Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Father's Day lunch from Overture

So what is better than going to a top restaurant in Stellenbosch at the moment and sitting miles away from everyone else? Well, how about getting the chef to deliver Sunday lunch to you himself! Lynne ordered from Overture for Father’s Day and Bertus Basson came with the delivery himself

So nice to see him, we had a quick chat and then he was off doing other deliveries on the Atlantic Seaboard and in town. 
Ciabatta rolls, butter, Twice baked cheese souffles, Dry aged Sirloin steak, crispy potatoes, caramelised onion, confit garlic, fantastic looking vegetables, rubs, herbs, sauces followed by Sticky Toffee Pudding and treacle sugar Ice cream and custard for dessert. And very little cooking required. All for only R545 for two, including delivery..
We prepared the three course meal, followed Chef Bertus Basson's concise and easy instructions and photographed each course as it was ready. And we drank a stupendous bottle of Jordan Cobblers Hill 2008, a classic blend of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc with Merlot, with it. Thank you Gary Jordan and Kathy
The only thing that was out of kilter was our damned gas oven. It needs a service. The starter was twice baked, light as air cheese soufflés in a rich Huguenot cheese sauce, with tiny Jerusalem artichokes, almost mistaken for asparagus spears. These were a revelation and so different from the large gnarly blobs you normally get. They are the corm of a sunflower, and have a lovely nutty flavour. The small dish is more artichoke, sliced, in a light gastrique, which completely offset the richness of the soufflés. At the back are the ciabatta rolls and whipped butter. They meant we could soak up all that delicious cheese sauce. An excellent start
The steak was a large slab of sirloin, sadly without any fat left on it. It looked so lustrously pink, it could have been mistaken for a prime piece of tuna. It had to be coated in a supplied spice rub and seared on all sides in very hot pan, then the caramelised onions, confit garlic, herbs and butter were added for 10 minutes in the oven. And then rested for 10 minutes. 
Lynne aimed for medium rare and nearly got it. The pan juices were wicked, the meat flavour was excellent. On the left is the green peppercorn sauce, then the whole cauliflower with capers, sultanas and almonds which was roasted for 30 minutes, and on the right, the crispy potatoes - had we more room we could have consumed a bucket of them. And, in the front, the sour cream and chives (She did sprinkle a few more from our garden on the top). She thinks that the dish did need a green vegetable, but it was so filling that we don't think we could have managed more. Lynne had the remains of her steak on a sandwich at lunchtime. The wine from our cellar was really spectacular and such a good pairing. The much awarded @Jordan 2008 Cobblers Hill, blended especially for Woolworths. It was so ready to be enjoyed. Green herbs and cassis leaves on the nose with berries and cigar smoke. A mouth full of rich fruit with a touch of umami. Cherry, mulberry, cassis, and nice chalky tannins. some warmth and on the end salty licorice.
We did wait an hour before we could manage dessert, which was a rich sticky toffee pudding accompanied by treacle sugar ice cream and a good custard. Lynne topped them with the almonds. And we were groaning for a while afterwards, so unused to three courses are we now. 

Thank you so much Bertus Basson you did us proud. What a wonderful way to celebrate Father’s Day, the only downside being that Clare had to be locked down in her home, so that we had to make do with a phone conversation.

