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Sunday, April 08, 2012

120322 Main Ingredient’s MENU - Babel, St Patrick’s Day at the Twankey, Wellington & Durbanville harvest festivals, Products, Our market activities, Wine courses, Events and restaurants

ain Ingredient’s weekly E-Journal
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Gourmet Foods, Ingredients & Fine Wines
Eat In Guide’s Outstanding Outlet Award Winner from 2006 to 2010
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A Hartlaub’s gull at the V&A Waterfront
In this week’s MENU:
     Mexicorn salsas
     Babel
Mexicorn salsas      We have very exciting news for some of you, especially those from the Americas who have been asking for these for years. We have just put into stock Mexicorn’s jars of Chipotles in adobo sauce, Chunky tomato salsa, Jalapeno cheddar salsa, Mexican green salsa, Black bean salsa and Chipotle salsa. We only have a few jars of each till next week and you can taste them all at both of our markets this week, Long Beach Mall tomorrow (Friday) and at the Biscuit Mill on Saturday.
Babel’s Amazing Gardens and Food      It can often be disappointing when you finally get to a restaurant which everyone has been talking about. Other than missing the garden tour (mea culpa, says Lynne who got the start time wrong), Babel absolutely lived up to expectations. Babylonstoren farm is officially in Paarl, but it is on the other side of the N1, on the same apparently unnamed road near Simondium as Backsberg and Glen Carlou, on the way to Franschhoek. We could not find a name for the road on the many maps we consulted, including Google Earth.
Someone brilliant planned and planted these amazing gardens and a huge staff of friendly, well trained people manicures and tends them, producing the most amazing looking fruit and vegetables. There are also chickens and ducks and, soon, there will be mushrooms. The tour of the gardens starts at 10, so you need an early start from Cape Town and the tour takes about an hour and a half, which then leaves one rather tired and hungry, with quite a long gap before lunch unless, of course, you have a snack  at the small Conservatory café or book lunch for 12 o’clock. We wandered through the gardens unguided and had lots to admire, as the mixed plantings are done sympathetically and in a very orderly manner. We sat down for a cup of coffee in the café and, finally, it was time for lunch.
All the food is sourced from the garden or locally and the menu is seasonal. (see here for details and photos). Some of our friends had been before, so they knew the drill of ordering each of the three coloured salads, a Green (R50), a Yellow (R60) and a Red (R55) as starters. These are a mix of fruit and vegetable, raw and cooked in the appropriate colours, fairly plainly seasoned and they are a great meal option for vegetarians. The eight of us all had large main courses, which were also accompanied by huge platter of roasted aubergines topped with basil pesto, roasted pears and rather chewy raw fennel and with another platter of the most delicious crisp (duck fat?) chunky chips. Yes, Lynne succumbed to a couple. There were huge lamb cutlets, perfectly pink (R140) in a gooseberry, lemon, caper & mint pesto, Franschhoek Trout with a Kei apple (a miniature indigenous apple tree) sauce. Lynne had a huge portion of rather fatty and rich belly of pork in a superb Vygie (local sour fruit from a succulent) liquor, with fresh figs and crackling. John’s choice was  a huge sirloin steak with an olive and shiraz sauce. This was ordered medium rare, but arrived close to bleu, so it was a tiny bit chewy. The portion was so large that he could not finish it. Saucing is very good, but sometimes a little sparse. None of us could cope with dessert so we ended on good coffees. The bill was R415 per couple including 3 bottles of Anura Sauvignon Blanc (at a very fair R70) and service, which we think is very reasonable for this level of cuisine. You do have to book well in advance to get a table.
St Patrick’s Day     Being of partly Celtic extraction, we enjoyed a brilliant Guinness after the market on Saturday at the Twankey bar at the Taj and were given our free drink for wearing green – ungratefully, we were not too keen on flavoured Jameson’s whisky, they put ginger in it! We bumped into good friends there, and as James is Irish, we had great craik and also some lovely food. Pamela demolished some amazing looking Namibian oysters, John and James had Irish sausages on rolls and Lynne very good crisp and spicy chilli crusted calamari. What a nice way to chill on a Saturday afternoon. We will be back, even without an excuse. Wait a minute, St Georges day is 23rd April.... We’ve missed St David’s day (1st March) and we have to wait till November for St Andrew. Does SA have a patron Saint? All suggestions gratefully received but St Julius is not acceptable. St Desmond might be.
