit trilogy beginning this fall, we may have to spill our annual marathon into Black Friday, or possibly begin Thanksgiving at 0400. :/


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