Saturday, July 28, 2012

Titanic Dinner

First, I must confess that this was ages ago - April in fact. I have been very distracted with wedding stuff (so much fun!) and know this poor old blog has been quite neglected. Hopefully in about 8 weeks, once I'm really a Mrs, you might see the frequency of posts picking up again. ;-)

A couple of weeks before Mr Cake's birthday I was chatting to an old friend on Facebook and he told me he was coming to Wellington for a Titanic dinner to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the sinking. I had been desperately trying to think of a cool birthday present, and this seemed to tick the box.

The event was hosted by Wellington Coastguard as a fundraiser, and the tickets were pretty snazzy. It was on the anniversary of the sinking and featured a menu based on one of the menus served in one of the ship's restaurants. The original menu was 11 courses; our chef combined them into a restrained eight courses. ;-)

For some of the dishes only the name of the dish is known, so some improvisation would have been required on the part of the chef.

The first course was oyster - which were quite nice, with a zingy salsa-type garnish. The second was consomme Olga (a beef broth) and cream of barley, which was served with little toasts. Both broths were very tasty, and I enjoyed the cream of barley in particular - though perhaps not something I'd expect to be served in a high-end restaurant these days.

Poached salmon with mousseline sauce was course three - pretty tasty, and would stand its own on a modern menu.

The main was somewhat overwhelming, with three kinds of meat on the same plate! Not something you would encounter in many restaurants these days, but I think this was where courses were combined and perhaps 100 years ago it was more common to combine proteins in this way. The side dish seemed more of an afterthought but the unadulterated broccoli was a refreshing change.

This 'course' was delicious - a very sweet champagne cocktail. I was so keen I drank half before I remembered to take a photo. Oops!

Roast squab turned out to be quail, and was quite tasty, and the pate was also lovely. Another slightly unusual combination by modern standards (but again I think this was a combined course).

Dessert was interesting - I didn't much like the Waldorf pudding, which is one of the unknowns - it was particular to White Star Line and no verifiable recipes are known, so this version was improvised with walnuts and apple - I guess the dessert version of Waldorf salad. Unfortunately it was quite heavy and dry. The ice-cream was very nice, though, and helped. The little chocolate eclair was nice enough, and though it didn't really fit with the meal our chef was just being true to the original menu! By far the star of this course was the peaches in chartreuse jelly - I really enjoyed the sweet, not too jellyish jelly. If that makes sense. ;-)

As well as endless food, the evening featured a talk by a gent who has gone down on the submarine to see the Titanic wreck, and a very moving letter read by a woman whose grandparents were on the sailing - her grandmother made it onto a lifeboat, but her grandfather didn't. Quite sobering!

It was pointed out that many of our current coastguard practices originated from that terrible event - so the fundraising element was certainly apt.

I see there's another interpretation of the Titanic dinner being put on at the Wellesley Boutique Hotel as part of Wellington on a Plate - and if you're anything like us, you'll seize the opportunity to dress the part:

Have you ever been to an event like this? Do you enjoy dressing up?

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