Thursday, December 06, 2018

This Week’s MENU. Hillcrest Estate New Release Launch, Lunch at Upper Bloem, A visit to Darling Cellars, Christmas dining ideas, Darling Cellars Gustus Chenin Blanc 2018

Lynne wanted a Christmassy photo. This one is from ten years ago. The wonder of Christmas reflected in a little girl’s face: Izzy (Isabella) Sutton at Kirstenbosch Carols. We are very grateful to her parents, Tony & Julie, for allowing us to show you this photograph
And so we approach the end of what has been a very interesting year, for all of us. South Africa has seen a change with a new President who is walking a tight rope as he endeavours to remove the corrupt elements in his government without damaging his own position by allowing a rearguard action from those elements who have done so much damage in the past 9 years. Britain is tussling with the Brexit debacle. Our travels in Iberia were most interesting, often entertaining and had a few wobbles as well. See it on our Travelogues page. We have tasted wonderful food and wines, and some that were less than great and we've been able to take you with us on the journey. Thank you for coming with us
Now, we are taking a break until January - we desreve one and most media things don't begin again until mid January. We wish you all a wonderful celebration, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or simply Yule and the solstice. We hope that 2019 will bring us all peace, less consternation and a bit more prosperity. Drive safely and take an Uber if you will be imbibing away from home
Thursday evening saw us at Hillcrest wine estate in Durbanville for the launch of the new vintages of their Saartjie wines. They are named after GM, winemaker and viticulturist Arno Smith’s cute Jack Russell terrier and she has made it onto the labels. They have built a lovely new deck and they also have a Beer garden. They had laid a table…

To Upper Bloem restaurant on Main Road Green Point, opposite the Cape Town Stadium, for lunch on Saturday. They were offering a Restaurant Week special and we wanted to return after our last visit, which was for the launch of the De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay in August. We were quite early…
A visit to Darling Cellars    
For our last media engagement of the year, we travelled to Darling in a minivan organised by Darling Cellars. The invitation was to come and taste some of their ranges of wines and enjoy a fish braai for lunch. How could we refuse? It was a great way to end the year and a huge success. We know the wines well, we used to stock them at Main Ingredient and they have always been consistent, good, and also good value…

Temptation!
Christmas is approaching fast and we are still planning our main Christmas meal. We like duck, but duck has almost disappeared in the Cape since the demise of the Duck Farm.  We are not going to give you a recipe this week, but some different suggestions for the meal.  Of course many of you will be doing turkey, but if you look at what other nations do there might be alternatives, all for special occasions…
Darling Cellars Gustus Chenin Blanc 2018    
We tasted this wine at Darling Cellars and were so impressed that we have made it our Wine of the Week. A beautiful expression of unwooded Chenin Blanc from dry land vines in the Darling area.  Gustus is a new range of wines which are terroir and varietal specific. (Gustus is Taste in Latin). Darling Cellars want to explore the possibilities of these grapes, so that they express the best they can be and do not disappear into huge blends without investigating their potential. Golden fruit, minerality…
6th December 2018


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© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2018
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Phones: +27 21 439 3169 / 083 229 1172 / 083 656 4169

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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 our website and ancillary works are © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus. Our restaurant reviews are often 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, pleaseclick here to send us a message and if you wish to be  removed from our mailing list

