A Royal gala dinner for 1350 guests
Every year on the 10th of December (the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death), the most lavish, poshly dressed and bejewelled Royal Gala dinner takes place in the Stockholm City Hall. The entire Swedish Royal family -– King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Madeleine, Princess Lilian, and Prince Carl Philip –- and some 1300 of the hottest notabilities from Swedish cultural, scientific and political life are gleefully and perhaps greedily taking part of the Feast of Feasts in the honour of that year’s Nobel laureates (except for the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is treated to a similar gala dinner in Oslo, Norway).
This Royal Gala dinner -- also called the Nobel Dinner -- marks the culmination of the Nobel Prize award festivities. It is preceded earlier on the same day by the official Nobel award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, where the King of Sweden presents the Nobel laureates with their Nobel medals and diplomas (I don’t know how and when they receive their money, but I’m pretty sure that the King doesn’t hand over a bundle).
A large red room, called the Blue Hall
The Stockholm City Hall is not a medieval or even a baroque period building. It’s actually built rather recently, in 1922. But its fake Venetian style and surprisingly imaginative architectural design makes it one of the most original and beautiful structures in Stockholm. The Nobel dinner takes place in the so-called Blue Hall, which of course is not blue at all, but has red brick walls. The architect (Ragnar Östberg) planned to paint it blue, but when the brick walls were up, he was so pleased with the aesthetic effect that he left it as it was, unpainted.
The tables for 1350 guests are laid in the Blue Hall, facing a wide flight of stairs leading up to the Golden Hall (with walls covered by Italian mosaic), where the Nobel Ball will take place after the gala dinner. During their meal the dinner guests can enjoy watching and listening to a series of performances given on the wide staircase, which forms a perfect elevated stage for singers, musicians and dancers.
Light athletics for speedy waiters
Some 200 waiters have to serve the 1350 guests at breakneck speed -– all of the guests must get their food almost simultaneously. "Simultaneously" is of course impossible, so the team of waiters has a time limit of 6 minutes. Within 6 minutes all of the guests must receive their dishes. The Royal Nobel Gala is a three-course dinner, so the job of waiters and sommeliers can be considered a respectable feat of light athletics.
The Nobel Royal Gala menu is a secret until the food is served, so as I am writing this before 19.00 hours (GMT +1) on December 10, 2005 (when the gala dinner will begin to be be served), I’m unfortunately unable to reveal the 2005 menu.
However, to get an idea what the Nobel laureates, the Royal family, and the other gala guests will be enjoying in just a few hours, you can study the Nobel menu of last year. There is always something specifically Swedish on the Nobel menu, so in the case of 2004 you may note bleak roe, a kind of very delicious orange-red Swedish caviar and cloudberries, a berry from Northern Sweden.
NOBEL MENU 2004
Lobster- and tomato terrine with bleak roe
Fillet of veal with ragout root vegetables, served with potato cake and red wine gravy
Almond mousse with cloudberries and almond milk sorbet
Champagne Moët & Chandon
Chateau Corbin Michotte 1993 Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Chateau Raymond-Lafon 1998 Sauternes
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Yes, and then Royal Gala is also the name of a very good apple. Very true.