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.

Tokara

As the vineyards of Stellenbosch change their colours from green to orange and yellow, there is a young chef who is embracing this quiet season to define her craft. Trips to New York and Spain are sure to broaden the horizons of Carolize Coetzee. Her skill is obvious, demonstrated on every plate, her heritage forged with heirloom recipes from her mother and gran. ‘Plaas kos’ and foods that evoke memories and nostalgia are her trademark. This cuisine is different from the legacy left by chef Richard Carstens, from whom she took over at the end of 2018. He favoured Asian-inspired, gastronomy-influenced cuisine, Carolize favours whatever is growing in front of her eyes in the garden at Tokara.

We arrived at the estate allowing enough time to enjoy the setting, a wine tasting and to drink in the view. Tokara commands the best views of the valley, and with award-winning wines, Carolize has been given a great stage on which to perform. “Here we serve fresh, local produce, and every recipe and ingredient means something. New ideas come from the garden, old memories come to the fore. I remember my gran making biscuits and vetkoek whilst we were stealing raw dough and her hitting us on our hands,” Carolize reminisces.

Her first-choice ingredient is fish, which she sources from ABALOBI. “You can play it up, play it down, it is simple and versatile.” The Mauritian sea bass, farmed, is flown in daily.

It was the sea bass which she prepared with to perfection, served with fennel and pancetta (accompanied by Tokara’s Director’s White Reserve). My man had the lamb with ratatouille-style veg and smoked tomato paste, generous in portion and flavour, perfectly paired with Tokara’s Syrah.

Our starters too were generous, the beetroot and pea mousse for me, the parsnip with bacon dust and brioche for my man. Our desserts deserved applause and again, substantial yet delicately served. Gooseberry clafoutis with gingerbread crumb and basil ice cream was as delicious and rich as the chocolate fondant with coconut ice cream and passion fruit.

As I complimented Carolize on an impressive lunch I asked how she defines her cooking style. “You take a little piece of everyone, all the chefs you have worked with, to shape yourself. Some inspire, some show you what you don’t want to be, but everyone has shaped me.”

The Pot Luck Club and KLEIN JAN

THE POT LUCK CLUB

Elevating yourself to six stories above ground level to lunch at the Pot Luck Club is a treat. By reputation you know that this two-plated restaurant will exceed expectations. Chef Jason Kosmas has worthy credentials and skills gleaned during his Chef’s Warehouse days and is now embracing the opportunity of working alongside Luke Dale Roberts. It is a delight to see him rise to this challenge with aplomb. Chatting before lunch was almost as good as the grub! In addition to his experience he has good genes, given by a Greek dad and Italian mother, “Eating is all about being around a table together,” he says of his heritage. “It is amazing to walk in here and not have to fix anything, it works well. I have slotted in to run it as it should be.” Having applied for the senior sous chef position at The Test Kitchen, he then got a call offering him the change of leading the Pot Luck team. And true pot luck, with regular changes and surprises, is part of the plan.

The menu is divided into Pot Luck Family Favourites, Salty, Sour, Umami, Bitter and Sweet ending. His dishes are perfectly plated without being fussy, flavours are robust and harmoniously combined, with the result that one struggles to say no to another, and then another, tantalizing dish. He insisted that I, and my guest, should try all the new dishes. Who am I to complain, I love being told what to do…

The Doenang-glazed tuna with kimchi cabbage, ssamjang and tofu purée, fabulous. My food-muscle memory was woken with the fish sliders and peri-peri chicken, as good as in the past.  He highly recommended the venison. The springbok loin with sauce vierge, fermented black bean jalapeno crispy vermicelli noodles and shaved walnuts is piquant and robust, creating its own umami. The truffle and asparagus tart fine with porcini hollandaise and poached quail eggs, delicate – a lovely contrast in the umami section. The sweet ending was superb for someone who boasts not to have a sweet tooth – try the raspberry curd with burnt Swiss meringue, citrus shortbread and pistachio – or better still, wait until the delectable olive oil cake makes its appearance on the menu – I will be there.

KLEIN JAN

Marlene van der Westhuizen, the newest member of the Gourmet Guide team, caught up with Jan Hendrick van der Westhuizen this week to find out more about his forthcoming venture of opening Klein JAN in 2020. All will be revealed in our Winter Gourmet Guide online magazine, to be released on 1 June.

