FOOD
Period-attired Jerry and Susan Murphy enjoy the oysters Rockefeller at Latitude one’s titanic 100th anniversary dinner in Dallas, OR

Titanic Time Table

Period-attired Jerry and Susan Murphy enjoy the oysters Rockefeller at Latitude one’s titanic 100th anniversary dinner in Dallas, OR

By Karl Klooster

My wife and I went to Dallas on April 14. I wish I could say we warmed up the LearJet and had a smooth flight to the Big D, but the reality is that we took the car.  Yes, we drove to our own Dallas, Oregon. But it turned out to be quite a big D, anyway.

Big D as in big deal dinner. Marlene Cox, owner of Latitude One Restaurant, pulled out all the stops to put together a grand gala in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic luxury liner disaster.

As it turns out, she was but one of dozens of restaurateurs across the country with the same idea. Another one close to home was presented by Janet Bleck owner of Subterra Wine Cellar Restaurant in Newberg.

I don’t know how that or other events played out, but I can’t imagine how any of them could have exceeded or even equaled the experience to which Cox treated her guests that evening.

If diners had been seated in a room on hydraulics like one sees in theme parks, the sinking sensation might have added a macabre thrill to the event. Barring that, the D we delighted in was definitely first cabin.

It’s rather ironic that a ship sinking, albeit a horrendous incident in which more than two-thirds of the 2,200 people involved lost their lives, has become such an enduring incident. 

Perhaps it’s because the tragic story is surrounded by so much glitz and glamour, yes, glamour with a “u” given its origin. RMS Titanic was, after all, British, through and through.

Owing to the second highest-grossing major motion picture of all time, hundreds of millions around the world know its story. Titanic, the movie, written and directed by James Cameron, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, was released in 1997. 

It ultimately hauled in $1.84 billion worldwide and held the top spot for 12 years until Cameron’s Avatar set a new record of $2.78 billion in 2009. What the just released 3-D version of Titanic will earn remains to be seen.

Most notable is the fact that Cameron and cohorts decided to invest in a technologically enhanced re-release of the film because of all the hoopla surrounding the 100th anniversary of the supposedly unsinkable ship’s watery demise.

Then there was Titanic, the Broadway musical. Not to mention, the many Titanic books and all sorts of other Titanic tie-ins. Catastrophe sells. Especially when social classes collide and are then reduced to the common denominator of impending death. 

On the then-grandest passenger ship ever built, immense wealth abutted abject poverty. Passengers included some of the world’s richest people as well as more than a thousand European immigrants who had gambled everything on rebuilding their lives in America.

Just 2 1/2 hours after its prolonged, gouging encounter with an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. April 14, 1912, the doomed ship slipped under the surface bow first claiming 1,514 lives. There were just 710 survivors, mostly women.

One hundred years later in downtown Dallas, directly across from the stately Polk County Courthouse, 40 far more fortunate people were treated to a memorable evening of gourmet dining and historic nostalgia on an epic scale.

When they came aboard, black tie and period costume-clad dinner guests had the opportunity to peruse a dramatic display of 10 collages creatively incorporating images connected with that doomed maiden voyage. 

The works were done by art students at Chemeketa Community College’s McMinnville campus as part of the overall presentation. Cox worked with Jan Koot, adjunct professor of art at the college, to carry out the student assignment. 

She said extensive online research on the Titanic Museum just outside Springfield, Mass., was her primary source of information to stage the restaurant’s first Titanic-themed dinner last year.

The success of that event prompted her to put on two dinners for the centennial anniversary year. Flourish was added to a faithful recreation of the 11-course menu (see side bar) by accompanying wines carrying specially designed Titanic labels.

Interspersed among the courses, performers from Moonfall Theatre, a live production company founded by Cox, 22 years ago, delighted guests with solo, duet and quartet renditions of songs from the Tony-winning Titanic Broadway play.

At the end of the evening, guests opened envelopes containing biographies of ship passengers that had been placed by their table settings. After reading about them, another envelope was passed out advising whether that person had survived or perished.

Both evenings, dripping with nostalgia and replete with food, wine, music and art, sold out. Saturday evening, appropriately enough, was April 14. To my knowledge, none of the guests remained onboard past midnight.

THE MENU

FIRST COURSE
Oysters Rockefeller
AlexEli 2010 Bubela

SECOND COURSE
Consommé Olga Soup with Scallops and Cucumber

THIRD COURSE
Poached Salmon Salad
Patricia Green 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

FOURTH COURSE
Raspberry Sorbet

FIFTH COURSE
Filet Lilli and Potato Anne
Facelli 2007 Titanic Cabernet Franc

SIXTH COURSE
Blood Orange Sorbet

SEVENTH COURSE
Lamb Chops, Wild Rice and Baby Carrots
Johan 2007 Pinot Noir

EIGHTH COURSE
Asparagus Salad
Pudding River 2010 Titanic Chardonnay 

NINTH COURSE
Pate de Foie Gras
Bowlus Hills 2009 Syrah

TENTH COURSE
Flame-Grilled Peaches with Chartreuse and French Vanilla Ice Cream

ELEVENTH Course
Fresh Fruit and Cheese
Agate Ridge 2010 Weeknight White

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