A visit to Darling Cellars

For our last media engagement of the year, we travelled to Darling in a minivan organised by Darling Cellars. The invitation was to come and taste some of their ranges of wines and enjoy a fish braai for lunch. How could one refuse. It was a great way to end the year and a huge success. We know the wines well, we used to stock the at Main Ingredient and they have always been consistent, good, and also good value.
A welcome from Lourens Relihan, Marketing Manager
They make four Méthode Cap Classique bubblies
Our welcoming drink was the new Old Bush Vine MCC Darling Brut, bready on the nose, it has peaches and lime crispness and a good mousse
Riaan de Waal, Managing Director, told us that they have had some recent successes with the wines. In the Tim Atkin 2018 South African Special Report, three wines awarded were: Lady Ann Darling 2017 (93 points), Old Bush Vines Chenin Blanc 2017 (90 points) and Old Bush Vines Cinsault 2016 (91 points). At Veritas, Double Gold medals, of which only 39 were awarded to wine producers, were presented to the cellar’s Lady Ann Darling 2017 blended white wine of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and to its Gustus Chenin Blanc 2018. Golds went to the Arum Fields Chenin Blanc 2018, Lime Kilns 2017 blended white wine (Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier) and the Sir Charles Darling 2016 red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. And at this year’s Young Wine show, they won the Trophy for SA Champion Shiraz (wooded)
Head winemaker Pieter-Niel Rossouw told us he has been with Darling Cellars since 2014 and was previously with Wellington Wines, L'Avenir and Mont du Toit. He has done stages in Portugal, Germany and Bordeaux. Darling Cellars (previously known as Mamreweg) was founded in 1947 and now has 17 producers, of which 3 produce 80% of the crop. They are very supporting of what he is doing at Darling Cellars. He says that they have made huge strides in the past few years, with a young wine team with energy. The wines he tasted before he worked here did not impress him, the reds were not elegant, the whites had problems too. He and the team are striving to improve them and we think he has succeeded so well. Their main focus is on Sauvignon Blanc - 20% of their production - and they are producing some wonderful wines from this cultivar and others that really express their terroir and ability of the area, the climate and the influence of the ocean.
Ilse van Zyl and Johandri Nell with the wines we were to taste, from several of the ranges that they have. Pieter-Niel said they can do lots with Chenin; they have some bush vines older than 50 years old. The vines produce grapes like apricot cheeks; pink, plump and juicy. They can make world class Pinotage here, not in your face but softer, more Pinot noir like in character, and the Darling Shiraz in cooler areas is linear, spicy with black pepper, floral red fruit. They do have access to some very interesting varieties. There are only 70 hectares of Bukettraube left in the world; 50 are in South Africa. They have 5 hectares of Durif (Petit Sirah) and the Cinsault is on the Old Vines project. There are 6.2 hectares of Semillon up in the hills. Most of the wines are on bush vines and they work well in this totally dryland area. They are much more drought resistant and can move their stems about to protect themselves from the climate. He prefers to farm biodynamically
Our tasting sheet
We began with four white wines. First was the 2018 Gustus Chenin, which we liked so much that it is our Wine of the Week. Golden fruit, minerality a full nose with perfume and even a hint of pyrazines. Full and rounded on the palate with warm golden fruit, ripe yellow peaches, quince and apple, and jujubes, a good acid fruit balance, the wine is very satisfying. It will be just the thing to serve with your Turkey at Christmas. R76 from the cellar. The multi award winning 2017 Lady Anne in the Heritage Collection, a crackerjack white blend of 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with 100% new oak An initial 'attack' of toasty yellow oak which fades to reveal the beautiful fruit: a warm country nose of peaches, quince, loquat and ripe English gooseberries. On the palate it is silky and full, with rich layers of golden fruit, a good balancing acidity and long flavours. 9 months on gross lees, R136. Go and buy. The 2017 Heritage Lime Kiln, a blend of 60% Chenin blanc, 30% Viognier and 10% Chardonnay, has hints of wood smoke, then fruit, Full in the mouth, the Viognier appears first with yellow peaches and nectarines, then lees and citrus from the Chardonnay and finally the warm Chenin charms. R136. The 2017 Old Bush Vine Chenin has intense fruit on the nose with wood hints. Layers of peaches and nectarine fruits, some limes, intense concentration with some salt on the end, typical to the area. R160. All are superb and worth buying. We bought the Gustus but might be back for some of the others
Wine merchant Charles Withington, who runs the Darling Wine Shop, is always worth a visit and stocks Darling Cellars wines if you do not have time to go to the Cellar
Then four top reds. The Gustus Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is full on fruit on the nose, cassis berries, overripe and some green leaves, incense and forest floor. It spends 16 months in oak. Cabernet is does not ripen easily in this cool area; this succeeds. Soft and silky, pure cassis on the palate, a blockbuster wine, nice balance with soft chalky tannins and wood supporting. WOW. Lynne scored it 19 points. R107. The 2015 Old Grain Silo Darling in the Heritage collection is new. 60% Shiraz, 40% Pinotage. Balsam and dark black cherry, incense wood and elegance on the nose. Complex palate, slightly green flavours with liquorice; dry, chalky, grippy and chewy tannins. Sweet dark plums with rhubarb. R136. The 2016 Heritage Collection Sir Charles Darling, a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot, has sweet cherry fruit on the nose with some light incense wood. Grippy tannins at first, then light fruit on the palate; lovely cherry flavours, needs time. R136
And finally the Old Bush Vine Cinsaut. Perfumed with roses and violets, very pretty nose with some toasted oak. On the palate, some cola, showing some Pinot Noir character, but sweeter, layered cherries and strawberries, wood just supporting. Lynne scored it 19.5 and wrote "Want Some!". So she bought six. R186. Tim Atkin gave it 91. One of her best wines of this year
Over lunch we could taste other wines including these three, but we had reached our limit. Must go back and taste more. The Chocoholic, R58, is the most popular Chocolate coffee Pinotage in South Africa, the Cinful, R58, from Cinsault is also very popular. The Capeman Red is a blend of Shiraz, Mourvedre and Grenache, R43.50
The MCCs. A 2017 Blanc de Blanc, a 2016 Demi-Sec from Chenin Blanc and usually, a 2016 Brut Rosé from Grenache, all R100 a bottle, and a new Old Bush Vine MCC Darling Brut at R250.00
The small bottle is the Gustus Skattie (the term of endearment, Darling in Afrikaans!). It is a Sweet Pinotage, R100
Bertrum Titus and Winemakers Anthony Meduna and Maggie Immelman
This was our starter, wonderful Smoked Salmon Trout from Three Streams with cream cheese
Served with a great selection of different crackers
A long table set for lunch. We could drink any of the wines in the collection with our food
Two good mixed salads, watermelon and sweet melon with bread
Expertly cooked on a braai, tender and moist, Yellowtail.
Lots of chat with good company over lunch
Great to get a chance to talk to the young team of wine makers too
Thank you Darling Cellars for a great way to end a busy media year and for a really good tasting and lunch. We will be visiting again soon. And thank you PRO Emile Joubert for arranging this and driving us all there and back in the minibus

