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A crazy concoction of partridges, hens, hare legs, veal, ham hocks, a shoulder of mutton and a leg of beef along with “a few carcasses of chicken and pheasant” were brewed together with carrots, leeks and celery to form the base of the Consommé Ollio.

Described as a “restorative tonic” by onetime imperial chef, Monsieur Urbain Dubois, the consommé was laced with Madeira just prior to serving. “It is customary”, recalled Dubois, “for the consommé to be served at the dinners and balls of the Vienna Court of Kaiser [Emperor] Franz Joseph”.

At this dinner in 1892 however, the Consommé Ollio was the precursor to the nine course dinner hosted by King Albert I of Saxony at his Royal Palace in Dresden.


It was ladled from magnificent golden tureens crowned with the royal arms of Saxony held aloft by golden lions. To accompany the consommé, were bite-sized pastries filled with creamed woodcock breast with truffles.

Most of the King’s 220 dinner guests were in desperate need of a ‘restorative tonic’: they had just competed in one of the greatest endurance competitions of all time: the Distanzritt Berlin–Wien, 1892.

It’s long forgotten now, but in 1892 this race enthralled the populace of two great empires; and sparked a euphoria that generated newspaper headlines the world over. 

Two Emperors had made a bet with each other about whose cavalry were the best. To settle their jovial imperial wager, both the German Emperor and the Emperor of Austria-Hungary agreed to give 20,000 Marks – about $US 140,000 today – to the first cavalryman to win a 572km race between their respective imperial capitals, Berlin and Vienna.

There was to be no change of horses. And no forced rest-breaks. 

So in the autumn of 1892, 118 officers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire left Vienna on horseback in a race to Berlin. Simultaneously, on the other side of the border, 132 German cavalrymen left Berlin for Vienna in what was now one of the greatest and most prestigious races of all time, with an unrivalled prizemoney. Even the brother of the German Empress, the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, was in the hunt.

After 71 hours and 40 minutes, Count Starhemberg with his horse, ‘Athos’, limped across the line in Berlin, and took the honours on behalf of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

At race’s end, the two teams journeyed back to their respective capital cities via Dresden, where they met as a group for the first time, on this night, as dinner guests of the King of Saxony.

In 1893 a book was published based on the reminiscences of many of those who partook in the great race a year earlier: Der grosse Distanzritt Berlin - Wien im Jahre 1892. Its author, Herr E von Naundorff, recounted “with the thousands of lit candles, the royal ceremonial rooms were a magnificent sight; the glitter and sparkle of uniforms, gold and silver utensils, as well as crystal glass was a wonderful site to behold”.

“The rich menu, which at the top was embossed in light green with the King’s royal arms of Saxony, read Consommé Ollio, Salade de homards d'Ostend, Croute de becasses, Poulardes, salade et compote” etc.


“After the roast”, continued Naundorff, “Champagne was served, and His Majesty deigned to give the following toast: 

"Gentlemen! I challenge you to empty this glass to the welfare of two monarchs, self-exalted examples of one’s dashing horsemanship, which through you, gentlemen, have borne excellent fruit. Their Majesties the Emperor of Austria and the German Emperor, may they live well!”

The toast was met with three cheers: each with a fanfare from the court trumpeters and a roll of drums. 

The King was so enthralled with his elite equestrian guests, that he graciously allowed 150- year-old bottles of a prized syrupy sweet 1746 Tokay, to be poured with the dessert and cheese. Quite the treat.

Both the palace parade hall and banqueting hall had been arranged with three large tables almost buckling under a bounty of priceless gold and silver utensils; and prized porcelain crockery from Meissner with red dragons painted on each piece. 

King Albert sat at the centre of a large horseshoe-shaped table that accommodated 70 guests in the parade hall, with a further two tables each of 75 guests running the length of the banqueting hall. 

