SDLP Titanic Dinner

Tonight I was a guest of my friends Liam Logan and my old colleague Dr Alistair McDonnell MP, Leader of the SDLP at a Titanic Dinner in Rayanne House, Holywood.The Titanic Menu is a recreation of the last menu served in the first class restaurant on board the Iconic Ship. Chef Conor has meticulously re-created the menu that was served to the renowned passengers such as Benjamin Guggenheim and the Un-sinkable Molly Brown. The Menu was as sumptuous as you would expect, with nine lavish courses boasting delights from the Edwardian Era. This unique dining experience was served in the beautiful period dining room, with views of Belfast Lough from where Titanic would have sailed down the Lough on her maiden voyage on April 10th 1912. We were also treated to a presentation by Susie Millar of her book The Two Pennies ,  a true story of the Millar family in the lead-up to the Titanic’s maiden voyage in 1912. It is a unique insight into how the tragedy affected ordinary lives,in particular those of Thomas Millar’s two sons. The story continues to describe the aftermath of Titanic’s sinking, using the voices of several different characters. 

On May 31, 2011, Belfast, Northern Ireland marked the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Titanic from the Harland and Wolff Shipyards. Eleven stories-tall and four city blocks long–the Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world when she slipped down the ways in 1911.Conor McClelland, chef at Rayanne House near Belfast, developed the Titanic menu from a book of old recipes he found on a shelf in his guesthouse.“It had the original dinner menus from the liner — everything the first class passengers would have eaten before the ship went down,” he said. “They had 13 courses, but a few of them wouldn’t have suited diners today, so I’ve gone with nine.”

Only two first class menus were recovered from the wreck of the Titanic, which sank after hitting an iceberg
in the early morning of April 15, 1912.
Menus designed to look like boarding cards and pink roses and white daisies decorated the County Down restaurant, decked out to look like the fine dining saloon aboard the luxury liner. So, it seemed fitting that we would have a night to remember and feast on extravagant dishes from a menu served to first class passengers. 
 FirstCourse:Canapes a L’Amiral
The actual first class menu didn’t describe the first course in detail only “hors d’oeuvre varies.” We were served a classic French garlic and herb scallop in a shell which arrived perfectly cooked- tender and succulent.
Second Course:  Cream of Barley Soup finished with Bushmills Whiskey and Cream
The original menu had a choice of two soups; a clear consommé and a cream of barley soup. Diners at the Rayanne House were served the barley soup topped with a splash of whiskey and cream.
Third Course: Asparagus and Watercress Salad with Roast Squab
The asparagus salad and squab were served as separate courses on the Titanic, but Chef McClelland believes they work wonderfully together and I agree.  However, he substituted wild pigeon for the squab.
Fourth Course:  Poached Salmon with a Mousseline Sauce
Lightly poached Atlantic salmon topped with a rich Mousseline sauce and garnished with sliced cucumbers and fresh dill. The Mousseline sauce is a class hollandaise to which fresh cream was added.
Fifth Course:  Rose Water and Mint Sorbet
Rose water first became popular in the 17th century, and was a familiar dessert flavor for Edwardian diners. This gorgeous rose colored sorbet was served to cleanse the palate.
Sixth or Main Course:  Filet Mignon Lili
This dish deliciously epitomizes the excesses of the Edwardian era. Filet Mignon topped with foie gras and truffle, served with the classic French buttered potatoes Anna, creamed carrots and zucchini. A rich red Bordeaux wine accompanied the entree. This sumptuous course tasted divine and reigned as the pinnacle of the feast.
Seventh or Dessert Course: Spiced Peaches with Chartreuse Jelly and French Vanilla Ice Cream
A jelled dessert before the creation of instant gelatin was very labor intensive, so serving it in 1912 meant the meal was very special. Chartreuse is a French liqueur made by monks and is rather poignantly known as the “elixir of long life.”
Eighth Course:  Cheese and Fruit
The denouement of a lavish meal, cheese and fruit were served with Champagne or alternately a sweet dessert wine. 
Ninth Course:  Coffee and Liqueurs
After dinner, coffee, cigars, port and liqueurs were typically served away from the table.***
Chef McClelland trained in Galway before working in both the Black Forest and New York. He returned to Northern Ireland with his wife seven years ago to open the 11-bedroom Rayanne House. 
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