It’s no coincidence that luxury travellers are some of the world’s most discerning gourmets.
The culinary standards set by five-star resorts mean guests have long expected to be presented with the finest foods and wines by award-winning chefs and sommeliers who are devoted to pushing the boundaries of creativity.
But travellers’ expectations are evolving as fast as the menus they dine from. They want culinary experiences that draw on the destinations they’re visiting. They want to dine in diverse and extraordinary environments, and they want a greater level of service with personal access to the experts. In short, these gourmets-on-the-go want to experiment with food and wine combinations, improve their knowledge and appreciation and, ultimately, have a story to tell. Experiences, it seems, are the souvenirs they want to take home.
Redefining tasteful dining
At Constance Hotels and Resorts, serving up bespoke epicurean events is a speciality. The eight properties, which extend across the Indian Ocean in Mauritius, Madagascar, Zanzibar, the Maldives and the Seychelles, are noted for their idyllic settings and luxurious standards. Guests come for some of the finest diving and snorkelling in the world, as well as the challenging 18-hole golf courses at three of the properties, but food and wine rate high in their choice.
Constance Hotels and Resorts employs 76 sommeliers across the group, with 33 at the Mauritian Belle Mare Plage alone. These experts are responsible for wine lists spanning six European countries (including France, Spain and Italy), along with Argentina, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand. Small wonder the Constance group imports nearly 190,000 bottles of wine a year and has won awards for excellence.
Creating a bespoke experience
“The pleasure of food and drink is all in the sharing,” says Jérôme Faure, corporate sommelier at Constance. “Our staff are all too happy to oblige – getting to know the guests, encouraging them to be bold with their choices, to experiment with different grapes and test their palates with new cuisines. In turn, menus feature classic ingredients prepared with an eye for unusual flavour combinations to enable them to do just that.”
Lobster salad crostini, for example, might be followed by pan-fried foie gras and cured duck breast with berry coulis and a 25-year-old aged balsamic vinegar. For the main course, a slow-cooked New Zealand veal tenderloin with a five-spice crust and red wine jus, and then a dark chocolate crémeux with red fruit compote.
Accompanying wines might include Georges Vernay Condrieu 2015, Coteau de Vernon or Domaine Trapet Gevrey-Chambertin 2015, Capita from the heart of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or.
There’s also a range of experiences that guests can enjoy: wine tastings, cellar tours and wine-food pairings – where they choose a wine and the chef then creates a meal around it.
For Jorald Julie, assistant corporate sommelier at Constance Hotels and Resorts, the chance to encourage guests to experiment with wines is exciting. “Most of us tend to think that white wine goes with fish and red wine goes with meat,” Julie says. “However, our chefs enjoy the challenge of devising new dishes to challenge preconceptions and suit whatever wine a guest wishes to try.”
A recent wine-food pairing saw a fine bottle of Domaine Mas Amiel’s Cuvée Legend matched by the chef at Constance Belle Mare Plage to a grilled codfish fillet with squid-ink potato gnocchi served on a bed of green leaves, raspberries and a luxurious pool of Périgueux sauce.
Unusual? Perhaps. Delicious? Without doubt. Above all, a sign that the breadth of gastronomic inspiration knows no bounds – and certainly makes for great stories to take home.