I learnt two new things this week. I’m not sure which astonished me more:
- Famous chefs don’t necessarily have to be wombats who prance about the kitchen swearing enough to make the Teflon peel off non-stick pans.
- Rooibos is not just something to drink first thing in the morning and then again at 3pm because, after having manfully (or is that womanfully?) resisted the lure of the chocolate digestives in the kitchen cupboard all day long, you finally succumb. It also just so happens to be a rather nice accompaniment to a meal – with meat, or seafood or vegetables. I know, I know, but hear me out on this one. You may just be gobsmacked too.
An invite to a food and tea pairing landed in my inbox a while ago. Food and tea? Seriously? Surely you meant wine? But the chef in question was Nic van Wyk (of Kokkedoor fame) and the tea in question was rooibos, my favourite. So Tuesday morning saw me making rather more of a sartorial effort than usual, and setting off for Durbanville for my food and wine, uh, tea pairing.
First up on the menu were cheeky little sourdough rolls with a delightful goat’s cheese (from Studio Rose in Durbanville) and a vanilla-infused fig jam. This was served with a vanilla tea from Carmién. The concept of a food and tea pairing is pretty much the same as a food and wine pairing. A small bite, followed by a small sip. So I did as instructed by the lovely Mientjie Mouton (fresh from the Carmién rooibos farm in Citrusdal) and I was a pretty happy chappy. The very subtle vanilla of the tea, the hint of vanilla in the jam and the sharpness of the cheese was yummy. But I know all about cheese and jam on toast with a cuppa, so what’s the big deal?
Chef Nic probably figured he hadn’t won me over yet, so next up he served baby veggies poached in olive oil with a foamy tea broth thingy (you know they’re proper chefs when they ‘foam’ things). This was paired with Carmién’s Vintage Romance Flower Tea (with rosebud, lavender, hibiscus and dried berries). OMGoodness. By the way, you don’t serve gigantic cups of the stuff, more like shot-glass size and at 60 degrees Celsius. Naturally milk and sugar do not feature.
Calamari tubes with pesto and a pickled cucumber salad was next and arrived with lemongrass and ginger tea. To be followed by fall-off-the-bone soft lamb with mint-scented hollandaise and mint and green honeybush tea. At this point I realised I’m in love – with Nic’s food (and by extension possibly with him) and with the idea of tea with a meal.
As fond as I am of wine (and that’s VERY), I’m so going to start exploring pairing tea with main meals. But pairing baby steps first. So while I contemplate the possibilities, I’ll have a slice of my gran’s banana bread, which I make fancy with the addition of a lime drizzle, candied lime zest and some fresh coconut shavings. I figure it will be a perfect match for the lemongrass and ginger tea or maybe the mint and honeybush tea. Can’t wait to find out.
All you need is…
For the banana bread
190g castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
280g self-raising cake flour
½ tsp salt
3 tbs buttermilk
4 bananas, very ripe
For the banana bread topping
3 tbs icing sugar (USA = confectioners’ sugar)
3 tbs ordinary sugar
3 tbs water
Whip the castor sugar and butter together until creamy and light in colour. Whip in the eggs and vanilla. Sift in the flour and salt and mix well. Mash the bananas (a fork works well) and add to the batter with the buttermilk. A final stir and it’s ready for the oven. Pour batter into a small lined bread tin and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for one hour. Insert a knife. If it comes out clean, it’s ready. Remove from oven and allow to cool. (I like this banana bread most on day three, so I tend to place it in an airtight container for a day or two before I attack it.)
For the topping, boil 3 tbs sugar and 3 tbs water until the sugar has dissolved. Zest the lime and boil zest in this sugar syrup for 2-3 minutes. Remove zest and set aside. Mix 3 tbs icing sugar with the juice of the lime. Drizzle over the banana bread and top with the candied lime zest and fresh coconut shavings. Alternately, leave the topping off and enjoy it the old-fashioned way spread with butter. OPTIONS: If you don’t have lime, use lemon instead. If you can’t find fresh coconut, lightly toast 2-3 tbs dried coconut and use that instead.