Heard it through the grapevine…

Head Sommelier Cedric Jacob is extremely passionate about all wines and is eager to share his knowledge with our guests.

Cedric Jacob

Cedric Jacob

When speaking to Cedric his enthusiasm and love for wine is evident and he always welcomes guests to come visit the cellars at Constance Halaveli.

Below he shares a bit about his background and where his passion for wine began.

Where in France are you from?
I was born inParis. My dad got the opportunity to move to Aix-En-Provence, South of France for his job and we all followed him. My little village where we moved to, Ventabren, is in the middle of the appellation Cotes d’Aix-En-Provence famous for its Rosé. As you can guess, you can find more Rosé wine on every table than simple still water. My dad used to say ‘water is for flowers’ but my mum does drink a lot of water!

When did your interest in wine begin?
My interest in wine began when I started in the hospitality industry at the age of 15 where I discovered there was a soul to every different wine, each a different product, something sometimes that is hard to put into words.

I have always been interested in the mysterious things of life and wine was part of this. My lecturer, a passionate man who could speak for hours and hours about this topic, helped me to develop my knowledge and I started to learn about it seriously aged 18.

Some people might say that 15 years is very young but I think that we need to start early to understand the idea of taste and sensation when tasting a product. This goes for food, music, art etc… My dad understood this concept of life and used to give us, my 2 brothers and myself, a tiny glass of wine every Sunday to smell and try to recognise aromas. Then we’d add water in to taste it. That was the beginning of what I call a ‘love story’.

Sommelier team at Constance Halaveli

Sathir, Sampath and Cedric

Why did you become a sommelier?
First of all, I became sommelier for the simple reason that wine was a passion. I love reading about it, finding out what is happening in the world of wine, watching documentaries. Also wine was becoming a huge trend at the time that I started, and people were willing to understand more and more about what they were drinking. It’s not only about drinking nowadays – people want to discover new horizons, understand the importance of Terroir, grape variety, human touch on the final wine that they are drinking and so on. Being a sommelier is all about experiencing and sharing. This idea of conviviality and becoming a sommelier was the best choice I ever made.

What challenges do you face currently being a sommelier in the Maldives?
The main challenge is the difference of climate that definitely changes your perception while tasting. Your smell as well as your taste is affected by the humidity and heat. The same wine tastes totally difference in Europe compared with the Maldives. Our goal is to find a new way of serving wine so our guests fully enjoy the wine that they order, for example, serving slightly chilled red wine.

Another challenge is offering the best price for our customers, considering the heavy import duty on alcohol as the Maldives is a Muslim country.

Cedric Jacob and guests

Cedric and guests at Jahaz

With these challenges how do you foresee them affecting the wine industry in the Maldives?
The main impact regarding government restriction is that wine is getting more and more expensive in this country, especially since the government plans to further increase the duty. However, as a sommelier, we always believe that the price doesn’t always rhyme with quality. Our goal as professionals is to find more small producers from different countries who are driven by their passion to produce great wines. Many young wine makers inFranceand elsewhere are becoming more and more famous for this, and those are the wines we are trying to import. Once again our aim is to satisfy the needs and wants of our guests. 

What is your favourite wine and why?
That is the trickiest question for a sommelier and one that people often ask me because I like everything as long as it is good – white, red, rosé, dessert, Champagne…However since I arrived in the Maldives I have to say that I have a preference for white Sauvignon Blanc for their freshness and their minerality and red Pinot Noir for the easiness and fruit…New Zealand is a region that I particularly appreciate for that even though we do produce amazing Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir in France.

What would be your perfect evening?
A perfect evening is a couple of friends, each bringing a good bottle that they want to make others discover, me in the kitchen (I love to cook, in fact I wanted to be chef before sommelier) and spending the evening enjoying, sharing and having fun with friends… that’s my idea of conviviality.

Do you have any special tips that you would like to share?

Just like a magician, I would say I can’t.

Next time you’re at Halaveli don’t forget to ask our Sommelier team to take you on a tour of our superb wine cellars.

Recipe: Naan Bread

The perfect accompaniment to a curry, this Naan Bread recipe from the kitchens of Constance Halaveli is quick and easy to make.

Jing restaurant at Constance Halaveli Resort

Jing restaurant

  • 300g flour
  • 5g baking powder
  • 10g salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 100ml water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 50ml oil
  • 1 egg

1. Sift the salt and baking powder into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
2. Mix the sugar, milk, eggs, and oil in a bowl.
3. Pour this into the centre of the flour and knead adding water if necessary to form a soft dough.
4. Add the remaining oil and knead again then cover with a damp cloth, leave for 2-3 hours.
5. About half an hour before the naan is required, turn on the oven to 200°C.
6. Divide the naan into 8 balls and allow to rest for 3-4 minutes.
7. Shape each ball of dough with the palms of your hands to make an oval shape.
8. Bake the naan bread until they are puffed up and golden brown.

Try this naan bread with our delicious Constance Chicken and Prawn Curry in coconut milk

Top tips for sourcing great saké

Our Head Sommelier, Jerome Faure shares his top tips for finding top quality saké , and how to enjoy it at its best.

