Ask me anything!

So, while I’m taking a short break from heavy SCA sewing and research, I want everybody to help me keep my brain ticking.

Every week, or however often I get questions, I’m going to have a question/answer column here on my blog. Feel free to ask me anything about Roman and Byzantine history, textiles, clothing, etc, and I’ll give you a complete answer, or as complete as I can, with citations to send you on your way. General ancient and medieval history  questions can also be fielded if you’re looking for something more broad.

If this gets busy, I don’t know how many questions I’ll be able to answer, but I’ll do my best to make sure that everybody is covered.

Got a question for me?

Hit me up at syrakousina at gmail.com.

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, ANNA.

On the 1st day of Saturnalia, dilectus meus gave to me: A Judean Date Palm Tree.
On the 2nd day of Saturnalia, dilectus meus gave to me: 2 Punic Wars, and a Judean Date Palm Tree.
On the 3rd day of Saturnalia, dilectus meus gave to me: 3 Gauls dead, 2 Punic Wars, and a Judean Date Palm Tree.
On the 4th day of Saturnalia, dilectus meus gave to me: 4 Good Emperors, 3 Gauls dead, 2 Punic Wars, and a Judean Date Palm Tree.
On the 5th day of Saturnalia, dilectus meus gave to me: 5 Aureii! 4 Good Emperors, 3 Gauls dead, 2 Punic Wars, and a Judean Date Palm Tree.
On the 6th day of Saturnalia, dilectus meus gave to me: 6 legions a slaying, 5 Aureii! 4 Good Emperors, 3 Gauls dead, 2 Punic Wars, and a Judean Date Palm Tree.
On the 7th day of Saturnalia, dilectus meus gave to me: 7 Hills of Rome, 6 legions a slaying, 5 Aureii! 4 Good Emperors, 3 Gauls dead, 2 Punic Wars, and a Judean Date Palm Tree!

The end.

You’re welcome, and Happy Holidays folks, no matter what edition of lamp burning or tree lighting you partake in.

So it’s been like a month since my last post…

Oops.

Anyways, the boozes did well at Great Northeastern War. My conditum paradoxum and rose-lavender cordial were paneled and both scored relatively well for my first foray into the guild scene. My mead and cordial both one best in their division. There was only one cordial, but…hey, there were 8 meads. That counts for something.

Nobody showed up to my Roman garb class except for my friend Elinor Strangewayes (see also: woman who makes Roman phallus beads,) but my Varangian Guard class had a good group, even though I didn’t prep a good lecture, we sat there and talked for an hour and I spewed what I could from the top of my head. They loved the extensive biblio I put onto my handout. I think I will be posting that in the future.

The Byzantine garb page is almost finished, I hope to get that up in a day or so. I basically copy-pasta’d my handout, but I’ll also be adding more stuff. Since my persona is 11th Century, I need to focus on finding more information about that more rather than the generic “Throw clavii on a tunica and call it Byzantine” look. At least there’s lots of fun vocabulary to learn, right? @_@

I am also going to be playing with some Norman garb for upcoming events this fall and winter. The boyfriend is Norman, and technically so is half of my persona, so I get to wear Western European garb for the first time. Ever. I don’t count my Viking, that’s Northern. 😛

Oh, and a gallery, must put up a gallery!

 

IN VINO VERITAS VI: There is truth.

The Muscat is in the fridge. The Conditum Paradoxum is upright and settling out. (It clarified while cellared.) I will need to re-rack it before Great Northeastern War this weekend. I am EXTREMELY excited about my first chance to panel in the East Kingdom Brewer’s Guild. I’ve been dabbling with my local guild: The Smokingbridge Guild of Libation Brewers, for a while now, but I never thought to bring it to the Kingdom level until I got these beverages done. I will be paneling my Conditum Paradoxum along side a short mead, rose and lavender cordial, and my pomegranate balsamic sekanjabin if there are enough slots open for all 4. I’d like to thank Mistress Bess Darnley for taking a moment to look over my documentation and providing feedback.

The next panel I’ll probably make will be at Birka in January, and these shinies will be good to go:

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YES! The Rosatum and Retsina are done and bottled and delicious! I can’t wait til these age. They’re going to be remarkable.

 

 

IN VINO VERITAS V. “HAAAAAAAAAADRIAN!”

That is probably the worst movie/history pun crossover in the entire internets. Anyways, we have wine!

First you gotta sanitize those bottles. We may be making Roman wine, but we don’t need Roman germs.

I use C-Brite sanitizer.

Then you make your boyfriend put the carboy on the counter for you.

It’s so clear, you can see from here to Guinness. BRILLIANT!

Once you siphen into the bottling bucket (best money ever spent, ever deal with bottling out of a carboy? Ung.) separate off the small batches of infused wines. Here is the Retsina with pieces of pine resin in the bottom, and the Rhosatum, with dried roses in a bag infusing in the pickle jar. These should be bottled by the end of the month. Pliny says to leave the roses in there for 3 months, but I’m assuming he meant fresh. I’m using dried, so I’d rather monitor what this is going to do and the flavor I’m going to get before creating a mess.

