Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Du Toitskloof-Muratie cook off 2014 at Du Toitskloof

Du Toit’s Kloof vs Muratie annual Cook-off

It was Du Toitskloof’s turn to host this competition this year and we were taken there in one of their small buses. It is in Rawsonville, just through the Du Toitskloof tunnel, and they had set up a huge marquee and cooks from both farms were all busy cooking the lamb. This year they were to showcase Karoo Lamb and they had to cook some chops on a braai and larger cuts like the shoulder or leg in a pot. It was not great weather but we had a very jolly crowd of supporters and media and lots of wine from both farms flowed. Muratie were quite clever in producing a starter – they put an entire Brie on a tray on the braai till it got lovely and warm and gooey and you could scoop up warm cheese which was then topped with slices of fresh strawberry – unusual but it works. It certainly kept the wolf from the door while we waited for the lamb to cook.
Arrival as the bad weather sweeps in across the mountains. But the marquee wil protect us. Lynne is chatting to Pete Goffe Wood and Arnold Tanzer, who was visiting from Johannesburg. Both are involved with SA Masterchef, Pete as a judge
The Du Toitskloof ladies get ready for us
Their chops were seasoned with just salt and pepper and coriander seed
Their shoulder of lamb in a huge potjie also was just flavoured with salt and pepper and coriander
A welcome glass of Du Toitskloof Sauvignon Blanc sparkling wine with a strawberry, some good biltong and droëwors (dried sausage)
On the Muratie table, some of the Karoo lamb they are using. A whole shoulder and some "Saratoga" chops. They also just seasoned with salt and pepper to show the meat at its best
The whole Muratie team at their cooking station
The tray of a whole brie topped with strawberries warming on the braai fire
Their shoulders of lamb were cooked very simply with onions, salt and pepper and some water and braised for hours till very soft and tender
Some vegetable kebab sticks ready for the fire
After the tasting we were to have a spit roasted lamb for lunch, prepared by a local family. This is not part of the competition. This is it, turning on its spit
Cutting up the spit roast lamb and putting it into the gravy with the roast potatoes. This is a very traditional South African specialty
Tables all laid in the marquee
Bubbly chilling
TV is filming
Rijk and Kim Melck with the producer
Those Saratoga chops have been seasoned ready for the braai
A selection of wine for drinking
Those chops go on the coals watched by Neil Pendock and chef Arnold Tanzer
The judges' table
No input allowed from the professionals, they didn’t even get to vote
Marius Louw of Du Toitskloof gives words of welcome and introduces proceedings
We wait for the competition food to come to the table
The Du Toitskloof team
DOC Lamb for the Karoo. During the event Professor Johann Kirsten Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria told us about how South Africa is trying to value, promote and protect our special regional foods, starting with Karoo lamb, as products of origin and quality, as we already do with our wines. It is rather like the European Commission has done with Welsh Lamb, Gorgonzola Cheese, Parma Ham etc. It means that identified foods are ethically produced, marked, numbered and this means their origins can be checked and authenticated. 
To explain this further we quote Wikipedia entry for DOC:
Denominazione di origine controllata ("Controlled designation of origin") is a quality assurance label for Italian food products, especially wines and various cheeses (Denominazione di Origine Protetta). It is modelled after the French AOC. It was instituted in 1963 and overhauled in 1992 for compliance with the equivalent EU law on Protected Designation of Origin, which came into effect that year.
The South African project will differ but, basically, it will be similar. We think this is a wonderful initiative and hope to see lots more of our special regional foods joining this programme. To learn more look at
He shows us how wine is classified
And now how Karoo lamb is also classified as Meat of Origin
Red wine is served, the meat is on the way
We listen to the presentation
We are given two corks, one for each farm. Our winner’s cork will go into the hat
Muratie's serving of half a Saratoga chop and their meltingly tender and very tasty lamb shoulder from the potjie
Rijk Melck pours us glasses of Ansella van de Kaap red blend and his wife, Kim, holds a handful of Saratoga chops to distribute
Nicely cooked, with crisp fat
Mother and son
Du Toitskloof serve their lamb
Paired with their excellent 2010 fruity and spicy shiraz, which goes beautifully with the lamb
The two chefs wait to hear which team won
And the winners are: Muratie takes the award this year. They will host the competition next year and pick the dish that will be cooked by both teams.
Koeksisters (crisp plaited syrup donuts), profiterols and caramel cream horns for dessert. The traditional South African Koeksister also needs to become a food or origin! But where would we put the stamp?
The girls pose for the camera
Maryna Strachan and Pete Goffe Wood
Pete, Maryna and Bernard Kotze of Du Toitskloof
Maryke and Clifford Roberts
And then it is time for a late lunch. Some more traditional South African food. A carrot and pineapple salad, a tomato feta and olive salad, a butternut and courgette bake all to go with the spit roasted lamb
Errieda du Toit of Kokkedoor with Michael Olivier
Johan de Wet, Rijk Melck and a friend
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014

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