It has been a busy, productive, meeting-greeting-and-eating week! It started with the StreetSmart AGM on Monday, at which Nik Rabinowitz entertained us before the serious business of handing over cheques to the deserving organisations that do such incredible work. The Wesgro Annual Review at the Taj Hotel was a well-intended, positive affair at which Bob Schumacher of United Airlines excited everyone with the news of the first non-stop air service between Cape Town and New York (Newark), from next month.
Tintswalo at Boulders
A convivial weekend was spent with spectacular views at Tintswalo at Boulders for a summer celebration of wines with Bouchard Finlayson, hosted by Tintswalo owner, Lisa Goosen. Over a four-course dinner, prepared by 12 Apostles chef Christo Pretorius, with superb Bouchard Finlayson wines, winemaker Chris Albrecht unveiled their 2017 Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale to an appreciative audience. An early-morning interlude with the penguins was a delight. Read all about it in the summer edition of the Gourmet Guide online magazine (from 2 December).
“Today is a celebration of the promise of tomorrow that is in the palm of your hands. It’s the promise, hope and talent in each one of you that has the power to change our country’s destiny!” Maylene Broderick, Chief Director of Enterprise Development and Transformation from the Ministry of Tourism.
The 9th One&Only Reaching for Young Stars Showcook event was a stellar affair, a lunch at the One&Only Cape Town at which students’ recipes are created using sponsors’ ingredients. After the main course the students of competing culinary schools lined the walls, eagerly awaiting the announcement of this year’s winners. For me the highlight is seeing what they can produce under pressure, and their elation when their names are revealed. An elated Young Star Chef of the Year, Oigen Kaptein of The Private Hotel School will spend three weeks at the One&Only Le Saint Géran in Mauritius to discover Creole, Indian and Chinese cuisine. Congratulations!
Gåte at Quoin Rock
In the sublime setting of the Knorhoek Valley is another rising star, 25-year-old chef Nicole Loubser. Hailing from Namibia, she took over the reins recently, and is already turning heads. The broad sweeps of an idyllic wine-farm picture are viewed from every aspect of the luxury restaurant. Décor is all about attention to detail, but not detracting from the backdrop, like wooden tables monogrammed with a brass Q insert.
Molecular gastronomy is Nicole’s forte, having gleaned most of her experience in a two-Michelin star restaurant in Salzburg called Ikarus. Here every month visiting chefs from three-Michelin star restaurants raised her game, teaching her what she needed to know. Staff at Gåte are well informed; each dish comes with its own set of instructions! The six-course journey around the world is a memorable one, starting in the airport lounge of Cape Town International, where you sip an espresso (a piquant glass cup of hot soup) and chew on a bread cigar with a heavenly dip. The oyster course, which both my guest and I declined, was rapidly replaced with a hot halloumi dish. The humble tomato appeared again when we stopped in Italy for a caprese dish. In Austria a croquette with sauerkraut and a cherry sauce, in Namibia pepper-crusted oryx, thin slices served with accompaniments that shone on their own, but when combined created an outstanding medley of flavours. The twists and turns are a heady mix of excellent cuisine served with froths and foams. Local touches like cheese from Stanford do not go unnoticed. Dessert took us to Hawaii, where the tastes of pineapple and Malibu married to move our souls to the seaside. Dinner is a longer affair, 14 courses in all, which, with a wine pairing, demands that you stay close by to avoid driving. Plans are afoot to add beds, so watch this space, but meanwhile don’t take your eyes off Nicole.
On 4 December Gåte at Quoin Rock is hosting their first-ever, hands-on interactive molecular masterclass and paired six-course tasting journey. Nicole will treat 12 participants to the know-how behind signature dishes boasted on the Journey around the World menu. The luncheon will be paired with wine, cocktails or tea, inspired by the flavours of the world. Commencing with a tour of the wine cellar, the experience will start at 11h00 and finish at 15h00. The cost of R1800 per person includes a unique Gåte at Quoin Rock chefs’ apron and trendy baseball-style chefs’ hat.
Magical Magica Roma
‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ It is a long while since I have frequented this stalwart of Italian cuisine in Pinelands. You are always guaranteed of the owners’ charming and attentive presence, and the finest, authentic fare. Nothing has changed, regulars roll in and have become part of the familiar furniture. It was a joy to be warmly welcomed by Ezio, who without being reminded of my dish of choice, swiftly served me. Their roasted Mediterranean vegetables with crispy calamari is pure delight. Big note to self…must go back!