Sensory Sensations at a Sensorium

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November saw the inaugural KWV Brandy & food pairing dinner hosted in the beautiful Sensorium in Paarl. Hosted at the KWV Bar & Art Museum, a must visit destination in it’s own right.

Now, I must be honest in admitting brandy is far from my normal drink of choice but when one is has the opportunity to learn more in such a beautiful setting (and pair it with a marvellous sounding menu), one can bear a change of beverage. I will admit, I was quite uncertain to start but most pleasantly surprised.

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The evening began in familiar enough territory with a glass of Laborie Brut. Once seated at the long dinner table down the centre of the Sensorium, the thinking behind the evening and the experience was explained followed by a succinct yet educational overview of brandy in South Africa by one of KWV’s proud brandy masters. From minimum maturation period (3 years) to the oldest brandy in the country (KWV’s 30 year old Nexus), we learned of the diverse history of the beverage and KWV’s role therein in South Africa.

With a satisfactorily piqued interest in tasting the brandy myself, it was time for our chef for the evening, Mynhardt Joubert of Kokkedoor fame to introduce the menu. Inspired by primary colours, the dishes had been put together using combinations of fresh, seasonal ingredients designed to compliment each of the brandies to be sampled on the evening.

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The first vintage of the night to be introduced was the KWV 10 Year Old, with a nose of toasted butterscotch and honeyed oranges, it paired perfectly with our Red Course of duck terrine with strawberry sorbet, cherry chutney, edible flowers and beetroot foam.

The Red pairing was followed by a Green course of pea & mint soup with bocconchini, pea shoots and a delightful parmesan ice cream that served perfectly to accentuate the underlying freshness of the KWV 12 Year Old, a brandy crafted to appeal to the whiskey drinker.

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From here, we moved to the much fuller, spicier KWV 20 Year Old, whose hints of allspice, anise & coriander seed complimented the Yellow course of Nicoise with fresh seared tuna, duck egg, heirloom yellow tomatoes, green beans, white anchovies and courgette flower tempura.

Lastly, we enjoyed the honey butter flavour of the KWV 15 Year Old with a Blue course of blueberry ice cream with lavender & vanilla milk tart, miniature blue velvet cakes, cracked blue macaroons, dark chocolate ganache and edible flowers.

Each course was an exploration of flavours – both of those on the plate and those in our glasses. Despite being slightly out of my element sans a wine glass in-hand, the evening was one of the best I have been lucky enough to enjoy and I hope to see the event grow from strength to strength.

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