|The tasting room courtesy of Marlene vd Westhuizen|
For the last 5 years, if I remember correctly, the Eat In judging panel, usually consisting of Justine Drake, Peter Goffe-Wood, Anelde Greef and a few others that change from year-to-year, taste their way across the country. Small producers wanting to show off their best in artisan cheese, bread, meat, relish, fish and a host of other categories, send their goods out to Cape Town where they are tasted, debated and then giving a rating. It is these producers that get their contact details published in the Bible that is the Eat In guide.
I was one of the two bloggers whose name got chosen out of Anelde’s ‘handbag of destiny’ to join the team at their Eat In Produce Awards lunch. Set in Green Point at the fabulous Marlene van de Westhuizen’s utopic office space, these well-versed foodies collaborated, nit-picked and praised the choices that will form the Eat In guide for 2011.
Upon entry, I really was convinced that this would be the dream job – tasting one’s way across the nation – I felt as though I’d missed my calling! What I wasn’t aware of were the creative concoctions that some people dream up in the test kitchens and garages around the country. One such creation were these biscuits made mainly out of nori and sprouts that were dehydrated and then given a Chilli Con Carne flavour. These biscuits were the colour you’d get if you mixed all your Plastercine together and added a splash of green food colouring. Charming indeed.
Only second to the seaweed biscuits was the goats milk cheese coated in wasabi. The slimy green tinge reminded me of a blonde friend who swam in a dirty pool. Her once golden locks turned a rather murky hue and I think we were all in agreement of the fate of the wasabi cheese that tasted more like feet than fromage.
The third taster for the luncheon were cuts of free range meat. It has got to the point that Justine’s sense of taste is so hieghtened after the years of eating across South Africa, that she can pick out which animals were grass fed and which were grain. It’s truly amazing to watch people who have such keen senses and knowledge about South African produce.
It seems that the year-on-year change between 2009 & 2010 is that there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of produce entries. And while the team is thrilled that people have stopped toying with the Shitake and adding it into every sauce, juice and paté they would still enjoy a larger variety to taste next year.