The Grill Jichana wine and food pairing. Picture by Lutho Pasiya

I have been to quite a few food and wine pairings but recently I was really surprised with the overall experience I had at the Grill Jichana. 

The Grill Jichana is on Durban’s Golden Mile at Tsogo Sun’s Southern Sun Elangeni Maharani hotel complex. 

The restaurant recently hosted a very intimate, engaging, different food and wine occasion — different in a way that we were given a variety of dishes that are on their menu, from starter, main course to dessert which we had to pair with any wine of our choice.

What I like about such events is that you get to learn a lot about food and wine and how both help enhance each other's flavours. Like one should never overpower the other.

So what I picked up from the event was that food changes the way wine tastes and vice versa- thanks to the executive chef at the hotel, Shaun Munro, executive sous chef, Denbeigh Van Der Merwe and candidate chef at the hotel’s banqueting kitchen, Bevashan Naidoo for preparing a big range of meals that we can try and pair with their wines.

Lamb shank. Picture: Lutho Pasiya


The menu of Jichana, “eating good” in Swahili slang, embraces the flavours and aromas of the original East Coast of Africa’s spice route, cassia, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, turmeric and pepper and these robustly flavoursome spices complement the grilling of meat, fish and chicken creating Jichana!

Starter

I had their spicy livers, which is sautéed chicken livers, homemade peri peri sauce and toasted baguette, their prawn gratin, which is peeled prawn tails, red onion, lemon-scented cream and cheese, and their Jichana salad, which is biltong, blue cheese, mixed greens, red onion, green olives, peppadews and toasted granola — I enjoyed these starters with the Chardonnay Pinot Noir. 

For me, Chardonnay is the go-to white for spicy and cheesy dishes. 

Livers contain very little fat and spiced food needs a wine with enough fruit and acid to withstand the spice, even when it comes to dishes with a cheese ingredient it’s the same story- it’s good with an acidic wine like a Chardonnay. 

The starters range between R60 to R80 and their salads between R50 to R80 depending if you want something small or large.

Spicy chicken livers. Picture: Lutho Pasiya

Main course

I had their lamb shank, which is slow braised lamb shank, root vegetables, creamy mash potatoes and chef jus and their roast duck which is confit leg, grilled breast, wok-fried veggie noodles and cinnamon scented citrus basting, all paired with a Jordan The Long Fuse Cabernet Sauvignon.

I enjoyed these dishes; they were out of this world- nicely done and made to perfection. Their signature dishes cost around R180.

Cabernet Sauvignon complements hearty dishes like the roasted duck perfectly, the wine helps cut through the meat fat.

Dessert

I had their espresso chocolate tart, which is white chocolate shavings and fresh seasonal berries and their cardamon and rose water pannacotta both paired with the same Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Red wine and chocolate are a darling pair, it’s just a natural pairing for red wine. 

Their desserts range between R50 to R80.

These meals are complementary to the great atmosphere and dining experience at Grill Jichana.