Salsify for a special occasion

History is visible in visual splendour at Salsify at the Roundhouse, so let me first share a little of my personal history before we celebrate theirs.

My introduction to my mother-in-law was at the age of 13 years, and she has been an enduring inspiration in my culinary journey. We share recipes, recipe books (and of course, love the same man!) In early days, she would expose me to ingredients that I had never heard of, and in her quest to perfect a dish, like a flan, was known to make a few dozen and top them with outlandish combinations. Combinations which now are the norm. While her family groaned, I was intrigued. Her avocado ice cream was new and novel in the 70s, ice cold it was heavenly and different, but as it melted it was hideous, so yes, I too suffered along the way. I am grateful that she raised a son who has the love of food and wine flowing in his veins. For her birthdays we take her somewhere special for lunch where her taste buds will be teased with inventive flavour and texture combinations. This year? Salsify.

The current seven-course tasting menu offers a broad spectrum of ingredients and dishes that showcase the season well. We opted for the lighter four-course option (excellent value at R395) starting with a 63-degree hen’s egg with chestnut, and a sherry and red onion cream – delightful in its texture contrast. For starters, the older, yet more adventurous Mrs Handley, opted for the sashimi with tamarind and yuzu dressing, nettle and ginger. She is still talking about it…before she devoured the miso-grilled octopus with fennel and white grape, cured tofu and jellied aubergine – equally delicious. The lamb rib and loin with toasted garlic dauphinoise, burnt and braised leek, boasted pungent flavour, contrasting with gentle presentation. The delicate portions of both desserts, the satsuma ice with tonka bean panna cotta, granadilla curd and lemongrass sorbet and the quince caramel tart with rhubarb, hibiscus and brown-butter ice cream, were superb.  Humble, yet accomplished chef Ryan Cole needed to be lured out of the kitchen to accept our lavish compliments. It was as he was getting used to the limelight in the openness of The Test Kitchen that he and Luke Dale Roberts opened this gem.

After enjoying sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean during our meal, despite cloud cover, we took a moment to absorb and appreciate the innovative style in the former hunting lodge of Sir Charles Somerset. Take time to explore the inventive decor, conceptualized and crafted by Sandalene Dale Roberts, like bold graffiti that exposes more about the infamous Dr James Barry, who posed as a man. Whilst admiring the sculpture in reception by Otto du Plessis, the very attentive staff shared the vision behind this masterpiece.

Allow me to leave you with a taste of intrigue so you put Salsify on your secret-season must-dine-at list.

THE COMMISSARY POP-UP

If you are Jo’burg-based and have heard all the ooh’s and ahhh’s about Cape Town’s street-food king, The Commissary, you are in for a pleasant awakening. Popping up in Rosebank at Publik Wine Bar for just five days, chef Wes Randles and Simon Widdison will shake the Jo’burg food scene. Keeping their globally-influenced concept of transformative and delicious street food (NO FRILLS) they’ll be showcasing their talents from Tuesday 28 May to Saturday 1 June from 18h00. There are no bookings, the demand will be high, so get there early to avoid missing the pop.

SEASONS TO CELEBRATE…COMING UP…

It was in good company that I discovered more about The Four Seasons properties in Seychelles and at The Westcliff in Jozi. A group of inquisitive journalists met the dynamic management team of this prestigious group over dinner at The Stack in Cape Town, whilst sipping superb Cavalli wines. Over dinner they shared their passion for these unique, drawcard destinations. My love affair with the beautiful island has been re-awakened as our Gourmet Guide online magazine team starts preparing for a future island-style edition…

I’m still celebrating the sightings of cherry blossoms in my sleep before I dream of Japanese cuisine! One of my pleasures is sharing my tastes and travels with you…watch out for my account of a bucket-list trip in the Winter Gourmet Guide magazine, to be released on 1 June.

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