What an honour to attend the Relais & Châteaux multi-hands dinner at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa with members of the media recently. The warmth and genuine hospitality that this group is renowned for was evident from welcome to farewell. We gathered in the beautiful gardens sipping Delaire Graff Sunrise MCC and devoured delicious canapés prepared by Virgil Kahn of Indochine at Delaire Graff, my favourite being the choux craquelin-cauliflower with miso.
After catching up with cherished old friends and making a few new ones (Jo’burgers really are a friendly bunch), we took our places at the tables in the restaurant. Chef Sungani Phiri from Royal Chundu presented the bread course, a sweetcorn brioche with lemon grass butter and an olive oil powder, in small bags made of traditional African fabric for guests to take home. Peter Tempelhoff of Greenhouse at Cellars-Hohenhort shared his memories of Japan – Atlantic tuna tataki with home-fermented kimchi, Elgin apple, beet kombucha radish and sesame dressing, paired with Delaire Graff’s Coastal Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc. Camp Jabulani’s chef Alex van As presented ‘home sweet home’, Springbok shank ravioli with a spicy Asian broth, perfectly paired with the Delaire Graff Shiraz. Host chef Willie Malherbe, who had generously shared the small space of his kitchen with all the other talented chefs, prepared a Lamb Rogan Josh cooked under a delicate crème fraîche pastry, with Delaire Graff Botmaskop. By now I was beginning to wonder if I could do justice to anything else…
Stimulating conversation continued as the desserts arrived – Londolozi’s African sunset masterminded by Anna Ridgewell, an Amarula and white chocolate crémeux, then Charles Hayward of Bushmans Kloof’s simple yet spectacular Cederberg Rooibos panna cotta. A glass of Delaire Graff Sunburst Noble Late Harvest and I was ready to take to my bed after an unforgettable evening of good company, exceptional food and the feeling of having been at an intimate family meal. The R&C vision is simple and sincere. I could easily adopt it as my mantra. “Share our passion for all that is good and beautiful in this world, work together to create a more human world through cuisine and hospitality, and preserve the diversity of cuisines and hospitality for future generations.”
What a privilege to be part of their world and ethos, even if only for an evening.