Finally, it’s cooking time… Day 2 at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Bringing daily highlights from the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau in Mauritius, Peter Bojesen, luxury travel and food journalist, is at the heart of the action at Constance Belle Mare Plage.

In the kitchen - Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014

In the kitchen – Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014

After 24 hours of intense talks, the six teams taking part in the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau finally found themselves in front of the pianos in the kitchen of Constance Belle Mare Plage early Tuesday morning, 1 April 2014.

British star chef, Tim Allen has been raring to start cooking since he arrived in Mauritius, and I have the distinct feeling that the others have felt the same way, including the Island chefs. Cooking is their passion, and cooking is the reason why they all find themselves in this beautiful, sun drenched country in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Today is the day, when the strategies of yesterday laid out by each team shall be tested, implemented and tasted.

‘Are we on the right track? Do the two dishes live up to the credo of Bernard Losieau: “The taste, gentlemen, the taste”?

‘Is the recipe too complicated for the island chef to make all by himself on the final day? Can he/she create eight identical starters and 8 identical main dishes within the four hour time frame? Have all the compulsory items been properly used in the menu?’

These questions and many others have to be answered by no later than Wednesday afternoon.

Swedish chef Jacob Holmstrom tells me that he has had some rather heated discussions with his partner Sandy Sokalindum, who normally works at the luxurious Constance Lémuria in the Seychelles. Jacob likes to keep things simple (which is by no means easy to prepare – rather the contrary), while Sandy is used to a more elaborate cuisine.

And this is a perfect example of what the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau is all about – sharing ideas between professional chefs with different cultural backgrounds and traditions. Jacob feels that the exchange with Emmanuel is healthy and mentally challenging, and he is convinced that it can only lead to a better end result. He and Sandy obviously hope that the six jury members agree when they convene on Thursday afternoon, 3 April.

The atmosphere in the kitchen is slowly starting to change. From a very relaxed start in the morning to a more tense and nervous mood as the hours pass by. The game is heating up, the race towards the top of the podium is on. And time is running out…

Here’s a glimpse of the action from Day 1 at the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

 

 

Chocolate recipes for Easter

The seed of the cacao tree has been considered a precious delicacy for over 4,000 years.

Chocolate recipes: Lémuria’s chocolate and coconut nougat nest with chocolate ganache

Chocolate recipes: Lémuria’s chocolate and coconut nougat nest with chocolate ganache

From its origins as a medical cure via a religious offering to its position today as one of the world’s favourite treats, chocolate has become an integral part of many cultures around the world.

In recent years scientists have even come to agree with the ancient Mayans that it has important medicinal properties because of its richness in large flavonoid molecules known to help maintain cardiovascular health.

To get you in the mood for some chocolate-indulgence this Easter, here’s the first of a selection of chocolate recipes from our sweet-toothed chefs at Constance.

Recipe I: Halaveli’s Chocolate ice cream

Ingredients

  • 2kg full fat milk
  • 90g milk powder
  • 200g sugar
  • 180g invert sugar
  • 12g stabiliser
  • 540g guanaja chocolate

1. Take some of the sugar and mix with the stabiliser. Heat the milk powder.

2. At 30ºC add the sugar and inverted sugar.

3. At 45ºC add the sugar and stabiliser mixture and the chopped or melted chocolate. Mix vigorously and let cool in the fridge or freezer.

4. Leave for 4-12 hours at +4ºC, then mix vigorously with an electric mixer to obtain a homogeneous mass. Store at -18ºC and serve between
-10ºC and -12ºC.

Recipe II: Lémuria’s chocolate and coconut nougat nest with chocolate ganache

Ingredients (serves 4)

Chocolate and coconut nougat nest:

  • 250g fresh coconut (prepared in julienne style)
  • 500g white sugar
  • 15g vanilla essence
  • 5g nutmeg powder
  • 125g dark chocolate

1. Heat a saucepan and add the sugar, let it melt until it’s golden brown caramel then add the fresh coconut followed by the vanilla and nutmeg.

2. Stir well and add the dark chocolate, mix until the chocolate melts.

3. Place the nougat in a paper case in the shape of a nest and let it set.
Top with little candy Easter eggs.

Chocolate ganache:

Ingredients

  • 500g fresh cream
  • 500g dark chocolate semi-sweet

1. Boil the cream and pour on to the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted.

2. Let it cool down, then pour on to the coco nests.

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2 ways to cook fish in the Seychelles

Chef Aviraj Pareeague from Constance Lémuria shares his knowledge of fish and how to cook them Seychellois style.

Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

The Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands spreads over 1,200km, including large areas of national marine parks. Plentiful in the clear waters of our beautiful lagoons, fish is one of the main staples of Seychellois cuisine and features on everyone’s table almost every day.

