The Hungry Man and I arrived excited and hungry at Rust en Vrede for the second of their two theme evenings of the year: this the winter game menu. A couple of speeches established that chef David Higgs had actually shot the kudu himself, though he admitted that the pheasant were beyond his hunting skills. I’m no hunter, though do believe that there is more authenticity in killing what you eat yourself. The extraordinary distance between ourselves and our (skinless, boneless, bloodless) meat is a more acute moral crisis than the choice of whether to eat meat or not.
The food was exceptional. While I thought the first course, terrine of lentils, foie gras and game birds with a warm salad of fresh peas and truffle could have had more depth of flavour, it was (as THM pointed out) a perfect launching pad – built on freshness and texture.
Kudu and bean broth with warthog and coriander sausage was superb, a real winter classic; while the main course – eland loin dusted with a “biltong spice” resting on a “denningvleis” risotto (a traditional Cape style of meat, shredded and often preserved) with a quince confiture – was sublime. The venison was tender and beautifully flavoured, the combinations sure. The risotto was very good, with some forest mushrooms hidden in there and a perfect “crunch”.
Goats cheese baked in butter puff pastry together with a pear and apple salad to finish – I thought the cheese (Sante Maure de Touraine) could have done as well solo, but there was no harm in the decadence of the crust, perfectly cooked. As ever, good service, and our table looking onto the kitchen added to one of those most memorable evenings.