Among our friends, I’ve established a bit of a reputation for hosting. I’ve always liked planning unique gatherings, and my flair for it definitely bleeds into my game nights. This series (this is my first post in the set) will focus on the complete game night experience – food, drink, music, and (of course) the game.
And what better game to begin our themed game night series with than one of my favorite thematic games around – Arkham Horror. Personally, I like the LCG best, but this could really work with anything from Elder Sign to Eldritch Horror. These games are set largely against New England’s foreboding backdrop of the bucolic (and fictional) Lovecraft Country. Unspeakable horrors from far-flung dimensions tear their way into the world via cultists and spiritual conduits, so definitely don’t attempt to tackle these on an empty stomach…or without some liquid courage.
What To Eat?
Bedeviled and Undimensioned Eggs
In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits, snacking – on this unique spin on loaded deviled eggs! Hauled from the unspeakable depths to the shores of Kingsport, boiled lobster meat tops this treat, asparagus spears jutting from the tops like unfurled tentacles. My god, the horror. This recipe is adapted and altered from Michele Ragussis and Jessica Merchant.
1 lobster, about 1 1/2 pounds (or 2 frozen tails if you can’t find live whole lobster)
10 asparagus spears, woody stems removed
1 dozen eggs, hard boiled, shells removed
4 tablespoons mayo
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
Pinch celery salt
Salt and pepper
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
Finely chopped fresh dill, for garnish
Paprika, for sprinkling
Bring 3 to 4 inches of water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Add the lobster, cover and steam until fully cooked and the shell is bright red, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the shell and dice into 1/2-inch chunks.
In a skillet, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil and add the asparagus. Sprinkle it with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook for 5 minutes, just until slightly softened. Remove it from the heat. When cool, slice the asparagus into pieces about 2 inches long.
Halve the eggs and reserve the yolks. In a bowl, mash the yolks and add the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, ground mustard, chives, celery salt, salt and pepper to taste, celery and onions. Mix all together so that the yolk mixture is creamy. Fold in most of the lobster, reserving 24 small pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then stuff the egg white halves with the filling. Garnish with a touch of fresh dill and a little piece of lobster. Jam an asparagus piece down into the egg. Sprinkle with paprika.
What To Drink?
Sazerac over Innsmouth
The Sazerac has a long and storied history, but it always seems to find a comfortable home in a 1920s speakeasy. Take the edge off of horrors unknown with a stiff rye whiskey, but keep the imagination limber with a splash of that “psychoactive green fairy”, Absinthe. For peak New England, seek out Ryan & Wood’s Rye, distilled in the heart of Lovecraft Country. This recipe was adapted from Patrick Sullivan.
1 sugar cube and a bit of water
1.5 ounces Ryan & Wood’s rye whiskey
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 dash angostura bitters
1 splash absinthe, for coating
Put the sugar cube in a mixing glass with a bit of water, just to get it moist. Crush the cube with the barspoon.
Add the whiskey, the bitters (both of them), and the ice. Stir until chilled, maybe 30 seconds.
Add the absinthe to a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Turn the glass to coat the sides with the absinthe, then pour out (gasp!) the excess. Seriously, do pour it out or it will be strong.
Strain the rye mixture into the absinthe-coated glass.
Twist and squeeze the lemon peel over the glass. Rub the rim of the glass with the peel, drop it into the cocktail, and serve.
What To Listen To?
There are really two ways to go here. On the one hand, you’ve got classic horror scores with moody valleys and tense peaks. Or you can go more period-oriented and focus on the swinging jazz of the roaring 20s. I’m particularly partial to this playlist that combines both. Slap this sucker on shuffle and you’re in business.