Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dinner at The White Room at Dear Me

On Friday night, we visited The White Room at Dear Me, having been invited to taste the Five Course food and wine pairing menu at this Cape Town restaurant, which has just been placed in the Eat Out top 20 list of best restaurants in South Africa, and is nominated for a place in the top 10. The timing couldn't have been better
Chef Vanessa Marx is over the moon with joy at her nomination and, having tasted the food, we think she deserves it. Two of her dishes really intrigued, amazed and delighted us.
The two tasting menus. We decided to share the menu and, where there were two alternative dishes, we had one of each and swapped plates and glasses during the meal. This is not ideal, as the tasting portions of wine come early on and your partner watches as you demolish your share before the food arrives!
It is a very white room, peaceful and serene
First, a bread board with parsley pesto, sundried tomato pesto, butter and pink salt with good bread. We also received an amuse of tiny deep fried rice balls (Suppli) with mayonnaise, but we ate them before we remembered we needed a picture. It happens

Starter No.1:  a fresh ceviche of kabeljou, dressed with lime, chilli and sesame seeds, sprouts and a dash or two of lime mayonnaise. It was the perfect match for the Colmant Brut Reserve NV MCC, highlighting all its wonderful flavours
Starter No.2: A very thin slice of pork terrine ‘mosaic’. It was delicious, but we could have demolished half an inch in depth!  The orange segments and the crispy pieces of pork were great accompaniments, but we don’t like vanilla with meat; we find it very cloying. It is easy to avoid on the plate. The matching wine, Thorne and Daughters Rocking Horse Cape White 2013 was a new wine for us. It’s a blend of Roussanne, Chardonnay, Semillon and Chenin blanc from different vineyards in the Western Cape and is in the oxidised style which we think works with food, but not without. They are negociants
This was the dish of the day, week and month for Lynne. It took a while to get one’s head around the combinations, but when you did, the penny dropped and all the band started to play. It was like being Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregor’s vegetable garden, demolishing all his baby vegetables. You start with tiny spring vegetables, perfectly cooked, so they are still sweet. Then you encounter the cocoa and truffle crunchy ‘soil’, initially sweet and chocolatey until the earthy truffle kicks in. And then there is the pond of fresh courgette, pea and mint veloute. Different textures, different tastes all came together perfectly. The CWG Cederberg Semillon 2010 could not have been a better match; full, elegant and crisply lime, it highlighted the dish.
Yes, we did eat the next course and enjoyed the pea and herb risotto very much, especially with the earthy Crystallum Pinot noir 2009. We cannot always “Bant” at good restaurants
Main Course No.1: S’Kaap tjoppie (Cape lamb chop) with a rich jus and some interesting vegetable chips, mushrooms and cream sauce. The Thelema The Mint Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 was as smooth as silk and the intense fruit really brought out the best in the meat and added some mint!
Main Course No.2: Poached trout in a weak broth with seaweed and shiitake mushrooms. This was served with a rather sweet draught Hakutsuru Sake
Vanessa visits each table with the dessert. We had a long chat with her about her food and the awards. She has had this special light box made to shine through the whole honeycomb which is then melted and poured warm over the dessert.
A very innovative way to present pure honey
That dessert! So special, so unexpected and so delicious. Caciotta cheese panna cotta with no sugar added was more of a nearly set puddle of light cheese cream on the plate. It is sprinkled with roasted sunflower seeds; freeze dried raspberries which add piquancy and perfume; and crushed ‘honeycomb’. The warm honey from the comb is then poured over it. It gives you a mouthful of so many different textures and flavours and temperatures and is wonderful. Picture before the honey is added
After the honey. It was served with the D’Aria Lullaby 2013, a NLH made from Semillon with an RS of 145 gm/l. Its honeyed flavours well matched the dessert. We do need to compliment the Sommelier Joseph Dafana, who put these matches together with the food. He will be a huge loss to the White room as he is joining the new La Colombe. Someone whose career we will watch with interest
The White Room and Dear Me will be found at 165 Longmarket St, Cape Town
Phone:  021 422 4920
Text and Photographs © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014

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