Menu dated 26th November 1886
(14th November in the Julian calendar)
Luncheon at Gatchina Palace, Saint Petersburg, hosted by Her Imperial Majesty Empress (Tsarina) Maria Fyodorovna of Russia to celebrate her 39th birthday.
Exactly 39 years before this imperial birthday, the very Russian sounding Tsarina Maria Fyodorovna started her life as the little Danish’ Princess Dagmar.
She was born in Copenhagen on 26th November 1847 as the second daughter of the future King Christian IX of Denmark. When Princess Dagmar became engaged to Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovitch (the future Tsar Alexander III) and set sail for St. Petersburg, she adopted the Russian Orthodox faith and took on the Russian name, Maria Fyodorovna.
In 1881, at the age of 34, Maria Fyodorovna became Empress of Russia when her husband acceded to the throne following the assassination of his father, Tsar Alexander II.
On this birthday, Maria Fyodorovna was in her fifth year as Empress: cream of pheasant soup, filets of sole cooked with white wine and mussels, and boned partridges stuffed with foie-gras and dressed in a ragout of truffles, cock’s combs and Madeira, feature as a part of this birthday luncheon.
The menu is embossed with the rarely used personal coat-of-arms of the imperial family, which adorned menus used by the Empress and later as Dowager Empress, and incorporates images of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. In tiny print across the canopy of the arms are the words “Съ Нами Богъ” - God is with us.
The menu is dated according to the Julian calendar of the Russian Orthodox Church which corresponded to the 26th November in the Gregorian calendar. This date would also become important to historical records eight years later when Maria Feodorovna’s son, Tsar Nicholas II, chose to be married on his mother’s birthday in 1894.
From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith
Potage crême de Faisans
Cream of pheasant soup
A selection of small pastries filled with meats, fish and vegetables to accompany soup
Soles á la Dieppoise
Filets of sole cooked in white wine with mussels, shrimps and mushrooms and dressed in a sauce made from the stock; named after the Port of
Dieppe famous for its catches of sole.
Perdreaux rouges á la Finançiere
Boned and stuffed Red Partridges that have been cooked in a ragout of truffles, cockscombs and Madeira which are then arranged on croutons and dressed in a sauce made form the ragout.
Quartiere de Mouton á la Provençale
Roast quarter of Mutton served with egg-plants stuffed with a tomato fondue, beans and shaped-potatoes.
Croquembouche á la Clermont
Cone-shaped choux-buns filled with chestnut mousse which are then dipped into ‘crack stage’ sugar and decorated with crystallised violets, spun-caramel and almonds
The Tsarina with her Family
Click (above) to enlarge details of the Imperial Russian crest that appears atop the menu-card.