Monday, June 08, 2020

Food Fanatics “the French affair” Saturday Pop up lunch from The Homestead

Elaine Rousseau of Food Fanatics caterers works out of her restaurant and functions centre, The Homestead, in Constantia Main Road in Wynberg. It is a very beautiful 200 year old venue with marvellous gardens. Like most restaurants and caterers, they have been hit during the Covid 19 lock down and have been selling food on line for collection or delivery. https://foodfanatics.co.za/ Have a look at their website to see what is on offer. They will be bringing The Homestead Pop-Up experience to your home. 
Sadly, it turns out that she and her wife should have been flying off this week to France to visit Paris, the Loire and other lovely French areas; A trip which was cancelled because of the virus. So they decided to do A Taste of the Homestead pop-up with a French theme this past weekend and invited us to come and collect a double pack to try. They do these things on a regular basis, and the next one you can order will be for Father’s Day. We can say without reservation that it was a gastronomic experience well worth doing
SO, for the first time since lock up, we set off on a long journey from Sea Point to collect our pack. We drove the beautiful way, along the Atlantic coast past Camps Bay, Llandudno, Hout Bay and Constantia. Fully masked on arrival, we stood in the garden at a good distance and chatted to Elaine. The last time we were here was on the 4th of March with our wine club for a wine tasting and supper afterwards; just before things got serious.
Elaine Rousseau in her domain. She is a very talented chef
This is the back of the restaurant and they put up bigger marquees on this lawn for weddings and parties
The numbers of party guests will have to be smaller at first but they will be back to doing functions as soon as they can 
We drank a glass of Dainty Bess Rosé MCC from Jane Eedes to celebrate seeing each other again
Such a lovely rosé, fresh strawberry raspberry fruit and great mousse
The magnificent and very enviable vegetable garden, she uses the produce in the restaurant
Lemons from her trees
A vegetable you don't often see, Cavolo Nero from Italy, black cabbage
Our box for two. You take this home and another carrier bag filled with lovely treats
We were also gifted a bottle of Rousseau Sacharia Sauvignon Blanc made by her brother Andre
It went extremely well with the food. You can purchase it through Elaine
A delivery note. As you can see from this there is also always a vegetarian option
Wall art!
As soon as we got home, we took everything out of the box and put it on our outside table
to show you what a superb selection you get for R290 per person
This is for two, so would cost R580
Very authentic Paté de Campagne, with good flavour and some pistachio nuts in it, with a mustard dressing,
tiny cornichon gherkins, pickled onions and a lovely apricot chutney
The main course of slow braised Chicken à la Normande just had to be popped into the oven for 20 minutes. Two very large cuisses of chicken (leg and thigh) in a superb onion, apple cider, brandy, cream and mustard sauce. This was so large that Lynne had to have hers over two days. It was accompanied by fried apple slices which so offset the richness of the sauce. This took us right back to the wonderful food of Normandy, And the Sacharia Sauvignon Blanc sang with this dish
Pain d'Epi (Wheat stalk bread) with tarragon butter to go with the Paté
Sage and Black pepper savoury Madeleines, light as air and just as good savoury as sweet
To accompany the main course was the star of the show, a French onion, Gruyère cheese and thyme Galette
A galette is a sort of pancake from Brittany, this had flaky crisp pastry, with an oozy cheese and onion filling, so rich, so divine
We had quarter each, and more the next night. 15 minutes in the oven 
The vegetable dish was Puy Lentil salad with roast new potatoes, fine beans, green onions and crisp radishes
We did remove the potatoes and popped them in the oven to warm for a few minutes
There was also a mixed leaf and herb Country salad with baby beets, and a thick Dijon dressing
And dessert was amazing. Two huge (and we do mean huge) Paris Brest choux pastry rounds,
topped with almonds and a white chocolate crumble. Inside was a light coffee flavoured crème patissière, and Chantilly cream
Lynne had to cut hers into quarters, it was so rich and wicked, as a whole one is too much after such a large meal
Great the next day as well
There were the cocktails to make first. With instructions supplied. All you had to do was add your favourite gin
And just the sort of cocktail Lynne loves, nice and sour, with lots of flavour and not huge
Basil, lemon and gin make a superb partnership
We have basil in the garden, always, so this might become habit forming. We even have a lemon syrup....
We didn’t use ice, why water down gin? Our gin is kept in our wine fridge, but you might like to ice it
Thank you Elaine for this wonderful meal
and for giving us a story to tell after nearly three months of silence!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The ANC’s attempted destruction of the South African wine industry

We are governed by idiots who fight among themselves in a battle over power, with no concern for the well-being of the country. The most recent example is Dlamini-Zuma’s about turn on Fikile “FearFokol” Mbalula’s statement that it was OK to transport packaged wine to the docks and ship it to willing export customers. In one stupid sentence she has deprived the wine industry and SA of a huge amount of sorely needed revenue and threatened the existence of a large number of wine producers

