A mouseful of mousse
Share this article:
Where: Granny Mouse Country House, Old Main Road, Balgowan.
Open: Daily, breakfast lunch and dinner
Call: 033 234 4071
I was invited for a wine and mousse pairing. It’s something I hadn’t seen before. And one of the unique offerings of Granny Mouse Country House, the upmarket boutique hotel at the heart of the KZN Midlands.
It sounded interesting. I envisaged options like salmon mousse, or trout roulade, or ham and quince terrine. Possibly a mousse of smoked snoek, or even avocado or perhaps a predictable chicken liver variety. But no, these were sweet sensations.
It’s a concept general manager Sean Granger is rightly proud of as he takes us through the afternoon and these beautiful little glasses arrive, layered ‒ “trifled” if you wish ‒ with chocolate and a variety of other fillings.
“Looks like muesli,” I quip. Thankfully it was not.
Here we had mousse with stewed apple and crumbled ginger biscuits, paired with a riesling. We marvelled as the wine went from ripe apples to sour grapes and back again, as we dug deep to get that kick of ginger. Then there was a mouse with pepper shortbread biscuits and a cherry coulis with a complex bukettraube. The pepper here pulled all the different flavours together. And then a beautiful full-bodied syrah with mousse layered with crushed pistachios.
I’d always been one of those who said chocolate and wine don’t go. Well it looks like I was proved wrong here. What a delightful ‒ and messy afternoon ‒ sitting in the conservatory and lapping up the spring sun.
The pairing, which lasts about an hour, can be booked in advance and would be a great way to spend an afternoon in the Midlands. It’s included in the hotel’s GM special, which is a three-night stay in any room class.
That evening we tried their five-course degustation menu (R510) in the Eaves Restaurant. It’s a cosy spot, tailor made for crisp nights and hearty Midlands fare. The menu changes seasonally and it can be paired with wines (R750).
After an amuse bouche of smoked salmon rolled around cream cheese and garnished with a Parmesan twirl, the chef brought out pulled pork-filled buns which we mopped up with lots of peppery olive oil.
The first course was an ode to cauliflower ‒ it was pickled, marinated, roasted and puréed ‒ topped with apple, lemon and walnuts. It was served with a lovely Rijk’s Touch of Oak chenin blanc. While not the greatest fan of the humble cauliflower, unless it’s smothered in the cheesiest of cheese sauces, I enjoyed the play on different flavours and textures.
As our waitress filled our glass with the highly recommended Thelema sauvignon blanc, the kingklip arrived on a bed of ratatouille with pea shoots and a little jug of tomato consommé which you poured over the dish as you pleased. This was good cooking. I liked the fact that the ratatouille was very fresh ‒ this hadn’t been cooked down to a deep intensity of almost a melanzane. The tomato consommé too was light, allowing the good piece of fish to do the talking.
Springbok carpaccio was up next with a La Bri merlot ‒ another enjoyable dish with mushrooms, cauliflower mousse and truffle oil ‒ and little balls of goat’s cheese that had been rolled in cayenne pepper. These had one hell of a punch. It worked well.
A palate cleanser of wild berry sorbet was followed by beef fillet on sweet potato purée with cream cheese and butternut shavings. The fillet was rolled in a crumb and while perfectly pink, it perhaps needed a lighter touch than the very heavy jus, perhaps something as clean as the tomato consommé would have worked better. It was finished off with the big Bordeaux-style Louis Dominique.
Dessert was the highlight. A good dense and rich chocolate marquise served with toast ice cream and red wine soup. Yes, you poured the soup ‒ well it was actually more of a syrup ‒ over this beautiful looking dessert giving it a slightly Halloween look. Both the ice cream ‒ yes it tasted like toast ‒ and that “soup” were inspired.
After a relaxing evening we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the bistro downstairs ‒ and a very good eggs Benedict, the eggs cooked perfectly to order, with good sides of mushrooms and roasted tomatoes. Perfect for the trip home.
Ambience: 3 ½
The bill: R750 a head including wine
The Independent on Saturday