Friday, March 19, 2010

Main Ingredient's MENU - Mining threat, Delheim, 1800 degrees

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Threat to the winelands continues There is a sinister agenda in play here. We heard from a spokesman that the people behind this initiative by a Government owned mining company did not know that wine farms occupied the land they earmarked for prospecting and mining, and that the whole thing would go away. Now, that has been contradicted and it has been announced that the area to be prospected is in effect the whole Cape winelands area. No thought has been given, by the minds behind this initiative, to the fact that, not only is wine one of this country’s most successful export earners, with huge additional income from related tourism, but that it is also a very important part of our international image. It also threatens to destroy a large part of our unique and extremely valuable natural environment. We have attached a statement from Gary Jordan which tells the story better than we can. He has also joined the STOP Mining our Winelands! Facebook action group and we suggest that as many people as possible do the same. You can reach it here.
A business opportunity? On our lovely meander along the coastline from the Hemel and Aarde valley last week, we reached Gordon's Bay and the Strand round about lunch time and, as the temperature had reached 40°C, none of us felt like a full hot lunch, just a sandwich or a salad and a beer. It was nearly impossible to find anything along the seafront and we ended up in Somerset Mall, thankfully with aircon, at Mugg & Bean. Why none of the seaside cafes and restaurants offer this sort of refreshing light meal is a mystery. Sea Point does in spades.
Foreign foods    Every now and then, one gets an opportunity to try a completely new food profile. Our Dutch friends cooked us a magnificent Rijsttafel (two days cooking) and the friends who joined us last Friday were knocked out by the different flavours and textures. We have both had Peter's lovely food before but our friends had not had this experience and they absolutely raved about it. Indonesian food is not hot - you add your own heat with Sambal Oelek and Sambal Badjak - and they use every sort of meat and fish and many different vegetables. The style is somewhere between Indian, Vietnamese and Thai. We had Babi Ketjap - a pork dish in a sweet soy - beef in a coconut sauce, firm fish (Kingklip) in a tamarind sauce, prawns in a delicate lemongrass sauce, stir fried bean sprouts with ham, cucumber salad, and green beans in coconut, the obligatory delicious fried bananas, and lots of basmati rice. Twelve of us enjoyed it and there was still enough for two more meals and then some went into the freezer!
Hot degrees in summer On Monday night, for our guest Peter's birthday, we tried 1800 degrees in Green Point. He had requested steak, Carne had space but somehow found it impossible to fit in a table for 6 (?!*) and we wanted to give him a good experience. We had received mixed reports about the food, but we had an enjoyable meal. We had the best service we have ever had in Cape Town from a lovely young Zimbabwean woman named Tumi, who was charming and efficient and might be worth poaching! Without writing anything down, she presented everyone in the party with exactly what they ordered, the steaks were as requested, wine was poured as we needed it, there was plenty of tap water all evening, we were not pressured to buy more than we needed AND when dessert came, she had picked up that it was Peter's birthday and his plate had “Happy Birthday Peter” written in chocolate around the rim. Tada! Without being asked for any special treatment, she had peeked at his birthday card, noted his name and the occasion and taken action.
The special 1800°F grill does seem to sear the steaks and take out some of the moisture. The sirloins’ texture indicated that they had been frozen (we had an expert with us!) but the fillets hadn't and were juicy and well flavoured. One of our party said that the meat had a particular taste that he didn’t enjoy, but others couldn't detect it. Lynne ordered salmon and asked for it very pink but it came somewhat seared and cooked through. John had a pretty average duck confit leg with lightly grilled breast. Our main gripe concerned a starter of Scallops with Cauliflower Puree - an absolute classic which several of us had heard of and wanted to try. At R72 a plate, we were a tad surprised to find only two seared queen scallops each - we know they are very expensive, but we thought this was a little mean.
They bring you a plate with one of each dessert, so that you can choose, but this was strangely off-putting. The warm chocolate fondant was, John reported, not at all liquid inside and a bit heavy. The lemon tart not very lemony but the passion fruit cheesecake was well appreciated by Yvonne. We drank Kevin Grant’s superb Ataraxia 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and competitively priced De Toren Z - although the listed 06 had run out and a very young 07 was served. They decanted it for us and it did open up very well indeed.
You can sit outside at their very Parisian style boulevard tables, screened from the road by a hedge, but it was a hot evening and we were delighted to be inside with airconditioning. The hotel lobby right next door is very, very elegant, the loos have silk wallpaper and lots of marble, but the restaurant is a little more restrained in décor, and looks like many hotel restaurants. Pity they didn’t go a bit more quirky.
Delheim in the cool Knorhoek Valley We were invited by Nora Sperling-Thiel to come and taste Delheim’s wines and eat in the restaurant and, as we had our Dutch guests with us, we took them along on Sunday for lunch, together with their Aunt Maureen who lives in Helderberg Village and was due for an outing. Three of us tasted through some of the wines in the cellar while Yvonne & Maureen 'caught up'. A very good expression of Sauvignon Blanc, one of few 2009's that we judge to be drinking well and doesn’t have to wait a year. Lovely fig, gooseberry and citrus notes with lots of minerality and a good mouth feel. The Chardonnay sur Lie is deep and full and a lovely food wine to accompany rich sauces. After 11 months in French barrels the wood is evident but not obtrusive. Lynne was keen to taste their Gewürztraminer which has a lovely litchi and rose petal nose on quite a light wine. After a good classic cabernet, we tasted two pinotages, of which we preferred the reserve, available only in magnums.
