Tag Archives: Alain Ducasse

Wolfgat Restaurant in Paternoster named Restaurant of the Year in the World Restaurant Awards!

A brand new international restaurant award system has named Wolfgat The Restaurant of the Year in the World Restaurant Awards, at a ceremony in Paris on Monday. The restaurant also won the award for Off-Map Destination. Three other top South African restaurants were nominated in categories of the World Restaurant Awards, from Cape Town, Somerset West, and Pretoria.  Continue reading →

Unique international top restaurant chef shuffle kept top secret!

hufflA unique culinary event, or rather 37 of them, took place almost simultaneously around the world last Thursday, whereby 37 of the world’s best chefs swapped their kitchens with those of another chef. The Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle dinners were sold out, reports Fine Dining Lovers. Unfortunately Africa was excluded from the global culinary event.

On its website Gelinaz! is described as a collective of international chefs, which pushes boundaries, performing food, and takes risks. They are hungry to discover new cultures, and to exchange knowledge. Rather than repeat themselves and their dishes, they explore the unknown. They zoom into ‘the beauty of nature, its elegant chaos and unending recreation‘. It is the fifth such event to have been held in the past two years. Each chef had to arrive in the swap city three days prior to the dinner, and was not allowed to bring ingredients from his/her home country. An 8-course menu was to be prepared, with the assistance of the staff of the restaurant,

Guests booked for the Shuffle dinners at identified restaurants, but the identity of the chef cooking for them on the

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World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards 2015: The Test Kitchen ranked 28th, El Celler de Can Roca number 1 restaurant in the world again!

World's 50 Best Restaurants logoChef Luke Dale-Roberts’ The Test Kitchen was named the 28th best restaurant in the world and Best in Africa, at the 14th The World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony in London last night, a 20 place climb from his 48th position last year, and 61st position in 2013.  El Celler de Can Roca was World's 50 Best Test Kitchenranked as the Best Restaurant in the World, the second time it has received this honour.  Regular winner Noma dropped to third place. Spain received the most 50 Best Restaurant Awards (7), followed by the USA (6), and France (5).  Both The Test Kitchen and World’s 50 Best Restaurants trended on Twitter last night.

El Celler de Can Roca is based in Giron in Spain, and is run by the three Roca brothers Josep, Joan,and Jordi, who opened their restaurant in 1986. They pioneered sous-vide cooking, and are described as creating ‘magic without undue theatrics’. Brother Joan is the head chef, Jordi is the Pastry Chef, and Josep is the Sommelier and Front of House.   In 2013 they were also named the best restaurant in the world. Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 17 October

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Top 5 restaurants based on service in the UK are: Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, The Fat Duck in Bray,
Carters in Birmingham. HKK in London, and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London.  Perhaps Eat Out could add such an evaluation to its Restaurant Awards?!

*  McGrath Collection Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff is opening Mondiall as a Brasserie in the former Green Dolphin Restaurant in the V&A Waterfront on 29 November with Patrick Symington, and Chef Oliver Cattermole as Head Chef. (received via media release from FIVESTAR PR)

*   Uma Thurman is the star chosen for the cover picture Continue reading →

Eat Out Conference 2012 links the heritage and future of food!

The inaugural Eat Out Conference, held at the The Westin hotel on the eve of the Eat Out DStv Food Network Top 10 Awards with a disappointing attendance of fewer than 100 delegates, was an interesting journey of food through its South African history beginning in 1652, culminating in the climax of the inspirational talk by Chef Massimo Bottura of fifth ranked Osteria Francescana on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Chef Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen, most likely to be crowned our country’s best Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant and Chef this evening, was meant to speak about ‘Food for thought, thought for food’, admitting that he is more comfortable cooking than he is at admin and public speaking.  He was inspired by the recent gathering of 200 international chefs organised by Alain Ducasse, at which it was emphasised: “I am a chef, it’s what I am, it’s what I make”. He said a chef would die if he/she were to stop evolving.  Every day inspires him, he said, as well as the seasons, and their change.  Chef Luke showed a number of videos, made by Dreamcatcher Productions, of the making of his ‘thematic food’, being as funky, beautiful, and vibey as his dishes, including ‘Sea’ (oysters on salt), ‘The Farm’, ‘The Forest’, ‘The Test Kitchen Egg‘ with foie gras in its middle, the more recent ‘Walk through citrus groves’ (which included a three citrus sorbet, and Campari and orange jelly), and ‘Red Cabbage Coral’, served in different styles, being raw, powdered, cooked, and as a jelly.  While Chef Luke did not address the theme of his talk, being more self-promotion focused, he earned the respect of the audience through the quality of his videos, and the beautiful dishes that he presented.

