Monday, July 10, 2017

A seaside lunch at Tintswalo Atlantic

Sometimes you find somewhere you would like to stay for the rest of your life. For Lynne, Tintswalo Atlantic on the Hout Bay coast fits the bill with its fantastic position, comfort and style. We had been invited to visit this lovely resort on the edge of the bay earlier this year, but we could not accept. So it was with a good feeling of anticipation that we visited for lunch this week, following another invitation
Lunch was to be prepared by Executive Chef Guy Clark whom you may remember as one of the contestants of the first Masterchef South Africa in 2012. A self taught cook, he made the top 11 and then began a career in food, travelling to India where he ran the family kitchens of billionaire Analjit Singh (owner of the Leeu Collection in Franschhoek), and then launched Uzuri fusion restaurant in New Delhi, before moving to Miami where he worked as Exec Sous Chef at Seaspice and then in the artisan Kosher bakery Zak the Baker. He also ran a supper club there and won an episode of the Food Networks Cutthroat Kitchen, as well as acting as a consultant at the Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel. He returned home in 2016, set up a pop up restaurant, 1693 at Bellingham, and was then appointed at Tintswalo Atlantic
The view from Tintswalo's top entrance to the Sentinel and Hout Bay harbour
The entrance to Tintswalo is just before the toll booth on Chapman's Peak Drive,, one of the most spectacular drives in the world; the road was chiselled out of the vertical cliff side
You see very little of Tintswalo from the road; it just looks like a few humble buildings on the shore below. In fact, many people do not even know it is there. Tintswalo was, sadly, burnt down, for the second time, in the bad mountain fires last year and has been completely rebuilt again. They have done a superb job
The road down is very steep with minimal parking space at the bottom, so you leave your car in the car park at the top and the gatekeeper phones for the golf cart to come up and fetch you
We were thankful for the very good brakes on the golf cart
The sun was out and we stood on the deck over the ocean with a welcoming glass of Krone MCC entitled The Phoenix, a very appropriate tribute to Tintswalo's recent history. Lynne is chatting to journalist Bianca Coleman who writes for the Cape Argus. To the left are forager Justin Williams of First Light Foods and Broadcaster Nigel Pearce of Radio Good Hope
Siya, one of Tintswalo's excellent staff, served us the Krone
We begin lunch. Lynne is chatting to Lisa Goosen who is Tintswalo's Chief Executive Officer, Management. Lisa is the daughter of the owners, Ernest and Gaye Corbett. She told Lynne that the family began in property development and now own several properties in addition to Tintswalo Atlantic. Manyeleti Game Reserve is home to the luxurious Tintswalo Safari Lodge and Tintswalo Manor House. Tintswalo Waterfall is within the Waterfall Equestrian Estate in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs
Executive Chef Guy Clark came to explain his Tribute to Ocean and Ash menu, which echoes the fires and the "infinite and wet sea" in front of Tintswalo. It will consist of eight courses. But, first, we will be served some bread and then an amuse bouche, neither on the menu
Wines to be served with the first courses: Klein Constantia's crisp Sauvignon Blanc and Chamonix' elegant wooded Chardonnay
The salted sourdough bread baked by chef came wrapped in small parcels tied to this fire burnt branch
It was accompanied by three different butters: Lemon, Paprika and mustard. We tried them all. Nice dense bread, good chewy crust and the butters were good: hot mustard, citrus lemon and spicy paprika
Then, on a plate dusted with three ashes, the amuse: a tiny morsel of boccarones (gently soused fresh anchovies) coriander, sea sprouts, wrapped in a seaweed pasta
The official first course arrived to several gasps around the table
It did look very attractive with the seafood nestled 'on the rocks', entitled Oyster, Mussel, Marron. The oyster was seasoned with seaweed salt, the mussel with pickled seaweed and the marron with sautéed seaweed. We tucked in. The marron is a fresh water crayfish native to Western Australia. They are farmed in a dam in the Eastern Cape. While it is a potential danger, as it could become an invasive alien, it is strictly controlled by the producers. Not as sweet as lobster, but good flavour. Lynne's was a little raw at one end and a bit overcooked at the other. John's was perfect. The mussels were plump and juicy. The Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc was a great match
The menu for the next three courses
Second course: Springbok, Snoek and Pistachio served on an upturned bowl. These were 3 small balls coated in carbon. Only when you bit into them did you discover what you had. The Springbok was done in the Tartare style, well flavoured and seasoned with thyme salt. The pistachio nut mix was the largest ball, "very moreish", said most around the table, and the smoked snoek was flaked and shredded and tasted of the sea. The very wooded Chamonix Chardonnay mellowed with the three different flavour profiles