We then moved on to the terrace for lunch and, as it was rather hot, everyone opted to skip a starter. Two of us chose lamb shanks in a rich red wine gravy with roasted beetroot and mash. Stunning, falling off the bone, but gargantuan portions. Lots went home in doggie bags but perhaps that was the heat. The two men had good bratwurst with kartoffelsalat (German potato salad) and a butternut and granadilla salad with very good light mustard and Yvonne had two huge snoek fishcakes with a beetroot feta and nut salad.
They continued to ply us with tasters of wine throughout lunch and we really enjoyed the Chenin Blanc which is on special at the farm, the Sauvignon with the bratwurst and the two spicy and rich Shirazes with the lamb shanks. Apple tart with cinnamon ice-cream, chocolate brownies with Pinotage ice-cream and coffee followed, with tastings of the farm’s excellent muscadel and noble late harvest. It’s a lovely, relaxed, old fashioned farm with a nice unpretentious lunch menu which has something for everyone, without trying to be haut cuisine. Peter's bill for three was very reasonable and it is very child friendly. And then there is Hippo the spaniel cross. And he isn't, ever, but is very good indeed at sitting up and begging and looking cute. Check the blog for pictures of Delheim, Rijsttafel and Peter’s plate.
Chris James of the Thai Cafe in Hout Bay continues his "Stir Fry Madness Menu" for our readers. It includes a 3 course meal for R99: any starters, any Stir Fry (Chicken, Pork or Beef) including rice and any sweet all for R99! Readers must just mention Main Ingredient or John and Lynne Ford when ordering/booking. Initial reports from readers who have been there have been enthusiastic.
Computer challenges We’ve had a computer problem and our operating system had to be re-installed. Regrettably, this meant that some unread or unanswered messages were lost. If this affected you, please re-send the message, so that we can attend to it.
Tastings and other events As usual in the Cape (and long may it continue without being wrecked by idiots who want to dig it all up!) there is a great choice of interesting and exciting things to occupy your leisure time:
Wine mag chenin challenge Join WINE magazine for an informative seated tasting of the top-scoring wines from 2010 Guala Closures Chenin Blanc Tasting. The tastings will be presented by a leading Chenin Blanc winemaker. The Cape Town tasting will be held tomorrow, 18th March, at 18h30 in the Mount Nelson Hotel, and the Johannesburg tasting on 30th March at 18h30 in the Crowne Plaza The Rosebank. Tickets cost R150 per person. To book: call 0860 100 205 or Fax 0866 704 101. E-mail subs@ramsaymedia.co.za. To book online. CLICK HERE. For more information, please contact Jane Eedes on 021 530 3308. In the interest of fellow tasters, please refrain from wearing excessive perfume or aftershave.
The Wellington harvest festival will take place on Wellington’s farms on Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st March. Click here to see the full programme
Durbanville Wine Valley’s Feast of the Grape takes place on Sunday 21st March. We’re looking forward to some of the special events on the various Durbanville farms. Clicking here will let you check the details.
A date which you should diarise now is the Taste of Cape Town 2010 from 24th to 28th March in the grounds of Rhodes High School, Mowbray. Follow signs from Liesbeek Parkway and Durban Road. Click here to buy tickets
One of the best events we attended last year was the Solms Delta Oesfees (harvest festival). We’re looking forward to this year’s, a rousing feast of Cape music and lekker kaapsekos, which will be held at the Solms-Delta wine estate from 11am to 9pm on Saturday, 27th March, with an exciting line-up of local favourites. Click here to see the programme.
Restaurants and picnics We’ve posted the restaurant specials list on our blog. Open it here. Please let us have more feedback about the restaurants in our list of specials. Your input is very valuable to all our readers.
We’ve enjoyed picnics at Buitenverwachting, Allée Bleue and Warwick. We are so lucky to live in a beautiful environment, where we can enjoy wonderful wines and food in such lovely places.
Click on the highlighted hyperlinks here and in the restaurant and other blogs linked to this to book for the events we write about or to learn more about them.
Weekend market: Nelle, Susan and Jane will be on our pavement as usual this Saturday with their delicious country goodies. Come and buy fresh farm eggs, fruit and vegetables, preserves and home baked breads, cakes and pastries from them and then come and visit us! We will be tasting wines, so do come in and have a chat and a taste and buy something great to cook with this weekend and a good wine to go with it. Wine and food are inseparable partners.
Your invitation to Main Ingredient’s Free Saturday morning Wine Tastings
every Saturday from about 10am in the shop
20th March – Rosés: Zandvliet My Best Friend, Morgenhof Fantail, Vergenoegd Runner Duck and Newton Johnson Felicité with nibbles to suit
27th March – High Constantia Silverhurst






17th March 2010
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Visit us at Shop 5, Nedbank Centre, 15 Kloof Rd, Sea Point 8005, Cape Town, South Africa
Phone: +27 21 439 5169 / 083 229 1172
We are the only shop in Cape Town which offers hard to find gourmet foods matched with well-chosen wines
Our Adamastor & Bacchus© tailor-made Wine, Food and Photo tours take small groups (up to 6) to wine producers who are not usually open to the public. 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.
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