There is something so special about arriving at dw eleven-13 and seeing two plates on the wall, those awarded by the JHP Gourmet Guide™ in 2016 to chef Marthinus Ferreira.
An afternoon of fine dining was just what I needed to get back into the swing of things in SA after a few weeks of fabulosity in France. Marthinus Ferreira too is energized after his travels to Scandinavia, which gave him the opportunity of dining at more than a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants and affirmed that everything in dw eleven-13 equates to international standards. His superlative team are fired up by his renewed passion. I loved the small décor changes – comfy chairs alternating in gentle green and grey, ideal as one does not wish to rush a meal there. Tables are well spaced for privacy, and it was infectious to feel the conviviality in the room. Here it is fine dining with finesse, but without fuss and formality of white linen and silver service.
Service is excellent – GM Mario takes the time to share his knowledge of the wines, without being intimidating. Now about the food…we were entranced by the beginning, from the flavoured butters and breads, through each of the four courses, to the out-of-this-world desserts. My companion and I agreed to order a different dish for each course and to share. I savoured each mouthful of the seared tuna sashimi with oyster coulis, she the home-cured duck breast with pickled apple, persimmon, crumble, liver parfait and crackling. My confit and smoked quail with quail egg, broccoli, grapes, pickled onions, truffle oil and a sherry velouté was heavenly, as was the Mauritian sea bass with prawn, cucumber, roasted Jerusalem artichoke, baby marrow and a garam masala velouté. Interestingly paired with a Pinot Noir to balance the garam masala flavours. My carnivore companion raved about the daybreaker sirloin with pomme purée, mushroom ketchup, crispy onion, turnips, smoked bone marrow, and a beef jus.
As the black sesame seed cream dessert was served we both gave it a standing ovation. With puffed rice, star anise mousse and a sambuca gel, it took our breath away. I felt as if I should have been in a wedding dress to be eating something so exquisite. Each component was delectable on its own, and together, they played in perfect harmony. Like everything about the experience, impressive.
An urban sanctuary with my room overlooking the winter vegetable garden, the fire roaring in my room – what a way to relax in Joburg. Catching up with chef Johannes and his team was refreshing, and it is good to see how Johannes has cemented his style in the three years at Winehouse. His food is more richly flavoured, his presentation less fussy, but still beautiful. The team’s excitement at winding down his autumn menu to make way for winter, more robust, was contagious. The celeriac tortolloni may have been neutral in colour but it burst with a kaleidoscope of flavour. My barramundi was lined up with squash, basil and an aubergine caviar. My dinner guest said the pork belly with chipotle mayo, apple and fennel was perfect, and my quail with walnut stuffing, cauliflower and a sherry caramel, on par. We shared the affogato, as portions were generous, and a selection of international and local cheeses. Their five-course menu is good value at R425, with a wine pairing adding only R200 to the damage. Retiring to hot water bottles in my bed…sigh…what is there not to love about warm hospitality provided so genuinely?
After two days of feasting I needed something fresh and healthy. Glenda’s is a coffee shop in the Hyde Park area that serves fresh at its best, and it was easy to be anonymous in a coffee shop crammed with middle-aged women talking and laughing. My salmon salad was brimming with goodness and flavour, my friend’s salt and pepper calamari delicious. Good for a light bite, or a decadent cake and coffee date.
After three weeks of our Tour de France in their beautiful winelands it was time to come home and explore ours. We awoke early on Saturday to set off for lunch at The Werf, the farm dining restaurant on the Boschendal Estate, allowing ourselves plenty of time to stop en route at a few wine farms to stock up the cellar. Then off to Boschendal for another generous wine tasting for Dave whilst I trampled the farmlands with chef and trailblazer Christiaan Campbell. I had the pleasure of witnessing his talents when he was at Delaire Graff. It is heartening to see him come into his own here taking natural, ethical standards up a notch, setting an example to the industry.
After meeting week-old piglets I simply could not order pork, but his lamb broth, pulled lamb belly and Parisian gnocchi was enough to keep us carnivorous. After a delectable amuse bouche of smoked hake, homemade mayo and sauerkraut, on recommendation I ordered the gamefish with flavours of fynbos and garden pickles, which married a medley of textures beautifully. The 16-hour smoked angus beef brisket with organic polenta, oyster mushrooms and a weed salad pays homage to the ethos of this kitchen – a passion for showcasing the best, natural ingredients. I had the slow-cooked lamb shoulder with broccoli risotto and goats cheese. Dessert of the roasted white chocolate ice-cream sandwich was divine, and the cheese platter with dessert wines, a fitting end to an uplifting and heartwarming epicurean experience. This is, after all, the future of food – working the land for goodness and nutrition.
“When a guest leaves I want them to feel satisfied and nurtured. Nurturing is such a big part of being a chef,” says Christiaan. “Guests here are eating quality, a lot of what we serve is grown on the estate, or naturally produced. Carrots are created equal but not all the same. Spend R1 on a carrot, you want R2 or R3 back. Commercially you may only get 20c back in the Rand. “At The Werf (meaning pantry) the garden dictates to the kitchen. Campbell is working owner Rob Lundy’s vision, in a like-minded team, following the rhythm of the seasons. The menu metamorphises regularly with one dish changing weekly, a dessert every two weeks.
Mojo Indoor Market on the Main Road of Sea Point makes a great refuge on a winter’s morning, so instead of a Promenade walk we started our Sunday there. There is a diverse selection of foods to choose from, Cuban to Japanese, Argentinian to African, fresh flowers to fruit and vegetables. The appetite-whetters are interspersed with a variety of crafters. If you are cold you can buy your own pair of bamboo socks from Sexy Socks, and they will donate a pair of school socks to a child in need. Hope that they make a great go of it.
Winter is the time to try something new. Light the fire, don the apron and away we go. On my to-do list for the week is trying a selection of Den Anker beers with appropriate food. I could recipe-test with their beers in my own kitchen, or head straight there for their ‘perfect pair’ – a Mussel, Fish or Wagyu Burger Board – two beers and two dishes for R125, great value. Decision made – head straight there – as a bonus is the best view of my favourite mountain!