Having received leave from the Amrylin Seat, and both my bonded Sedai as well as my Company Commander, I had traveled with my husband Lok to his home country of Illian. He had recently been raised to Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah at long last, and so we had decided to travel to celebrate in the seaside country of his origin for the first time in many years.
For a returning Son of the Sea, there was much in the way of feasting. The cuisine was certainly different in some ways than what I was used to in my own youth, Arafel was land locked and so the many dishes of fish were quite exotic. I had been here many years ago, when I was a Hunter for the Horn, and that was when I met Lok. He was an olive grower and merchant, and dabbled in some cooking as a hobby, which was when I first had the dish that we were now enjoying tonight. It was a lightly spiced fish in a refreshingly tart sauce, the delightful flavors always took me back to that first meal we shared together many years ago.
The sun drenched fields overlooking the ocean were perfect for olive groves, the Sionn family owned one such grove for generations. Some of the finest pressed olive oil came from these groves so they say, as long as you didn’t talk to a Tairen of course. I remember walking through these fields on a late summer evening, the salt air mingling with the scent of warm, rich soil and olive wood. One of the neighboring farms had beef and dairy cattle, so one could hear the soft moos in the distance. Fine steak and cheeses came from that farm, Lok’s family and their neighbors often bartered between them for the finest of each other’s wares.
Besides olives, beef, and cheese, Illian was famous for their seafood. A favorite was an orange striped fish that was abundant in the ocean and waters of the river. Grains weren’t terribly common, but the meals were so flavorful and filling, they weren’t really missed. Finished up with a nice cheese platter of different types of hard and soft cheeses, and a refreshing local rosé or sweet white wine, and I barely had room for the dessert!
After some lively conversation about trade, stories about sailing, and lots of laughter though, maybe I’ll have a slice or two!
Illianer Surf n Turf for Two
With cherry tomatoes, olives and sauteed spinach in an olive oil white wine sauce
- 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
- 12oz cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 10 large oil-cured black olives, pitted
- A few handfuls spinach
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
- two (4- to 6-ounce) fillets fresh salmon
- one lemon, sliced into disks
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- (2) 4-6 oz beef tenderloin
You will be using 2 pans, one for each protein. Put each burner on medium heat and add enough olive oil to each to coat the pan. Add the basil, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon and 2tsp salt to one pan and some lemon juice to the other pan and mix lightly before setting the salmon in, make sure both sides of salmon are coated in the spiced olive oil before allowing it to cook on skin side down. Top with lemon slices.
In the first pan, add both vinegars, orange juice, salt and pepper, mix and coat both sides of the steak, make sure to flip the steak halfway through. Add chopped olives and spinach.
To the salmon, add chopped tomatoes and spinach. Cook both until desired rarity and serve with wine.
Nine cheeses with pesto, olive oil, and rosemary pita chips/bread
- Rosemary pita chips and/or bread
- 9 Assorted cheeses, cut into slices and arranged neatly on a tray
- side of olive oil with salt and pepper to taste
- side of pesto sauce for dipping
Arrange the cheeses and dips in the middle of the platter, if you are feeling creative you can make it have the appearance of the flag of Illian! Dip the pita chips in the olive oil or the pesto, or top it with cheese and pesto, the combinations are yours to explore.