The Gilded Age was a time of unimaginable wealth.
Captains of industry such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt made piles of money in the second half of the 19th century. And they knew how to spend it, too!
Each mansion had to be showier than the last, with friendly and not so friendly competition to see who could use the most marble and expensive furnishings, even going so far as creating a solid gold toilet seat.
This is the world my heroine, Evangeline Lindenmayer, plans to escape in my upcoming new release The Test of Gold.
Lindy’s social-climbing mother expects her to marry into the British aristocracy and achieve a royal title for the Lindenmayer family. Off they go to London for the “season,” hoping to find a cash-strapped duke.
This was the menu for a late evening dinner after a night at the opera.
There was no area of the home that escaped the over-the-top mentality of the wealthy, including formal dinners. For this late night dinner at the Savoy Hotel, hand-written menus lay at each place setting, silver ink on rose-colored paper.
Canapés de Caviar
Poulet de Grains Grillée Diable
Pêches Rose Chéri
The canapes? Round pieces of toast covered with a piping of butter and a plump mound of black Beluga caviar in the center. The Oeufs Mirabeau are eggs gently cooked in anchovy butter and stuffed with tarragon cream.
The Poulet de Grains Grillée Diable consists of chicken with a mustard and cayenne pepper crust, surrounded by thin slices of lemon and served with a sauce of shallots and white wine. Are you getting hungry yet?
And finally, for dessert, the Pêches Rose Chéri.
Peaches poached in vanilla syrup, covered with a puree of pineapple and champagne, served icy cold. Of course, many different wines and champagnes accompanied this repast!
All these dishes are authentic recipes devised by Auguste Escoffier, a renowned chef who had a world-wide reputation during the Gilded Age. In 1890 he accepted an invitation to oversee the kitchen at the new Savoy Hotel in London. While there, he created many famous dishes. Peach Melba is one of them, named for the famous opera singer, Nellie Melba, and fraises a la Sarah Bernhardt, strawberries with pineapple and Curaçao sorbet, is another.
Stay tuned for more fine dining experiences from the Gilded Age!