Steenberg’s Executive Chef Kerry Kilpin is on a mission to expand guests’ horizons with a new concept she has introduced at Catharina’s Restaurant in Steenberg Estate. Until the end of April, every lunch and dinner guest will receive a complimentary culinary surprise in the form of a cocktail, an amuse-bouche, or a truffle that packs flavours and ingredients from enchanting exotic locations and far-flung destinations. The challenge is to guess the mystery ingredient and its country of origin.
Well, why not? #DiscoverTaste is a whimsical concept that is perfectly in keeping with Chef Kerry Kilpin’s love for travel, adventure, and fun. And it allows her to share her travel experiences and inspirations with her guests in some small way. There’s no hefty hidden agenda here:
“It really is just about having a bit of fun with our guests,” says Chef Kerry.
And it’s complimentary, so why not indeed?
The #DiscoverTaste Challenge
Travel is a personal passion of mine and there are few better ways of catering to this rather expensive passion (short of getting on a plane) than eating at local restaurants that purvey exotic cuisines or work with foreign ingredients.
We’re not talking about frog’s legs, knock-your-socks-off Thai bird chillies, or sheep’s head stew. This is Catharina’s after all: an elegant, contemporary / country-style restaurant located amidst Steenberg Estate’s verdant vineyards in the Constantia Wine Valley. Here, the menu is inventive but rooted in fresh, local, seasonal produce and you can bank on every dish being a masterpiece of beautifully balanced colour, flavour, and texture.
Rather, we’re talking about a mystery top-shelf Moroccan spice blend (ras el hanout); a cooked prawn dressed with a powdered citrus-flavoured red berry from the Middle East (sumac); goat’s cheese on a crouton with a small-leaved succulent plant that elephants have developed a taste for (spekboom); and a palate cleansing sorbet made from an ingredient from Bordeaux, France, and another from Iran, the capital of the old Persian Empire.
In all of these bite-sized treats, which is just to mention a few of the many we tasted, there was a mystery ingredient or flavour to be identified. Sadly, my performance was utterly dismal – botany is not my strong suit. Wine, however, is and I’m pleased to say that I did get the sorbet’s ingredients right and they were Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz grape juice.
À la carte lunch
At the end of our guessing game, which was immense fun, we enjoyed our choice of Chef Kerry Kilpin’s à la carte creations accompanied by Steenberg’s incredible wines. For me, that was a starter of tempura prawns with avocado, coriander mushrooms, tender greens, soy syrup, and lemon aioli, paired with the Sémillon 2017, a luscious, smooth white wine with a gorgeous white gold colour.
For mains, I chose the sous vide pork belly, a decision motivated primarily by my feverish infatuation with Steenberg’s Nebbiolo 2015, a wine of staggering beauty and swan-like elegance fragranced by rose petals, fynbos, leather, and cherries. It also has the perfect acidity and grippy tannic structure to accompany a fatty food like pork belly. And since we were on a culinary trip around the world, we may as well make a pit stop in Italy!
My secondary motivation for choosing the pork belly was because, well, it’s pork belly, cooked sous vide by the extraordinarily gifted Chef Kelly and served with butternut and honey purée, sprouting broccoli, spinach, star anise, and citrus jus.
Lunch just doesn’t get better than that!
An enchanting dining experience
Chef Kerry is an artist of the highest order (but without that cloying ego that follows many of South Africa’s “hot shot” chefs around like a bad smell). Because she doesn’t take herself too seriously, she allows herself to let rip with fun and whimsy in the kitchen, which makes for an absolutely enchanting dining experience.
After our meal, I felt as though I had trawled the fragrant spice bazaars of Marrakech, the revered vineyards of Bordeaux, and the salt-sprayed coasts of northern Europe. There’s no pressure and no prize for unearthing the mystery. Receiving a delicious, complimentary amuse-bouche before your meal, a refreshing palate cleanser between courses, or a truffle afterwards is reward enough.
So, try it for yourself – go to Catharina’s and, through the flavours and ingredients on your plate, travel.
Catharina’s Restaurant is open Monday to Sunday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is also running a special two-for-one cocktail hour between 16h00 and 18h00, making the lovely outdoor terrace the perfect destination for after-work drinks.
For bookings and enquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +27 (0)21 7137178