In a week-end of international tragedies, culinary travesty hit the Stellenbosch Wine Region when the Simonsberg ward lost its annual Potjiekos Competition against the Paardeberg. Simonsberg, an established community inhabited by award-winning winemakers and a number of foodie personalities, were well and truly beaten by a Paardeberg team who were better in all aspects of Potjiekos making.
“We are not going to use Paardeberg’s home-ground advantaged as an excuse,” said a perplexed Rijk Melck from Muratie in the Simonsberg. “Perhaps we were resting on our laurels after last year’s emphatic victory. But Paardeberg were just better on the day. Their fire-making was consistent, ingredients were aggressively natural and superior and their cooking technique well-rehearsed and cohesive. They were the best team on the day, and we are going to have to do a lot of soul-searching to find out where things went wrong and what it is going to take for us to get back on top.”
An elated Julian Johnson from Vondeling in the Paardeberg, where the Competition was held, said that teamwork and hard training in the off-season paid off.
“We had a plan, and we stuck to it,” said Johnson. “Great fresh produce, the right equipment, a diversity of traditional and off-edge recipes to woe the judges and a never-say-die attitude. The harder we practised the luckier we got. And when the big day rolled around we had ironed-out all the problems and knew that we only had one point ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ a strong one.”
Paardeberg produced a riveting display of Potjikos cooking. Venison was soft and moist, organic lamb well-flavoured, unctuous sauces and perfect vegetables.
“Both Paardeberg and Simonsberg produced pots of a very high standard,” said judge Neil Pendock. “There were no faulty pots with rancid sauces resulting from old oil and not one pot was undercooked or burnt. Yet, at the end of the day, all three judges agreed that the Paardeberg display was captivating, showed tremendous commitment under trying conditions and breath-taking skill in the presentation department.”
According to another judge, Fiona McDonald, the result was,a unanimous decision.,”Linearity and a specific style – this is not something you find in the highly competitive field of Potjiekos,” she said. “Paardeberg had done their homework ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ they knew what the judges wanted and didn’t want and showed tremendous teamwork and dexterity in making a success of a tough day on the park.”