Friday, August 5, 2011

Perfect Gentleman Goes Dining

On Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful evening of enlightening and spirited conversation, mouth watering cuisine and inspiring company. Our host, the animated, effervescent and highly affable Russel Hlongwane, the founder of the Fork, Knife and Glass Diner’s Club and its subsequent eponymous blog, was on hand to receive us all as his guests. This Dinner club is his brainchild and is nothing short of an innovative paradigm shift when it comes to dining in Durban.

The basic concept of the Diner’s Club is: a group of individuals accede to an invitation to attend every first Wednesday of the month. This goes down at a different eatery every time. These restaurants are sometimes new to the attendees, much like the Wodka Restaurant and Bar. Nestled on the ground floor of the Signature Life Hotel on Mahatma Gandhi Road. For a flat fee of R120, guests get to enjoy a three course meal. I’ve discovered something about cuisine and dining, something that has always addled me; why are portions so small? Are they filling? Satisfying? But then it dawned on me that cuisine and fine dining comes in small portions because it’s about the quality of the food, and not the quantity. It’s about savouring the food, teasing the palate, relishing the taste and leaving space for the other courses. Russel guffawed at my theory but also agreed that it is true. It’s not about mountain heaps on your plate, but small manageable portions. It’s intrinsically healthy, too.

I absolutely enjoyed the Couscous Tabbouleh salad so much, that I incorporated it into my main course of pan seared Line fish marinated in lemon and dill, finished with Chardonnay. All of this on a fluffy and inconspicuous bed of mash.

For dessert, I had the perplexing task of choosing between Lemon and Basil cheese cake or Espresso Crème Brule with Macadamia Biscotti, after some time I settled on the latter. And I was not disappointed with my choice. What didn’t agree with my palate was the smoked salmon, especially because I surmise it was raw. I don't do raw, medium, medium rare, etc. I like my food well done. I really don't understand the hype about salmon.

The ambience, a milieu that allows for the free flow of innovative ideas is what the dining experience is all about. Especially when coupled with the fact that the diners are somewhat strangers to each other. It was inspiring, really. I was in conversation with a lady from the Eastern Cape and she intimated to me how she desires to go back to the Eastern Cape and work towards rebuilding and redeveloping it. It’s probably the poorest province in South Africa.

For this event I decided on being formal in dress. Grey trousers, a white shirt, a blue blazer with gold buttons and a red tie. Accessories included a gold collar pin, black mock-croc loafers and a woven black leather belt. The Fork Knife and Glass Dinner Club and the Wodka Restaurant and Bar get a thumbs up from Perfect Gentleman. This experience was well worth it.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

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