yadda yadda so you think you can crit?

April 11th, 2011 § 0 comments

Tomorrow morning I’m reviewing the Green House restaurant at the Cellars Hohenhort Hotel in Constantia. That’s in Cape Town, for my Australian reader. Reviewing a restaurant in four minutes at seven in the morning on live TV has its challenges… More often than not I can choose the restaurant and I try to feature establishments that are great because I think it’s important to give the public info on where to find a good, great, awesome meal. And not necessarily always the most expensive or ‘out there’ meal either.

But different occasions call for different meals and the Green House falls in the super special category. Chef Peter Tempelhoff is a master of his art who indulges in a variation of molecular gastronomy. My aversion to foam is well documented (in my own blog if nowhere else) and I’m with Julia Child who said that food shouldn’t be fiddled with too much but on the other hand, I am not ashamed to admit that I quite recently battled to whip egg whites and if you scroll down just a little you’ll see that on Saturday a tough cut of Karoo mutton nearly whipped my ass, so when it comes to this level of technical execution, I applaud the skill and imagination involved:

Abalone carpaccio served on dry ice

Tomorrow I’ll be talking about his carpaccio of raw scallops and blackened tuna served on pickled Asian mushrooms with wasabi panna cotta and cucumber sorbet – and for the molecular piece de resistance – the waiter sprinkles powdered yuzu dressing on the dish which smokes as it evaporates, leaving the dressing behind. This is a delicious dish, scientific accomplishment aside. I quit science at the end of standard six so my fear is that I’ll say liquid hydrogen in stead of liquid nitrogen – which is what he uses to create the smokey dressing dust – and that would be a blooper of atomic proportions.

There are but a few chefs in South Africa who create this type of cuisine successfully – and I measure success by whether the food still tastes amazing, sci-fi tricks aside – and the Green House is home to one of them. It’s not everyday food and you should definitely not attempt it at home, but for a bolt of inspiration and haute food art you will not be disappointed.

I’m glad I cook often and I fluff up regularly because in the restaurant reviewing game, it’s just too easy to take potshots. Hell, I even over-boil my eggs every now and then. So, much as I dislike foam and although I prefer my food more clean and plain (boring, even) I consider myself very fortunate to have enjoyed a tasting course at the Green Room. It’s a dramatic designer thrill.

Right, off to bed. Four am start tomorrow.

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