Entries tagged with “molecular gastronomy”.


The new words on serious diners lips are ‘Gåte’ and ‘Quoin Rock’, both not having been heard of by most, but already associated with superlative dining, on a wine estate tucked away outside Stellenbosch where no expense had been spared to create eating and drinking experiences to take one’s breath away! This is what we experienced when invited to eat at Chef Rikku O’Donnchü’s Gåte restaurant on Friday evening. I was still pinching myself over the weekend as to whether this was real, or just a dream. I invited my friend Stuart Bailey to share this experience with me. (more…)

Yesterday I had the goosebump experience of being introduced to the new-in-the-making Gåte at Quoin Rock restaurant at the Quoin Rock winery outside Stellenbosch, which is destined to become a superlative Fine Dining dinner experience, probably the best this country has ever seen!  (more…)

Fine Brandy Fusion This Is Brandy Whale Cottage PortfolioOn Thursday evening my friend Bettie Coetzee-Lambrecht and I attended Fine Brandy Fusion at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, having been invited by Manley Communications.   Fine Brandy Fusion is a fine showcase for the local brandy industry, the Bisquit cognac with South African links being our highlight.

At the registration desk we received a goody bag, and a booklet of coupons, to allow us to taste brandy cocktails and taste some of the 50 fine brandies neat.  Immediately on entering we passed a smallish restaurant, catered by the Convention Centre kitchen.  The food quality of the Convention Centre has been poor at every exhibition attended in the past, but picked up when its new Chef Warwick Thomas arrived a year ago, reaching a new low at World Travel Market Africa last month.  I was immediately sceptical, but the food options which were displayed in a refrigerated unit looked better (just from the plating) than I have ever seen there before.   We received two food couponsFine Brandy Fusion Food Whale Cottage Portfolio each, which Bettie used for linefish and I ordered tasty calamari rings, Bettie saying that it would be important to line our tummies for the brandy tasting to come.  We both ordered a cheese platter as well.  The service was excellent and professional, and the prices very reasonable at about R50 each.  We felt severely under-dressed when a fashionista wearing fur and her partner shared our table! (more…)

Andres Kitchen Vixen Screen-shot-2012-09-15-at-3.03.13-PM-300x209Amazing news for the restaurant scene in Cape Town is that Chef Andres Condé , who worked at the former elBulli, the former number one restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, is moving to Cape Town in June, and joining the Harbour House Group of restaurants belonging to Michael Townsend, as Group Executive Chef.

As his first priority Chef Andres will focus on La Parada, the two tapas restaurants based in Kalk Bay and on Bree Street, and will revamp their menus.  If La Parada weren’t already the most Spanish tapas restaurants in Cape Town, they will now become super-Spanish and genuine tapas restaurants.  He will also work with the Harbour House restaurant teams in Kalk Bay and in the V&A Waterfront.  He will not be involved with the Lucky Fish restaurants in the Harbour House Group.

Chef Andres won an award as best young chef in Navarra, a Spanish wine region.  His prize was an internship at the former elBulli near Roses in Catalonia, a Michelin 3-star restaurant run by Chef Ferran Adrià, who many would say is the world’s most creative chef, being associated with Molecular Gastronomy, and having written cookbooks.   The internship was for two months, but Chef Andres stayed for more than six years!  He worked in (more…)

Wild Peacock David Bullard Whale Cottage PortfolioOn 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, Wild Peacock Cake and cheese counter Whale Cottage Portfoliowho 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 (more…)

MasterChef 2 26 Top 4 Whale Cottage PortfolioThe viewers’ blood is boiling, in that Finalist Kamini Pather was given a second chance two nights running  in episodes 25 and 26, to hang in at MasterChef SA, given that she clearly was the weakest performer in both the episodes.  The episode was an exciting one, however, showing the diversity of the Finalists in being able to recreate something as difficult as Chef Richard Carstens’ Chocolate Handkerchief dish, consisting of eleven elements.