Harvest festival binge     On Sunday, we hied off to Wellington for their festival, saw some lovely people and drank some lovely wines. First stop was  Diemersfontein, where we were welcomed by a very trim David Sonnenberg, enjoyed the full tasting, ate a little sushi and left with a couple of bottles of Carpe Diem Chenin blanc, quite glorious. Then, off to Bovlei where Bubbly and Oysters were on offer – our friends and John demolished 12 each (at a bargain R7 each) in very short order, while we tasted some of the wines and bought a box of their inexpensive Gewürztraminer to serve with winter curries and some of their good white grape juice for our teetotal friends. We left with a wicked packet of slap chips, BAD. Down the valley to Dunstone, where we had a quick tasting and ate nothing. Then to gorgeous Nabygelegen to admire their restored ancient tasting room, which was a ruin when we were last there. James McKenzie has done a great and sympathetic restoration. We tasted the wines and Lynne bought a case of their really good Merlot, which doesn’t show any green stalkiness or mint and is full of sweet ripe fruit and some chalky tannins, pointing to a short life in our cellar before drinking. We could also not resist the prawns, calamari and mussels they were serving, so had plates of those, well-matched with a bottle of the Lady Anna chenin sauvignon blend for the three passengers. The problem with the grazing on each farm is that you spend quite a lot of money, but in this case it was really good value and worth it. Yes, they came with more chips. Not a vegetable in sight in Wellington... Our final stop was at Welbedacht where we chatted with Rob Gower who is working there at the moment and also Schalk Burger senior , his winemaker son Tiaan and, of course, Mugabe the shar pei (Schalk says he is planning to take over the farm) while we tasted through the wines. John bought a box of the barrel matured Chenin. Schalk junior, who is recovering from an injury sustained in the first Super 15 match of the season, had the afternoon off. What a friendly place Wellington is.
Durbanville, sensibly, decided to have their Feast of the Grape Harvest festival on our Freedom Day public holiday on Wednesday, so off we went with John’s daughter Clare and all our Dutch visitors in tow. First to Durbanville Hills, where there was lots going on, including tots crushing grapes by foot in a paddling pool and having a whale of a time. We did a quick tasting, especially loved the Biesjes Craal Sauvignon Blanc and the Rhinofields Shiraz. The girls had a mid morning coffee and then off we pushed to see Oliver Parker at Altydgedacht. This year we were able to taste and buy the Ollo white blend and the lovely light Tygervalley Rosé, made from Cabernet franc, and loved the Gewürztraminer and the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. We had our first taste of a 2012 Sauvignon, but it needs time to learn good manners, which it will undoubtedly do. Sadly the Gamay and the Cabernet franc are sold out, but we are sure Oliver is very happy about that. We turned back to Nitida and after our expensive snacking at Wellington we decided to have a sit down meal in Cassia and were fortunate to get a table. Most had the huge burgers with potato wedges, Yvonne had a fig, ham and cheese salad and Lynne had a great duck salad. We drank a bottle or two of Nitida Sauvignon Blanc and one person succumbed to the mini Pavlova. Then off for the late afternoon view from De Grendel’s terrace, a sight of their new restaurant, and a taste of their lovely wines before heading home.
This was Lynne’s second duck salad of the week , different but also special, because we went to Dynasty in Sea Point, where it is currently one of the chefs specials, for a quick supper, before doing an airport collection on Monday. We had dumplings as starters, the two lads had beef dishes and Yvonne also had the duck salad . There has not been much cooking happening in our house this week, except for one dinner party for another Swallow visiting from Germany, when Lynne used the Aubergines we were gifted at Babylon to make a melanzane: layers of dry fried sliced aubergine, mozzarella cheese and a good herbed tomato sauce – also quite low carb. She served this with pork chops for the non-vegetarians and tagliatelle for the carb eaters. And we tried out the Mexicorn products as our starters, with nachos, crudités and tortilla wraps. A friend brought a wicked chocolate torte. Having visitors from overseas is great, but if does fill up all the moments in between work. We love being busy. Today we took our friends’ lively 87 year old Aunt Maureen for lunch at Jardine on Jordan; you will read all about it next week, because this must go out tonight.
Happy eating and drinking. The diet was only followed marginally this week but is being kept up where possible. Weight is not coming off but the inches are.
