(A Food and pairing with a Delicious Difference)
BoozyFoodie (she said):
How is this for an event teaser:
“I found a handful of exciting, but really affordable wines and set a challenge to my chefs to pair each in dégustation-style. I will share my wine discoveries and you can taste the results.”
This really grabbed my attention, firstly the mention of “affordable wines” and then”challenge my chefs” AND the invite coming from the fabulous Chef Rachel Botes from Carlton Cafe + Delicious. Add into the mix that this little gem of restaurant usually isn’t open in the evening I decided that it Wine Tasting sure sounds like the ideal adventure!
This is part of The Delicious Sessions offered by this eatery. Read more about it on Facebook (link to page at bottom of blog entry).
As we arrived, we saw that the restaurant was cleared of the normal tables and chairs, and little stations were set up – the idea is to ‘tour’ your way through the different wine and food offerings. Rachel (aka Jasmine – for the evening) enthusiastically shared how the idea of this unique tasting experience came about. Seeing that the festive season is fast approaching, she started thinking about affordable wine options (especially with our current economic climate as it is). Wine shopping can be intimidating as well, and the general idea that a good quality wine usually comes with a hefty price tag, adds even more to the anxiety of entertaining. So she made it her mission to find a few wines to suggest, with the assistance of Hannelie Strydom of Makro (Centurion), that is good value for money. The price range – R35 to R60 per bottle. And they managed to find quite a few lovely wines that fits the criteria!
But, just to make it even more exciting, she got her team of young, talented chefs to design a dish that will compliment the chosen wines. The catch? They had no idea which wine they were going to get. The bottles were covered in brown paper bags, so that not even the shape of the bottles were visible, and each one had to pick their wine to work with. A fun taste adventure started! The chefs also had a budget to work with, to keep with the theme of an affordable food and wine pairing.
There was purposefully no involvement from the various wine farms – specifically so that each chef were solely responsible for their own station – from the set-up and decorating of the table, the preparing of the meals, and introducting the wines to the guests, detailing the flavours and tastes that they identified in the wines, and how they matched it to the food options available.
Isn’t this just a fabulous idea!?
Okay, so here we go:
To start off with:
- Villeria Jasmine paired with green curry pork and beef sliders with mint and basil mayo on handmade sesame tahini buns. This was Chef Rachel Botes’ selection and pairing. It worked very well – I am a big fan of Villiera, very drinkable wine and although the initial nose and taste of the wine comes across as sweet – it actually isn’t a sweet white wine – just cool and refreshing. My favourite summer quaffer. Rachel also explained that she chose the sliders to give the guests a substantial mini-meal. These little burgers were so tasty – and the mild green curry and herb mayo was the perfect start to this little taste adventure. Her station was manned by Hannelie, also to make sure that she is around to answer the tougher wine related questions, while Rachel made smooth that everything runs smoothly behind the scenes. A very gracious hostess indeed.
- Chef Louise de Beer picked Just Nuisance Chenin/Semillon. And yes, I am a dog lover, so I love the history of Just Nuisance. I won’t retell the entire story, but he was a Great Dane who lived in Simon’s Town – the first (and only dog) ever officially enlisted in the Royal Navy. If you don’t know the story, google it – it is a lovely piece of history. So, before I digress again (happens easily when I start talking about our four-legged friends). To keep with the theme, Louise served goat’s cheese dog biscuit with an asparagus mousse. The presentation was gorgeous, and super fun. And the flavours worked so well together. These guys and gals really know what they are doing 🙂 And (one of my favourites of the evening) a delectable Cape Malay curry shortbread white chocolate truffle. There are no words to describe this little morsel of awesomeness. So I won’t even try – but you can only imagine what an inspiring taste sensation that was!
- Our next stop: Cape Atlantic Sauvignon Blanc – paired with Chef Jessica Holloway’s Shrimp Ceviche with pancetta, melon juice and asparagus on rocket served on pink pepper corn and coriander biscotti with grapefruit pearls. All that I can say is WOW! There is such a lot going on there – but it all worked perfectly together, with each little bite there was a different taste to savour. And what a fabulous wine! After chatting to Hannelie earlier that evening, I discovered that this easy wine is made by Cederberg’s David Nieuwhoudt. Need I say more?
Maybe this will be a good time to apologise for the quality of my photos – still playing around with my new camera. And at this stage I also didn’t want to take up too much time and space, seeing that by this stage in the evening it was starting to get buzzing and busy – so I rather took a step back not to irritate the other guests with random camera flashes. And now, looking back, I can kick myself – because I simply don’t have enought quality photos to truely reflect everyone’s quality and effort. Promise, next time I will do better
- Next up – Kanonkop Kadette Rose. This delectable Pinotage Rose was paired with Chef Mia Swiegers’ Peri-peri braised pork cheek with savoury sour cherry sauce topped with fresh strawberries, radish and mint on puff pastry. This worked so well – the mild spicyness combined with the cherry/strawberry flavours – and the mint added a lovely freshness to the dish!
- Moving on to Overhex Balance WMS Pinot Noir. Danelle Human had a savoury and sweet offering to go with this lovely and versatile wine. Paper bread triangles topped with duck liver pate, duck carpaccio and black cherries. (At this stage I really started missing Noble Savage – he would have loved this! But, it was ‘girls night out’ for me and he had work stuff to do – after sharing my experiences I’m sure he will definitely come along next time). Moving on swifty! Her sweet option was chai spiced shortbread with sour cherry and bruleed meringue. This also worked fabulous with the Pinot Noir – it actually tasted like a mouthful of Christmas. Delicious!
- Last, but definitely not least – our ‘dessert’ of the evening! Secret Cellar Methode Cap Classique. Secret Cellar is kind of the ‘Odd Bins’ version of Ultra Liquors, so a good ‘brand’ name bubbly disguised a bit! And the presentation was so inventive! Chef Pieter du Toit served bubbly cocktail in tall Champagne glasses filled with raspberry and gooseberry syrup – and topped with tangy cranberry sorbet. And then, a real treat – popcorn and treacle sugar biscuits.
Chatting a bit to some of the chefs, I realised that this is a very creative, young and fun team – and can only admire Chef Rachel Botes for giving her young and talented padowans free reign to explore and discover – and be creative, while challenging them as well. A winning team indeed! Well done everyone! And, we will be back for more!
Follow Carlton Cafe + Delicious on Facebook to keep up to date with this team’s fun adventures, as well as upcoming events. (I must be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I should share it – wanted to keep it my little secret ;)) But I know I’m definitely one of loads of C C+D fans! Go and show your support 🙂 And above all, be educated and have fun at the same time. What a bargain 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/carltoncafedelicious/
And a very special thank you to Chef Rachel Botes for the time she took to reply to all my questions ‘post-event’ 🙂