The Final Four were given black aprons on arriving at the MasterChef SA kitchen, being in a Pressure Test, without deserving it as such.  They noticed technical equipment they had never seen before on their workstations, including gloves, goggles, palette knives, and nitrogen guns.  They also noticed an unnamed white jacket hanging in the kitchen. They were told that the judges were turning up the heat, and that they would face the toughest challenge.  The winner would go directly into Wednesday’s Finale, while the person preparing the weakest dish would be eliminated.

Seline van der Watt reacted by saying that she would ‘put all on the line today and go for it’.  Ozzy Osman said cleverly that he would rather have the jacket than have to fight over it later in the series. Leandri van der Wat said practically ‘Let’s cook’, looking forward to the challenge! Kamini said that she felt calmer, after losing her nerves in episode 25, when her Lemon Meringue Gâteau was less than perfect, and she cried (more…)

MasterChef 2 25 Judges and gateau Whale Cottage PortfolioDescribed as cool and aloof by viewers, Kamini Pather showed some emotion and her first tears in the 25th episode of MasterChef SA last night, frustrated in her efforts to bake a Lemon Meringue Gâteau, the focus of much of the episode.  Being the darling of viewers and tipped to win Season 2 of MasterChef SA, it was a surprise that viewers reacted with such vitriol against her performance at the end of the episode last night.

While Ozzy Osman was on his way to Gansbaai as a guest of Dyer Island Conservation Trust for having created the best month-end dish, the three Finalists who had to go into the Pressure Test as a result of their poor month-end ‘cuisine’ in episode 24 were only supported by Leandri van der Wat, watching her sister Seline, Kamini, and Jason Steel bake up a sweat in what was billed as the ‘most daunting Pressure Test‘ in the series. Chef Benny Masekwameng warned. It would test their limits, in replicating the ‘work of art and masterpiece‘ of invited guest Chef Kelvin (more…)

Tension ran high in the Pressure Test in episode 6 of MasterChef SA Season 2 last night, when six Finalists had to go through a two-stage challenge, to allow the judges to eliminate the first Finalist, Shannon Smuts being chopped from the show. (more…)

New Eat Out judge, blogger Bruce Palling from the UK, has arrived in Cape Town to assist Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant and associated awards organiser Abigail Donnelly in selecting the top ten restaurants in the country and in ranking them.  He has barely set foot in the country, never having been here before, and he has attracted controversy already!

Palling is a rude Tweeter, and on Twitter yesterday afternoon he announced his arrival, having been to Clarke’s second hand bookshop on Long Street, and in having eaten springbok for lunch, commenting on its bland taste: Cape Town on a glorious sunny Spring day – and my first experience of Springbok – surprisingly mild…was expecting more depth of flavour...  A chef retaliated immediately: It’s not stag steaks stored in the deepfreezer for 3 years wrapped in wellington boots, boet”. Palling also Tweeted a comment which was criticised for its implied racism, by labelling a fellow guest on skin colour at the restaurant: Black guest excusing lateness@Cape Town restaurant: “Sorry but had to take taxi because my Ferrari cant make it over bumps at entrance here”. For that Tweet he was admonished too, including by Über-Tweeter Jane-Anne Hobbs.

Palling, who is being accommodated at the Taj hotel, will be visiting the Top 20 restaurant list, unless Ms Donnelly has already cut that list down to her Top 10, and he will assist her in ranking the list, and in choosing the winners in the categories introduced last year: Boschendal Style Award, Best Italian, Best Asian, Best Bistro, Best Steakhouse, and Best Country Style restaurant.  This is our prediction of where Palling can be expected to eat in potential 2012 Eat Out Top 10 restaurants in the next few days in the Western Cape (we have excluded Grande Provence, The Roundhouse, and Nobu due to chef changes, and other deserving restaurants at which the chefs have been at the restaurants for less than a year):

*   The Test Kitchen

*   The Greenhouse

*   Planet Restaurant

*   Makaron Restaurant

*   Tokara

*   Delaire Graff

*   Pierneef à La Motte

*   Overture

*   Terroir

*   Babylonstoren

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine

*   Waterkloof

*   La Colombe

*   Rust en Vrede

*   The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français

From Palling’s blogposts, of which variations are published in the Europe edition of the Wall Street Journal occasionally, one has learnt the following about his eating and drinking tastes:

