28 October 2010 by Robyn Campbell

Ravishing raw food

In carnivorous South Africa, where popular belief says that chicken is a vegetable, and salad is rabbit food, a restaurant willing to give raw food equal status with cooked food on its menu is either visionary or intent on bankruptcy.

I’m exaggerating, but it’s to make the point that finding raw food on a fine dining menu is rare (pun intended).

For starters (last bad food pun, I promise) the raw food options at Karkloof Spa, aren’t a token offering.

Raw food choices are available on Karkloof’s lodge restaurant menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; as room service; and the Greens and Teas Café spa menu is entirely composed of raw food options.

Offered as a health option to spa clients and hotel guests, the philosophy behind chef Ciaran McCarthy’s raw food creations is to use the freshest local, organic produce available to produce dishes guests couldn’t typically make at home, but aren’t so complicated that they mask the natural flavours and health benefits of the raw ingredients.

Carefully balanced in terms of flavour, texture, and combination of ingredients as the rest of Ciaran’s (cooked) locally flavoured international menu, the raw food options are beautifully presented and absolutely delectable.

What’s commendable is there’s no ‘last one’s a vegetarian’ mindset here. A raw food dish is just another menu option, and the dishes integrate so seamlessly, that diners can mix and match raw and cooked dishes should they choose.

Menus change daily, and are determined by what’s seasonally and locally available.  Ciaran sources much of his produce within, or just beyond, the borders of the Karkloof reserve.

Carefully balanced in terms of flavour, texture, and combination of ingredients as the rest of Ciaran’s (cooked) locally flavoured international menu, the raw food options are beautifully presented and absolutely delectable.

Think sweet bell pepper Gazpacho, a ragôut of pickled mushrooms and vegetables,  with fresh corn and coriander polenta, followed by date and nut cookies, coconut sorbet,  and a bitter chocolate sauce. And the chefs recommendation: a vegetable and pine nut tartar, served with organic sprouts, grapes, and salsa verde.

Who knew greens could be to die for?

Category: Food & Wine

comments powered by Disqus