The pear, the pear and the maiden gruyere...
Season 3 Episode 3: The Bear and The Maiden Fair
The Bear and The Maiden Fair by Hold Steady
That's right - this week, we are talking about the sheer awesomeness of Brienne of Fucking Tarth. It's a complicated dance, this episode, with hairy bears (Jamie, that beard looks good on you), damsels in distress and a catchy, ironic little tune. If there is one damn thing Brienne of Tarth is not though, it's a damsel in distress. Nothing feels more wrong in Westeros than Brienne of Tarth forced into a pink dress because we all know that she really belongs in a suit of armor with a valyrian steel blade in her hand, about to save the day.
We follow our Brienne as she pledges herself first to Renly Baratheon, avenges his death and then takes an oath to serve Catelyn and then Sansa Stark. She hands the Hound his own ass, and (unwillingly) steals the bear-loving heart of Tormund the Wildling, honestly, who can blame him? But however complex the circumstances, we can count on Brienne to act out of honor - she has the heart and spirit (and skills) of a true knight. Her respect and loyalty are not easily won, and it's a mark of the depth of her understanding of the real story behind the 'Kingslayer' when she finally addresses him as Ser Jaime, as a true knight. Jaime rises to this new and unexpected show of real respect, by doing her a solid in return, by saving her life.
So here we are with this week's recipe for our most brave and honorable knight: A Brienne of Tart, if you will - a special tart more savory than sweet (naturally), filled with pears, onions and Grrruyère cheese in a shell of golden puff pastry and as the song says, finished with just a drizzle of sweet honey.
Now, a pan full of browning onions is a magical thing - deeply savory, getting sweeter as it browns, it adds a complex and earthy goodness to every dish and fills your house with an aroma that can only be called..mmmmyummy. Add sweet pears, nutty Gruyère, and a hit of rosemary and you basically cannot go wrong - encase it in a delicate puff pastry shell and you will have every right to call yourself a genius. Drizzle just a touch of honey at the end to satisfy that bear and voila! Genius!
This recipe makes one big impressive tart that works for brunch, appetizer or a light main course. Or, if you happen to be me, you could cut the pastry into smaller individual serving sized squares for a pear, onion and gruyere danish to enjoy at breakfast and I'm telling you, this would not be a terrible idea. Either way, this is one perfect savory golden tart - like our Brienne, an outwardly deceptively simple recipe but revealing layers of subtle complexity, with just a touch of sweetness at the end.
A special note: This brilliant recipe was the brainchild of a lovely community of people obsessed with both Game of Thrones and tasty, tasty food. "I don't have a recipe for Brienne of Tarth, HELP!" I wrote on the Storm of Spoilers Patreon Slack channel #hot-pie, and the inspired people in this Slack came through with a 'Mountain' (sorry) of inspired ideas, recipes and puns. Even Joanna Robinson, co-host of the Storm of Spoilers podcast (and Vanity Fair senior writer of all things Game of Thrones) chimed in (*squeee!) with the The Pear and the Maiden Gruyere pun. This community is the nicest place on the internet (it exists!) and fellow Stormies like to help each other out - even with requests for food puns and recipes. So, it's taken a little while, but my fellow Stormies, this recipe is dedicated to you! Mwah, chef's kiss to all of you!
* If you love Game of Thrones and GREAT podcasts, check out two of my favorites Storm of Spoilers and A Cast of Kings for great discussions obsessing over the show we all love and adore. Love it? Bend the knee and become a Storm of Spoilers Patreon subscriber and join us in the Slack, the best fan community on the internet.
* Special thanks to Joanna Robinson, follow her for all the latest on Game of Thrones (and all the other good stuff happening in entertainment) on Vanity Fair.
Savory Pear, Onion and Gruyere Galette
serves 4 to 6 humans (or 10 to 12 as an appetizer) or 1 very hungry bear