Titanic's first-class menu recreated in Hong Kong

AFP , Sunday 15 Apr 2012

Various chefs around the world found it fascinating and poignant to recreate what was on the first-class menu when the most luxurious boat of it's time, the Titanic, saw it's tragic end

The Titanic was more than just the most advanced ship of its time. It was the paragon of turn-of-the-century style and luxury, when languid meals, dinner suits and fine china were de rigueur.

Like the steel and steam engines that made the liner an engineering wonder, the Titanic's more perishable finery now lies 12,400 feet (3,780 metres) down in the darkness of the North Atlantic.

But some of it will be brought back to life, including a bottle of champagne salvaged from the wreck, when the Hullett House hotel in Hong Kong recreates the Titanic's last meal to mark the disaster's 100th anniversary on Saturday.

Eight diners will pay HK$15,000 ($1,930) each for the 10-course banquet based on the original menu, executive chef Philippe Orrico told AFP.

The highlight will be a bottle of Heidsieck & Co Monopole Gout Americain vintage 1907, brought up from the frigid depths in pristine condition in 1998 and purchased by the hotel for more than $11,000.

"One day, I was researching different kinds of [historical] menus we could use, and I found the menu of the Titanic," Orrico said.

"The menu was saved by someone in first class. This year, we thought it would be interesting and funny to recreate the menu because it's 100 years since the sinking of the boat."

The meal begins with oysters in vodka sauce, followed by a consommé Olga made with scallops, slow-cooked poached salmon, sautéed chicken and lamb with mint sauce, punch romaine -- served as a palette cleanser -- then finishing with a Waldorf pudding with ice cream. Click here for the full menu.

"What was interesting about this menu was that it was the beginning of the tasting menu. This kind of menu was relatively new back then," Orrico said.

"It was interesting to see that 100 years later, menus have more vegetables. Before it was more meat, more fish. But the structure of the menu and the structure of the recipes are the same," he said.

Orrico stayed true to the original recipes created 100 years ago, but portion sizes will be reduced to suit modern tastes.

"The recipes are exactly the same, course by course, but with reduced portions. Before, the sizes were huge, and dinner was very long. I'm not sure people are prepared for that now," Orrico said.

Sourcing the accurate recipes turned out to be much easier than recreating the ambience of the opulent liner, he said.

"It was a challenge to find all the information to recreate the atmosphere and to make it as authentic as we can. So we tried to find information on the table settings, wine, glasses, candelabra, the names of the guests," he said.

The diners will be served by waiters dressed in uniforms like those on the Titanic, and eat off fine bone china plates used on board, sourced from English porcelain maker William Brownfield & Sons.

Eight Hong Kong sailors are believed to have been aboard the "unsinkable" liner when it hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank in the early hours of April 15, 2012.
More than 1,500 people lost their lives, and only about 700 -- mostly women and children -- survived, including six of the Hong Kong sailors, according to the Encyclopaedia Titanica website.

The southern Chinese city's Maritime Museum is holding an exhibition on the Titanic to celebrate the centenary.

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