The presentation by UK food designer Andrew Stellitano and photographer Dominic Davies of sonnets on strands of pasta, laser cut biscuits, and more, went over the heads of most of the audience, especially the part entitled ‘Sensory experiences of the Cape’, via James Wannerton, who suffers from synaethesia, a condition in which two of the five senses are dissonant.  Fun was his taste association, via Google Maps, of Table Mountain with pear drops, the Epping Market with chocolate digestives, and Paarl with ‘Gobstoppers’, all of which we were given to taste.

Margot Janse, Chef of The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français for the past 17 years, has a record number of ten Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant awards, more than any of the other 18 chefs she is competing against tonight.  Africa is Chef Margot’s inspiration. She has lived in Africa for 23 years, coming to South Africa from Lusaka, and down to the Cape at the time at which Mr Mandela had just been released.  This opened up a whole new world for culinary South Africa, the rest of world starting to fall in love with our country again, she said.  More was better in the ‘Nineties, quantity was synonymous with quality then!  She remembered braais, chutney, mampoer, witblits, South African generosity, her favourite gem squash, cheddar and gouda cheeses, milk in plastic sachets, and learnt that meat does not have to come in styrofoam trays. Her love for food became an obsession and then her career.  She travels a lot, cooking in many countries. Her creations all have a South African stamp, and could include baobab, buchu, and chakalaka, these ingredients making us special.  She is proud of where her supplies come from, having walked where the cattle graze, and sees where the vegetables grow.  She shared how Farmer Angus makes a plan, and walked the extra mile for her, getting the cheeks cut out of lamb skulls. Integrity and honesty are the lessons she has learnt from Africa.  She cooks what is grown here, and now.  She learnt to fight for good service, for her staff, was known to be difficult, and is no longer banned from suppliers for standing her man.

She discussed the contradiction of focusing on the perfect carrot, when there are so many people in our country going hungry. Guests want to contribute, and give something back. With a fundraiser in Holland she raised R1 million, and can feed 750 children in Franschhoek, proudly showing this scheme to her guests. She has learnt ‘Ons maak ‘n plan’, that everything is possible in Africa.  She uses local ingredients like sorghum, kapokbos, num-nums, sour figs, and a salt from a sacred place which is 200 years old, in the Mopani district.  The Tasting Room only serves local wines, mainly from Franschhoek. She was asked how she has stayed at the restaurant for so long, and explained that she stays enthused through sourcing, and constantly evolving her restaurant. This winter they changed the interior of the restaurant, done by her brother, who was inspired by her food, removing all unnecessary and ‘intimidating factors’, such as table cloths, candles, and bread.  The tables have been made from wood from the trees which were removed when the Berg River dam was built. She concluded with a plea: “Let’s celebrate this incredible land”! One reaction to her moving talk was from the audience: “I came about food and I was inspired to be a South African”.