To the King’s right sat his brother Prince George of Saxony who, ten years later, would reign as King. And to his left sat his nephew, Prince Friedrich August, who would also reign as the last King of Saxony until the end of World War I.

For all the jovial toasts and backslapping, there was a sad chapter to this royal and imperial bravado. The exhausted winning horse, Athos, died within four hours of completing the race, while the first German horse to cross the finish line, Lippspringe, died one day later. 

Even by 1892 standards, there was much public cringing and denunciation at what, in truth, amounted to animal cruelty. It was reported that between 25 and 50 of the competing horses died as a result of the race, and a further 15 disabled for life.



inner at the Royal Palace, Dresden, hosted by His Majesty King Albert I of Saxony.



Consommé Ollio
Clear consommé of partridge, ham, veal, beef, pheasant and chicken

Croûtes de bécasses
Puff pastry cases filled with creamed woodcock
breast with truffles

Filets de soles frits, sauce suédoise
Fried filets of sole dressed in a horseradish and mayonnaise sauce

Aloyau à la portugaise
Sirloin served with small stuffed tomatoes and chateau potatoes that have been deglazed with white wine and tomato purée

Canetons à la d’Albufera
Ducks cooked with bacon and Malaga (Muscat) before being seared, topped with mushrooms and dressed in a financière sauce made from truffles, mushrooms and dry Madeira

Salade de homards d’Ostende
Salad of lobsters from Ostende

Poulardes rôties, salade romaine, compote
Roast poulardes (spayed fattened young hens), lettuce salad, fruit compotes

Plumpouding, Sabayon
Plum pudding with Saboyan (made from egg yolks, sugar, white wine and Cognac)


Ice-creams and sorbets


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Distanzritt Berlin–Wien 1892: the 572 km route between Berlin and Vienna

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Race Winner: Count Starhemberg , Lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Hussar Regiment No. 7

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Distanzritt Berlin–Wien



The winning horse "Athos" [inset] would die within hours of the end of the race


German Officers who completed the race.

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King Albert I of Saxony

Following is a translation of a partial account of this dinner (12th October, 1892) that was published in "Der grosse Distanzritt Berlin - Wien im Jahre 1892", by Herr E von Naundorff, based on newspaper accounts and interviews with particpants.
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"Shortly after 4 pm His Majesty the King, wearing the uniform of the Guards Cavalry Regiment, arrived with great ceremony in the ballroom along with Their Royal Highnesses Prince Georg [future King of Saxony, 1902-1904], Prince Johann Georg and Prince Max.  


At the start, the endurance riders were presented to His Majesty the King; and Their Royal Highnesses the Princes inspected the four rows of riders which included the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian officers led by Count Chotek, the Royal Prussian officers led by Count Dönhoff, and the Royal Bavarian officers led by Baron von Niethammer.

His Majesty honoured the winners with a gracious speech; and also welcomed the four Saxon officers who had participated in the long-distance ride.

At the beginning of the ceremony His Royal Highness Prince Friedrich August [future King of Saxony, 1904-1918], took a seat in the gallery to explain the proceedings to his illustrious grandmother and Her Imperial and Royal Highness Princess Louise.


After the ceremony, which took a little over half an hour, the royal and noble attendees withdrew for a short time, during which all the guests, who had entered through the tower room into the banquet hall and the corner parade hall, were seated.

After everyone had taken their seat, the Lord Grand Palace Marshall,  Count Vitzthum von Eckstädt, announces the arrival of the monarch and princes who enter through the banquet hall and proceed to the corner parade hall where His Majesty the King and other nobles and distinguished guests took their seat at a horseshoe-shaped table set for 70.

His Majesty sat in the middle of the outer side of this table. To the right of the monarch sat: Their Royal Highnesses Prince Georg, Prince Friedrich August and Prince Max, the Royal Bavarian Envoy Baron Niethammer, the Royal Saxon State Minister von Metzsch, Royal Saxon Lieutenant General von Kirchbach etc.

