Food and wine lovers can expect to have their taste-buds tantalised and culinary perceptions challenged when Camphors at Vergelegen, one of South Africa’s most acclaimed restaurants, hosts three innovative winter and spring dining experiences.
The locally-sourced, globally-influenced dinners (July, August and September) will maximize the extensive range of produce from the gardens and orchards, vineyards and pastures of the magnificent 317-year-old, 3000 hectare estate and some of its rigorously-selected local suppliers.
“The dinners will reflect the contemporary experimental work of the Camphors culinary team – what they’ve learned and what they’re working on, so that guests experience first-hand the development involved in achieving an exceptional dining experience,” says Vergelegen Hospitality Manager Sharon Hosking.
Executive chef Michael Cooke says: “We are fortunate to have a unique climate resulting in an abundance of natural produce, and are spoilt for choice with the geography of land and sea meeting on our doorstep.
“For our first wine and food experience, we will scout our way through the Cape’s bounty with a menu showcasing the effects of ageing on produce, and how this process evolves the flavour of the ingredients.”
This novel menu will include matured meats, pickled and fermented vegetables, dry-aged duck, mature cheeses and a dessert exploring over-ripe banana and caramelised chocolate.
“Some produce ages better than others, but the questions we asked ourselves were ‘What is the optimum length of time for a product to be matured? When is a raw product at its best before harvesting? Do baby fruits, vegetables and herbs pack more flavour than the older ones? And what is the effect that age has on a product?’” says Cooke.
“We decided to slow the process down, be patient, and wait in order to deliver a superior product that delivers on both flavour and texture as a result of time. We had to learn what we were looking for in a product and the right signs that it was ready. The goal for our themed dinners is for us to share what we’ve learned and discovered.”
The famous Vergelegen wines have always been key to planning the Camphors menus, and guests can look forward to exploring some novel pairings.
Camphors sommelier Christo Deyzel says: “To complement the theme of the first dinner – ‘Effects of ageing’ ‒ we believe it’s important to emphasise that Vergelegen wines are only released when optimally ready for the market.
“It is through the effect of ageing and their maturation before release that we are able to deliver such unique wines. We are in a fortunate position to serve our wine in a relatively aged condition, with the potential to mature for many more years.”
The wines will only be unveiled at the dinner, but Deyzel says: “Guests can look forward to some truly interesting and unusual pairings. We’re bending and breaking the rules in some instances to encourage a thought-provoking discussion about the age and style of wines, the effect of ageing on wine, and how this transfers into creating pairings that are out of the ordinary.”
The second gourmet dinner, on Friday 25 August, has the theme of ‘Route to plate – a journey of food.’ It promises to “uncover produce from our farm, to the fields and the Cape shoreline.”
The third and final gourmet dinner on 29 September is billed as “The storyteller”. Says Hosking: “This will be a unique journey of food that tells the story of our suppliers that we work with so closely– the role they play in our story, how they came to be, and sharing their passion for what they do.”