I was asked to pull my product demonstration trailer to Montreal last week, so a utility who is interested in purchasing the equipment, could see the breaker first hand and physically touch our high voltage circuit breaker before they committed. From Hotlanta I headed north on I-85 to Charlotte, then north on I-77 until I came to I-81 North in Virginia. From there it is straight shot to Canada through New York. When I got to the 1000 Islands Bridge before going into Canada I remembered that I was here a couple of decades ago. I also remembered that, at the time, I wanted to learn how 1000 Island Dressing came to be but I never followed up, until now.
For those of you who are not familiar with 1000 Islands, NY, it is a group of islands (1800 plus) in the St. Lawrence River. The river starts where Lake Ontario ends and runs northeast and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. It is a major seaway on the border. Oddly enough all of the islands are in New York none are in Ontario, Canada. 1000 Islands has always been a summer retreat for the rich and famous and this is where the dressing was born.
There is a lot of controversy on who first developed the dressing and what is the original recipe. I guarantee you the original recipe below is nothing like what Kraft or Wish Bone puts in a bottle today. Through research, male intuition and pure guess work I am going to present my version of the true history of 1000 Islands Dressing and give you the original recipe. (First though, I have clear something up. I don’t care what anyone says the name is “1000 Islands” Dressing. “Islands” is plural and the name of the region where it got its name. While “Island” is singular and makes no sense whatsoever unless it was called the 1000th Island Dressing.)
During the turn of the 19th century on one of the islands lived Sophia Lalonde whose husband, George, was a fishing guide. Legend has it that Sophia mixed up the concoction known then as Sophia’s Sauce. She used on fish as a sauce and later on salad as a dressing. Many of her husband’s clients sampled the sauce and it soon became the hit of the islands. It also came to the attention of a Prussiam, George Boldt, who rose from being penniless emigrant to owning the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NYC. Boldt came across Sophie’s Sauce while he was building Boldt castle on one of the islands. He literally stole Sophie’s recipe and started serving it at his hotel. There it also became wildly popular.
Now for the name. Again legend has it that a popular actress Mary Irwin, best known for the first movie kiss, adored Sophie’s Sauce and called it 1000 Islands Dressing. It is said that she thought the pickles and red pepper pieces reminded her of the 1000 Islands. The name stuck.
Now the original 1000 Islands Dressing (Sophie’s Sauce) recipe
1 ½ Hard cooked eggs chopped. (It’s cool that she used the eggs as a thickener.)
2 Tbsp. Worcester Sauce
1 ½ Tsp, of white sugar
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
½ pinch ground cloves
2 cups mayo. Make your own or your favorite store brand.
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. sweet pickle relish of your choice
¼ chopped black olives
¼ cup diced red bell peppers.
In a mixing bowl whisk everything together until smooth. You can chill in the refrigerator or not before serving. Refrigerate left over dressing. Yields 8 servings.
I must admit when I tasted the dressing in the bowl I thought that I could have used the other half of the egg and a little less vinegar but once I had in the salad all was good. I also noted the recipe did not call for salt; the olives took care of that.
See the chucks of goodies Mary Irwin referred to as the 1000 Islands?