Hello fellow bloggers and readers….remember me? I apologize for my long absence but the last couple of months have been totally taken up with co-ordinating the 2012 SA Food and Wine Blogger Indaba which I am happy to report was a great success. Now starts the post Indaba “mop up” and then the planning for 2013 will begin.
During the run up to the Indaba Ian Manley from Manley Communications contacted me with an offer to run a competition for food bloggers in conjunction with Indaba 2012. The prize? A fabulous dinner for 12 at the newly launched Reubens Tasting Table at the One&Only Resort Cape Town. This table is situated high above the 170 seater sofisticated Reubens restaurant on a mezzanine floor next to a seriously impressive glass walled 3 level wine loft/cellar that houses more than 5000 wines from around the world. How beautifully luxurious is this place? Situated in the vibey V&A Waterfront this was only my second visit to the One&Only, the first one being a visit to Nobu Restaurant a couple of months ago to sample their winter bento box….. but that is for another posting……
On Monday 25 June 12 of us, including some Indaba workshop presenters and five bloggers who were randomly chosen from the competition entries on twitter, met with Ian Manley in the Vista Bar and Lounge, a sophisticated area situated in the heart of the resort with floor to ceiling glass walls that boast a fantastic view of beautiful Table Mountain and the city. Here we were served a complimentary Kir Royale and chatted away while waiting for our 7.30pm dinner appointment.
Once seated and settled around Reubens Tasting Table and chatting away about the huge retro “lazy susan” in the middle of the table – a circular revolving tray, for want of a better word, that is placed at the centre of a dining table to facilitate sharing of food and passing around of condiments etc. – the friendly young celebrity executive head chef himself, Reuben Riffel, appeared at our table to greet us and to explain the menu to us. What strikes one first is how nice and down to earth this man is, a real local boy, and humble to boot. Reuben is inspired by local produce and South African cuisine and the menu at Reuben’s Tasting Table is certainly testament to that inspiration….with a delicious twist!
While we all listened animatedly to Reuben describing his menu our glasses were filled with delicious wines and once the menu chat was over, head sommelier at One&Only, the inimitable and hugely knowledgeable Luvo Ntezo, stepped up to the plate and explained the evenings wines to us. Personally, I could have listened to this man’s voice throughout the evening! What a great guy Luvo is, amicable, likable, passionate about wines and with a great sense of humour. He is NOT a wine snob, which is a wonderful trait in one so knowledgeable about the subject.
Gorgeous little bowls of crusty bread were brought to the table while everyone was chatting and the bread was enjoyed with some of my favourite extra virgin Saint Sebastian Bay Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar which stood proudly on the lazy susan at regular intervals.
Once the food started arriving….and it kept coming……..the chatter around the table died down as everyone peered into their little individual serving bowls of the menu dishes which is how we were served for the evening…..we started off with these little darlings – peppadews stuffed with goats cheese, pine nuts, tomato confit and olive crumbs…just little fresh pops of flavour in your mouth and a mix of textures, the slight crispness of the sweetly spiced peppadew, the smoothness of the cheese, the crunch of the pine nuts and salty sweet tomato confit with the olive crumbs. I really enjoyed those very much.
This was followed by divinely crumbled chilli salted squid with mint, basil, sprout salad and a sublime chilli, caramel and lime dressing – a stunning little dish, the squid so tender it hardly needed chewing at all, the chilli just enough so that even my chilli fearing old man could enjoy it.
Next on the starter menu was a velvety smooth Potato and Carrot Veloute served in a coffee cup with sour cream and nutmeg…..oooohs and aaaahs of delight were heard around the table as everyone sipped delicately on this beautifully flavoured dish. Another one of my favourites…I could have kept on eating this all evening…..and I read a tweet from Jeanne (@cooksisterblog) that said this is possibly the best thing she had tasted this year so you know it must be good!)
