Magical Quoin Rock and Gåte Restaurant
If you have read some of my previous posts, you know how much I love a good story. Give me a person behind a product, a tale, a history, anything but just the product/restaurant/brand, and I burst with excitement. Stories are entangled with emotion; they mean something. Maybe it’s because I’m an actor but emotions are the language I speak and understand. So, give me a story, and I am a very happy accidental foodie indeed.
And this was my experience with Quoin Rock. I tend to do one of two things ahead of events. Either I research the living daylights out of it, or I start my research and stop a few minutes in, instinctively knowing that this is an experience I want to experience fully, with no pre-conceived ideas. The latter happened with Quoin Rock. And I am so glad it did.
I Love Foodies was invited to join a media day at Quoin Rock, complete with a cellar and mediaeval cave tour, cooking masterclass, and 6-course tasting menu and wine pairing at Gåte Restaurant. I was very excited. The moment I stepped foot on Quoin Rock soil, I knew why. Not only is this picture-perfect wine farm in Stellenbosch drop-dead gorgeous, but the passionate energy from managing director Denis Gaiduk and his wife Julia is downright infectious.
Denis’s father, Vitaly Gaiduk, purchased Quoin Rock on a chance visit to the Cape from Ukraine in 2012. Huge renovations, upgrades, and vineyard replanting took place under the watchful eyes of his son Denis and Julia. Quoin Rock, as it is today, opened in November 2018.
Throughout the day I would be reminded how watchful these eyes were, with stories of how even the most seemingly minute of things were redesigned, looked at again, improved and improved until they were perfect. Every single detail from the rings in the logo to the South African Zen Garden, sway of the dining room chairs, design of the wine bar, choice of glasses, absolutely everything has a story and a meaning. And I think that is just perfect!
Welcome and Wine Cellar Tour
After welcome drinks in the stunning foyer complete with Festive Series 2014 MCC, Mermaid’s Kiss oysters, and introductions to Quoin Rock by Denis and Julia, we made our way to the cellar. I have seen many a wine cellar, but I have never seen one like this. First of all, I have never seen a cellar this clean. You could literally eat off the floors. I would later realise this was an ongoing thing at Quoin Rock.
This triple story, glass-walled cellar allows visitors to constantly look in and on to the winemaking process. The top two floors consist of gleaming hanging stainless steel fermentation tanks, whereas the bottom floor houses all sorts of barrels from the standard wooden ones to concrete and wooden eggs. Winemaker Jacques Maree led us through the cellar and, with Denis by his side, shared all that makes Quoin Rock wines so special. Denis would often mention how the emotions around the wine influence the wine and Jacques would add how different blocks in the vineyards had different personalities.
At Quoin Rock they test these unique personalities in different barrels until the perfect ageing method for that particular block is found. It’s also great to know that although Quoin Rock has the capacity to produce almost double the wine they do, they prefer to focus on quality, instead of quantity.
Denis then took us on a tour of the mediaeval cellar with a request to keep images of it off social media. I will take that a step further and say no more about it. But do know that the cave and the story behind it is pretty awesome and should be experienced …
Introduction to Gåte Restaurant
Next up, it was time to move to the beautiful Gåte Restaurant. Now, Gåte, with Head Chef Nicole Loubser, recently launched their new 14-course “A Journey Around the World” menu, a fine dining experience inspired by 14 countries. We were going to have a 6- course version of this, complete with wine pairing.
But first, it was time to learn how to make one of those courses in our own private masterclass. Cooking scares me, but all fear left as I drew Austria and realised that I would, amongst other things, learn how to make Sauerkraut with super cool Chef Aidan. My inner German rejoiced!
After a tour of, again, probably the cleanest kitchen I have ever seen, Chef Aidan explained our Austrian dish. Pulled lamb belly and Stanford smoked cheese croquettes, with red cabbage and beetroot sauerkraut, cranberry gel, and cheese tuile. I chopped and mixed and created my own batch of sauerkraut, which is now happily fermenting at Gåte Restaurant. Then lamb belly was pulled, ingredients were mixed, lamb croquettes were battered, etc. until I finally plated my own little creation of Austria.