MENU's Wine of the Week. Darling Cellars Gustus Chenin blanc 2018

We tasted this wine at Darling Cellars and were so impressed we have made it our Wine of the Week. A beautiful expression of unwooded Chenin Blanc from dry land vines in the Darling area.  Gustus is a new range of wines which are terroir and varietal specific. (Gustus is Taste in Latin). Darling Cellars want to explore the possibilities of these grapes, so that they express the best they can be and do not disappear into huge blends without investigating their potential.
Golden fruit, minerality a full nose with perfume and even a hint of pyrazines. Full and rounded on the palate with warm golden fruit, ripe yellow peaches, quince and apple, and jujubes, a good acid fruit balance, the wine is very satisfying. It will be just the thing to serve with your Turkey at Christmas. R76 from the cellar
A quote from the website. “The Gustus Chenin Blanc 2018 grabbed attention at this year’s Veritas, being the only non-wooded Chenin Blanc to win Double Gold.
“This was truly rewarding, and not only because Chenin Blanc is such a fashionable category at the moment,” says winemaker Pieter-Niel Rossouw. “We worked hard at this wine, wanting to make an unwooded Chenin Blanc from selected grapes able to truly over-deliver in terms of providing a wine with length, complexity and palate-weight without a trace of wooding”

What’s on YOUR menu for Christmas and the Holiday season?


Temptation!

Christmas is approaching fast and we are still planning our main Christmas meal. We like duck, but duck has almost disappeared in the Cape since the demise of the Duck Farm.  We are not going to give you a recipe this week, but some different suggestions for the meal. Of course many of you will be doing turkey, but if you look at what other nations do there might be alternatives, all for special occasions

A Beef Wellington done well can be superb. Or get your butcher to do you a huge rib of beef roast. And in France and other areas of Europe they do a whole fish as their celebration dish, so why not a whole salmon, poached or a ready sliced Smoked salmon, or even local Salmon Trout. A fish braai is always good if you can get really fresh fish. A luxury seafood medley is always a favourite
A roast of pork stuffed with chestnuts and topped with apricots would be sensational. And of course a deboned leg of lamb is now a huge luxury given that the price of lamb is nearly more expensive than steak. Or a Crown Roast of Lamb with stuffing in the centre
We may do a Picanha steak and this can also be done on the Braai. Recipes for all these can be found on the Internet, but we would recommend you look at professional chefs’ recipes to get the best result
And of course you need to look at serving special vegetables like asparagus, duck fat potatoes, fine green beans, baby carrots, even Brussels sprouts for those who like them
And if you don’t want to cook, then we are finding the supermarkets are coming up with some pretty amazing ready to cook dishes that just need popping into the oven
We hope you have a wonderful meal. And for those of you not celebrating Christmas, we hope the holiday season is enjoyable, fun, restful and rewarding, with great food too

