With word that Prince William and his fiancée, Kate Middleton, are taking a hands-on approach to their nuptials, calling the shots themselves where their forebears may have left it in the care of courtiers, we thought we’d pitch in, gathering suggestions for the royal menu from chefs in England and English chefs in Australia.
British produce looms large in many of the menus. Melbourne’s Paul Wilson says regional provenance guided his menu writing. “No caviar,” he says, “and no foie gras – Charles would not be amused.” The British cheeses, Wilson adds, would be accompanied by – what else? – Duchy Originals oatcakes. Fergus Henderson of St John in London is fond of the idea of langoustines piled high in the middle of the table to encourage a bit of mess, followed by Wigmore, a soft sheep’s cheese, “giving an excuse to explore the Burgundian delights which lurk in the royal cellars”.
Tom Aikens covers off the four countries, his oysters with Champagne jelly and lemon purée representing Ireland, langoustines with gazpacho and confit tomatoes for Scotland, and loin of lamb with peas, pea shoots and sheep’s cheese being Wales, before a very English close of Eton mess. Daniel Clifford of East Anglia two-star Midsummer House suggests Colchester oysters and caviar, Scottish smoked salmon and that great wedding favourite the beef Wellington, while former Maze chef Jason Atherton namechecks Loch Duart salmon (London-cured, and paired with horseradish snow and wood sorrel) and Balmoral venison (with nuts, grains, seeds, baked beetroot and an English gin sauce).
Yorkshireman Adam Humphrey, of Sydney cool-Britannia outpost Restaurant Arras, plays it retro with one menu – savouries, salmagundi, eel, junket – and contemporary with another – Cornish crab with “forgotten” tomatoes and crab eggy bread. Tom Kerridge, chef of the Michelin-starred Hand and Flowers in Marlow and recent winner of the BBC’s Great British Menu, says he’d follow a classic hog roast with “a huge Eton Mess in the middle of the table that everybody helped themselves to”.
Alexis Gauthier, of Gauthier Soho, offers “macaroon Lady Di” with rose petals, raspberry purée and milky foam, while Matt Kemp, chief geezer at Sydney’s Restaurant Balzac, meanwhile, says he’d re-create a dish of linguine with poached Bresse chicken and shaved truffles he cooked for Diana at The Square in London. Sat Bains takes the prize for audacity, asking Her Majesty’s permission to slow-roast swan for the main course, plating it with gooseberry chutney, Brussels sprouts and chestnuts.
Not that the suggestions have all been quite so king-and-country. Shane Osborn, the Australian chef at Soho two-star Pied à Terre, runs from ceviche of kingfish with finger lime and avocado to a coconut rice pudding with Queensland mango and Anzac biscuits, while back in Sydney, British chef Jeremy Strode says he’d go for a “good old-fashioned” Australian barbie. Donovan Cooke, soon to be seen back at the burners at Melbourne’s Atlantic, suggests a cosmopolitan carte encompassing Australian crayfish with artichokes, and confit Scottish salmon with razor clams and a caviar nage. At London’s Sketch, Pierre Gagnaire ups the ante further with the likes of iced Stilton parfait and lychee sorbet with rhubarb.
The prize for the most out-there menu, though, undoubtedly goes to Jacob Kenedy, chef at Soho’s acclaimed Bocca di Lupo. Among its many highlights are West Minestrone (“a soup of Western decadence: courtiers’ tongues and Lords’ tails, served in an upturned crown by spinning doctors on roller skates”), a bee set in royal jelly aspic, and the pure blue blood of an octopus, “frozen in a mother’s icy gaze”. And, to close, Prints Bill, “the modest sum of £4,620,000,000, handwritten in calligraphic script with a brush of corgis’ tails on the vellum of a taxpayer’s row”. That hefty figure? “It’s an estimate of the cost of the monarchy for the remainder of William’s lifetime, assuming a life expectancy of 70 and a rough costing of £110 million a year.” Long live the King!
