Thalias Hospitality

Beef Wellington – Topaz

Beef Wellington: A Dish for the Lions of this World

Not for the faint hearted, Beef Wellington is the kind of dish that instantly crowns you a Conquering King or Queen of all you survey…

A dish worthy of the grandest occasions, yet somehow down-to-earth enough that any day can be a good day for Beef Wellington, provided someone else is doing the cooking! There are, of course, variations, but at Topaz we make ours with the finest beef fillet, then add layers of foie gras and mushroom duxelles, and wrap it all up in the crisp deliciousness of puff pastry. Beef Wellington is a dish that comes together to create a very homely sort of luxury, with comfort, refinement and deep, luxuriously rich flavours all wrapped up and ready to be devoured, elegantly of course.

Beef Wellington’s origins remain clouded in mystery though. It is generally agreed that the dish is named after Arthur Wellesley, the First Duke of Wellington, the man who oversaw the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, thereby bringing an end to 12 years of the Napoleonic Wars. Certainly, decisive battlefield victory deserves something splendid to be named in your honour, however cookbooks from the time make no mention of the dish at all. Perhaps the dedication to Wellington was more of a social than formal designation. On the other hand, the practice of wrapping meats in pastry was common at the time, in England as in France, thanks to a fashion for un-browned meat. Perhaps it was so widespread that writing it down in a cookbook may have been considered akin to including an entry for boiling an egg. However, the addition of mushrooms and pâté or foie gras, and the use of puff pastry instead of a simple flour and water mix are certainly refinements that should have been worthy of mention. In fact, not a single recipe for the dish in its current form appears anywhere until the 1940s, in America.

Beef Wellington – Topaz

Moreover, while much of the debate ranges around whether the dish is really French or English in origin, one theory holds that it is in fact Irish. Andrew Wellesley, who went on to become the Duke of Wellington was born in Dublin to an aristocratic family who formed part of the Protestant Ascendancy that dominated Irish political and cultural life at the time.

A reference to it appears in Irish Traditional Food, a collection of Irish recipes from the 16th to the 20th century put together by the legendary food-scholar Theodora Fitzgibbon.

There is a certain delicious irony in such an intricate and grand dish being named for Wellington, a man who famously doused almost everything he ate in vinegar, to the despair of his French chef. The chef, a man named Felix, finally resigned declaring that even if Wellington were 1000 times a hero, his habits and general disinterest in food would cause Felix’s genius to die, even if his body might live to tell the tale.

At the site of the Battle of Waterloo, there now sits an artificial hill topped by a stone lion, a symbol of Wellington’s Allied Army. So even if the real connection between Wellington and Beef Wellington might be lost in the mists of time, we know one thing: it’s unquestionably a dish fit for the lions of this world.

Facebook Comments

You May Also Like
Offerings of food, drinks and prayers are made to deceased relatives in pagodas

Happy Birthday to You! And other Lucky Charms…

We don’t often think of food’s symbolic powers, but they’re still there all the time and every day. Whether it’s the extra portion of care you put into preparing a dish for someone you love, or the warm comfort of a simple meal that takes you back to your childhood, there is often a silent meaning in every bite we eat. Taken a step further, food can be linked not just to our innermost feelings and experiences, but also to a more communal, external sense of history and culture. This doesn’t just mean the shared recipes of a given place…

Hitting the High Notes: Alsace’s Hugel Gentil

Thanks to their bright, clean flavours Alsatian wines have long been a safe pick for anyone looking to pair a good white wine with Southeast Asian foods. In the Hugel Gentil available at Khéma you’ll find a wine that serves as a perfect introduction to Alsatian wines, thanks to its production method which brings together the “suave, spicy flavour of Gewürztraminer, the structure of Pinot Gris, the finesse of Riesling, the grapiness of Muscat and the refreshing character of Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner”. What does all this mean? The name Gentil dates back to the 1920s and is reserved for…
Phka Rumdoul Rice - Image by Khmer Times

Right on Top: Phka Rumdoul Voted Best Rice in the World. Again

Cambodia’a jasmine rice, Phka Rumdoul, has once again been crowned the world’s best rice by the World Rice Conference held by The Rice Trade (TRT) in Phuket, Thailand. This is the fifth time Cambodian rice has received this award since it started participating in the Conference, with prior wins in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2018. Cambodian premium jasmine rice is grown in the wet season and is highly prized for its extra-long grain, soft texture and a distinctive flavour that exudes a strong, natural perfume. Cambodia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, H.E. Dith Tina, expressed his congratulations on the…
Bakery in Nice, France, November 28, 2022. REUTERS

A Slice of Life: The French Baguette Recognised as a World Heritage

Last month, the emblematic French Baguette was added to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage by Uneseco, bringing France’s recorded number of cultural elements up to 25, including the Gastronomic Meal of the French, perfume making in Grasse, the Carnival of Granville and Summer Solstice Fire Festivals in the Pyrenees. Intangible cultural heritage is a practice, representation, expression, knowledge or skill considered by Unesco to be part of a place’s cultural heritage. It is those things we cannot see or touch but which represent a culture’s essence, such as its folklore, customs, beliefs, traditions, knowledge and languages. Thus, the latest…
Le fois gras poêlé - Topaz.

One Ingredient to Bind Them: Foie Gras

There are few things more quintessentially French than a sublime sliver of silky smooth foie gras perched atop a slice of crisp baguette. This luxurious “fat liver” is one of our key ingredients at Topaz, and for very good reason… . At Topaz, we’ll soon be launching an exciting new menu where you’ll find some completely new dishes, some lively twists on old favourites, and some of your most-loved dishes just as you’ve always enjoyed them. As always, the menu is unmistakably French, as are the ingredients, one of which holds pride of place in all our hearts: Foie Gras.…
Giuseppe Napoletano, new chef at Siena in Flatiron, Phnom Penh

Presto a Siena! Real Italian Food…

It’s ironic that one of the world’s best-loved foods is also one of its most not-so-much misunderstood, but rather under-understood. Italian cuisine has a great deal more to offer than pizza and pasta, and that’s what we’re looking forward to bringing you at Siena at Flatiron. We took a small dive into Italy’s incredibly rich and varied culinary history to give you a glimpse of what’s coming …. We’re really excited about the (coming soon!) opening of Siena at Flatiron, a brand-new Italian steakhouse rooted in real Italian ingredients and traditional Italian cooking from the north and south of the…