A Dinner of Titanic Proportions

A century ago, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg south of Newfoundland and started to sink. That evening, members of first class had taken their seats to a ten course meal including roast squab, sirloin, poached salmon, and oysters. One can almost imagine leftover peas and carrots, oyster shells and pigeon bones, bobbing in the icy Atlantic hours later among the lifeboats.

Years later, researchers like Gary Fisher, author of The Last Dinner on the Titanic, have delved into what exactly it would have been like to experience this last meal. Hype surrounding Titanic memorabilia meant that an original dinner menu was auctioned off this week in New York for $25,000. And in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s demise on April 15th, fans from Hong Kong to Texas recently spent tens of thousands on elaborate recreations of the meal.

But rather than dish up $12,000 a head to relive the eats, like some eager gourmands in Houston did over the weekend, my friend Kelly Heath decided to recreate the meal herself. Each guest prepared a course and a wine pairing, and came dressed in their most elegant Victorian apparel. I was pretty impressed with the level of detail that went into each dish–from the elaborate spice satchel for the cream of barley soup to the various sauces that accompanied the oysters. My peas and carrots paled in comparison to dishes like homemade walnut pate, but if you have to know, just combine roasted carrots and boiled peas with some olive oil and add coriander, fresh pepper, salt, and fresh mint. Kelly even rented out cutlery, dishes, and a table for the affair.

At one point in the evening, a random burst of fireworks lit the San Francisco sky so we all ran out to Kelly’s deck to view the explosions along with a faint smattering of stars. The fierce breeze and gathering of tipsy ladies and men in suits made it hard not to feel like we were aboard some massive, doom-destined ship ploughing through a chilly night in April.

The Meal

For the original menu offering, click here. We recreated at least part of every course on the menu, and some dishes were modified slightly. 

Course 1: Oysters in the Half Shell with Oyster Sauce and Horseradish

Course 2: Cream of Barley Soup

Course 3: Poached Salmon in Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers

First Class Passengers Sarah, Laura, and Zach

Salmon wine pairing: Austrian Grüner

"Grüner is a wine that is on your side when everyone else is not. A friend."

Course 4: Vegetable Marrow Farci (aka stuffed zucchini)

Course 5: Sirloin of Beef, Boiled New Potatoes, and Peas and Carrots with Mint

Course 6: Punch Romaine

Course 7: Roast Squab (Pigeon) With Cress

Course 8: Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette

Course 9: Walnut Pate (instead of Fois Gras)

Course 10: Mango (instead of Peach) in Chartreuse Jelly

The lovely hostess!