He said: Jozi Foodie Fix cooks Spier Secret Courtyard

As you all know I hosted a Spier Secret Dinner which was featured in the March issue of Woolworths Taste Mag. The menu was inspired by my family’s traditional seven colours Sunday lunch with a twist of course! The night was exhilarating, nerve wrecking with lots of learnings too – my plating was weak. Now I’m so keen to tackle the next one, at some point in the future. Here’s Nishal’s take on my Seven Colours dinner as a guest.

Screen-Shot-2015-03-24-at-10.05.54-PMImages courtesy Woolworths Taste Mag

“Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all”, said Harriet Horne.

Jozi Foodie Fix blogger, Thando Moleketi did just that on her remarkable evening hosting the Spier Secret Dinner in a little courtyard hidden away in Braamfontein Johannesburg.

The evening was a wonderful culinary tour of a typical Moleketi Family Sunday Seven Colour lunch and the love, tradition and inspiration behind her menu was almost palatable. Each bite leapt into my mouth where it vibrated as if trying to tell the Moleketi family story.

Screen-Shot-2015-03-24-at-10.06.11-PMImages courtesy Woolworths Taste Mag

Thando’s first course was her favourite South African bread, magnificent mosbolletjie bread, served with a scrumptious creamy goat’s cheese and, comedian, Donovan Goliaths’ artisanal chilli jam.  I was immediately seduced by the combination.  The chilli jam was sublime and should be bottled and sold to the known universe but when paired with the Thando’s freshly baked soft bread and creamy goats’ cheese – it was elevated to a whole new level and she hit all the right notes.

Many eyebrows were raised when they saw the second course ingredient and it made those unfamiliar with it squirm a bit. Pan fried lambs tongue – served with a roasted beetroot salad.

Mixed reviews from the table but having only tried lamb’s tongue once before I was intrigued. Some found the texture off-putting, others thoroughly loved the new experience but I remember I took a bite and immediately closed my eyes to savour the succulent mystery that nearly made me swoon. At some point I remembered it was lamb’s tongue and I kept replaying its flavours in my mind….. I wanted more.

It was perfectly cooked and seasoned and still had that smokiness from the grill – the beetroot salad was an inspiring accompaniment. I would have preferred a jus or even vinaigrette on the side to add another layer of flavour and it could have been plated better but all in all it was a wonderfully executed dish. The Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc was also the perfect wine to be drunk with the tongue and beetroot salad.

The group also loved the way she chose to serve it.  Everything was in centre of the table- adding to the idea of sharing as family would.

Good food is very often, even most often, simple food and Thando’s main, a combination of a roast and a curry, was a roast lamb shank curry served with fragrant coconut rice and her granny’s sweet potato/ soet patat. Her dish added a new dimension to what I term simple good food.

She managed to make a complex dish taste incredibly delicious while retaining a sophisticated simplicity.  The shank was mouth-wateringly good and fell off the bone; it was so rich and exotic that I found myself taking one bite and then another as I tried to chase the flavours back to their “source.” The rich and spicy tomato stew had depth of flavour and was balanced. There was also additional spicy gravy that Thando served which was lip-smackingly good. I would have drunk a cup full. In fact one of her diners did.

Having heard Thando speak with adoration and love for her granny I am sure her gran would have been flattered that Thando was able to do justice to her famous “soet patats.” The sweet delectable potatoes were the ideal complement to the tomato stew of the lamb shank curry. I would have also loved to have a mint raita to cool and cut through the spicy richness and I thought it would have tied the dish together however here perfectly cooked coconut rice did balanced it superbly. All this went beautifully with the Spier 21 Gable Pinotage.

Thando was gracious enough to make a vegetarian option for two of her diners. I stole a taste and almost asked for a side portion of the flavoursome cauliflower and brinjal stew, which was light, spicy and scrumptious. Her ability to balance the spices was marvelous.


Screen-Shot-2015-03-24-at-10.06.35-PMImages courtesy Woolworths Taste Mag

Desert was another terrific twist – a deconstructed trifle made up of a Madeira peach sponge, Whisk Away Ultra Mel’s ice-cream and jelly. Once again Thando chose the perfect accompaniment. The choice of the velvety smooth Ultra Mel Custard ice-cream was inspiring.

The sponge was soft and moist and while I am not a fan of jelly the mishmash with the ice-cream and the sponge worked.

The annual Moleketi Christmas trifle war has a new front runner.

The Spier Secret Dining experience was fantastic. The evening was littered with laughs, good company, great food and spectacular wine. The Spier flagship wine range. 21 Gables, focused on Chenin Blanc and Pinotage, and while it did complement each of Thando’s dishes beautifully many agreed there was not enough linking of the food to the wine. We would have liked some discussion on the types of wine and how it complimented the dishes.

Another small critique was that everyone loved the idea of the intimate dining experience but the seats were uncomfortable which meant that people got fidgety after sitting for a period.

All in all Thando did an excellent job; her food was delicious, homely with a quiet sophistication. The Spier wine and ice tea was delightful. She gave us a wonderful glimpse of her families’ favourites’ dishes. An incredible experience and I look forward to the next…. Nishal Rattan (get to know Nishal here)

About thando

Hi I'm Thando Creator of the Jozi Foodie Fix, traveller, foodwriter, ramen lover, strategist, entrepreneur and follower of the Cool based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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