Art de Vignes celebrates fine dining and wine in Mauritius

The talented wine growers of Art de Vignes will be celebrating a week of gastronomy at Constance Le Prince Maurice and Constance Belle Mare Plage from 20-26 May 2012.

Blue Penny Cafe

Fine dining at Blue Penny Cafe, Belle Mare Plage

Art de Vignes is a club of passionate, dedicated wine growers from French wine-producing regions: Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Corsica, the Jura, the Loire and Rhone.

Organised in collaboration with Jerome Faure, our Head Sommelier, the event is now in its third year. Throughout the week we celebrate fine dining and exceptional wines from the six French winemakers, who also attend the dinner.

Guests at our 2 hotels in Mauritius can enjoy this wonderful opportunity to taste rare wines from the Art de Vignes club, and to meet and discuss their passion for wine with the winegrowers. Add to this the famous culinary delights of our talented Constance chefs and you can see why this is an unmissable foodie event.

Highlights of the week

Sunday 20 May

  • Alphonse Mellot – Sancerre Domain La Moussiere
    Special lobster dinner at Indigo Restaurant, Belle Mare Plage
Monday 21 May
  • Olivier Decelle – Maury Mas Amiel/St Emilion GC Jean Faure
    Mauritian cuisine at Deer Hunter Restaurant, Belle Mare Plage
Tuesday 22 May
  • Thierry Germain – Saumur – Domaine des Roches Neuves
    When Val de Loire meets the Sega – at L’Archipel, Le Prince Maurice
Wednesday 23 May
  • Jean-Marc Boillot – Pommard/Puligny-Montrachet
    Recipes from Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau at La Spiaggia, Belle Mare Plage
Thursday 24 May
  • Marc Perrin – Chateauneuf du Pape – Beaucastel
    4 hands menu at L’Archipel, Le Prince Maurice
Friday 25 May
  • Christine Vernay – Condrieu – Cote Rotie – Georges Vernay
    Summer scents and spices of Syrah and Viognier at La Spiaggia, Belle Mare Plage

Find out more on our Constance Hotels Experience website.

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.

Two days until the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Excitement is building in Mauritius as the stage is set for our fabulous culinary celebration – the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2012.

Island chefs in kitchen at Bernard Loiseau festival 2011

Island chefs in kitchen at Bernard Loiseau festival 2011

This week-long festival starts on Sunday 25 March. We’ll be posting every day to bring you the latest action, insight and photos as our 6 island chefs train with their European Michelin* chefs in preparation for the final cook-off competition on Thursday 29th and prize-giving on Saturday 31 March. We’ll also be a running a fun competition and lots more.

As the Michelin* chefs and judges fly into the island, it reads like a who’s who of the most accomplished stars in the world of food and wine.

The judges are:

  • Christopher Barber – former personal chef to the Prince of Wales
  • Enrico Bernardo – world class sommelier
  • Patrick Bertron – protege of Bernard Loiseau and world class chef
  • Serge Vieira – world class chef
  • Dominique Loiseau – wife of Bernard Loiseau and founder of the festival
  • Claus Meyer – co-owner of Noma

The  Michelin* chefs are:

  • Fabrine Biasolo
  • Patrick Bittner
  • Jacques Decoret
  • Dominique Gauthier
  • Angela Hartnett
  • David Johansen

 The island chefs are:

  • Ankur Daru – Ephelia, Seychelles
  • Kamlesh Doorjean – Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius
  • Nuwan Hiettiarachchi – Halaveli, Maldives
  • Ravish Mukri – Moofushi, Maldives
  • Jayram Seenanum – Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius
  • Hildy Sinon – Lemuria, Seychelles

Find out more

 

A-Z of our Constance culinary spirit

Bruno Le Gac, our Corporate Executive Chef, reveals his A-Z of the Constance culinary spirit.

Fresh lobster at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina
Fresh lobster at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina

A: Artists

Our pastry chefs are artists. Passionate about their job, they invest a lot of time in searching for inspiration, developing their skills and techniques. They regularly participate in competitions and regularly bring back medals to their resort. In Constance Lémuria Resort of Praslin, everyone knows Chef Seedheeyan (he welcomes you on the buffet in the morning). Next time you go there, ask him to show you his pictures… and look at his smile.

