THE Global Table is breaking with tradition this week in that we are not focussing on an upcoming or established Eastern Cape chef, but rather on a well-known Bay couple whose passion for wining and dining has spanned many decades.
This week’s blog is a tribute to John and Evelyn Grieve, who have each left an indelible mark across several spheres of Bay life.
John headed the PE Museum Board for many years, while his love of nature and history meant he was also an active member of various local societies. Evelyn, on the other hand, is best known for her astounding knowledge of wine, a skill she picked up relatively late in life but which nevertheless culminated in a very successful career in the local wine industry.
Many readers will no doubt remember Evelyn for her popular wine column Via the Grapevine, and for organising countless tastings, competitions and other food and wine related events under the banner of the Algoa Sun and Western Province Cellars Wine Club.
Now in their 80s, the Grieves left Port Elizabeth for Durban last month to be closer to their only child, Julia Schouw. Leaving the Bay meant giving up their beloved and iconic home, Blue Button, in Chelmsford Avenue, Essexvale. The couple had lived there, next to the Baakens River and scenic Settlers Park, for 60 years, and their beautiful home was the scene of innumerable elegant dinners and exuberant garden parties. They were members of a gourmet dinner club for some years and it is also for this reason that The Global Table will featuring the Grieves this week.
Scroll down below for three recipes in honour of John and Evelyn. The first is for an old-fashioned and nowadays almost forgotten cocktail, the ginger square, which John had ordered when he first met Evelyn as an eligible young debutante while doing training in PE for the Royal Air Force towards the end of World War II.
The second is for snails in garlic butter, a great favourite of Evelyn’s which is now making a culinary comeback in many restaurants (Evelyn serves hers in tiny individual terracotta dishes). However, The Global Table will be adding a bit of blue cheese for a slightly different twist on this classic. Last up is sushi, not necessarily first on the Grieves’ list, but no doubt the kind of dish they would not have hesitated to try at the height of their foodie years. Louise will explain how to make sushi rolls – the type of sushi even those who don’t “like” sushi can cope with! Louise especially likes to serve it on a magnificent green ceramic platter she got from Evelyn – and which in fact inspired the inclusion of this dish.
Do enjoy the three recipes below in honour of Evelyn and John. Also don’t miss the blog a little later this week to learn more about this fascinating foodie couple and the legacy they have left in the Bay!
Ginger Square Cocktail: The Recipe
It was quite a battle to find this recipe as many new-generation barmen seem to have no clue how to make it. That in itself is surprising as it is a most delicious cocktail which is definitely worth resurrecting! Don’t be stumped by the ginger liqueur: Oudemeester makes a local (SA) version and you can find it at most liquor stores – Louise bought hers at Preston’s in Ninth Avenue, Walmer, Port Elizabeth.
1 tot of brandy per person; 1 tot of ginger liqueur per person; four ice cubes per person; ginger ale for topping up; fresh sprig of mint and a maraschino cherry for garnishing.
Into each highball glass, pour the brandy and ginger liqueur, then add ice and fill up with ginger ale. Garnish with mint and a maraschino cherry.
Snails with blue cheese and garlic
Fresh snails properly prepared for the pot are a rare treat but in South Africa, somewhat of a tall order. But never you mind, tinned snails are easily obtainable – the Goldcrest brand is a good one. A standard tin should yield at least 24 snails, ie enough for four people if you allow six snails each. Unsalted butter is best as the blue cheese can be quite salty; do not add salt to this dish as it really won’t be necessary. Any blue cheese can be used but Louise favours Fairview’s White Rock as regular blue cheese can give the sauce a bit of a grey tinge.
1 x 200g tin of snails (drained mass is 115g but do reserve a few tbsp of the liquid); 80g of unsalted butter; 40 to 50g of blue cheese; 3 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped; 1 tsp of cake (all-purpose) flour; drop of milk; crusty bread for serving (brown is always good). Optional: flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped, for garnishing.
Gently fry the garlic in the butter in a saucepan until softened; add the snails and continue to cook for about five minutes, at least until the garlic is cooked. Now turn the heat right down and add the crumbled cheese and one to two tbsp of the reserved liquid. Add a drop of milk to the flour, mix through thoroughly and add to the snail mixture, again mixing through thoroughly. Cook for a few more minutes, just until there is no flour taste, then serve in snail dishes with bread on the side, garnishing with parsley if desired.
