Sunday, April 08, 2018

This Week's MENU. Portuguese visa challenges; Eating in Sea Point: Knead, Three Wise Monkeys; Druk My Niet, Tuna Crêpes, Buitenverwachting Sauvignon

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza statue in the Cervantes Monument, Plaza de España in Madrid
Scanned from a Kodachrome slide, photographed by John in 1971 - with an iconic Nikon F, not the camera in the picture
Perhaps significant as we prepare to embark on an Iberian Odyssey
The media season goes very quiet over the whole Easter period, so this week's MENU is very brief. We will be off on a month of adventure in Portugal and Spain next week and will be posting brief updates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram as we travel and giving you the full story in episodes on our return in early May. So, no MENU for four weeks, but we do hope that you will keep in touch on the other media. If you remember our road trip through northern Europe and Scandinavia last year, the format will be similar.
This is the ideal time to go to Europe; it is spring, but the expensive tourist season has not quite begun. We will of course be writing about the wine, food and accommodation on our travels and have already made some good contacts there. If you know of any, we would be very grateful for the contacts, recommendations and 'don’t do’s’! This is our route map, for our road trip from Porto up the Douro Valley, and to Lisbon, then south-east into Spain, through Andalusia and up to Madrid, then back to Porto and home after 4 weeks. We have hired a car and all accommodation has been booked on AirBnB or Booking.com
All we require now is to receive John's Visa, the process of acquiring which is being very frustrating. Travel in Europe for South Africans is becoming very complicated; the amount of information you have to produce for the visa is staggering, they insisted on all accommodation, flights etc. being booked and paid for beforehand and documented with both our names on all the accommodation bookings; this despite an invitation to visit from Amorim Cork. Lynne spent days on line researching and booking and paying for all the accommodation. The days of just getting there and exploring are GONE. They have no idea how much money they are losing in restricting tourists this way. And WHY? We don't want to live there, just visit as we have done to many countries over the years. Insurance, medical insurance, receipts, tickets, bank statements, Passports, ID's, municipal bills and even pension statements were demanded and some rejected because they were "not quite correct", so they had to be replaced. Bureaucracy gone mad. And you don't deal direct with the Embassy any more, you have to pay an Agency to do it all. We suspect they get paid for the number of visits the visa seeker makes, so they keep sending you away for more Bumph. It used to be that if your spouse was a citizen of the EU, as Lynne is, none of this was required. Not anymore. Lynne wonders whether the same will apply to people with British passports when Brexit is complete. And it appears that no one at the Portuguese Consulate has any concept of the urgency when one is waiting for a visa and, indeed, one’s passport with only a few days until we are due to fly.
However, we are really looking forward to the trip, flying on TAAG Angolan airline to Porto from Cape Town with a brief stop in Luanda to pick up more passengers. They have very good fares. We booked with TravelStart who have great specials on lots of flights. Our house sitters are ready to spoil the cats.
Portuguese Visa Postscript: Thank Heavens for a persistent wife! While John was fruitlessly struggling with VFS (Visa ?Facilitation? ?Services?), Lynne phoned the Portuguese Consulate. Sounds like an obvious thing to do, but all enquiries are directed to VFS. Phone calls, emails, web enquiries and, eventually, another visit to VFS in Strand Street all came up with the information that his passport was with the Portuguese Embassy in Johannesburg awaiting action. No information about progress or timescale. This was Thursday, we fly on Monday. Lynne’s call to the Portuguese Consulate brought the information that the passport had never been sent to Johannesburg. It was at the Consulate in Cape Town and the visa was ready for collection from a lovely, helpful lady named Sandra.
This poses the question: Why do they use VFS, an organisation which does everything it can to obstruct efforts by potential visitors to obtain a visitor’s visa? Friends who have acquired Schengen visas for other countries tell us of similar experiences. We had similar problems getting a Schengen visa last year from the Netherlands and a close friend who works for Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands Government – and wrote a supporting letter for our application – found the whole process quite strange. It seems that VFS is based in India and works all over the world. They make dealings so difficult that one wonders if the Guptas are involved

