Brandy and Food Pairing: Tokara Restaurant

Tokara Restaurant sits right at the top of the Hellshoogte pass between Stellenbosch and Franschoek. Perfectly poised looking down the valley towards the city, it is a spectacular setting, and complimented entirely by equally spectacular food, wine and brandy. On the recommendation of SA Brandy’s Christelle, we went off to check out Chef Richard Carstens 3 Course Food and Brandy Pairing.

Tokara: even the bread is awesome

If you have not yet been to Tokara restaurant, you really do need to go and experience it. The setting is perfect, a huge fireplace warms diners to a tasty glow, and spacious big tables allow for intimate dining even when it is near capacity. Topped by very efficient and effective staff, it is an all round winning dining experience. Not to mention value for money with the current R250 4 course and a glass of wine winter special running.

But we were there for a slightly different experience. A Brandy and Foody Pairing. Paired with some uber creative culinary creations were 3 of SA’s finer Pot still brandies. Oude Molen Rene Single cask, Tokara’s own 5 year old potstill and the big and bold KWV 20 year old were all paired with different courses

Starter: Duck Liver Parfait and Oude Molen Rene

For starters, Richard served up a duck liver parfait, covered in beetroot brioche crumbs, decorated with crushed pistachio nuts, and a hibiscus infused beetroot reduction. At this point it is worth saying that I am not a massive liver fan, but there was no doubting the quality and uniqueness of this specific parfait. Light and fluffy in texture with the strong rich flavour profile expected from liver. And paired well with the Oude Molen Rene Single Cask, with the profile of the food bringing out the best in the brandy and vice versa.

The main course was the star of the show for me though, which came out after a palate cleanser of wasabi and pea reduction with banana ice cream. Banana bread in a cup, so good! Rare Beef Fillet served on a bed of green beans with tiny sjimeji mushrooms, a miso coffee black bean reduction and roast potatoes.

Mains: Beef fillet and Tokara 5yr brandy

The super soft and tender beef was paired with the Tokara 5 year old brandy, the science as explained being the subtle coffee infusion in the miso sauce enhancing the coffee flavours in the brandy. Another good pairing, and delicious brandy. Would love to try this combo with some Oude Meester Souverein at some point as I really think that could work well too.

Dessert was Richards take on a Cape Brandy Tart, by deconstructing it into its constituent parts, and present it in such a way to enlighten and entice the individuality of your taste buds. Cream, meringue, butterscotch, caramel, brandy ice cream, dates, nuts, tart lemon sorbet…

Dessert: Deconstructed brandy tart and KWV 20yr

I know I am missing half the ingredients on the plate. But what a great taste sensation. And more importantly paired with the flagship old man in the KWV range, the KWV 20 year old brandy. Big strong fruit, apricots, peaches and layers of complex vanilla and caramel in the glass – A stunning brandy to sip with an extraordinary dessert creation.

All in all it was a great evening in a simply stunning setting. Really enjoyed the night, and can definitely encourage anyone to head to Tokara and experience the it for themselves. Thanks to Johan, Richard and Jaap for making it all happen! Look forward to coming back again soon.

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