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19th Century Feasts in New York

New York's best restaurateurs will light up their stoves in the New Year to cook up long-forgotten feasts.

by: AFP | 09 Dec 2008

The feasts will be inspired by 19th century banquets for a project that is set to leave food fans drooling.

Gathered at the three-star Manhattan restaurant Le Bernardin, 16 luminaries of the culinary world discussed the Vintage Dinner Series, which will run from January through March.

"Le Bernardin is a fish restaurant, so I will probably make pike quenelles and a stuffed puff pastry, but I am also tempted to make an exception and cook a meat dish," said Bernardin chef Eric Ripert.

For the project, organised by Tim and Nina Zagat of the eponymous Zagat dining guides, Ripert will join a host of haute cuisine idols, among them Thomas Keller of the three-star Per Se.

The dinners kick off on January 12 at the Cafe des Artistes with the same meals featured in "Babette's Feast," a Danish film by Gabriel Axel inspired by Karen Blixen's novel, said restaurant director Jenifer Lang.

In the story, famous Parisian cook Babette takes refuge in a small Danish village after fleeing France in 1871, and uses the proceeds of a lottery win to prepare an elaborate meal of tortoise soup, caviar with blinis, quails in pastry cases, cheeses and a rum baba with raisins and figs.

The Cafe des Artistes will replicate the sumptuous menu, serving Babette's delicacies accompanied by Amontillado sherry, Veuve Cliquot champagne, Clos de Vougeot burgundy, port with the cheese and coffee with the rum baba.

Each restaurant involved in the project will present a prix fixe Vintage Dinner priced as its regular menu. A portion of the proceeds will be given to charities, Tim Zagat said.

Other participating restaurants include Chanterelle, Del Posto, Gramercy Tavern, Jean Georges, La Grenouille, Le Cirque and Picholine.

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