I have a cooking cousin, Claudia Cabri aka Miss Lunch who lives in Paris (the French one) and runs a cooking school, restaurant, writes cookbooks and is also an artist. She has Sundays off too, would you believe unless she is collecting capers on the island of Pantelleria which she cures at home. She recently visited us in Cape Town to celebrate my father's 80th and not one to miss an opportunity, she and I agreed to cook a SecretEats dinner last week. For those who do not know what a SecretEats is please follow the link but in essence it is a dinner party you attend without knowing where to go or the menu until the actual day. It is a lot of fun and you meet interesting people. Organiser Greg Zeleny has a slick team that make the job a lot easier and enjoyable.
This particular dinner was an honor to cater for as the venue was the Castle of Good Hope. A long table that can accommodate up to 100 people was made available and it felt as though we were in an alternate version of an episode of Downton Abbey. The Castle has an endearing mixture of preserved history and run down shabbiness and one kept expecting to hear the ghostly sounds of cannons, soldiers and horses. Fortunately the kitchen is huge and prep was easy even though we were on a different level to the dining area. It is also just across from the torture chamber but I believe that is just coincidental.
To make things more interesting cousin Claude and I gave each other 3 ingredients and we each had to design a course around the key ingredient. I gave her smoked trout, pancetta and chocolate. In return she gave me pomegranate, aubergine and berries.
The full menu went as follows:
* Cool Carrot Salad with Smoked Trout and Horseradish Cream
* Wagyu Bresaola with Labneh and Pomegranate
* Grilled Aubergine and Halloumi Stack with Mint Pesto
* Braised Rabbit stuffed with Pancetta and served with Salsa Verde
* Mixed Berry Sabayon
* Almond, Limoncello and White Chocolate Cake with Meringue
It was a lot of hard work and thanks to all the helpers including my wife Justine, Claude, Greg and his team and all the guests who had no idea what they were in for. Claude alas is back in Paris but we are planning our first cookbook together.
Photography courtesy of Samantha Du Toit