ROYAL WEDDING MENUS
Alexis Gauthier, Gauthier Soho
Braised calf's tendons and egg mimosa
Salad of Kentish petals and scallops carpaccio
Bergamot oil and crisp maple-cured pancetta
Cut of wild Scottish salmon Reine Victoria
Jelly of lobster and black truffle
Cutlet of Welsh young lamb
Steamed asparagus, garlic jersey royal potatoes
Macaroon Lady Di
Rose petals, raspberry purée and milky foam
Aged Montgomery's Cheddar
Cherry compote puff and Port reduction
Native oysters seasoned with horseradish on a kombu seaweed jelly
Dover sole glazed with cider in a mild Madras sauce, squash velouté, broccoli florets
Roast grouse, fondue of endive and leek, topped with chopped walnuts
Iced Stilton parfait, lychee sorbet with rhubarb
Stewed autumn fruits with licorice ice-cream
Pineapple crumble with fresh ginger
Fergus Henderson, St John
Piles of langoustines in the middle of the table so everyone gets messy. Very bonding.
Wigmore, a soft sheep's cheese, giving an excuse to explore the Burgundian delights which lurk in the royal cellars.
To finish off: chocolate, very good for love endorphins.
Free-range truffle-scented egg yolk raviolo, white asparagus essence, grilled green asparagus, Ibérico Gran Reserva with shaved white Alba truffles
Warm salad of Australian crayfish with marinated artichokes, confit heirloom tomatoes, micro basil and aged balsamic
Olive oil confit Scottish salmon, razor clams and scallops and caviar nage
Bressane of pigeon and foie gras, pommes mousseline and Périgord truffle sauce
Whipped brie with morels and a hazelnut tuile
Valrhona chocolate soufflé, saffron crème fraîche sherbet
Matthew Kemp, Restaurant Balzac
I would more than likely re-create a dish that I cooked for William's mother while I worked at The Square.
It was fresh linguine with poached Bresse chicken and shaved truffles. It was so delicate and simple and it's a moment I've never forgotten.
I know that's not a full menu but maybe the menu would be from a collection of chefs and this would be mine as it does have some significance to the groom.
My menu for the royal wedding would have a strong sense of provenance using only regional British ingredients, so no caviar, truffles and definitely no foie gras - Charles would not be amused. The menu would also take its inspiration respectfully from his grandmother's previous royal wedding dining experience and some of her favourites.
A posh prawn, lobster cocktail with quail eggs and a malt whiskey Marie Rose sauce
Whole poached and dressed wild salmon with a warm salad of asparagus, samphire, mint and jersey royal potatoes
Crown of Welsh lamb filled with a leek and rosemary stuffing and a fresh red currant sauce
Estate-grown organic vegetables
An array of British cheeses (Beenleigh Blue, Montgomery's Cheddar, Gubbeen, Ragstone) with Duchy Originals
Strawberry and buttermilk trifle
Tom Kerridge, The Hand & Flowers
I would do an old-school banquet:
A huge array of British shellfish piled high
Classic hog roast with Bramley apple sauce and rare old English potatoes
A huge Eton mess in the middle of the table that everybody helps themselves to
Daniel Clifford, Midsummer House
Colchester oysters, cucumber and caviar
Scottish smoked salmon, traditional garnish
Beef Wellington, fondant potatoes, braised Norfolk vegetables, sauce Périgourdine
Pistachio soufflé and dark chocolate sauce
The following menu represents the four countries that make up the UK:
Oysters in the shell with Champagne jelly and fresh lemon purée (Ireland)
Scottish langoustines with tomato gazpacho and confit tomatoes (Scotland)
Rhug loin of lamb with peas, pea shoots and sheep's cheese (Wales)
Eton mess (Britain)
Devils on horseback sorbet
Waldorf salad gel, wet walnuts
Hot chicken liver pâté, Melba toast
Windsor lily pond, various forgotten herbs
London cured Loch Duart salmon, horseradish snow, wood sorrel
Balmoral venison, nuts, grains and seeds with baked beetroot and English gin sauce
Modern take on Pimm's
Jason Atherton for Fortnum & Mason chocolates
Adam Humphrey, Restaurant Arras
I have taken the liberty of providing two menus, one a more traditional bill of fare, the other a more contemporary take.
