Gin caviar sounds perfect for a summer evening on Londolozi’s Tree Camp deck, especially when it’s paired with tonic-cured salmon and fennel cream cheese. According to Londolozi apprentice-chef, Kent Roberts, the process involves using a syringe to create what he refers to as “gin bombs” and is entirely bereft of fish roe.
The G&T-inspired canapé was part of Kent’s final Silwood School of Cookery practical examination. Silwood is the oldest cookery school in South Africa and graduates can be found in some of the world’s trendiest kitchens: Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir.
“The brief required me to create a menu that would include a cold and hot canapé, a starter, sorbet, main course, dessert and petits fours,” explains Kent. “I based my menu on Londolozi’s classics.”
That included Virginia’s hot roasted tomato soup to which Kent added a sour dough croute and a basil mousse, as well as an amarula cheesecake with Kahlua jelly, pistachio-crusted beurre noisette cream, raspberry fluid gel, and meringue praline shards. There was even an asparagus spear or two to go with the locally sourced Chalmar beef fillet medallions.
Kent’s full menu can be found below, but first, here are some important nuggets of “good food” info:
Ryan: Kent, do you have a favourite restaurant in South Africa?
Kent: I am from Cape Town, so you’ll have to forgive that all of my food recommendations are Cape-centric. Technically, I would say that The Test Kitchen, run by Chef Luke Dale-Roberts – is at the top of my list. For the full experience – venue, vibe, and food – I would definitely say Olympia Café in Kalk Bay: fresh ingredients, great view, and a blackboard menu that changes daily.
Ryan: Any other recommendations in the Cape?
Kent: If you enjoy dim sum, and a dramatic view over the ocean, then Koi Restaurant and Vodka Bar at the Amabassador Hotel in Bantry Bay, Cape Town, is a must. I am a little bit more laid back most of the time. For tapas, try the Chef’s Warehouse and for a really good burger, I have two recommendations: Royale Eatery on long street and The Dogs Bollocks.
Ryan: And if you could visit any restaurant in the world?
Kent: I have really warmed up to desserts (I used to be a meat man) and so I am struck by the creativity of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, where the desserts are plated directly onto the table (no plate). I would love to go – have a look at the photo below.
Ryan: Speaking of desserts, anything new we should know about in the Londolozi kitchen?
Kent: Working with executive chef, Anna Ridgewell, there is always something new. But here are two to whet your appetitite: (1) Rooibos panacotta, lime curd, raspberry coulis, roasted apple butter, lemon and poppy seed cake and a pistachio crumble, and (2) Mango and brandy snapstack with sage icecream, pomengranate crème fraiche and meringue.
Here is chef Kent’s full Londolozi-inspired “test day” menu:
Cold canapé: Tonic cured salmon with gin caviar and fennel cream cheese in a phyllo cone
Hot canapé: Virginia’s hot roasted tomato soup with sour dough croute and basil mousse
Starter: Seared scallops with pea and lime puree, pickled ginger and corn puree as well as Sriracha (smoked chili paste) prawns and pancetta shards
Sorbet: Lemon sorbet on a blood orange jelly accompanied by a nectarine leather
Main course: Chalmar beef fillet medallions with red wine jus, African-spiced roasted butternut puree, cardamom scented confit beetroot, fondant potatoes, roasted red onion hearts and asparagus spears
Dessert: Amarula cheesecake with kahlua jelly, pistachio-crusted beurre noisette cream, raspberry fluid gel and meringue praline shards
From the Londolozi team, a huge congratulations to the very talented Kent Roberts, who continues to amaze us with his thoughtful and out-of-the-box approach to food.
We would also like to extend a special thanks to Alicia Wilkinson (Silwood School of Cookery), as well as the brave team who assisted Kent with his culinary bombs and edible spears.
Written by: Ryan James