Hello, readers! My name is Genevieve Jethri, and I’m very excited to start my new position as the food and drink columnist at the Silversun Chronicle. Thanks for taking the time to check out the inaugural edition of “The Edible Bestiary!”
Now, I come from a pretty small woodland village (shoutout to my readers in Tenleaves!), where we didn’t have a lot of variety when it came to food. It wasn’t until I started traveling the world, seeking Baldrik Blackmane for revenge, that I got a taste of more exotic fare than basic deer jerky, baked chicken, and so forth. But in all my journeys, there’s one type of cuisine I’ve never had a chance to sample: authentic dwarven dishes! That’s why, when I landed this job, I knew I wanted to visit The Broken Axe straight away.
If you haven’t heard of it, don’t feel bad–The Broken Axe is a bit underground. I mean that literally; while the entrance is street-level, the dining area itself is down several flights of stairs, opening into an expansive, torch-lit cavern for that genuine dwarvish aesthetic.
“My dad opened the place up about, oh, two hundred, two hundred and fifty years ago,” explained Reuben Steelsplitter, the current owner. “He had a dream to bring real dwarf meals to Silversun, and he succeeded. I’m proud to carry on that tradition. My people have a reputation–well deserved–as master craftsmen, and everyone always thinks of that in terms of, ‘they make great weapons,’ or, ‘dwarvish steel is the finest in the land.’ They don’t often remember that we’re amazing chefs, as well!”
After a brief tour of the (impeccable) kitchens, Reuben showed me to my table and took my order: seared cave spider steak and braised descar mushrooms in a honeyed mead sauce, a house specialty.
The moment the dish arrived, I was in love. The aroma alone was intoxicating: the sweetness of the honeyed mead sauce tempered the pungent, somewhat musty odor of the mushrooms, and the spice blend encrusting the steak smelled practically palpable. On top of the scent, it was a visual delight—the faint glow from the bioluminescent fungus highlighted the golden hue of the sauce, making it stand out in stark contrast to the white spider meat.
The steak itself was cooked to perfection. While I’m used to leaving my steaks rare to medium-rare, it’s important to thoroughly cook cave spider until it’s at least medium-well, as the heat helps neutralize any venom that may have seeped into the meat during the butchering process. The fine chefs of The Broken Axe really managed to thread the needle on this one, resulting in a meal that was safe for consumption without getting too dry. The particular cut I enjoyed was from the center of the thorax–a juicy, somewhat fattier cut that I can’t recommend enough.
One thing dwarf food is famous for is its extensive use of spices. Because much of the livestock available underground yields bland meat, potent spice combinations are necessary to invigorate the palate. The blend used by The Broken Axe for this meal was sublime: hints of smokiness and a blast of heat accentuated the natural tang of the spider meat, while honeyed mead sauce kept the spiciness in check. It was, as Reuben had promised, a whole lot of flavor–but the elements came together in harmony rather than fighting each other for domination.
As for the mushrooms, they yielded a somewhat more traditional meatiness that was a welcome contrast to the spider, though they weren’t quite as savory as one might expect. One unique feature of the descar? They contained a sort of juice (the source of their blue glow, I surmise, based on the faintly-pulsing neon stain left on my tongue afterward) that added a few interesting sour notes to the dish. However, by far the most engaging part of this fungi was the mild hallucinogenic effect they produced: as I wrapped up the meal, I saw an apparition of my dead father, asking if I had yet slain the villain who took him from me.
“Not yet, father,” I said, wiping the delicious mead sauce (sweet, yet powerfully alcoholic) from my chin. “But soon. Soon.”
I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience with dwarvish cuisine. The ambience, the food, the drunken, mushroom-induced stupor it left me in–all of it was absolutely top-notch. If you’ve yet to experience the fine foods offered by Silversun’s dwarvish community, you owe it to yourself to stop by The Broken Axe as soon as possible.