By Catharine Kaufman
One hundred years ago on a chilly evening of April 14, 721 third-class passengers were having a jolly High Tea on the F Deck in their spartan saloon in “steerage”; 285 wayfarers were enjoying a hearty-yet-elegant meal in the second-class saloon; and 337 first-class passengers (including business magnate John Jacob Astor IV and socialite/philanthropist Molly Brown) all bedecked in extravagant bling, beaded evening gowns and crisp white tuxes as cool as the icy waters of the North Atlantic, were luxuriating in the first-class dining room on the R.M.S. Titanic for a 10-course gustatory orgy.
As they reveled in the divine delights and waltzed to the rhythm of Wallace Hartley’s band, little did they know this would be their last repast.
Titanic Fever has swept like a tsunamic wave over the nation as ghoulish dinner celebrations abound this week. An authentic postcard-sized lunch menu retrieved from a Titanic survivor sold under Sotheby’s hammer for $49,500. But it was the 10-course feast served to first-class passengers that is being replicated around town. All courses were served on fine English porcelain designed exclusively for the maiden voyage. The excess of food, drink and indulgences was a perfect storm for clogging the arteries, taxing the liver, spreading the hips, and shortening the life. How ironic.
The first course of assorted hors d’oeuvres and oysters was followed by a pair of hot soups — Consommé Olga and Cream of Barley.
A Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce and Cucumber Slices for pescavores was accompanied by Filet Mignons and Lilli Sauté of Chicken for die-hard carnivores; Lyonnaise Vegetable Marrow Farci for vegans.
More heavy protein was served during the fifth- course, including Roast Duckling with Applesauce, Lamb with Mint Sauce, and Sirloin of Beef complimented by Chateau Potatoes and Creamed Carrots.
This was punctuated by Punch Romaine Salad before the seventh- and eighth-courses of Roast Squab and Cress Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette. The penultimate course was Pate de Foie Gras, the final savory dish before sweet endings with Waldorf Pudding, Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly, Chocolate and Vanilla Éclairs, and French Ice Cream.
Each course was exquisitely paired with a different wine.
Fresh fruit and cheeses were served post feast, topped off with coffee, cigars, port and distilled spirits.
The Prado at Balboa Park collaborated with the San Diego Natural History Museum for an outrageous 10-course “Titanic Centennial First-Class Dinner” that replicates that last supper experience.
The salute to the Titanic takes place on Saturday, April 14, in the Prado Grand Ballroom, with guests served by a waitstaff dressed in Edwardian-era white tuxedo jackets and delighting in historically accurate dishes prepared by Executive Chef Jonathan Hale, perfectly paired with five wines. For more details, visit pradobalboa.com or call (619) 557-9441.
The historic US Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego invites guests to embark on a first-class luxury “Titanic Tea Experience,” which will include an honorary Champagne toast and strolling violinist reminiscent of the Ragtime-era. Inspired by delights served aboard the ocean-liner, Executive Chef Mark Kropczynski has created a jolly good afternoon event with assorted loose-leaf teas, and savory and sweet treats. For reservations, call (619) 744-2039.
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Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce and Cucumbers
Host your own chilling Titanic Dinner Party with this authentic first-class dish of Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce … just don’t go overboard with the multiple courses and libations. Serves 4.
1-pound wild-caught salmon fillets (cut in fours)
6 cups spring water
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
¼-cup fresh chopped parsley
1-1/4 cup dry white wine
Sea salt, cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
For the Mousseline Sauce
3 large egg yolks
1/2 pound unsalted melted butter
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (I prefer Meyer)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
½-cup whipped cream
Sea salt, black pepper to taste
In a large shallow skillet add water, wine, carrots, onion, parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a slow boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, and then strain the vegetables. Add salmon to the simmering water. Poach for 5 minutes or to desired doneness. Gently remove from broth and place on a serving platter. Drizzle with Mousseline Sauce (below), and garnish with cucumber slices.
In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk egg yolks into 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Gradually whisk the remaining butter until a smooth sauce forms. Whisk in lemon juice, salt, pepper and dill, stir for one minute. Remove from heat, fold in whipped cream.