Hetta Van Deventer-Terblanche, Culinary Consultant at La Motte, used research about Cape food in compiling a cookbook ‘Cape Winelands Cuisine’. Her talk was entitled ‘South African Storytelling on a plate‘.  She related that she had grown up in a traditional town, with the belief that South Africa does not have a distinctive cuisine, with only a small repertoire, and that South Africans love meat (Braai, biltong, boerewors, potjiekos), and that vegetables are less important (‘Rys, vleis en aartappels‘). After 1994 the world opened up to South Africa. Guests asked where they could eat South African food, and they wanted South African cuisine defined. She said that she started researching South African food long before it became trendy.  She described the recipes of the first settlers from different countries as ‘culinary treasures’. Founder Jan van Riebeek loved gardening, being ‘passionate and obsessed‘ about it, and experimented with the new plants he brought here, laying the foundation of South African herbs and spices. His fruits at the Company Gardens were described as being larger than everywhere else in world. There was an abundance of fruit, vegetables and nuts, which were not just harvested for ‘mooigoed’!   French Huguenots added the heritage of offal and macaroons, for example.  Rice was planted in the Cape, Lady Anne Barnard preferring it to imported rice.  Roses were used for rose water seasoning, as were dried mushrooms, and crushed crayfish tail shells. Our forbears used natural flavourants naturally 300 years ago – ‘how new is our old, how old is our new‘, she asked.  She said that we have lost such a lot, and that we need to find our past again.  Dr Hettie Claasens did a lot of original research, being her inspiration, documented in her book ‘Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos’. Recipes are handed from mothers to daughters, and therefore are secret, and many are lost, as mothers are not teaching their daughters any more.  Pierneef à La Motte Chef Chris Erasmus was praised, making magic on a plate.  ‘Find your own food stories’, she concluded.

Catering by The Westin hotel was excellent, from the morning tea treats, to the lunch buffet, especially its ‘dessert’ Sweet Treat buffet of Smarties, jelly tots, macaroons, and chocolates, and cappuccino requests were actioned with speed and friendliness.

Chef Massimo Bottura of 3 Michelin star Osteria Francescana described Modena and surrounds as the ‘motor and food valley’, including Lamborghini and Bughatti, as well as Parmigiano-Reggiano, proscuitto, and balsamic vinegar. Chef Massimo entitled his talk ‘Come to Italy with Me’, also the name of one of his menu options, sharing how excited he was about his first visit to Africa. At his restaurant he asks guests to leave behind their preconceptions of Italian food, and to rediscover Italian flavours with him.  He shared Chef Luke’s philosophy of being a chef, saying: “Do what I want to do, with passion. Look deep in your heart. Get the best from the past and bring it into the future”.  All chefs must have an identity, he said, knowing who they are and where they come from.  He said he could not achieve what he has without the support of a great team.  Chef Massimo’s dish of five different styles of Parmigiano-Reggiano was named Italy’s Dish of the Decade 2001 – 2011.  He described how he and his team ‘break down old forms, into a puzzle, and recreate them into new forms, using new technology and techniques‘.  Chef Massimo brought his love for art into his talk, and explained how he recreated traditional recipes ‘through Picasso’s eyes’, creating ‘Cubist paintings’. Asked how the recession affects his business, he explained that it has hit Italy badly, but that they have faith in their new Prime Minister. His business, with only 25 seats, has not felt its effect, but one must work hard, keep one’s feet on the ground, be humble, and fight to beat the crisis! Chef Massimo described how they tried to perfect the Umami of a broth, adding pigeon, veal, beef, capers, chicken, eel, but it was the Parmigiano-Reggiano that gave the soup the perfect Umami!  He advised that one must step back 10 meters, to see better into the future. One must combine history, art, food, and the social aspects to be successful.  He mentioned his Tagliatelle Ragu as one of his trademark dishes, one which made the locals in his area attract them to his restaurant.  He concluded, emphasising again that one must never forget where one comes from.

I had asked the question about the recession, and was delighted that Chef Massimo’s American wife Lara Gilmore came over to say hello, filling in some information gaps.  Lara said that she met Chef Massimo in New York 19 years ago, and moved to Modena with him a year later.  She explained the slide of the lemon and the light bulb, saying it represented that even the simplest ingredient can become special, depending on how you use it.  She told me the lovely story of how Chef Massimo had been asked to design a menu for Christmas and New Year for a cruise liner.  An earthquake in May caused tremendous damage and hardship for the people of Emilia Romagna, so Chef Massimo designed the menu utilising large numbers of ingredients from this region, to build up its economy again. She shared that the restaurant has three menus, one with 6-courses of  Traditional dishes at €100, the Classics menu with his best dishes over the years at €140 for 8 courses, and the 12-course Sensations ‘Come to Italy with Me’ menu at €180.  The dessert list has two sections, she explained, five being ‘savoury sweet’, and another five ‘sweet sweet’.  The quirky names of the dishes impress, for example ‘Oops, I dropped the lemon tart’!  While they worked hard to achieve three Michelin stars, it is even harder to maintain them, Lara shared, but it has allowed them to be more daring and avant garde. They have recently finished redoing the restaurant and the kitchen.

