Welcome to my blog, fellow fans of Baldur’s Gate! Over my last two Munchies & Minis posts, we introduced the Elf Song Tavern and The Helm & Cloak. Due to the nature of today’s two recipes, though, I thought I would do a blog post instead of a video to explore Baldur’s Gate’s favorite shore-leave destination: The Blushing Mermaid!
- Click here to skip to the recipe for Baalor Ale.
- Click here to skip to the recipe for The Blushing Mermaid’s Pork Platter.
Sea Dogs & Smugglers
According to Volo’s Guide to the Sword Coast, the Blushing Mermaid is a “noisy, brawling establishment (…) known up and down the Coastlands as a meeting place in which to conduct illicit business.” Sailors, pirates, smugglers, fences, and just about any “other shady professional interest” either operate from these ramshackle halls. Or they likely have one of their contacts here, nursing drinks past the wooden mermaid-festooned lobby.
Further on in the bard Volo’s account, we describe the Blushing Mermaid’s fare as “simple but good and filling variety, except for a truly vile salted smallfish stew.” We see bread with organ gravy, cheese wheels, pickled squid, heaps of oysters, and more notably to me, “whole roast pigs” and “a splendid pork, thyme, and mushroom platter.”
Traditionally we wouldn’t think of a sailors’ bar serving much more than the sea’s bounty. But I think this makes perfect sense, and Volo agrees with me, stating, “It seems most seafolk are sick of marine edibles by the time they reach land.”
So how would this platter be prepared? Sure, you can order up a whole hog. But what about the diners with a less robust appetite? I usually like serving up pork tenderloin in a gravy of its own marinade— especially after finishing it in the oven with roast vegetables.
The Blushing Mermaid does not serve wine. It serves ale, dark and light. But I found out that the Baldur’s Gate video game offers a little more culinary lore perfect for serving with this mariner’s favorite: Baalor Ale.
Blushing Mermaid Bill of Fare
Baalor Ale, brewed by the Blushing Mermaid’s house brewer De’Tranion, is famous all over the Sword Coast and even as far south as Amn. You learn of it first in Baldur’s Gate when a sea captain avoids his bar tab by sending you to pick up a jug. Then in Baldur’s Gate II, you have the option to purchase it for three youths intent on becoming adventurers through swords and beer.
Where does Baalor Ale get its name from? That “extra kick” of spice from the pimentos it’s brewed in, that’s what! So with that, I decided to brew up a simple syrup using pimentos, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar that you can mix into red or brown ale. Pimentos themselves aren’t really all that spicy, just barely over bell peppers on the Scoville scale. Cinnamon and apple cider vinegar help add a little warmth and acidity to bring out its inherent fruitiness.
I then marinated a pork tenderloin in a pint of this Blushing Mermaid brew with some fresh thyme. This is best done overnight, which is why this recipe doesn’t really work for my live cooking show.
Mushrooms are a tavern staple in most D&D campaign settings, I’ve noticed. Mostly it comes from the idea that mushrooms tend to grow in some of the damper sections of the cellar. It’s not ideal from a modern standpoint. So that’s why using regular button mushrooms from the grocery store is just fine for this recipe.
Speaking of cellars, I also thought staples such as potatoes and apples would be a perfect addition to go along with the thyme and cinnamon. I love this recipe because you need to finish the pork loin anyway in the oven. So why not just stick it on the same pan as the roast veggies?
Finally, I used those savory mushroom and pork browned bits by deglazing my skillet with the Baalor Ale marinade. Thickened with butter, it makes a lovely sauce to pair with succulent slices of meat.
Sing for your supper!
If you plan to cook the recipes off the site, keep scrolling. However, while access to recipes on the blog will always be free, I now have printable PDF recipe cards and thematic cook-along Spotify playlists as rewards for those who choose to support the blog.
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“Simple, Good, and Filling”
Equipment: Stovetop, large saucepan with a lid, herb strainer, wire whisk, carafe, and pint glasses for serving.
- Dozen 12 oz. bottles of red or brown ale
- 3 cups of water
- 3 cups of sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons diced pimentos
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Stuff the pimentos and cinnamon sticks into an herb strainer and place it in a saucepan with the water and apple cider vinegar.
- Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat on the stovetop. Cover and turn off the stove. Then let steep for 15 minutes.
- Remove and discard the contents of the herb strainer.
- Return the pot to the stovetop and turn the heat on medium-low. Pour the sugar in, then whisk until completely dissolved. Turn off the heat.
- Transfer the syrup to a carafe for easy serving. When ready to serve, pour two ounces (1/4 cup) of syrup into a pint glass. Tip the glass lightly and rest the mouth of the beer bottle against the glass.
- Pour the ale in slowly so that it flows down the glass to mingle with the syrup. Slow down or occasionally stop to let the foam fall. Give the syrup a careful stir or two to blend, then serve.
Blushing Mermaid Pork Platter
Equipment: Oven, stovetop, refrigerator, gallon-size zip bag, mixing bowl, 12-inch skillet, large sheet pan, aluminum foil, paper towels, carving board, kitchen knife, and cooking spray.
- 1.5 lb pork tenderloin
- 12 oz. red or brown ale
- 1/4 cup Baalor ale syrup
- a big handful of fresh thyme
- 2-3 russet potatoes, 1/2″ diced
- 1-2 green apples, 1/2″ diced
- 5 oz. button mushrooms, 1/2″ sliced
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- olive oil
The night before:
Place the tenderloin in the zip bag and pour in the beer, syrup, and half of the thyme. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.
An hour before serving:
- Preheat the oven to 450°F while prepping your ingredients. Slice the vegetables, line the baking sheet with foil, strip the remaining thyme leaves into a bowl, and set them aside. Coat the foil with cooking spray.
- Toss the potatoes in the mixing bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil, two or three pinches of kosher salt, and a liberal seasoning of black pepper. Spread them in a single layer on the lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 13-15 minutes.
- While waiting, toss the apples in the same bowl with a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside. Start preheating the skillet over medium-high heat for three minutes.
- Remove the tenderloin from the bag and dry it with paper towels. Reserve the marinade. When the pan is hot, add two teaspoons of olive oil, season the pork liberally with kosher salt, and add it to the pan. Sear on three sides for two minutes on each side.
- Take the pan from the oven and stir the apples in with the potatoes. Make room on the pan for the tenderloin, then place it in the open space. Roast the whole pan in the oven for another 13-15 minutes.
- While the pork roasts, cook the mushrooms in the still-hot skillet for 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a dish when most of the moisture cooks out, and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Pour the marinade into the skillet to deglaze the browned bits. Then strain the liquid into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes.
- Whisk the cornstarch, water, and vinegar into a slurry in a separate dish. Then whisk it into the sauce. Simmer it for another 2 minutes, then add the butter. Move the pan back and forth over the heat until the butter fully melts.
- Take the roasting pan from the oven and move the pork to the carving board to rest 5 minutes under foil. Slice the pork into half-inch slices and distribute among four plates with roasted vegetables, a generous pour of sauce, and a garnish of fresh thyme leaves.