Cookery holidays in Mauritius

With the trend for cookery holidays growing year on year many holidaymakers are looking further afield to expand their culinary horizons.

Cookery holidays in Mauritius

Cookery holidays in Mauritius

Learning to cook the national food of the country you visit on holiday can be a fascinating insight into the place itself.

In a recent article for Gourmet Travel, Laura Archer recommended visitors to Mauritius take cookery classes to get a step ahead with the new trend for Mauritian cuisine.

At Constance Le Prince Maurice and Constance Belle Mare Plage guests are offered the opportunity to take cookery lessons with one of our world-class chefs who will introduce them to the use of local spices and flavours.

Classes are two hours long and take place in one of our professional kitchens. They are available to book right up to the day before.

The type of dishes you will learn to cook may include:

  • Creole style fish salad and vegetable samoussa
  • Steamed prawns with kaffir lime, pineapple with spicy salt, tapioca and coconut milk
  • Chicken cooked with garam masala.

Classes at Constance Belle Mare Plage also include a 15-minute session with one of our experienced sommeliers who will offer advice on wines to pair with the dishes you have learnt to cook.

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Norwegian TV-personality of the year Eyvind Hellstrøm in Mauritius

At last week’s Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau in Mauritius we caught up with Eyvind Hellstrøm, Norwegian TV-personality of the year in 2013, former 2 Michelin star chef, author of dozens of cook books and member of the Bocus d’Or jury since 1993. Interview by Peter Bojesen of Luxury Aficionados.

Eyvind Hellstrøm

Eyvind Hellstrøm

This is the second year in a row that Eyvind has sat on the jury of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. I ask him to compare this year’s performance of the chefs to that of 2013. ‘Difficult to say – but maybe the level was marginally higher this year, he answers. ‘Surprisingly, all the vegetarian starters looked almost identical this year, colourful and beautifully presented – almost as if the chefs had copied each other… Luckily, they did not taste the same,’ the charismatic 66-year old Norwegian adds with a smile.

Eyvind tells me that the jury was in agreement regarding the outcome of the competition. ‘One of the very interesting features about the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau is the fact that the jury members come from different cultural backgrounds. A Chinese food critic, two 3-Michelin star chefs, one being Spanish but working in Germany, the other French, Mme Loiseau with her scientific background in microbiology and biochemistry apart from being the reference in French “art de vivre” – and myself, representing the Nordic cuisine. This means that our perspectives in regards to culinary matters often differ, leading to interesting and healthy discussions. When it comes to the actual voting, I see that the French often are somewhat tougher on the candidates than the rest of us, which may be due to the long standing tradition of a strict hierarchy in the kitchens of la Haute Cuisine Française.’

Once again, Eyvind Hellstrøm is impressed by the smooth running of the event. ‘Like last year, the organisation of the Festival – both professionally as well as socially – has been close to perfect,’ he says, ‘and the wonderful atmosphere between the 12 chefs is really quite unique. On a personal level, I have had the pleasure of meeting two new very interesting personalities on the jury, Juan Amador Perez from Spain and Bob Miao from China. So it is not only the chefs taking part in the actual competition who get to establish new, international friendships – it is certainly also an added benefit to the members of the jury.’

Following judging, Eyvind was heading back to Copenhagen for the filming of next season’s edition of Master Chef Norway. ‘Until the end of June, I have to be in Copenhagen every Monday and Thursday to shoot the TV-show, which will mean a lot of travelling back and forth from my home in Oslo,’ he says. But he must be doing something right, as Eyvind recently has been nominated Best Norwegian TV-presenter of the year – an award he won in 2012 as well as in 2013.

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Leading female sommelier wins at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Cheryline Coulon from Constance Le Prince Maurice won this year’s Wine Competition at the 9th edition of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau in Mauritius.

Cheryline Coulon, sommelier at Le Prince Maurice

Cheryline Coulon, sommelier at Le Prince Maurice

Cheryline tells her story of how she’s found her place as one of the rising sommelier stars in Mauritius.

I had the opportunity to start my career in France, in the largest palaces of the Cote d’Azur in Nice in 2006, including the Palais de la Méditerranée, Le Méridien and Sol Cala Di Ajaccio in Corsica.

In 2009 I got a big break when I had the opportunity to learn and share extensively with industry professionals in the champagne bar ‘L’Effervescence’ in the Old Town, Nice. From that moment my love and passion for wine has not stopped evolving.

On my return to Mauritius in 2010, I started working at Constance Belle Mare Plage and then moved onto Le Prince Maurice. Constance is a pioneer in this field, and attaches great importance to food and wine.

The Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau is an extraordinary experience for everyone involved. It’s a trying week both mentally and physically but it also offers unforgettable encounters with Star Chefs from around the world. Do not forget the wine and cuisine walking hand in hand. A good dish should be highlighted by wine and vice versa, this is what is known as the triad.

The festival is also an opportunity for us candidates to excel, to question, to see our limitations and to improve.

I am delighted to have won the title of Best Sommelier Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014 and to have had the honour to represent Constance Le Prince Maurice. I am now taking part in the competition of the Best Sommelier of Mauritius 2014.

In the words of David Biraud (Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2004): “I have known many more defeats than victories, but the important thing is to get up and persevere.”