In Mauritius, our chefs are already working on the next ‘fête du pain’, featuring art pieces made entirely of bread dough. I can’t wait to see what our bakers will create.

B: Bernardaud

Fantastic ‘porcelaine deLimoges’. Bernardaud is always creating new innovative lines, reinventing the shapes and design of the perfect plate, bowl or cup. Chefs normally get their inspiration from a product. Sometimes, the starting point is a plate and the question the chef asks himself is ‘what am I going to create on this beautiful plate?’. I see Bernardaud as true partners of our creativity.

C: Curry

Mauritius is a land of curry, and so are the Seychelles and Maldives. They are all very varied, and every chef, every house, every family probably has a different recipe.

At Constance Belle Mare Plage, we grind the spices ourselves using a traditional method. We crush the ingredient on a slab of lava stone, using a roll also made of stone (the baba cari). It’s definitely worth trying – the texture is so much better.

Dragonfruit

Dragonfruit

D: Dragonfruit

Dragonfruit may not be the tastiest fruit but have you ever seen anything more beautiful? The purple ones are a natural work of art. Inspired by a trip to Mexico, I like to splash its delicate flesh with a bit of lime juice, and sprinkle it with salt. It’s so refreshing.

E: Executive chef

Executive chef is a very difficult – but fantastic – job. An executive chef is not only a good chef. He must be a complete manager, and master of many different talents, skills and techniques. The executive chef is the boss of the kitchens and with teams of more than 100 people in some of our resorts, he must also be a great inspiring leader.

This March during the Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau, all our executive chefs will be in Mauritius for a week of fun, exchange, sharing and learning from each other. They will propose an amazing 14 hands dinner at Deer Hunter restaurant that is not to be missed.

F: Fish

At our island resorts, our guests naturally expect plenty of great quality fish. We take a lot of care in choosing our products, and there is a wide variety of fish dishes available in all our resorts. Look for fresh yellowfin tuna tartar at Constance Moofushi Resort, Maldives, baked whole bourgeois fish in Creole spices at Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles, home-cured sailfish marinated with olive oil and served with crispy fresh palmtree at Constance Belle Mare Plage.

G: Giraffe

Any idea what a ‘giraffe’ is?

It’s a common name in kitchens for a very large mixer, used to blend large quantities of soup, liquid etc… It takes its name from the shape of its rod, long and curved like the neck of a giraffe. At Constance Hotels Experience, we do not use giraffes. We prefer to prepare smaller quantities at a time, keep it fresh and blended with smaller yet more versatile hand mixers.

H: Hobart, Tasmania

I am very proud to announce that our culinary team at Constance Belle Mare Plage will be representing Mauritius in the great final of the Black Box competition organized by MLA (meat and livestock Australia) in Hobart at the end of May 2012.

They have qualified during the national final, and will have the honour to compete against more than 20 national teams from all over the world.

I: International

Our team is very international. I’ve lost count of how many nationalities are working in our kitchens, bars and restaurants. Here are just a few I can remember: Mauritian, Seychellois, Maldivian, Malagasi, French, New Zealander, Australian,  German, South African, Moroccan, Indian, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Burmese, Chinese, Kenyan, Bangladeshi, Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai, Nepalese…

Jing restaurant, Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives
Jing restaurant

J: Jing

Jing is our ‘Asian chic’ fine dining restaurant at Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives. At Jing, you can also dine on high chairs that face the kitchen, which allows you to follow all the action in the show kitchen. The chef can design a bespoke menu that is prepared in front of you. One thing that cannot be missed: chef Glen Cooper’s chocolate fondant with Thai green curry ice cream. It’s unique.

K: Kids are welcome

Once in a while I enjoy spending a weekend or holiday at a nice resort with the family. It’s amazing to say but sadly I don’t feel that my kids are always welcome. They are not particularly loud or obnoxious, but one can tell from the attitude of the staff that they are dreaming of a planet with no children. Sounds familiar?

At Constance Hotels Experience we love kids – and they love us too. Our program ‘mini chefs’ features a tour of the kitchen full of fun and discoveries, kiddy cooking lessons and so much more. Running on the beach is allowed and so is having fun.

L: Lychees

In Mauritius, during the season of lychees (the best ones are in December/January) you can see large piles of them for sale along the side of the road. Lychees are picked ripe from the tree, and they literally explode with juice and flavour when you crack the skin open. It’s an experience not to be missed, a delicious gift of the gods and they are so good, they don’t need anything else.

