Zest for life
The Lowveld is renowned for its hidden gems, but it’s easy to locate GT Lundie’s Zest Restaurant, standing proud on the N4 as part of the newly developed I’langa Mall. GT’s modern, double-storey establishment is a chic oasis for weary travellers en route to Sabi Sands or the Kruger National Park.
Today, Zest seems to have the same buzz as the place where GT cut his teeth – the iconic Brown’s Restaurant in Rivonia. He then moved on to the ‘Slowveld’ and the world-renowned Singita Private Game.Reserve, where the quality of food is uncompromising, but it wasn’t only his culinary skills that were receiving attention – he also met his wife, Lizelle, who is.now his right hand in the business.
The couple went on to explore the culina ry routes of England, where GT enjoyed stints under Michelin-star chefs at Glenapp Castle and Relais & Châteaux Amberley Castle, before returning to SA. He then landed the plum position of head.chef at the acclaimed Roots at. Forum Homini, and his next move was.to.open his own place. He later moved back to his much-loved Lowveld, where he.opened the innovative Orange Restaurant.
GT quickly racked up an impressive list.of awards, including his first Diners Club Diamond Award for his solid wine list. The trend continued when he decided to relocate his concept to the new mall, where he opened Zest.
It was a brave move, but the restaurant is beautifully positioned and elegantly decked out, with not a trolley or bargain hunter in sight. His regular six-course wine pairings are a breath of fresh air for Nelspruit, where GT relishes in revisiting his traditional French training.
GT’s impressions of the Raka Biography Shiraz 2008 were enthusiastic, dubbing it “everything a good Shiraz should be”. He picked up on a smoky nose with dark chocolate, berries and plums on the palate. “My first thoughts were of a young, mild Cheddar as an accompaniment, but almost immediately I turned to.heavy, hearty red meat. Meat would work well with such a bold wine, which is what made me think oxtail.
“I wanted to break it down with citrus zest, but to add the earthy wild mushrooms, a sprinkling of thyme, and a touch of garlic to complement the robust wine.”
GT used traditional English mash as the.starch, but suggested samp as a South African alternative.
3 oxtails cut into joints
30ml cooking oil
2 onions, sliced
2½ml freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 litre hot beef stock
250ml dry white wine
410g tin whole peeled tomatoes,
150ml orange juice
2 celery sticks, sliced
400g carrots, chopped
200g butter beans
200g borlotti beans
200g red kidney beans
zest of 2 oranges
200g puff pastry
thyme for garnish
Preheat oven to 180.
Brown the oxtail in the heated oil in a large heavy-based casserole dish with a lid.
Add the onion and saute. Add the salt, pepper, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, garlic, stock, wine, tomatoes and orange juice and cover with the lid.
Place in the oven for three hours or until the meat is tender.
Add the celery and carrots and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
Leave to cool and then debone the meat, ensuring you do not leave any bones behind.
Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Fold in the beans and orange zest.
Divide between six ovenproof ramekins. Close with pastry lids cut from the puff pastry, and brush with egg yolk.
Bake at 180°C for 20 to 25 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
Serve garnished with thyme.
To serve: Be traditional and pair with mash or samp, and sautéed vegetables such as wild mushrooms, yellow patty pans and long-stemmed broccoli.