Smoked eel quiche
Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, pea custard and goat's cheese
Lancashire hotpot, poached scampi and cocktail sauce
Seasonal British vegetables and herbs gathered from HRH Prince of Wales's estates
Dressed Cornish crab
Crab eggy bread, forgotten tomatoes
Rib-eye of Ruby Red Devon Beef
Welsh cake and Jack-by-the-hedge dressing
Selection of local farmhouse cheeses
Fruit, chutney and Duchy Originals
Burnt English cream, wild strawberries
Honeycomb, Flumps, Wagon Wheels, teacakes, jaffa cakes, fudge
A selection of savouries:
Smoked cod roe on toast, peasecods, pickled whelks, kipper creams, Scotch woodcock, devilled sardines
An intricate salad of capon, herbs, eggs and anchovies
Poached wild salmon and eel
"Allelujah" sauce and samphire
Roast saddle of mutton
Pudding, caper sauce and rowan jelly
Vanilla and mace
A selection of sweetmeats
Fruit cheese and seasonal fruit tarts
Sat Bains, Restaurant Sat Bains
After doing the research on past royal weddings, they have all had three courses, so we have kept this in the same vein. This menu is a based around a quintessential British menu:
Slow-cooked duck egg 62C, peas and ham (our signature dish)
Slow-roast royal swan, gooseberry chutney, Brussels sprouts, chestnuts (ask Granny's permission for the swan)
Vanilla set cream, pickled strawberries, butter shortbread
Shane Osborn, Pied à Terre
Ceviche of Cleanseas kingfish, wild finger limes, avocadoes and flowers
Poached West Australian marron, salad of jersey royals, asparagus and Manjimup black truffles
Coconut rice pudding, Queensland mangoes and Anzac biscuits
Allan Pickett, Plateau Restaurant
When I was at training at Thanet College, Kent, I was lucky enough to be one of a select few students chosen to work at Buckingham Palace. On one of the days we worked at the Palace I was lucky enough to serve the late Princess of Wales. She was such a beautiful woman that I was gobsmacked. Lucky we weren't allowed to talk to the royalty as I wouldn't have been able to say anything anyway.
My menu would be a culinary trip around Great Britain:
English asparagus with a poached duck egg with nut-brown butter
Hay-baked loin of Welsh lamb (hay-baked because of Prince William's love of horses) served with sautéed lamb sweetbreads, pea and smoked bacon stew
Scottish raspberry trifle
Cashel Blue with Duchy Originals biscuits
Jacob Kenedy, Bocca di Lupo
A menu for a right royal wedding. Gorgeous William to Miss Kate, soon to become colony-losing Kings and Queens at Westminster Abbey followed by a masked ball (Dress: crowns and coronets) at Buckingham Palace, in honour of Prince William.
Gorge us wi' yummy skate
Skate wings, line-caught at Elizabeth Falls through thin ice
Boiled jersey royals and anti-Brussels sprouts; an Afghan caper sauce
Colon eel oozing
A casing of pig's intestine, filled with a farce of silver eel with a gloopy jus of its natural mucus
Kings and queens
King crabs and queen scallops, served at war on a chessboard of squid ink gelée and mother of pearl
A soup of western decadence: courtier's tongues and lord's tails, served in an upturned crown, by spinning doctors on roller skates
In a sweet aspic of royal jelly
Crowns and cor-o-nets
Crown roast, served with a golden cornet of oysters, ostrich eggs and olives
Buck in ham
Bum of a male deer, cured in black treacle and handmaiden's tears, served with, well, yam Dauphinoise
Pure blue blood of an octopus, frozen in a mother's icy gaze
The modest sum of £4,620,000,000.00*, handwritten in calligraphic script with a brush of corgi's tails on the vellum of a taxpayer's brow
*the approximate cost of the monarchy for the remainder of William's lifetime, If he lives to 70, and assuming a rough cost of £110 million a year
ILLUSTRATION ANTONIA PESENTI
This article is from the January 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller. Menus were published as a Gourmet Traveller website exclusive in January 2011.