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Wednesday
Feb222012

Oscar

In honor of the 84th Academy Awards, it's time to celebrate the Oscars. There will be an estimated 40 million people watching, entertaining + celebrating the Oscar's this Sunday. But there is another noteworthy Oscar that has been celebrated at many Waldorf parties, and would be welcomed winner in the top food category.

Oscars Award Banquet, 1940, The Ambassador Hotel

Oscar Tschirky, maître d’hôtel of Delmonico’s Restaurant and the Waldorf Astoria in NYC is known as the creator of such popular classic dishes as Waldorf Salad, Veal Oscar, Eggs Benedict and Thousand Island Dressing. It may just be the name implies thousands of recipes - for this dressing, and rumors abound as to the true creator. I can assure you it was not Kraft or Wish-Bone though. This is the story I believe to be true or Oscar of The Waldorf has the best PR agency ever!

At the turn of the century, self-made multi-millionaire and hotel magnate George C. Boldt, (I have my own Thousand Island story, but it doesn’t involve dressing, so it will have to wait) owner of the New York City's Waldorf Astoria enjoyed vacationing in the 1000 Islands. Mr. Boldt and his wife Louise enjoyed this area of the St. Lawrence River region so much so that George had Boldt Castle built for his wife. Nice guy. He would entertain many wealthy friends and business associates on the island.  

Many times Oscar accompanied Mr. Boldt on his trips to the 1000 Islands and to George Boldt's Castle. On one trip aboard the yacht, Oscar improvised with the ingredients he had aboard the yacht, and concocted the dressing for which the region is now known for around the globe. Afterwards, Mr. Boldt started serving the dressing at his hotels.

So where are these islands of dressing fame? The 1000 Islands Region encompasses both sides of the US and Canadian border along the St. Lawrence River and the eastern shores of Lake Ontario. The region takes its name from the more than 1000 islands that dot the lake and river along this international waterway. The region extends from Kingston to Cornwall on the Canadian side, and from Oswego to Massena on the US side; reaching inland to the foothills of the Adirondack mountains to embrace the communities that are west and north of the Adirondack Park, and the four NY Counties of Oswego, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence.

The wide appeal of this dressing has gone far beyond elegant salads served aboard yachts on the St. Lawrence River. Burger joints have topped their meat patties for years with this special sauce - remember that jingle? Then there’s of course my preferred In-N-Out-Burgers, where all burgers come standard with Thousand Island dressing. BTW, a secret menu item called "Animal Style"; fries come with Thousand Island Dressing in addition to grilled onions and melted cheese. But when I hear Thousand Island Dressing I think of a dish with a little more of a classical take; like the topping on a Dungeness Crab or Shrimp Louis. I am sure that would make Oscar smile!  

Could this be Oscar’s classic Thousand Island Dressing Recipe? It just might be...

Take one cup mayonnaise dressing, mix, with one-half cup whipped cream, add small amount of Tarragon vinegar, one-half teaspoonful of Imperial Sauce, then chop one hard boiled egg, one green pepper, one pimento, one pinch chives, mix well together and squeeze the juice of one lemon before serving. This sauce can be served with any kind of salad."--Kansas City Star[Missouri], November 26, 1912

images: bibliotheque publique et universitaire, oscar.org

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