Tsar (Emperor) of Russia
Menu dated 15th September 1911
(2nd September 1911 in the Julian calendar)
Dinner at the Mariyinsky Palace, Kiev, hosted by Their Imperial Majesties Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra of Russia
From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith
There was a sinister unease amongst the dinner guests at this 1911 banquet hosted by Tsar Nicholas II at his Mariyinski Palace in Kiev. With the infamous and largely despised Grigori Rasputin himself in attendance, it’s fair to assume that many guests had lost their appetite despite a spread of whole saddles of venison; roast hazel-grouse and young turkeys; and mountains of refreshing Champagne sorbet.
Just one night earlier an attempt had been made on the Tsar’s life as he and his daughters were attending a performance at the nearby Kiev Opera House. While the assassin missed his imperial target, he did manage to gun down the Prime Minister, Peter Stolypin, in full view of shocked members of the imperial family.
When this banquet hosted by the Tsar took place the following night, there is little doubt that the hushed chatter was exclusively about the assassination attempt; with many guests casting an accusatory eye in the direction of fellow guest, Rasputin, who was blamed by some for orchestrating the crime.
But the hushed chatter and outward signs of nervousness amongst the guests was momentarily put on hold as the double-doors to the imperial banquet hall swung open and the Grand Marshall of the Court slammed his gold-capped ebony rod into the floor three times to announce the entrance of “Their Imperial Majesties!”. The orchestra struck up “God Save the Tsar” and as the Emperor and Empress entered the room, the horrors of the night before were forgotten for just a second.
The dinner menu for this night is grand in its offerings and includes whole trout sourced from the remote Taymene Lake hidden in the Altai Mountains at the intersection of Russia and Mongolia.
On a modern menu the simple appearance of ice-cream (Glaces Parisienne) would struggle to excite many gourmets. However at the Tsar’s banquets these took the form and colour of life-like fruits with an array of flavors to match; and were arranged on ornately designed gold and silver platters and bowls all entirely edible and made from flavored fondants and marzipans covered in gold-leaf.
Tsar Nicholas II and members of the Imperial Family arrive in Kiev in 1911 four days prior to this dinner.
Potage Pierre le Grand
Cream of celery soup named after Peter the Great of Russia
Chicken consommé with chervil, asparagus-tips, and chicken quenelles (dumplings)
Selection of small pastries filled with meats, fish and vegetables to accompany soup
Truite Tayméne Italienne
Trout from Lake Taymene in Siberia served with an Italian Sauce made from mushroom, ham and tomatoes
Selle de Chevreuil Grand Veneur
Saddle of roasted venison studded with bacon strips, that have been marinated in Cognac and chopped parsley, served with a chestnut purée and Grand Veneur Sauce made from venison stock, cream and redcurrant jelly
Filets de Canetons Bigarrade Belle-vue
Cold dish of duckling (less than 2 months old) fillets glazed first in a citrus sauce and then in a Chaudfroide sauce made from reduced duck-stock, eggs and butter
Salade demi deuil Sauce Orange
Potato and truffle salad made with mustard and cream served on a bed of lettuce with an orange sauce
Punch à la Romaine
Sorbet made from Champagne, lemon and meringue over which a glass of rum is poured before serving
Rôti-Dindonneaux et Gélinottes Salade
Salad of roast baby-turkey and hazel-grouse in vinaigrette
Petits pois, fonds d'artichauts
Baby peas, artichoke hearts
Duchesse à la Régence
Choux-pastries filled with poached mushroom caps and slivers of truffle
Dinner venue: Mariyinsky Palace, Kiev, in 1911