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Restaurant Week Lunch at Upper Bloem, Green Point

To Upper Bloem restaurant on Main Road Green Point, opposite the Cape Town Stadium, for lunch on Saturday. They were offering a Restaurant Week special and we wanted to return after our last visit, which was for the launch of the De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay in August
We were quite early at 12.15 so they were not busy, but it did liven up later on
There is an open kitchen where you can see Chef Andre Hill and his team preparing the food. He is the co-owner with Henry Vigar of La Mouette. If you are wondering about the name, Chef Andre grew up in Upper Bloem road in the Bo Kaap. To quote from their website: "Offering a selection of small plates comprising seasonal fare, Upper Bloem’s terroir approach extends beyond simply using local produce. It creatively refers to the uniqueness of Cape Town and draws inspiration from the port city’s mix of cultures and the influence that the confluence of people has had on local cuisine. Diners can expect to see modern techniques being applied to old favourites; a fine dining experience in a relaxed setting and a delectable journey of sharing plates reminiscent of the feeling of ‘home’"
The special Restaurant Week menu
John ordered a 450ml Striped Horse Lager from the Craft Beer list at R45
He says the beers on the list are all good
Lynne had a pichet of Protea Pinot Grigio at R50
The wine list is small and not inexpensive; there is the option of wines 'by the glass' served in a pichet
We think they need to add a dry rosé to the list, the food calls loudly for it
Chef Henri Vigar is famous for his small croquettes and these continue the delight
(they were substituted for the Cape Malay onions on the menu). Boerenkaas cheese sauce,
melting in the middle of crisp deep fried bitterballen with a spicy mayonnaise
The next plate was tiny morsels of deep fried battered hake with just pickled cucumber,
sweet potato crisps and tiny pancakes
The plating is enticing and fresh. This was an unctuous ostrich carpaccio, furled rather than flat,
generous in portion, in flavour and in texture, topped with crisp onion flakes,
with roasted ostrich mayonnaise, leaves and radish slices
Lynne’s Carpaccio came with shimeji mushrooms which added a lot to the dish,
both in flavour and in texture
A Salomi is a South African snack consisting of curry-filled roti flat bread
Chef had changed this to a battered and deep fried beetroot leaf. 
The flavour of the potato and courgette curry is so familiar to locals
and it is served with a mint yogurt raita. It was however quite small and fragile
and impossible to pick up and roll, so we used knives and forks
Very enjoyable
They very kindly brought John a substitute dish as the next dish had mushrooms in it
It was a Braised Cauliflower biriani with pistachio nuts and pomegranate aruls
Smoked Duck ham with sliced beetroot, salad leaves, onion, fresh coriander and dressing;
"Ouma's onder die Kombers" (Grandma is under the blankets) on grilled baby gem lettuce
And not a mushroom in sight?!
A conundrum. Wonderful triple cooked and divinely crisp potatoes. But then drowned
in a flavourful sauce which makes them soggy. Could this not come separately? Please
The sauce was flavoured with Muizenberg sour figs (Mesembryanthemum edule)
and was accompanied by burnt chard leaves, crème fraiche and a Bhadji crumb
Dessert was described as frozen naartjie (clementine) topped with deep fried curry leaves
They were indeed frozen quite solid and had the texture of fine polenta
They were rolled in dried and powdered naartjie skin. Interesting
Chef Andre still busy plating and preparing for service in the kitchen
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal; the different and familiar textures and flavours do delight,
captivate and sometimes puzzle, but it is an adventure that we recommend
From the menu
Our bill for lunch

