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#FESTIVEFEASTING 1: EMBRACE THE SCANDINAVIAN TREND!

#FESTIVEFEASTING 1: EMBRACE THE SCANDINAVIAN TREND!

The Festive season is upon us and while we all know that beyond all the jingles, flashing lights and red cheek Santas this really is a time for family and kindness, it is difficult not to get caught up in the celebratory spirit in one way or another.

So how do we celebrate in a way that keeps the true meaning while staying festive?

A set table is a wonderful way to bring family and friends together. In the coming few weeks leading up to Christmas Day, we will be sharing some ideas for festive tables – decorations, recipes and wine pairings. Look out for our take on a traditional table, a seaside-inspired table, an African-inspired table and then staying with the trend for Scandinavian design, a Scandinavian-inspired festive table! We will guide you towards a beautifully set table ready for a culinary feast and family celebration!

Let’s start with the Scandinavian-inspired Christmas table.

In tune with the Scandinavian decor trend, this table is natural and casual with warm functionality and textures. Use brown paper as a runner on the table and place cut logs as place settings. We used coarse linen serviettes, natural Christmas crackers and candle wreaths to complete the scene. Little plywood reindeer cut-outs by Elsjedesign adds some quirky cheer.

Inspired by the warmth and earthiness of this design, Chef Pieter has prepared a Venison loin with braised fennel and potato fondant to be served with juniper berry jus. Sounds complicated? Not at all! Follow the recipe below for step by step instructions.

Cellarmaster Eugene van Zyl sat down with Chef Pieter to taste the venison dish and recommends the 2012 Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Grand Vin to go with the meal. If you are interested in why this wine works so well with the venison, don’t miss his tasting notes at the end of the blog!

Venison loin, braised fennel and potato fondant served with juniper berry jus

Ingredients 

Potato fondant and braised fennel

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled
  • 4 small heads fennel
  • 20 g butter
  • 1-litre vegetable stock
  • 1-star anise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Venison
  •  Salt and black pepper
  • 200 g venison loin
  • 50 g caul fat
  • Oil and butter for frying

Juniper berry jus

  • 100 ml Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Grand Vin
  • 5 ml juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500 ml veal or chicken stock
  • 15 g butter, cold

Method

Potato fondant and braised fennel

Using a round cutter (4 cm in diameter) cut the potatoes. Heat a wide bottom pan, add the butter, followed by the potatoes, and then brown the potatoes thoroughly on one side. Once browned, flip and slightly cook the other side.

Add the fennel heads and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, star anise and thyme and allow the potatoes and fennel to braise for 15 – 20 minutes. Cover with baking paper or a lid.

Press the point of a small sharp knife into the potatoes. If it enters with ease and returns easily, the potatoes are cooked.

Remove the fennel and potatoes from the stock and keep on reducing the liquid until it thickens. Use as a sauce to coat the vegetables when serving.

Venison

Preheat the oven to 180 ᵒC.

Season the meat and wrap in the caul fat. In a frying pan, heat the oil and butter and sauté until golden brown. Roast in the oven for 4 minutes and allow to rest.

Juniper berry jus

In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the wine, juniper berries and bay leaf. Reduce until a syrup consistency is reached.  Pour the stock into the pan and, over medium heat, allow the stock to reduce and the sauce to thicken. Strain the sauce into a clean pan. Stir in the cold butter and keep warm.

 Why the 2012 Culinaria Grand Vin? Cellarmaster Eugene van Zyl explains:

“Even though venison is lean, this is quite a heavy dish. The weight of a dish is the most important consideration when you have to select a wine to accompany a dish.  What you should be aiming for when pairing food and wine is to balance the weight of the food with that of the wine, so that neither overwhelms the other – rich, robust food with rich, robust wine; medium-weight food with medium-bodied wine; light food with light-weight wine.

This dish contains ample protein and weight and we, therefore, match it with a wine that has ample body.

Being a classic Bordeaux-style blend, the wine has a complex structure that is beautifully met by the fat and protein in the dish.”

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