If you haven’t already read the Autumn issue, visit www.gourmetguide.co.za/gourmetguide, free for you to read, download and print.

NOW OUT (1)

 

 

 

Applauding all the way

THE INSIDE JOB

BY SANDALENE DALE ROBERTS

“It’s a celebration of everyone who works with us,” said Sandalene proudly as she welcomed the team, family and media to the launch of her book. It’s a big family, a tribe that shares the life of achieving excellence. Now it has been shared to inspire anyone who has dined at any of the Luke Dale Roberts restaurants.

Extracts from Luke’s diary, revealing quotes, emotive photography and handwritten notes – the book is a collection of visual treats. It’s personal, a true share. Sandalene thanked her two men (Luke and Finley), her parents who were present, and the individuals who made it happen – each person highlighted in the book was easily identifiable from a caricature badge, a collection of which features on the cover. Their sense of pride was palpable.

Cocktails and canapes, the recipes for which are in the book, were sipped by an appreciative audience in the courtyard and light room of The Test Kitchen.

The book, at R970 is available exclusively from the Test Kitchen, Pot Luck Club, Shortmarket Club, and Salsisfy.

THE DISTELL INTER HOTEL CHALLENGE

BY SHOWCOOK

It was during a quick chat to Test Kitchen sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka at the book launch that I discovered that he was the first-ever winner of the wine steward category in the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge.

The challenge, now in its seventh year, has been launched at a series of sumptuous functions around SA – Johannesburg, Durban, two in the winelands, and the last, at the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. On a glorious evening glamorously-dressed guests gathered on the lawns to witness not only a spectacular sunset, but whales playing in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s this kind of attention to detail that one has begun to expect from Annette Kesler and Chania Morrit-Smith of Showcook, who engineer this worthwhile initiative. It makes a unique and valuable contribution to the industry, giving talent a platform on which to learn, grow and shine. The candidates in the chef, sommelier and now concierge categories were introduced by their executive chefs and managers of the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa, the One&Only, Vineyard Hotel, Southern Sun Cape Sun and SunSquare City Bowl, the President Hotel and Marriot Crystal Towers. They were charming and engaging, nerves and all, and I wish each and every one of them the very best of luck in the forthcoming months as they compete to be crowned the best in their categories.

 

From soil to plate

If you are planning to dine at The Werf, be sure to allow enough time to explore the Boschendal estate, the second oldest wine farm in SA, dating back to 1685. Even better, plan an overnight, sophisticated ‘farm stay’ in one of the 40 cottages and experience a true working farm.  Boschendal (Bos-en-dal) means bush and valley, and The Werf, the kitchen.

Here happy cows graze and laze on the grass, producing more than their own numbers in offspring (thank you Mother Nature for twins!). Chickens and ducks are free, and more than 150 pigs feed in the forest (often on funghi that the chefs have earmarked for the menu).

Family memories and nostalgia were strongly evoked as we passed people picnicking on the lawns near the gazebos where we had celebrated many happy occasions. Before lunch and a quick chat with Executive Chef Christiaan Campbell, my friend and I wandered into the deli, the farm shop, the manor house and vegetable garden. We were quite relaxed and receptive when we settled into our seats overlooking the garden and mountains. After admiring his wooden name tag, our informative host Morné explained that here they don’t simply embrace sustainability, they live it. Upon careful scrutiny you will see sincere sustainability being exercised everywhere. Tables are made from wood from the estate, uniforms are made of hemp, wherever you look, nature is on display.

It is all part of the recent revitalization that encompasses the land, the people and the community that they have termed, ‘Soil, Soul, Society and Celebration!’ It was with that philosophy that we began to enjoy our lunch. The food is stylish, yet earthy and humble. The menu is devised to devour what is being harvested prolifically in the garden. Accomplished and humble, Christiaan is embracing the opportunity to pay more attention to sustainability on the whole estate as his talented team rise to the challenge of crafting cuisine that is worth returning for. From the first bite of bread and (whipped) porcini butter, I was entranced. The vichyssoise dish (made because there were tons of pink bikini potatoes harvested), shows that this kitchen chooses to feature food that they have produced on site.