Hillcrest Estate New Release Launch

Thursday evening saw us at Hillcrest wine estate in Durbanville for the launch of the new vintages of their Saartjie wines. They are named after GM, winemaker and viticulturist Arno Smith’s cute Jack Russell terrier and she has made it onto the labels. They have built a lovely new deck and they also have a Beer garden
They had laid a table with six different varieties of their excellent olives (we know they are excellent, we have bought 3 litre buckets of them for several years), homemade farm bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Just a snack before supper they said. There were also slices of Pizza bianco
We were served the 2018 Hillcrest Rosé, made from Cabernet Sauvignon
It is a summer wine; light, fresh and fruity
The four wines being released were the 2018 Semillon, the 2017 Malbec, 2017 Cabernet Franc
and the 2017 Petit Verdot, all of which we would taste at dinner, paired with different courses
Some of those plumptious olives. We particularly liked the lemon olives
- a version we had not tasted before
And there were some large canapés served. This was herb cream cheese topped with
a roasted tomato on a drop scone base. There was also a smoked salmon version
A word about the menu and the pairings from Restaurant Manager Elise Bothma
Winemaker Arno Smit welcomed us and told us some of the Saartjie story. She came as a puppy from Villiersdorp 5 years ago and they are inseparable. Saartjie comes with him into the vineyards, but she only tastes the grapes in the Semillon vines (they have 1000). She is very popular with visitors to the restaurant and tasting room and people bring their dogs to have play dates with Saartjie. She's a character, very friendly and approachable
Saartjie with her 'grandparents'. Arno says that when most people hear Saartjie’s name, they always make the joke or assume her name comes from Saartjie Baartman, the most famous Khoikhoi woman who lived in the early Nineteenth Century. But Saartjie is an old family name. A Great aunt of his - a fierce old lady - who also cautiously observed and assessed from a distance, and then, when she needed to intervene or to stand her ground, she would make herself known and silence all the wrong-, say- or doers. Just like Saartjie does
Time to taste the wines
The menu was large, we hoped that the portions would not defeat us
Durbanville is known for its generosity.
We sat at a long table in the restaurant
We began with the Semillon. It is made in one old French barrel, so quantities are limited. It is herbal, spicy, dusty with green melon on the nose, Full and rounded on the palate, crisp apples and limes, naartjies, with wood way in the background, supporting. R145 on the farm. We loved it. It would be amazing with crayfish or other seafood
Paired with the Semillon was seared tuna with pink grapefruit segments, green beans and a light wasabi mayonnaise. A good match
Huge activity in the kitchen plating up servings of the second course...
...a deep fried ball of goat’s cheese with a beetroot purée, avocado mousse and roasted baby tomatoes which was served with the 2017 Cabernet Franc. The wine is complex on the nose, dark berries, balsam, spice and savouriness. A thick robust red wine with lots of chalky tannins, more wood and balsam and a savoury, salty end, so it really suited this course
The next course was a rosemary and coriander crusted fillet of beef, served with shimeji mushrooms, a bone marrow custard and topped with crisp onion rings. This was paired with the 2017 Malbec; savoury on the nose, with hints of cumin, umami, sour cherries and something indefinable. On the palate pure salty liquorice, lots of cassis berries and leaves, mulberries on chalky tannins, grippy and lean, with long flavours, ending in more liquorice wood. Should age well
At this point we had a power cut, known in South Africa as 'Load shedding"; a result of dismal management by politically selected "cadres" who were responsible for a general lack of maintenance at Eskom, our electricity generator. When Eskom runs out of coal or the machinery breaks down, they cut off certain areas for up to 2½ hours. So we continued to eat in the dark, the table lit only with a few tea lights and the little torch from John's camera bag. Sadly, in the process, we did not get a picture of the next course, which was slices of Duck Breast, accompanied by a confit duck leg, fondant potato, pea purée and a good cherry jus. An excellent course, if a bit chewy on the duck, but a great match for the Petit Verdot. The nose is sweet, cooked berry fruit, some violets and herbs. A heavyweight, heady wine, salty, complex and silky on the palate, with dark Tay berries, great black cherry flavours, liquorice on the long end. Another one to keep for a while
A night time view from the restaurant, across to Melkbos, where the lights were still burning. Thank you Eskom
These are the chefs who fed us so well. We were challenged by the amount of food, but it was all very good
Dessert was a rather sweet Berry sorbet, a decadent and rich chocolate fudge brownie with pecan nuts, a pistachio crumb, fresh strawberries and a vanilla bean crème. This was accompanied by coffee and a taste of the new 2016 Quarry, a merlot. Sweet berries on the nose, lots of cherryade notes too. Rich with tight chalky tannins, tension, this is very new and needs time to come forward; the fruit acid is still high
Thank you Hillcrest for a great evening and for coping so well with the power cut
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