On a shopping trip to Atlas Trading in the Bo-Kaap (a historic area of Cape Town) to buy spices, I decided to buy a variety of peppercorns. I normally use black peppercorns and sometimes the mixed peppercorns. The mixed peppercorns look pretty, but one hardly gets an opportunity to taste the individual character of the different peppercorns.
I decided to buy black, white and pink peppercorns separately. They definitely do deserve to be served separately with different dishes. Each kind of peppercorn brings its own unique flavour.
Black peppercorns have a bold and robust flavour that lifts any dish to which it is added. White peppercorns have a more earthy and less pungent flavour and are good for white and cream sauces.
The pink peppercorns are not true peppercorns but are the ripe berries of the Peruvian pepper tree. When I crushed them in the pestle and mortar, I could smell the Karoo. I remembered the huge pepper trees in the Gamkaskloof in the Swartberg Mountains where my Mom grew up. The flavour was exactly the same. I could taste the Karoo. And if I closed my eyes, I was standing in the warm shade of a gnarled pepper tree in the Karoo.
Memories came flooding back of visits to the isolated valley. Of lime washed houses nestling in the shade of pepper trees and of happy reunions.I decided to use the pink peppercorns with a slow roasted pork belly. This I served with a pink peppercorn and pomegranate reduction. The flavours complimented each other. The intense flavour of the roast was balanced by the dessert of fresh peaches in Boplaas Moscato.