This is a restaurant we pass at least twice a week on our shopping trips to Checkers. There were some negative comments recently on the Restaurants Good, Bad and Ugly site on Facebook about it lacking in atmosphere. Lots of our friends go there so we decided it was time to try it. We have always loved their almond croissants, so rich that one is enough for two people; we thought that breakfast might be a good way to sample their wares.
is another place we have been dying to try out in Sea Point. It's on Regent Road, diagonally opposite Checkers. A friend made a reservation a few months ago, but when we got there they knew nothing about it so we left and went somewhere else. This time we went for lunch on a quiet weekday. We love Asian food, and Three Wise Monkeys specialises in Ramen, Sushi and Poke bowls. A Poke Bowl has recently become quite trendy; they describe it as deconstructed sushi. It is a bowl with a sushi rice or spinach base topped with Tuna, Salmon, avocado, edamame beans, mixed vegetables, season fruit, sesame seeds, nori seaweed, firecracker/Japanese mayo/soya and sesame house dressing. Might have to try Poke another time


The historic wine estate was hit by a devastating bush fire last year. It destroyed the historic farmhouse which was built in about 1700. The owners, Georg and Dorothee Kirchner and Jens-Peter Stein, had lovingly restored it over 6 years. They also lost guest cottages, their wine tank, cellar and other outbuildings and all their possessions. They have now rebuilt and we were invited to visit this week with other media to see the new buildings, taste some wines old and new and have lunch with the owners
This is an easy canapé recipe. Lynne made this for our wine club meeting. No cooking required, unless you are going to make your own pancakes. You need about 20 small pancakes - luckily Woolworths sells them in a box, interleaved if you are really pushed for time, as she was. But of course you could make them yourself. If you do, you already have the recipe. Please use real cream cheese, with a high butterfat content, the 'creamed' cottage cheese will not work.
500 g cream cheese - 50g cream - 1 tin of tuna in water, drained (but keep the liquid aside) - the finely grated rind of one lemon- 1 teaspoon lemon juice - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper - 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped lemon verbena - 100g rosa baby tomatoes - 2 Tablespoons of chopped black olives - salt to taste - 20 small crêpe pancakes
Blend the cream cheese, cream and tuna together with the lemon rind, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. You may need to add a little more cream or some of the liquid from the tuna if the mix is too stiff. You need a spreading consistency, the cream must not be runny. Finely chop the tomatoes, salt them and put into a strainer to get rid of some of the juice. Pat them with kitchen roll to dry them out a little more. Add them and the chopped olives to the cream. Taste and season to your taste, adding more lemon, salt or cayenne. Take the pancakes and put a good heaped dessertspoonful in the centre of each, spread it out and roll up neatly. To serve, cut them down the middle so that they are easier to eat. Sprinkle with fresh basil.
This has been one of the finest expressions of Constantia Sauvignon since the varietal first appeared in South Africa. The 2017 has a pale straw colour, an elegant nose with all the expected aromas of Constantia Sauvignon Blanc: fig, quince, gooseberry, elderflower and a little green pepper.

It is crisp, long and delicious, a food and quaffing wine. Fig and gooseberry flavours dominate the long finish, with a hint of green pepper at the end. Tasted nearly a year after it was picked, the early acidity has tempered, but it retains enough crispness to be a great match with a creamy dish. In the USA, where they cannot pronounce Buitenverwachting, it is marketed as Bayten and it sells very well at $19 a bottle. R100 from the farm in Constantia


6th April 2018


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© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
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Phones: +27 21 439 3169 / 083 229 1172 / 083 656 4169

Postal address: 60 Arthurs Rd, Sea Point 8005

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 and our blogs 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. 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. 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

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Druk My Niet wine estate in Paarl rises from the ashes

