On Thursday I met writer and recent Winelands resident David Bullard, Shan Pascall from Oneiric Wines, and Sophia Hawkins of Vilafonte for lunch at Wild Peacock Food Emporium in Stellenbosch, after we had connected at the pop-up lunch by Chef Bertus Basson at Oneiric Wines last Sunday. I met new Wild Peacock Chef Andrew Jordaan, and we were told by co-owner Andrew Baker that they supply all 2013/2014 Top 20 shortlisted Eat Out restaurants on their wholesale side, run by Sue Baker with son Ross. Wild Peacock is synonymous with oysters, and other ‘fine delicacies’ served by our country’s leading restaurants, the wholesale operation having opened more than 20 years ago.
Andrew said that the space of their deli and The Larder restaurant had seen a number of different retail outlets previously, and none had been successful due to the lack of parking. He and Sue had the vision for the deli, which was initially managed by their daughter Sarah, who now focuses on the company’s artisanal cheese selection. Parking has been addressed, and from next week onwards there will be parking marshalls operating outside their door, ensuring a regular replacement of shoppers, now able to pop into the Emporium, and to have a bite to eat and a glass of wine to drink. The deli has grown to become the 2013 Eat Out (previously run by former sister publication Eat In) Produce Awards Best Food Outlet in the South of South Africa!
Andrew created the wine section of the Emporium, and its offering has won a Diners Club Diamond Award as well as Best Small Wine List Award. Andrew runs The Wine Worx in his day job, selling, marketing, and distributing a range of wines of 21 boutique wineries. He is also a keen winemaker, having made a house Pinot Noir, which we enjoyed with our lunch. We were told by the waiter Danny that Andrew uses the cellar at Fryer’s Cove on the West Coast to make his wines. Andrew has now found land in Devon Valley on which he can grow his own grapes for his wines. They have a licence which allows them to sell wines every day, even on Sundays, and in the evenings too. I spent an enjoyable French-inspired dinner at Wild Peacock almost two years ago, paired with French wines distributed by Great Domaines’ charming Derek Kilpin.
Chef Andrew joined the restaurant at Wild Peacock Food Emporium six months ago, having worked in London (at the Conran Group restaurants Mezzo and Bluebird Garage, and at 101 in Knightsbridge) for 12 years, and at Longridge locally. He is a keen market stallholder, and sells salads at the Route 44 market on Saturdays. He recently married Sarah Papenfuss, who works at Wines of South Africa (WOSA). In running the restaurant, he is lucky to have access to the special products which the wholesale side can source, but he was quick to point out that he does not want to reinvent the wheel, cooking honest food. Molecular gastronomy is not his thing, although he appreciates the chef skills required. At home he keeps it simple, many chefs enjoying a Marmite and Cheese toast! Good fish and meat with a salad is their main meal at home. He shared how popular their fish is, supplied by Southern Cross, and they cannot keep up with the demand, especially for tuna. He told me that customers come into the deli, and often ask him for advice as to how best to prepare something they buy.
Dinner is offered three times a week, and the menu is changed weekly. This week starter options included a fresh minted pea soup (R55), six Saldanha Bay oysters (R79), rainbow trout (R79), and seared duck (R65). Main courses included ricotta gnocchi (R105), pan fried yellowtail (R110), squid served three ways (R115), and 28 day aged sirloin steak (R125). Desserts were their two cakes: Red Velvet and Lemon Meringue, both costing R45. A board of artisanal cheeses with biscuits or bread costs R55. I told Chef Andrew that I no longer receive the weekly dinner menu e-mail, which he will check on. Ruan Spence is the manager, and has been at Wild Peacock for some time already, having moved across from Le Franschhoek Hotel.
We sat outside on a hot Stellenbosch day of 30°+C, and a board at our table highlighted three lunch specials. David loved the Whitebait, dusted in flour and fried crisp, served with a dipping sauce, and he had most of the starter portion of it. I ordered the 28 day aged juicy sirloin, served with hand cut wedges and a side salad, good value at R100. Andrew told us that they are very happy with Eikeboom Butchery, which supplies the meat. David, Shan, and Sophia ordered the melt-in-the-mouth gnocchi with porcini mushrooms, parmesan, and a magic sauce (R69), which is the signature dish of Wild Peacock I discovered after we received our dishes. They also serve a Wagyu beef burger at R59. Grilled fish (usually hake) with roast baby potatoes costs R69. Adding a glass of wine to the specials raises the price of each by R20.
The deli sells almost all the products which are available to restaurants on the wholesale side, including a variety of delectable artisanal cheeses; bread from Sacred Ground in Franschhoek (including panini, ciabatta, gluten-free bread, 100% rye, sourdough, seed health loaf, and baguettes); cakes which include a carrot cake and baked cheese cake too, at R25 – R35; charcuterie; ducks; chickens, quail; rabbit; artichokes; truffle products; Valrhona chocolates; olives and olive oils; mussels; rock lobster; caviar; snails; Italian delicacies; pastas; farm butter; and sorbet.
We teased David about his very cerise T-shirt, which suits his (still proudly) jet black hair perfectly. We spoke about the movie ‘Wolf on Wall Street‘, and he shared how wild the stockbroker days in the Eighties were in Johannesburg, having worked in that industry before he focused on writing. He has not seen the Scorsese movie yet, but what he knows about it is not very different to the crazy Johannesburg days. He would not expand on what they got up to, but he referred to GT Ferreira as being part of those days too!
We shared a jolly afternoon, made more liquid when Andrew (Baker) joined our table, sending his Limoncello and Valrhona chocolates to the table. I had to leave when the coffees and delicious lemon meringue tart and the cheese board were served. David very generously picked up the tab for all of us, which I will reciprocate when we meet again, in Camps Bay in three weeks time!
The Larder, Wild Peacock Food Emporium, 32 Piet Retief Street, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 887-7585. www.wildpeacock.co.za Twitter: @WildPeacock Monday – Sunday Lunch, Wednesday – Friday Dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage