While many people are currently wondering who will design Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, chefs around the world are thinking menu – menu- menu – menu. If the past is any guide (and we are talking tradition here), it might be helpful to review the choices of former British princesses on their wedding day.
In 1947 when the present Queen Elizabeth was still a princess, she chose a blended English French menu to celebrate her wedding to Philip Mountbatten. Then, as now, the young couple was faced with the difficulty of hosting an elaborate wedding during hard economic times.
As a result, elegant restraint was the main theme of the event with the exception of 20,000 plus white pearls sent from America to accent the young princess’ snow white wedding dress. Those lucky enough to attend the post-wedding oh so select private reception dined on a menu of:
Filet of Sole Mountbattan ** Perdreau en Casserole ** Haricots Verts ** Pommes Noisettes ** Salad Royale ** Bombe Glacee Elizabeth ** Friandises ** Dessert ** Café
The baroque wedding cake was a stunning 2.5 meters or eight foot tall and topped with a silver sculpture of England’s patron St. George and his Dragon.
Glasses of Bollinger champagne were passed to the enjoyment of all, thanks to the American General George Patton (also a noted lover of fine Champagne), who late in 1944 rushed to the Bollinger’s French estate and prevented the evacuating Germans from dynamiting the rare wines stored in the champagne cellars there.
In more affluent days, Prince Charles and a hopeful Lady Diana dined on gold plate at their 1981 morning-after breakfast reception (actually an elaborate late brunch) as their guests enjoyed:
Brill in Lobster Sauce ** Chicken Breasts Garnished with Lamb Mousse ** Strawberries with Cornish Cream ** Claret and Port
The groom cut their five tier wedding cake with his naval parade sword. Each lovely layer was decorated with sugar doves nestled in a confectionary garden of roses, lilies of the valley, fuchsias and orchids entwined with an ornamental “C” and “D”.
It was a lovely wedding complete with endless toasts, of course, of Bollinger's legendary champagne. The entire world seemed to stop that day with everyone wishing the young couple the very best. Sadly it was not to be.
Today another royal wedding is on the horizon and this young couple seems to be more modern, focused and eager to reflect the times they live in. With an informative wedding website and a list of selected charities replacing the standard "me-me" bridal gift registry, William and Kate Middleton are both a breath of fresh air in the stately halls of British traditions.
It’s even possible they might select their own champagne, say England’s own, the Nyetimber’s Classic Cuvee 2003 of Sussex. Chosen at the esteemed international Bollicine del Mondo competition held last year in Verona, Italy as the best bubbly in the world, this remarkable English, yes ENGLISH, champagne beat out 52 other entries including Bollinger and Roederer! Mon dieu!
So, it will be interesting to see what this very modern young couple chooses. Many are betting on a health focused menu that also highlights the culinary traditions of England, all done with a touch of elegance and grace.
And the champagne…? Bollinger, Nyetimber or something else? Well, change is always possible, even at historic Windsor.
Yet, when Prince William introduced Kate to a preview of her future royal duties recently in North Wales, she christened a new lifeboat by pouring (poured, not broken) a bottle of Bollinger’s finest over the bow.
There are also other champagne houses that are willing to help the million plus wedding visitors to London celebrate the April 29th festivities in style. One is the English firm of Halewood International, which has owned the Prince William Champagne brand for decades. With an event/brand name match like that, Halewood is sure to be, as the English would say, rather popular.
But come ladies and gentlemen, whose going to create a worthy "Lady Kate" Champagne? Please, let's remember to honor the bride!
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011