December 20, 2019

Farewell to a frenetic year of fine dining

View from Skotnes restaurant

FAREWELL TO A FRENETIC YEAR OF FINE DINING

Guilty as diagnosed. As someone who unapologetically is obsessed with food and fine dining, I was intrigued to read of the Gourmand Syndrome. It’s caused by an injury to the right anterior cerebral hemisphere of the brain. The result? A preference for eating and thinking about fine foods. Until I find the cure I’ll continue 2020 as I enjoyed 2019, with countless culinary adventures. Allow me to share my last two lunches with you.

 

SKOTNES RESTAURANT

I’m a sucker for the gift shops at museums. The Norval Foundation takes the cake – it has the most appealing gifts. The setting is sublime, with a backdrop of mountains and the drawcard of the gallery for art aficionadas. A team lunch at the Skotnes Restaurant created a lot of debate around what to order, as the menu has wide appeal. Two of our party claimed the pork belly with a potato bake, peaches and a carrot-and-chilli peanut salsa. Another the Cape Malay chicken tacos. They got rave reviews. I ordered the market fish – Cape bream. Served with preserved violet artichokes on mixed grains with a citrus, turmeric and tahini sauce, yum.

CHEFS WAREHOUSE AT BEAU CONSTANTIA

Another team, another lunch, this time at two-plated Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia. The wines, tasted with a breathtaking, panoramic backdrop, were on par with superlative cuisine, plus flavour, technique, eye-catching plating and service.

Our first wave was a coal-seared tuna with tofu creme, roasted tuna collar dashi and a kombu butter. The line fish sashimi larb with smoked coconut and toasted rice was my stand-out dish. The pressed venison tartar with truffle butter and bramble jelly was accompanied by the most delectable toasted brioche. After a moment to breathe and discuss in detail the dishes that we had savoured, it was time for the Parmesan risotto to arrive. It was resplendent in its copper pan,  now on the Christmas wish list. Flavoured with a smoked Gruyere custard, and small squares of Black Forest Ham beurre noisette, it was rich and creamy. The assiette of summer tomatoes with black cardamom dressing, buttermilk curd and roasted vermicelli provided light relief (my other favourite dish).

The final sweep of dishes started with the coal-roasted ocean trout (second nod to recent Eskom experiences) with tarragon and Beluga lentil cream, fermented horseradish emulsion and matchsticks of apple seeped in parsley juice. The Moroccan lamb rib was succulent and tasty, served with coriander pesto, sultana and almond puree and crispy phyllo. The Thai pork Ssam, two pieces served on my ultimate Korean Shiso leaf (where do I buy these please?), and a piquant lemongrass and peanut satay. In the absence of injured chef Ivor Jones (get well soon Ivor), chef Braam had the kitchen running like clockwork, found a moment to check that we were behaving. A sensible decision was for our foursome to share a dessert. After much deliberation we chose the white chocolate and BBQ sultana mousse and Iranian rose, pistachio and raspberry crumb – the perfect ending to our innovative trip around the globe.

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FAREWELL

It is not without a small sigh of relief that I say farewell to this hectic year. Remaining steadfast in turbulence, can test one’s strength! As the eternal optimist I look back on the highlights. My edible trips to Japan and Reunion are stand-outs, with my ‘dinner-of-the-year’ award going to Shin Takagi’s Zeniya, his two-Michelin star, eight-seater restaurant. Going to the market in Kanazawa with chef Shin the next day gets my ‘culinary experience’ award. My personal high point was managing to get a reservation for Noma in Copenhagen next year, which ticks the box for my resolution – learning more about Nordic cuisine. I have a feeling that in 2020 both will go to Noma! If you are looking for inspiration to dine, wine and cook while taking your well-deserved break, read the summer Gourmet Guide online magazine. Free to read, download, print and share.

May you dine well, travel safely and see the New Year and decade in with style.

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