Layers and layers of pleasure, in every colour and shape, have been added week by week as we have popped in often, for a minute or so much more. Sometimes we linger and go on a journey from room to room; other times we pop in and head somewhere in particular for a quick fix.
When it comes to quick fixes, William Kentridge’s multi-panel digital video More Sweetly, Play The Dance is the hit of hits. It will bring me back as long as it is here (the plaque says it is on loan from the artist and the Goodman Gallery). Like a hit of something forbidden, the thrill of watching this particular tragi-comedy of pure South African-ness thrills almost as soon as it is delivered: half pleasure, half pain; half pride, half shame.
The beauty of a membership, we thought, was being able to pop in at will, jumping queues and avoiding the entry fee. We think we own the place.
That was even before they started wining and dining us …
We were alerted to the wine pairing in the café at the top of the gallery by a little, almost matter of fact mention in the members’ newsletter. An amazing deal, R250 for a three-course meal, each course paired with a glass of wine. All of this in that delicious space with its glorious geodesic windows that protrude from the building in a visual representation of the former grain silos full-to-busting with grain.
They could have served us scrambled eggs and a glass of port … Instead they served us three delicious courses paired with superb wines that made us wonder if Kentridge himself had been involved.
It is, in fact, head chef Christopher Law who is to be congratulated for the creations that come from his kitchen.
It was a procession of delicious, interesting flavours and textures, some that delighted and popped, others tickling and teasing. I am not going to lie, there was some stroking too. So many knockout combinations of food and wine.
Consider this extravaganza of a starter: scorched seabass, truffle crumbles, lemon-infused crème fraiche, pickled ginger puree, beetroot and baby leaves. And so it continued, a delicious journey through flavours and sensations. I have to be honest, though, the extra special ingredient on the day was our server, Richard.
This charming and knowledgeable waiter-cum-wine sommelier added a very particular layer of magic. He understands the wine and the food, the combination of the two especially. He served it all with such skill and more than a side order of passion.
He must have seen us coming because he was very quick to recommend a glass of bubbly, the Lourensford https://lourensford.co.za/ MCC, before we start the pairing.
If there wasn’t a ban on using the word champagne to describe SA bubbly, Richard said, would call this this Cap Classique the champagne of champagnes. Not a word of a lie there. There is a lot of promise on the nose with strong aromas of cake crust, hints of marzipan even. Then the finest of bubbles and the freshest of finishes.
It was a perfect start. We were both glad there was no food with the bubbly since it would have just been too distracting. Total focus required!
Then it was time for that starter. A variety of little bites of delicate flavours and textures seemed to play together in a miniature symphony that was over too quickly.
The Lourensford chardonnay impressed the two of us, who normally avoid it even if it lacks the acidity of the others that sometimes stings and irritates. What surprised about the Lourensford was the absence of the perfumey, oily, woody chardonnay flavours that usually drive us away. Funny how you can like a thing for what it lacks. In this case, it felt a little like taking a dip in the Atlantic on Camps Bay and discovering that the sea is not as cold as you thought.
No one was more surprised than me when the delicious main course played second fiddle to the vino, the Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier 2015, even though the sous vide sirloin with caramelised pear croquettes (a revelation), the sweetest red pepper puree and the finest of green beans was a total knockout.
Loud applause for both food and wine, but the standing ovation went to Richard, who did a little dance as he unpacked and described our seduction by this Rhone-style blend. First, he said, you get a little spice on the nose … then a cherry smell passes by …
He does a little dance as he describes it: “First you feel your shiraz. Then there is a little tussle as Mourvèdre tries to get in on the action and finally, the viognier steps forwards and says, Calm down I am here too!”
That surely must be the climax, I thought, but then the dessert, aah the dessert: strawberry and cream vanilla cake, wild strawberry moose, honey and vanilla parfait, black basil crumbs and strawberry compote.
This spread of delicious sweetness was balanced by a glass of sauvignon blanc.
Asked about his favourite wines, Richard said: “If you have five children you, can’t favour one, not even the baby.”
The wine pairing lunches are served in the café on Level 6 of Zeitz Mocaa only until the end of April. A different menu is served every day.