On Tuesday, January 22, Chef John Folse’s White Oak Plantation will celebrate the Mardi Gras season by hosting a dinner honoring Grand Duke Alexis Romanoffof Russia, who visited New Orleans during the 1872 Carnival season. Folse’s dinner begins with an hors d’oeuvre reception at 6 p.m. followed by a five-course menu inspired by New Orleans’ St. Charles Hotel.

“It was February 12, 1872 – Lundi Gras – when the Grand Duke dined at the St. Charles,” said Folse. “We have a copy of the historic menu served that evening and will replicate that meal in memory of he who helped inaugurate the Krewe of Rex.”

It happened that in 1871, the Grand Duke was sent as a goodwill ambassador to the United States, which was fortuitous for the citizens of New Orleans. Following the Civil War – which ended only seven years earlier – a pall of sadness and tension had draped the city. To lift spirits (as well as the economy) a group of New Orleans’ leaders founded a day parade for the civic good and to bring order, grandeur and visitors back to New Orleans. (Heretofore, the only organized parades were the nighttime exhibitions of the Twelfth Night Revelers and Comus.) What better way to inaugurate Rex as the King of Carnival than with the assistance of Russian royalty – the son of Emperor Alexander II.

A writer for the New Orleans Republican documented the Grand Duke’s arrival into the city aboard the steamer James Howard. A cheer from the crowd “rout the air, to which the Duke most graciously removed his (Havana) cigar and waved his spyglass twice.” It is likely that of all his U.S. ports of call, none created a greater stir than his arrival in New Orleans; however, the Republican did report that “the New York ladies went in ecstasy over” his “grand dark eyes.”  

While guests to Folse’s affair won’t arrive via river steamer, they will certainly swoon over the elegantly presented dinner. Once seated, guests will enjoy Bisque d’Écrevisses Cardinal (Crawfish Bisque Cardinale) accompanied by Georges Duboeuf Domaine des Quatre Vents Fleurie, 2016. Fillet de Sole Rex with Georges Duboeuf Domaine les Chenevières Mâcon-Villages, 2016 is followed by Filet de Boeuf (Tenderloin of Beef) paired with Domaine de Verquière Vacqueyras, 2014. In true French fashion, La Salade de la Reine (The Queen’s Salad) will be served after the meat entrée complemented by Gustave Lorentz Reserve Pinot Blanc, 2016. Gâteau au Chocolat Romanoff (Chocolate Cake Romanoff) paired with Bouchaine Bouche d'Or Late Harvest Chardonnay will conclude the decadent evening.

This menu with paired wines is $99 per person plus tax and gratuity. Reserve seats for this festive evening by calling White Oak Plantation at 225-751-1882 or by emailing events@jfolse.com.

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Chef John Folse is the owner and executive chef of his Louisiana-based corporations including Chef John Folse & Company Manufacturing, White Oak Plantation & Farm, and Exceptional Endings Bakery Division. He is CEO/CFO of Home on the Range: Folse Tramonto Restaurant Development Company, parent corporation of Restaurant R’evolution, New Orleans, and Seafood R’evolution, Ridgeland, MS. He is the author of numerous cookbooks and hosts a nationally syndicated television cooking show, A Taste of Louisiana. Additionally, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University is named in his honor.