Noble Savage (he said):
The National is one of those restaurants that we’ve had on our list for the longest time, but somehow never managed to visit.
So we jumped at the chance to visit when, somewhat serendipitously, Vondeling Wines invited us to attend a wine and food pairing, with the food masterfully created and paired by Chef James Diack.
The National is a contemporary, stylish speakeasy situated in trendy-as-f#ck Parktown North. It’s literally down the street from Chef Diack’s Il Contandino (which I also still need to visit).
Building on the reputation of The Federal and Coobs, the food honours the farm-to-table approach. What better way then to sample some of Vondeling’s finest.
First up was not a Vondeling wine, but Jane Ferreira-Eedes’ Dainty Bess MCC.
Named for one of her favourite roses, it’s a superbly elegant wine with fresh acidity and a very special mousse. Paired with crispy falafel served with smoked aubergine, tamarind yoghurt and marinated raisins, the pairing hit all the right notes.
Next up was Vondeling’s 2015 Chardonnay. It was paired with curried white fish, served with an achar emulsion and parsley sauce. A fresh Chardonnay, the vibrant flavours paired perfectly with the spice of the fish.
Our next course was smoked quail, served with wood-fired apple and pickled walnuts. This was paired with Vondeling’s 2016 Babiana – a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and a little bit of Roussanne and Chardonnay. The spicy and slightly oaked wine worked very well with the smoked flavours of the quail dish. Very well paired!
Up next was the one I was waiting for. Vondeling’s Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Lamb Au Vin (I know, right?!), served with peas and goats cheese. This pairing was my favourite of the evening. The fine and textured tannins of the wine worked very well with the rich, slow cooked lamb. It was so good, I needed to be alone for a bit…
Next was the Monsonia red blend (mainly Shiraz, with Mourvédre, Grenache, and Carignan) paired with spiced poached pear and a warm chocolate brownie on a bed of chocolate soil accompanied by milk sorbet. I’m not the biggest fan of sweet desserts, but the spices on the pear complemented the spice on the wine very nicely.
The last one was Vondeling’s Bowwood Pinotage (2014), paired with a light blue cheese espuma, served with aged parmesan and a sorrel and honey crust.
I had to Google espuma while no one was looking. It’s Spanish for foam. The wine is fairly savoury, and worked very well with the blue cheese flavours. It’s a full flavour wine, and wasn’t overpowered by the food flavours. A perfect ending to a wonderfully decadent evening!
A big thank you to Vondeling Wines, Jane Ferreira-Eedes and Liquid Pulse PR for hosting us, it was one awesome experience! We were fans of Babania before this evening, and now after tasting the wonderful wines Vondeling has got to offer, we are devout advocates of ALL Vondeling wines.