The Conference ended off with a panel discussion led by Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, and was disappointing, with a mismatched panel of Chef Reuben Riffel, Chef Giorgio Nava, The Local Grill owner Steven Maresch, and Food Network owner representative Nick Thorogood.  Grass-fed beef (‘Field to fork’) was highlighted as being healthier, and more sustainable, although it was clear that the steakhouse was ordering grain-fed meat. Even Chef Reuben said he had to order both kinds, as his customers did not relate to the grass-fed steak.  Nick fed back that the trend in London is that the source of each ingredient is specified on the menu. South America will be the ‘next big name in cuisine’ , the influence on world cuisine coming from the forthcoming Olympics and World Cup soccer.  Chef Reuben tried hard to argue that he is in touch with his restaurants, despite being  a ‘celebrity chef’ now, but a question from the audience sounded as if it was addressed to him directly, making a passionate plea for absent chefs to be at their restaurants!  TV cooking shows are popular, for entertainment and the inspiration.  No-shows are a problem, but most restaurants do not ask for credit card details, with the exception of The Tasting Room. Bank chargebacks could mean that the guests dispute the payments and receive the money back anyway. Chef Jenny Morris suggested that the restaurant industry stand together and formulate a policy on booking deposits.  The role of food critics was discussed just as it was time to close the discussion.  While bloggers were criticised for not being knowledgeable and wielding considerable power, the unanimous view was that blogposts about restaurants must be honest and constructive, to ensure the integrity of one’s blog.

Despite the excellent content of the Eat Out Conference, bar one session, it was poorly attended.  As the Conference is likely to become an annual event, New Media Publishing may need to consider a Sunday or Monday for it, to attract a far larger attendance by chefs, only a handful being in attendance.  Important too would be to focus on who the Conference is aimed at – at Foodies, writing about Food and Restaurants, or at Chefs, or a combination of the two.  Very few chefs attended, and one suspects that had most of those who attended not been speakers, there would have been barely any in the audience, a full-day Saturday conference in November probably poorly suited to busy restaurant kitchens. Perhaps the cost of R1000 was a deterrent too. Such a Conference would be better suited to the quiet winter period.  Sadly, there was little interaction between the food writers and the few chefs, partly caused by the lack of name tags.

POSTSCRIPT 26/11: Last night I saw Massimo Bottura and his wife Lara at the Eat Out Awards dinner, and we chatted, especially about her most unusual choker made from a very special wine cork, encased in sterling silver at the ends.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

What a dish Dish Restaurant has become at Le Franschhoek hotel!

I became a fan of Chef Oliver Cattermole when he was at Dash restaurant at the Queen Victoria hotel last year.  The opportunity to try some of the dishes on his new menu at Dish restaurant at the Le Franschhoek hotel reflected the creative cuisine skills of the Michelin two-star La Gavroche trained chef.

Seeking clarification on a winter menu special, I Tweeted Chef Oliver, and he invited me to try his new winter menu last month, the first menu containing only his dishes since he started at the hotel nine months ago. I had not been impressed with the restaurant on previous visits, but a number of changes, including the menu, made the meal one of my highlights in Franschhoek this year.

When I arrived, I saw a special table with new high back chairs and a tall silver candelabra prepared for me. I was happy to see that the Eetrite cutlery had been set out for a number of courses, eliminating the problem of stretching.  On the table was a vase with the most beautiful Blushing Brides, and coarse Atlantic sea salt and pepper grinders.  The beautiful table setting alone made me feel like a queen. The table was closest to the pass, which is open to the restaurant, so I could chat to Chef Oliver and ask him questions about his delicious dishes.  I was delighted to see that the piano had been moved to the side of the dining room, and was not played, as I have experienced before. Despite it being a freezing cold evening, it was cosy and warm inside, with a modern mobile gas heater in the centre of the room.

