Van Ryn’s Spring Food and Brandy Pairing

The Van Ryn’s Spring Food and Brandy pairing proved yet again how versatile and under utilised premium brandy is in the greater gourmet food picture. Chef Toerie van der Merwe from Umami restaurant got back to basics with the fine Van Ryn’s brandy range and put on a culinary spectacle.

We arrived at Van Ryn’s to a warm welcome from Stacey Scott and were quickly handed the tasty and refreshing welcome cocktail (Viceroy brandy and peach & apricot juice). Proceedings for the evening got underway shortly afterwards with the Van Ryns classic barrel making display by Neville. Out of the remaining 50 coopers in South Africa, Van Ryns are lucky enough to have 20 working for them, mostly on barrel repairs.

Food and brandy pairing | start with a cocktail!

Van Ryns 10 with Pongracz and Rose petal syrup

The spring food pairing got underway with another brandy cocktail, this one with a touch more class! Van Ryns 10 year old vintage brandy and rose petal syrup, topped up with delicious sparkling Pongracz MCC. While I normally don’t promote putting much other than a block of ice in a 10 year old vintage, this cocktail does the brandy justice. The cocktail was paired with 3 gourmet oysters for the fish eaters. For the rest, an apple, walnut and blue cheese dressing salad, both exceptional pairings.

Onto the starter, and a light and fluffy shitake mushroom parfait, with marinated shimeji mushrooms, smoked beetroot puree and baby greens. This was excellently paired with the Van Ryns 12 year old Distillers reserve. Such a soft smooth brandy, the saltiness of the marinated shimeji mushrooms really amplifying the full and fruity flavours of the brandy

Food and Brandy Pairing | Its all about the mains

Main Course Fillet Delight with Van Ryns 15

For main course we were served a lovely piece of tender beef fillet, cooked medium rare and served with steamed white asparagus, roasted garlic, baby carrots and smothered in a creamy Parmesan and peppercorn brandy sauce. Normally, you have me on “Fillet”. But this was exceptional, and fully worthy of its pairing with the timeless Van Ryn’s 15 year old Fine Cask Reserve. The extra spiciness and peppery undertones of the brandy were enhanced by the brandy peppercorn sauce, and the combination just worked so well.

The grand finale for the evening could not have been any more perfect in my view. A very rich warm and gooey Belgian dark chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and berry compote. The Van Ryn’s 20 year old Collectors reserve brandy made an excellent accomplice, the rich dark Belgian chocolate unraveling the complexity of the 20 year old brandy ever so slightly, and the bitter edge of the chocolate mixing seamlessly with the super smooth and soft brandy.

Flaming Van Ryns brandy coffee

After dinner coffees were served with a special dark Van Ryn’s chocolate and a saucer lit up with flaming 70% proof cask strength brandy. The lights were dimmed and the soft blue glow of the flaming spirit was mesmerising, topping of an evening of exceptional quality.

Food and Brandy Pairing | The rise and rise of brandy and food

Food and brandy pairings are a relatively new experiment, and with creative and brilliant chefs getting to know the depths and quality of our local potstills, more and more amazing match ups are being made. And they are working. So many comments at our table were on how seamlessly the brandy complimented the food, and that it really worked as well as drinking wine with a meal. Remarkable considering potstill brandy’s 38% alcohol volume as opposed to red wines 14% or so.

Gourmet Oysters and Van Ryns 12

I would like to send a big thanks out to the Van Ryn’s team, led by Stacey and the passionate and extremely knowledgeable Simon, our host for the night.

Massive mention to Umami Restaurants head chef, for his excellent creations and skilful matchups. A brilliant night out.

More on Van Ryns Brandy:

Website: www.vanryn.co.za
Telephone: 021 881 3875

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