Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lynne's birthday lunch at La Colombe

An Alice in Wonderland moment ended Lynne's birthday lunch on Friday at La Colombe. And the second stumble. John had booked and we were so excited to go to try out their winter special which is R295 for 3 courses (till 30th September) We figured we would include a bottle of wine or a couple of glasses so budgeted on R400 pp. Their menu is normally beyond our budget and we have heard such great reports of the food and service. It was a lovely sunny day and they gave us a great table with a view of the back of Table Mountain and the valley below. Then we discovered that they don't do the special on Fridays. Ooops. Oh well, the Barclaycard came out and we had a splendid meal and a great experience, but it just cost about two and a half times the amount than we had budgeted for. Always check your facts!
Inside the airy and spacious restaurant
We cannot go anywhere nowadays without someone knowing us. Our waiter Daine and waitress Lucille came to say hello immediately we arrived, and we know the sommelier Joseph Dafana from his time at Dear Me
The witty starter is Tinned Tuna. A delicious mix of seared tuna, dusted with sesame, with some tuna ceviche, avocado, small slices of shiitake mushroom and really good ginger ponzu dressing, served with good bread and a flavoured butter, hand churned in the kitchen
 We ordered two glasses of Constantia Uitsig MCC to set the tone for the birthday.
Their current à la Carte menu
The food and wine pairing menu, which we chose
The wine pairing with the next course was the Dirty Julie Stellenbosch Verdelho from Publik
With this, John had the just-poached oyster, served on seaweed and apple with lemon and caviar. He said it tasted of the sea
Lynne alternative course (she can’t eat oysters) was a gentle creamy mushroom risotto topped with a creamy, sweet caramelised shallot, perfectly cooked iron rich spinach, a baby turnip, and pea shoots. The risotto had the correct 'bite'
A wine from an old friend came next, Arendsig's 2014 Blok A15 Chardonnay from Lourens van der Westhuizen of Bonnievale
Its rich crispness was lovely foil for the quail - both a pan seared breast and a confit leg, served with a quenelle of goats’ cheese fondant and then they add a celeriac and truffle espuma sauce to the bowl. Rich, earthy and satisfying
 Next, we were served a red wine bread roll with some spicy lardo (dripping) with anchovy sprinkled with dried flakes of bacon crumbs. This was to accompany the next dish
The lardo
Cederberg's Bukettraube 2014
Slippery seared foie with a meaty langoustine, roasted hazelnuts (inspired and it added great texture),and a jasmine tea broth. The broth was slightly sweet and citrusy, as was the wine. Underneath was a poached piece of bitter chicory, which went perfectly with the red wine roll and the lardo, so almost two dishes in one
A rest was needed and then came the magic. “A palate cleanser of Passion fruit and thyme”, said the menu. What appeared was what looked like white chocolate truffles. They were set on agate and quartz pebbles. We were instructed not to eat the pebbles but to put the whole spheres into our mouths where they broke immediately, spilling the beautifully refreshing passion fruit and lime sauce. A nice touch of molecular gastronomy, an enjoyable and surprising sensation. Yes the hint of thyme was there
Next wine pairing was the Driehoek 2012 Pinot Noir
Lynne is crazy about scallops - she simply doesn't get enough of them here, so loves to find it on a menu. Pairing it with pork is adventurous, but we would expect nothing more from a chef like Scott Kirton. One perfectly seared scallop, a small square of sticky Asian flavoured pork topped with kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), pork scratchings, sweetcorn purée and a lemongrass and ginger velouté. And the Pinot Noir added so much to the dish. The only thing Lynne didn't like was the kimchi. Its sourness took away something from the dish and from the wine.
A close up of the dish
Chef Scott Kirton changes the menu often and uses lots of local ingredients when he finds them
Idiom's 2011 zesty Zinfandel from the Helderberg
And when you think you cannot do another course, they tempt you with Karoo lamb chop, a morsel of perfectly cooked meaty tongue with a herb crust, which even John relished, a soft pillow of rosemary gnocchi, a turnip, sprouting broccoli, a herb purée and a good lamb rib jus
And yes, we can just manage a light dessert. Especially when it comes with Shannon's Macushla 2012 Noble Late Harvest Pinot Noir from Elgin. Macushla means the beat of my heart, or darling in Gaelic and this is a darling of a sweet wine with 132 g/l residual sugar
Titled Rhubarb, Strawberry and Elderberry, it was a tiny rhubarb topped financier cake with a strawberry purée with cream and elderberry ice cream, the plate dusted with fruit powder
And, with coffee, some friandise: Pebbles of caramel toffee, fruit jellies and truffles, liquid inside
Another of the great staff who really looked after us, Lucille Lynham
And then came the Alice in wonderland moment. As we sat gazing down the valley through the vineyard which is soon to be, Lynne spotted the white rabbit hopping busily on his business
And when we drove out there was this very cute black bunny munching its way through the grass
Not at all frightened by us or the car, so obviously once a pet
And there was the white rabbit again, joining the black bunny. Soon, if what we hear about rabbits is true, the woods will be full of them
Our bill for the lunch. Can't wait for next winter's special
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015
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