Thursday, September 21, 2017

The annual Muratie Du Toitskloof cook-off

It was time again for the annual cook off between these two wine producers (one a family-owned Stellenbosch estate, the other a huge consortium of wine producers on the other side of the DuToitskloof Pass in Rawsonville); both renowned not only for their wines but their good cooking. They take turns in hosting this fun competition. The object is to each braai the same meat, prepared in two different ways and then have the attending guests taste them, and vote for their favourites. This year, the sixth time the cook off has happened, it was at Muratie in Stellenbosch and the theme was pork. They were to cook two different cuts each, they could choose which..
The weather was warm enough for the cooking and the sampling and judging to take place outdoors in the historic courtyard in the shade of the estate’s ancient oaks
A welcoming glass of Muratie Lady Alice MCC
The chefs relaxing with glasses of the Lady Alice MCC while the fire cooks the meat
Hattingh de Villiers is the Muratie winemaker
To keep the guests happy and from starvation (!) the traditional baked brie covered with strawberries was sitting warming on a mini Weber braai accompanied by some sourdough bread baked by Chef Kim Melck. There were also olives, biltong and droëwors and chicken liver paté from DuToitskloof
This Brie is so moreish that you have to stop yourself from eating too much. There was lots of food coming
Classic wrestling... or is it? A small sculpture from Georg Canitz's collection. He was an artist and was a previous owner of Muratie
The Muratie team, Kim Melck and winemaker Hattingh de Villiers, chose a deboned neck, smoked and drizzled with ginger, honey and soy, and rashers prepared with lemon juice, rosemary and coarse salt
The DuToitskloof team, headed up by winemaker Shawn Thomson and his wife Elrine, opted for neck steaks prepared with honey, mustard, orange, garlic and ginger, and short ribs marinated in red wine and star anise
Bernard Kotze, Marketing Manager of DuToitskloof, enjoying the refreshing cocktails Muratie made. It was made with Amber Forever, their Muscat d'Alexandrie dessert wine, topped up with lime juice, tonic and lots of ice
 Time to put the meat on the fire. Hattingh with the pork rashers, Shawn with his pork neck
The DuToitskloof spare ribs which had been marinated and precooked in red wine, are now ready for the fire. Definitely a method to try at home
They were using their Pinotage to baste. And to drink
The smoked pork neck from Muratie had been slowly cooking in the Weber
Rashers ready; more rashers waiting to be cooked
While the cooking was going on we repaired to the cellar where we were given a tasting of Muratie's 2017 Laurence Campher, shortly to be bottled. This is a blend of Chenin Blanc, Verdelho and small quantities of Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. And it is topped up with some Chardonnay if there is any left. The Chenin and Viognier show on the nose with the merest whiff of smoke. It has a full mouth feel, nice kicky fruit acids and flavours of loquats, peaches and lime. An absolute must with food
How is it going chefs?
The new chef at Muratie, Tinus du Toit, who has come to assist Kim Melck in their restaurant, checking the Du Toitskloof progress
We take our seats; the first dish is on its way
And have a toast with the rather technicolour Pinotage rosé from du Toitskloof
Pork ribs cooked in 2016 DuToitskloof Pinotage, soy and five spice. They fell off the bone, flavoursome on the outside and tender and moist inside, most of the fat having been rendered by the fire. Voted a huge success. The pork neck was glazed with orange, honey and mustard, garlic and ginger. Very flavourful but the meat could have rested a little longer
From Muratie; the smoked pork neck, was rather like gammon, quite salty, very tender. It was given a honey soy and ginger splash. They like minimal seasoning. The Belly of Pork rashers were seasoned just with fresh lemon and sea salt. These two were served with the Ansela van de Caab red blend, full of heady dark fruits. We all tucked in and then realised that lunch was to follow!
Time to vote. Each team had a cork with the wine’s name and each of us chose one and popped it into the wine box
Time for lunch, which was roast chicken and roast sweet potatoes flavoured with rose water, very unusual and we liked it. There was also a potato salad and a huge mixed green salad with green beans. This was served with Muratie's Semillon 2014, an Orange wine, tasting rather like a weak Fino sherry
Everyone there had a vote. Chef Pete Goffe Wood was the chief judge and arbiter
 The chefs waiting to hear the result
Pete spoke amusingly about the competition and the meats and the cooking
Rijk Melck's dogs waited for scraps. Later boys, later
DuToitskloof Chairman Johan de Wet and Hattingh de Villiers wait, anxiously 
The Trophy! And the winner is....
The team from DuToitskloof
winemaker Shawn Thomson and his wife Elrine

Rijk Melck enjoying himself. They are already discussing what the theme for next year should be. And where it will be. A great fun competition that must continue

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