How do you get hordes of geeks to leave their nice, warm nerd-caves and venture into the harsh light of day? By tempting them with free food themed around HBO’s upcoming epic series Game of Thrones, of course. All this week, the Game of Thrones food truck is roaming the streets of New York, offering fairly elaborate dishes inspired by different regions in the realm of Westeros: King’s Landing, the Riverlands, The Wall, the Free City of Pentos, and Winterfell. The truck will be serving the same Tom Colicchio-designed menu in Los Angeles next week as well. (Each day, HBO’s also posting a video of Colicchio describing what’ll be served that evening; check out the clip embedded below to find out which region’s being featured tonight.)
“Game of Thrones is filled with really detailed descriptions of food and lavish banquets, and it’s so prevalent in the story that we thought it could be a great hook for the promotional campaign,” HBO’s VP of brand marketing Chris Spadaccini told me. “We wanted to bring this world to life using food as a vehicle” — no pun intended, I’m sure. From what I saw when I visited the truck yesterday, the diehard fans who waited for hours in 45-degree weather (it’s almost April, New York! Get it together!) to get itty-bitty portions of squab would probably say that Spadaccini and his team have succeeded in their mission.
I got off the subway shortly before 6pm and spent five minutes anxiously wandering Astor Place, looking for the truck. By the time I got in line around 5:58, I heard one HBO rep tell another that there were already 74 people waiting for grub. Thankfully, once the truck actually started serving food around 6:25, the wait was short. I shared my portion of sweet corn fritters with the Thrones-lover who had been standing in front of me; in exchange, she gave me a piece of her roast squab and black bread pudding, pictured at right. The food was tasty, if a little greasy. The best part of it by far was the tiny lemon cake served to each customer along with their “entree.” (If you can’t make it to the truck, HBO has posted a recipe for the lemon cakes on their website.) I also loved the napkins the truck handed out, which are each emblazoned with the sigil of a different House from the books; I got Greyjoy, whose symbol is a cool giant squid thing.
Today, the truck will be serving cuisine inspired by The Wall: black seafood stew with dragon peppers and beet and pickled egg with preserved horseradish. It’ll be parked near Lincoln Center, and since more people are finding out about the campaign as the week goes on, you should probably leave as soon as you’re done reading this if you don’t want to miss out on the food. Then again, even if the truck runs out of stew, you’ll probably have fun — as much as I liked my lemon cake, what I really enjoyed was telling my line-friend about my experience reading the first book in the series for the first time and hearing her talk about how great the rest of the series is. If only I had thought to wear gloves, the experience would have been pretty perfect.