Literary Dining – Books, Food and Wine

Prawn, Langoustine, sea trout
Prawn, Langoustine, sea trout, onion & sauerkraut soubise, veloute of beetroot, drunk on gin & dry lemon gooseberries with fried and sumac dusted fennel leaves

By Dorria Watt

Great is the fortune of he who possesses a good bottle, a good book and a good friend. [Moliere]

There have been many discussions around the authenticity of book clubs. The most frequently asked question is whether books are actually read or whether it’s simply an excuse for ladies to get together and drink good wine. Well, it’s more than that … it’s about friendship, wine, food and of course, books!

Chimichurri bone marrow
Chimichurri bone marrow, shitake, beef fillet, raspberry jus, textures of potato, lemon yoghurt, smoked broccolini

The BC I belong to is in its 20th year, with thousands of books bought, swopped, read and discussed.  From autobiographies to bestselling fiction titles, some tatty romance novels and the odd whodunit. We have seen each other through marriages, divorces, births, deaths, retrenchments, travel experiences and much more.  So although ostensibly a book club, it’s a cocoon of support, laughter, hand holding and solidarity.

We all enjoy a fun night out with scrumptious food although some evenings it’s more ‘ordinaire’. However, we do have a ‘Martha Stewart’ among us who whips up gourmet meals in a flash and two UCook converts. The annual highlight is a fine dining treat, paid for by money squirrelled away in a monthly kitty. This year our celebration was at Tintswalo Atlantic.  Certainly no ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ on this sublime winter menu.

Starter: braaied Springbok loin, poached leeks, oyster mushroom, coffee, butternut

The location and venue is idyllic.  Situated at the base of the ocean-facing Table Mountain National Park, above a private pebbled beach, Tintswalo takes full advantage of the panoramic views of Hout Bay and across the Atlantic.  With The Sentinel ahead and Chapman’s Peak a majestic backdrop. It’s difficult to comprehend that this 5-start boutique lodge was a pile of ash just a couple of years ago after the devastating fires in the Western Cape.

Sunset on the deck was picture perfect.  Sipping MCC and snacking on canapes an ideal start to a 5-course menu curated weekly by the kitchen team, with all ingredients organically and ethically sourced.

Soup: Wave of change, black mussel, sea bass, seaweed broth

Although it’s a set menu there are choices with vegetarians, and other special dietary requirements, catered for.  My selection was the braaied Springbok loin, poached leeks, oyster mushroom, coffee, butternut starter; with the Prawn, Langoustine, sea trout, onion & sauerkraut soubise, veloute of beetroot, drunk on gin & dry lemon gooseberries with fried and sumac dusted fennel leaves as my main.  Not only was it art on a plate but it was absolutely delicious, with flavours working in harmony. Portion sizes are bigger than anticipated and considering the taste sensations and richness of the dishes, it is a more than an adequate dinner. It’s ‘fency food’ as eloquently chirped by one of the diners!

For dessert there was The Beehive: nut brittle, citrus crème anglaise, winter berries, fennel pollen and lemon curd or The Carrot Cake – torn carrot cake with cinnamon ice cream, nutmeg white chocolate, apricot & ginger, citrus frost. Both were simply yummy.

The Carrot Cake: torn carrot cake with cinnamon ice cream, nutmeg white chocolate, apricot & ginger, citrus frost

The dining experience began with a seafood broth – called Waves of Changes – poured in front of you and there were two refreshing, palate cleansing sorbets to choose from before the main.

Some other menu items included a very trendy main of Chimichurri bone marrow, shitake, beef fillet, raspberry jus, textures of potato, lemon yoghurt, smoked broccolini; the kabeljou, dehydrated cauliflower, pea and lovage puree, daikon, spinach dust, Maldon mignonette starter; and a vegetarian dukkah crusted tempeh, chai jus, dal makahni, palak puree, saffron pearl cous cous.

Service was understated, discreet but exceptional. Sebastian didn’t even blink an eye when some of us moved seats … twice.  Correct orders arrived with no fuss and attention to detail is standard.

Sunset and bubbles

Tintswalo boasts an impressive and comprehensive wine list but you are welcome to BYOB, corkage is R80 for wine and R100 for MCC.  This was our choice.

To complete the meal and overall experience we moved to the lounge for coffee and liqueurs seated around a roaring (closed) fire before our uber drivers were called to get us home safely.

At R830 per person the 5-course dinner is pricey but an undeniable superb treat.  It’s not a restaurant you’d call your local but they are also open for breakfast, lunch and sundowner drinks and canapes, so worth a visit … even simply for the magnificent views and watching the mesmerising waves crashing up against the rocks.  Booking is advised as residents, understandably, take preference.

Until next year’s annual outing our BC will once again be about books, a little ‘reading between the vines’ and a toast to friendship. How fortunate am I to possess a good bottle, a good book and a good friend?