At the centre of the Cape Winelands lies the Simonsberg mountain, a fynbos-rich massif, home to exceptional vineyards since the 17th century. It’s here on the southern slopes, with unrivalled views over False Bay to Table Mountain, that the Tokara Estate is situated, with its lush vineyards, olive groves and its award-wining restaurant, headed up by the talented and multi-award-winning chef, Richard Carstens.
Renowned for producing exciting and mouth-watering contemporary cuisine, Carstens has, for the last few weeks, been hard at work designing a dinner menu for the four hundred guests at this year's American Express Friday Night Barrel Auction - the precursor to the Cape Wine Auction sponsored by Nedbank Private Wealth - which will be held in Tokara's Delicatessen on Friday, February 9. In 2017, these events raised R22,3 million that was distributed amongst 27 Cape Winelands charities via The Cape Wine Auction Trust.
Says Cape Wine Auction organiser Darielle Robertson: "Richard has planned an amazing "Harvest Table" which will feature a stunning range of dishes that take full advantage of local and seasonal produce and which will pair well with the award-winning wines we will be serving on the evening."
Adds Carstens: As a team we feel honoured to be part of this prestigious event, and the menu showcases what we offer at Tokara, reflecting local producers and seasonal produce."
So what is on the menu for those fortunate enough to be there?
For starters, the tables will be heaving with a variety of breads: baguettes, sorghum and fynbos sourdough, seeded loaf, bread sticks and crackers, along with marinated Tokara olives and tapenade; charcuterie with homemade preserves, pickles and chutneys; cumin, coriander and kapokbos beef lollies; snoek with vinegared rice, tamarind and pickled onions; smoked trout with watermelon, garlic and chilli; Prins Albert parmesan biscuits with yoghurt, black pepper and lemon; compressed cucumber with lemon pith puree, olives and herbs and panisse (chickpea fries) with goat’s milk cheese and tomato.
Main course dishes from which to choose, will include: Simonsberg fynbos-glazed chalmar beef with mustard and peppered “Cape Senses” sauce; Wood-fired rainbow trout with herbs, gooseberries, Tokara olive oil and macadamia “Romesco" and - for the vegetarian guests - roast marinated field mushrooms with spinach, almond cheese and vegan “parmesan."
Diners will be spoilt for choice with side dishes that include: tomato and grain salad with buffalo mozzarella and black garlic; potatoes with herbs and crème fraiche; roast carrots with almond and honey; seasonal figs with almonds, fennel and grapes; baby marrow and squash with parmesan, Tokara olive oil, garlic and lemon.
And, for those with a sweet tooth and room to spare (loosen those belts!), dinner will be rounded off with a selection of homemade nougat, seasonal fresh fruits, cheeses with preserves, seed crackers, almond and olive oil polenta squares and nuts and dried fruit.
A selection of award-winning wines from a number of estates will be served to accompany each course.
This year, tickets for The Cape Wine Auction and Friday Night Barrel Auction - an annual highlight on the Western Cape social calendar to raise money for educational projects - were sold out in record time and organisers are hoping to beat last year's staggering R22,3 million that was raised and distributed amongst 27 Cape Winelands charities via The Cape Wine Auction Trust.