Lord of the Rings Marathon Feast

For the last decade or so, I've spent one day during my Christmas holiday watching all three extended versions of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies. I'd buy junk food (chips, M&Ms, pizza, and diet coke - maybe a breakfast burrito) and watch them by myself. Harriet was warned and would pretty much stay out of the living room while I vegged in front of the TV. Geek heaven!

Last year, my neighbor (who is the publisher of Edible Santa Barbara, a local food culture magazine) came to me with a website she had found that discussed a multi-course feast based on an interpretation of the cuisine Tokein wrote about in his books. Krista is a major LOTR geek, and so we put together a marathon viewing of the three films along with an 8 course meal that would extend over the 12+ hours of viewing. Krista was the arbiter of what was "authentic". Last year was our inaugural event, and we had 4 people participate in the entire marathon and one who just came for the meals (Harriet of course). It was a big success, and amazingly popular as we live posted the courses on Facebook (an fascinating cross section of geeks and foodies).

So this year we decided to try it again. We made some tweaks to the menu, and one person who attended last year couldn't make it this year. We substituted another friend, so our attendance count was the same as last year.

Here's a breakdown of the schedule & menu, along with some notes about how we'd change it in the future.

9:00 am Breakfast (sometimes called First Breakfast)

Krista prepared sausages, grilled tomatoes, toast, and poached eggs. We also had lattes; not a traditional LOTR drink, but Krista makes a fantastic latte. It was a hearty start to the day's marathon TV viewing.

We got started late (about 9:30) and ate along with the opening scenes of the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring.

10:00 am Second Breakfast

We decided to lighten this meal a bit from last year, and so in recognition of the second breakfast scene from the movie, we just had apples.

Since we were running late, we waited until 11:30 to eat the apples, but a few minutes later the scene where Strider tosses an apple to Pippin came up. Next time we'll wait to eat our apples along with that scene.

11:00 am Elevenses


I made Lembas bread for this meal, and we drank Ent Water. The Lembas recipe came from Middle-earth Recipes.

Krista's Ent Water consisted of filtered water with cucumbers and mint added for flavor. Although officially schedule to be served during this course, we basically had a pitcher available all day and I drank quite a bit of it.

We timed this meal to occur when we changed DVD disks during the first movie (about half way through). There's nothing tightly connecting this meal to the scenes playing at this time. It was scheduled based on the name of the meal.

1:00 pm Lunch

We had a spread of salumi, cheese, breads, curry chicken salad, and two hearty soups (lentil/bacon and mushroom/barley). We also drank a local craft beer. I think we all agreed that this was way too much food. With so many courses through the day, we need smaller and lighter courses. Still, it was delicious and the variety was fantastic.

This meal was timed to begin with the start of the second movie, The Two Towers. It gave us a chance to prepare the meal during the break, and also an excuse to get up to move around!

We didn't start this until 1:45, so we were about 45 minutes late on the original schedule.

Oops, I forgot that we also had a blackberry tart as dessert for this course. It was delicious, but as I said before, too much food!

3:00 pm Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea consisted of scones and tea. Early that morning, before we got started, I bought pastries at C'est Cheese, a must see cheese shop and cafe if  you are ever in Santa Barbara. And if you are a local, you better make sure you've been there. The food is fabulous, the staff is friendly, and the cheese and charcuterie selection is second to none. For this meal, we had a selection of the fresh made scones.

This meal coincided with the break between halves of the second movie (the point where you switch from DVD 1 to DVD 2). At this point, we were still about 45 minutes late on the schedule.

5:00 pm Dinner

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For dinner we decided to eat sushi. Why? because of the scenes where Golum eats raw fish. We timed this meal to start with the third movie, Return of the King. Unfortunately, the raw fish scene at this time is pretty gross, so I don't know that I would wait for that scene to start eating. The sushi is a nice change from the rest of the meal, but the appropriate scene isn't very appetizing.

We were about an hour late at this point, so dinner and the movie actually started about 6:00 pm.

There's another change we would make in future viewings. Early in the third movie, there are scenes of toasting and celebrating in Rohan. We should all have glasses of ale in order to join in with the festivities.

7:00 pm Supper

Coming down to the last stretch, we had rabbit stew for supper. This was based on the scene where Sam makes a stew from a brace of coneys that Golum catches. We were fortunate enough to add 'taters to our stew.

Krista made the stew and it was fantastic. She slow cooked it with a crock pot most of the day, and the meat just fell off of the bones. She also made a lovely kale salad, and we washed it all down with a refreshing hard cider. In my opinion, the best meal of the day.

This meal started along with the second half of the third movie. We were about an hour and 15 minutes late at this point.

9:00 pm Dessert

When the final credits started to roll on the final movie, we celebrated with dessert (of course). Krista prepared a lemon ring cake and used the lemon zest to suggest the lettering on the ring (get it, a ring cake).

The last movie ended about an hour and a half later than we originally planned, but we were all prepared for it to go even longer.

Final thoughts

Three movies, eight meals, and 13+ hours of feasting after the official start, we toasted our successful marathon with a hot mulled cider. 

This was a fun event for all of us. The three who participated in last year's marathon still felt pretty good at the end of the day, and none of us were burned out. We immediately started planning for next year.

I think we might switch to the three Hobbit movies since the extended versions should be available by then. I'm sure we'll alter the menu for the day and try to find foods mentioned in those movies.

But I think the big lesson from this day's feasting is to prepare less food - by which I mean smaller proportions AND fewer selections. It would make the day a bit more manageable.

Still, it was a wonderful day and I recommend you put on your own marathon viewing event!