Jul 21 2009
The woman was tall, blond and had just spent four years in Italy. But I had to turn her down. No, absolutely, not. Stop begging. Get up off your knees! I am not accepting a freebie to lunch at Delaire.
So after chasing off the Delaire PR and ensuring my plastic was loaded, I waltzed into the restaurant at Delaire, which is the wine estate on the top of the Helshoogte Pass with a view down the valley that would turn Julie Andrews into Lady GaGa. The restaurant makes full use of this view of the majestic valley between the Simonsberg and Drakenstein Mountains, which are very lovely when the sun shines in winter, as everything is very green, except for the vines, which are still pretty.
In any event, the restaurant is a cavernous open space with just the right amount of chic to draw you in and the right amount of class to keep the riff-raff out. Your tables are set along snake-like and continuous leather couches the colour of butternut. A huge red William Kentridge painting looks down on you, without offending anyone. Sharply dressed staff lead you to tables of linen and silver, and big wine glasses.
ItΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s not quite the sort of place where youΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗d scratch your crotch or break wind as you saunter across the room, yet you feel comfortable in a pampered sort of way.
Jeremy Clarkson, my guest, loved the fact that super Babe Michelle McLean was sitting at one of the tables picking at something green, low-calorie and unappetising. This meant that all eyes were fixed on her, some of which were expectantly waiting for one of her mammaries to jump out of that low-cut dress. With all the attention on Shellie, thus, Clarkson didnΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗t stand a chance of being noticed, although he says he does not wish to be. (Like hell.)
In any event, we were starving, a common physical situation to be in for those suffering blinding hangovers. And when we spotted the items on the menu, joy was in the air.
For here, at Delaire, was food! Not a poncy, limp-wristed tower of nouvellish hell in sight. No jus of any sort. No blanches. The only foam was on ClarksonΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s chin as he whispered the names of the dishes. Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├║Sirloin steakΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ…Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æRump steakΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ…Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æFish and ChipsΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ….Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æBaby ChickenΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ….yes, real food.
To get things going we kicked off with some Delaire Sauvignon Blanc 2008, which was zingy and cool, the brisk acids livening up our stomachs for the meal to come. A pleasant lady with glasses brought us the bread basket, which we almost emptied in one flour swoop. (Get it!)
The bread replenished our vast pits of hangover hunger, which meant we could leap into 12 oysters each. The other appetizers included buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad, Caesar salad, tuna tartar and scallops and Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ obviously for the weirdos Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ beetroot carpaccio.
The oysters were presented on the half-shell, perching on a platter of rock salt to ensure the shells donΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗t wobble all over the place. And they molluscs were absolutely terrific. So fresh were they, that you could actually hear them curse your grandmotherΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s pink bits each time you hit them with a searing drop of fresh lemon juice.
Sweet, clear, cool. Out of this world.
For the main course, Clarkson had fish and chips, while I decided on the sirloin. No sauce, just fries.
Okay, so this was not your regular steak-house or fish shop fare. The fish, cob, to be exact, was perfectly cooked in a light, puffy tempura-style batter. The chips were perfectly cut and had been freshly fried Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ unlike those horrid pre-cooked slivers so many establishments prefer these days due to cost-cutting and sheer laziness.
My steak was not going to drop Bakkies Botha Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ it was smallish, but tasty and cooked to perfection. Like everything, it tasted fresh, simple and moerishly moreish.
Other main menu items included a salmon dish, a decadent crayfish lasagne, lamb, short rib and a loin of venison.
After the impressive Sauvignon Blanc, I ventured towards Chardonnay territory, while Clarkson did the Delaire Red.
The Chardonnay was okay in the sort of way that Adi Jacobs is an okay rugby player Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ not going anywhere. I found the wine dying on the mid palate and ending in watery nowhere-ness. The Red, a Bordeaux blend with a dollop of Shiraz, was also not going to get anyoneΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s motor racing, so we changed gear and had a bottle of Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon. What a wine Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ by this stage Shellie could have been moonwalking starkers on the tables, it would not have taken our attention from the wine.
No dessert, so we opted for coffees and some Vin de Constance, and Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ if I remember correctly Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ the bill came to just over a Grand.
Now, about that freebie…..
E. Louw Joubert