Thursday, May 03, 2012

Expressions of Stellenbosch in Mint Restaurant at the Taj

May's programme in the Expressions of... series of food and wine pairing months was launched at the Taj Cape Town last week. For the whole of the merry month of May, the Mint restaurant at the Taj will feature dishes designed by Delaire chef Christiaan Campbell to match wines from the Greater Simonsberg, Stellenbosch Valley and Bottelary Hills wards
The starter was a Napoleon of confit Duck leg  topped with duck ham and slices sweet  green figs and was very rich and complicated. The word Napoleon is used to indicate that part of the dish has been layered between thin sheets of crisp pastry. 
Also on the plate was a puree of quince and toasted pumpkin seeds, crisply fried pieces of the duck ham and a jus. This was served with two wines, the Jordan The Real McCoy Riesling 2011 and the Meerlust Pinot Noir 2010. We thought the Jordan won by a short head but both wines helped to cut through the richness of the dish.
The second course was a piece of smoked and poached hake served on a millet Risotto, accompanied by a slow poached farmer Angus hen's egg, a pea puree and pancetta. The smoked fish and the pea elements in this dish  went well with the Bartinney Vanilla chardonnay. We found the very rich slow cooked egg to be a step too far on a dish that needed to be clean and light after the rather substantial starter.
The main course was Greenfields Beef, bone marrow and shin, cauliflower puree, beetroot pieces and puree and chocolate oil.
The bone marrow and rendered shin had been shaped into a round croquette. It would have been nice to have had something fresh and green on this plate with all the complicated sauces and purees and we felt that a little restraint would perhaps have helped this very meat oriented dish. The beef was pink and perfectly cooked and the Delaire Botmaskop 2008 went well but the perfect match was definitely Martin Meinert's 2007 Synchronicity, a  classic Cape blend of Cabertnet, Merlot and Pinotage.
Dessert, which nearly finished us off, was a Toffee ice-cream sandwiched between banana bread with marscarpone and coconut marshmallows on more chocolate toffee.
This was accompanied by the really wonderul Delaire Cape Vintage Port which John enjoyed a little of... but, talking with his hands as usual, he managed to splatter Lynne's all over her white top!
The dinner was preceded by a tasting, open to all comers, of wines from Simonsberg, Bottelary and Stellenbosch Hills
Kathy Jordan and Kyle Martin
Mari and Henry Vigar of La Mouette, Sea Point
with Mark McCarthy

Martin Meinert with his Synchronicity red blend

Anel Grobler (Spit or Swallow) loving the evening and the wine
F&B Director, Willem du Toit, introduced the dinner

with Delaire chef Christaan Campbell and James Borland

A glass for every wine
Rose Jordaan (Bartinney), Philip Engelen (Brooklands House) and Taj GM Michael Pownall
Christiaan Campbell and Rose Jordaan

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