5 Jun 2012

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Lunch - A Message on a Plate

To end a weekend full of celebration, Her Majesty The Queen is dining inside the magnificent Westminster Hall with 700 guests.

I wanted to deconstruct the menu for you because as well as being delicious, t
his menu is clever. The choices show both the sumptuous quality of British ingredients and (more importantly from my perspective) the power of a well presented menu and it's ability to communicate.

Look closely at the ingredients. They have been sourced from each corner of the British Isles from the Outer Hebrides to the Isle of Wight and Jersey. They give a nod to her favourite places and palaces and Royal projects on sustainable farming.

Make no mistake, every single ingredient and flavour has been very, very carefully and purposefully selected to create a "message on a plate".

Served with
 - Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2007, Sparkling English Wine
 - Sandringham Apple Juice

Nyetimber sparkling wine is from West Sussex and consistently comes top in the world sparkling wine championships. Raising a glass of British fizz is a very symbolic choice.


 - Marinated Uist Island salmon with Lyme Bay crab
 - Fresh Herb Salad with Lemon Soy Dressing
 - Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc, Bué Loire Valley, France 2011

This initial dish instantly brings together the furthest ends of the British Isles, it is as close to "from John O'Groats to Lands End" as ingredients can get. Delicious strong flavours of salmon from the Outer Hebrides combined with the sweet brown crab meat from the cost of Devon and Cornwall.

 - Saddle of Welsh Cambrian Mountain lamb with braised shoulder of lamb,
 - grilled Isle of Wight asparagus, Jersey Royal potatoes and Jubilee sauce
 - Château Cap de Faugères, Côte-de-Castillon, France 2007

Lamb is the most used meat on Royal menus, it was served in abundance at both Royal Wedding Menus in 2011 (read what they ate in my earlier article on
the Royal Wedding Menu).

The source of the meat is key. At the Royal Wedding the meat was sourced from Prince of Wales estate in Highgrove (Gloucestershire). The breed of lamb chosen for The Queen's Diamond Jubilee lunch has similar Royal connections, Welsh Cambrian Mountain lamb are part of a Prince of Wales co-operative initiative working with farmers. They are reared using traditional and sustainable farming practices on open hills with no fences. Read more here... http://www.cambrianmountains.co.uk/out-produce/cambrian-lamb  

As well as being seasonal and delicious (a vital aspect of any good menu) sweet Isle of Wight asparagus and earthy Jersey Royal potatoes are both native British vegetables that have been grown here for thousands of years. Once again, both of these ingrediants appeared on last years Royal Wedding menus. I am glad they were able to get some asparagus as the recent floods caused rather a shortage of crop this year. Did you know that Jersey Royal is a trademark? They are also covered by an EU Protected Designation of Origin. 

I can only guess at what the Jubilee sauce contains, I imagine a light but tart berry based sauce.

The "Symphony of Dessert":
 - chocolate delice
 - bread and butter pudding
 - berry compote and Sandringham apple sauce

Throughout history, it is the Royal desert that presents chefs with the greatest opportunity of creating a meaningful course. Countless deserts and puddings have been named in honour of British Kings and Queens.

Music is the chosen theme here, apt for a day after the big concert at Buckingham Palace and perhaps even a nod to the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain who will be playing during this special lunch.

Bread and butter pudding is very British, a sweet dish in this country since the 1700's. This is also a very nostalgic choice, again an aptly chosen theme for the weekend.

Rich, decadent chocolate speaks for itself! I like to think it has been sourced within the Commonwealth countries, perhaps St Lucia where Prince Charles recently visited a plantation http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/chocolate-factory-Aroyalvisit/ then again perhaps I am taking my foodie analysis too far.

It is no surprise that the desert includes fruit from The Queen's Sandringham estate. As well as being her private country retreat since her 1952 Coronation, the estate produces an incredibly diverse array of produce on its 6,400 hectares of farmland and 80 hectares of orchards and soft fruit (she even grows blackcurrants for Ribena!) http://www.sandringhamestate.co.uk/

These apples complete the compass of British ingredients:
North - Uist island salmon (Outer Hebrides)
South - Lyme Bay Crab (Dorset coast)
East - Sandringham apples (Norfolk)
West - Cambrian Mountain Lamb (Aberystwth)


 - Ceylon Tea, Fairtrade Coffee and Petit Fours

In a menu of this enormity, even the tea has a special meaning. The Ceylon Bush Tea was planted by the Duke of Edinburgh during a state visit to Sri Lanka in 1954. 

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