The Edwardian Society of Oregon is hosting what it’s describing as an “elegant dinner party” Nov. 9 at the Eatery at the Grant House.
A group of friends created the Edwardian Society of Oregon four years ago to organize events where they could dress in period costumes. King Edward VII ruled England from 1901 to 1910.
During the Edwardian period, outdoor activities like picnics, croquet games and bicycle excursions flourished. Women’s dresses shifted from the stiff, heavy Victorian clothing to lighter material, which enabled them to participate in physical activities. Women’s roles were changing due to the creation of jobs like secretary, nurse and school teacher and the emergence of the women’s suffrage movement.
The Edwardian Society of Oregon’s first event was a picnic in Laurelhurst Park. Members dressed in period clothing, ate and played croquet. Most of their events are outdoors during the spring and summer. Last winter, the group hosted an elegant dinner at Huber’s in Portland. This year they’ve moved the festivities across the Columbia River to the historic Grant House. The former officer’s club was built in 1849, not exactly the Edwardian era, but this group is more about celebration than absolute historical accuracy.
Group leader Kay Demlow is fine with people wearing their Titanic costumes even though the ship sank in 1912. You can also wear your “Downton Abbey”-inspired fashions.
“Fashion reached its pinnacle of beauty in 1909. There were delicate fabrics, lace, and big hats,” said Demlow, a noted costume designer with 29 years of experience of dressmaking and designing historic clothing. “I’ve always loved this era. At first, I didn’t know much — just how ethereal the women looked. The more I learned the more I liked it.”
The Edwardian period had very specific social rules, but you don’t need to be an aristocrat or the recipient of an engraved invitation to come to the Edwardian Society’s events. Tickets for the Elegant Dinner are available by messaging the Edwardian Society of Oregon through the group’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/EdwSocOR). They are $65 per person and $120 per couple. Dinner doesn’t include alcohol, but you can arrange to drink wine for an additional cost.
King Edward VII enjoyed rich, luxurious multicourse dinners. His gluttonous tastes influenced aristocrats and upper-middle-class subjects of his kingdom.
This period also brought the restaurant dinner to England. A chef of the era, Auguste Escoffier, cooked haute cuisine at the Savoy Hotel and the Carlton Hotel. One of the recipes from the period is a decadent pate de foie gras stuffed in a truffle, stuffed in an ortolan (a tiny songbird), and then stuffed inside a quail.
Fortunately, the menu at Saturday’s elegant dinner is an homage and not a literal recreation of the gut-busting 12-course Edwardian dinners infamous for causing unspeakable digestive maladies. This dinner includes five sumptuous courses: tomato and goat cheese relish on bread, rabbit stew over root vegetables, shaved asparagus salad with Gorgonzola and tomatoes, braised lamb shoulder with a yuca puree, and bread pudding for dessert.
Seats at the table are limited to 14. If you miss out on tickets to the official event, you can dress in period costume or just show up to watch people in gorgeous Edwardian garments eat in an historic setting. You can follow the Edwardian Society of Oregon on their Facebook page to find future events.