Thursday, October 18, 2018

Relaunch of SALT at Paul Cluver wine estate, Elgin

The anticipation of enjoyment when we are invited to the media launch of a newish restaurant, which has been open for several months but has not been very vocal while they started up, is always good. . When it is on an iconic wine farm only 1 hour from Cape Town, the excitement increases. And when we learned that the chefs involved are some of Cape Town's best, we could not wait to see what was on offer. Chef Craig Cormack runs The Goose Roasters with his partner Beau du Toit, where they do catering, training, functions, private dining and pop ups at festivals and markets and so much more. This is a new venture for them. Chef Mechell Spann is the chef in residence at Salt. Craig is also an expert on salt, its history and its uses and he had a huge collection of salts on show in the restaurant. He lectures about it worldwide. And you can taste it on the table and in the food
It is a lovely open and airy restaurant with terrace space and a large front lawn; good for picnics prepared by the chef. They do breakfast and lunch and booking is recommended. Contact 021 844 0012 or email And the Paul Cluver tasting room is close by, where you can taste their great wines
Chef Craig Cormack with Paul Cluver junior
We gathered on the terrace
and who should arrive to congratulate Craig, Beau and Michel but chef Gordon Manuel and his wife Emma, who manage the Pool Room restaurant at the next door farm, Oak Valley. They are old friends
The canapés we were served are actually tiny samples of the five starters on the menu
Smoked Ham Hock terrine, with pickled red cabbage, crisp coppa ham,
apple and ale cured homemade mustard. Well balanced and a very flavourful dish
A selection of them
The one in the front had a crisp sliver of what tasted like roast lamb skin, heavenly
Confit chicken, prawn satay, a dot of chilli jam, spring onion dressing and chicken liver paté
An impressive dish, one to order again
Dr Paul Cluver, with his wife Songvej, son Paul and his daughter Liesl Cluver Rust
The three chefs with Paul Cluver talking about the restaurant. They told us that the original purpose of the building was to hold the still when they made Calvados style apple brandy
Songvej Cluver, the matriarch of this lively family
Her unusual name was given to her by her Norwegian father
Chef Craig told us that salt is his passion: "I have been pairing wine and salts for the last few years, and my salt collection now numbers 143 of an estimated 180 to 200 different types, with all of them having different flavour profiles, from around the world. I believe that I am the first chef to do this exercise both in South African and the world”
The staff are professional and very friendly and helpful
Chef Craig explains the food that we are about to eat
Some of the Cluver Red wines. We had the Pinot Noir; perfumed and delicate, full of fresh raspberry notes, with rose petal perfume, carefully wooded, elegant and so good with food
A selection of Paul Cluver white wines for lunch. Lynne loves the rich, round and buttery Estate Chardonnay with its crisp citrus notes; it has been her Birthday Wine twice and may well be it again! The excellent flagship 7 Flags Chardonnay did very well at the Prescient Chardonnay awards this week, scoring 94 points, the top score. The main difference is the amount of new wood used on the 7 flags. It is site and barrel selected and made to last
Lynne enjoying our lunch with journalist Norman McFarlane, Dr Paul Cluver and Eppie McFarlane
Eppie McFarlane in conversation with Cluver Marketing manager Andrea Erwee
"Would you like Chardonnay or Riesling with your main course?" asks Dr Paul. The Paul Cluver wines are excellent and went very well with the food. They are made by son-in law Andries Burger, who is married to Dr Paul's daughter Inge. Andries has won many awards and his wines score very highly here and abroad
Chef Craig's salt collection comes from all over the world. If you know of any unusual salts and can send or bring them to him, he is always grateful. Several of these unusual and rare salts are available to purchase
There were three salts on the table for adding to the food or simply sampling. The food is very well seasoned, so we did not need to add anything. L to R volcanic Black Hawaiian salt, or Hiwa Kai, Kala Namak aka Black Salt, Sanchal has a distinct sulphur aroma and taste; and Hawaiian Sea Salt, aka Alaea, Alae, Hawaiian Red Salt
Looking through a block of Himalayan pink salt which is on every table. Food can be served on these blocks of salt
The current menu with its very interesting choices, it will change seasonally. The food is absolutely delicious and we shall return for more
You can watch the chefs in the open kitchen. Here Chef Beau is seasoning with salt!
Our main course was actually four small samples from the mains on the menu; clockwise from the top: Crispy Pork Belly, Salt Water Fish, Coconut Simmered Beef Brisket and Smoked Lamb Shoulder
Another view of the main course selection
and dessert was four small samples of the 4 menu desserts. Clockwise from the top: Banana Rum Baba; Chocolate Bar; Lemon Meringue and Stone Fruits. Also all amazing, with lots of texture and different flavours. And all seasoned with a little salt which improves sweet dishes enormously. The chocolate was an especially good match for the Paul Cluver Reserve Pinot noir
This is the picnic that you can order in advance and enjoy in the garden. Something we also plan to do soon. It can include a selection of local cheeses, various cured cold meats, our famous roasted tomato salad with wasabi cream cheese and basil pesto, pulled lamb shoulder rosemary and garlic flat bread and Banana rum baba crème pat. muesli crumble with poached fruit, bread and butter and Elgin apples. Phone them for a quote, it has to be pre-ordered. The wine is extra

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