Grand Duke of Hesse
From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith
Stchy à la Russe
Cabbage a veal soup
Ragout tortue en petites caisses
Small tartlets filled with a ragout of turtle meat
Filets de Soles à la Richelieu
Filets of sole, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs, cooked in butter and garnished with truffles and maître d’hôtel sauce made from butter, parsley and lemon juice
Boeuf braisé à l’Italienne
Braised thin slices of beef coated in an Italian Sauce made from mushrooms, onions, ham and shallots; and baked with a parmesan cheese crust
Canetons à la Rouennaise
Pressed duck served with a rich sauce made from pulverized duck-livers, bordelaise wine, butter, shallots and parsley
Paté de foies gras en terrine
Terrine of paté de foies gras made from the livers of force-fed geese
Cimier de chevreuil. Salade de volaille
Roast saddle of roebuck.
Chicken breasts tossed in mayonnaise with eggs and chives and served on a bed of lettuce and cucumber
Petits pois à l’Anglaise
Baby peas tossed with butter and parsley
Meringues à la Milaniase
Meringues flavored with orange and almonds
Compotes de cerises
Glaces aux fraises à la crême
Menu dated 18th July 1873
Dinner at the Wolfsgarten Schloss (the Grand Ducal hunting palace near Darmstadt) hosted by His Royal Highness Grand Duke Louis III of Hesse.
Savory tarts filled with a ragout of turtle meat accompanied the bowls of Russian veal soup at this 12 course dinner at the Wolfsgarten Schloss – the summer residence of the Grand Duke of Hesse.
The menu is decidedly rich in its offerings: duck-breasts dressed in a sauce made from puréed duck-livers and red-wine, followed by a foie-gras terrine and a saddle of roast roebuck, would have been quite taxing on the Grand Ducal arteries and liver.
The Wolfsgarten, located near Darmstadt, was one of the childhood homes of Russia’s last Empress, Tsarina Alexandra. To this day, some if its doors are still decorated with flowers painted by the hand of the Tsarina when she was the young Princess Alix of Hesse.
But at this dinner in 1873, the future Tsarina was just one-year-old and her uncle, Louis III, ruled the Grand Duchy.
The residence was originally built in the early 1720s as a grand lodge for wolf hunting on horseback; hence its name which means the garden of wolves.
But when a ban on wolf hunting was introduced in the 1760s, the palace fell into disrepair for more than half a century until Grand Duke Louis III, the host of this dinner, embarked on a massive program of extensions and renovations.
While the hunting of wolves had ceased, the surrounding forests still supplied ample game for the royal hunters which had the obvious result of an ample menu at the palace dining table.
In addition to the variety of game on offer, it appears the lands and forests around the Wolfsgarten offered other culinary treats. Almost forty years after this banquet, Margaret Eagar - who was Governess to the Russian imperial children - remembers visiting the Wolfsgarten Schloss with the Tsar and Tsarina on family visits:
“We stayed two days in Kiel, and then went by train to Darmstadt, or rather Wolfsgarten. On the way I noticed fields of the saffron crocuses, and I am told that saffron-growing forms quite an extensive commerce in the south of Germany”.
On a subsequent trip with the Russian Imperial family, Margaret Eagar also remembered how:
“... we went out to Wolfsgarten, and were very happy there during the fine autumn weather. The Empress bought bicycles for her three eldest children and they had grand rides with their cousin about the place. They hunted the woods for mushrooms, of which many varieties are found in Germany”.
The Hessian Grand Ducal arms
embossed atop the menu-card