Last of the starter dishes was Chicken and Herb Creamy Crisps served with raisin sauce and Cape style salad, this didn’t look like much of a dish until you tucked in below the al dente Cape styled salad to get to the chicken and herb crisps underneath. Oh MY HAT!! What magnificence lay beneath…….these little chicken “croquettes” were superb and tasted oh so more-ish! A delicious surprise that, when I closed my eyes and savoured the little bites I had visions of homely comforting chicken pie! It had all the flavours that I love in a chicken pie. I should really have photographed one of these little delights before I ate them all shouldn’t I? Norty browniegirl!
After a short interval where we moved around the table a bit (remember musical chairs we used to play at kids parties??) and got to know everyone a bit better, the Main course dishes started arriving.
First up was cinnamon scented Lamb Meatballs – small bite sized balls of delicately spiced minced lamb served with juicy tart pomegranate arils, cinnamon and split pea puree. Sublime! Served in individual sized Staub cast iron cocottes these meatballs stole Mr Brownie’s heart! The little cast iron cocottes stole mine :)
Next up was Bobotie – you can’t get more South African than that – individual little portions served once again in those adorable little Staub cast iron cocottes. Absolutely scrumptious served with accompaniments of yellow rice, banana sambal and baked sweet potato with moskonfyt….just like grandma used to make it!
Last of the main courses was Braised Smoked Fish served on sourdough slices with lime, tomato and apricot salsa…a delicious take on the typically flaky braaied apricot snoek that is so popular among Capetonians when the snoek are running and are readily available, sold fresh and cheaply by the fishermen.
The sweet ending to the fabulous feast included a traditional decadent Malva pudding served in individual log portions with Amarula Ice Cream – hmmmmmmm YUM!!! On the side was a little jug of delightfully creamy pouring custard. Served alongside this was some Coconut Cream Flakes – almost redolent of mille feuille layers with a delicate coconut flavoured cream and in between these, toffeed mango! A blissful ending to a spectacular meal at Reubens Tasting Table.
The meal above was perfectly accompanied by ALLÉE BLEUE wines and, at the end of the evening when we said our fond goodbyes we were all presented with a lovely bottle of ALLÉE BLUEU Brut Rosé Bubbly, each one in its own cool de sac – a nifty fully recyclable plastic ice bucket ideal for picnics and alfresco celebrations! Mr Brownie and I enjoyed ours at a private little celebration in Jacobsbaai for our 34th wedding anniversary.
The Reubens Tasting Menu comes highly recommended and at R295 per person it is reasonably priced. The menu has proven to be so popular that it is now also available in Reubens Restaurant on a daily basis but I can really recommend the experience of sharing around that lovely private table in the loft floating above the restaurant
Aside from this uniquely South African flavoured food and wine experience Reuben’s Tasting Table can also be reserved for bespoke food and wine pairing lunches or dinners. Priced at R595 per person, each specially prepared course is served with a wine that partners the ingredients and cuisine style perfectly. A sommelier guides guests through the tasting and comparison process. And for the cheese lover, a specialised cheese and wine tasting featuring a variety of the finest South African cheeses and some five local wines is also available at Reuben’s Tasting Table. Celebrating artisanal cheese makers and boutique wineries, this focused tasting is priced at R200 per person and is an ideal ice breaker for corporate entertainment, an enjoyable after-dinner offering and certainly something any gourmet guest to enjoy.
To reserve the Reuben’s Tasting Table at Reuben’s One&Only Cape Town, call (27) (21) 431 4511 or mail to email@example.com
For more information on One&Only Cape Town and the resort’s seasonal promotions, visit www.oneandonlycapetown.com
Some of the photographs that appear in this post are courtesy of Manley Communications and Jeanne Horak-Druiff.
Disclaimer: The evening described, including cocktails, dinner and wine but excepting travelling expenses, was a prize dinner for 12 guests hosted by Ian Manley from Manley Communications and was sponsored by One&Only Cape Town. No one was paid to write a review about this dinner and the opinions expressed in this post are voluntary and mine entirely.