Drunk, General

Chef’s Table at the Table Bay – We came, we cooked, we drank

Myself and a somewhat anarchic ex-chef took on 4 other bloggers and partners in a cooking, eating, drinking and spamming competition this weekend. We lost in all but the drinking part. This was predicted. Although, after tasting our charred caper encrusted Cob with wild mushroom cous cous I thought we were in with a shout. I also think I mistook being in with a shout for simply shouting. Oh well, the wine was brilliant.

The event was hosted by Sun International as a way of introducing the Cape’s “top lifestyle bloggers (just so you know, I am not a lifestyle blogger, I hate the word lifestyle more than bespoke. Which is a lot) to the delights of the Table Bay Hotel, of which there are many.

Myself and Chef (I was a mere kitchen porter in comparison. You know, the irresponsible one who keeps nicking wines from the cellar) started the day properly, sharing a bottle of Lallier Grand Reserve NV which was superb. All white fruits and biscuit. Creamy and rich with a fine fine mousse, and tangy acidity. Tension baby, this wine had it in bags. It apparently has quite a low dosage, but I still found it a touch on the sweet side (for me, that is) but possibly because it wasn’t quite cold enough and it just showed a little more. Delicious nonetheless. Celebrating Heritage Day with Champagne is my kind of joke.

Sipping on Champagne we waited for our driver.

(Yes, that sentence was superfluous, I couldn’t help it)

He arrived. I had hoped his name would be James. It turns out it was equally good: Manny. Fans of Black Books will understand how hard it was for me not to shout “Maaaannnny I wanna sandwhich”. Instead of a sandwich we got a hot towel.

Anyway, we were swiftly driven to the hotel in a Lexus whose inner door handles have contours that fit one’s hands perfectly . We decided there was only one reason for these to have been added. Sex. I cannot imagine when, in normal circumstances, you would need such comfortable hand grips on your car door.

Good day sir. Yes, they really are letting me in here.

Sporting, as promised, a pink-hat and a slightly offensive t-shirt we arrived at the hotel. After meeting all the other competitors we were whisked away to the Presidential suite. A local gin (Jorgensen’s) and tonic with some radish was served. I am more of a classic G&T kinda guy preferring lemon or lime as an extra. The gin, although I’m not an expert, was excellent.

A quick word on the Presidential Suite’s bathroom. It does that very special thing that only overly sized 5 star hotel bathrooms do: scream for hookers and drugs. I have no idea how they do this. I swear, if you took a stand-up conservative guy who wears jerseys over his shoulders, and left him in this suite for long enough you would arrive back to find this:

When presented with five-star bathrooms the size of small countries, this will always happen.

We were briefed about the day’s events and how the hotel is dedicated to sourcing fresh local produce. Afterwards we were given 15min to freshen up in our rooms before heading down to the lobby where we would compete in a cook off.

20min later we found ourselves in a room with 5 cooking stations, aset of ingredients and Executive Chef Dallas Orr basically saying, “you have 45 min, on you go.” No instructions? “Shit”, I thought as I poured another glass of Graham Beck Brut.

“So Chef,” I asked taking a long draught of the fizz, “what are we going to do?”

As you all know I am not a foodie. I don’t write about food. There are many more people who do that far better than me and with far more enthusiasm. “Oh! My! God! A pumpkin grown in recycled, organic, rose-compost and watered by angels’ tears! Give me some extra cold-pressed, chastity-belt-wearing never-had-an-impure-thought virgin olive oil and some heat, I am going to make sweet roasting love to this veggie”

I thought I would score extra points for best chef's hat. I didn't.

Well, that’s how I imagine they think. We cooked our cob. I drank more Graham Brut and said silly things into the cameras. Basically, I took on all of Floyd’s bad traits, and none of his cooking skills.

We called our dish, 'On a Wing and a Caper'. I may be better at words than cooking.
No really Chef, try it with the Graham Beck, it gives us the edge. He didn't buy it.

If I were a judge we would of won, I’m biased like that. Not having tasted the others I will happily remain in the position that we were robbed. Robbed I tell you. We got a happy nod from Chef Orr, which was enough for me. I consoled the anarchic ex-chef with more bubbly. I then grabbed a new bottle and convened a meeting of the naughty table. There is always one, and I am generally seated at it. Occupational hazard.

The naughty table consisted of myself, the anarchic ex-chef, Bearded Wiseman and his partner (Kaitlin, Katytlyn, Cait!in – it was spelt strangely, that’s all I can remember). We shared a bottle of bubbles, and decided that if we won we would share the presidential suite. With a two out five chance we had improved our odds. We smugly finished the bubbles. I think someone heard us, because neither of us won. This was a very good call Sun International – I wouldn’t of let us in that room unsupervised either.

Having changed for dinner (I really do love changing for dinner, it’s so much better than changing for beliefs, politics etc.) it was time for a wine tasting. This was the first time I have had a tasting around a round table while remaining standing. I liked it.

I had that crazy look by this point. Sommelier Dominic Bowers looks into his glass, thinking, I assume, "really?"

I’d like to mention two wines from the tasting.

The La Motte MCC 2008 was my surprise of the tasting. I can’t say I am a massive fan of their other wines, not because they are bad, I just don’t like the style. A bit too much oak, a bit too full on for me: a righteous sermon rather than a whispered haiku. The MCC was really tasty, with a great tension between the biscuity flavours and zippy, juicy acidity, and after having started the day with the Lallier, the La Motte did a bloody good job.

The other wine that stood out was the Ashbourne Sandstone White 2007, a brilliant blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chardonnay. The Sauvignon dominates with the Semillon and Chardonnay (The Chard is aged in amphora) giving weight, and breadth. It is a really clever blend, again showing a delicious tension. I like tension in wines. What do I mean? Well, it’s like the wine is being pulled at the edges, it is going one way and another, but stays in balance. Three wines with this sort of tension in one day is a pretty good result. The Ashbourne was so good we (er, I) couldn’t help finishing the bottle.

The other half of the naughty table.

That was probably not the smartest plan, as a quick nap was needed – sorry guys, I’m sure the main course was delicious – to make the night-caps and prize giving. We left empty handed (the winners were: @ninatimm best presentation, @blindcripple most online mentions and @JBagley won best dish. Good work team). This meant that our 2/5 combo could not have failed more spectacularly. But we were that kind of table. We made up for it by drinking until the wee hours.

So a brilliant day. A big thanks to Sun International and the Table Bay Hotel, you guys know how to put a party together. And if you are dining at the Atlantic Grill, order that Ashbourne, it’s a cracker.

All photos by the brilliant Darryn van der Walt. Brilliant because I don’t end up looking like a buffoon in a pink hat. The man has talent. All except the Fear and Loathing shot of course, for that we have the brilliant Terry Gilliam to thank.


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