Retsina (resin) and Rhosatum (rose) wines.

I also separated my portion off for the Conditum Paradoxum, the spiced wine from Apicius. After gathering my ingredients, it all went into the pot for an hour on low heat to steep. The pine resin melted fast, which got me worried, but it was fine.

 

You can see the odd mix of ingredients here: dates, melting resin, bay leaf, saffron, black pepper, honey, and I threw in a cinnamon stick for fun and profit. And my stove is filthy. Welcome to brewing.

Once that was infused with the rest of the wine, it was strained and bottled. Here is the Conditum in the bottles next to the unaltered muscat wine I made.

Conditum on the left, plain wine on the right. You can see how the spices clouded the wine.

So, being the brave soul I am, I tried the Conditum in the period style, using warm saltwater to dilute it, as the straight liquor is extremely sweet.

The dilution cleared the wine, and brought out the infused flavors.

From Familia Annae to yours, EU!

IN VINO VERITAS IV

Bottling and infusing the wine today! Excited! Pictures to follow in tonight’s post.

In the end, I will have the following:
2 gallons of “Ancient White” Muscat wine.
1 gallon of Conditum Paradoxum (spiced wine from Apicius.)
1 gallon of Rhosatum (rose wine from Pliny the Elder.)
1 gallon of Retsina (resined wine.)

I’ve found a couple different redactions of the Conditum Paradoxum. I have one written down in my brewing journal (this is a must-have for anyone who brews as much as I do. I conjure up recipes and write them in, and track my progress on existing projects) but I found a different approach online I may go with instead. The basis of the drink is that you take a base wine, Apicius doesn’t say what color though both reds and whites were widely consumed by the Romans, and you make a must of honey, saffron, mastic, bay leaf, black pepper and dates. I don’t have any mastic, so I’m subbing in cinnamon. Plus, with my Retsina, I didn’t want to overdo it with that flavor. I *DO* have plenty of pine resin to work with, so that is still an option.

The rhosatum is getting treated exactly as Pliny says: put rose petals in a bag, put it in the must, close the sucker up and then let it sit for 3 months. I’m assuming he means fresh petals, and I’m using dried, so I’m going to be monitoring the color of the liquor and making sure nothing goes funky in there. If I stop the infusion early, I stop it early. No big.

The Retsina doesn’t have a clear cut recipe. I’m more or less trying to re-create a flavor profile than an actual recipe. Originally, Greek and Roman wines got the resin flavor from the use of pine resin as a sealant on the amphorae. Being that I don’t have an amphora, (I’ve looked, they’re expensive to get made) I’m cheating and tossing an ounce of resin in the wine and letting it age a month. If this works out, I’ll bottle the wine and seal the top of the bottles with resin like wax as a nice touch.

I’m going to let the wines bottle age a minimum of 3 months, so my first bottles should be ready by Pennsic War, at least of the Conditum Paradoxum (which I plan to panel with hot seawater to dilute it with!)

More updates today as it comes, live, from Black Dolphin Brewing!

 

In Vino Veritas Part III, and Artisanal Swapage.

Racked the wine to the secondary today. It’s fermenting like a madwoman. I probably could have let it go longer, but the boy needed the larger carboy for his beer that he’s working on today. Either way, I plan to leave it in this carboy now for at least a month before the clarifying process. I picked up another 1 gallon jug today as well, now I have 2, which will be important for when I do my separate infusions of the rose and resin. As of this point, I’m not thinking they will be ready for paneling at War of the Roses (Memorial Day weekend) so at the earliest I should have a drinkable product by Pennsic, and especially good next year, as I intend to age as much as possible. It is wine after all. Though the Romans did drink a lot of young wine. Mostly because it was the primary beverage of choice, and though there were period winos (Pliny most certainly one of them) that did enjoy ages wines, there is no harm in younger beverages.

I also signed up for the Nobelese Largesse swap today via Facebook. It’s a Knowne-World wide artisanal swap that requires documentation. I cannot post what I am doing or who I have or pictures until the gift is sent for obvious reasons, but I am looking forward to participating in this one. 🙂

I am also involved in the East Kingdom Artisanal Swap for my second round. That gift has been finalized, and I am working on getting everything together to complete it. My previous swap gift went to Konstantia Kaloethina in Calontir, the founder of the NL swap, and I made for her a Byzantine Superhumeral out of shot purple silk, with some amethyst and pearl beadwork. I left it plain since we had discussed prior to me even having her as a swap recipient that she wanted one to adorn with her award medallions, but did not know how to sew one for herself.

Konstantia's Superhumeral

I received in the swap a lovely wooden chest with my arms on it, and a couple of brass and bronze medallions from Sir Yessunge Altan, I was blown away.

Wooden Chest from Sir Yessunge.Medallions that came in the box.

You can see the type of work that goes into these swaps, this is why I’m so excited for NL, being limited to 40 participants, and worldwide. I do love a challenge!