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Watch our video of Urs concocting his homemade herb vinaigrette
Story By Ron Swilling
With the understanding of exquisite food combinations accumuldate from years of experience, a heightened awareness of the senses and creative decorative skill, a meal prepared by Urs Gamma at Gathemann Restaurant can turn a food heathen into a believer and a meal into a religious experience.
Named after the original owner of the house, Heinrich Gathemann, who ran a transport business running ox wagons from coast to capital in the late nineteenth century, the restaurant was opened on the premises in 1986 and was operational for a year before Urs Gamma took it over. He found the correct balance of tastes enjoyed by his many and various diners, transforming cuisine into an art.
The menu he created keeps the character of European dishes but uses quality Namibian products – meat, game, fish and oysters – as the base for the meals. The Namibian game and beef he buys from surrounding farms. Namibian cheeses from Otjiwarongo, oysters from Walvis Bay and fresh fish from the Atlantic coast.
Over time, Urs, both owner and chef, has built up a Namibian network, buying products from small farms and suppliers spread across the country, many seasonal, their availability dependent on rainfall and weather. He uses unusual ingredients such as rosella from Tsumeb, related to the hibiscus flower and with a similar taste to cranberries, for a local rosella ice cream.
Organically grown citrus fruit, wild honey – its colour and taste varying with flowering trees – and passion fruit from Owambo are enjoyed at different times of the year.
When in season fresh Swakopmund asparagus are added to dishes, their unique taste absorbed from a ground rich in minerals. The fixed menu is complemented by daily and weekly specials, using seasonal items when they become available creating an authentic Namibian flavour.
Recipe text compiled by Marita van Rooyen
Amarula crème brûlée
- 4 egg yolks
- 200 ml cream
- 60 g white sugar
- 40 g milk
- 40 g Amarula Cream liqueur
- Preheat your oven to 100 degrees Celsius.
- Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together.
- Boil the milk and cream.
- Slowly add the boiled milk mixture to the egg and sugar mix until all the sugar has all dissolved.
- Add the Amarula Cream.
- Pour the mixture into four ramekins.
- Place the ramekins in an ovenproof dish/ large roasting tray and add hot water to submerge them about three quarters.
- Place on the centre rack of the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- Take the ramekins out of the water and set them aside to cool at room temperature for about two hours, or put in the fridge to speed up the process.
- Sprinkle with brown sugar and caramelise with a chef’s blowtorch.
- Urs likes to substitute the Amarula Cream with maguni pulp when in season. Feel free to experiment on your own.
Salad Platter Gathemann (also known as Salad Platter Hubertus, named after the saint of the hunters)
A colourful salad variation with a small game steak, mushrooms, and fruit.
- A variety of different lettuce leaves (Urs uses lollo rosso, lolo bianco, and whatever else is in season)
- Fresh fruits of the season, including mango, passion fruit, papaya and apple
- Whole game steak – gemsbok or kudu
- Mushrooms of any kind
- A good salad dressing (Urs swears by his own home-made herb vinaigrette. See how he makes it here
- Cut the mushrooms and fry in butter or oil.
- Grill the steak and slice.
- Toss all the ingredients together and drizzle with herb vinaigrette.
- Serve with fresh herbs.