Exquisite dining at The Thistle

LOVERS of fine dining can look forward to gastronomic sensations at The Thistle Restaurant’s special food and wine pairings on Thursdays.

INVITING YOU IN: The starter of gazpacho, comprising sorbet, tomato essence and garlic croute Picture: JON HOUZET

Talk of the Town was invited to the first pairing last week, themed “The Med”.

We were warmly welcomed by restaurant supervisor Iliana van Niekerk and presented with a tasty treat not on the menu for the evening.

The first wine was a Boschendal 1685 chardonnay, paired with the gazpacho starter, comprising sorbet, tomato essence and garlic croute. It was elegantly presented – an appetiser portion with a wafer of melba toast. It was very tasty and well-paired with the dry white wine.

The merlot was well-paired with the mouth-watering mains of ostrich fillet

Van Niekerk said the next wine, the Haute Cabriere chardonnay/pinot noir, was an “accidental” wine in how it was produced. It was in 1994, a time of celebration, and cellarmaster Achim von Arnim set out to produce an equivalent to Champagne, replanting a small farm in Franschhoek completely to chardonnay and pinot noir in line with the traditional method.

TEXTURES AND TASTES: Second course was crumbed camembert with apricot chutney and herb jelly Picture: JON HOUZET

Demand for their Pierre Jourdan Cap Classique grew steadily, but they suddenly hit a snag. The 1994 crop was very small, which means the grapes ripen very early and rapidly. A portion of the base wine ended up with 12% alcohol, making it unsuitable for the Pierre Jourdan Cap Classique. Unsure, but determined to make the best of the situation, Von Arnim bottled that portion of wine as a still blend of 60% chardonnay and 40% white pinot noir – which turned out to be a great success.

At The Thistle, the wine was paired with crumbed camembert with apricot chutney and herb jelly. The array of tastes and textures was pleasing to eye and palate.

The Thistle will rotate four menus on Thursdays over the next three months.

The first red wine for the evening was Groenland merlot. Providing some background to the wine, Van Niekerk said Groenland had been in family ownership for three generations. The present owner and winemaker, since 1975, is Kosie Steenkamp. Kosie’s son Piet joined the Groenland team in 2001 as assistant winemaker and viticulturist.

The vineyards consists of 188 hectares, of which 152 hectares are under vine.

The merlot was well-paired with the mouth-watering mains of ostrich fillet with butternut dauphinoise, dehydrated beets and pecan buerre noisette.

GOOD PORTION: The mains of ostrich fillet with butternut dauphinoise, dehydrated beets and pecan buerre noisette Picture: JON HOUZET

Served medium rare, the fillet was very tender and tasty. The butternut and baby beets were also scrumptious, the beets roasted so you could even eat the crispy stems. The pecan nut sauce was also delicious.

Dessert was deliciously decadent deep fried ice cream with chocolate fudge crumble and honeycomb. It was followed by a shot of espresso and Frangelico, a delightful way to end the evening. Chef Joshua Meaker has excelled himself.

NOVEL AND DELICIOUS: Dessert was deep fried ice cream with chocolate fudge crumble and honeycomb Picture: JON HOUZET

The next menu, to be served this evening, is “The Classics”, with crispy parma ham, tempura prawns, a mains of classic beef Wellington, and a lavender and milk chocolate mousse dessert.

The Thistle will rotate four menus on Thursdays over the next three months.

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