A Foraged Meal
Near the seaside village of Hermanus in the Western Cape lies Wildekrans Boutique Wine Estate. This internationally acclaimed, award-winning vineyard overlooking Walker Bay in the Bot River Valley has far more to offer visitors than just wine – a meal at Forage Restaurant is certain to be a memorable occasion.
The restaurant’s name refers to what the kitchen team does on a daily basis to prepare meals for patrons – they forage. Walking through the estate each morning, they search for the ingredients that will be found on the menu. The menu evolves naturally, with the seasons and weather dictating what will be served. The restaurant refers to this as “indigenous dining”.
What cannot be foraged on the Wildekrans Estate is sourced from other farms and local artisans within a 100 km radius of the restaurant, ensuring that everything used in the kitchen is grown and reared locally.
The chefs at Forage use old-world culinary techniques to prepare the food – but you will notice that modern inspiration plays a huge role, especially in presentation.
The day that I dined at Forage was a unique experience to say the least. It began with fresh ash bread with a cream cheese centre served with a range of herb-infused butters. The amuse-bouche then came in a closed glass bowl filled with smoke. Upon removing the lid and letting the smoke billow out, yellowtail ravioli with duck egg mayo and black garlic purée was revealed.
The menu is diverse, catering to most tastes. I found it hard to settle on a starter with choices such as the African Tortoise, which is springbok tartare with a quail egg yolk, and waterblommetjie pickle; Shore Line, a seafood dish made using Whale Coast rock and sand mussels with champagne jelly; bobotie, accompanied by lamb dumplings and curried peach foam; and Under the Leaves, featuring forest mushroom bubbles with edible soil and truffle moss.
I opted for the Shore Line, and was not disappointed when a dish which looked as though it had been plucked from a mermaid’s dining table was set before me. Served in an abalone shell, the subtle flavours of the champagne jelly perfectly complemented the wild blue sage, along with the generous portion of mussels and clams. One of my lunch companions chose the African Tortoise, which certainly lived up to its name as the dish is sculpted to resemble a tortoise.
Options for mains include Koelbrook Pig, honeyed pork served with a sweet potato milktart and apples; the Afrikaner, 100-day aged Afrikaner beef sirloin with smoked onion and potato fondant; and the Stanford Quail and Hay, served with haybaked quail breast with confit legs.
My main course, the quail dish, came with a little side plate with a glass cloche over it. Inside was a nest of thinly sliced, crisp potato cradling three crumbed quails’ eggs. I moved this nest over to my main plate to enjoy it along with the perfectly pink quail (prepared in two ways), root veggies, barley, and duck egg mayo.
For dessert, we could choose between The Apple Orchard, consisting of an appleand-cinnamon parfait with honeycomb and salted caramel popcorn; Jelly and Custard, a gourmet version of an oldschool staple with cranberry and kapokbos, apple and liquorice buchu, and honeysuckle crème anglaise; and the Chocolate, consisting of a Klippies and pecan chocolate bar, chocolate mousse, chocolate dust, and chicory root ice-cream.
My choice, The Apple Orchard, was the perfect blend of subtle cream flavours and sweetness. The dessert was presented as a white orb, which, when cracked open, revealed apple sorbet at the core. Surrounding the parfait, dots of toffee and salted caramel popcorn brought sweetness and crunch to this delectable orchard.
The freshest ingredients found on Wildekrans Estate have translated into a seasonal feast at Forage Restaurant.
For more information, please visit www.endlessvineyards.co.za.