Products     Besides the Mexicorn products, we have added pistachio oil to our list. If you are looking for anything, check the products in our list here and tell us what you want. You will also be able to access the list and see pictures in our website. If you can’t find what you need, let us know and we will try to find it for you. Until our online shop is ready, drop us an email and we will help you. We are very happy to see that traffic on our website is increasing and more orders are coming from it.
We have a lot of fun putting MENU together each week and, of course, doing the things we write about, but making it possible for you to enjoy rare and wonderful gourmet foods is what drives our business. We stock a good range of ingredients and delicious ready-made gourmet foods. You can contact us by email or phone, or through our website. We can send your requirements to you anywhere in South Africa.
Our market activities    We will be back at Long Beach Mall tomorrow, Friday, 23rd March for our South Peninsula friends and we will be at the Old Biscuit Mill’s brilliant, exciting and atmospheric Neighbourgoods Market, as always, this Saturday between 09h00 and 14h00 and every Saturday.
There is a huge and rapidly growing variety of interesting things to occupy your leisure time here in the Western Cape. There are so many interesting things to do in our world of food and wine that we have made separate list for each month for which we have information. To help you choose an event to visit, click on our list for March, April and beyond. All the events are listed in date order and we already have exciting events to entertain you through into the new year. Click here to access the list. You will need to be connected to the internet.
We have had a lot of enquiries from people who want to learn more about wine. Cathy Marston and The Cape Wine Academy both run courses, some very serious and others more geared to fun. You can see details here.
Some restaurants have responded to our request for an update of their special offers and we have, therefore, updated our list of restaurant special offers. Click here to access it. These Specials have been sent to us by the restaurants or their PR agencies. We have not personally tried all of them and their listing here should not always be taken as a recommendation from ourselves. If they don’t update us, we can’t be responsible for any inaccuracies in the list. When we have tried it, we’ve put in our observations. We have cut out the flowery adjectives etc. that so many have sent, to give you the essentials. Click on the name to access the relevant website. All communication should be with the individual restaurants.
Summer time is picnic time and several wine farms offer picnic facilities. We have put together a list of wine farms who can provide you with a picnic, We haven’t put in much detail, just where it is, phone number, email address and a link to the website. The latter is where you will find all the important information. Go and check it out.





22nd March 2012

Remember - if you can’t find something, we’ll do our best to get it for you, and, if you’re in Cape Town or elsewhere in the country, we can send it to you! Check our product list for details and prices.
PS If a word or name is in bold type and underlined, click on it for more information
Phones: +27 21 439 3169 / 083 229 1172 / 083 656 4169
Postal address: 60 Arthurs Rd, Sea Point 8005
Our Adamastor & Bacchus© tailor-made Wine, Food and Photo tours take small groups (up to 6) to specialist wine producers who make the best of South Africa’s wines. Have fun while you learn more about wine and how it is made! Tours can be conducted in English, German, Norwegian or Dutch flavoured Afrikaans.
Recommendations of products and outside events are not solicited or charged for, and are made at the authors’ pleasure. All photographs, recipes and text used in these newsletters are ©John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus. Our restaurant reviews are usually unsolicited. We prefer to pay for our meals and not be paid in any way by anyone. Whether we are invited or go independently, we don’t feel bad if we say we didn’t like it. Honesty is indeed our best policy. While every effort is made to avoid mistakes, we are human and they do creep in occasionally, for which we apologise. Our Avast! ® Anti-Virus software is updated at least daily and our system is scanned continually for viruses.
Recommendations of products and outside events are not solicited or charged for, and are made at the authors’ pleasure. All photographs, recipes and text used in these newsletters are ©John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus. Our restaurant reviews are usually unsolicited. We prefer to pay for our meals and not be paid in any way by anyone. Whether we are invited or go independently, we don’t feel bad if we say we didn’t like it. Honesty is indeed our best policy. While every effort is made to avoid mistakes, we are human and they do creep in occasionally, for which we apologise. Our Avast! ® Anti-Virus software is updated at least daily and our system is scanned continually for viruses.
This electronic journal has been sent to you because you have personally subscribed to it or because someone you know has asked us to send it to you or forwarded it to you themselves. Addresses given to us will not be divulged to any person or organisation. We collect them only for our own promotional purposes and keep our mailing list strictly confidential. If you wish to be added to our mailing list, please click here to send us a message and if you wish to be removed from our mailing list, please click here to send us a message.
     Events and restaurants
     Wine courses
     Our market activities
     Products
     Wellington & Durbanville harvest festivals
     St Patrick’s Day at the Twankey
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