Recently I was privileged enough to host a regional Chaîne des Rôtisseurs dinner at Fern Hill Hotel. Amongst the guests were fellow chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and non-industry-professional foodies. We are fortunate to be close to our KZN Midlands local winemakers, Ian and Jane Smorthwaite of Abingdon Wine Estate, whose wines were paired with the courses and, as usual, went down a treat. The enthusiasm and passion of the winemakers’ descriptions and stories of the wines made for truly interesting intervals between meals, as they chatted with the guests explaining the wine for the next course.
The menu was one I developed to accompany the wines and take advantage of the delicious seasonal produce in our Midlands area. On arrival, the guests snacked on simple canapés of sesame-crumbed local camembert with cranberry sauce on crostini, along with beetroot cured salmon, radish and horseradish bites.
For starters I put together a dish of various elements based around one of our local Midlands food heroes, Wayfarer Trout. Sue and Andre Hoffman, a husband and wife team, run this amazing trout farm where the trout is caught to order. I used their famous cold smoked trout for this dish and it worked out well with elements from my garden such as freshly grated horseradish.
The soup course was a rich seasonal asparagus soup, garnished with Midlands Speciality Products’s pancetta crisp, and served with toasted homemade focaccia. The palate cleanser was a frozen gin martini with green olive caviar and added both a kick of freshness and the strength of my favourite everyday gin, Hendricks, to the mix. The left overs were a great after dinner treat for the kitchen staff!
Main course consisted of sous-vide saddle of venison with sweetcorn puree, pressed dauphinoise potatoes, confit leek, poached vegetables, grilled apricot and port jus. This was paired with the Abingdon Syrah and they worked perfectly together.
For dessert I did my cold lemon soufflé with brûléed Swiss meringue, lemon and mint gel, berry coulis and white chocolate lace. The pairing for this course was a little different in that it was accompanied by a talk from Khaya Mncwango of Distell, who provided various brandies for the guests to pick and enjoy from the brandy trolley.
The entertainment for the evening was provided by the talent of Nicky Grieshaber of ‘Keys Alive’ who created the perfect ambience with his piano playing. For more information on the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs; see my post here or visit the website.
Images by Stephen Pryke.
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