King Edward VII, the eldest son of Queen Victoria, was Britain's monarch from January 1901 until his death in May 1910. On the fourth of June 1902, "Bertie" held a dinner at Buckingham Palace for members of The Jockey Club, the dominant organization of British horseracing. A noted bon viveur, the King was a generous host and no expense would have been spared in presenting the finest food and wines to his guests. One of the highlights of the dinner would have been the Ortolan sur Canapés. The Ortolan, a migratory songbird, was considered by many to be one of the ultimate gastronomic treats. According to Wine Spectator "For centuries, a rite of passage for French gourmets has been the eating of the Ortolan. These tiny birds—captured alive, force-fed, then drowned in Armagnac—were roasted whole and eaten that way, bones and all, while the diner draped his head with a linen napkin to preserve the precious aromas and, some believe, to hide from God." The fabulous wines on offer that night included 86 year old Madeira and classic vintages of Chateau Latour and Margaux. An interesting and now vanished choice was the "Still Sillery, 1865". Sillery is a celebrated area of Champagne and used to produce its own branded still and sparking "Sillery" Champagne. Moet and Chandon still produce a Sillery Champagne, the Grand Cru Les Champs des Romont.
Formal menus in Buckingham Palace are still written in French.
Courtesy University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Libraries Collections.
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