I. Hors D'Ouvres: Oysters de la Russe
A suitably exquisite dish inspired by the sea to start off. The Oysters were served in the Olympic Lounge in their shells and showered in vodka. They took some time to come out of their shells, but eventually, they moved gracefully towards my mouth. My own experience of the taste made me think of the seaside as it was of cold fish and salt.
After our first course we left the RMS Olympic Lounge and sat down to dinner and the master of ceremonies held a moment of silence for the Titanic's victims and Mark led grace. The atmosphere was convivial and the conversation lively. We talked about many of the same topics that our forebears of 1912 would have likely discussed: current affairs, travel and business. Everyone knew we were about to enjoy a unique and nostalgic culinary experience.
II. Consomme Olga and Cream of Barley Soup
In a miniature soup bowl, we were presented with a small garnish at the bottom of the bowl. I asked the waitress if we were supposed to eat it with a fork; however she came with the soup and poured it over the scallop/garnish. It made for another appetizer which was as exotic by nature as by name.
III. Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce
The only fish course of the evening was from Scotland: Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce. Perhaps to pace the culinary marathon that was this dinner, it was served in a small quantity. It was fresh, clean and Mousseline Sauce I had never tasted before, it the first of many maiden savoury sensations.
IV. Entrees: Filet Mignon, Chicken Lyonnaise & Vegetable Marrow
Served in three small circular dishes, many of the guests commented upon this course during and after the dinner. The familiar dishes of chicken and vegetables were complimented by quintessentially Edwardian dish of Filet Mignons lili. This was another dish I had only heard about through looking at menus from the Titanic and other ships a hundred years ago. It was a delightful and memorable taste.
This course is the closest of the twelve to being the "main" course. Of the choices the menu of 14th April gives, Lamb with mint sauce is among them which I imagine many readers will remember James Cameron having included in his movie with Cal ordering erroneously in the Port Side Verandah Cafe. The serving on the 20th of October 2012 was rather more authentic and included roast duckling with applesauce, sirloin of beef and potatoes and vegetables all done with exquisite attention to detail.
It was after this course that the guests were making comments that they'd certainly had the most filling meal in a long time. With the 'main course' out of the way, what could the remaining seven courses have in store?
VI. Punch Romaine
After the main, there was a dessert like interlude with a yellow punch with spherical ice cubes served in a cocktail glass. It felt very sophisticated and high society, making me think of the Hot Lemonade and Highballs being drunk in the Cafe Parisien by Lieutenant Stefansson and his friends just before 11.40pm that fateful night. It was an interlude from the rich and very tasty food we had enjoyed so far. We'd hardly put down our glasses when the master of ceremonies announced the next course.
VII. Roasted Squab with Wilted Cress
The menu we experienced up until now was largely a course for course copy of the original menu devised by the Titanic's Head Chef, Charles Proctor, from his galley on D Deck. Due to the rarity of squab, pigeon: another game bird was substituted. The pigeon meat was baked in pastry. Another first time experience came to me and I suspect many of the other guests around the table. Despite being an animal lover, I enjoyed the taste and wouldn't say no to another guilt-filled indulgence in it. Most of us were starting to feel quite full by this time and eating the pigeon was another sensation that made you feel as if you physically getting larger and filling every inch of your waistcoat and tails.
VIII. Asparagus Salad Champagne-Saffron Vinegarette
The Asparagus was served on a small dish and was consumed quickly by most of the guests. By now, we could sense pudding and cigars were looming at and of this remarkable evening. The salad made us feel healthy and perked us up after the very filling previous courses.
IX. A Cold Dish
Pate was served as another 'cooling' dish that led to the sweets of the evening. We certainly needed some respite for hot, rich courses to enable us to pace ourselves.
A full selection of the sweets at the bottom of the menu of 14 April 1912 was prepared for the guests as my friends' house. Waldorf pudding which was based on the modern interpretation of the original dish based on Waldorf Salad that was included in the Archbold and MacCauley book from 1997. It was delicious and was a harbinger for coffee and ice cream to follow. Peaches in Charteuse jelly, chocolate éclairs and French Ice Cream were served from a trolley tended by the uniformed maids and waiters who had looked after us so well for the last three hours.
The dessert in an Edwardian meal was not characterised by sweet dishes the final food course was a selection of cheeses to be sampled before the diners rose: the men usually to the Smoking Room, aft on A Deck and the ladies to the lounge or the underused Reading and Writing Room forward that Thomas Andrews proposed to reduce in size due to the ladies' refusal to retire in sufficient numbers.
XII Brandy, Coffee & Cigars
Mark laid on French Napoleon Brandy, the finest Cuban cigars and fresh ground coffee to round off a most splendid evening. I retired along with the men top the patio on a cold crisp night, making us think of what it would have been like on the aft unenclosed promade deck outside the Smoking Room as the temperature steadily dropped and icebergs formed. The Ladies retired to the RMS Olympic lounge to be surrounded once again by the a la carte Restaurant Panels. It was a truly heart warming way to conclude a remarkable and truly amazing meal. My mind boggled at the effort that had gone into it and the achievement it represented.