The historic wine estate was hit by a devastating bush fire last year. It destroyed the historic farmhouse which was built in about 1700. The owners, Georg and Dorothee Kirchner and Jens-Peter Stein, had lovingly restored it over 6 years. They also lost guest cottages, their wine tank cellar and other outbuildings and all their possessions
Related image
Image © Justin Sullivan
They have now rebuilt the essentials - not the historic farmhouse - and we were invited with other media representatives to visit this week to see the new buildings, taste some wines, old and new, and have lunch with the owners
The tasting and lunch were held in one of the buildings which had survived the fire
Tables laid for the tasting while we all catch up with each other
Winemaker/viticulturist Alexandra McFarlane, PRO Pippa Pringle and owner Dorothee Kirchner
Some of the wines we were to taste
Luckily the barrel cellar, which was separate, was not destroyed, so they did not lose all their wine. It seems the aircon unit did not stop working and kept the barrels cool enough to survive
The tank cellar had to be completely rebuilt - the previous tanks had bubbled and melted in areas. However they can now make more wine, as they were able to enlarge the cellar
Food was being prepared in the Vinoteque by the staff of Olivier Jaggi, the Swiss chef/patron of Terra Mare restaurant in Paarl, who is a personal friend of the owners
Prink prawns
Tuna fillet coated in sesame seeds and waiting to be seared
Dorothee welcomes us ...
...  and Alexandra begins telling us about the wines we were tasting. T3 is their signature blend made of three Iberian grape varieties
First we tasted three vintages of T3: 2011, 2012 and 2013. The best was the first one, showing richness, dark berries with a hint of wood, silky and full of red and black fruit, good grape acidity, and long flavours of mulberries and cherries showing the Iberian parentage. And then 2018 samples of the wines, made from the three component grapes
  All the wines are made in second fill oak
The 2018 Tinta Amarela, a Portuguese varietal also known as Trincadeira, has raisins and sultana, watermelon jam on the nose. Soft sweet and light fruit, it is almost Pinot in character with sweeter berries cherries and plums on the palate.  The 2018 Tempranillo (aka Tinta Roriz) is rich and musty with sesame notes; it is young. Mouth puckering, chalky tannins typical of this grape, dark deep red berries, burnt caramel, mulberries and dark red plums and a little cassis. It spends 5 weeks on the skins. This is the backbone of the blend
We were surprised to see Tannat (2018) vinified separately, this dark, black, opaque wine is often used for colour. It has wildness on the nose and was a bit fizzy on the palate, perhaps from the added acid which Alex told us they need to use in this hot area. Dark and mysterious flavours, with salty licorice, black berries, blackcurrants and black cherries. MUCH better than expected.  She makes only one barrel from each of these grapes, and a tank of the blend
Georg, Alex and Dorothee.  If you are wondering what the name of the farm means, it is Don’t squeeze (or push) me.  Apparently, originally a gift to the bridegroom in about 1700 from his new father in law!  Dorothee told Lynne that there was one advantage that came out of the fire. When they rebuilt they were able to change many of the things that they had wanted to change on the farm; things that you notice after several years, that would be good to improve
The lunch menu
Before lunch, we did a small cellar tour with a glass of their C68 Chenin Blanc in our hands.  It is wooded and complex, showing some age and lots of rich golden fruit flavours. Very enjoyable, especially with the Trio of Tuna
One person at the table could not eat fish and he had a Carpaccio of beef instead
The C68 Chenin
Next we tasted the Kastenmeier’s Rosé, which is a whole bunch press of Merlot. Lovely, pale and light.  Served with a very good Brandy seafood bisque - many of us had two servings, it was so full of dark caramel and deliciousness
Chef Olivier Jaggi from Terra Mare restaurant in Paarl
The next course was the prawns with very spicy chorizo sausage. This rather overwhelmed the prawns and nearly the wine...
... which was the 2013 Malbec; it has violets, savoury, deep, dark fruit aromas and flavours; very enjoyable
 The main course was Kudu Fillet on cous cous and a dark caramel sauce, slightly bitter. with al dente carrots, mange tout and patty pan squash. Paired with the 2012 T3 which is very aromatic and shows cherries and violets
We then were served dessert, which was a rich, creamy and light mousse au chocolat, just the way it should be, with a tiny cup of crème brulée with fresh mango and raspberries
This was served with the honey sweet 2015 Puella Straw Wine, a great match 
We also tasted the 2014 Mirus Syrah. Incense wood and coffee on the rose with some spice, rich flavours of dark berries and licorice with chalky grippy tannins, spice and wood on the end. This was served with a cheese board which, sadly, we did not have time to taste as our transport was ready to take us back to Cape Town. A pity
Thank you all at Druk my Niet for a very enjoyable tasting and lunch

Friday, April 06, 2018

Portuguese visa challenges


Don Quixote and Sancho Panza statue in the Cervantes Monument, Plaza de España in Madrid

Scanned from a Kodachrome slide, photographed by John in 1971 - with an iconic Nikon F, not the camera in the picture
Perhaps significant as we prepare to embark on an Iberian Odyssey