There are always two dishes and a dessert on the small, bespoke menu for vegans. “Our thinking has changed. We use what we grow.  Here carrots are not delivered by a supplier, clean and of the same size. Here we wash them – we take them from soil to plate. We are confined to the garden but it forces us back to our feet. We used to chop, now we try to show the whole ingredient – an expression of the whole vegetable,” claims Christiaan proudly. “We use a combination of techniques, from modern to hot smoking and boiling in salt. There are not a lot of ingredients in a dish, just three or four main components. We do not use miso or soy – we make our own umami, like bokkoms.

The menu is presented in four sections – garden, ocean, pasture and sweet. The flavours of carrots with parsnip dumplings and dates put a smile on my friend’s face, the roasted aged beetroot with quince, num num and Eugenia berries, a smile on mine. The farmed trout, warm, with a cucumber broth and cold potato salad, worked beautifully. Pasture took centre stage – pork neck – a salt-baked rib terrine with porcini mushrooms and smoked red pepper for a happy happy friend, the grilled Angus steak with pine ring mushrooms and crispy onions for me. It was heavenly. At this stage we warned our charming waiter to hold fire on dessert and that we were unlikely to manage them. Then they arrived, and we devoured them, unashamedly.  The jersey milk mousse with dulce de leche and malted milk sorbet presented on a Sable Breton biscuit had sweet and salty harmonising beautifully. The passion fruit with dark chocolate, meringue and macadamia nuts too, was perfect.

After savouring every morsel of our leisurely lunch we had a quick chat to two key members of his team, right hand Stella, and pastry chef Genevieve, who too have embraced the philosophy and holistic approach to sustainability practised, not just preached, on the estate. Christiaan then walked us to the block where they will be cultivating organic wines, and then showed us their trump card, The Treehouse, where children forage, cook on an open fire, create crafts and have fun, whilst learning about provenance, and their parents dine at The Werf. This will ensure that the next generation cares and understands origin, authenticity and an ethos that is good for people and planet.

My word, Myoga

It is no hardship to tear myself away from my computer, clients and deadlines to be inspired by chefs and their creativity. Having a quick catch-up with head chef/owner Mike Bassett, known for his craft, is leading the charge in terms of sustainability at the stately Vineyard Hotel in leafy Newlands. He ensures that they source ethically raised, sustainable produce through initiatives like ABALOBI.

Germaine Esau, chef de cuisine at one-plated Myoga, is playing beautifully with fresh and foraged ingredients, plating like a pro and pulling dishes together to create indelible food memories. I asked Germaine how the food landscape has changed for him in the last year, and he was confident in replying, “There is less flamboyance, it is more about the product. If there is smoke and nitrogen, it is carefully thought-out theatre, not for the sake of it.” Classically French-trained, so flawless technique will always be a foundation of his food. “The season guides us. We are serving the best produce, served at prime, cooked in the best way.” Dishes on the elements menu are linked to earth, wind, fire, water and aether (quintessence).

I was joined for a tasting spree by fellow food passonista, chef and author Marlene van der Westhuizen, to talk about plates, hers and ours. She has been winging her way around the country launching her beautiful new recipe book, Plate. On the cover is one of Mervyn Gers’ first successes with clay, a plate from the M Collection. Whilst we compared industry notes, we too relished each plate that Germaine presented, practicing for his new autumn menu that launched this week. From the confit carrot bao with coconut and nam jim emulsion and delicious homemade breads to scallops, from avocado presented in a myriad of ways to venison cooked to perfection. Desserts vied for our vote – would the light rendition of Pina Colada win, or the decadent chocolate dessert? It was a tie. I asked Germaine what he chooses to eat in down time with his wife and toddler. “Whole wheat toast with scrambled egg, tomato sauce (hopefully homemade?) and a good cup of coffee!”

Whilst they may have toned down the theatre a tad, there is still intrigue and a wow factor. Fewer elements, in harmony, makes sense.

