Friday, July 29, 2011

110722 Main Ingredient's MENU - Bastille Day & Franschhoek, Tokara, Shiraz challenge

Main Ingredient’s weekly E-Journal
Gourmet Foods, Ingredients & Fine Wines
Eat In Guide’s Outstanding Outlet Award Winner from 2006 to 2010
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 Basse Provence, our home for the weekend
Franschhoek Odyssey     Sunday dawned as another perfect day, one more of the “summer in winter days we have been experiencing for over a week, where the temperature reached as high as 28°C. Farmers are worried, we need much more rain and cold, but how brilliant is has been for us. The Bastille Festival was pumping when we arrived just after 1 and we had a lovely afternoon catching up with old friends, customers and wines. We ate great food like crisp springbok bitterballen and dreamy melt in the mouth chocolate brownies from talented Margot Janse at Le Quartier Français, pea risotto for R10 and a duck confit sausage for only R15 from Mont Rochelle’s restaurant, prawns and calamari with avo and sweet chilli, a springbok carpaccio with springbok biltong and a not so good lamb cape curry (we think it was goat!) from one of the stands.  We heard that the festival had been crazy on Saturday, with a much younger and rowdier crowd. The Sunday crowd was much calmer, really enjoyed themselves in a more moderate way and there was no crush. We took loads more food and a bottle of wine home to our lovely luxurious suite (on the right under the thatch, pictured above) at Basse Provence and had an early picnic on the lawn before collapsing into the lawn-sized bed.
The next morning Lynne had a gargantuan full English breakfast and John his usual muesli and fruit to line our stomachs before we drove up the valley to Boekenhoutskloof to taste their wines. Their extremely experienced, informed and friendly tasting room host Innocent Mpahleni took great care of us and gave us a tasting of everything they had to offer. The Chocolate Block (R150 at the tasting room) is very elegant this year with nice deep chocolate flavours and not too many coffee overtones. Keep or drink now if you must. We loved their full bodied Syrah and were very impressed with the affordable white blend of Viognier, Chenin and Grenache Blanc under the Wolf Trap label. If you go to the supermarkets you will find a super offer of three bottles of the soft and juicy Wolftrap Shiraz Viognier with a free bottle of the white blend – for R120 – making it only R30 a bottle. Of course, we bought some. 
We had a short chat with winemaker/boss Marc Kent before we left to go to what we knew as Klein Genot and is now renamed Holden Manz, where we bumped into the other Mark of the upper valley, Mark Carmichael-Green, and we also briefly met the owners introduced to us as Big G and Migo: Messrs Gerard Holden and Migo Manz. We tasted their full range in the tasting room with first their admin lady Hanri Marais and then their general manager Guy Kidian. We especially liked the rich and fruity Merlot that has no hint of green stalky flavours. Holden Manz restaurant, the Franschhoek Kitchen, is holding extremely popular Fondue evenings in the coming weeks. Click here for details. If only Franschhoek wasn’t such a long way to drive for an evening function from Cape Town, they sound like such fun. You have a hot oil fondue, then a general knowledge quiz and this is followed by a delicious chocolate fondue. They can run rather late as people enjoy themselves and there is good wine to be had.
We stopped in town for a small bite to eat and sadly we came to the conclusion that perhaps the day after a festival is not a good day to eat, as our meal that evening was also not up to scratch. Chefs were tired, or had taken the day off and our Tempura calamari at the Salmon Bar had to be sent back twice - it was hard rubber and we were unable to cut it, let alone chew. Tempura needs very hot oil so should be cooked really quickly or it soaks up lots and lots of nasty oil and overcooks the contents. However delicious steamed salmon and prawn pot sticker dumplings were substituted.
After lunch, we called in at Colmant to taste their bubblies and Jean Philippe Colmant, who usually requires an appointment to view, was extremely gracious and gave us a full tour, lovely tastings and spent lots of time with us. Definitely one of the top farms to visit, but do make an appointment. His bubbles are very French in character and no more expensive than any other Methode Cap Classique in the valley.
Back to download pictures and for Lynne a short nap before dinner at Le Bon Vivant in the village, a restaurant which had been recommended and which we had never visited previously.  Sadly, the restaurant has a rather off-putting smell of deep frying pervading it – perhaps their extractor fan is not functioning correctly. We tried their 3 course winter special, ordered both dishes from each course, ate half and then swapped plates; the perfect way to get the full picture of their style of food. We liked the Kingklip with the prawn sauce, which was fresh and very well cooked. Some of the other food was a little tired and uninspired, perhaps because they had had a very busy festival. Good service did help.
