Brought to you by Parmigiano Reggiano
There’s something utterly comforting and homely about a well-made risotto – even for those of us who don’t hail from the land of pizza and pasta. Its richness can be offset by earthy mushrooms, light herbs or crunchy nuts. It serves as a fantastic base for something meaty or the most humble of vegetables. Here are seven spots in South Africa at which to find extraordinary risottos.
Bistro Sixteen82 (Tokai, Cape Town)
Head to this beautiful spot for the basil-and-sundried-tomato risotto, a new addition to the menu. Have it as a starter (R82) or with pork belly bacon (R95 for the starter and R142 for the main). Staff say the basil cuts through the richness of the risotto, providing an element of freshness to contrast with the acidity of the sundried tomato. The bacon, if you add it on, adds a delectable smokiness.
Café del Sol TRE (Parkhurst, Johannesburg)
Get the cheekily named Girlfriend Risotto, which is slow-cooked with homemade stock, at the Parkhurst outpost of Café del Sol. A generous amount of Parmigiano Reggiano is sprinkled in before the risotto is served with oxtail and root vegetable confetti. A dollop of butter is added and then the risotto is left to sit for two minutes – to allow the flavours to settle – before it’s served. The result is a smooth risotto that complements the oxtail perfectly. Yours for R160.
Delaire Graff (Stellenbosch)
Delaire’s risotto isn’t available right now, but it’s worth waiting until spring for a taste of chef Michael Deg’s pea risotto. Served with smoked fromage blanc, mozzarella fritters, macadamia nuts and garden vegetables like broad beans, fresh peas, asparagus, tenderstem broccoli and globe artichokes, this dish is a sight to behold. Your tastebuds will be ecstatic too, picking up the flavours of the garlic, dry white wine and lightly smoked fromage blanc. Creamy mozzarella fritters and the earthy crunch of macadamia nuts set this dish apart. Edible nasturtiums and pansies make it as pretty as it is delicious (R225).
Kream Resturant (Brooklyn, Pretoria)
Kream Restaurant’s mushroom-and-broccoli risotto (R229) is a must-try. Brown and white shimeji mushrooms are flavoured with onions, thyme and garlic, along with button and shiitake mushrooms. You can have it made with chicken stock or veggie stock. It’s cooked slowly, before Parmigiano Reggiano, mascarpone and chives are stirred in. It’s served with more Parmigiano Reggiano and freshly ground pepper.
Moda’ Ristorante (Craighall, Johannesburg)
The star of this risotto is porcini mushrooms, which the chef lovingly refers to as “the king of mushrooms”. The risotto is made simply, with lashings of vegetable stock and Parmigiano Reggiano. The flavour of the mushrooms is what gives this earthy dish its complex flavour. They’re fried in butter and garlic before joining the risotto for 15 minutes. The final touch of butter is added and it’s left to rest for a few moments before being ladled into bowls and served to eager guests for R95 per portion.
Ray’s Kitchen (Salt Rock, Durban)
At Ray’s Kitchen, the risotto isn’t made with Arborio rice, but rather with carnaroli rice – a slightly longer grain with a firmer texture. It’s cooked in a base of onions, white wine and garlic before wild mushrooms are added, along with ladles of homemade mushroom stock. The already-deep flavours are then finished off with butter and a drizzle of white truffle oil. It’s served with chargrilled tenderstem broccoli for crunch. Try a steaming bowl for R135.
Societi Bistro (Gardens, Cape Town)
Societi Bistro’s winter risotto, named The Willem Jacques, is rich and comforting. It’s slowly cooked with white wine and a rich pumpkin stock, then finished with cubes of roasted pumpkin, toasted pumpkin seeds, brown butter and sage. It will set you back R61.
Brought to you by Parmigiano Reggiano
The perfect partner to any pasta dish, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, the only Parmesan, is a firm, nutty cheese with a flaky, slightly granular texture. It is still hand-made today by artisans just as it was nine centuries ago. It also undergoes a natural ageing process that lasts a minimum of 12 months. Produced primarily in the Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena regions of Italy, as well as the Mantua on the right bank of the river Po and Bologna on the left side of the river Reno, its name is protected with a Protected Designation of Origin. Look out for the Parmigiano Reggiano insignia to confirm its authenticity. Parmigiano Reggiano is sold at Woolworths stores nationwide.