The Commissary

There is a graffiti stairway in Shortmarket Street Cape Town that leads to a casual eating experience with food of fine-dining quality. No frills. Plastic and enamel plates. At the Commissary it’s a mere 40m2, three communal tables and a counter that seats six. Moving art on the walls, blackboards. Here the loud buzz of happy chatter drowns out any music. Some come for a quick cocktail and oysters, others sit tight and work their way through the entire, enticing menu. That’s what we did, starting with the Pani Puri ceviche, an unusual Indian slant on a traditional ceviche that explodes in your mouth, and the sashimi (yellowtail) and ponzu dressing (the ponzu made by the chef Wes Randles). As he handed over our first dish at the counter, he warned us that there would be nothing gentle about the food, that we were to expect flavours that are unapologetically extravagant.

It was at the one-plated Shortmarket Club next door that Wes and Luke Dale Roberts had many discussions about opening a pared-down restaurant during the recent drought and recession. The Commissary is the result. No reservations, fewer staff, the focus on food. “When food is expensive the expectations are higher. This is our chance to try something unique.  People understand quality, these days they know a lot about food, but they don’t always want a four-hour dining experience. Here it is shortened, and the timing is up to you,” says Wes.

I managed to quiz Wes on his forthcoming week in Tokyo, where he and his chef friends Ivor and Ollie will be feasting with locals, meeting lauded chefs plus experiencing some top restaurants. “I’m expecting a culture shock. I am going with an open mind. I admire the Japanese philosophy of mastering a craft – it is not in their culture to try to be the best, but to master the craft, which they spend a lifetime doing.” Definitely not what this talented chef will be doing when he returns, he loves variety, but he is sure to be greatly influenced by the experience.

Our waiter Oscar led us through making wise choices. Every dish sounds as delicious as it is, and yes, we did over-indulge. The 90s-style wedge salad with pecan nuts and miso cream dressing was simple yet spectacular, the special of the day was too – a mortadella slider.

It was a simple cookie that brought our fabulous evening of casual feasting to a memorable close.

Move into autumn with the Gourmet Guide

INDOCHINE

There can be nowhere more beautiful to witness the changing colours of this season than on the luxurious Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch. Boasting sweeping views, indescribable art and exemplary cuisine, this jewel of the Relais & Châteaux collection demands more than a cursory visit. Take your time to enjoy a wine tasting, lunch at the Delaire Graff Restaurant, some relaxation at the spa or tempt your appetite with lunch at Indochine. I was spoilt to be in the company of both the Relais & Châteaux and Delaire Graff marketing teams, so in addition to sublime epicurean delights crafted by two-plated chef Virgil Kahn, the conversation was lively and peppered with interesting insights into the hospitality industry. After a glass of the Delaire Graff Sunrise, I savoured the squid with peanuts, lime, coconut, grapefruit, caramelized onion and garlic topped with kale meringue. The piquant fragrance of my neighbour’s Tom Yum Goong bore testament to Virgil’s recent visit to the east. As order envy was about to set in, I tucked into the sea bass, cooked to perfection with imagination yet elegant simplicity. Virgil has a true talent for fusing flavours and perfect plating. The afternoon drew to an enviable close with a quick visit to see some famous Graff diamonds, and a sneak peak of their world-class villa, soon to be unveiled.

CHEF’S WAREHOUSE BEAU CONSTANTIA

The vineyards below Beau Constantia too are a sight for autumn eyes. Meeting restaurateur friends for an early start to the weekend was bliss, from the first bite to the last fulfilling mouthful. With one being a pescatarian I offered to team up with him, sharing a medley of dishes that seemed to move from excellent to exceptional. Chef Ivor Jones and his team in the open kitchen make it look effortless. Our foursome spent some time after the meal hotly debating which had been a favourite dish. All, I say. Or maybe the coal-seared tuna, the linefish sashimi, or Vietnamese rice roll. Oh hang on, the Parmesan risotto was superb too. Who says missing meat means that you are missing the best? My carnivore friends waxed lyrical about their venison, and the other meat dishes too. All were united in their love of the fried polenta – Ivor, please may we have that recipe? Or please sir, may we have some more?