Lounge Bar at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Lounge Bar at Le Prince Maurice

The quality of saké varies greatly. Once you’ve tasted really good saké there’s no looking back. Your taste buds will revel in a fine and very delicate drink.

Similar principles apply as for wine, although in the case of saké particular care needs to be taken. It’s often best kept chilled and should not be kept longer than 3 days once the bottle has been opened.

Top saké tips

  • Check the date it was bottled – it should be less than 1 year ago. Except for a few rare exceptions, saké should be drunk young.
  • Saké should be colourless
  • Buy a Ginjo, or even better a Daiginjo premium saké
  • Drink it chilled (7-9°C)
  • Drink it with fish and vegetable dishes, white meat, pasta or even cheese but not with red meat
  • Avoid pepper or chilli with it
  • Above all: Enjoy

Constance sommeliers can help you choose a great saké

Our sommeliers had the opportunity to listen to Keith Norum, Export Director of Sake Masumi in the Nagano prefecture of Japan. Keith came specially to Mauritius to provide training to the sommeliers from Constance Belle Mare Plage and Constance Le Prince Maurice.

Our guests also had an opportunity to share some of Mr Norum’s knowledge during a special dinner at the Blue Penny Café.

Our sommeliers will be very happy to share their knowledge with you on your next Constance holiday.

Maldivian tuna balls – Gullah

Deliciously tasty, these tuna balls from the Maldives are simple to make and use many store cupboard basics. Perfect for a bank holiday lunch.

Gullah tuna balls

Gullah tuna balls

  • 400g tuna
  • 1kg potatoes, not too large
  • 100g onion (finely chopped)
  • 5g fresh red chilli (deseeded & finely chopped)
  • 10g garlic (finely chopped)
  • 3g turmeric powder
  • 8g ground cumin
  • 10g fresh coriander leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Spread a layer of salt on a baking sheet and arrange the potatoes on top.
2. Bake until a little overcooked, about 30 minutes. Let them sit until cool enough to handle, cut in half, and scoop out the flesh.
3. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer or grate them on the large holes of a box grater.
4. Combine remaining ingredients and mix carefully. Form into approx 50g balls and refrigerate until they are firm which makes them easier to handle for the next step.
5. Prepare the following divided between 3 separate shallow trays:

  • flour seasoned with sea salt and ground white pepper
  • 50ml milk and 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 200g of Panko (Japanese) Bread Crumbs (not strictly traditional but we like Panko for its very crispy texture & presentation)

6. Remove your Gullah from the fridge and roll through the seasoned flour, patting off the excess to produce light coating.
7. Now with your left hand roll the floured ball through egg wash, lifting it out and rolling it in the palm of your hand to remove the excess egg wash before gently placing it in the bread crumbs. Roll your tuna ball through the bread crumbs with your right hand, until you have an even coating.
8. Deep fry until outside is golden brown and crisp.

Christopher Barber and team celebrate end of culinary festival

With bags almost packed in the knowledge of a job well done, the team behind the successful 7th edition of Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau head out to sea on a luxury catamaran to have some well earned fun.

Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius

Constance Belle Mare Plage

Here, Christopher Barber shares the day with us.

What sadness, the last day in paradise.

Yesterday was the final organised event - a catamaran trip along the coast, lunch on board washed down with copious amounts to drink.

Executive chef Dominique Grel is as comfortable looking after guests as he is in the kitchen. He is the ultimate professional, looking after everyone whilst having a great time himself. He epitomises everything that is wonderful about Constance Hotels and the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau - having fun, making friends and looking after people. He is ably assisted by Vincent and Guillaume from Belle Mare Plage, they exude friendship and charm, making sure that the chefs have an appropriate send off.

Star of the day is Angela Hartnett’s boyfriend Neil Borthwick. He sings, dances, swims and drinks, bringing a smile to everyone’s face.

Bruno Le Gac and team with Patrick Bittner

Bruno Le Gac and team with Patrick Bittner

The Constance team have once again shown us that gastronomy alone is not enough - great food and hospitality is also about people and personality. Through the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau, they have shown the world that they have this in abundance.

Behind the scenes photos of the final festival dinner

Visit our Constance Facebook page to see some wonderful photos of the Michelin* chefs and island cooks preparing the 6* dinner on the final night of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

Top sommelier Enrico Bernardo inspires the Constance team

Enrico Bernardo, named Best Sommelier in the World in 2004, was on this year’s Jury for the 7th edition of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

Enrico Bernardo

Enrico Bernardo

While in Mauritius, Enrico took the opportunity to talk to our sommeliers about his work. A real inspiration to the team, he talked about his earlier career as a chef and how it led him to become a sommelier.

‘Anyone can become a sommelier. You have to want to learn -  above all about appellations, terroirs and the history of the country.’

This is a humble man who has passed his dream and passion for his work onto our sommeliers.

Enrico Bernardo’s rise to success as a world class sommelier

  • 1993 – Best Young Chef in Europe
  • 1995 – Prix Master de Port Italie
  • 1996 et 1997 – Best Sommelier in Lombardy
  • 1996 et 1997 – Best Sommelier in Italy
  • 1998 et 2000 – Second in Best Sommelier in Europe
  • 2002 – Best Sommelier in Europe
  • 2004 – Best Sommelier in the World