Herb Garden & Geridon Service – An experience for all your senseson November 29, 2010
A growing number of South African chefs are taking eco-consciousness one step further by growing ingredients in their very own on-site gardens. It’s now happening more and more in some unexpected, citified places….
Besides creating delicious food, Dallas Orr, Executive Chef at the Table Bay Hotel has been tending a bountiful herb garden which nestles at the antique breakwater wall next to the entrance to the hotel. Thyme, sage, basil, cilantro, arugula, dill and chives are a few of his preferred herbs; although, he especially loves tarragon and lovage.
This beautifully tended herb garden has a therapeutic allure – the fresh scent of mint, the heady fragrance of rosemary and the wild bouquet of coriander provides the perfect setting for a lazy afternoon rendezvous.
Chef Orr has created a fusion-flavoured natural menu for diners in the Atlantic Grill. The menu reflects the restaurant’s epicurean purity serving freshly sourced local products as well as naturally raised poultry and sustainably caught seafood.
Menu favorites at the Atlantic Grill often feature home-grown produce: from a unique vinaigrette dressing made with tarragon, to seared peppered yellow fin tuna served with a warm salad of new potatoes, fine beans, olives and sweet tomatoes. Orr has a passion for soup making, and the roasted red bell pepper and roma tomato soup lavishly accented with lovage is a healthy, hearty and satisfying starter. Continue the experience with delicious citrus grilled chicken, sautéed simiji and enoki mushrooms with broccoli florets.
Orr is raising the bar for the locavore movement and sustainability. While the garden at the Table Bay Hotel has dozens of varieties of herbs and edible flowers, he supplements the menu with organic and natural foods grown by some of Cape Town’s most renowned naturalists.
The new Geridon service features; home baked breads, different flavoured herbal butters, organic olive oils, balsamic vinegars, homemade olive pesto’s, tomato pesto’s and roasted garlic spread.
“This enhances the experience and adds another dimension to our theatre of food,” states Orr. “We obtain our olive oils from Willow Creek, Morgenhof, Tokara and Rio Largo which recently achieved double gold status at the SA Olive Awards.”
Orr shares his passion and knowledge of fresh local ingredients as well as products from around the world with his trainee chefs. His focus is on demystifying the use of spices and herbs.
“There is a difference between cooking with herbs like; parsley, sage rosemary and thyme which add subtle flavour and cooking with spices which add zest and robust flavour.”
“I want my chefs to realise and acknowledge that everything doesn’t come out of a packet. They learn how to cultivate and care for the herbs, when to harvest and how to use them in dishes to create flavoursome cuisine. There’s something magical about crushing a handful of basil and releasing the earthy mint, grass and licorice aromas and when those same scents waft over the kitchen it’s almost as if you’re in herb heaven,” Orr enthuses.
Orr also takes his chefs on field trips; to organic farmers, sustainable fish markets and slaughter houses.
“By being in touch with what we cook, we return to our roots. By going the environmental root we are going the route of nature,” says Orr.