ELGIN RAILWAY MARKET

During the initial part of the trip on the steam train to Elgin, from the Royal Cape Yacht Club, one sadly passes a lot of litter. As you chug into the winelands the views improve, and after nearly three hours, you arrive at Elgin station. The carefully curated market in the former packing shed at the station has been renovated with a generous budget and great attention to detail. It is a delightful setting in which to enjoy some delicious grub, wine, a little retail therapy and foot-tapping live music. The gin bar is a welcome addition. Three hours later and you are back on the train, heading home.

SENSE OF TASTE

Sharing snippets of my career and journey in the food industry with the first and second-year students at the Sense of Taste school was a worthy start to the short working week. They were most appreciative of their copies of the JHP Gourmet Guide, and who knows, maybe some of them will be plated in the future! Hats off to Peter and Deb Ayub, and Byron Thebus for motivating and inspiring the next generation of talented chefs in our country.

PERSIAN COOKERY

Aliya Ferguson welcomed a gaggle of eight food-loving gals into her home in Tamboerskloof where she offers an intimate Persian cookery course. Whilst demonstrating a delectable array of tasty, traditional Persian dishes she shared the interesting tale of her life and culture. The afternoon sped by, and soon we were firmly ensconced in her dining room to enjoy the fruits of her labour and love of cooking.

CAPE POINT VINEYARDS

We spent the morning at Deep South Distillery enjoying a tour and sipping gin cocktails (put it on your to-do list), and tasting Pepe Charlot’s amazing French-style cheese. We then settled in on the deck at Cape Point Vineyards, a gorgeous setting where one can work up an appetite for good food and wine. The tuna steak hit a high note for me, the gin & tonic oysters, the Caesar salad and crispy calamari sang loudly for my friends. The weekly food market on Thursdays is a drawcard too.

THE FOODBARN RESTAURANT

The welcome at the Foodbarn is warm, the service friendly and informative, and the menu bulging with must-have options. It is hard to decide, and our waiter Jaryd, was patient as we merrily vacillated. Hot asparagus for husband and I, crispy calamari for our friends, followed by a perfect prawn risotto for two, the lamb chops succulent and tender, and my prawn with slender rings of pineapple, sublime. A watermelon and gin palate cleanser between courses, a cheese course after, and we were sated. Chef Franck Dangereux is undisputably the shining star of the deep south.

GOURMET GUIDE

If you have not already devoured the information about SA’s plated and rated restaurants on our website www.gourmetguide.co.za, then visit it now. Book at all your favourite restaurants while scrolling through the options. Savour the autumn issue of the Gourmet Guide magazine. It’s free to download and print. This one-stop dining stop is all yours.cover1

Gourmet celebrations

NOBU 10TH CELEBRATION

“When a Nobu opens, the city changes.” The first day of autumn ended with a beautiful balmy evening. Arriving at the One&Only Cape Town in the V&A Waterfront, we were warmly welcomed by Resort Manager Roberto Garrone. Guests then lined up to meet iconic chef Nobu Matsuhisa, in Cape Town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his restaurant, Nobu. Quick photo opportunities with the guru followed, before sipping sake served by his sake master, and devouring exceptional canapes created by chef Harold Hurtada and his team. After an inspiring evening of rubbing shoulders with chefs and fellow food passionistas, guests were given a signed copy of Nobu’s recipe book to devour page by page, at their leisure. The memories linger on…

LIQUORICE AND LIME

March is my month. I celebrate not being another year older, but (as I fool myself), another year better! My birthday kicked off with an early morning mountain walk around Lions Head, followed by a delicious breakfast at Liquorice and Lime.

HEMELHUIJS

I share a birthday with my friend Wendy, our mothers having met when in neighbouring labour wards. We re-ignited our association in junior school and again when studying food and nutrition. Every year on or as near to our birthdays as possible, we celebrate over lunch. This year it was at gorgeous Hemelhuijs. Here even the menus look edible, true works of art. We ordered and shared the seared tuna and crispy calamari dishes, both excellent. Then it was back home to haul the gin trolley onto the deck to enjoy the setting sun with snacks and more good friends.

