By Margaret McKenzie
Matt Keating of Littleton mulls the wine selection April 8 in the Omni's Princess Room. (MARGARET McKENZIE PHOTO)BRETTON WOODS — As New Hampshire shakes off its mantle of snow, so, too, is the elegant Omni Mount Washington Resort shaking things up with a series of food-and-drink pairings that started last month with the once-in-a-lifetime "Last Dinner on the Titanic."As a run-up to that imaginative and sumptuous repast, guests got to mingle in the Princess Room — the elegant cocktail room named for Carolyn Stickney, the young, beautiful wife of hotel founder Joseph Stickney, who went on to marry a French prince — and enjoy wines and appetizers like oysters on the half shell, smoked duck canapes and pate de foie gras.
(Fun fact: The Princess Room is home to the only original chandelier in the resort.)
Then it was on to the dining room, where Gene Meoni, the Omni's director of food and beverage, introduced each course with a tidbit of knowledge about the meal service aboard the Titanic — for example, there were 62 people working in the kitchen, and the menu for the second-class passengers was almost as elaborate as for the first class — as period music played in the background.
The convivial group of about six couples (et moi) loudly enjoyed each course as the wait staff kept pouring wines and Champagnes. (As Matt Keating of Littleton, sitting next to me, put it, "It's like they knew we were coming.") OK, it was an exercise in excess, I must confess: As the Waldorf pudding, chocolate eclairs, peaches in Chartreuse jelly and vanilla ice cream arrived, I had to cry "Uncle!" But not before joining in a hearty round of applause for Executive Chef Jacky Francois, Sous Chef Joseph Madzia and their talented kitchen crew.
If you're not into nine-course banquets but still want to sample the high life at the Omni, don't worry: The creative staff at the hotel has a series of monthly events for you.
Starting in May, the Dinners at the Princess take place in the aforementioned Princess Room at 8 p.m. the first Friday of each month.
Since that just happens to land on Cinco de Mayo next month, the inaugural fiesta naturally involves tequila. Called "Hecho in America" ("Made in America"), the May 5 event invites you to "learn about the beauty of American-made tequila in this inspired meal featuring perfected paired fusion dishes with a Latin flair."
Other dinners are similarly themed:
• "Better Beckons Reserves," Friday, June 2, has a fine wine theme, where you can "enter the world of Beringer Vineyards," complemented by the chef's finest pairings.
•"Happy Days are Here Again," Friday, July 7, harkens back to the end of Prohibition.
The rest of the series includes: "Southern Charm" (Aug. 4); "Small Batch Beauty" (a tribute to bourbon, Sept. 1); "Sweetwater Runs Deep" (meet the proprietors of Sweetwater Distillery, Oct. 6); "Wine Pioneers," (Kenwood Vineyards, Nov. 3); "A New England Holiday" (Dec. 1); and "Slainte, To a New Year" (welcome in 2018 with a single-malt Scotch dinner, Jan. 5).
Dinners at the Princess are priced at $70, which, when you think about all the great food and drink you get — not to mention the swanky VIP lounge atmosphere — should be something of a steal. According to the hotel, this prix fixe menu includes cocktail style-samplings, beverage samples, tax and gratuity.
Space is limited. You can reserve your seat by contacting the Omni Mount Washington Activities Concierge Desk at (603) 278-8989.