For the love of Food…
My ‘love of food’ journey began, like most people, when I was a youngster. Raised in a large Chinese family, everything at home was cooked from scratch. My Dad was a head chef and rarely cooked at home unless it was an occasion.
This forced us to become the ‘experts’ in the kitchen, because food standards were high; and as a result, I became an automatic apprentice in Cantonese cooking. My most vivid memories of food were not glamorous; cleaning and gutting fish, (we were fish obsessed), chopping, blending, all kind of ingredients and spices, turning bones to bone broth, was the everyday norm.
This way of life grew on me, as nothing in the food world was impossible; if we wanted to eat something, we would learn how to make it. This explains my passion for excellence and creativity today, it gave me a rich culinary beginning; and from that, increasingly, I decided that success is all in the detail and the reward for all of our labour, was that we ate exceeding well. Grey Mullet steamed in Lemon and Soy. Poached salted corn fed chicken with chopped ginger and spring onion. Wontons filled with prawns and shitake mushrooms, oyster omelettes with chopped water chestnuts, just to name some dishes. Not mentioning soups, or festival food… that’s for another day!
People flock far and wide for the freshest seafood here served at reasonable prices. With Shelves stacked with plates and glasses of all types, it’s easy to feel at home with the ‘help yourself’ style of the place. It’s a ‘bring your own bottle’ seafood shack; I certainly saw a Laurent Perrier or two being served, which must have been a hit for some. I chose Scallops and Bacon in thyme butter, a platter of oysters, crab and prawns; my highlight had to be the grilled oyster with Gruyere and mushrooms… delicious.
As our neighbouring fellow diner put it “ they concentrate on the things that matter and less time on the things that don’t, that’s what make them successful”. That comment rang in my ears as I left, whilst thinking of the many great businesses that live out that very motto. I agree, fuss over the things that matter – freshly sourced ingredients, creativity in menus and consistently great service. Sometimes eateries can simply do too much, therefore getting their identity lost on the high street.
Another recent experience where detail mattered was at a biodynamic wine farm in Stellenbosch, Capetown, called Waterkloof.
I learnt that Biodynamic farming is a natural agricultural process, where one respects the interconnected world and cultivates processes where the grapes grow in an untampered environment. Our sommelier explained that they use horses to plough the fields (minimal machinery) and the grapes are harvested by a specific astrological calendar, within a balanced ecosystem, where the humble grape has the best conditions for it to become the finest wine. Creating optimum surroundings can play a big note in fine cuisine.
My favourite had to be the Circle of Life range – a Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon blend, beautifully balanced with bursting excitement in every sip. I even love the label, where one edge is rough, the other clean cut, I think of how the circle of life is like that – the rough comes with the smooth, the harvest comes with hard work.
On that jolly note, cheers to you in your ‘Circle of Life’.
Until next time…
Yuki (Lam) Solle – Sales and lead development