Some of the Cape’s leading food, drinks and lifestyle writers met on a beautiful spring day in October to take up the Cooking and Caring challenge issued by the Two Oceans wine brand. This involved making a dish with fish given the green light by the WWF SASSI, (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative), paired with a Two Oceans wine.
The journalists and bloggers met at a cookery school in the city, mingled, nibbled, noshed and tasted the wines: a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Grigio, a Pinot Noir, a Shiraz Rosé and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot. They were then randomly assigned to groups, with each given one of the five wines in the line-up. Selecting from slabs of glistening fish and a bounty of fresh produce, herbs, spices and rubs provided by the organisers, each team had to compose a dish to match their wine and within less than an hour have it ready for judging by Andrea Foulkes and Sarah Proudfoot of Dish Food & Social, as well as several representatives from Two Oceans, including winemaker Justin Corrans.
To watch the teams in action at the challenge, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCeTehjWBwk
The intention of the Cooking and Caring event was to lend Two Oceans support to WWF SASSI as it seeks to improve the conservation status of overexploited seafood in local oceans by identifying sustainable seafood choices for consumers and encouraging them to think twice before choosing some species and avoiding others altogether.
Says Jackie Olivier, global marketing spokesperson for the brand: “The Atlantic and Indian oceans after which the brand is named, aren’t just an important influence on the wines we produce. They also sustain a rich variety of life. That’s why we support SASSI and its campaign to show how simple it is to make a difference. SASSI explains why not all seafood is equal and encourages us to ask what fish we are being offered, to find out where it comes from and how it was fished or farmed.”
Once the challenge was issued, the social chit chat and casual banter that marked the start of the Cooking and Caring event was immediately replaced by the sounds of murmured conferring, slicing, dicing, simmering and frying, as the participants switched into competitive gear.
The judges were astounded by the resourcefulness, dexterity and creativity of the writers and battled to choose an overall winner. “We were enchanted by the names of the dishes, their spectacular presentation, their flavour combinations and intelligent pairing with the wines,” said Andrea. “They really took the challenge seriously, making their own stocks, mayonnaise and wontons.”
The winning dish, Wonton Seduction, was a masterful combination of fish cakes in a lightly spiced broth, served with fried wontons, plus a side dipping sauce. The piece de resistance was an artfully twisted fried fish skin placed vertically in the centre of the dish. “We loved the pun of the name, the extraordinary technique and flavours and the successful pairing with the fragrant Pinot Grigio.”
The members of the Pinot Grigio team were Kristy Snell of Food-monger.com, Nina Timm of My-easy-cooking.com; well-known wine judge and writer Fiona McDonald; and Anthony Sharpe of Juice.
The other fish dishes were Libyan Uprising, featuring North African spices and couscous and served with the Shiraz Rosé; Dorado Da Gama made with wine-infused risotto and paired with the Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot; Exotic Asian Persuasion, made with noodles, exotic mushrooms and sweet-roasted baby tomatoes to match the Sauvignon Blanc; and Two Sides of the Ocean, made with dorado and angel fish, paired with the Pinot Noir.
Two Oceans has also funded the printing of wallet-sized information cards that tell you how to make sustainable seafood choices in restaurants or when shopping for fish. The cards are being distributed nationwide in restaurants and retail outlets. The brand has also produced recipe cards and is involved in a range of projects to raise awareness of WWF SASSI. For more information on WWF SASSI go to the website (www.wwf.org.za/sassi) or mobi site (wwfsassi.mobi).