Turning Tables

My thoughts on The Red Table @ Nederburg in Food Weekly on Sunday.  Nederburg are just one of 8 leading SA wine brands to feature at Cape to Canton at the Vineyard Hotel & Spa on Sunday.

While Franschhoekfranschhoekcellarwines Turning Tables
by franschhoekwines
may call itself “food and wine capital of SA”, the true heart of hedonism is racing in Paarl.  Nederburg is home to Diners Club Winemaker of the Year, barrel-chested Razvan Macici, while when I lunched at the new Red Table restaurant in the Nederburg manor house in January, filming of the second season of MasterChefSA was in full swing.  Annie, the Macici family pooch, has put on serious weight from leftovers.  Which answers the question: who eats those TV creations? – not the crew, as SheSha Film & TV Caterers were feeding the gaffers and best boys.

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The Nederburg manor house is a stately Cape Dutch (circa 1800) galleon washed up on the rolling green lawns above the vineyards.  This is the Holy of Holies of SA wine as the annual Nederburg Auction takes place on the MasterChefSA set and lunch is served on the lawns, which are now well peppered with red tables.

As you’d expect, the wine list is Naturally Nederburg.  Which is no problem as the brand makes dozens of styles which between them have won more awards, both local and international, than Lance Armstrong, without the additives.  Like the Platter five star Ingenuity red (2009 vintage) and white (2011) blends available at tasting room prices.

The venue is an obvious showcase for Auction wines and is a much more conducive venue for a bidding list than pre-auction tastings in a Cape Town or Sandton Convention Centre.  Nederburg nabobs should roll out a “selection month special” and have patrons vote on wines to be offered on auction.  After all, if the government does its worst and bans alcohol advertising, Red Tables will come into their own.

The food offering is small, but perfectly formed.  I started with a confit duck salad with roast beetroot, orange segments and baby spinach, a deal indeed at R60 given the generous portion.  My partner’s salty biltong and sweet strawberry salad with deep fried goat’s cheese and balsamic is even cheaper at R55 while smoked salmon trout on three! bruschetta with crème fraiche and a baby leaf salad is only R50.  A great combination with Nederburg 2012 Riesling.

The food is presented by Dish (Andrea Foulkes) who has catered almost all the Nederburg Auctions since 2006, so she’s got the hang of the kitchen.  Wilmien cooked ours and recommended the venison (kudu) burger with caramelised onion and crispy sweet potatoes (R95).  She was not wrong.  Luan had apricot and gorgonzola stuffed chicken supreme with toasted almond and chive cous cous and a herby dressing, a sweet but delicious affair.  Replace the cous cous with quinoa and you can invite Professor Tim Noakes.

Free range sirloin with skinny fries is the priciest dish (R125) and vegetarians are not overlooked.  Charles Back, of Fairview fame, says that tastings alone are no longer sufficient for a serious wine tourism offering.  While hosting MasterChefSA is obviously for those with big budgets, wine estate restaurants are the next wave and this one does not let the award winning wines down.