Bourgeois (the most popular), Jobfish, Carangue, Vieille rouge, Vieille grise, Gueule longue, Bécune, Parrot fish, Madame berry, Maero, Kakatwa, Bonite… are found every day at the local markets or at stalls along the roads, caught and sold by local fishermen. The call of a conch shell announces a fresh catch and locals hurry to buy the fresh fish.

At Constance Lémuria, we have the freedom to create a selection of delectable dishes. But most of the time, thanks to the excellent quality of the product, a fish perfectly cooked, either steamed or grilled, with a Creole sauce, a side and some fresh vegetables, is just perfect.

Here is one of our Parrot fish recipes from the Beach Bar & Grill restaurant located on the beautiful Petite Anse Kerlan.

Recipe: Pan seared Parrot fish with local spices, breadfruit mash, banana curry, Chayote comfit and light curry sauce

Ingredients (Serves 2)

Breadfruit mash:

  • 400g breadfruit
  • 1L chicken stock
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 2g curry powder
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Peel the breadfruit and cut it into big chunks. Place it in an oven tray, cover with chicken stock, curry leaves, curry powder, salt and pepper and seal tight with aluminum foil.

Bake for 25 to 30 min at 180ºC (or till soft). Mash the breadfruit with butter and chicken stock (as needed to obtain a soft mash). Season to taste and set aside.

Fish in the Seychelles: Bourgeois

The vibrant Bourgeois

Banana curry:

  • 400g of banana St Jacques
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 30g chopped onions
  • 10g chopped garlic
  • 10g of chopped ginger
  • 4g turmeric
  • 4g curry powder
  • 20g of diced peeled tomatoes
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the banana St Jacques with their skins in boiling water for 30 min or till soft.

Cool down, remove the skin and grate the flesh. Set aside.

Sautée garlic, ginger and onion in butter till light brown then add curry leaves, turmeric, curry powder and mix together.

Add the grated banana to the pan and mix together well. Finally add the tomato. Season to taste.

Chayote confit:

  • 200g chayote
  • 6g aniseed
  • 6g sugar
  • 5g butter

Peel the chayote and slice it very thin (1mm). Comfit in a pan using the butter, sugar and aniseed for 5-6 min on a low heat. Set aside.

Light curry sauce:

  • 200ml fish stock
  • 30g chopped garlic
  • 20g chopped ginger
  • 20g of chopped onion
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 5g curry powder
  • 4g turmeric
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sautée in a pan the onion, garlic and ginger till light brown.

Add the curry powder, turmeric, curry leaves and mix well.

Add the fish stock and reduce by half. Now add the coconut milk powder and bring to the boil.

Blend the sauce. Pass it through sieve, montee with butter, season to taste.

Fish in the Seychelles

Fish in the Seychelles

For decoration:

  • 1 banana St Jacques
  • Sliced coconut
  • 10 curry leaves

Slice the banana longwise to a thickness of 1mm and deep fry in oil at 170ºC, then dry on paper towel.

Dry out the thin slices of coconut in an oven at 140ºC.

Deep fry the curry leaves in hot oil and dry on paper towel.

For presentation:

  • Sear the Parrot fish in oil and butter on both side and then finish the cooking in a hot oven
  • Heat the breadfruit mash and banana curry and place nicely in the bowl
  • Decorate with banana chips, dry coconut slice and deep fried curry leaves and lemon.
  • Place the sauce in a dip bowl

Recipe II: Fish Carpaccio

We couldn’t resist giving you this delicious carpaccio recipe… quick, healthy and delicious.

Ingredients (serves 10)

  • 3kg fish
  • 500g mixed salad
  • 50g chopped shallots
  • 500g carrots
  • 500g turnips
  • 500g oranges
  • 500g lime
  • Handful of parsley
  • 200ml Olive oil
  • Salt and white pepper powder to taste

Make your citrus dressing using orange and lime juice reduction, then whisk it with olive oil and add some mustard seed. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the fish in thin slices, place it flat on the plate then add sea salt, white pepper powder and chopped shallots, then add your dressing and petit crouton.

On top you can add your mixed salad together with your carrots, chopped in a julienne style, with olive oil and vinaigrette.

Visit our website for more information on Constance Lémuria.

 

7 adrenalin sports to try in Seychelles

If lounging in the sun isn’t your thing and you’re looking for something a bit more extreme, here’s our guide to 7 adrenalin sports to try in the Seychelles.

Adrenalin sports in the Seychelles - catamaran sailing

Adrenalin sports in the Seychelles – catamaran sailing

1. Ziplining

Get your pulse racing as you soar down a series of thrilling ziplines above the stunning Jurassic forest of Mahé in the hills behind Constance Ephélia.

