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Have You Heard? There’s A New Chef in Town…

Herbert van Schalkwyk has travelled the world and experimented with some extraordinary creations. He is well known for his ice-creams with savory dishes: pork belly served with honey-port infused butternut, pistachio nut mousse and apple sour ice cream and for his biltong pie. He had his own restaurant at Eaglevlei Wine Farm and has traveled and worked in Zanzibar, Monaco, Caprivi, Malawi and Dubai. Although he has only been with the Strand Hotel for a short time and Monday night was his first Food & Wine Pairing, Chef Herbie is someone to look out for. His food is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and I look forward to our next visit.

On entering the new revamped Farmhouse Deli it was no secret that my mild infatuation has turned into a full blown love affair and Rochelle is such a friendly hostess and with her warm friendly smile, you feel right at home. It’s not just any restaurant or fine-dining establishment. It’s an experience. And they’re kicking that experience up a notch with the addition of the Food & Wine pairing every month. I am lucky enough to experience this 5 course culinary treat each month and believe me when I tell you; the Farmhouse Deli knows how to treat their guests. If you are not there, you are missing out – BIG TIME!

The laws of physics do not cease to exist when it comes to cooking great food. It takes time to nurture something to perfection and the ingredients should be fresh and organic. And we all know that with great food, comes great wine and this month it was Van Loveren’s turn to spoil us with their Christina range which is their Heritage Collection. All of the wines are award winning wines and had flavours from hazelnut, red berries, blueberries, citrus and so much more. The Van Loveren Wine Estate also has a very interesting history and you can read more about it on their website: https://www.vanloveren.co.za

So lets get to my favorite part – the AMAZING FOOD! With each dish I am presented with, I realise that I have a flirtatious love affair with the Farmhouse Deli. The Amuse Bouche was a pan fried prawn with lemon zest, with mixed lettuce served with a strawberry chili dressing. It was a delight to eat and was elegant and flavorsome.

All doubts and uncertainties were set aside when our starter arrived. Roasted chicken tortellini with a sage butter and olive crumble – YUMMY!! It was love at first sight and I thought to myself: “If only life could taste as good as this dish”.

The Palate cleanser was a Sauvignon Blank and granny smith apple sorbet. By now my mind was starting to play games with me and I am excited for what is to come… I noticed on the sorbet was a petite, yellow rose petal. The colour symbolises joy and the beauty of this petal expresses promise, hope and new beginnings.

Our mains were beef shin terrine served with spinach-parmesan-rocket oil, fennel seed cracker and a spicy mixed berry jus. I am starting to think, if you can make spinach and rocket taste this good, what else can you do? How is it possible to get shin so tenderised, melting like butter in my mouth? I have to admit, by this time I was beginning to think that my taste buds are no longer playing games with me, but rather seducing me.

Next up was the dessert – my first love… and maybe therefore the only remaining seduction ploy? I had wanted the object of my desire to be well dressed. The poached pear and cardamom vanilla ice-cream delivered in all aspects and that sweet sauce left a lingering taste in my mouth. I know now what love tastes like.

To end a perfect night, we had a cheese surprise. A grape lollipop, dipped in sesame seeds and Roquefort cheese. The freshness of the grape complemented the creamy texture, which had a hint of blue cheese as a surprise element.

I look forward to continue this vibrant and social gathering experience in the heart of Strand Hotel, featuring Chef Herbie’s amazing food. The dishes were bursting with flavour and were full of palate pleasing textures. Never had a cardamom ice-cream and I can’t wait to be back for more of this magic.

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