About 25 years ago, I was in a Louis Allen Management program with a number of colleagues. We were given an exercise: You’re on a desert island, alone, with no resources. An empty Coke tin washes up on the beach. Name 50 things you can do with it. One of my colleagues gave 50 ideas and added a 51st: “you can give it to the ANC and they’ll break it”. Prophetic words

We’ve seen them do it to Eskom, South African Airways, the Post Office, South African Railways (under a few new names), Iscor (sold off to people who closed it down), and most of the essential services like health services, water and sanitation in all the provinces they “govern”/mismanage

They aren’t in charge in the Western Cape, which is why the Province works; that is a problem for them. The wine industry is one of the most important employers and revenue earners in the Province so, I believe, the Ms Zuma faction sees its destruction as a priority. After all, they don’t drink our wine. The fat cats prefer expensive marques of Champagne (I’ll have a Moway) and top end brands of imported single malt. “Drink domestic? Never Darling!” and they make the taxpayers pay for it

The President appears to have the right ideas, but he is too busy watching the back-stabbers, Dlamini-Zuma, Magashule, Mabuza, Cele etc. Some of us (not me) voted ANC in the last election; they believed they were “supporting Cyril”. All they did was recharge the batteries of his enemies. As long as we have an ANC government, this country will continue to slide downhill. I’m not accustomed to negative thoughts, and I’ve always avoided political comment in this space, but I can’t stop this one. We all need to do whatever we can to have this stupid decision reversed. It happened when Vinpro and WOSA turned round the decision to stop the harvest and ruin the 2020 vintage. The politicians failed there, so this is the next weapon they are using against us

Thursday, March 26, 2020

On the MENU This Week. Autumn Fig Salad with Avocado

As it is officially Autumn and we will shortly go into lock down, I thought I would give you an uplifting salad. It is a variation on one of our favourites, which we have as an accompaniment to a main dish. Or you could increase the quantities and have it as a main. As the supermarkets will remain open, hopefully you can still get the ingredients.
2 Tomatoes, sliced – one Avocado, sliced – 6 ripe figs sliced – 1 goat cheese, broken into pieces or sliced – basil leaves or flat parsley – best Extra Virgin Olive Oil – aged Balsamic vinegar or Balsamic glaze – salt and freshly ground black pepper
Layer the sliced tomatoes, avocado and figs in an open salad dish, arrange the goats cheese on the top, strew with basil leaves, season well and then drizzle over the olive oil and Balsamic
In the coming weeks, I will be giving you interesting recipes for stock cupboard/freezer meals to help with the chore of daily cooking. I hope it helps. Be well

MENU. March 2020 Update. Plaisir de Merle, Ken Forrester 321 Harvest, RMB Starlight Concert, Rousseau wines, Meerendal 50 sequel, Klein Constantia, Yu Asian restaurant, Blue cheese figs, Chicken Casserole, Mac n Cheese, PdM Pinot Noir, Rousseau Sacharia, Groote Post Old Man’s Blend

A Southern Double-collared Sunbird on a hibiscus

As we have said over the last month or so, MENU has been sent to a relatively small group of weekly subscribers who specifically requested that we send them our weekly mail. The cost of our weekly bulk mailing service is crippling and we can save a lot by sending the weekly edition to a smaller list with our ordinary mail software. So this is the first monthly edition of MENU, a digest of what we have done in March, sent to our large mailing list. Goodness knows what we will tell you in April!

Lock Down
At midnight on Thursday 26th March, South Africa will join many other parts of the world and most of us will be restricted within the boundaries of our homes – effectively house arrest – initially for 21 days, but it may well be extended to a longer period, as has happened in Spain. We support the decision our President and the Government have made to keep us safe. Ours is a complex multi-layered country with many, many people who live in poverty being at huge risk of this dreadful virus. They have a huge task before them.

The ramifications are complex and frightening. Many businesses are severely threatened and many will close, with consequent loss of jobs in a country which already has an unacceptable level of unemployment. We are pensioners who own our home, so are part of a very fortunate minority. We are sheltering at home, obeying the rules and hopefully keeping well. We will spend the next weeks improving our garden and doing bits of household maintenance which have been put off for too long because producing MENU and partaking in activities to write about have taken nearly all our time. Many of you knew us as owners of a very small retail outlet. We know how difficult it is for a small business owner to keep your head above water in a difficult time and really can sympathise with anyone in that position. If that is you, we wish you good fortune and hope that you will be able to survive this and come out stronger for the experience. We must all stand together and help where we can when this is over by supporting local business. 

