Talking SCHOP! South African holiday libations

Kysha Harris, FOOD EDITOR | @SCHOPgirl | 12/17/2015, 3:57 p.m.
What’s better this holiday season than gathering with friends and family over good food, laughter and libation? Nothing!
Bo's Restaurant Kysha Harris photos

What’s better this holiday season than gathering with friends and family over good food, laughter and libation? Nothing! Now replace friends and family with strangers, the laughter with useful information and the libation with libations from South Africa and you have a memorable experience for the ages.

I recently attended two tastings featuring the wines and spirits of South Africa. The first was for Bain’s (@BainsWhisky) single-grain whiskey held at Bo’s Restaurant (@Bos_NYC) in the Flatiron area.

Bo’s intimate sublevel space was buzzing with conversation about Bain’s over the multi-course meal. I am not typically a whiskey drinker, but this golden amber-colored spirit gave me that warm holiday feeling with notes of caramel and vanilla, flavors matured in bourbon casks for up to five years. Served neat with a splash of water, it was my favorite of the evening. A great price point too!

Then an invitation to taste 10 wines from South Africa (@WOSA_USA) at a local South African wine bar, Kaia (@KaiaWinebar, 1614 Third Ave., 212-722-0490, www.kaiawinebar.com) could not be missed. There are many that I have been familiar with for some time, but to have each paired with a dish, too? Crazy good!

The group of us was led by sommelier, beverage director and wine writer Jim Clarke. He took us from the sparkling white all the way through to Place in the Sun shiraz and everywhere in between. It was a long evening with many glasses.

The first plate at Kaia included homemade veggie puff samosa, baked chutney chicken and, my favorite, pan-seared scallop with carrot puree, candied garlic and chenin blanc reduction. My favorite wine of this course was Douglas Green Sauvignon Blanc for it’s tangy tropical notes with great acidity.

Next plate brought lamb sosatie, my favorite light seafood coconut curry stew (You must go to Kaia for this!) and elk tartare with caper berries and quail egg over homemade roti. The group and I could not get enough of the tartare’s pairing, Seven Sisters Rosé. Twena, named after the fifth sister, Lutwena, is just perfect with notes of fresh berry. Not too dry, not too fruity, this wine pairs perfectly with fruit or a light meal.

The last plate filled us with chicken liver mousse, smoked beef tongue with pepper jam and, my favorite, pork belly with sweet potato puree and gooseberry sauce. I never can resist a bold red wine, and Stellar’s organic cabernet sauvignon, paired with the mousse, must be added to the cellar. Cherry, tobacco and dark berry are just a few of the captivating notes.

So should you be attending a gathering this holiday season, bring one or all of these wines and spirits as a gift. Your host will invite you again and again.

Happy holidays!

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.