Remembering Paul Bocuse

From our January 2018 newsletter:

Legendary French chef Paul Bocuse passed away in January this year. He was known as one of the first chefs to move away from traditional French “cuisine classique” to the lighter, more modernised “nouvelle cuisine” (a term supposedly first used by a journalist to describe the meal Bocuse and others prepared for the maiden flight of the Concorde airliner in 1969). He also founded the Bocuse d’Or (often described as the culinary version of the Olympics) in 1987, which remains the most prestigious gastronomic contest in the world. (His private life famously included one wife, two long-term mistresses, and a tattoo of a rooster on his left arm.)


 More than 1500 of the world’s top chefs attended Bocuse’s funeral in Lyon (image courtesy of The Telegraph)
Continue reading “Remembering Paul Bocuse”

Facing up to Discrimination in the Hospitality Industry

From our January 2018 newsletter:

Global concerns over the abuse of power by men over women was a sobering theme that not even the cheer of the festive season could shake. In the US restaurant business it was particularly acute, with several well-known American chefs and restaurateurs like Mario Batali (whose restaurant empire will now be headed by women) and Ken Friedman (co-owner of the acclaimed The Spotted Pig in NYC) being exposed as or accused of being complicit in creating and maintaining uncomfortable environments in the establishments they were guardians of (with Batali’s public apology stating “I take full responsibility”, bizarrely followed by a recipe for cinnamon rolls – which someone blogged about making in an entertainingly acerbic post, incidentally). Continue reading “Facing up to Discrimination in the Hospitality Industry”

Story of a Plate: Citrus Cured Seabass at The Pool Room

On the menu: Citrus cured seabass with duck liver parfait, fine herbs, pickled cucumber, red pepper essence

We recently enjoyed the suprising combination of duck liver parfait with cured fish in this very pretty dish. How did you conceive of putting those two together?  

Chef Gordon Manuel: This dish is from our Discovery menu, and while The Pool Room and Oak Valley have always been well-known for their pork and beef, those can get a little bit heavy, so part of my thinking since we took over the operation of the restaurant was to add a bit more finesse, but finesse without being overly finicky – no tweezers and that type of thing. It’s also about balance; adding something to the menu that’s not so meat-heavy, and that works really well. Continue reading “Story of a Plate: Citrus Cured Seabass at The Pool Room”

Pinch of Salt: Carry on up the Zambezi

By Pete Goffe-Wood.

I sit on the stoep of my room, miles from civilization, surrounded by dense green bush, the Zambezi River rumbling below me. My only companions are a thousand and one insects and an ice cold beer. Even the generators have gone to bed, so the whirring ceiling fan has spluttered its last breath and total darkness has descended. The humidity clings like a wet blanket and somewhere in the distance I hear the grunt of a hippo. Continue reading “Pinch of Salt: Carry on up the Zambezi”

Table Manners: The Thing about Tapas

When in Andalucia and looking to eat tapas, which one should always be doing when in Andalucia, I have one simple rule.

I was in Ronda last week, home of the oldest bullring in the world, perched astraddle the sheer El Tajo gorge and looking like a CGI set from a Star Wars film. I was talking to two American ladies I’d met in the street, and we were debating where to eat lunch. They had lists of recommended eateries and I did not. I like to lunch by serendipity. This has had some very good results and some very bad results. Continue reading “Table Manners: The Thing about Tapas”

Story of a Plate: Salt Crust Baked Celeriac at Waterkloof

 

On the menu: Salt crust baked celeriac, curry brittle, parmesan and passion fruit

Such a beautiful plate, and surprisingly complex for a meat-less dish. How did you come up with such an unusual combination?

Chef Gregory Czarnecki: I wanted to do something with this dish that you can’t do in Europe, where if you follow the seasons, and you respect the origin of the product, celeriac is a winter or spring root vegetable, whereas in South Africa winter almost takes up half of spring (especially now!). So I wanted to showcase something that wouldn’t be possible in Europe, and that also represents this country. People often think of South Africa in terms of landscape, and culture, but it’s also about the weather: so while in the western Cape we’ll have root vegetables now, in Durban, you’ll have passion fruit in the same season, growing at exactly the same time. This just wouldn’t be possible in Europe, so I wanted to come up with something that would promote the two different regions and climates you can have here at the same time, and that would also bring together a really “old school” vegetable and an exotic fruit. Continue reading “Story of a Plate: Salt Crust Baked Celeriac at Waterkloof”

Dinner Theatre

From our October 2017 newsletter:

Up close, the building sounds as if it is singing or humming.

