Savannah to Sea. Fine cuisine under an African sky, by Nico Verster
Adding to the authenticity of the African experience, as well as the charm of ‘Savannah to Sea: Fine cuisine under an African sky’, are some often-humorous tales from Nico Verster's time in these varying and challenging environments.
My inspiration for this chapter is the spectacular Madikwe Game Reserve, North West Province, near the Botswana border. Jámala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge is a safari lodge very close to my heart, from the savannah plains of Africa on the cusp of the Kalahari, under majestic leadwood trees (Combretum imberbe) and prehistoric aloes. 'Jámala' and 'Safari', both Swahili words, mean 'natural elegance' and 'journey' or 'to travel' respectively, and are accurate descriptions of the Jámala Madikwe experience. I was fortunate enough to assist in the establishment and opening of this exquisite piece of paradise with the owners Rodney Steyn and Shaun Roe in 2008. 'Sublime beginnings' is the way I would describe the essence of simple, beautiful starters and canapes perfect for any dinner party or special event, a real food lover's delight. I opted for elegant dishes, charmingly rustic, but always beautifully plated and served in a location that is spectacular and unlike any other I have ever seen. Think leadwood-smoked kingklip with avocado, all served under ink-rich skies bejewelled in lantern-light overlooking a waterhole with a breeding herd of rumbling elephants ... a special time and place. Although simple, these dishes are prepared with great care, enthusiasm, love and fresh, local ingredients. My own style of cooking is most often intuitive, not based on strict rules or recipes. I think this is how everybody should cook: enjoy the experience, keep an open mind, create from what is available, evolve and play with flavours, textures and aromas.
Chermoula Braai Beef Fillet
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 white onion, grated
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 whole beef fillet
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
sea salt and freshly ground black
pepper to taste
12 slices parma ham
600 g potato puree (see page 65)
4 baby savoy cabbages, blanched and sliced
6 slices Parma ham, cubed
2 spring onions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp chermoula paste
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a baking tray. Prepare a small wood fire. First make the chermoula paste. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, garlic, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper together. Season with salt and pepper, spoon the paste into a sterilised jar, seal, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Trim and clean the beef fillet of all sinew and excess fat. Rub the fillet with the oil and season well with some chermoula paste, salt and black pepper. Grill the beef over the coals for 15-20 minutes until brown on all sides. Remove from the fire. Leave to cool then wrap in the Parma ham. Place the whole fillet in the oven on the prepared baking tray. I like my beef medium-rare (8 minutes will do). Remove from the oven and leave the meat to rest for 5 minutes before carving. Place the potato puree in a heavy-based saucepan and warm over a gentle heat. Add the cabbages, ham and onions. Season well then add the chermoula paste just before serving with the carved beef. SERVES 6
This is an excerpt from the book: Savannah to Sea. Fine cuisine under an African sky, by Nico Verster.
Title: Savannah to Sea
Subtitle: Fine cuisine under an African sky
Author: Nico Verster
Publisher: Randomhouse Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2014
ISBN 9781432302313 / ISBN 978-1-4323-0231-3
Hardcover, dustjacket, 24 x 24 cm, 160 pages, throughout colour photos
Verster, Nico im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Savannah to Sea. Fine cuisine under an African introduces starters and snacks, main courses with white and red meat, fish and seafood, and game, baked delights, and desserts and sweet treats.
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