Most people agree that the Government has handled the organisation of this lock down well. But we have heard of one disturbing exception. We received news yesterday that the harvest has to stop at midnight tonight with some of the best grapes of this long, slow ripening season still unharvested. On several wine farms, the staff live on the farm. It makes no sense to us that they should be prevented from picking and processing the grapes. We are sure that responsible wine farm operators will ensure that all the right precautions are taken and maintained if they are allowed to. To have those staff members sitting on the farms twiddling their thumbs while the grapes rot on the vines and the fermenting juice stays unattended in tanks and fermenters is nonsensical. We are talking about thousands of tanks of wine, millions of litres being lost. The wine industry is one of the Western Cape’s biggest employers and earners. We must look after it. 

A PS to the above. It appears that the situation has been saved at the last minute. See the information in this link: 

We are sure that what we’ve planted or painted or how many weeds we’ve pulled up will not be of great interest to our readers in the coming weeks, so publishing MENU will be intermittent. Lynne will still produce helpful recipes to excite and aid you and we may describe interesting wines we’ve pulled out of our cellar. Perhaps some of our wine-producing readers might like us to review some of their wines – if they can get them to us…. In fact, one very good estate delivered some samples this morning.

We were invited by the Constantia Wine Route to choose a wine farm and winemaker with whom we could spend two hours for a brief harvest experience on the farm. This was followed by a harvest lunch with all the winemakers and some other media people at Nova Zonnestraal, the newest kid on the country's oldest winemaking block. An offer like this was hard to refuse. We chose Klein Constantia, a farm with which we have had a long history, but had not visited for a while. Arriving at 10 am, we were met by winemaker Matthew Day. Read on…

A message from a friend whom Lynne has known since they were six, wishing us a Happy 17th Wedding Anniversary made us realise we had both completely forgotten about it. Embarrassing, but we did have a giggle and had to rush off to find our marriage certificate to check the date. And we always celebrate with a meal at an interesting restaurant. Lynne had read good things about Yu which is in the Heerengracht and is part of the Onyx hotel. It serves Asian food and much of it Dim Sum, which we love, so we decided to try it for lunch. Read on…
Our Wine club tasting this month was held at The Homestead on Constantia Main Road. It featured wines made by Andre Rousseau. Andre trained at Elsenberg and worked first at Twee Jonge Gezellen in Tulbagh with Nicky Krone, then at Constantia Uitsig as the Viticulturist. Read On…

Another tempting invitation to a Harvest Celebration, this time from Meerendal in Durbanville with an opportunity to pick grapes, a chance to taste some of their older Shiraz starting with one from 1987 . We arrived just before 10 and were welcomed with some canapés and coffee or tea. Read On…

An invitation to visit Plaisir de Merle in Simondium for a media function was very welcome. It is an estate which we had never visited before but meant to; there are so many wine farms that we still have to visit, new and old and some like this that we often drive past and say, “we must come soon”. Prompting had the desired effect and we do seriously regret not having visited sooner. Read On…

On a beautiful summer Saturday, we were off to Stellenbosch. We were invited by Ken Forrester to attend the 321st anniversary celebration of his farm, Scholtzenberg, and to enjoy a Harvest grape stomp competition with some lunch. Our host was the man himself, Ken Forrester. Ken is recovering well from some necessary leg surgery and has this innovative Kneecycle (he calls it a Hardly Davidson) to get around on for a few weeks until he heals. Read On…

It is always a complete delight and a reason for huge thankfulness when we receive an invitation to attend the RMB Starlight Concert at Vergelegen. It is one of our favourite annual events and we take nothing for granted. After checking in, you walk through the beautiful gardens and then walk through the Manor House to get to the concert venue. Vergelegen was settled in 1700 by Willem Adriaan van der Stel. After Sir Lionel Phillips bought the neglected Vergelegen Estate in 1917, Lady Florence Phillips transformed it into a floral and cultural treasure trove. Read On…

On the MENU This Month
Autumn Fig Salad with Avocado
As it is officially Autumn and we will shortly go into lock down, I thought I would give you an uplifting salad. It is a variation on one of our favourites, which we have as an accompaniment to a main dish. Or you could increase the quantities and have it as a main. As the supermarkets will remain open, hopefully you can still get the ingredients. Read on...

