What type of traveller are you?
Are you an adventure seeker, always looking to meet new people during your travels? Or are you a loyal friend, planning your trip around the people you have encountered before?
For me, I have always been the former. The thrill of touching down in a new city with complete unknown: smell of fragrant spices, colourful clothing reflective of local culture, and the opportunity to meet many “friends-to-be!”
Grande Roche Hotel combined the best of these elements with their Culinary Innovation series which promised a sublime food and wine pairing and new people to meet.
Upon arrival at Grande Roche Hotel, we were surprised to learn that Paarl is the third oldest town in South Africa. The fireplace crackled with a toasty welcome, and Ben (freshly minted French intern) offered us flutes of sparkling wine. Formerly the site of the historic De Nieuwe Plantatie farm dating back to 1715, the 23-hectare hotel is housed in beautifully restored Cape Dutch farmhouses, with its very own chapel and a herb garden. Oh yes, we knew this was going to be a fantastic weekend!
For their July Culinary Innovation, Grande Roche has invited acclaimed writer Sarah Lotz to share food inspirations from her published works. A petite lady, Sarah wow-ed us with her powerful voice and playful personality!
I love how food evokes our emotions – it is the perfect ingredient to create ambiance in writing.
Sarah infuses wicked food references into her work, ranging from crime fiction, horror to porn (!). A perfect opening to break the ice, we were then seated at the dining table with Francois Liebenberg, Grande Roche’s sales and marketing manager and David Sadie, Lemberg Wine’s bold winemaker.
You know you are in for a treat when a Michelin-trained chef curates a pairing menu – and Chef Roland Gorgosilich more than surpassed my expectations! Originally from Romania, Roland is passionate about
“authentic, slow food made from fresh local ingredients”
Seasonal produce promises top quality ingredients, and gives any chef the opportunity to play and experiment with food’s five senses. Roland started at Grande Roche as a trainee chef, fell in love with the hotel’s accountant, and they have both since made South Africa their home. He presented four beautiful courses with Lemberg Wine’s signatures including the Vine Dried Sauv Blanc and Spencer Pinotage 2011. As the smallest wine estate in the Western Cape, winemaker David strives to make
“honest wines… with natural fermentation and authentic flavour true to the Tulbagh-region.”
The resulting pairing was spectacular, tasting fruits of the sea, land, and air.
I. Cured Kabeljou with confit fennel orange salad, carrot puree & langoustine
Perfectly paired with Lemberg Lady white Blend, notes of white peaches and sea breeze. Kabeljou tartare balanced with sweet-sour carrot puree, a playful combination of texture and colours
II. Jus glazed Duck Breast with bean-bacon cassoulet & marinated baby cos
Slightly heavy on salts, seared duck breast was overpowered by bacon…
III. Red wine marinated Chalmar Beef fillet with bone marrow-parsley crust, braised root vegetable puree & pancetta croquettes
My favourite wine for the evening, the Lemberg Spencer Pinotage 2011 was smooth with spicy cloves and cinnamon. Loved the candied cabbage slice and creamy pancetta croquettes! The dish was well-balanced, with Chalmar beef as the center piece.
IV. Cheesecake Two Ways with green pepper shortbread, dark chocolate & kiwi
Tangy kiwi jus with fluffy, light cheesecake. Shortbread was a pleasant surprise with crisp peppers, complimenting Lemberg Surin Vine Dried Sauv Blanc fresh citrus note.
Beyond the creative food and wine pairing, Grande Roche reminded me of the thrill of travelling. We met travellers from Dubai and India; Paarl gallery owners and artists; Cape Town food enthusiasts and fitness instructors… An evening spent with new friends and stimulating conversation shared over dinner!