This is the ideal time to go to Europe; it is spring, but the expensive tourist season has not quite begun. We will of course be writing about the wine, food and accommodation on our travels and have already made some good contacts there. If you know of any, we would be very grateful for the contacts, recommendations and 'don’t do’s’! This is our route map, for our road trip from Porto up the Douro Valley, and to Lisbon, then south-east into Spain, through Andalusia and up to Madrid, then back to Porto and home after 4 weeks. We have hired a car and all accommodation has been booked on AirBnB or Booking.com

All we require now is to receive John's Visa, the process of acquiring which is being very frustrating. Travel in Europe for South Africans is becoming very complicated; the amount of information you have to produce for the visa is staggering, they insisted on all accommodation, flights etc. being booked and paid for beforehand and documented with both our names on all the accommodation bookings; this despite an invitation to visit from Amorim Cork. Lynne spent days on line researching and booking and paying for all the accommodation. The days of just getting there and exploring are GONE. They have no idea how much money they are losing in restricting tourists this way. And WHY? We don't want to live there, just visit as we have done to many countries over the years. Insurance, medical insurance, receipts, tickets, bank statements, Passports, ID's, municipal bills and even pension statements were demanded and some rejected because they were "not quite correct", so they had to be replaced. Bureaucracy gone mad. And you don't deal direct with the Embassy any more, you have to pay an Agency to do it all. We suspect they get paid for the number of visits the visa seeker makes, so they keep sending you away for more Bumph. It used to be that if your spouse was a citizen of the EU, as Lynne is, none of this was required. Not anymore. Lynne wonders whether the same will apply to people with British passports when Brexit is complete. And it appears that no one at the Portuguese Consulate has any concept of the urgency when one is waiting for a visa and, indeed, one’s passport with only a few days until we are due to fly.
However, we are really looking forward to the trip, flying on TAAG Angolan airline to Porto from Cape Town with a brief stop in Luanda to pick up more passengers. They have very good fares. We booked with TravelStart who have great specials on lots of flights. Our house sitters are ready to spoil the cats.
Portuguese Visa Postscript: Thank Heavens for a persistent wife! While John was fruitlessly struggling with VFS (Visa ?Facilitation? ?Services?), Lynne phoned the Portuguese Consulate. Sounds like an obvious thing to do, but all enquiries are directed to VFS. Phone calls, emails, web enquiries and, eventually, another visit to VFS in Strand Street all came up with the information that his passport was with the Portuguese Embassy in Johannesburg awaiting action. No information about progress or timescale. This was Thursday, we fly on Monday. Lynne’s call to the Portuguese Consulate brought the information that the passport had never been sent to Johannesburg. It was at the Consulate in Cape Town and the visa was ready for collection from a lady named Sandra. It was collected from her at 8am this morning, Friday, 6th April. Thank you Lynne, thank you Sandra. And, wow! The French gave me a visa for 3 years. The Dutch gave me a visa for 1 year. The Portuguese gave me a visa for 34 days. I can't wait to see the next one... the law of diminishing returns?
This poses the question: Why do they use VFS, an organisation which does everything it can to obstruct efforts by potential visitors to obtain a visitor’s visa? Friends who have acquired Schengen visas for other countries tell us of similar experiences. We had similar problems getting a Schengen visa last year from the Netherlands and a close friend who works for Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands Government – and wrote a supporting letter for our application – found the whole process quite strange. It seems that VFS is based in India and works all over the world. They make dealings so difficult that one wonders if the Guptas are involved

Thursday, April 05, 2018

MENU's Wine of the Week. Buitenverwachting Sauvignon blanc 2017

This has been one of the finest expressions of Constantia Sauvignon since the varietal first appeared in South Africa. The 2017 has a pale straw colour, an elegant nose with all the expected aromas of Constantia Sauvignon Blanc: fig, quince, gooseberry, elderflower and a little green pepper.
It is crisp, long and delicious, a food and quaffing wine. Fig and gooseberry flavours dominate the long finish, with a hint of green pepper at the end. Tasted nearly a year after it was picked, the early acidity has tempered, but it retains enough crispness to be a great match with a creamy dish. In the USA, where they cannot pronounce Buitenverwachting, it is marketed as Bayten and it sells very well at $19 a bottle. R100 from the farm in Constantia