1.   Local is lekker:  he wants to eat ‘native produce’ rather than it being imported  (e.g. ‘wallaby’ in Australia!)

2.   He is fond of wine, and it should be local and single varietal, and not blended

3.  His benchmark is Michelin-ism

4.  He is quick to describe food as ‘bland’

5.   He has a ‘boredom with egg-dominated dishes’

6.   He loves ‘Nordic’ (especially Swedish) cuisine

7.   He scoffs at molecular gastronomy, which he calls ‘pretend food’, and likes to be able to identify produce on a plate ‘rather than look at an inanimate mixture of textures and smears’

8.  He ‘cherishes food which exudes strong, not to say, disgusting odours’.

It will be interesting to see if Palling’s assistance to Ms Donnelly will make any difference to the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards results. Palling has already shown that he is a difficult and opinionated writer and judge, and a rude Tweeter.

POSTSCRIPT 5/9: Eat Out has just announced that it is hosting a weekend of food celebration from 23 – 25 November, with international chefs in attendance too: This is from their website:

On Friday 23 November, there will be an exclusive dinner with Massimo Bottura, chef at Osteria Francescana, number 5 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the prestigious annual awards sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Aqua Panna.

On Saturday 24 November, for the first time ever, we’ll be hosting an Eat Out Conference at The Westin Cape Town on Cape Town’s foreshore. Speakers at the inspiring, interactive day include top international chef Massimo Bottura; Bruce Palling (Wall Street Journal critic, World’s 50 Best Restaurants judge, blogger and Eat Out 2012 judge); and British food designer Andrew Stellitano (check out his incredible food landscapes, sculptural pancakes and edible Louis Vuitton handbagshere). Local speakers include reigning Chef of the Year, Luke Dale-Roberts, and prominent members of the local food and restaurant community, who’ll join a panel discussion led by Eat Out editor and judge, Abigail Donnelly.

On Sunday, the winners of the 2012 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at The Westin Cape Town. A four-course meal will be prepared by top chefs, and the new Top 10 will be announced, along with the winners of the awards for best steakhouse, bistro, Asian, country-style and Italian restaurant, along with the Boschendal Style Award“.

POSTSCRIPT 9/9: Bruce Palling has been eating his way around the Cape, and the only clues that he is leaving is that he has eaten Springbok on more than one occasion, and he is Tweeting photographs of the wines he has drunk with his meals, which must be very frustrating for him, as he is a keen food photographer, but that would give the judging away!  His wine choice over the past five days has included Zorgvliet Cabernet Sauvignon (vintage not mentioned), Raats Cabernet Franc 2008, Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2010, Raats Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Paul Cluver 7 Flags Pinot Noir 2008, and Luddite Shiraz 2006. He is seeking wines with less than 14% alcohol content, to suit his wife’s requirement, and has been asking for advice on Twitter, a sad reflection on the restaurants at which he has eaten not being able to advise him!  He has taken back his criticism of springbok in his Tweet on his arrival (see above), and Tweeted on Friday: “Take back Springbok being boring/bland – had 2 non sous vide versions which lean + voluptuous helped along by Raats Cabernet Franc 08”. No local chefs, with the exception of Oliver Cattermole, who is not in the running for the Eat Out Top 10 Awards as he has not been at Dish at Le Franschhoek for a full year, have interacted with Palling on Twitter.  Chefs Peter Tempelhoff (Greenhouse), Jackie Cameron (Hartford House), Gregory Czarnecki (Waterkloof), Margot Janse (The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français), Scot Kirton (La Colombe), Tanja Kruger (Makaron), Eric Bulpitt (The Roundhouse), Marthinus Ferreira (DW Eleven – 13), and Tokara Restaurant are all following Palling on Twitter, perhaps hoping for a clue or two.  Further disparaging Tweets in reaction to our Palling blogposts have been posted by Palling, one of which was (unprofessionally) ReTweeted by Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room owner Susan Huxter).

POSTSCRIPT 12/9: Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room and McGrath Hotels’ The Greenhouse must be concerned about Bruce Palling’s attack on ‘Relais Chateau‘ (sic) on Twitter today, both hotel groups belonging to Relais & Châteaux.

