Magic of the Med at feasts of fine wine, exotic dishes

THE start of December signals a time for feasting, for parties and also for saying thank you. Le Med, the Mediterranean- themed spot in Port Elizabeth’s vibrant restaurant strip of Stanley Street, accomplished all three this week by hosting two food and wine pairing events for tourism and hospitality industry roleplayers.

Tony Jones and Maria Frangopoulos from Le Med treated guests to a tasting menu of 12 different dishes: three starters, three entrees, three mains and three desserts, each one elegantly plated and presented with a flourish by their team of excellent waiters.

For the Love of Wine and WineZani matched each course with wines from estates like Windfall, Vrede en Lust and Raka, getting the celebratory atmosphere going at the start with a glass of pale pink 2012 Knorhoek Konfetti methode cap classique rosé.

Made in the French style, the bubbly has the allure of champagne but is not quite as bone dry, making it perfect for summer.

The Global Table team shared a lunch table with Tanya Fouche and Carole Law, who both run guesthouses in the area – Carole in Cuyler Crescent and Tanya in Irvine Street.

Carole is a huge Richmond Hill campaigner and restaurant lover who regularly posts about her foodie discoveries to a large Facebook following. As past owner of the Bayberry Hotel in Lutman Street she told guests of her love for Richmond Hill stretching back long before the place had quite the trend factor it has now.

The starter trio of smoked salmon latkes, Lebanese aubergine and falafel with hummus was pretty as a picture. Robyn Martin, of For the Love of Wine, which is also in Stanley Street, paired this with the 2013 Vrede en Lust Jess Pinotage Shiraz Rosé, a delightful, salmon-pink wine from Franschhoek that went especially well with the fish.

Next up was the entree of Malaga sizzling prawns, tagine de Bouzroug which comprised mussels made according to a Turkish recipe, and creamy kingklip Franco, all paired with another wine named after the daughters of the Vrede en Lust estate: the 2011 Marguerite Chardonnay. This one was “best served chilled but not as cold as the rosé or the nose won’t open up”, Robyn told us.

Because it was wooded and therefore in a heavier style it would suit spicy dishes like the mussels or creamy ones like the fish.

Tony’s palate cleanser of bloody mary sorbet, complete with a serious shot of vodka, helped prep us for the mains: Egyptian Bedouin chicken, Greek youvetsi which is a pasta and meat dish and lamb steak Cypriote – all scrumptious beyond words.

Robyn recommended the “lighter and less tannic” 2009 Windfall Cabernet Sauvignon for the chicken, saying you don’t always have to do white wine with chicken, especially if the dish is fragrant like this one which Tony was taught how to make in a Bedouin tent outside Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh.

The red meat dishes favoured a heavier wine and the 2009 Raka Biography Shiraz with its bitter-chocolate finish at the end was spot on. Last came dessert of creme “choculee” – Le Med’s coffee-infused version of creme brulee topped with a chocolate and crushed hazelnut crust – Italian pana cotta with cherries and Greek cheesecake.

Vrede en Lust’s 2012 Mochalate Malbec was ideally matched with the chocolaty dessert while the spritzy, semi-sweet 2013 Riebeek Montino, a white blend best served ice cold, fully did the milky desserts justice.

Hello summer in Stanley Street!

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