I love food. Whether it's a simple one-pan pasta after a rough day in the office, or challenging myself to create something extravagant like fresh tempura udon, I'm never going to shy away from a cooking challenge. Getting ahold of Exquisite Exandria, the official cookbook of the world of Critical Role, I was excited to see what culinary creations and critter references were in store.
What Food Can Be Found In Fantasy?
Unlike cookbooks that are themed around a certain style of cooking, Exquisite Exandria is meant to be representative of a people and the environment that they live in.
Whether it's a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fried tomatoes from a built-up tavern in the heart of Emon to Panzanella made off the docks of Darktow in the name of the Plank King, there's enough range in these recipes for anyone to enjoy.
This range of recipes allows for complicated dishes for an accomplished chef to take on, or small baked goods and other nibbles for someone just starting their cooking journey to cut their teeth on. For some recipes that might be more complicated or have more exotic ingredients, there are substitutions or alternate methods listed in the book to make every recipe more approachable.
Exquisite Exandria Keeps Cooking Approachable For All Experiences
The aforementioned Plank King's Panzanella lists a supremed Cara Cara and Pomelo, and not only efficiently explains what it means to supreme these citrus (something I'd never heard of before) but also lets you know that these can be substituted with naval oranges and pink grapefruit.
Another excellent quality of life feature of each recipe is the way that quantities will also commonly be explained in a variety of ways. Whether it's 1 cup or 128g of fresh cilantro, or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (from about half a lemon), no matter where in the world you're cooking from or how comfortable you are eyeballing an amount you're in safe hands.
How's The Food in Exquisite Exandria?
During my brief time with Exquisite Exandria, I've already cooked Scaldseat Salmon with a side of Grog's Garlicky Mayonnaise (also, fries), the Bad Aim Chicken Skewers, De Rolo's Revenge Pasta (SO MUCH GARLIC), and of course Lord Eshteross's Maple Ginger Cookies with Tumeric.
The recipes I've made so far I've enjoyed a lot. The zesty homemade mayonnaise was perfect on the baked potatoes. While I did add some more vegetables to the Bad Aim Chicken, the heat of the jalapeno with the creaminess of Greek yogurt made for a light and tasty dish.
Flipping through the pages, there are a number of other dishes I'm excited to try out like the Heartmoor Harvest salad, Chicken Pocket Pies, and some Black Moss Cupcakes (including a semi-redacted recipe for the Dust of Deliciousness).
The range in recipes has helped me stay excited as no two meals will be close in taste or style.
In picking recipes for this cookbook, some of the more questionable meals through Critical Role history were also not ignored. Recipes for "The Grand Poobah's GoFiBePo Meat Board", "The Meat Man Hoagie", and Pretty's "Meal" are all included. I'm not sure how quickly I'll be making my way to those though...
Exquisite Exandria - A Cookbook From Within The World
Including a recipe for the GoFiBePo Meat Board is perfect for what this cookbook is up to between the recipes. This book is the in-universe record of a book club who, in search for reading snacks, ended up finding the food of Exandria and discovering their stories.
Exquisite Exandria, arranged not by type of dish or ingredient but by continent, is a chronicle of this group traveling Exandria and collecting these recipes. As you leaf through chapters, you'll learn more about the approach to food each continent has and the stories that inspired dishes as uncovered by the authors.
Ironically, the arrangement of food by their continent is one of the only somewhat frustrating aspects. When you're looking for a certain recipe, it could be anywhere. Luckily there's a comprehensive index in the back to help you locate it again quickly
This information about the continent, its history, and the origins of food falls into a strange place as someone who skips past anecdotes when reading online recipes
Reading about Issylra across two pages feels less like I'm holding a cookbook, and more like reading a Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook like Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting: Reborn. The recipe anecdotes themselves serve as reminders of previous Critical Role adventures.
Exquisite Exandria Review - Final Thoughts
Exquisite Exandria is an excellent cookbook and resource to learn about the world of Exandria through the eyes of a foodie.
Not only is there an incredible range of dishes, but you can tell how much care has gone into including creations for all skill levels, as well as clear and concise instruction for those who are willing to take their cooking to the next level.
Even if you're not interested in learning the deeper history of the continent of Tal'Dorei or Marquet, the food you'll be able to create with this book is reward enough.
Should I Buy Exquisite Exandria?
If you're a Critical Role fan with a penchant for cooking, this is a very easy yes. If you're a Dungeons & Dragons player, the snacks and drinks you can make will also be extremely popular at any table.
For those who might be reading this review and don't care about a Critical Role skinned cookbook, the recipes within offer a range of styles and ingredients, are easy to follow, and are approachable to a wide range of chefs.
All in all, this is just a really good cookbook.
The Exquisite Exandria cook book used in this review was provided by Random House. All photographs courtesy of the author.