A big thing at Gåte Restaurant (and Quoin Rock) is sustainability. They use solar power, have green, houses, make their own compost, recycle, and use induction ovens instead of gas. Nothing is wasted.
After the Masterclass adventure, Julia re-joined us and shared stories as lunch was served. We started our culinary tour with South Africa: Saldana Bay oysters on a bed of edible seaweed and sea of dry ice were served with Black Series MCC 2013. I know, I’m odd, but I’m just not an oyster person, although I did have one and it was good. But for me it was the MCC that was to die for. 52 months in the bottle, with perfect little bubbles, this MCC has jumped onto my list of favourite MCCs. Whoohoo.
Smoke and Cigars
Next, we moved on to the Caffe Macchiato with Gåte Cigar. This Italian inspired dish is super fun. Drink your “Macchiato” – thyme and tomato soup, with thyme espuma, whilst dunking your potato bread cigar, complete with edible gold label, into the ashtray consisting of smoked paprika and hickory ash. With this, we had the Quoin Rock 2017 Chardonnay. I’m a Chardonnay girl and this one is divine. Lucky for me I have a bottle of this at home waiting for a special occasion. Which may just be today.
We continued our stay in Italy with what ended up being one of my favourite dishes of the day, Gåte’s Caprese Salad – Tomato dusted meringue on a whey dome that gives way to tomatoes and the most incredible mozzarella as basil oil is poured over it. Heaven in a dish. We paired this with the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon White Blend from Quoin Rock’s more everyday range, Namysto.
Then we travelled to Austria, the dish I learned to make. I resisted tasting it when I was in the kitchen and I am glad I did. To recap, it was a croquette made with pulled lamb belly and smoked Stanford cheese, served with beetroot and red cabbage sauerkraut with a cheese tuile and cranberry gel. With it, we had the rather divine Quoin Rock Red Blend 2017.
Home to Namibia
Then we travelled to Namibia, Chef Nicole and my home country, and the dish I was most looking forward to: Spice-crusted Oryx with smoked potato puree and veggies. Oryx is my favourite meat and this one was done perfectly. It’s a great dish and superbly represents this wonderful magical country. This was paired with Julia’s favourite wine, the Quoin Rock 2015 Shiraz.
A Caribbean Ending
Finally, because sadly all good things must come to an end, we stopped over in the Caribbean for a Pina Colada dessert. Not having a sweet tooth, I often skip dessert, but this work of art served in half a coconut was incredible. Not too sweet, it was the perfect ending to a trip around the world. Of course, we had some incredible Quoin Rock Vine Dried Sauvignon Blanc 2017 with it.
Lunch was a delight and the dishes were perfectly presented and oh so very good. It truly was like a little journey of the world. Head waitress Kelly introduced each dish and was ready to answer every question we had. Hats off to all the chefs, Chef Aidan, and, of course, Head Chef Nicole.
Sommelier Bongani also took us on a wonderful wine journey and I have fallen somewhat in love with the Quoin Rock wines. As to my entire experience at Quoin Rock, I absolutely loved it and cannot wait to visit again. Thank you Denis and Julia for sharing your stories, love, and passion for Quoin Rock. And thank you Jade and Melissa for inviting I Love Foodies to experience the magic of Quoin Rock.
Visit Quoin Rock
Daytime dining is available from 12:00 – 14:00 from R800 per person (with wine pairing, R1200). Evening dining is available from 18:00. The gourmet 14-course menu comes at a cost of R1600 per person (with wine pairing, R2250), while the 7-course tasting menu comes at a cost of R1000 per person (with wine pairing, R1450).
For more details on Quoin Rock, see below.
Gåte Restaurant at Quoin Rock
Address: Knorhoek Road, Knorhoek Valley, Stellenbosch, 7600
Call:+27 21 888 4750
Article Date: October 2019
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