Chef Oliver started his career on a part-time basis whilst still at school, cutting his teeth with Chef George Jardine, then at the Cellars Hohenhort hotel. After school he started at Haute Cabriere, working for Chef Matthew Gordon, before leaving for London, where he worked in Chef Michel Roux Jnr’s La Gavroche kitchen in London for a year, describing ‘him as generally a nice guy’. The kitchen had a staff complement of about 20, all French speaking. He learnt the discipline of cooking at La Gavroche.  Chef Michel Jnr did a Masterclass on MasterChef SA, and impressed with his way of dealing with the Finalists, firm but friendly. Chef Oliver also did a two day stage in Alain Ducasse’s kitchen at the Dorchester Hotel, just for the opportunity to learn from this esteemed chef. He also worked at top London restaurants The Ivy and Cannizaro House, before missing sunny South Africa, and returning to Cape Town.

Phillip is a Zimbabwean Hospitality Management intern from the International Hotel School, doing his training at the Le Franschhoek hotel, and he was very proactive in looking after me in serving the food as well as pouring the wine.  He told me that he is studying in South Africa, due to the better quality hospitality training offered locally, and the excellent wine estates in the Cape, having visited almost all of those in Franschhoek already. The dishes were served paired with wines especially selected by Chef Oliver from the special wine collection of the hotel.

The first dish was a Forest mushroom soup served with a semi-dried tomato and mushroom soil, which came to the table with home-made brown bread, and was paired with Hoopenburg Pinot Noir 2008.  It was one of the highlights of the meal, being thick and creamy, and a perfect antidote to the cold outside. The mushrooms are foraged by a supplier in Stellenbosch.  On the starter menu the dish costs R 65.

One of the most beautiful Autumn-inspired dishes was the vegetarian ‘A Taste and Textures from the garden’, costing R100 on the main course section of the menu, and consists of a purée of beetroot, parsnip, sheets of beetroot, dried red onion, cavioli (cauliflower), baby marrow, a beetroot crisp, butternut purée, spinach purée, baby turnips, served with beetroot soil, and red and green caviar drops. This dish was paired with a Mont Rochelle Unwooded Chardonnay 2010.  Chef Oliver told me that he sources his vegetables and herbs from Daniel Kruger, who grows special produce to chefs’ specification outside Franschhoek. He brings seeds for unusual sized and coloured vegetables (e.g. purple potatoes, black radishes, yellow and green-striped aubergines the size of golf balls) from the USA and Holland.

The Duck Bon-Bon starter with parsley root pureé and hot pickled vegetables costs R65, and was paired with a Terra del Capo Sangiovese 2008 from Antonij Rupert Wines in Franschhoek.  The duck is shredded, parsley is added, and rolled in Japanese breadcrumbs, served with spinach purée, and a piccalilli relish made from courgette, cauliflower, peppers, onions and vinegar.  The parsley root comes from the hotel’s own garden. The fourth course was a starter of pan-seared scallops served with a celeriac triangle and Ras El Hanout (honey-infused Moroccan spice mix, which has 21 spices such as hibiscus, rose petals, cardamom, cumin, fennel, ginger, chilli peppers, nutmeg, tumeric, pepper, cinnamon, pollen, curry powder, and coriander), as well as a golden cauliflower, coloured with tea and saffron, at R75.  This dish was served with a French wine, which Oliver had found in the hotel cellar, a Louis Satour Ardèche 2008 Chardonnay.  Chef Oliver sources the scallops from French importer Socomaf.

Compressed pork was served with a medley of apple pureé, toffee apple, and apple caviar, a fruit mustard, as well as a haricot bean purée, a dish which is also on their starter menu, and costs R60.  This dish was paired with Thelema Rhine Riesling 2008.  Other starters on the Dish menu are oak-smoked salmon (R75), and roasted beetroot with whipped goats’ cheese (R60).

The Roast rump of Karoo lamb with minted mash and young white and orange and red carrots was a filling main course, with three slices of lamb served, at R160.  This course was paired with Haut Espoir Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. Other main courses include Chicken Bourguignon, line fish of the day, dry-aged beef fillet, and thyme-roasted venison, ranging in price from R125 – R160.

To complete the more than generous dinner Chef Oliver served Carrot Cake as a dessert, with a medley of carrot pureé, mousse, jelly, and paper, to which he had added walnut candy and raisin pureé, costing R60.  Other desserts have a similar cost, and include apple and sultana crumble, goats’ milk pannacotta, barrel-smoked chocolate fondant, and brioche treacle tart pain.

