One of my favorite foodie events this year was without a doubt the AGRI-EXPO SA Cheese Festival that took place at Sandringham from the 25 – 27 of April.
It was a sensational wine and cheese tasting weekend complete with big flavors offered by exhibitors… celebrity chefs doing cooking demos for the masses… and, of course, the bottomless glasses of wine.
One highlight in particular was watching Chef Johan van Schalkwyk’s in the kitchen. He was doing a canape and wine pairing; surrounded by food fanatics and wine lovers he made autumn inspired canapes to pair well with Drostdy–Hof white wines. He charmed the audience talking about food and seasonal ingredients. He even made jokes!
We got to nibble on the canapés and sip on the lovely wine as well (the wine didn’t overpower the food at all, but rather complement it). Chef Johan kept reiterating that he wasn’t fighting with the winemaker with that kind of tasting but was simply working together with him.
My Fav wine out of the ones I tasted was most definitely the 2013 Drostdy-Hof Chardonnay. It has oaky accents and a slight smokiness when you bring it up to your nose.
Winemaking Cellar master’s (Michael Bucholz) comments
Color: Light straw color with green tinges
Bouquet: Tropical fruit, citrus and lime with oak spice
Palate: Rich, smooth and creamy with well-integrated fruit flavors and a hint of spice
A versatile wine that can be enjoyed on its own or with creamy fish and pasta dishes as well as with white meat dishes.
The thing that I like about Chef Jay is how he twists traditional recipes but somehow they still stay rich, creamy and yummy.
“ Jy kan dit self te maak” – Chef Johan van Schalkwyk
Q: When you decided to pair the canapes with the wine, what inspired you?
A: Always start off with the wine. ALWAYS.
When you are given wine you obviously want the wine to stand out.
Q: As a chef, when I am cooking every day and coming up with an idea then obviously I want to pair the food with the wine.
A: When you are given the task to pair food with certain wines, you want the flavors o the wine to come up. So I would rather do a horizontal pairing so the food I am making is not clashing with the wine.
The winemaker wins here. Very often you get the chef come in and try to cut the richness of the meat, let’s say for instance, and I wasn’t trying to do that.
What I have done with a function like this, specifically with the wine in focus, is made sure that the wine was the winner.
And that it was.
A: If you think back a couple of years of that Coffee/Chocolate Pinotage that did wonders to the wine drinking society because all your beer drinkers all of a sudden picked up a glass of wine and say “Whoa! I can pick up the coffee.” They felt inspired by that and actually converted to drinking wine I tried to do that with the food and Drostdy–Hof wines pairing as well.
Q: When Drostdy–Hof approached you did they pick out the wine for you or did you do the selection on your own?
A: They did give me the option. I just found that with canapés they are served in the beginning. You don’t want to go straight into the reds. That’s why I decided to go with the whites rather.
Yes, they gave me a couple of options but I decided to go with a lighter style which works better with canapés.
Q: Would you say your canapé dishes were inspired by the season?
A: Absolutely. The seasons play a big role in what local products and ingredients you can work with. Look, I am from Wellington. We are blessed with all the produce around us. Freshness and sort of fantastic abundance of produce out there for me to work with.
Thank you. It was lovely to meet you.
[All images were taken with a smartphone! GRINS.]
Keep a look out for a full profile feature on Chef Johan van Schalkwyk on http://morethanfood.co.za/!
Go forth and eat,