Tokara winter menu 2012

Richard Carstens

A rather last-minute change of events saw me sitting on the deck of Tokara restaurant yesterday sampling Richard Carstens’ new winter menu. It couldn’t have been a more perfect autumn day out in Stellenbosch. I love escaping town every once in a while and when I have cuisine like Richard’s to look forward to, well… you can imagine my excitement. I also love Tokara’s wine (I don’t know if that has anything to do with the fact that I won a bottle of Tokara Red 2003 in the most random lucky draw at WineEx one year?)

Anyway, onto the food!

We started off lunch with some bread (whoever baked it unfortunately forgot to add the salt. Eeep!) and garlicky herbed butter. The first starter came, brandished by the very slick and well-trained waiters. A duck liver parfait surrounded by a beetroot streusel, hibiscus and a pistachio sponge. Beautiful to look at and just as good on the palate! To accompany the parfait, we were served perfectly toasted squares of brioche which provided the ideal crispy, crunchy contrast to the creamy and smooth parfait.
The dish is paired with the Miles Mossop Saskia 2009.

Duck liver parfait, hibiscus, beetroot streusel, pistachio & rocket (R80)

The second starter was much lighter- turnip with pickled pear, celery, spinach, mozzarella, pumpkin seeds, parsley financier, dashi & bonito. This is paired with Raats Original Chenin blanc 2011. A fresher, brighter wine with lots of zesty acidity.

Turnip, pear, ponzu, celery, spinach, mozzarella cream, pumpkin seeds, garlic & bonito (R70)

The third starter (and conclusively my favourite), was the Togarashi beef “sashimi” with tartar, sushi rice, wasabi mayo, cashews, pancetta and spiced lemon emulsion. It definitely had a more savoury element to it than the first two but I think my taste buds were actually craving savoury yesterday.
This is served with the Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2010 (a Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend). I was eager to compare it to the Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc which I sell and which also happens to be a blend of the two grapes. I don’t know which is better. They were both well-balanced in their own delicious way!

Togarashi spiced beef sashimi, tartar, sushi rice, wasabi mayo, cashews, sesame seeds, pancetta & spiced lemon emulsion (R80)

We sampled two main courses- half of the table tried beef while the rest had chicken. I had the beef which came with the cutest shimeji mushrooms, ginger carrot puree, a little potato fondant and the most lip-licking coffee miso sauce (made with Deluxe coffee). The pairing is the Tokara Director’s Reserve Red 2007.

Teriyake beef fillet, lemon glazed shimeji, carrot ginger purée,
confit potato & Deluxe miso sauce (R140)

The chicken (which unfortunately I didn’t get to taste- my own fault… tssssk, as I was too busy tweeting and listening to Sam talking about the allergic reactions to frozen, thawed and re-frozen yellowtail).

Chicken, tomato, garlic, parmesan velouté, gnocchi, capers & olives (R125)


I must just say that Richard is a wizard with desserts. We started with the “fallen apple” which is a whole baby apple, cooked for such a long time that it actually falls in on itself! The skin appeared to look like batter- as it was light and sort of “fluffy”-looking. Very clever. The apple was plated with a sprinkling of cinnamon streusel which gave it a play on traditional apple pie.

“Fallen Apple” with vanilla ice cream, mousse, pecan nuts & mint (R50)

The last dessert was SO may game! A chocolate chiboust. I just love that name, Chiboust. I feel so French saying it. “chiboust. chiboust. chiboust.”

The chiboust came with ice cream and a hazelnut darquise. (Side note: Chiboust was actually the name of a 19th Century pastry chef and that’s where the pastry cream gets its name. )

Chocolate chiboust, ice cream, cremeaux, hazelnut daquise,
orange & coffee sabayon (R55)

Both desserts are paired with the Tokara Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2010 which had amazing burnt orange and toasted almond flavours.


Find a time. Pick a person. Set a date. Go!

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