Sushi rolls with salmon, cucumber, carrot and avocado – The Recipe
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter.
Sushi rolls are easy to make once you know the technique; granted it is going to be a bit tricky to explain here, but hopefully you’ll soon get the gist of it! Louise’s advice is just to persevere and, if in doubt, to follow the instructions on the packets as most of the products do tell you how to proceed! Louise always uses Tastic’s sushi rice in the red packet because if you follow the instructions to a T, the rice does come out perfectly. Sushi rice is a short-grained Japanese rice that develops a sweet flavour that’s different from regular rice. The cooked grains stick together well so that you can easily shape the roll or any other type of sushi or sashimi. Nori are the dried seaweed sheets that form the outer layer of the sushi roll – you buy them in packets of 10 and they are usually a standard size; each roll uses one sheet of nori and each roll will give you eight slices of sushi, which in Lou’s view is enough for one person as with sushi it’s not a good idea to overindulge! You will also need a few other “exotic” ingredients like rice vinegar, wasabi (potent Japanese green horseradish paste) and pickled ginger; however all of these and the nori and sushi rice are easily available either at Woolworths, Asian shops, Ninth Avenue Spar or speciality food stores. If you still can’t get your head around raw fish, use smoked salmon as with the recipe below. Soya sauce can be purchased anywhere but Louise suggests you use an authentic one like Kikkoman, which is naturally brewed – their low-salt version with the green label is best. Pickled ginger is traditionally served as a palate cleanser between sushi courses as well as an accompaniment to sushi. Finally, you will need a bamboo sushi mat to roll your sushi – this too is available at Woolworths or Ninth Avenue Spar, while a spatula will help you cool down the rice faster.
1 cup of sushi rice; 375ml or 1 1/2 cups of water for boiling; 1/2 tsp salt; 2 tbsp rice vinegar; 1 to 2 tbsp white sugar; 2 nori sheets; finely julienned cucumber (about 1/3 of a cucumber or less); 1 x 100g pack (or less) of smoked salmon, cut into thinnish strips; 1 carrot, finely julienned; 1/2 ripe but still firm avocado, cut into thin strips; soya sauce and wasabi to taste, pickled ginger to taste.
First the rice: Soak it in cold water for 15 minutes; drain andlet it stand for 20 minutes. Place the rice, 375ml of water and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Once boiling, cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and remove lid; cover saucepan with a clean kitchen towel, replace lid and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
While the rice is doing its thing, dissolve the sugar and rice vinegar over gentle heat, stirring regularly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Place the rice in a shallow bowl and slowly add the vinegar mixture. Run a spatula through the rice, in a slicing motion, to separate the grains, fanning at the same time to cool it down.
Once rice is cool, use it straight away as refrigerating the rice will make it difficult to handle.
Place your bamboo mat on a flat surface and place a sheet of nori on top (shiny side down). Spoon half the rice (or even a bit less) onto the nori and, using wet fingers, spread it evenly over the nori; however you must leave a 1.5cm gap uncovered on the far side of the sheet.
Now, about a third of the way into the sheet, make a slight groove in the rice (but not all the way down to the base of the sheet) going all the way across from left to right. In the groove from left to right, layer your salmon, cucumber, carrot and avo in a line stretching right across the square. You can also spread a small amount of wasabi across.
Pick up the mat on the side closest to you and fold it over, away from you, so that the rice is enclosed in the nori and the filling neatly in the middle. Try to keep it contained so it stays in the middle; however, don’t stress if some filling pops out the sides. Keep rolling with assistance from the mat (or not – you can also just use your fingers once you’ve done the initial ‘roll over’ to cover the centre ingredients!). Then when you get to the end, where the exposed strip of nori is, moisten this uncovered edge with water and seal. You should now have a completed roll and using the mat, can shape and compact it a little better.
Take the completed sushi roll off the bamboo mat and onto a dry wooden board; using a very sharp knife which you will wet between each slicing, slice the roll into eight evenly sized discs.
Repeat the entire process to make your second roll of eight pieces.
Serve immediately on a platter with soya sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger on the side. If you’re having a party and finger food is the order of the day, you can even mix some of the wasabi directly into the soya sauce according to taste.