To the monarch's left sat: His Royal Highness Duke Ernst Günther of Schleswig-Holstein, His Royal Highness Prince Johann Georg, Royal Prussian Ambassador Count Dönhoff,  the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian envoy Count Chotek, Royal Saxon Lieutenant General v. Reyher etc....

In the banquet hall two long parallel tables, each with 75 settings, were set up, at which the younger officers, Austrian, Prussian, Bavarian and Saxon, alternately took their places next to each other.

The royal banquet had a total of 220 place settings. The picture presented by such an illustrious gathering was very colourful and extremely interesting, given the diversity of the many foreign uniforms, especially the large number of Austrian uniforms that have probably not been seen here before. Given the equestrian nature of the whole festival, the cavalry uniform naturally predominated; one saw only a few uniforms of other troops.

For the table arrangements, the most precious treasures of the royal court silver collection were used.


The gold service was resplendent in the corner parade hall at the King's table. The table was adorned with six large golden Epergnes, many golden bowls with bells, tureens crowned with lions holding coats-of-arms, heavy Girandols [curved candelabras] other gold crockery, Watteau porcelain and precious flower vases in Rococo style. In the middle of the table stood a golden flower basket with the most delightful, fragrant flower arrangement.

The banquet hall was adorned with silver table decorations. The centre of one panel was decorated with the large silver pieces, so-called "Polish Epergnes" with an eagle, the royal Polish coat of arms, and a lion holding the royal Saxon coat of arms, surrounded by genies, flowers and cascades; the other panel, a high silver centrepiece with the Saxon coat-of-arms and emblems of forestry and agriculture, trade and commerce, etc. The latter masterpiece of silversmithing was a wedding present from the Saxon district estates to Their Royal Majesties.

To the right and left of these valuable centrepieces were the most precious silver candelabra and girandols, as well as tureens, bowls with bells, and Meissen porcelain crockery with painted red dragons. In between all the decorations was a picture of tasteful and brightly coloured flower decorations.

With the thousands of lit candles, the royal ceremonial rooms presented a magnificent sight; the glitter and sparkle of uniforms, gold and silver implements, as well as crystal glass work was a wonderful site to behold.


The rich menu, which at the top was embossed in light green with the King’s royal arms of Saxony, read: "Consommé Ollio, Salade de homards d'Ostend, Croute de becasses, Poulardes, salade et compote” etc...

After the roast and Champagne were served, His Majesty deigned to give the following toast: 

"Gentlemen! I challenge you to empty this glass to the welfare of two monarchs, self-exalted examples of one’s dashing horsemanship, which through you, gentlemen, have borne excellent fruit. Their Majesties the Emperor of Austria and the German Emperor, may they live well!”

This toast was accompanied by three enthusiastic cheers from all those present along with three fanfares from the court trumpeters on their long silver field- trumpets, and rolls on silver drums.

The dining music was performed by the royal chapels:  the Guards Cavalry Regiment and the 1st Royal Field Artillery Regiment No. 12.


After 6 o'clock the King rose and, along with the other royals and nobles , joined guests  in the ballroom or stucco hall for a further ceremony, during which coffee and liqueurs were served.

At 7:45 pm the ceremonies concluded and His Majesty took his leave along with the princes. The gentlemen guests also left the palace' entertainment rooms and adjourned to the royal officers' mess."

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King Frederick Augustus III

of Saxony


In 1909 the last King of Saxony, Frederick Augustus III, hosts a banquet at the Royal Palace (Residenzschloss), Dresden, that commences with a clear Consommé Villars made from chicken livers, snipe and goose. Following was dish of Pike-Perch steamed in red wine and served with a Génoise sauce made from roe, mushrooms and crayfish.


King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony dines with his children at the Royal Palace, Dresden.

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Hunting Lunch


In 1905 King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony  (right) prepares for a hunting lunch in Bohemia with his host
Prince Lobkowitz.

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