Staff at Constance Le Prince Maurice

First class service at Constance hotels

M: Men

Men… and women. At Constance Hotels Experience we believe that our most precious capital is the men and women working together towards the ultimate guests’ experience. Some of our staff have been in the company for more than 25 years. At Constance Belle Mare Plage, Maitre D’ Christian Poché has seen 3 generations of fans of our hotels. We are now serving the grandchildren who will for sure come in a few years with their own children.

In our resorts, our guests are not a room number, they are part of the family.

N: Network

Chef’s World is a very small world. At Constance Hotels Experience we entertain a very close network with some of the best professionals in the world. Many are friends, some are guests. Most of them are both.

It’s great to be so remote from the real world and remain connected at the same time. The internet is the best friend of an island chef, and so is the professional press. But nothing compares to a few days of holiday touring the best restaurants of Singapore, seeing the freshest products in the summer markets ofFrance, sampling the latest creations of our favourite producers.

At the present moment, Chef Michael Scioli from Constance Le Prince Maurice is following the famous Omnivore culinary festival in Paris, while our head sommelier Jerome Fauré is touring the best vineyards of Burgundy. We never stop.

O: Octopus

In the Seychelles, we like to prepare octopus in a fresh salad with thinly sliced onions, strips of tomato, preserved lemon, grated ginger, chunks of cucumber, chopped coriander and flat parsley, and of course a touch of chilli. Lemon juice, a dash of extra virgin olive oil (preferably the ‘robust’ from Dandaragan Estate in Australia) and lots of pleasure. A chilled Seybrew (Seychellois local beer) and the breathtaking views of Port Launay marine park just in front. This could be my own definition of paradise…

P: Patrick Bertron

Patrick Bertron has been working with the great Bernard Loiseau for more than 20 years, and he took over the kitchen when his master disappeared. He has now developed his own cuisine, still respecting the bases taught by the famous chef, and is now the sole holder of his three Michelin stars. Every year, during Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau, he shares his knowledge, wisdom and talent with us.

We share many values as well as mutual respect. Constance Hotels Experience is very proud to know Patrick Bertron and to have built such a strong relationship together.

Sashimi at Constance Hotels Experience

Luxury food with the finest attention to detail

Q: Quality

Quality is an obsession for us. This is a word we pronounce several times a day. In the kitchen, it all starts with quality produce. The rest follows naturally.

R: Ribs

In our restaurant Adam & Eve at Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles, we like to prepare delicious pork spare ribs, heavily basted in our secret marinade, and served with grilled fresh pineapple from the hills of Mahé. Spare ribs should of course be eaten with your hands. The restaurant is very casual, sand flooring, tropical music… the perfect place to indulge.

S: Salvino

Chef Salvino Crivellari is a fantastic chef and a great friend. He is what we call a ‘freelance’ chef, and one of the best specialists I know of the classical, traditional Italian food. He helps us every year in our different units to perform training and share his talents and fabulous taste with us.

Our Italian guests regularly come to us with a smile and say: ‘I know this food was prepared by an Italian chef’. Thank you Salvino for being part of the Constance family.

T: Tequila

At Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives, we are crazy about tequila. The idea most people have about tequila is very different from the extraordinary range and variety of flavours, aromatic complexity and richness that can be found in the best tequilas. Just drop by the main bar at Halaveli and let our bartender surprise you.

U: U’luwka vodka

This famous extra super premium vodka is available in all our bars at Constance Halaveli Resort. You can also order a smaller bottle through our In Villa Dining service, and enjoy your favourite drink in your villa, while watching the sun go down.

V: Vanilla

Every time I go to Madagascar, I always make sure that I stop at Nosy Bé market to buy fresh vanilla. There are plenty of people selling this fantastic product there but there is only one lady who always has the best quality available. It’s such a pleasure to pick up a fat, utterly fragrant and extra glossy bunch of fresh vanilla beans and smell it, touch it, feel it. Each bunch weights 1 kilo. It’s a privilege that few people get the chance to enjoy.

