Thursday, June 30, 2011

110623 Main Ingredient's MENU - Father's Day at Queen Victoria, Tuscan bean soup, links to our product list, restaurant specials & events


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Main Ingredient’s weekly E-Journal
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The Time Ball Tower was built in 1894. It is next to Dock House, the old Harbour Engineer's residence. The Noon Gun on Signal Hill has been fired every day at noon since 1806. Originally, it gave notice of the arrival of ships in Table Bay. It also gave a time signal for ships’ masters to set their chronometers. Because of the time taken for this signal to reach the harbour, it was not sufficiently accurate and the Time Ball was dropped from the top of its mast to give a more accurate visual signal at noon. Its use was discontinued in 1934 because it had been made obsolete by newer technology and the tower was restored in November 1997. The tradition of firing the Noon Gun continues, a task performed by the South African Navy.
The Queen Victoria Hotel      We had been sitting, for a while, on an invitation to visit Dash Restaurant (named after Queen Victoria’s favourite dog) at the Queen Victoria Hotel and write about the food, but we haven’t had an opportunity. We decided to go on Father’s Day, together with John’s daughter Clare, to spoil John but, first, we visited the sister V&A Hotel because we had been invited to their &Union beer and Black Bottle whisky tasting. We also got to check out their Sunday buffet which does look interesting enough to return to sample.
Then up the stairs to the top of the cliff and what is probably the best view of the entire Waterfront, next to the Time Ball Tower. Alton van Biljon, the Newmark Group’s charming Food and Beverage Manager, escorted us to the Hotel and showed us around the suites, including the Presidential suite. Newly decorated by a (very) creative team, this has a very modern and luxurious feel. Lots of black marble, soft grey and taupe walls, crisp white paint, especially on the curved staircase which is right out of the Guggenheim, the décor has been warmed up with lovely touches of deep purple on couches, pillows and other quality furnishings as well as stunning modern crystal chandeliers. The restaurant and the elegant bar follow the theme and we especially liked the dark steel-topped tables, comfortable club chairs and the cut-out fireplace. Alton has a signature cocktail, Pomegranate Martini which he insisted we all try. Lynne, who never drinks cocktails, is completely hooked and in love with this sensational drink. It is made with a wonderful elderflower cordial that comes from the UK, pomegranate juice and Bombay Sapphire Gin. More, more…
Award winning Stephen Templeton is the Executive chef (he was previously at the Mount Nelson, and then had his own hotel in Montagu) and his menu has been getting lots of good attention and recommendations lately. We were really delighted and surprised to see the price levels on the menu too. Starters are from R55, mains average R125 and desserts about R60. It is full of fresh, seasonal, local food with some good vegetarian and fish choices as well as a couple of serious luxuries. The wine list is very well planned and offers some of the best wines in the country, but not all are priced beyond one’s budget. Clare and Lynne had the rich and meaty wild mushroom ragout on puff pastry with a divine béarnaise sauce and truffle crisps while John succumbed to the Pear, Stilton and Chicory salad. We had glasses of one of our favourite Semillons, the layered fruit, lanoline rich and complex Ghost Corner from Cederberg and it went perfectly with both dishes. We were then treated to a selection of the delicious sorbets which are served between courses. Rose, Apple and cinnamon, lime and lemon, orange citrus, vodka, tomato. Just right for a pause in the meal. 