DW ELEVEN-13

As the hordes hit the Mother City for the cycle tour and the winds picked up, we packed our bags and headed out of the chaos, bound for Botswana. A quick detour in Jozi – two-plated restaurants are deemed worthy of a detour – made lunch at dweleven-13 a worthy sidestep. Their lunch special is excellent value at R365 per person. Attentive and efficient service ensures that it provides the perfect platform for a business lunch. A glass of bubbles was offered as a welcome drink. Breads are lovingly baked on site, like the walnut and cranberry bread that chef Marthinus Ferreira declares still needs work, but I declared perfect. They fill the gaps before the amuse bouche. The jar of breadsticks for dipping, and an assortment of tasty bites that included a titbit of sardines in, not on, toast, a delicate morsel gently cased in breadcrumbs.

My companion allowed me to choose for him, so he started with the almond, tomato, melon, chorizo and balsamic combination. I decided to create my own seaside route – first up the

hake ceviche with curry, mint, buttermilk, cucumber and jalapeno – a piquant medley of flavours. My ‘date’ devoured the exquisitely-plated gnocchi with spinach, seeds, raisin and a karoo crumble. I tucked into the langoustine with corn and my favourite flavours of garlic, ginger, lemongrass, peanut and coconut, appreciatively. The linefish (usually sea bass) with squid, mushroom, peas and jus gras (chicken and fish can work well together) was as perfect as the beef with kohlrabi, onion, broccoli and carrot.

An artistic rendition of Gorgonzola with celery, walnuts, grapes that was ‘melted’ with a warm sauce was heavenly. The dessert crafted with 55% Valhrona chocolate lightened by blackcurrant, peanuts, raspberry, butterscotch was also ideal to share. We recorded smiling faces with a photo opp – Marthinus and his beautiful Mervyn Gers Ceramics plate and unique wine cooler, given to plated chefs in the 2019 JHP Gourmet Guide™.

PLATE

As our followers know, we love books. We also love plates (we award our top restaurants and chefs with plates for their prowess). The Norval Foundation is a worthy setting for a book launch, an artistic backdrop that beckons to all those who love art, style and sophistication. The retail store is breathtaking, the merchandise carefully curated to entice visitors to shop for a vast spectrum of art. One of the most appealing museum shops I have experienced.

We digress. Back to books. It was a relaxed Liam Tomlin who welcomed guests and then fired a few questions at renowned chef and author Marlene van der Westhuizen. Many of her ardent fans were present, and it was in an informative and engaging manner that she shared the background to the book with them. She gave insights into her gourmet tour of Charroux, where she and her husband have a second home. These tours are not all about cooking, one is exposed to the lifestyle of this quaint village, the locals and their produce, and there is a lot of fun too! She regaled the tale, pointing to the lady in blue, of how one woman arrived on tour clutching a mystery bag that was not to be opened. A few days later, on the day of the royal wedding, I (the lady in blue), handed everyone a tiara as we set off for a local pub in which we were to move the local lads out of the way and change the channel from sport. Here we watched the Royal wedding, entranced, sipping Champagne, in our tiaras! Next day, back to shopping at local markets and cooking up a storm in Marlene’s kitchen. This cookery experience for me was life-changing, and it re-ignited my love affair with food.

IMG-20190314-WA0004Marlene’s first three books, Delectable, Sumptuous and Abundance, works of art, overflow with inspiration and wonderful recipes. PLATE is her latest collection of simple, fuss-free main courses. The recipes are divided into three sections of meat, seafood and poultry. There are all the classics, brought to life with her inimitable flair, and incredible photography by Rogger Koene. It is also available in Afrikaans (Bord), at a cost of R375, it is a must-have for any food-lover. Mervyn Gers Ceramics produced the beautiful blue and white plate on the cover of Plate, part of the M Collection designed with Marlene in mind.

GOURMET GUIDE SUMMER ISSUE

Thank you to everyone who entered the competitions and for all the positive feedback. Our special thanks to Sexy Socks, NOMU, Pierre Jordan and Belgian Beer Company for their prizes, and congratulations to the winners:

Hampers from Sexy Socks:

  1. Marc McDonald
  2. Nyaniso Morlock

NOMU winners:

  1. Veronica Calina De Waal – a 16-piece Cook’s Collection spice rack
  2. Yölika Muscat – a ‘breakfast-in-bed’ hamper

Mixed case of Pierre Jordan Brut and Belle Rose:

  1. Michelle Edwards
  2. Jamie De Wet

A hamper of Cherry Chouffe products including a picnic basket, blanket, glasses and beer:

  1. Dave Starley

 

If you haven’t set your eyes on the autumn issue yet, visit www.gourmetguide.co.za/gourmetguide/ to view, read, download or print your free copy. Don’t forget to sign up to the magazine to keep up to date and be the first to be informed when the next issue gets released.

