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Bring an Appetite!
While the crossroads city of Zobeck is best known for its clockwork magic, there is a particular magic in the city’s chefs, cooks, and street peddlers.
This dispatch highlights three chefs that cook in the highly skilled districts of Zobeck. These chefs emphasize how certain cuisines and styles can only be found at the Crossroads of Midgard.
Perhaps the smallest of Zobeck’s sectors, the Collegium District also wields perhaps the greatest influence per square yard. Part of this is due to the presence of the Arcane Collegium, from which the district derives its name. In addition, petitioners to the priests at the Dawn Temple or diplomats discussing alliances at Winter’s Kiss (current home of the shadow fey embassy) must come here.
While many mages tip their wrists (and wait staff) at Hedgehog Tavern, the finest eatery is Firlot, named for an archaic dry measurement in recipes dating back to ancient Ankesh. Only the wealthiest Zobeckers are admitted entrance, where they rub shoulders with professors and librarians from the Collegium (who receive the guild discount).
A normal meal at Firlot starts with an appetizer course of crostini with mango jam and artisanal cheeses. The next course is a fig salad topped with prosciutto, flash aged with a tailor-made vampiric touch spell. This is often followed by pan-seared salmon cooked in alchemically-enhanced butter over a bed of extraplanar short grain rice.
For the main course, steak from a dangerous beast, such as grolar bears(see Tome of Beasts 3), oliphaunts(see Creature Codex), or ngobou dinosaurs(see Tome of Beasts) rounds out the menu. For those who still have an appetite, a pomegranate sorbet with non-dairy whipped cream made cold by a deepchill orb (see Vault of Magic) finishes the repast.
The chef at Firlot is Marikel Yaroch, an elfmarked transmuter from Dornig. When the Movable Feast of the Grand Procession stopped in Reywald, Marikel moved to Zobeck and opened Firlot as the Free City’s first high-end magical restaurant. Because of the timing of her move, the chef has been dogged by rumors that she’s related to the Imperatrix—or contributed to her slumber.
- The cost of a dine-and-dash is literally an arm and a leg unless you pay Marikel’s fine. A PC’s family member made this mistake, and now the chef wants a spice box of zest as payment (see Vault of Magic).
- Marikel pays for scholarships at the Arcane Collegium, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch. While not studying, the beneficiaries might cook in the kitchen or even source rare ingredients from the field to ensure their continued enrollment.
At the western edge of Zobeck is perhaps the most wondrous district of all. The Gear District smells of tin and copper, oils and grease. This is the home of Geargrinder’s Guild and the Steamworker’s Union, the workers who drive innovation in the Free City. These two guilds are also the mechanical midwives for the gearforged—the metallic bodies for aged heroes, loyal servants, and wealthy merchants who look to cheat death.
While the gearforged require no sustenance, the dwarves, humans, and kobolds working here need cheap eats. Many of them go to Push Button for mutton stews, creamy mushroom chowders, or beef and gourd goulashes. Each dish is dolloped out of steel taps in uniform servings, eaten out of rough hammered metal bowls with wooden flatware.
The chef, Fozogep, keeps labor costs down through automaton. A geargrinder by trade, this dwarf lives by the saying that “efficiency goes before godliness.” After one particularly bad meal in Ashmill a decade ago, Fozogep began working on an automated kitchen contraption with his steamworker companion, Gozos.
Now, everything at Push Button is automated—cooking, cleaning, and even payment. The restaurant’s workers are clockwork servants(see Creature Codex), and the cashier is a clockwork conductor(see Tome of Beasts 3) that Fozogep won in a game of viper’s nest while vacationing in faraway Mhalmet.
- The clockwork servants have begun making subtle changes to Fozogep’s time-honored recipes. Because the dwarf is away on business, he’s asked the PCs to investigate the issue to rectify the culinary deviations.
- The PCs find a note in their stew. The author claims they’re working against their will. Has the dwarven chef begun using slave labor in his kitchen, or have the clockwork workers begun developing sentience?
Located on the high ground to the north of Zobeck, this district is named for the immense stone structure that dominates the skyline. Inside this stronghold, Zobeck houses ordinary defenders of the Free Army and highly skilled Griffon Riders.
Nearby stands the guild house for the Honorable Order of Weavers and a knightly alehouse called the Blue Rose. It’s murmured that the Mouse King holds court after hours at The King’s Head—although those tongues rarely remain in their heads for long.
The best quick meal comes from a street cart pushed around the Citadel, called Jambuka. Jambuka sells only one meal: thinly shaved meats inside a flatbread pocket with a variety of creamy dips, spicy pastes, grilled vegetables, and pickled fruits.
The cart is pushed by Anka-Majid, a phoenixborn sorcerer(see Tome of Beasts 3) who deserted from the Mharoti army. After making their way to Zobeck, they used their meager coin to buy the cart and install the vertical rotisserie that slowly roasts a mixture of lamb, beef, and chicken. Anka-Majid uses their talon to maintain constant heat on the rotisserie and shaves the meat using a gilded kukri.
- Local toughs target Anka-Majid for abuse, given that the sorcerer is the only phoenixborn in the Free City. Anka-Majid has cheated death thus far, but merely wishes to sell sandwiches in peace.
- Anka-Majid’s kukri was stolen from the horde of Glauvistus the Scourge. This new dread sultan has hired members of the Emerald Order (see Demon Cults & Secret Societies) to curry favor with the dragon lord.
What is the Free City of Zobeck? What is this clockwork business? Find answers to all your burning questions in Zobeck Clockwork City Collector’s Edition! Ten years of secrets and gears between two fine covers! And discover the wider world of Midgard in the Midgard Worldbook!