POSTSCRIPT 13/9: One hopes that Bruce Palling’s restaurant judging is better than his a-palling spelling and photography. This was his Tweet from Biesmiellah last night: “Taking a break at Biedmiellah (sic) – Babotie (sic) and Denning Vleis (sic)”. Poor quality writing, especially from a ‘journalist’!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Yesterday Rougié, the world’s largest producer of foie gras, introduced a number of us to their method of foie gras production, dispelled all myths of the ‘cruelty’ of this production, and spoilt us with a wonderful Chef’s Table lunch at the Mount Nelson Hotel.

Guy de Saint-Laurent, Directeur: Commercial Export of Rougié Sarlat, flew in from France to explain to Chef Rudi Liebenberg from the Mount Nelson’s Planet Restaurant, Chef Dylan Laity of Aubergine, and Chef Darren Badenhorst from Grande Provence how duck foie gras is produced.  The company specialises in foie gras supply to the restaurant industry, and calls itself the ‘Chef’s Foie Gras’.  We were told that foie gras is one of the oldest food products, having been developed in Egypt 5000 years ago, the Pharaohs already force fattening wild birds at that time.  For their long journeys to other parts of the world in winter, the birds naturally overfeed to create a natural layer of fat around their liver, for their long flights, doubling their weight. The first foie gras recipes emanate from Rome, and were based on geese livers. Now 80% of the world’s production comes from France, with another 15 % being produced in Spain, Belgium, Japan, and the USA.  With the introduction of corn from America to France, the production of foie gras was revolutionised, in being used to force feed the ducks and geese.  Foie gras is produced from Moulard ducks, a cross between Muscovy and Pekin ducks.  Up to 98% of all foie gras is made from duck, taking 12 weeks to breed and 10 days to be fattened, while geese need 14 weeks breeding time and 21 days of fattening.  Duck foie gras is more affordable therefore, and tastes better, Guy said.  Its preparation has been mainly pan-fried or seared in the past, but Rougié is working on guiding chefs to find more uses for it. The company has recently set up the L’Ecole Du Foie Gras, teaching chefs the art of foie gras usage.

We were shown a video of how duck are fed a boiled corn ‘mash’ with a tube which goes into their crop, the process called ‘gavage‘.  This process takes 3 minutes, and is done once a day over the last 12 days of the duck’s life.  Vets visit the foie gras farms, and confirmed that ducks are ‘anatomically pre-disposed to be force fed’,  having a long neck, and that there is ‘no indication of stress’ to the ducks, a study showed.  The quality of the treatment of the ducks is reflected in the quality of the foie gras that is produced.  Rougié exports foie gras to 120 countries around the world, either raw, in cans, or flash frozen, the latter having a taste and texture ‘as good as fresh’. The company is a co-operative of about 700 duck farmers, foie gras being one of the products they make.

Foie gras has nutritional benefits, containing Vitamins B, C, and E.  A slice of foie gras has 260 Kcal, compared to a hamburger having 275 Kcal, and a pizza 600 Kcal.  It has good fat similar to that in olive oil, and protects the heart.  It is a food that can be adapted to the food traditions of the world, going well with the sweet, sour, and acidity in ingredients.  The Japanese are even making foie gras sushi, and the Chinese are making foie gras dumplings for Dim Sum.

While we were listening to the presentation, Chef Rudi’s team was busy preparing a foie gras feast for us, a nine-course lunch of small portions, to demonstrate the diversity of foie gras.    Chef Rudi’s brief to his team was to do him and the foie gras proud in the dishes that they created for this unique lunch. Three foie gras canapés were served with Villiera Tradition Brut NV, a terrine with beetroot, a macaroon, and a whipped foie gras torchon.   We discussed the reaction to foie gras, and that the state of California has banned its use in restaurants, despite foie gras being USDA approved.  Restaurants in the state wish to reverse the ban through legal action.  Guy said that the negative reaction comes from foie gras being seen to be for the well-to-do, making it elitist, the gavache method of feeding, and the love for comic characters such as Daffy and Donald Duck.