One of the most talked about restaurant openings in the U.S. recently has been Vespertine in Culver City, Los Angeles. Self-described as “a gastronomical experiment seeking to disrupt the course of the modern restaurant”, the building it’s housed in (pictured here*) has been described by others as a “crashed spaceship”, and dining there like “eating on Jupiter”. Jonathan Gold, the Pultizer-prize winning critic for the L.A. Times summarises the experience:

It’s not dinner; it’s Gesamtkunstwerk [German for ‘total work of art’]…“Checking in with valet before dinner is required,’’ says an email sent to you before your dinner, “as this member of our team is integral to your experience.’’ You hand off your keys. You walk past a watery ditch lined with shattered rock whose cracks ooze green light. You are led to an elevator in the rust-colored steel structure, and are let off in the kitchen and a bowing Kahn. You climb stairs to an aerie at the top, settle into low couches, sip at a concoction of white vermouth garnished with a purple passion fruit flower. This is the first of many flowers you will see tonight. You will recognize none of them. … The more you eat of the turnips, the more vinegary the dish becomes, until by the end you are practically coughing at the fumes. Continue reading “Dinner Theatre”

Pinch of Salt: Food Oscars

By Pete Goffe-Wood.

The madness of the awards season is upon us – the Veritas awards have just been doled out, and next week Platter’s announces their 5-star wines. JHP Gourmet Guide have just handed out a number of plates, Condé Nast announced their pick of the 9 best new restaurants worldwide for 2017 (including Marble in Johannesburg as the only South African pick), and Eat Out, who have already awarded their Everyday Eateries, will announce their Top 30 Restaurants in a couple of weeks.

So I’m going to jump on the bandwagon – but if you think I’m going to predict which are my top restaurants, think again – what follows are my nominations for Best Food Movie. Now there are some provisos as this is a fairly contentious movie category and I welcome debate and dissent (feel free to send in your comments). Continue reading “Pinch of Salt: Food Oscars”

Story of a Plate: Smoked tomato risotto with mussels at Source

On the menu: Smoked tomato risotto, bacon, leek and baby marrow, steamed mussels

We loved the innovative presentation of this dish, the great tomato flavour, it’s contrasting textures, as well as perfectly cooked risotto. Tell us a bit about it?

Chef Warwick Taylor: I like runny risotto… so many people throw in cream and mascarpone cheese, which it’s not meant to have. It’s meant to be an emulsion of the fat you use, like butter, which keeps it light. It’s really more about the sauce around the rice than anything else. Then we throw in some smoked bacon, leeks, baby marrow, and baby spinach. We slow-smoke tomatoes over Rooikrans wood and then make a little tomato sauce out of that. So we have a nice smoked tomato sauce as a base, which we fold into the risotto, and off we go. For the mussels, a bit of white wine, soft herbs, a little bit of lemon in there, so they’re basically just steamed open, and then we pop them into the risotto.

It’s such an attractive plate! Is it of your own devising, or were you inspired elsewhere?

Warwick: I used to do a smoked tomato soup, and then one day I decided let’s try a risotto, and mussels always go nicely with a smoky flavour… Continue reading “Story of a Plate: Smoked tomato risotto with mussels at Source”

Table Manners: Competitive Eating

By Darrel Bristow-Bovey.

I was walking with my wife through the Sabine Hills in Italy and we stayed a night at an agriturismo – one of those organic farmsteads that give you a room and a bed and a meal of food grown on the farm. They’re very proud of the fact that everything is grown on the farm.

We sat down to dinner and the hostess placed a bowl of olives on the table and pitcher of water with slices of yellow lemon and a vase of flowers.

“The flowers are grown on the farm,” she said.

“Huh!” I said encouragingly, although to be honest I wasn’t that impressed by this news. Flowers have to grow somewhere. Continue reading “Table Manners: Competitive Eating”