For sheer pleasure and decadent splendor, few things can rival the image of a gourmet
dinner enjoyed in the dining car of a first-class train.
Unfortunately, most luxurious rail
cars disappeared in the ’70s as train travel was replaced by faster air service — but this
romantic style of transportation has been kept alive by a select group of private luxury
trains that still woo passengers with their service, and with amazing meals prepared by
renowned chefs. You may not ever get the chance to travel in the company of the Marlboro
Unlimited, Old Kentucky Dinner Train, American Orient Express and others, but in From the
Dining Car, author James Porterfield combines wonderful stories behind today’s greatest
rail dining experiences with recipes created by the chefs who rule these rails.
the recipes with a dash of history, Porterfield spins facts about such wonderful cars as
the Northern Sky — considered the highest expression of post WWII observation dome/lounge
car design and restored into a self-contained luxury moving hotel by owner David Hoffman —
with recipes by the dome car’s chef, David Kugler. These are not 30-minute meals: Kugler’s
menu, for example, includes Mandarin Orange Salad, Cream of Asparagus Soup with Shrimp
Quenelles, Beef Tenderloin Fillet on Wild Mushroom Ragout with Demi-Glace, Dauphenoise
Potatoes and, for dessert, Raspberry Bavarian with Chocolate Sauce and Fresh Raspberries.
You could almost pound on the calories just by reading the 200 gourmet recipes found in
this 289-page book.
Armchair travelers will appreciate the stories found here just as much
as will cooks and railroad enthusiasts. And if, by chance, you ever find yourself in the
vicinity of Renton, Washington, at 5:30 p.m. on a warm summer night, take a short drive to
the restored Renton Depot. There, you’ll find the streamlined Spirit of Washington Dinner
Train — and you won’t have to imagine, anymore.