I’m an out and out unashamed foodie. I blame Masterchef because until I became a devotee, I kinda liked good food but wouldn’t have gone through the lengths I do today for a great plate of food. Annie and me are in danger of being described as celebrity chef idol worshippers. When I saw the ad for the Masterclass with Chef Callan Austin, I jumped at it. Callan hails from Chef’s Warehouse at Tintswalo Atlantic, and has been one of the guest chefs on Masterchef South Africa. What an unforgettable experience.
The event was hosted at Tintswalo at Boulders. The venue itself is breathtaking. You get these uninterrupted views across False Bay from Simon’s Town all the way to Pringle Bay and sitting on the patio, you can lose yourself in the view for hours. We certainly did. If you’re up early enough you can watch the sunrise across the bay. But by the time I woke up and joined everyone for breakfast, sunrise was over long ago and the sun was already well on it’s way to the other side of the Peninsula. Anyway, spectacular views is what I’m trying to say. You can also go out through the bottom gate and join the boardwalk at Boulders. You don’t get free access to the national park but you can see the penguins on the other side of the fence, and the boardwalk is lovely for a casual stroll under a canopy of trees.
The staff are amazing, the accommodation is decadently luxurious, and we were pampered and spoiled by the staff from the minute we arrived. Kirsty Viljoen runs a tight ship, and you’re in excellent hands here. It’s a must to recommend to overseas visitors, and as a luxurious weekend getaway for locals.
But this isn’t about the venue so much as the chef and the food.
The weekend was peppered with insights into the mind of Callan Austin, from the cocktail Masterclass on Friday night followed by a family style dinner, to the foraging excursion along the boardwalk and Seaforth Beach, to the evening’s Masterclass where Callan showed us how he used the ingredients collected to make the evening’s meal and how he prepared the delicious dinner we tucked into later. It was an absolute gem of a weekend, one of the most memorable I can remember. They only do one of these events a year, so you have to be on the lookout for the next one and book early.
Callan is hugely talented as a chef and humble as a human being. He shared his knowledge, techniques and recipes generously, and I came away truly inspired. He’s experimental and scientific, and uses some techniques in his recipes you don’t find everywhere. Every element on each dish he served was hours if not years (I’m not exaggerating) in the making. One of the components he used was a garlic-honey ferment that he’s had brewing for over 2 years. I started making one of these when I got home after the weekend.
Some of the dishes he prepared were a deboned lamb rib basted with that 2-year-old honey garlic ferment, a seafood risotto which was probably the best risotto and the tastiest prawns I’ve ever had, duck breast prepared sous vide which was perfectly tender with crispy skin. Even the platte cleanser he made with fermented gooseberries was a showstopper. Dessert of compressed slices of butternut (wait, dessert – butternut!!??) and marscopone cheese – wow! Such a refreshing and clever way to end a rich meal. Dessert was just bordering on not savory. Paired with Rickety Bridge Noble Late Harvest, a slightly sweet wine. The whole combination was superb.
In one sentence, three days of unforgettable food and a lifetime of inspiration and memories.
Of course there was a good dose of great wines too, but I don’t want to overload this post – I’ll share comments on some of those in separate posts.
Apart from enjoying an entire weekend of indulgent culinary delight, we met some fantastic people who will probably become lifelong friends. It was quite profound how 6 couples who had never met before became such great company over a common passion for food and wine.
Very exciting news that we discovered – Callan is opening his own restaurant – Dusk Restaurant (in Stellenbosch) – which looks irresistibly insane! I’m going to be first in line when it opens in September, even if I have to dip out of my step-daughter’s wedding! Not really, Montanna would literally kill me, but it’s that high on my list of must-do’s! Check out their website, it looks like a magical place in the making, and a future contender for the top spots on the SA Culinary map.
I am immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of this weekend, and to have met the amazing people we spent time with.