After coming home from one of the most amazing trips of my life, which luckily was how we spent our honeymoon, I still could not get enough of South Africa!
We brought home as many ingestible memories as we could. From the colorful spices that enveloped their barbecued meats in what they call braai and the aromas they use to infuse their grains, to the coffee that reflects the soil different African lands produce (remember Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia from Starbucks??), and of course the wines that some of the most memorable wineries we visited made… they simply were not enough to quench the thirst of a heart, which I think I left in Cape Town.
So we thought, why not bring Cape Town to Manila for one night?
At the beautiful hidden gem, the Makati Garden Club, who invited a chef straight from Cape Town to collaborate with their executive chef to bring a truly authentic gastronomic African safari.
With some actual beats from a CD (yes, CD!) we bought from a live band performing at the Waterfront in Cape Town, what better way to bring out the African flavours than a pairing with African wines! That night, wines from Warwick Estate accompanied the feast which, I must say, made me miss Cape Town less even for one night.
Warwick wines are a hallmark in the South African wine industry. Its owner, Norma Ratcliffe, is the first female winemaker in the country and remains a strong force both in the industry, and in how her family’s winery is run.While Chardonnay is normally partnered with white meat, being white wine, the biltong beef had a strong but not a heavy flavor which did not overpower the wine. This Warwick First Lady Chardonnay is also un-oaked – meaning it was not aged in oak barrels – revealing the raw, vulnerable flavors of this grape.
This wine had more floral notes, mild citrus flavors and a distinct pineapple aroma. The freshness of this wine prepared the palate for another gamey bite. It is called First Lady in honor of Norma, the First Lady winemaker.Chakalaka is like a dry ratatouille for me. It originally was described as a survival dish because its ingredients were mainly what was available, accessible and inexpensive. Today, it is often served as a side to the braai. For this dinner however, it was served as a salad dressed with strawberry sauce.
Pinotage is a grape that is only ever grown in Africa. It is a hybrid of two grapes – Pinot Noir and Cinsault, known then as Hermitage, hence the portmanteau.
One can expect a lush aroma of red berries – think raspberries – more from the Pinot influence. It’s a little heavier than the Pinot due to the Cinsault, but not too full-bodied that it still was an awesome sidekick to the salad.South Africa’s cuisine is a melting pot of its many influences. This curried mussels soup is inspired by Malay cuisine. The creaminess of this soup and the spices infused in it were politely refreshed by the mild acidity of this Chardonnay. If it had been an oaked Chardonnay, it might have overpowered this dish. With robust meats, you need a robust wine. Nothing delicate, and nothing too flashy. You need some muscle without needing to throw those punches. This is exactly what this First Lady Cabernet Sauvignon is all about. Round, elegant, smooth but masculine.
This braai platter is HEAVEN for any meat-lover. While I enjoy a good piece of lamb, and while it did pair OK, this was my least favorite pairing with the First Lady Cabernet Sauvignon. My favorite was the boerewors and bibotie pairing.
We ended this feast with another platter – but cheese! It’s always exciting for me to pair one wine with different cheeses because you never know which one will work best. This platter was paired with the Three Cape Ladies wine which is a blend of three grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah / Shiraz and Pinotage.
All in all, my heart (and stomach) was full, my soul happy and a Cape Town thirst definitely quenched! …for now.