BY CK Lam
SMAAK!ZA – “Taste! South Africa” 2012 was in Penang recently for the “Table” sessions. Held at Maricosa Pacific Rim & Hawaiian Cuisine in Straits Quay, the event featured an eclectic 4 course dinner menu paired with a mini-vertical tasting of among the top award-winning Pinotage wines.
Thomas Ling, principal partner of Entwine Consultancy hosted the event and introduced the lineup of featured wines while Satoru Nakamatsu shared his passionate views behind the mouth-watering Rainbow Nation’s colourful cuisine.
We started off with the Savana, made from Granny Smith apples grown in the Elgin area in the Western Cape of South Africa. This naturally brewed and matured premium cider went well with the Maricosa bruschetta and the Mediterranean mackerel salad which was brought together with many fresh greens, mackerel and pleasantly sharp cheese.
Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut is a grape variety that was created in South Africa. The Pinotage grape is still evolving and finding its identity being the “new kid on the block” in contrast to for example Cabernet Sauvignon which has been around for centuries. We tasted several – Zonnebloem 2008, Zonnebloem 2009, Zonnebloem 2010, Cloof 2003 and Cloof 2005.
According to Thomas, the two labels were selected to showcase a contrast of style expression and maturity potential of Pinotage. Zonnebloem, an illustrious winery garnered many accolades as a true quality pioneer and ultimately chosen as the official wine of the British Royal Family’s visit to South Africa back in 1947. The Zonnebloem mini-vertical exuded a more austere, earthy and complex style of the Pinotage grape.
“On the other hand, the eclectic wines of Cloof from the newly declared wine growing region of Darling (known for wheat farming), only had its first vintage in the last ten years or so, in 1999. However, it has trail blazed the wine industry with its innovation and quality, sweeping wine accolades all across Asia. Cloof’s interpretation of Pinotage were more decadently expressive, with seductive lashings of ripe fruit, sweet mocha and vanillin oak undertones,” Thomas said.
Main courses were the hurricane barbeque pork ribs, Hawaiian island chicken and salmon tajine. The hurricane barbeque pork ribs slathered with Hawaiian barbecue sauce was absolutely tender and enjoyable with the robust Zonnebloem Pinotage 2010.
There was a burst of flavors from the slow-cooked salmon and venus clam tajine which is one of Maricosa’s specialties. This dish braised in prawn bouillabaisse stock with hint of spiciness complemented the wines.
Mediterranean mackerel salad, salmon tajine & hurricane barbeque pork ribs
The Amarula was the final drink for the evening. This luscious Amarula cream with fresh and exotic fruit on the nose was taken neat over ice.
It was an enjoyable casual evening filled with wine and food, knowing new friends and meeting up again with Thomas.
* Many thanks to Thomas Ling for laying on this invitation.