People often ask me to name my top food experiences when they find out about my job. It’s not a question I mind answering as it is always my pleasure to recall my most prized food memories and bring them back to life. Sometimes I can almost taste the food again.
This year, 3 of my top 5 favourite food experiences have been at La Colombe. If they don’t make it into the Top 10 of this year’s Eat Out Restaurant Awards then I will be very surprised.
The first time I was a guest at a Hennessy Paradis food pairing lunch, the second I was invited for their 8 course gourmand wine pairing dinner and my most recent trip to La Colombe was a food and rum pairing experience with Ron Zacapa Rum.
You can clearly see it is a popular restaurant for the world’s top liquor brands to show off their premium stuff. The menus that Scot Kirton prepares are just incredible. Every course, from the bread board as you arrive to the truffles at the very end, is a sensory revelation and mind-blowing experience for your palate. To be able to pair his food, and the flavour combinations he creates, with your wine or liquor is a privilege indeed, and not one that escaped the master blender of Ron Zacapa Rum.
Lorena Vasquez blends the best rum in the world at 2300 metres above sea level in Guatemala and every bottle is personally blended by her through the Sistema Solera blending process. She is renowned in the industry for having an incredible nose, and her talent for getting the very best blends out of the caskets that store the rum is legendary in the industry. Because of the complexity of the rum's flavours it pairs beautifully with food. Nothing too spicy though says Lorena.
Ron Zacapa launched here in South Africa last year and if you haven’t tried it yet, you definitely need to buy a bottle and either enjoy it neat, over ice, or in a cocktail. It is a product that outclasses all other rums and I can say hand-on-heart it is my favourite drink. Over ice.
At La Colombe we tasted the rum in all those servings, and the flavour pairings with Scot Kirton's menu were out of this world.
We kicked off with the Casa Santa Domingo cocktail paired with Foie Gras and Zacapa braised pineapple, duck ham, strawberry-boshi puree served with brioche.
Course 2 was the Solera Pina cocktail paired with Scallops, Zacapa-barbecued pork belly, with corn kimchi, lemongrass and ginger crackling.
Course 3 was The Zacapa Signature Chocolate Old Fashioned, created by Lorena herself, paired with Thyme-smoked bone marrow on toast, white anchovy, aubergine, truffle and herbs.
Course 4 was sous vide kingklip, tempura oyster, cavia, caramelized cauliflower, endive chutney and salsa verde. Also paired with the Old fashioned.
Course 5 was the dessert of strawberry, yoghurt and basil terranium paired with the perfect serve Zacapa XO. This was the absolute highlight of my evening as the Zacapa XO is something everyone should taste once in their life. At over R1000 a bottle it fills your nose with a wonderful combination of flavours, is incredibly smooth to taste with suave flavour tones including Pedro Ximénez, and an exceptional finish.
Now you probably won't have Scot Kirton to cook for you in your kitchen, but that should not stop you from buying a bottle of Ron Zacapa 23 (R500 a bottle at Makro, Spar Tops, Pick n Pay) and throwing the best dinner party ever!
PS If you get the chance you should try La Colombe's 8 course gourmand wine-pairing menu. It really is on another level.
- Cathrine Shone