"This blood is so fresh when it arrived a few hours ago it was still warm." Neil Jewell's opening line at his presentation at The Chef's Warehouse last night. Quite an icebreaker. I was there to do his class, simply titled The Pig, and had been looking forward to it for weeks. As a big fan of Bread & Wine, and as an admirer of Liam Tomlin and his new operation, I had high expectations. The four hours that I spent listening to Neil last night surpassed all of them. It was absolutely awesome.
The thing is, you never really know what to expect at these classes. Some are very technical and you end up not really enjoying yourself. Others are really just an excuse to eat and drink and you leave having not really learnt anything (except maybe how to hide a bottle of wine under your jacket but we don't talk about that anymore...) What I loved about last night was that is was a combination of both.
We watched Neil effortlessly de-joint and butcher a carcass. We watched him make black pudding. We watched him wipe drops of blood from his forehead. We watched him knock up beautiful salami and phenomenal crackling. We learnt how to cure meat and how to make sausages. And we ate. A lot. The quality of food was exceptional and because I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to be sitting at the same table as the boys from Caveau the wine flowed easily. South Hill Sauvignon Blanc 08. Beautiful.
The thing that had the most impact on me was when Neil brought out a gorgeous cured leg of ham for us to taste. He called the pig the meat came had come from "one of his girls." He always referred to "her" and not "it." He obviously loved that animal and that love translated into the taste of the meat. We can all learn from that.
For info on other classes check out www.chefswarehouse.co.za. Neil has set the bar pretty high but with some of the other guests they have lined up you should seriously think about booking.