Tuesday’s weather didn’t vary from the other days. We had a much lighter breakfast and ventured off to explore. First a quick visit to Rickety Bridge to say hello. We are delighted to see that it is very access-friendly for the disabled. Then, past La Couronne to visit the magnificently sited Mont Rochelle (five star) hotel, which has a sensational view of the whole valley in most directions. Very quiet and comfortable with beautiful gardens, including a new herb parterre, we will definitely return for a meal at their restaurant Mange Tout on their magnificent terrace in the summer. Down the hill to the Mont Rochelle tasting room, which we hadn’t visited for several years, and a full tasting of the wines they had available. Some of the wines were from the 2003 and 2004 vintages and we particularly liked their chardonnay, even the one which was in oak for 18 months, because they have been so well made. The wood is well integrated and not too overpowering or buttery. We will be back to try their restaurant, the Country Kitchen, in the summer.
Our last call was at Grande Provence, their next door neighbour. A very smart farm, where you can see that lots of money has been thrown at this Cape Dutch property, but only on the surface.  It has a very good art gallery for which we receive regular invitations, but, sadly, it and the restaurant are currently closed for renovations. The tasting room was open and we were ably taken through their wines by their resident expert Francis who has been with the farm for several years. She is local and immensely informative and knowledgeable about their wines. We have our doubts about how a high priced wine (their top blend sells for R575 per bottle from the cellar) is selling in the current climate, but we were assured that she sells at least one bottle a day. Their Sauvignon blanc, one of the few grown locally, is quite racy and we much preferred their reds, although their winemaker is rather too fond of over-toasted expensive oak for our palates. Their other range is the lower priced Angel’s Tears brand, but we did not taste any of these.
We left Franschhoek at 12h30, having had three lovely days there. It has a very relaxed atmosphere, it is very pretty, if amusingly faux French (Klein Dauphin?), there is lots to do and while we do argue a bit with their brand, “the Gourmet Capital of South Africa” (we think that the Cape has lots of centres of food and wine) they certainly do have many good and interesting places to find good food and wine and they are VERY good at marketing themselves. We will definitely be back soon.
THE PERFECT LUNCH AND END TO OUR ANNUAL HOLIDAY     We have been promising ourselves a visit to Tokara for at least a year, ever since we learnt that Richard Carstens, one of our favourite chefs, was cooking there and this was the perfect chance to go there when we crossed the Helshoogte Pass from Franschhoek to Stellenbosch. Modern in the Waterkloof manner, lots of concrete, steel and glass, this wine farm and restaurant is owned by banker GT Ferreira. Their winemaker is the very talented Miles Mossop, who rightly gets the farm lots of awards every year for the wine he makes. They have fantastic views and although the day was warm, so high up that there was a nip in the air, so we chose to eat inside - but right up against the window, gazing down the valley. Sadly Richard was not in residence on Tuesday, but he has such good staff who are so well trained that the food was completely, authentically his and of a very high standard indeed. Jaap-Henk Koelewijn, the appropriately named sommelier/manager, whom we know from Jardine in town, took very good care of us and we let him choose the wines to pair with our dishes. We decided to stick to Tokara wines and have them by the glass.  His pairings were sensational, so if you go there, do trust him to give you a very good choice. We did the same as we had done at Bon Vivant – each of us ordered different dishes, ate half then swapped plates. For descriptions and beautiful pictures of the food, see the attached blog. We nominate Richard to be on the top ten chefs list this year. He is doing an El Bulli tribute meal on the day El Bulli finally closes in Spain. Book NOW if you want to attend what sounds like a superb adventure.
We visited Joostenberg on the way home and bought some ham hocks and a pork roast, but since Christophe Dehosse left, the quality does seem to have slipped and the prices certainly have risen a lot. We liberated the cats from the vet, got home, unpacked and went straight out to Fork tapas restaurant for their wine and food pairing dinner with Joubert-Tradauw. A lovely gemütliche evening, where we tasted six of this Barrydale vineyard’s wines, beautifully matched with small tapas-sized portions of food, which added up in quantity to quite a generous meal. The chef Jonathan Japha certainly has the, quite rare, knack of matching food and wine. Restaurateurs Ed Saunders and JD Haasbroek are the men behind Fork and we sat with JD and his wife for the evening discussing, of course, food and wine and business at present and meeting the winemaker Meyer Joubert and several members of his interesting family. See the menu attached with its own blog. Lynne particularly loved the Bordeaux blend matched with a cep mushroom and truffle risotto and the poached sole with prawn mousse and a bisque cream with the 2010 Chardonnay.
Wednesday found us at Catharina’s restaurant at Steenberg in Constantia for Wine Magazine’s Brenn-O-Kem Shiraz Challenge Awards lunch. Many of our friends were there, but the happy edge was taken off the occasion because of the news that Wine Magazine will publish its last edition in September. More about this, with pictures, can be seen here.
Because we are so busy this week and Lynne has not had time to cook at all, we are going to repeat one of our favourite recipes from the past.


