Chef Constantijn paid me the most amazing compliment, by inviting me to visit Hartford House, to evaluate the restaurant lunch and dinners, having valued that I was the first to write about him when he still worked at Café BonBon in Franschhoek.Read More
Filtering by Tag: Lowlands Butchery
The battle for the hearts and minds of foodies, local and international, is never-ending. Not so long ago, there was a timelessness to the culinary world, where the term "slow food", was a comforting thought for the designers and cookers of good fare. But all that has changed; the nano-second era in which we live these days underwrites a ceaseless demand for innovation, new creations and instant delivery, particularly if you want to remain at the top table of the nation's gourmet paradises.
While the distinction of being the only KwaZulu-Natal based restaurant in the national "Top Five" is one helluva honour, it also comes with a mountain of responsibilities and expectations. There's no basking in that glory, because in this game, you're only as good as the last meal you served. Hartford House may be the remotest of South Africa's leading eateries, but it's only a matter of 15 minutes off the busiest freeway in Africa, and every day it finds its way onto the "bucket lists" of more and more passers-by.
Running one of these places is like acting in, directing and enjoying the biggest show on earth, the human drama which is driven by the universe's five great judges, our senses. As part of their quest at maintaining their currency in this human comedy, our champions of the "local is lekker" cause, Jackie Cameron, Elaine Boshoff and Travis Finch sat down this week to compose their new autumn lunch menu, foraging through the neighbourhood for the finest and the freshest in seasonal ingredients.
It's a well-known fact that the Midlands is the "Beef Capital" of the world, so its unsurprising we should find our neighbour, Lowlands, is the source of our beef. Anyone who's made the pilgrimage to the Dargle Valley Pottery or to Neville Trickett's storied temple of design, St Verde, will tell you that the verdant home of our pork was well named, while the "bushveld" environs of Estcourt are the inspiration for some of South Africa's tastiest lamb. Swissland and Romesco supply the goat's cheese and the most delicious campfire olives, while every veggie and herb is either straight out of the kitchen garden or home-grown within a jiffy of our front gates. And you can quaff it all down with a fine bottle of viognier from Abingdon's Lions River winery.
It's a strange misconception that if you happen to be a "Top Five" restaurant (or a top twenty, thirty or forty for that matter,) you have to be expensive: while we can't speak for our colleagues in the culinary world, what we can say with absolute faith, is that the Hartford restaurant is as reasonably priced in its category, as any on the planet. On that score, I should mention that I was in Australia a week ago when three of us sat down for a casual meal at admittedly, a leading hotel. While the offering was decent enough, it was a long way from what you might expect to be served at Neil Perry's famous Rockpool eatery just down the stairs, yet the bill came in (before tips) at just on R4000, with a bottom of the range but quite acceptable, bottle of wine.
By contrast, you can reserve a place for a five course dinner at Hartford, recently counted by the senior food critic at America's Wall Street Journal, among the top three country restaurants in the world, and with an excellent bottle of wine, you can sign the bill off at around R1500. A comparable meal at a comparable restaurant in Australia (or anywhere else in the "civilized" world for that matter,) will cost you more than three times (and closer to four times,) what we pay at home. Take heart, South Africans, and come and see for yourselves. We'll be waiting to welcome you with our own unique brand of Zulu hospitality.
"Winter calls for steaming stews and hot pots..."
Winter calls for steaming stews and hot pots - rich, juicy, heart-warming combinations to complement the Cape's finest full-bodied red wines. And, especially in Mooi River, many roaring log fires.
I enjoy winter for all these reasons and, as a chef, I get excited when winter approaches because it means it's 'venison season'. Top to toe/hoof is a chef's delight.
You can't get more South African than a spicy venison bobotie. We all know what to do with the top-end cut. Now try something different by taking the tougher but flavoursome sections; mincing them and making a juicy, aromatic venison bobotie. This must be accompanied with apricot 'blatjang' and yellow rice.
A venison consomme/soup with thyme, smoky campfire olives, and hot-roasted goats' cheese makes a savoury/umami combination to awaken anyone's palate.
A venison meat stew/pie - with a crispy, rough puff-pastry hat (on the side) loads of carrots, garlic and rosemary - is an ideal around-the-dining-room-table family meal Memories made around one pot!
When I'm unsure about a piece of meat, I draw the cooking process out as long as possible - even when it comes to good cuts and especially when the meat is very lean. I make a red-wine court bouillon (flavoured liquor or stock). I then pan sear the cut (all sinew removed) in a hot pan with a dash of butter, which is at the stage of releasing nutty aromas. This seared cut gets poached in the red wine court bouillon off of the heat and then is allowed to rest before serving. The result is a flavoursome, juicy piece of venison.
Springbok loin wrapped in a mushroom duxelle and then covered in puff pastry is an exciting dish. It's new-age beef Wellington with venison flair.
So here's to chilly evenings, bubbling hotpots and fun-filled home entertaining.
Supplier's list :
- Places to try Lowland's butchery 033 2631886.
- Another supplier of mine is Bim from Belcom's in Durban 031 5635875.
- I have often seen Ostrich in various shops in KZN, which works beautifully too.
Take these recipes and try them.
Send comments and food-related questions to email@example.com. I always look forward to hearing from you. For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK. Find me on Twitter - jackie_cameron.
+27 33 263 2713
Assisted by Elaine Boshoff for recipe development and photography.