Lynne had decided to have the scallops as her main course the moment she saw the menu – they have been seriously recommended and she loves them. She was surprised to see that there are no meat starters on the menu at present, but the mushrooms were a good choice because she didn’t particularly want to do two fish courses in a row. The menu description read “Hazelnut crusted scallops on braised baby fennel and cauliflower puree with curry oil” – she had five wonderful pieces of sweet fresh scallop but thinks the braised baby fennel might have been missing? All the dishes are stunningly presented and the scallops came with a huge parmesan crisp filled with salad leaves and micro greens, which was demolished. See our attached blog for pictures and the menu, as well as some pics of the hotel interior. Clare loves duck and really enjoyed the rich Duck confit risotto with citrus and a very aromatic herb “potpourri” which accompanied the dish – you are meant to add the herbs to your own taste. Both girls were able to predict with complete accuracy what John would order for both his main course and dessert! We do know his taste. And he loved them both.  First there was the superbly tender Pan fried loin of venison with parsley mash, carrot puree and turnip gratin which came with a lovely boat of unctuous gravy. With our main courses, Alton decanted a rich, full-flavoured Mullineux 2008 Syrah, which was a perfect partner to the food. Then John’s dessert, which Lynne and Clare want to go back and order – SOON: Hot chocolate fondant with orange ice cream and bitter sugar brittle. It was sensationally dark bitter Valrhona chocolate with a slight salty tang, warm and liquid in the centre and oh so decadent. Clare had to have some more of the lime sorbet, so her dessert was a coconut panacotta with lime sorbet and passion fruit coulis and she loved it. Lynne chose the interesting sounding liquorice macaroons with tangerine jelly cubes and they were deliciously black and salty and not too sweet. There are only four desserts on the menu and a good cheese board, but the selection is so good that you will find something you like. We moved to the lounge area on the other side of the fireplace for coffee and a 15 year old Joseph Barry brandy for Papa - Clare was our chauffeur for Father’s Day. And, suddenly, we found that it was four o’clock and a lovely Sunday afternoon had slipped away delightfully. A sincere thank you to all who so helped to make it a very special day, especially Alton and our excellent waiter, Joseph.
LUNCH WITH THE FIRST LADY     Many of you who visit us at the Neighbourgoods Market on Saturdays will know the very successful stall on the corner next to us, manned by the lovely Victoria and her colleagues who make their delicious overstuffed rolls, where you can choose to pile in a selection of ham, egg, sausages, chicken, two pestos, cheese, avo and lots and lots of salads. Occasionally, as happened last Saturday, you will also see their boss, Karen Dudley, working there. Karen’s restaurant, The Kitchen, at 111 Sir Lowry Road in Woodstock made the news this afternoon. Woodstock as an area has also been in the news, with Time Magazine calling it the most happening place in Cape Town, so it may have been as a result of this exposure that US First Lady Michelle Obama and her entourage popped in there for lunch today. If you haven’t been to this restaurant yet, and you definitely should, you might be surprised to know that you have already eaten some of Karen’s food at the market. At The Kitchen, she specialises in salads, amongst other things, and there are always at least 15 on offer each day.  Knowing how popular her food is at the Saturday market in the Biscuit Mill, we are sure that Mrs O and her party had a wonderful lunch. We say “Hurrah!”. Karen, you deserve the fame at last and we hope there will be queues at your door for months to come.
WINTER STORMS KEEPING US INSIDE     We keep talking about them. Cape Town is deservedly called The Cape of Storms and, this winter, there do seem to have been quite a lot coming in over the Atlantic. Last night, we had some crashing thunder and hail and hurling rain against the windowpanes. It is bone chillingly cold because of the damp, even if the temperature is only down to about 8 degrees at night. Gas supplies are short at the moment, due to explanations we can’t quite buy, but we have managed to get more. We rely on it for nearly all our cooking and heating and don’t want to be forced back to using electricity, which is becoming extortionately expensive. We hope you Capetonians are surviving it and enjoying your family at home, but don’t forget that there are lots of restaurants and other food and wine businesses out there who need your support in winter, especially in this recession. If you hibernate too successfully, you might wake up to find that many of them have disappeared. We are sad to see that one of our favourites, l’Aperitivo, has closed, but we hear they may return again when they have had time to look for a better location. The old one in Loop St, though full of atmosphere, was too small to be viable.
BAKING SUPPLIES and Cake Decorations     We stock leaf gelatine and all Nielsen Massey’s real extracts from America, but are often asked for other baking aids, like liquid and paste colours, glitter and other decorations. Denise’s Delight’s has been a favourite source of cakes in Sea Point for many years. Denise has now moved to a new location in Regent Road in Sea Point, and has added a bakery shop, where she imports a nice range of these aids, as well as stocking the Nicoletta range of cake decorations.  Do go and see what she has.
