Taste of the Titanic, only safely ashore

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am

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It's time travel on a plate. On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic this Saturday, eight diners will be paying HK$15,000 each to eat the same 10-course meal served to first-class passengers just before the ship hit an iceberg and more than 1,500 people perished.

The star of the night is a rare bottle of champagne: an HK$85,000 1907 Heidsieck Monopole Gout Americain, the same vintage that sank to the ocean floor in the early hours of April 15, 1912, when the Titanic met catastrophe as it crossed the Atlantic.

Bottles of the champagne were salvaged in 1998 and one of these was sourced by Hullett House, the Tsim Sha Tsui restaurant which is hosting the exclusive dinner.

'The idea is to recreate the ambience on the ship,' said executive chef Philippe Orrico. 'It's for people who want to be somewhere else.'

The catastrophe of 1912 holds a romantic charm in the city. James Cameron's film Titanic raked in HK$1.38 million in the city on the opening day alone. It ran for six months and made HK$115 million. This week, its new 3-D version saw first-day takings of HK$865,000.

'It's a sad story but it's interesting because it's a legend,' Orrico said. 'It was this dream boat but also this romance that broke in half.'

Waiters will wear uniforms like those on the Titanic. Plates bearing the designs used on board have been sourced from English porcelain maker William Brownfield & Sons.

The meal starts with oysters in vodka sauce, followed by dishes such as poached salmon, sauteed chicken and lamb with mint sauce. Orrico will use less cream and butter than chefs aboard the liner would have done but says the menu will stay true to the original recipes.

As a chef, he has his own take on the events 100 years ago. 'Everyone can find a small adventure that interests them. For me, I discovered how modern food changed between 1903 and 1910.'

Last week, Unesco said the ship, which lies in international waters off Newfoundland in Canada, would be protected under a UN Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, which covers wrecks only after a century has passed.