Another month, another glorious reason to celebrate our favourite things: great wine, great food and great company.
Wrapping up July and gearing guests up for an exceptional second half of 2018 was the #CraftedCare Come Wine With Us event. We partnered with Alto Wines and were hosted at Chef James Diack’s prestigious La Stalla restaurant in Melville. Given the unmistakable chill that you find in the Johannesburg air at this time of year, what better way to celebrate than with an evening of reds? Not just red wines, but splashes of red everywhere — the theme of the evening was A Touch of Red Born & Bred, and it was a pleasure to see everyone take part in the theme. Alto also delivered some exceptional reds to add a little extra warmth to the night.
For starters, tables were treated to a number of tapas-style options, which included burnt leek and goats cheese arancini for the vegetarians and home-cured wild boar bacon and spring onion arancini for the rest of the guests. Other starter options included ribeye carpaccio with crispy capers and truffle dressing and a unique vegetarian counterpart which consisted of grilled king oyster mushrooms. Each table received generous portions of herb focaccia and wood-fired, marinated artichokes. This was paired with the Alto Rouge, a red so delightful that many guests could be heard sharing a sentiment along the lines of “I don’t normally drink red, but this could change my mind”. Part of the reason the Alto Rouge seemed to pair so perfectly with all the different starter options, is because it is an exquisite blend of five varietals – Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, making it the perfect partner to many different styles of food.
Renowned for being full-bodied and rich with ripe but elegant tannins, next on the menu was the Alto Cabernet Sauvignon. This was paired with one of three dishes to choose from for the main meal. The first option was 36-hour braised lowland short rib served with thyme and Maldon salt polenta, accompanied by a micro salad with sherry vinegar dressing. Second was the Brightside salt-cured confit pork belly served with Tuscan-style cannellini beans, wilted spinach and fresh horseradish infused jus. Finally, vegetarian guests could enjoy an oven-roasted pumpkin with charred cauliflower and a bulgar wheat pomegranate salad.
Dessert was a delightful spin on a typical winter classic. Sticky date and carrot malva pudding served with smokey toasted marshmallows and vanilla toffee dots accompanied by chocolate crunch ice cream. This was served with the Alto Shiraz, whose delicate spice, prune and plum flavours gave way to a creamy mouthfeel with a good tannic backbone.
As the night geared down and the chatter of guests grew louder, the evening ended on a delightfully high note with many guests impressed not only with the food and wine pairings but also the atmosphere of La Stalla and the beautiful music of Faraway George that had filled the air throughout the night. The only sad part about the evening was that it had to end… fortunately, the next Come Wine With Us event is always just around the corner, and that’s something we’ll toast to.
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To keep track of our wonderful #CraftedCare Johannesburg collaborators, make sure you follow what they get up to on social media.