New Continental Hotel, Millbay Road, Plymouth, PL1 3LD

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Seasons Eatings | Looking Back At Christmas 1962 …

All We Want For Christmas…

From the turkey to the Christmas pudding and everything in-between; Christmas food and drink is the icing on any festive cake!

At the New Continental Hotel, we know that food should take centre stage at Christmas. That’s why our sensational chefs are busy planning and prepping the Christmas treats that await our guests this year.

The hotel is celebrating our 35th Christmas at the New Continental Hotel. We wanted to take this moment to look back at some Christmas’ past. Looking at the big shifts in trends and some of the marvellous menus that have donned our festive tables over the years!

Just as importantly though; we wanted to take this time to celebrate and acknowledge the prodigious talent of all of the chefs; those both past and present. Chefs who, over the decades, have all played an intrinsic part in the hotels history. But also who have played an important role in helping people make fond Christmas memories at the hotel too.

Looking back in the archives has been an honour. Seeing the past menus, orders scribbled on notes with splashes of food sprawled across the pages and pencilled shifts, all scratched in old diaries with arrows and lines to mark changes. It’s clear to see that our hotel has had the ultimate collection of Christmas Menus but also, mind-blowing, passionate and committed talent in the kitchens too.

Swiss Evening October 1962…

We believe that Christmas 1962 came off the back of a successful Swiss Evening in the October before.  This was an evening that had taken twelve months of planning and a continuous 24 hours for the brigade to prepare! No small feat!  The hard work certainly seemed to have paid off! The event took place in the Ballroom and by all accounts “…it was plush and impressive in both appearance and style”.

It was an event for members from the Plymouth Branch of the Wine & Food Society. They sat down that evening to enjoy an exclusively designed menu. With much of the ingredients  hand picked and collected by the chefs themselves. Nothing was too much trouble and nothing too lavish!  There were Alpine cured meats, soups laced with egg yolk, trout cooked in butter and almonds and fillets of veal.

The Ballroom was dressed facing the stage. The tables set out in the form of a Swiss cross. There were huge flower arrangements and the entire room and serving staff were dressed in the national colours of red and white. Every detail was given immense care and attention, as it is now for every event.

We believe it was this event that then left echoes on the design of a rather lavish Christmas in December 1962, 57 years ago!

Christmas Treats In 1962…

In December 1962 the Continental Hotel was dishing up a very unique menu!

In the year that cheese and onion crisps were introduced by Golden Wonder, the Continental Hotel introduced a new way of serving Christmas. It was to become all about the show as much as the taste. With service boards in the centre of the room, Chefs in full sight and the poshest of buffets!

The 1960s saw a boom in the British economy and so there was a dramatic rise in the standard of living, and peoples expectations. Rationing was now a thing of the past; and the 60’s  saw a spike in the European holidaymakers visiting Plymouth. The food was therefore influenced by all of these factors and there was a big movement occurring in kitchens across the UK. Chefs were now experimenting and introducing the British palate to some tasty new foods and ingredients.

Cheers…

Wine was also on the rise! Before the 1960s wine was really only ordered at the hotel for extra special occasions, the majority of people drank beer, stout, pale ale and port and lemon. In the 60’s the hotel saw an increase in wine orders and introduced bottles such as Chianti and Mateus Rose.

The hedgehog was also on the pre-dinner drinks list! These accompanied the drinks; cubes of tinned pineapple and cheddar cheese on sticks, stuck into a melon or grapefruit to look like a hedgehog – the height of 60s sophistication!

There were five Christmas Menus in 1962. All different and all definitely unique! There was some of the usual dishes you would expect to see; Shrimp cocktail and melon balls, but with the addition of a Clear Turtle Soup with Sherry! What’s amazing to see is even back in 1962 ‘local’ played a huge part in the design and delivery of the hotel menus. Chefs had amazing relationships with the farmers locally, not naming the farm but the farmer himself in their notes.

Just as in 1962, the ingredients matter to our chefs. Although there is no Turtle Soup this Christmas (we can all breath a sigh of relief that this trend has passed!) there is the same love and attention given to every dish by every chef.

No matter what the year; Christmas at the New Continental Hotel is full of fun, fabulous food and a history rich in hospitality. 2019 is no different to 1962, our talented chefs are busy ensuring all guests this Christmas have the best experiences and make magical memories that last another 57 years!

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