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Journey into South African wine country Part 2

Continuing on the trail of our Constance sommeliers’ journey in South Africa to source some of the finest wines from the country to bring back for our guests, Jerome Faure reveals what they found on the final days of the tour.

South African wines: Jerome meets the team at La Vierge Wines

South African wines: Jerome meets the team at La Vierge Wines

Day 3

Having stayed at the Hamilton Russell vineyard in the morning we had a tasting of the Hamilton Russell range. Selected from 3 terroirs (Southern Right, Ashbourne and Hamilton Russell) the wines included the Chardonnay 10, 11, 12 Hamilton Russell and the Pinot Noir 10, 11, 12 Hamilton Russell. Amongst the white wines the 2011 stands out for its lively wine with a fresh taste and good minerals. For the reds the highlight was the 2012, an intense wine, complex with good concentration.

Staying in the Hemel-en-Aarde region next we visited Creation, where Swiss winemaker Jean Claude Martin and his wife Carolyn Martin of the Finlayson family create a wide range of wines which each nicely express the terroir.

From there we ventured to the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde valley to visit Newton Johnson, a family run business. We tried the 2012 wines from the new terroirs – Mrs M with sandy soil next to a river, Block 6 with a combination of sandy and clay soil, Windandsea with clay soil on the top of the slope. We found that the sandy soil gave the wines elegance and finesse and the clay gave roundness, structure and freshness.

Next we visited one of the Alheit Vineyards where the Cartology they produce may be the best wine in South Africa. Now in its third vintage it is a very exciting wine with complexity and freshness. At Alheit their ambition is to create the best Chenin of the Western Cape so the 2012 Radio Lazarus uses only old vines, 18 barrels from a single vineyard.

At Crystalum Wines we tasted the Pinot Noir which had body and structure but was still fine and elegant. The Chardonnay had a nice balance with finesse and complexity. Definitely a winemaker I will be following in the future.

Day 4

Staying in the breathtaking Hemel-en-Aarde Valley our last stop was to La Vierge Wines. A new winemaker joined this still very young vineyard last year and made his first vintage in 2013. Having worked for 10 years in Martinborough, his focus is very much on the terroir. During our tasting we discovered wines of elegance and finesse on top of intense fruit aromas. This is another winemaker to follow.

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Italian chef to create a Mediterranean feast at Constance Moofushi

Nicolino Lalla

Nicolino Lalla

In our quest to offer guests an exciting culinary experience we have invited leading Italian chef Nicolino Lalla to cook for guests at Constance Moofushi.

Nicolino will be creating a sumptuous Mediterranean dinner at Moofushi’s Alizee Beach Grill Restaurant, with a special wine pairing by Head Sommelier Nash, on 16 and 23 April.

With more than 15 years experience cooking for fine-dining restaurants including Baglioni Hotel in London, Paresa Resort and Le Meridien Beach resort in Phuket, Nicolino specialises in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

As a chef, his passion lies in sourcing and using the very freshest seasonal ingredients.

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Interview with Swedish chef Jacob Holmström

Jacob Holmström, the 32-year old Swedish chef was born and raised in a family of restaurant owners. Jacob is the owner of restaurant Gastrologik, which opened in Stockholm in June 2011 and got his first Michelin star two years later.

Jacob Holmstrom with teammate Sandy Sokalingum, of Constance Lémuria Seychelles

Jacob Holmstrom with teammate Sandy Sokalingum, of Constance Lémuria Seychelles

At the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau prize-giving ceremony in Mauritius this weekend, Jacob and his partner chef Sandy Sokalingdum, who presently works as chef de partie at Constance Lémuria in the Seychelles, finally learned that they had reached the second highest step on the winner’s podium.

‘Of course it is a little disappointing finishing second in the competition,’ Jacob tells me, ‘and saying that, I especially think of Sandy, who is a very talented chef, who ends up so close to the coveted prize of a stay in an European gourmet restaurant – and yet so far. But he is young, and I hope that he will be back next year. But saying that, I also must congratulate Masachi Ijichi and Dammika Sarath with their well-deserved win, which is even more impressive when you know that they had to work through an interpreter,’ Jacob says with a smile.

The past week has been a fabulous experience for Jacob – not only professionally, but also socially. ‘Among the many positive experiences of the Festival is meeting five very nice colleagues. And in spite of the fact that all of us have fought hard to win, I now leave Mauritius with five new friends from five European countries. The actual competition is unique in its format, and I have really enjoyed every minute of my stay, both inside the kitchens of Constance Belle Mare Plage as well as outside.

The location of the event is absolutely spectacular, the weather has been perfect, and the organisation of the competition flawless. In addition to having established new friendships, I also leave the resort with newfound taste buds and some new spices and vegetables, which I may well introduce in my own restaurant,’ the easygoing young Swede happily tells me.

I ask Jacob about his style of cooking. ‘In short it is simple, clean and focused on the produce,’ he says. ‘ I especially love cooking fish and shellfish, and in Gastrolologik we only use produce from Sweden – except seafood, which we get from the crystal clear waters of the Norwegian fjords. I find inspiration everywhere as most chefs. But the most important source is definitely the produce itself. And my 10 days of cooking and meeting new people here in Mauritius have definitely been inspiring in more ways than one.’

Interview by Peter Bojesen of Luxury Aficionados.

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