You know when the plate of food is so good that you use your knife to scrape off each bit of deliciousness? And then at one point you give up and use your finger, hoping that no one sees you doing it? But luckily when you look up you are not the only one. It was a bit like that when we had a tasting of the new winter menu at Terroir located on Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch.
Michael Broughton opened Terroir in 2004 and it has consistently received accolade after accolade. The menu is seasonal and Michael uses the change of season as an opportunity to not just reinvent and evolve but also improve. And being able to enjoy a tasting of the new winter menu lived up and exceeded every expectation.
Michael describes his style of cooking as deceptively simple but the experience of eating his food is certainly not simple but also not filled with gimmicks and tricks. The flavours are interesting but clean, the plating beautiful but not fussy and the passion of the kitchen brigade so clearly visible. There is also great pride in that everything that comes from the kitchen is made on the premises, including two types of daily bread, using their sourdough starter called Sandy.
We tasted two of the starters. The Smoked Tomato Tart, Goat Cheese, Garden Peas and 64° Egg Yolk and the Braised Lamb Neck Tortellini, Glazed Baby Carrots, Apricot and Almond Crumble. The tart reminded me why I love to eat. From the first bite to the last lick of the plate, it is just delicious. Other starters on the menu include Seared Tuna Niçoise, Hen’s Egg & Rolled Aubergine; a Prawn, Corn, Basil Risotto & Sauce Américaine and Oak Smoked Duck Breast, Goat Feta, Compressed Watermelon, Grapefruit and Brown Butter Sauce.
I loved that the two main courses we tasted were both packed with crispy vegetables and are wintery comfort food on a whole other level. Think fish cooked to perfection with the crispiest of crisp skin, the lightest potato gnochhi, melt in the mouth pork belly and a smoked potato puree that was scraped off the plate it was so good. The pork belly was paired with a glass of Kleine Zalze Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier 2014. I loved it and had to stop at the cellar on the way out to stock up. Other mains on the menu is a Seed Crusted Beef Fillet, Smoked Potato Purée , Roasted Pumpkin, Charred Baby Onion & Truffled Jus; Hand rolled Linguine, Porcini and Shimeji Mushrooms, 36 month Parmesan & Porcini Sauce and a Herb Crusted Springbok Loin, Bacon and Sweet Ginger Braised Red Cabbage, Aubergine and Miso Purée, Spätzle & Poivrade Sauce.
And then we got to dessert. The Brioche Tipsy Cake is baked in caramel. And lovingly basted with more caramel a few times while it bakes. Do I need to say more? Except that you have to order it? On the other end of the scale was the delicious Apple Mille Feuille. You can see the layers of the apple between the delicate thin pastry and the miso caramel is something extraordinary. So choosing desserts will be impossible. Especially when you have more options like Dark Chocolate Bar, White Chocolate and Coconut Namalaka, Coffee Cream; Honeycomb & Peanut Butter Ice Cream and a Local Artisan Cheese Plate, Apricot and Vanilla Compote, Quince & Crispy Breads.
The Winter Menu at Terroir is a dining experience to enjoy and savour. The service is friendly and attentive and there is passion, intelligence and flavour in every single plate of food. Between now and 30 September 2016, Terroir is also offering its popular “Winter Plates” special for a reasonable R195 a person. The price includes a generous main course, or ‘winter plate’, as well as the daily amuse bouche, Terroir’s trademark artisanal bread board, and a glass of Vineyard Selection Kleine Zalze wine of your choice. Do enjoy!
** Disclaimer : I was an invited guest of Terroir and Manley Communications to taste the new Winter Menu. This blog post is my own prerogative.