Last week I ate lunch at Mondiall twice. The first was a family lunch, and the second was an invitation to try the new Winter Menu at Mondiall and to meet new Chef Riaan Burger, who has been at the restaurant for six weeks. The experiences were chalk and cheese. Mondiall has been repositioned as a French Brasserie, serving ‘refined comfort food’, rather than as an around-the-world restaurant when it opened.
The family lunch followed the scattering of the ashes of our late mother, which we had done in Table Bay on the yacht IQ, which moors outside Mondiall. I was very disappointed with the lunch, which was a special group menu, a reduced version of former Chef Peter Tempelhoff’s menu. Chef Riaan was not working on the Freedom Day public holiday, owner Patrick Symington was not there, and Reservation Manager Mandy Smith whom I had dealt with in making the booking and discussing the menu, was not there either. The let-down was the waitress, and poor communication between Mandy and the Manager Franco. The food quality was not as expected either. I admire Patrick for proactively sending a sms to ask how the lunch went, and I told him about my disappointment. What was amazing was the glazed pork belly, offered as a Tapas dish, served with crackling, and a honey soy glaze. This dish remains on the new menu. Continue reading →
Prince Albert and Princess Charlène will be hosting a second wedding reception for not only South African friends and family, but also for some of the dignitaries attending the 123rd International Olympic Committee session, at the Oyster Box in Umhlanga later today.
While the details of the wedding menu and the attendance at the cocktail function have been shrouded in secrecy, some information about the wedding meal and its 450 guests have been found. The guests at the lunch will include FIFA President Sepp Blatter, FIFA ex-President Joao Havelange, International Association of Athletics Federation head Lamine Diack, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg (who both attended the Monaco wedding), Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Princess Anne, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, IOC member Sam Ramsamy, King Mswati of Swaziland, and Vivian Reddy, report The Times and Sowetan. The couple was invited to lunch with President Zuma at King House, the presidential residence in Durban, yesterday.
Executive Chef Kevin Joseph of the Oyster Box Hotel will prepare the meal, saying it is not the largest event that he has catered for, but certainly the most high profile. With nine years at the hotel, and previous experience at Raffles in Singapore, the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta and the Milestone in London, he is confident that he and his team will do a great job today. Asked why Princess Charlène had chosen the hotel for the reception, he said that her father “is part of the horse-racing fraternity and the Oyster Box has always been a big part of that world”, reports the Sunday Times. Earlier this year, Princess Charlène stayed at the hotel, and loved its Indian food.
The menu is a secret, but Chef Kevin says that he was given carte blanche for it, but with the specification that it should contain both South African and French cuisine. The colour theme for the decor is the Monaco red and white. Local produce will be organic, and fish, meat and cheeses will come from KwaZulu-Natal. All breads, pastries and ice creams will be made in-house. An oyster bar will offer oysters prepared in different ways, a butler service keeping guests topped up with ‘beautifully plated’ food. Boerewors and mealie pap will be on the menu too, as will sardines. Dombeya Chardonnay and Samara will be served, and Haskell winemaker Rianie Strydom will be one of the reception guests.
“Of course I hope the bridal couple enjoy it, but I really want the guests, international and local, to leave with the conviction that South African hospitality is amongst the best in the world. I want our guests to go home and say, ‘You’ve got to go and experience South Africa – and particularly Durban!”, he said.
Princess Charlène flies to Cape Town tomorrow, to attend a function of the Giving Organisation Trust with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Noordhoek, and visiting the Cotlands HIV/AIDS hospice and the Fynbos Project at Lourensford, both in Somerset West.
POSTSCRIPT 8/7: A special Oysters Charlène dish was created by The Oyster Box for the function, reports AFP, being oysters baked with creamed spinach, curried lentils and asparagus.
POSTSCRIPT 11/7: Now that the reception is over, and confidentiality agreements no longer apply, more details of the reception menu have been made available by The Sunday Independent. A total of 60000 canapés, prepared for the 500 guests by a team of 30 chefs, included crayfish with lime and palm sugar glaze and wasabi egg puree; seared tuna loin with Japanese seven spice, crisp seaweed salad, soya and mint dressing; ostrich bobotie and raisin spring rolls; Dargyl duck liver and truffle paté; mini raspberry and honey Pavlovas; a duo of opera chocolate slices, mini chocolate and bitter orange éclairs; French apple tartlets with frangipani topping; and malva pudding. Moët et Chandon was served, as well as Dombeya and Bouchard Finlayson wines, the latter wine estate owned by the owners of The Oyster Box. The wedding cake was a lighthouse, the icon of The Oyster Box. Sad if true, is the report in The Times today that Prince Albert and Princess Charlène stayed in different hotels whilst in Durban.
Quick to make capital of the most high profile event The Oyster Box has ever hosted, parent company Red Carnation Hotels has launched a “You’re One in a Million” R1 million wedding package at The Oyster Box and sister hotel The Twelve Apostles in Camps Bay. The two night stay at The Oyster Box includes a Rolls Royce transfer, accommodation in the Presidential Suite on the wedding night, a microlight trip, ‘free-flowing oysters, champagne, strawberries and chocolate fountains throughout their stay’, use of the spa, a pre-wedding spa party for the female guests, a Zulu dance welcome, a gourmet seafood evening, champagne breakfast, golf for the groom and three friends, hair and make-up for the bride, flowers for the wedding, horse-drawn carriage, the services of a photographer and videographer, a parting gift of an oil painting of The Oyster Box, and two nights at Phinda. The Twelve Apostles package includes a return business flight, a silk Madiba shirt, champagne, canapés, rehearsal dinner, South African smorgasbord and seafood barbeque, entertainment by Cape Minstrels and a jazz band, champagne breakfast, hair and make-up, manicure and pedicure, barber service for the groom and best man, as well as massages and mini manicure and mini-pedicure, scenic drive for waiting wedding guests on Harley Davidsons or vintage cars, the wedding ceremony, a music trio, butterflies, marriage officer, photographer and videographer, a cheetah for photographs, venue decoration, seven-course banquet, Bouchard Finlayson wines, champagne, wedding cake, a jazz trio, a one hour scenic helicopter flight, a half-day cruise, and a two-night stay at Bushman’s Kloof.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage