One would not expect to experience a tea tasting on a wine farm in the heart of the Stellenbosch Winelands – however – this is exactly what I recently experienced at Gate Restaurant on Quoin Rock wine estate.
Our 6-course Journey Around the World set menu was created by Head Chef Nicole Loubser and her team of 11 talented chefs, who have created a playful, fine dining tea pairing experience.
With work experience from La Colombe, The Test Kitchen and the Michelin-starred JAN in Nice, Nicole’s creations surprise and delight guests with every course.
Ieva Tomase from The Tea Chest spoke us through the pairing menu of carefully selected chilled teas, explaining the differences between black, white, green and Oolong varietals. Having spent a few years in South East Asia, her passion and extensive knowledge of teas is truly impressive. Ieva, with Nicole, have certainly created a unique culinary experience.
Served in a variety of ways, each tea was expertly paired with the food.
We started with an Italian inspired treat – Caffe Macchiato with Gate Cigar.
The presentation immediately had everyone’s attention – a gold-trimmed cigar (hand-crafted from potato bread) served with a smoking ashtray, complete with ash – which was activated charcoal on a black garlic and smoked tomato mousse. The Caffe Macchiato took everyone by surprise – as we were anticipating a coffee flavour, and it was actually a spicy tomato consomme with green tea.
The next course was a locally inspired West Coast dish – Gate`s signature Saldana Bay Oysters. The dramatic entrance was enhanced by smoking dry ice beneath the oyster, topped with froth – reminiscent of the icy west coast waters. Paired with a glass of Weekend in Shanghai chilled white tea and topped with pearls of caviar it made for a spectacular entrance.
It was back to Italy for our third course – Gate`s signature Caprese Salad paired with 1837 White Tea – a mixed blend of red berries. Unrecognizable as a caprese salad but with all the elements – bright green basil sponge served alongside cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and tiny pearls of balsamic and olive oil.
For mains I opted for the vegetarian offering of a Seared Mushroom Steak served with potato puree and freshly steamed vegetables. Paired with Eternal Summer iced tea blend of Rooibos, peach and apricot flavours.
For dessert we went island style – Caribbean Pina Colada with coconut – a panna cotta served in a coconut shell topped with a crispy pineapple sugar glaze. Accompanied with Bain De Roses – a sensual Darjeeling with roses from Grasse and hints of vanilla – a perfect blend to end a sensational menu!
WATCH: The pièce de résistance – Caribbean Pina Colada with coconut.
Quoin Rock Wine Estate is on Knorhoek Road, Stellenbosch.
+27 21 888 4740