With a focus on sourcing local and sustainable ingredients, foraging or “hunting” for ingredients has become increasingly popular under chefs and their culinary following. With winter in the Cape Winelands, it is now the time to collect wild mushrooms.
Today, harvesting wild mushrooms is not a well-known concept in South Africa. We have all seen television programmes of chefs searching for mushrooms and dogs sniffing for truffles in the woods of Italy and France, but to us, mushrooms in the wild have the enchantment of fairy tales and the threat of being poisonous and most of us feel safer buying them from a supermarket.
Chef Chris Erasmus enjoys foraging the Franschhoek area for ingredients and goes mushroom hunting at least twice a week. Pierneef à La Motte’s new winter menu therefore regularly features mushroom-inspired dishes as part of the daily specialities, while their earthy flavours can be found on the regular menu in creative ways such as a forest mushroom ragout served with guinea fowl and duck ballotine. (see picture)
Soup is another winter favourite and Chef Chris harvests the vegetables and herbs from the garden behind the restaurant. Served with the artisan breads baked from stone-ground flour milled in the historic water mill on the estate, this traditional combination will surely warm up the coldest of winters. The popular King’s bread soup is a permanent feature on the menu while soups on the daily specials menu will celebrate winter vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes, fennel and sorrel and of course mushrooms. Also expect an interesting soup combining venison and pomegranate.
Organic garden pea and black truffle cream soup
Venison features on the menu in dishes such as a slow-cooked venison shank with sweet garlic pomme purée and cameline root vegetable broth. Chef Chris Erasmus has further joined forces with La Motte cellar master Edmund Terblanche for an evening of Vintage Wine & Venison on 1 August. Well-matured red wines from the La Motte Vinoteque will be paired with venison dishes such as kudu, impala and wildebeest.
Slow-cooked venison shank with garlic pomme puree and cameline root vegetable broth
Of course, winter is the ideal time to indulge in decadent and warming puddings. Pierneef à La Motte’s selection include a delectable Hazelnut and honey parfait served with chocolate brownie ice-cream and MCC poached pears and traditional favourites like Malva pudding and Apple tart as well as a Dessert Nostalgia with pancakes, bread and butter pudding and steamed ginger pudding.