2. Catamaran sailing

Feel the rush of the open water as you speed across the waves at up to 20mph with only the wind to power you.

3. Scuba diving

Come face to face with nature and feel the exhilaration of meeting grey reef sharks, octopus, eagle rays and schools of barracuda in the clear, warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

4. Water skiing/wakeboarding

Go as extreme as you like as you water ski or wakeboard in the wake of a high-powered speedboat. Try some tricks or just hang on for the ride through the stunning Seychellois seascape.

5. Rock climbing

Pit your nerve against the giant granite outcrops of the Seychelles with an 18-metre high natural granite climbing wall at Constance Ephélia. Set up for climbers of all levels there is a section designed to challenge even the most accomplished climbers.

Rock climbing at Constance Ephélia

Rock climbing at Constance Ephélia

6. Windsurfing/Kite surfing

From May to September the wind in the Seychelles picks up, particularly on the southeast coast, making it the perfect time to feel the buzz of speeding across the water on a windsurf or kite surf.

7. Mountain biking

Plunge yourself through the rough jungle terrain and forest trails of the Seychelles. Feel the excitement of exploring the islands’ interior with the rich tropical flora as well as completing a tough physical challenge.

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What’s on at the Seychelles International Carnival 2014

This year’s Seychelles International Carnival of Victoria (25 – 27 April) is set to be the most spectacular yet.

Victoria, the home of the Seychelles International Carnival

Victoria, the home of the Seychelles International Carnival

Victoria will be decorated with lights and banners to welcome revellers from around the world.

The carnival aims to celebrate the diverse ethnicities of the Seychelles as well as the different countries and cultures which are gathering in the Seychelles for the Carnival weekend.

Highlights of the three day event will include:

Day 1 – The official opening of the carnival

  • Live music
  • Live entertainment shows
  • An array of international food stalls.

Day 2 – Carnival procession day

  • A spectacular carnival procession including local and international floats celebrating the theme of ‘a melting pot of cultures’.

Day 3 – Family fun day

  • A day of festivities for all the family lasting into the night
  • Food stalls
  • Live bands (local and international).

Find out more about the Seychelles International Carnival of Victoria.

Visit our website to find out about staying at Constance Ephélia or Constance Lémuria this April or to make a booking.

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5 natural wonders of the Seychelles

The Seychelles, an archipelago of granite and coral islands, reefs and atolls, is blessed with a sublime tropical climate, and a rich and unique biodiversity.

The Seychelles

The Seychelles

With two UNESCO World Heritage sites, six marine national parks and countless areas of outstanding natural beauty it could be argued that the entire archipelago is a natural wonder.

Here is our list of 5 natural wonders of the Seychelles

1. Atoll of Aldabra

Top of any list of natural wonders of the Seychelles must come this collection of stunning coral islands set around a shallow lagoon and surrounded by a rich, vibrant reef. One of the largest atolls in the world, its location in a remote area of the Seychelles has meant that it has remained largely untouched, a fact now protected by its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a rich, largely endemic, biodiversity and the highest population of giant tortoises in the world.

2. Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve

The second UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Seychelles is the legendary Vallée de Mai on Praslin. Once believed to be the original Garden of Eden, this primeval palm forest is the home to many rare, endemic palms including the famous coco de mer. Wildlife includes the endemic black parrot, Seychelles kestrel, sunbird, Seychelles house snake, green and bronze geckos and six species of caecilian.

Port Launay National Marine Park

Port Launay National Marine Park

3. Grand Anse, La Digue

There are so many beautiful beaches in the Seychelles that it is difficult to pick any one out above the others. Grand Anse, on La Digue (a short boat ride from Praslin) does, however, epitomise what visitors are looking for when they come to a Seychellois beach. With its perfect white, powder sand, softly shaded granite boulders and clear, shallow waters it looks as if an artist has created a vision of a perfect beach and brought it to life. La Digue itself has many beautiful and rare species including the paradise flycatcher or ‘veuve’, swiftlets and sea turtles.

4. Port Launay National Marine Park

This stunning reef and natural seascape is the only marine park in the Seychelles accessible by both land and sea. Including 8 stunning beaches on the island of Mahé, the park offers fabulous snorkelling opportunities as well as the chance to spot whale sharks as they pass through the waters attracted by the rich plankton which accumulates here. Constance Ephelia overlooks the marine park.

5. Aride Island Nature Reserve

Home to one million breeding seabirds across 10 species, including the endemic magpie robins, fodies, brush warblers and blue pigeon, Aride Island is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Protected from human influence since 1973, Aride is the largest nature reserve of the granitic Seychelles islands and the only natural home of Wright’s Gardenia. It also has a rich population of reptiles and nesting turtles.

Where to stay in the Seychelles