Every one of Chef Oliver’s dishes is a work of art, created by his team of thirteen, who not only prepare these lovely dinner dishes, but also look after the breakfast requirements of the hotel guests, prepare lunch and dinners at their Le Verger restaurant in the glass ‘hothouse’, and banqueting requirements for conferences, weddings, and other events. Chef Oliver is in the right place in Franschhoek, in the village which positions itself as the gourmet centre of the country, to present his creative cuisine.

Dish Restaurant, Le Franschhoek Hotel, Franschhoek.  Tel ()21) 876-8900.  www.lefranschhoek.co.za Monday – Sunday dinner, Sunday buffet.  Twitter @Le_Franschhoek

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Monaco Marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene puts South Africa on world map

Today Prince Albert and Princess Charlene will wed religiously, after they wed in a civil ceremony in the Throne Room of the palace in Monaco yesterday afternoon.  Their marriage is an exciting marriage for South Africa too, with Princess Charlene proudly bringing her South African pride into interviews and profiles published about the dream royal couple. The streets of Monaco are lined with South African flags, and those from the Princess’ new home country.

Gracing the pages of Vogue for the first time, and Bunte in Germany regularly, as well as the subject of regular TV programmes on European TV stations, including ZDF, Germany’s largest TV channel, as well as The Guardian, New York Times, and Associated Press, the couple and their dream wedding are being widely profiled around the world, the first royal marriage in 55 years in the principality.  The wedding media hype and interest increased dramatically earlier this week, when a French on-line agency reported that Charlene Wittstock had almost become a ‘run-away bride’. 

VIP attendees at the religious wedding ceremony today include the German Chancellor Christian Wulff, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni, President Pal Schmitt of Hungary, President George Abela of Malta, King Carl Gustav of Sweden, King Albert of Belgium, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Crown Prince Frederik from Denmark, Prince Edward, Prince Faisal bin al Hussein of Jordan, models Naomi Campbell and Karolina Kurkova, Sir Roger Moore, President Michel Sleimane of Lebanon, President Mary McAleese of Ireland, Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk representing the South African government, Jeff Radebe, Johann Rupert, Leruo Molotlegi of the Kingdom of Bafokeng, King Letsie of Lesotho, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Yves Piaget, Gerard Butler, Nadia Comenici, Bernard Arnault, Renée Fleming, Ryk Neethling, Roland Schoeman, Francois Pienaar, Elana Meyer, Terence Bray, as well as Sarah Poewe, ex-Cape Town fellow Olympic swimmer with Princess Charlene, and now resident in Germany and swimming for the German team. 

The royal couple impressed with its care for the environment, their bridal hybrid Lexus car having been especially made by Toyota, driven only under electric motor power, reported the Sunday Times.  More than twenty years ago Princess Charlene expressed her care for the environment, in a school composition she wrote about the ozone layer.  She loves Blushing Brides so much that 500 stems have been flown in from Citrusdal for her wedding flower arrangements.

South  Africa’s cuisine is also in the spotlight, with Chef Dean Uren of Zimbali Lodge and his colleague Peter Mtshali being part of the team which catered for 6000 guests attending the civil ceremony yesterday, and will head the preparation of a special South African meal for 200 guests on Monday, before the royal couple head for Durban, to attend the 123rd session of the International Olympic Committee, the first time that it will be held in Africa.  Chef Dean’s menu is still a secret, but will include pastries stuffed with ostrich bobotie, and kudu prepared with typical boerewors spices, including kameelhout spice, coriander, pepper and cloves, reported the Sunday Times.   The main wedding meal, served in the Opera for 850 guests today, will be prepared by top chef Alain Ducasse and a team of 350.   He owns 20 restaurants, opening two more this year, in Russia and in Doha.  He has 19 Michelin stars in total across his collection of restaurants, and three of them have three stars.  Chef Alain has not revealed what’s on the menu yet, but he will represent the smell, colour and taste of the Mediterranean with fresh line-caught fish, vegetables and fruit for dessert, all ingredients coming from within 10 km of the principality.  Perrier-Jouët champagne will be served, alongside the Haskell Vineyards’ Dombeya Chardonnay and Shiraz, the owner Preston Haskell being a long-standing friend of Prince Albert, and the royal couple have partied at Haskell’s Fresnaye home in the past.   The wedding cake will link to South Africa’s national flower, the protea, reports Bunte.

