Celebrating waterblommetjies in the Breede River valley

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In Australia it is treated as a weed, but in South-Africa waterblommetjies is a favourite traditional dish during the cold winter months. It was served as a source of food long before the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck at the Cape in 1652. Since then this food of the indigenous people of the Cape has secured a firm place for itself at our dinner tables.

Two wineries from opposite sides of the Boland mountains - Du Toitskloof Wines and Muratie Wine Estate - have decided this humble indigenous plant should receive our renewed attention as a culinary delight. This resulted in a “cook-off” between them on 17 August at the Du Toitskloof cellar to see who makes the best waterblommetjie bredie in the Winelands. And Du Toitskloof was named the winner by the judging panel, with difference of only one vote!

At the event Martelize Brink, RSG presenter and daughter of Matie Brink who was known for his culinary skills, talked about her love for waterblommetjies and the fact that the early settlers and their slaves probably learnt from the indigenous Khoikhoi that these aquatic plants were edible.

“Over the years this led to a fusion of three cultures and the creation of what we know today as waterblommetjie bredie. And the secret ingredient in making this dish? Everyone’s interpretation will be different but consensus calls for a fatty meat to partner with the flowers, salt and pepper and a handful of wild sorrel to balance the fattiness with a hint of acidity. However, it is in essence a simple dish that needs little fuss. The simpler the ingredients and cooking method the better.”

Brink added that waterblommetjies, also known as Cape pondweed, grows wild in swamps and marshes which dry up in summer. During autumn and winter when the ponds fill again with water, the plants sprout producing a narrow, oval leave that floats on the surface. A white sweetly scented flower stands clear from the water but for cooking purposes the flowers must be harvested while still in the bud, typically between June and September.

Once picked, the flowers and stems must be soaked several times in salt water before cooking. The wine best served with waterblommetjies is a creamy, fruity wine that will complement the subtle flavours of the bredie without overpowering its gentle taste. Du Toitskloof Wines suggest its limited edition 2011 Chardonnay Viognier blend. The wine was made with food in mind and its delicate, smoky flavours coupled with the apricot and peach characters will pair exceptionally well with waterblommetjies.

Similarly Muratie Wine Estate suggests its 2011 Isabella Chardonnay, an elegant Burgundian-style Chardonnay with notes of citrus and a lingering mineral finish. Wood is well integrated around a juicy fruit centre with a long lingering aftertaste which would appeal to both wooded and un-wooded Chardonnay drinkers.

The 2011 Du Toitskloof Chardonnay Viognier is available from the cellar and retails for about R65 per bottle whilst the 2011 Muratie Isabelle Chardonnay is available nationally from supermarkets and fine wine stores at around R95 per bottle.

Download Du Toitskloof's Waterblommetjie Recipe (pdf format) | Download Muratie's Waterblommetjie Recipe (pdf format).


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