Chefs Scot Kirton and Luke Dale-Roberts Create Culinary Marvels in South Africa’s Wine Country
At Cape Town’s French-Asian-inspired La Colombe, diners can stroll the vineyards under a hot African sky as a "palate cleanser" between courses. Dazzling environment aside, the establishment’s winning formula is attributed to head chef Scot Kirton and culinary consultant Luke Dale-Roberts, whose collaboration resulted in the restaurant’s number-one ranking in Africa at this year’s Acqua Panna awards. The menu is infused with classic Gallic techniques, umami flavors and local ingredients, and dishes highlight local game such as springbok carpaccio and a risotto of root vegetables and Pinotage (South Africa’s signature red wine grape). “Being on a wine farm definitely influences the food,” says Dale-Roberts. “When the grapes are being harvested we try to incorporate them as much as possible.” La Colombe is part of the wider Uitsig estate which dates back to 1894 and as of 1988 has been reborn as a five-star destination comprising three restaurants, a boutique hotel and spa, a winery and a private cricket oval. Recreate your own version of the risotto with the recipe below.
Sweat the onions (finely chopped), garlic (crushed), thyme, salt and bay leaves in a wide-based pan with half the butter. When the onions are cooked and translucent, add the risotto and allow the mixture to fry for a few minutes (but do not allow rice to color).
Add the pinotage and simmer until the wine has reduced by half.
Ladle by ladle add in warm vegetable stock, giving the stock time to cook out before adding the next ladle. Stir the rice with a rubber spatula every 30 seconds while adding the stock to ensure the rice does not stick to the base of the pan.
To check if the rice is cooked, taste it continuously while adding the stock. Cook the rice to al dente. Do not overcook the rice as it will result in the grains breaking.
When the risotto is al dente take it off the heat and fold in the parmesan cheese; add the other half of the butter and adjust the seasoning to tast.
Finish off with a few wild mushrooms and small cubes of butternut.