As promised, here is one of our favourite recipes for this time of the year:
ZUPPA di FAGIOLI alIa FIORENTINA (Florentine Bean Soup)
This is the authentic bean soup recipe from Florence. The Tuscans have been renowned for centuries for their great love of bean-eating! The soup is placed in a wide ovenproof dish, covered with thinly sliced onions, coated with a sheen of olive oil and heated in the oven until the onions form a perfect golden crust. SERVES 4
1 kg fresh or 450 g dried cannellini or borlotti beans - 5 large cloves garlic - 2 large onions, peeled and chopped - 8 tablespoons olive oil - 1 carrot, finely chopped - 1 leek, chopped - 1 stick celery, chopped - 1 large ripe tomato, chopped - 1 ham hock - 1.5 litres water – salt - ½ teaspoon beef extract - 275 g black Tuscan cabbage or dark green cabbage leaves  washed and cut into large pieces - 1 sprig fresh rosemary - 2.5g dried thyme - 4 slices coarse white bread - 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
If you're using dried beans, soak them overnight and boil twice for 5-10 minutes, washing in between each boiling. Drain and discard the water.
Peel and chop 2 of the garlic cloves and fry with the chopped onions in 3 tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and the ham bone, the beans and cold water. Add a pinch or two of salt and the beef extract. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beans are tender.
Remove the ham hock and 1 large ladleful of whole, cooked beans. Liquidise or sieve the rest of the soup. Return the whole beans to the soup with the cabbage. Continue to simmer gently until the cabbage is tender. Cut off some of the meat from the ham hock, cube it and put it into the soup.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining olive oil into a small saucepan and heat it gently with the rosemary, thyme and 2 more of the garlic cloves, unpeeled but crushed. After 10 minutes or so, strain the oil into the soup and heat it through for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Toast the bread in the oven. Peel the remaining garlic clove and rub each side of each slice of bread with it. Place the bread in the bottom of a warmed soup tureen. Pour the soup over the bread, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve at once.
PRODUCT NEWS AND NEW STOCK     We will have new stock of whole chestnuts in tins and other chestnut products imminently. Chestnuts are just the thing for stuffing the celebratory bird if you are taking advantage of the wintry weather to celebrate Christmas in June or July. We have a few of Lynne’s delicious luxury Christmas puddings and can make more if they are needed. We are also expecting new stock of Rillettes and other duck related products, as soon as they have been cleared by Customs.   Check our updated product list HERE. You will, of course, need to be online.
Our market activities      This week, you will find us at The Place at Cavendish (Woolworths underground entrance to Cavendish Square) tomorrow, Friday 24th June, from 10h00 to 17h00, where we will have our great selection of delicious treats and ingredients for you. We will be at the Old Biscuit Mill’s Neighbourgoods Market, as always, on Saturday between 9am and 2pm. Next Wednesday, we will be back at the Dean St Arcade in Newlands from 09h30 to 14h30. AND Long Beach Mall market will revive on the 1st of July, and happen every second Friday.  We may only be there from the 15th but do come and see us there if you live in the area. We know the market has been missed, because several have said so and are delighted that it will be back. It may be a little bit smaller than before, but the quality of the stalls is going to be exceptional.
Good food and wine continues to grow as a focal point for many people in the Western Cape and, to an extent, in other parts of the country. As a result, our list of Interesting Food and Wine Events has grown so much that it was making MENU too long for some of our readers. So we’ve taken it online. Click here to access itYou will need to be connected to the internet.
Our list of Winter restaurant special offers continues to grow. Click here to access it. These 2011 Winter Specials have been sent to us by the restaurants or their PR agencies. We have not personally tried all of them and their listing here should not always be taken as a recommendation from ourselves. When we have tried it, we’ve put in our observations. We have cut out the flowery adjectives etc. we’ve been sent, to give you the essentials. Click on the name of the restaurant to access the relevant website. All communication should be with the individual restaurants.





23rd June 2011
Remember - if you can’t find something, we’ll do our best to get it for you, and, if you’re in Cape Town or elsewhere in the country, 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
Phones: +27 21 439 3169 / 083 229 1172 / 083 656 4169
Address: 60 Arthurs Rd, Sea Point 8005
Our Adamastor & Bacchus© tailor-made Wine, Food and Photo tours take small groups (up to 6) to specialist wine producers who make the best of South Africa’s wines. 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. 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.
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