The primary purpose of this trip was to experience the re-creation of a ceremonial banquet dinner for the Queen of Montenegro, Milene that took place in 1907. The Queen was interested in the infusion of French culture into Montenegro. She had a French chef. The re-creation was highly organized and featured the same menu consisting of 10 courses.
The banquet was directed by several chefs from France who are associated with Michelin-rated restaurants. One of them had managed a state dinner for the President of France. Students from the Hotel Education Center helped with the production of food. They also worked as servers.
I have never been to a royal banquet, but this is what I imagined it to be. There were 40 guests seated on either side of a long table. The banquet supervisor stood at the end of the large room decorated with pictures of the Petrovic Njegos dynasty. Each course was brought in by a line of uniformed servers who divided and stood behind guests on either side of the table. Upon a nod from the supervisor, one server presented a food or beverage to the host, Prince Nikola. This was followed by a second nod that prompted service to the rest of the group. Each server carried three plates. The service was quiet and elegant. After each course was delivered, servers again lined each side of the table and at another sign, pivoted and marched in two columns to the exit doors. This pattern occurred for every course and beverage for over four hours. By the time of the final coffee and cognac, Susan and I were tired diners. Courses included an appetizer of truffled lobster in pastry shells and a fish course of salmon and steamed cabbage. Fortunately, the portions were modest in size.
This was a wonderful experience that enabled Susan and I to make a number of new acquaintances and experience an intimate aspect of Montenegrin history.
I have provided images of Susan and I in front of the old government building where the banquet occurred and in a small local cafe. Both photos were taken by our driver Sana. I have also included a picture of the Queen who is still revered this day. She was the last Queen of Montenegro. You will also see an image of the old English Embassy that is now a music academy and an image of the ethnographic map of Cetinje. For those of you interested in tourism, I recommend that you examine the map and consider how these products might encourage cultural tourism.