Bailey’s Microwave Macaroni
As we are at home sheltering, we are using lots of ingredients from our stock cupboard. And we do feel the need for some comfort food occasionally in these trying times. We have shared this before but thought you might like to try this again. Don’t make it in advance; it does go a bit soggy but, fresh from the oven, it is completely delicious. And for those of us with milk allergies or intolerance, the lactose free milk from Woolworths or Checkers works so well. You also need your greens so do make this with a good very mixed salad to get those vitamins. We had it with a good, rich and juicy red wine. See our Wine of the Week. Read on…

We had bought free range chicken pieces and fresh spinach, so Lynne came up with this recipe for supper last night, a melange of three she found on the internet which inspired her. It doesn’t look too glamorous, but the flavour is superb and it doesn’t take very long to prepare. Enjoy! We confess that we did take a slice of bread at the end to sop up the wonderful juices. Prepared in one load shedding period in the morning and cooked immediately after the one which ended at 6.15 pm. Illegitimi non carborundum. For the full recipe, Read On…

Figs, Blue Cheese and Prosciutto starter
This week’s recipe is very quick and very delicious
Fresh figs, 3 per person – a creamy blue cheese (Gorgonzola, blue Brie or Danish blue) – prosciutto ham – rocket or other fresh salad leaves
We suggest three figs per person as a starter. Cut the stalks off the figs and then cut a cross two thirds of the way down in each fig. Open out the fig, put in about a teaspoon of crumbled blue cheese, put into the microwave for 1 or 2 minutes until the cheese has melted. Put in a pretty serving dish or individual dishes, make curls of prosciutto and arrange them around the figs, decorate with rocket or other salad leaves and serve. Perfect with a good chilled rosé wine. The figs without the ham do work well if you can’t eat ham

MENU's Wines of the Month
This is the “every day” red blend in the Groote Post range, made for early, casual enjoyment. In Afrikaans, a “lekker kuier wyn”. The sort of wine you can enjoy with friends, watching the sunset from your stoep. It’s also a great wine to enjoy with this week’s recipe, a delicious macaroni cheese
A Merlot led blend with Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Shiraz; it is complex on the nose and palate, showing black cherry first on the nose, followed by licorice, chocolate, coffee mocha and dark cherry fruit. Very quaffable, easy to drink and a good food companion. R69 at Get Wine

Winemag.co.za awarded it 94 points in 2019. It is a wooded Sauvignon Blanc using Elgin grapes. Andre does a whole bunch press and then the juice goes into French 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill barrels to ferment. It has a powder puff nose, then green leaves appear with a whiff of smoke. Grapes, crisp limes, lemon, wood hints on the end; a smooth texture and long flavours. Read On…
Plaisir de Merle 2018 Pinot Noir

has incense wood from the expensive new French oak barrels used; it has quite a dark nose which leads one to expect wine with dark fruit but no, it is full of ripe plums and mulberries on the nose. Silky soft and delicious with cherry fruit in abundance, with long elegant flavours. So hard to put down! One of the best Pinot Noirs we have tasted in a while. And so different from the others. R350 on the Estate

Winemag.co.za awarded it 94 points in 2019. It is a wooded Sauvignon Blanc using Elgin grapes. Andre does a whole bunch press and then the juice goes into French 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill barrels to ferment. It has a powder puff nose, then green leaves appear with a whiff of smoke. Grapes, crisp limes, lemon, wood hints on the end; a smooth texture and long flavours. Read On…

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

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MENU has appeared nearly every week since March 2003, initially as a free newsletter from our shop, Main Ingredient, and is sent to our subscribers by email. Many of our subscribing readers have followed us from our earliest days and we appreciate your support
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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