Entering through the arches at Restaurant Mosaic, it’s as if entering a hidden oasis in the desert, secluded, breath-taking, majestic. We were greeted with a Hansa, accompanied by dainty canapés – among it pastry pockets filled with black truffle mousse – heavenly!
Physical Address: Francolin Ave, Elandsfontein, Pretoria, 0186
Chef Chantel Dartnall
Acclaimed chef Chantel Dartnall welcomed us and, her eyes sparkling, it was clear that she was as enthusiastic about preparing the dishes as we were to experience it. Her passion for her art shone through her excited hand gestures and energy. Our taste buds were in for a treat.
Jessica Yellin, Corporate Reputation Manager at SAB explained that this was a first for them, a one of a kind, once in a lifetime experience – revolutionary to have that calibre cuisine paired with the beer they had hand-picked for us today.
Chantel and Restaurant Mosaic sommelier Germain Lehodey were introduced to the beers on show well beforehand. They had to get to know the beers, their bouquets, special notes and characters, to decide upon the dishes they would be paired with. The beer needed to complement the food but the food needed to complement the beer too. And boy, did they get this right! Even the choice of glasses was a calculated selection. Served in the most beautiful glasses – from Riedel glassware , beer will never be drunk the same again! Not even the regulars tasted like we know them – the experts knew what they were doing. Old favourites like Peroni, Castle and Hansa, were joined by speciality beer from the Newland’s Spring Brewery in Cape Town and the No. 3 Fransen Street range from Chamdor in Johannesburg.
Bread and beer, anyone?
The bread selection comprised three types of beer – a pilsner green olive rye loaf, a crystal malt sourdough roll and English ale fruit and nut loaf, served with a salted, a cranberry and an anchovy butter.
And then the magic happened. Castle Lite Lime was introduced with the amuse-bouche, “ Jewels of the sea”. Lüderitz oysters with a citrus foam, rested atop a bed of sea salt – King Neptune’s ultimate. The lime was a perfect match for the oyster’s ocean taste – think fresh, think crisp, think tantalising.
While we awaited with much anticipation our next course, Richard Lawrence, SAB’s Innovations Marketing Manager gave me a quick run-through on the lowdown of beer. Beer has four main legs – lager; wheat weiss; dark stouts and ales. He told me, with much enthusiasm, about the breweries of No. 3 Fransen Street – their Irish Red Ale; Cream Ale and Crystal Weiss, Chamdor (where leading lady Kate Jones is the trade brewer) and Newlands (Denis da Silva the master brewer). Many of the beers we would be tasting today come from these speciality breweries.
The first course was “Dancing Veils”: three West-Coast lobster medallions in a radish and grapefruit broth. The piquant radish and crisp, zesty grapefruit coming through loud and clear; as was the sparkle of the seafood with the fine bittering of the Peroni.
Second course – “Fungi on the floor” – was an array of wild mushrooms and Iberico (a Spanish cured ham). This came with Newland’s Spring Jacob’s Pale Ale, served in a Riedel glass, captivating the herby notes of straw on the nose.
The palate cleanser was nothing other than a Flying Fish sorbet! This could just become my favourite-next-to-the-swimming-pool icy cocktail – frozen apple-flavoured Flying Fish, garnished with a slice of crispy dried apple.
Main course was the star of the day in its garden of Eden: beer-braised pork belly and apple – melt-in-the-mouth, mouth-watering. This was served alongside a cloudy Newland’s Spring Mountain Weiss, going down like silk with the pork. The murky colour caused by yeast with 55% wheat, pale malt and local hop, fermentation flavours of spicy, over-ripe banana. This beer is particularly high in protein – the perfect recovery drink after a good workout, too.
After that the “Golden Goose”: confit, vanilla, goose liver and delicious duck meat – oh my word, yum! And with that, No 3 Fransen Street Irish Red Ale – “a palate pleasurer” brew master Danie Odendaal proclaims… And if Danie says so, you can believe him. He’s been brewing beer for more than 15 years and is master brewer at Chamdor and grows hop in his own backyard! It’s a fine balance between science and craft, he agrees. The Irish Red Ale complementing the caramel duck to a true gastronomic treat. It’s all about the malt (’bout the malt, ’bout the malt) with an ale – in this case a light mixture of caramelised crystal malts.
What about craft beers?
The conversation shifted to craft beers, or speciality beers. According to trade brewer Anton Erasmus, craft beer resurrected rare styles. Like the Belgian wit style that has been extinct since the 60s… until the craft beer culture came along, that is! Craft brewers can take risks and experiment with what the big breweries don’t have the time to… they open the stage to innovation.
Mosaic is celebrating 10 years of excellence in fine cuisine and the celebrations menu will be divided into two main menus with seasonal changes within each menu during the period – starting on 1 September with the spring/summer menu and changing over to the autumn/winter menu in March 2017. Both menus will feature one dish from each year since the restaurant opened up to now. The special festive season menu for Christmas will still be served. It will see “a revolution in sophistication”, Germaine announces.
Then came the Passionate Blonde – a South African passion-fruit hop. This was presented with the dish “Honeycomb”: a 36-month matured French Comté on the most beautiful French style crockery, crisp crumble matching the strong cheese with divine variety.
Dessert was “a little black number” – the ladies around the table (and we outnumbered the men; who said ladies don’t drink beer?) went ballistic for this dish! A piece of art is what it was; a perfectly executed canvas. For this dish, Danie took the carbon dioxide from the Castle Milk Stout Chocolate, replaced it with nitrogen, done just for this occasion – which resulted in a denser, creamier foam, the perfect ending to today’s selection.
The grand finale was quite the performance! “The Alchemist Infusion” was a specially brewed, percolated amber malt, crystal malt, Munich malt and coffee infusion. And to take home – petit fours, of course.
The girls were huddled to the shuttle in a hurry, chirping and laughing, inspired and satisfied – ready to face the dessert out there, but sad to leave our newfound oasis. It was a long, quiet drive back through the mountains of Magalies, an experience well worth the drive.
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