Friday, March 19, 2010

Where to go on Saturday night in Hermanus? Eat Out is full of possible restaurants, but when we asked friends who live in the area, none was enthusiastically recommended. We wanted to go to Mogg’s - we were staying opposite – but, sadly, she no longer opens in the evenings. So we picked Lemon Butta on the seafront at random, liking what the reviewer said they made: Paella, fresh fish and sea food and to Lynne's delight, a crab curry. Sadly it has zero ambience, even with its good sea view over the harbour area, and we did secure one of the best window tables - sadly no whales at the moment. Lots of very helpful Zim and possibly Moçambican staff and a Filipino sushi chef, it is still a caff with plastic tables. The lads had a very good starter of grilled fresh sardines, which they said were as good as sardines could be. Too much fiddle for Lynne, who hates bony fish. We have had some really bad mushy sushi recently, and we saw there were very attractive mixed plates going out, so Lynne had a Roly Poly Maki - here the rice was a bit chewy and probably made the day before and not great. Main courses were fresh baby sole, grilled yellowtail, Thai green prawn curry and the aforementioned crab curry. An enormous plate piled high with crab legs, two pairs of crackers and one paper serviette! We asked for more. They don’t do bibs or finger bowls and Lynne had to get really involved with the curry. In fact there was very little meat in the many crab claws, most of it had been cooked into the rich red sauce. Luckily they provided a bowl of rice and basically it was crab sauce on rice, nice but not the full catastrophe, to quote Zorba. Coffee and a bill for R800 for 4 included corkage for one bottle of 2006 Cape Point Semillon (beautiful, but not helped by being served in Café de Paris goblets, and a bottle of Boschendal Chenin. Would we go back? Probably not.
We had a flying visit to Ataraxia's vineyard and cellar on Saturday afternoon. We nearly missed our appointment because of horrible traffic on the N2. Kevin Grant has built a beautiful building, reminiscent of a Greek church, perched high on a hill, at the foot of Babylon’s Peak, and approached by possibly the most hairy road to a winery we have yet encountered. Stunning views down the valley and lots of room for art. Three wonderful wines to taste and news of Pinot Noir to come in a harvest or two. His Sauvignon Blanc is very layered and sophisticated, not too acidic - as many of the 2009's are this year. The well wooded buttery Chardonnay 2008 is showing lots of fruit and minerality, and would be perfect to sup but also would go very well with rich sauces and seafood. Then there is the 2006 Serenity, an absolutely classic Bordeaux blend rich, deep and complex this wine is drinking incredibly well and should keep for ages and improve.
On Sunday, we ventured back up the valley where we had an appointment with Carolyn and JC Martin of Creation, who were incredibly welcoming and kindly gave up some of their Sunday. A large elegant restaurant, gallery and tasting centre sits over their wine cellar, in fact you can see the barrel cellar through thick panes of glass in the floor. Sunday was as hot as hell (40ºC) so we sat out on the terrace under huge umbrellas and tasted the wines with a platter of food matches: Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Semillon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah/Grenache and Cabernet sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot blends. The quality which comes out of this small, very young cellar is superb, and has been from the beginning. Then we were served a huge platter of excellent cold meats and cheese for lunch. Very good value, you can check out the menu here.
At about 2.30, everyone was ready to hide from the heat, so we returned to our cottage a few kilometres back along the valley and everyone flaked out. We braaied a spatchcocked chicken, basted with Prego sauce, in the evening and loved the thunder and lightning and huge downpour in the middle of the night, though we are not sure any of the wine farms would have liked it at all, as they were all just about to pick their grapes. The Hemel en Aarde Valley is producing some amazing wines.
Our Seven year Itch……was taken care of by a lovely anniversary meal at one of our favourite City restaurants, Bizerca, on Monday night. John had a Paté and Rillette plate, Yvonne and Peter a Fish tartare and Lynne their classic raw salmon salad, one of her favourites. The lads both had beef fillet, served on a bed of Rustic potatoes and four perfectly cooked green asparagus spears, as their main course, Yvonne managed another starter: the beetroot and goat’s cheese tart and Lynne had the duo of quail starter which is quite substantial, having half a quail and a small quail pie with some really delicious buttery pastry and a good jus. Two apple sorbets with Calvados (a perfect dessert for the heat) and a berry Panacotta followed and then some coffee. R1200 with one corkage (Cape Point Sauvignon Blanc) and one bottle of Ken Forrester Shiraz/Grenache. Service is good and well-informed, with Cyrillia, the wife of Laurent, the chef and co-owner of the restaurant, being charming and attentive.
Sorbets are really easy to make - you don’t need an ice cream maker, but it does help. Here is a recipe which might help if the heat wave continues. Don’t forget that savoury sorbets are a lovely way to start a meal in hot weather: Tomato, Avocado, watercress and mint are suggestions
1 ripe Spanspek/Charentais melon (approx 1 kg) - 50g icing sugar - juice of 1 lime or lemon - 1 egg white - salt
Halve the melon, discard all the seeds, scoop out all the flesh and put it into a blender with the sugar, the lime juice and a tiny pinch of salt. Make a puree, then put into a freeze-proof container and leave in your freezer for 2 to 3 hours. Whisk to break up the ice crystals. Whisk the egg white till stiff, fold into the half-frozen melon mixture and return to the freezer till firm. 20 minutes before you serve, put it into the fridge to soften. Scoop into the empty melon shells and serve. Decorate the dish with edible flowers and leaves.
Threat to the winelands Last week, we included a statement about the threat to mine on several well-known wine farms, which poses, in addition a huge threat to the environment and the economy of the Western Cape and of South Africa as a whole. There has been comprehensive reporting of this in the media, but the threat is still there. We cannot attach the form for registering as an interested and affected party this week because of a computer problem. Please complete it from last week’s MENU and send it if you have not already done so.
Chris James of the Thai Cafe in Hout Bay is promoting 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
Tastings and other events
Franschhoek Vendange Celebration is scheduled for 13 March. Instead of celebrating the ‘fruits of their labour’ at a long harvest table, the organisers have decided to combine this feast with harvest activities arranged for the same day by the local wine estates, thereby affording visitors to the area an even more memorable Franschhoek experience. Many of the local wine estates have put together a host of unforgettable harvest activities during the month of March
Nelspruit and White River wine lovers can enjoy the Mpumalanga Wine Show, at Ingwenyama Conference and Sport Resort from 12th to 14th March, presented by wine authority Michael Fridjhon and the WineX team. R100 per session, includes tasting glass.
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 on 18th March 2010 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 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 20th & 21st March.
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.
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
13th March – De Grendel wines

 10th March 2010

Remember - if you can’t find something, we’ll do our best to get it for you, and, if you’re not in Cape Town, 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
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.
All photographs, recipes and text used in these newsletters are © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus
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