Chef plating at the pass in his open kitchen
Next, the bowl was flipped, some wild garlic (African Tulbaghia violacea, not ramsons) was added and then using a flame thrower - no, sorry, a culinary blow torch - chef set it alight
until it glowed and started to smoke
Good theatre! 
Then, a perforated plate carrying the third course dish was placed on the bowl so that the smoke permeated the food above. This was entitled Rooibos smoked Kudu, wild garlic smoked Skattie cheese with an ocean water cured egg yolk surrounded by mustard cress. We surmised that the egg had been cooked sous vide. Chef told us it was cured in sea water for 48 hours. Soft tender Kudu, gooey egg, nice cress. And then soft Skattie cheese, which is made by Udderly Delicious Cheese in Darling. The diary describes it as somewhere between an edam and cheddar. To us, a bit more like a cured mozzarella
The next two wines
The fourth course really wowed us all. The top plate was removed from the bowl and 'Liquid Umami' was poured over the cremated wild garlic from an attractive green teapot. It was truly a Willie Wonka experience. We were told it has 32 different ingredients. We could have spent the rest of the day guessing what they were. Lynne's suggestions were roasted tomato, butternut, carrot, miso, various herbs, dried mushrooms, parmesan, meat, soy, fish sauce, Katsuobushi tuna flakes; sweet roasted onion, Dashi, seaweed, all the things that contain natural glutamates such as MSG. Chef did tell us that there was Spanish Iberico ham fat and rabbit. But what did it taste like? A thick warm and savoury creamy liquid, the definition of umami, a concentration of the above flavours blended so well, never over-extracted and very comforting. Everyone seemed to scrape their bowls clean. This should be bottled and sold, but it is probably too expensive to make and to market
Served with Miles Mossop's 2014 Saskia. A blend of Chenin blanc, Viognier and, this vintage, some Clairette Blanche. The sweetness of the Viognier perfectly complemented the Umami and the crisp Chenin cut through any stickiness
On to the fifth course: Atlantic line fish, burnt lemon rind, scallop and a seaweed velouté. No line fish that day, the fish was firm and fresh Kingklip. The scallop was seared perfectly and met our high expectations of this queen of seafoods. The creamy velouté brought the two together. The ash plate keeps the theme going nicely. Served with the Writer's Block Pinotage from Flagstone, a surprisingly good match
We must admit that, at this point, we were beginning to flag a little and then, surprise! An unannounced and unnumbered course appeared, making the lunch 11 courses, if you count the bread and the amuse. A palate cleanser of, we guessed, limoncello and chilli sorbet. We were completely wrong, there was no chilli, it was just concentrated lemongrass and mint. It was welcome
 Onward to the official sixth course, which was rich and tender Fynbos rabbit; slow cooked, savoury and unctuous, wrapped in a fermented goats cheese ash case (like the outside of a camembert) with a wild sorrel butter and a lovely concentrated port jus. Not so keen on the goats cheese, which is quite powerful, a bit bitter and rather overwhelmed the gentle rabbit
The seventh course was a mini poem of 6 different mushrooms atop a crisp
We were told that they were shimeji, king oyster, shaggy, shiitake, enoki and truffle pearls. Another rich course, but brief. This was served with Avondale's La Luna, a classic Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot; dark and spicy with notes of morello cherries. Whoever is doing the pairings really knows wines and ably matches them to the food
John was served a beetroot medley with goats cheese on the same crisp because of his allergy
And finally dessert, the eighth course
Buchu ice cream, an ash meringue, ocean salt, 55% Valrhona Itakuja chocolate and a green sponge. Valrhona Itakuja is dark Valrhona chocolate, double fermented with passion fruit. Hand churned creamy ice cream, what looked like a steak of chocolate bark and that small piece of floating ashy meringue with the green seaweed sponge. This was served with a glass of Klein Constantia's iconic Vin de Constance. And then coffees to end a long lunch - we were a little taken aback that it was 5 o'clock
Time for some memory photographs
and some chat in the fresh air
John caught a brave black oystercatcher, not afraid of being washed off the rock by a wave
We thanked the chef copiously
The lounge is so elegant and relaxed in its duck egg blue, complemented with soft sandy shades
We saw some of the bedrooms; each has a different theme
All have those wonderful views, even in the bathroom
More blues. Would you ever get out of bed? Room service please
A room in Coral shades
Looking back at the bed
A private deck
 A look back at the mountains above and the private terraces of each room. Tintswalo is a dream. One many of our overseas readers might not be able to resist on their next visits to the Cape
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017

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