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Hello autumn

The leaves are slowly turning yellow and the days are getting light later – good for early-morning writing. We are delighted with our writing win, having received the ‘Best Food Column’ award bestowed by Cape Town Experiences. How delightful to be in such esteemed company – our partners Dineplan won ‘Most Innovative Tech Solution in the FBI’ award.

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Talking of writing, March is a month that showcases exactly what I love doing – writing – after eating and interviewing. Grab the March editions of Country Life to read about Franschhoek’s Chefs of the Round Table, Food & Home to be tempted to the Oranjezicht City Farm Market and Woman & Home to find out how I feel about parenting a strong son!

This is the son who left for NYC this week, and I am seriously suffering from envy. New York is where I want to be, it’s where three-plated chef Luke Dale Roberts will be cooking on 10 March at Restaurant DANIEL. Luke, our winner of the SWISS Culinary Innovation Award in the 2019 guide, has been invited to collaborate this year with Chef Daniel Boulud of New York City’s famed Restaurant DANIEL. Now in its 22nd year, Chef Daniel will host “Citymeals on Wheels Sunday Supper”, on Sunday 10 March, which brings together leading chefs from around the globe for an evening of cooking, laughing and fundraising.

Since its founding in 1981, Citymeals on Wheels has delivered 56 million meals throughout New York City’s five boroughs. Each year, the organization prepares and delivers over 2 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals for more than 18,000 frail aged New Yorkers. 100% of the proceeds raised from the Sunday Supper go directly to the preparation and delivery of meals. Luke has created a new dish for the occasion featuring butter roasted langoustine, snoek brandade, lightly smoked snoek extraction, mushroom jam, black truffle and savoy cabbage.

MACAU ASIAN TAVERN

Macau in China is where this year’s international Gourmand World Cookbook Awards will take place, so the name of this restaurant, and the fact that this is where one can find the former chef of Kitima, Li Kuan Geo. We had a delightful early dinner there, intrigued by how the cuisines of China and Portugal can collide without hitting heads. My dishes of choice were the cream cheese and spinach bao, and the chicken pot stickers.

NOBU

A long-awaited career highlight was meeting Nobu Matsuhisa in Cape Town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Nobu at the One&Only in the V&A Waterfront. What an honour. Ever the interviewer, I had quietly prepared a few leading questions on the way there, but was charmed into answering many of his questions about Cape Town, our restaurants and fresh produce. The omakase and sake pairing was out of this world, ably prepared by two-plated chef Harold Hurtada and his team. Each course, each nuance and each taste of sake were out of this world. The first sake, the Hokusetsu Sado No Jyunmai, is well suited to the uninitiated, and after a few courses and more sake, I realised that I may have found a new drink of choice. All dishes were sublime, but the Chilean sea bass with pomegranate miso really hit a high note for me, and the sushi, of course, too. Having mentioned that we were celebrating a family farewell and birthday, the sterling service team pulled out all the stops to make the celebration a memorable one. Our final sake was a fruit sake with litchi and cucumber, piquant and a fitting finale to a fantastic evening.

CONSTANTIA GLEN

The launch of the Constantia Glen coffee table book, produced by Quivertree and beautifully written by Clare O’Donoghue, was an intimate affair. The spectacular vineyard views were a fitting backdrop for some networking, and of course, glasses of Constantia Glen wines were raised to toast this chronicle that pays tribute to the where the land tells the time. The timeless vision of the family-owned estate makes for enlightening reading. Alexander Waibel, owner, paid tribute to the value of people. In the mid-90s there were a handful of people working on this estate, and now they employ a large team in the vineyards, the wine tasting room, cellar and restaurant.

Let’s travel together, home and away. Visit our autumn edition of the Gourmet Guide magazine to read all about the fabulous new restaurant FYN, Mauritius, Durban and Switzerland, the land of cheese and chocolate. www.gourmetguide.co.za