The spate of Cold Fronts lashing the Western Cape over the past few weeks were only the precursor to the real storm set to take place this Friday when wineries Muratie Estate and DuToitskloof Winery square off in the first Boland Waterblommetjie Championship Cook-off. The ubiquitous waterblommetjie, a classic local ingredient used in preparing a traditional hearty stew, takes centre stage when a panel of esteemed judges line-up to decide who is the Boland’s Waterblommetjie Champion.
Muratie and Du Toitskloof have each been tasked with preparing a waterblommetjie-bredie (stew) showcasing the stew’s reputation as a prized dish with a cult culinary status. Judges can expect an exciting display of uniquely regional cooking depicting the diversity in terroir between the cooking displayed on both sides of the DuToits mountains.
According to Bernard Kotze, manager of the Du Toitskloof Dynamos, the Breedekloof region where DuToitskloof Winery is situated is the traditional heartland of the waterblommetjie.
“Anyone venturing onto our turf is going to have his or her work cut-out,” says Kotze. “Not only do our waterblommetjies display a unique flavour and texture due to our site-specific terroir, but history is on our side. We have been cooking waterblommetjies for longer than any other region. As a result, our cooks know a few secret ingredients and tricks in preparation that, said in all modesty, gives us the inside edge.”
Kotze is not giving anything away, but hints at some spectacular potatoes involved in the Dynamos’ waterblommetjie stew, with the unique dorsland-wine simmering technique also expected to make an appearance.
“We have been training really hard in the off-season, even when waterblommetjies ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ a winter plant ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ were nay impossible to come by,” he says. “Our team is quietly confident, especially seeing as we will have home ground advantage with this competition taking place on our turf, namely DuToitskloof Winery headquarters. The local support always gives the team that extra push and is a real motivator. This really counts during the final exhausting stages just before the white pepper is added.”
Managed by Emile Joubert, the Muratie Mavericks are aware they are the underdogs due to DuToitskloof’s home-ground status. “We are trying our best just to focus on the job at hand and are not allowing any distractions to enter the camp,” says Joubert. “To avoid the effects of the altitude, the team is only travelling to Du Toitskloof on the morning of the competition, so you can see we are not leaving anything to chance.”
Like Kotze, Joubert is pleased with the Mavericks’ preparations. “We had the odd injury to deal with, including a gruesome neck muscle injury when a heavy pot had to be moved to the secondary stove, but we are fit and healthy.”
Joubert would not be drawn into the Mavericks’ potential strong points. “Everyone knows that we have years of experience to count on ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ you don’t become the oldest wine farm in Stellenbosch without cooking a few waterblommetjie stews,” he says. “Muratie’s ability to source premium Karoo lamb from a family farm is expected to give us the edge, or so I hear. However, on the day anything can happen. It all depends on skill at the stove, concentration, seasoning and ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ most of all ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ competitiveness.
“The team that wants to win the most, will.”