Medieval Soap Opera meets Wiltshire pub

Sariann outside the Royal Oak

A not so sleepy pub in the Wiltshire countryside and a Medieval TV soap opera has come together in a marriage of good food.

Sariann Lehrer, co-author of ‘A Feast of Ice and Fire’, the official companion cookbook to the addictive ‘Game of Thrones’ television series is on sabbatical from Boston, USA, undertaking an internship at Helen Browning's pub and restaurant, The Royal Oak (until November 21).

Mouth-watering dishes form the backdrop to this fantasy world based on George R R Martin’s best-selling saga ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’.  Superfan and amateur chef Sariann Lehrer picked up on this theme and created a blog replicating cuisine from across the Seven Kingdoms.  Within a couple of months she had attracted a million hits and the eye of author George Martin.  Within six months of starting the blog, the first draft of the cookery book was produced and the final version went to press in May this year.  Helen Browning's The Royal Oak is a far cry from Sariann's day job in an investment bank.  She is here to gain experience of a commercial kitchen and head chef Rikki McCowen is not averse to learning a medieval trick or two.

“We can now walk to our local store or supermarket and pick up products that were not available even a hundred years ago,” says Rikki.  “However, I do not believe that this is something to be celebrated.  Apples taste better from your garden because they are picked fresh at the height of their ripeness. At the Royal Oak we source as much as we can locally and organically, about 90% at my last look.  Before the advent of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, this would have been the norm in the Middle Ages.”

 “During my time at The Royal Oak, I am aiming to move a step closer to fulfilling my passion for food and become familiar with the workings of a commercial kitchen,” says Sariann.

Earlier this month The Royal Oak was recognised for its outstanding food at reasonable prices with a 'Bib Gourmand' in the 2013 Michelin Guide.  The woman behind the pub’s success is Helen Browning, organic farmer and supplier of bacon, sausages and the first organic Hot Dogs to the supermarkets.

“We have several signed copies of A Feast of Ice and Fire to be won,” says Rikki McCowen.  “The easy-to-follow recipes have been refined for modern cooking techniques, but adventurous eaters can also attempt the authentic medieval meals that inspired them.  Sariann has suggested substitutions for some of the more fantastical ingredients, so you won’t have to stock your kitchen with camel, live doves, or dragon eggs to create meals fit for a king.”

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Note to editors

Interviews, images available on request.

For details of forthcoming events visit or follow on Facebook and Twitter: @helenbroorganic / 

Background – Helen Browning’s Organic

Helen Browning has been farming organically at Eastbrook Farm in Bishopstone on the Oxfordshire\Wiltshire border since 1986, and her branded bacon and sausages are sold in the supermarkets.

Helen’s pub, The Royal Oak, in the middle of the farm, has been awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide 2013; recognised for the fourth year running in The Good Food Guide (2013); Alastair Sawday's Special Places 2009-2012, Three Star Sustainability Champion status - the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Helen Browning’s Hot Dogs - ‘Highly Commended’ in the Soil Association Organic Food Awards 2012; Burgers listed in The Good Food Guide 2012 ‘Top 5 Best Burgers’.

Game of Thrones – featuring Sean Bean, is filmed in Ireland (broadcast on Sky TV; Golden Globe winner). Food is used as a literary device to build the settings and characters; the story line is based on seven noble families fighting for control of the mythical land of Westeros.

For further information please contact:

Barbara Rayner

Tel No: 01793 710070
Mobile: 07966 880458
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