W: Wow

One of my favourite words, it says so much in just 3 letters. When our chefs find the perfect recipe and I try the dish for the first time, I always feel emotion. When I am ‘wowed’ I always make sure that every member of the team knows about it. A chef, a cook, a sommelier, a waiter’s utmost pleasure is to see the guest surprised and delighted. It’s the best reward you can get in this job.

X: Xocoatl

The ancient name for chocolate in the Aztec language. We are absolute fans of chocolate. With Easter coming soon, it’s a great occasion for our pastry chefs to showcase their talent and creativity. At Blue Penny Café, with their coffee, guests are presented a chocolate menu featuring the best creations by Chef Thierry. The chocolates are presented in a lovely lacquered box, just like jewels.

Y: Yes

At Constance Hotels Experience, we don’t like to say no to the special requests of our guests. A specific diet? Allergic to one or more ingredient? You don’t like the garnish and want something else? You are craving something that is not on our menus? Our chefs will meet you personally and find the solution. Holidays should be a pleasure so just relax, and we take care of the rest.

Z: Zébu

In Madagascar, zébus are all over the place. At Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar, Chef Claude Raherivelo likes to prepare its delicious flesh in 2 different ways – raw in a carpaccio, just sprinkled with chopped fresh herbs and marinated oil, and grilled in mignons to be served with a compote of onions with mustard and voatsiperifery pepper.

Rougail of sea bass with cèpe mushrooms and black lentils

This warming and nutritious fish rougail, served with rice and lentils, is perfect for a weekend meal when you can take your time preparing, and then enjoying. your food.

Beach dining at Constance Moofushi Resort

Relaxed beach dining

Serves 4
Preparation time:
1 hour
Cooking time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Soaking time for lentils: 30 minutes

For the rougail

  • 4 seabass steaks
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 400g small tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp thick tomato coulis
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs parslety
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 1 fresh green chilli
  • 5 sprigs fresh coriander, chopped
  • 300g fresh cèpe mushrooms
  • salt and pepper

For the fricassed black lentils

  • 100g black lentils
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 3 curry leaves
  • 3 tomatoes
  • salt and pepper

1. Soak the lentils for 30 minutes.
2. Prepare the rougail by cutting each fish steak into 4 pieces. Peel onion and garlic, chop them separately, as well as fresh coriander and curry leaves. Finely dice the tomatoes.
3. Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides, then fry them in oil for 2 or 3 minutes on each side until golden. Set aside.
4. In the same pan, sauté onions, garlic and ginger for 3 minutes without colouring. Add tomatoes, let stew and reduce for 15 minutes on low heat. Add thyme, parsley, curry leaves, chilli and tomato coulis. Cook for 20 minutes on low heat.
5. Slice the cèpes, add salt and pepper, then pan-sear them on high heat for a few moments. Add fish and cèpes to the sauce and let it stew for 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water. Correct seasoning, then sprinkle with chopped coriander.
6. Prepare the black lentil fricassée: peel the onion and garlic, chop them separately. Finely dice tomatoes.
7. Fry onion in a little oil in a saucepan, then add chopped garlic and ginger. Stew for 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, let them stew and reduce for 10 minutes.
8. Add black lentils, thyme and curry leaves, 50cl water, salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, then correct seasoning.
9. Serve the rougail hot, with plain boiled white rice and the lentils on the side.

 

In the kitchen, I can’t live without…

 

Microplane

Versatile microplane

In our new series, we take a look behind the scenes of the high-functioning kitchens at our Constance resorts to find out what kitchen equipment our chefs use time and time again.

Here, Chef Dominique Grel, Executive Chef of Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius reveals a Microplane is his must-have gadget in the kitchen.

Tired of your old Parmesan cheese grater that doesn’t grate? Or fed up with your lemon zester that mashes the zest instead of grating it?

Buy a Microplane. They’re sharp. They’re versatile. And they look cool.

At La Spiaggia restaurant, I like to serve a beautiful and healthy salad with seasonal vegetables, elegantly sliced in thin shavings using the microplane.

Season with Dandaragan (a great olive oil from Australia which comes in 3 characters: fruity, delicate of robust), kalamata olives and chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano.

 

Simple to prepare and delicious to eat.

What’s your favourite piece of kitchen equipment?

Do you have a favourite piece of kitchen equipment you use time and again? We’d love to hear from you. You can post a comment on our blog below, or to Constance Facebook or Twitter @constancehotels.