Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A dinner at the Cullinan with Veritas wines

Top Veritas wines are hard to come by, unless you are determined and buy them immediately after the awards (which are held in September each year), when 1600 bottles of each must be available to the public. Veritas is the oldest wine competition in South Africa. Last week we were invited by Veritas vice-chairperson and Cape Wine Master, Bennie Howard to taste some of these wines, perfectly aged, at a dinner where they were paired with food produced by Executive Chef Henrico Grobbelaar, who has moved to the Cullinan from the 12 Apostles Hotel. It was an excellent dinner. If this is an example of the food that Chef Henrico is going to produce here, future customers are going to be excited and well fed. The Peach Tree restaurant, where the dinner took place, is about to receive a makeover. We think it is overdue as the restaurant is rather gloomy and dark and needs modernising
Bennie Howard meeting and greeting the guests at our table
We started the dinner with a glass of JC Le Roux Scintilla Vintage Reserve MCC 2009
The menu
The first course of black mussels, prawn, tofu, corn, sesame oil and wakame seaweed ...
... was then enhanced by a warm broth of smoked snoek Dashi which transformed the dish into a taste of the ocean. Quite beautiful. The wine served with this dish was one of our favourites, the always popular De Wetshof Limestone Hill 2013 Chardonnay, a perfect match
The second course was inspired and Lynne wants to copy this at home soon. A parmesan panna cotta, custard, soft cheesy cream topped with a thin roll of shaved courgette filled with charred broccoli, dressed with a lemon oil and Anchoïade - an umami sauce made of anchovies, garlic, olive oil, black pepper and vinegar. All these flavours went so well with the Darling Cellars Premium 2015 Sauvignon Blanc
Benny Howard having fun at the dinner
Time for a palate cleanser, which was called Cider Waldorf. A grainy and quite sweet apple sorbet on a fresh apple slice, sprinkled with walnut and celery pieces, topped off with a crisp slice of dehydrated apple. Also on the plate were a couple of semi-dehydrated grapes with a flavour somewhere between air dried olive and balsamic vinegar - very good
Regional Sommelier for Southern Sun, Georgio Meletio, really looked after us
On to the main course:
Bennie Howard CWM making his speech, telling us about the wine and food pairings
Pouring the red wine that was paired with the main course, Anura's LB 2014 Cape Cuvée, a blend of Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz. It was full of mulberries and spice
One of the guests (and one of our friends), insurance guru Dion Oliver with a guest at our table

The main course of very tender, perfectly cooked Springbok loin on a porcini velouté, buckwheat, tahini and vanilla butternut puree, with a pear gastrique. Loved the pear with the springbok. We don't like vanilla with meat. The other wine served with this course was Simonsig Merindol 2012 Syrah. Soft and silky, this is a cassis fruit bomb with long flavours and lots of warm spice, we loved it
The red wine line up
Waiting in its bath, the most coveted wine of the evening, Nederburg's Private Bin Edelkeur 2013 Chenin Blanc NLH and wow, did this go with the sweet and sticky dessert
Executive Chef Henrico Grobbelaar
Guests enjoying the dinner
Georgio and Benny catching up
It may look and sound a bit simple but it was one of the best desserts we have had in the last year. Essentially a deconstructed banana split (and who doesn't have wonderful childhood memories of them?) Caramelised fresh banana, a banana milk foam made, the chef told us, with the ripe banana skins as aroma, a creamy and delicious salted toffee ice cream, dots of sticky caramel, sprinkles of macadamia nuts for texture and richness and TA DA! topped with a slice of crisp dried banana "bacon". YUM
The entire staff came out for thanks and applause. We thought they were excellent. The serving staff were responsive, happy and smiling and so well trained. And this is not a regular experience for us
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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