Potage Tortue Anglaise
Turtle consommé flavoured with sherry
A thick soup named after Mademoiselle de Fontage, a mistress of Louis XIV, based on puréed peas, chicken consommé, sautéed sorrel and cream; and topped with chervil
Piroshky (small Russian pies) to accompany soup
Sterlet de la Dvina au champagne
Whole small sturgeons, caught in the Dvina Bay of the White Sea, layered with truffle slices and baked in Champagne
Selle de Chevreuil Grand Véneur
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
Parfait de foie gras au Porto
Foie gras parfait flavoured with Port
Sorbet made from oranges, meringue and equal parts rum, kirsch and Sautern (sweet wine from Bordeaux)
Rôti: Poulardes et Bécasses
Roast poulardes (fattened spayed chickens) and roast woodcocks
Salade et Concombres
Salads and pickled cucumbers
Asperges d'Argenteuil Sce Hollandaise
White asparagus dressed in Hollandaise sauce
Pêches de Montreuil Cardinal
Montreuil peaches (a highly sought-after specialty peach grown against walls in a small 300-hectare precinct in Paris) poached with cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)
Rice custard timbales flavoured with rum and crystalized fruit and dressed in a apricot syrup
Menu dated 12th June 1912
(30th May in the Julian calendar)
Dinner at the Kremlin, Moscow, hosted by Her Imperial Majesty the Dowager Tsarina (Dowager Empress) Maria Fyodorovna of Russia.
Pêches de Montreuil were the most prized peaches of the day, having first gained their royal fame when served at the table of King Louis XIV in the late 1600s. The exclusive Montreuil peaches were grown on trellises mounted on a labyrinth of plaster walls, known as the Murs à pêches, that occupied little more than a 300-hectare precinct in outer Paris.
In 1912 crates of these cherished fruits, each individually scrutinised and carefully wrapped, were sent from Paris to the Kremlin for this banquet to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Russia’s defeat of Napoléon and his Grand Armée.
This was the imperial family’s first visit to Moscow in nine years – since 1903; and the banquet needed to dazzle.
“In 1912”, remembered the Tsarina's lady-in-waiting, “all Russia celebrated the centenary of the French invasion and retreat. The Imperial Family went to Moscow for the inauguration of the monument to Alexander III, then to Smolensk".
Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Tsarina Alexandra arrived in Moscow from the Crimea just two days prior to this dinner. The Tsar’s mother, the Dowager Tsarina, came a day later directly from Copenhagen to partake in the unveiling of the statue to her late imperial husband.
“The Emperor, Empress and Dowager are in fine health and spirits”, assured The New York Times, “and bronzed from their three months stay in the Crimea”.
After Tsar Nicholas II had unveiled the statue to his father, the imperial family returned to the Kremlin in readiness for this banquet where his mother, the Dowager Tsarina, played hostess.
The display of edible imperial decadence featured dishes of turtle soup and foie-gras parfait interspersed with roast woodcock; sturgeons baked in Champagne with truffles; and a signature dish of many a Romanov banquet, Selle de Chevreuil Grand Véneur.
Towards the end of the banquet the Montreuil peaches were served, having been stoned and poached whole in blackcurrant liqueur, and were accompanied by moulds of rice custards mixed with crystallised fruits and laced with rum.
Murs à pêches: the plaster walls in outer Paris where the imperial peaches were sourced.
On the day of this imperial banquet in 1912, Tsar Nicholas II unveils the monument to his father, Alexander III, in Moscow.
Photo courtesy: State Historical Museum