We started with frozen shaved foie gras, which was served with pine nuts and litchi, a  fresh surprise combination of ingredients, which Assistant Sommelier Farai Magwada paired with Bellingham’s The Bernard Series Chenin Blanc 2011.  Guy told us that he has chefs which visit restaurants around the world, especially to those far away from France, to educate and excite chefs about the preparation of foie gras. Last week Guy and Sagra Foods, the importers of the Rougié foie gras, had hosted similar lunches at The Westcliff with Chef Klaus Beckmann, and at The Saxon with Chef David Higgs, of whom Guy said that his work was two star Michelin quality, having been more classic in his foie gras usage.  Foie gras served with fresh apple, apple chutney, on an oats streusel, was paired with Spier Private Collection Chardonnay 2007.

I asked Guy about cookbooks about foie gras, and he told me that three have been written to date, one produced for Rougié, another done by Chef Nobu of the restaurant group by the same name, and the third by Beijing restaurant Da Dong. Given that Rougié was not prescriptive about how the foie gras should be served at its South African lunches, it seemed a good idea to develop a compilation of the dishes served, perhaps even including those lying ahead for Guy in Mauritius and Reunion.  An indian touch came through with foie gras and curried banana being sandwiched between two poppadom crisps, served with a fresh Solms-Delta Koloni 2010. A fun dish was pairing foie gras with popcorn and chicken breast, which was paired with Jordan Chameleon 1995.  As if we had not eaten enough already, we had a small palate cleanser, being duck confit with artichoke and mash.

We moved to fish, for which we were served fish knives, for hake cured with lemon and lemon grass, served with foie gras spuma and grilled melon, and paired with Cederberg Bukettraube 2011.    Guy explained that sous vide was invented for foie gras, and has since been adapted for use for other foods.  He also told me that French chefs predominantly used foie gras in terrines, but since Rougié has started marketing their products, and running their chefs’ courses, they are seeing it put to a greater number of creative uses. The beef, marinated mushrooms, and foie gras emulsion was paired with L’Omarins Optima 2006.  We talked about Chef Rudi’s support of Farmer Angus at Spier, buying his free-range meats, and having guinea fowl and turkey bred for his restaurant.

The Mount Nelson’s creative pastry chef Vicky Gurovich has just returned from a stage at Chef Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir in Great Milton, and visited Valrhona in Paris.  Her dessert creation of a foie gras, Valrhona chocolate and toffee terrine served with hazelnuts was the pièce de résistance. It was paired with Nederburg Eminence Noble Late Harvest 2009.

Sagra Foods was established in 1994, and operates from Cape Town, but distributes a range of exclusive foods and wines nationally, and even into Southern Africa, planning to make this country a hub of distribution of its fine foods into Africa, Darryn Lazarus said.  They commenced with Italian products, but decided to focus and specialise on premium products such as truffle oils, truffle butters, and many more, to make these products more affordable for local chefs.  Darryn said they are the ‘pioneers in specialty ingredients’, using wholesalers like Wild Peacock to offer chefs a single source of supply.  They import products ‘that make a difference’ from France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Australia, and the USA. So, for example, they sell El Bulli’s Texturas range, being the technical elements which once world best Chef Ferran Adria uses in his molecular gastronomy; De Cecco pasta from Italy; Vilux French mustards and vinegars; Borde dried mushrooms; Belberry jams, sauces, syrups, and vinegars; pastry cases with an 8 month shelf life; Australian Massel beef, chicken and vegetable stocks which are kosher, halaal, and gluten-free; and Tea Forte, the original designers of the tea pyramid, with such award-winning tea flavours as Blueberry Merlot and Lemon Sorbet.

The Mount Nelson was praised by Guy for its playful and less classic interpretation of the foie gras challenge, and he liked how the structure and taste of the foie gras was brought to the fore with the ingredients used by Chef Rudi’s chefs.  It was a most informative, once-in-a-lifetime lunch highlight, with excellent food, paired with a amazing range of wines, good company, and hosted in a special venue inside the sixty year old Mount Nelson kitchen.  Merci beaucoup!

Sagra Food & Wine Merchants, 10 Flamingo Crescent, Lansdowne, Cape Town. Tel (021) 761-3360. www.sagrafoods.com.  Twitter: @SagraFoodsZA

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage