Marron's, dry ice and edible gold leaf - A magical eating experience.
I have been following chef Gregory Czarnecki on Instagram for a while now, and have been in awe of how beautiful all his dishes are. A while back I vowed to start saving up in order to go and find out if it is as good as it looks!
Obviously, for me this would mean saving for a while. But one day a client and friend - after noticing my curious glances towards the open kitchen whilst on a wine tour with me at Waterkloof Wine Estate - surprised me with a meal voucher at the restaurant! Very sweet and generous of him!
I definitely didn't wait long before my partner Sam and I got all dressed up and ready to indulge ourselves one Sunday afternoon.
First and foremost, Waterkloof Wine Estate, perched on the slopes of Schapenberg, and overlooking False Bay is a fully fledged biodynamic farm, and produces some excellent wines. I love stopping off here for a tasting en route to Elgin Wine Valley like I did with them that day. I also get their Peacock wild fermented Chenin blanc to go with our cheese platters at Culture Club Cheese on our Foodie Thursdays tour in Cape Town.
We were lucky to get a table right next to the window, overlooking False Bay on the one side, and the Hottentots Holland Mountain range forming a spectacular backdrop on the other.
From the start we were impressed. Bread with three types of butter and a garlic aioli, warm towels to clean our hands, and our Chenin blanc being poured into a beautiful decanter and placed in a bowl of crushed ice.
We opted for the ala carte menu, and found it hard to choose from all of the wonderful options on offer. I am always very indecisive when it comes to choosing from a good menu. Sam seems to choose in minutes and this drives me crazy :)
After the formalities, our waiters brought us a complementary amuse bouche, beautifully presented with vibrant colours and interesting textures to match. Carrot puree, with cucumber jelly, picked shallots, biscuit crumble and burnt thyme ash.
From Instagram I knew that Gregories food would look amazing, but the flavour in our starters really blew us away. I had noticed Marron on the menu,something I have never seen before. What is it I asked? Fresh water crayfish! Seeing that our West Coast rock lobster/crayfish has sadly found itself on SASSI's redlist for unsustainable populations, it had been taken of most menus in South Africa, so crayfish definitely tickled my fancy! Even though the presentation wasn't as exciting as I know his dishes to be, it was the flavors that blew me away! It came served with porcini mushrooms in a warm tomato velute and hollandaise sauce! Yumm!
Sam's starter on the other hand was a work of art! A beautiful fresh, sweet and juicy scallop, served with porcini cream, curry sauce, and a beautiful phyllo pastry crown.
Both our main courses got ten out of ten for presentation and taste. I went for my regular favorite, duck, and Sam for the linefish.
I am not the biggest fan of the texture cooked fruit, so the side of poached apples and date puree wasn't something I was too excited about, but I thought I should give it a go anyway. The apples ended up being very sightly poached, still crunchy and tart, which really went well with the duck, and the date puree provided a lovely sweetness to the dish. Although the skin can always be crispier for me, the duck itself was perfectly cooked. It also came with lovely little turnips and was served with a duck jus.
Sam went for the line caught Kingklip, served with charred cauliflower and cauliflower puree, onions, Iberico ham and macadamia nuts. The subtle combination of flavours worked perfectly with the buttery fish, and the dehydrated onion rings placed on top represented the chef's artistic flair.
All our dishes went exceptionally well with the Waterkloof Circumstance Chenin blanc that we were enjoying.
After mains we were treated to a complementary palate cleanser of lemon cream, lemon glass, biscuit crumble and white chocolate pebbles.
All the while some of the other guests that went for the degustation menu where being served their sorbet in a performance of dry ice smoke.
Our desserts also proved to bring presentation, textures and flavor together in a symphony of culinary art.
Sam opted for the experimental Macha cheese cake, with a citrus sorbet, mango and salted caramel crunchies and decorated with edible gold dust.
My dessert made me the happiest girl. I'm not the biggest sweet tooth, so opted for the cheese dish. It looked like abstract art. A thin round of goatscheese marbled with vegetable ash, another round of hibiscus jelly, crispy bits of hibiscus glass and the plate decorated with little bits of pollen that pops in your mouth. Add to that an extremely thin crunchy piece of toast, and when you lift the cheese to a whole other layer of pistachios, a ball of goats cheese and slightly tart vinegary berries. Wow, what a taste sensation!
Just when you think you cannot experience more yumminess, the waiter brought us some butter cream macaroons, peach an mango lollies and salted caramel chocolate sticks (according to Sam the best part of the meal) with our coffee.
All and all the experience was very special. The views, the great wine,the excellent service and the beautiful food. We were so lucky to be treated to this, because sure, it doesn't come cheap, but believe me, we have already started saving up for our next meal at The Restaurant at Waterkloof Wine Estate.
Thanks chef Czarnecki and team for an unforgettable eating experience