The Oyster Box kicked off this initiative last year, serving to showcase some of the province’s best current and up and coming suppliers. This is the exact thing that KZN and Durban needs and deserves, a respected platform that positions on the provincial and national map the bounty of incredible artisinal food producers we are so lucky to have.
Into its second year, the KZN Food Heroes dinner kicked off with some introductions and the hotel’s eponymous little molluscy morsel of awesome, as an amuse bouche for the guests. The Oyster Box farms its own Natal oysters along the coast, so it was fitting to start the meal off with this, topped with a citrus-whipped yoghurt dressing made from one of the featured suppliers, Gourmet Greek’s double thick greek yoghurt.
Even the decor and favours were of local origin, with fresh herbs provided by Peter’s Gate in the midlands, and fresh flowers from LIV Village in Durban.
The first course was a cured meat platter, representing charcuterie from Midlands Speciality Products. It was complemented by a 24-month aged cheddar, field mushrooms and a strawberry reduction made from the fruit grown at Cappeny Estate in the North Coast. It came paired with Nottingham Road Brewery’s Pye-Eyed Possum Pilsener.
Second course was a celebration of the game meat provided by Zulu Waters. A combination of two fillets, black wildebees and berg eland, both aged for 21 days, crispy sweet potato ribbons, potato cake, sauteed mushrooms and a sauce Diane (a type of buttered brandy mushroom sauce, with a bit of Worcestershire in to give that sweetness and offset the umami notes). This was excellent. Although a standard “meat and potatoes” interpretation, the flavours did the produce justice.
Dessert represented Cappeny Estates Strawberry farm. An ambitious white chocolate and strawberry canneloni. A plate-sized tuille piped with white chocolate strawberry mousse, surrounded by a moat of zingy strawberry coulis, sprinkled with fresh and dessicated strawberry. In one plate, the strawberry had been used a multiple of ways: moussed, sauced, dried, fresh, sweetened, soured and baked. Not bad for fruit that people said could not grow on the coast. As the strawberry farm representatives explained, no one told the strawberries that. So they grew!
The cheeseboard rounded off the meal as a glamorously laden cart was rolled out, heaving with large blocks of cheeses, in varying degrees of softness and ages, decorated by grapes, more strawberries, and fresh honey oozing right out of the comb. A feast and setup that the Roman god of agriculture and wine, Bacchus, would have approved of.