What's on the MENU this week. Tuna, cream, tomato and black olive filled pancakes


This is an easy canapé recipe. Lynne made this for our wine club meeting. No cooking required, unless you are going to make your own pancakes. You need about 20 small pancakes - luckily Woolworths sells them in a box, interleaved if you are really pushed for time, as she was. But of course you could make them yourself. If you do, you already have the recipe. Please use real cream cheese, with a high butterfat content, the 'creamed' cottage cheese will not work
500 g cream cheese - 50g cream - 1 tin of tuna in water, drained (but keep the liquid aside) - the finely grated rind of one lemon- 1 teaspoon lemon juice - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper - 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped lemon verbena - 100g rosa baby tomatoes - 2 Tablespoons of chopped black olives - salt to taste - 20 small crêpe pancakes
Blend the cream cheese, cream and tuna together with the lemon rind, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. You may need to add a little more cream or some of the liquid from the tuna if the mix is too stiff. You need a spreading consistency, the cream must not be runny. Finely chop the tomatoes, salt them and put into a strainer to get rid of some of the juice. Pat them with kitchen roll to dry them out a little more. Add them and the chopped olives to the cream. Taste and season to your taste, adding more lemon, salt or cayenne. Take the pancakes and put a good heaped dessertspoonful in the centre of each, spread it out and roll up neatly. To serve, cut them down the middle so that they are easier to eat. Sprinkle with fresh basil

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Breakfast at Knead in The Point Centre, Sea Point

This is a restaurant we pass at least twice a week on our shopping trips to Checkers. There were some negative comments recently on the Restaurants Good, Bad and Ugly site on Facebook about it lacking in atmosphere. Lots of our friends go there so we decided it was time to try it. We have always loved their almond croissants, so rich that one is enough for two people; we thought that breakfast might be a good way to sample their wares 
We got there at 9 am and it was busy; we managed to get a small table immediately, almost out into the Mall which has lots of people passing by. We can see why, sitting there, one might think there is little atmosphere out on the edge of the restaurant, as this puts you more in the passage than inside where its all 'happening'. We confess that we don’t enjoy eating at Willoughby’s In the Waterfront as that too is in a passageway, despite their reputation for good food and the attempts they have made to separate it from people walking past, who seem to be examining what you are eating!
Lots of locals, different age groups all eating breakfast
Sitting in the edge had its advantages as two separate friends who had been shopping in the Mall came past and joined us for coffee!
It's an open kitchen and the restaurant is quite lively and noisy but in a good way
and you can buy baked goods and bread to take home after your meal
The menu (4 pages) with its All Day Breakfast. The person who wrote the controversial review did say that he'd had the best sandwich he had eaten in years, so they must be worth trying
We began with 2 Americanos, the best way to start the day. Freshly brewed and not bad
Lynne went for the Sweet corn fritters that come with half an avocado, roasted tomato conserve and a bowl of creamy herb sauce. R50. You then can top it off with different things. She chose the smoked salmon and poached egg option which took the dish to R99; the salmon was excellent, of very good quality. It was topped with a poached egg, firm but runny in the centre as ordered. BUT there were two problems. Please restaurants, trim the poached egg of those "tails", they are like plastic and not nice to eat. The crime was the Sriracha Hollandaise "sauce' on top of the poached egg. It was really awful. Not a hollandaise by any stretch, but a horrible vinegary salad dressing with some warm spices stirred into it. They might have got away with it had they used Hellman's mayonnaise but this was quite dreadful and had to be scraped off the egg and expensive salmon. We did complain to the manager, who shrugged. The fritters were full of big kernels of corn and some unidentified herbs; there were three and so the dish was filling. We are not sure of the role of the avocado, enjoyable as it was, some toast might have been nice to have this with, nor of the creamy sauce accompanying it. And the one mini confit tomato, sliced in two, was just a gesture; a pity because it was sweet and complex. So a Curates Egg (sorry!) of a dish
John enjoyed his cheese and ham omelette, nice and gooey inside he said, served with three slices of baby tomato with pesto beneath, two generous portions of butter and toast that someone had managed to char at the edges. He asked for and was brought some marmalade
Lots of ham in the centre
The bill, with five coffees was fairly standard for the area. Service was good, and there was no kitchen drama. We do hope they sort out the pretend sauce on the poached eggs