If one were on the high seas on the eve of Friday April 12th, 2013, it would have been a wild and windy ride. Luckily, I was seated at the Captain’s Table for an authentic Titanic recreation dinner, blissfully sheltered from the unpleasant elements outdoors. Inside the Algonquin Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport Hotel, the air about the room was anything but inclement. In support of the Golden Horseshoe Culinary Team and their return trip to the World Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany in 2016, the seven-course dinner was a replica of one of the first-class meals served aboard the historic RMS Titanic.
When looking at the menu by today’s standards, many of the items were rather satirical – poached salmon with Mousseline sauce and chicken Lyonnaise aren’t exactly what one would consider to be avant-garde eating – however, take a step back over a century ago and dishes such as these were as inventive as molecular gastronomy.
A start of Canapés a L’Admiral were perhaps my favourite dish of the evening; pretty little poached shrimp, sitting atop a bed of shrimp mousse on a light crostini, with caviar and snow pea shoots. Following was a rich, creamy bowl of barley soup – simple yet satisfying.
The three main courses followed in classic fashion – fish, red meat, poultry. A seemingly archaic presentation of poached salmon with Mousseline sauce laid out over a solitary strip of shaved cucumber was a blast back to an antiquated era.
Filet mignon Lili, a seared steak topped with foie gras, was a testament to the rich palates of wealthy diners at the turn of the 20th century. In fact, the original Titanic menu was actually nine-courses. They lived large until they lived no more. (Was that in poor taste?)
To cleanse the palate was a light, floral punch rosé prior to the final protein – a beautifully prepared chicken Lyonnaise. Floured chicken done with savoury onions and garlic, tomato paste and a lovely aroma of fresh thyme was an excellent, if not heavy, finisher.
Those who know me know it’s not unusual that I refuse dessert. Especially after so much meat (I took down two of the filets thanks to my vegetarian date), but after the stunningly presented pavlova mion touched the table, it was hard to refuse the prodding of my White Star server. So, I took one bite of the delicate meringue topped with fresh melon and raspberries, a couple nibbles of the rich chocolate mousse, the hazelnut dust and soon my plate was bare.
So much for keeping up with the healthy program (that doesn’t exist in my life) but after all, the very essence of the RMS Titanic was rooted in indulgence. Now, it’s up to the talented chefs of the Golden Horseshoe Culinary Team to indulge the judges at the next Culinary Olympics – and best of luck to them!