Although Princess Charlene is now married to the 9th richest person in the world, her tastes are simple, and she longs for Mrs Balls chutney and rooibos tea.  South African music talent was also represented in the wedding celebrations, with Idols co-winner Jason Hartman, who was chosen by Princess Charlene to be the supporting act to an open air concert by The Eagles on Thursday evening. Local boy band Romanz will perform ‘With all my Heart’ tonight, and do a duet with Italian pop star Umberto Tozzi.   Jean-Michel Jarre put on an electronic music show last night, to which all Monaco residents were invited.

Princess Charlene is turning into a style icon, and the most recent Bunte had a feature of beautiful dresses photographed by Karl Lagerfeld.   Her wedding dress has been designed by Giorgio Armani, her favourite designer, an honour shared with designer Albert Kriemler of Akris.  Increasingly Princess Charlene is wearing bold Africa-inspired jewellery with her outfits, reinforcing her heritage.  She looked beautiful in the blue pants suit she wore for the civil ceremony, which she had designed herself and had made by Chanel, reports Associated Press.

Next week the Royal couple leave for their honeymoon in Durban, where they will be hosting a reception at The Oyster Box in Umhlanga next Thursday 7 July, for 300 local friends, family and VIP’s.

We congratulate Prince Albert and Princess Charlene on their marriage, and wish them lots of happiness and a large family.

Ex-Miss South Africa and Top Billing presenter Jo-Anne Strauss will be covering the wedding on SABC3 today, from 14h00 – 20h30.

POSTSCRIPT 2/7: The Weekend Argus has reported that Princess Charlene will be in Cape Town next Friday 8 July, attending a function of the Giving Organisation Trust with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Noordhoek, and visiting the Cotlands HIV/AIDS hospice in Somerset West, and the Fynbos Project at Lourensford.

POSTSCRIPT 2/7: Princess Charlene looked very serious, if not sad, at her religious wedding ceremonyin the palace this afternoon, crying when she left her bridal bouquet at the Sainte Devoté church, as the late Princess Grace did too.  Talk about a third child of Prince Albert is not going away. 

POSTSCRIPT 2/7:  Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk attended the wedding on behalf of President Zuma and the South African government, reports the Weekend Argus:“And as tourism minister he’s really happy there is such a big South African influence in the wedding.  The name of South Africa will be all over the world again as it was a year ago at the World Cup. That will be very good for tourism and for the country”, said the Minister’s spokesman Riaan Aucamp. 

POSTSCRIPT 5/7:  Interestingly, the wine selection at the wedding appears to have caused a swirl in a wine glass!  It would appear that Dombeya wines were not the only South African ones to have been featured at the Royal wedding on Saturday.  Neil Pendock of The Times wrote that Vins D’Orrance claimed that their Chardonnay 2009 Cuvee Andis was the ‘only South African wine chosen for the wedding’, incorrect given the Dombeya wines selection from the Haskell wine estate, which belongs to Prince Albert’s friend Preston Haskell, and confirmed by a Royal Palace-approved media release earlier this year.  A total of 1000 bottles of Dombeya Chardonnay 2010, Boulder Red Shiraz, and Samara 2005 went to Monaco,  and 700 bottles of the Chardonnay and Samara have been sent to the Oyster Box for the cocktail function on Thursday.  Hempies du Toit of Annandale is also reported in Die Volksblad to have made a wine for the wedding, and he called his six year old Merlot Charlbert, with French labels, and supplied 150 Magnums as well as a ‘bunch of 750ml bottles’ as souvenirs of the wedding.  Du Toit is a friend of the Wittstock family, and the year of the Merlot bottling co-incides with the year in which Prince Albert and Princess Charlène started dating. 

POSTSCRIPT 9/7:  The Financial Times has an interesting article on the preparation of the wedding meal by Chef Alain Ducassse and his team, with beautiful photographs.  

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter:@WhaleCottage