1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil  - 500g beef (Shin, brisket, sirloin, even fillet) in one piece  - Spring Onions, sliced diagonally into 7.5 cm pieces - 2 slices fresh, peeled ginger -half a small onion or one shallot, chopped finely
Braising Sauce
400 ml good chicken stock - 2 whole star anise - 2 oz sugar - 1.5 tablespoons dark soy sauce - 1 tablespoon Shao Xing rice wine - Half a cinnamon stick - 2 teaspoons sesame paste (Tahini) - 1 tablespoon Hoi Sin sauce -2 teaspoons Szechuan Pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Brown the beef. Then add the spring onions, ginger and onion to the pan and continue to fry for 5 minutes. Add the braising sauce ingredients. Bring the liquid to the boil, skim off any excess fat and turn down the heat until it is just a very slow simmer. Cover and braise for 1½ hours or until the beef is quite tender. Baste and turn the beef a couple of times during the cooking.
Remove the beef and slice thinly. Serve the slices on a bed of noodles, cover the meat with sauce and serve with braised Pak Choi – a Chinese vegetable somewhere between Swiss Chard and cos lettuce.
You can serve this cold. The sauce will turn into a jelly if you use beef shin.
If you wish to double up the quantities, buy two pieces of meat of 500 grams rather than one large one. This will serve 4 to 6 and more if served with other Chinese dishes.
Our products. We have a lot of fun putting MENU together each week and, of course, doing the things we write about, but making it possible for you to enjoy rare and wonderful gourmet foods is what drives our business. We stock a good range of rare spices and other ingredients and delicious ready-made gourmet foods. So, please have a look at our Product List and see what you need. You can contact us by email or phone, or through our website. We can send your requirements to you anywhere in South Africa. If you are following Masterchef Australia, we have truffles and Carnaroli risotto rice amongst lots of other strange and difficult-to-find things that they use.
Our market activities      This week, you will find us at The Place at Cavendish (Woolworths underground entrance to Cavendish Square) on Friday 22nd July, 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.
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 it. You 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 to access the relevant website. All communication should be with the individual restaurants.

22nd July 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
New postal 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
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dinner with Glenwood wines at Knife

Knife Restaurant, Crystal Towers, Century City

 Ed Saunders, enthusiastic as always

Grilled sirloin of beef on mushroom crouton, black pepper sauce, onion rings, French fries
Shiraz/merlot blend 2010

Sticky toffee pudding, caramel sauce and cream
Semillon noble late harvest 2006 

Ed Saunders and DP Burger

DP Burger, Glenwood GM and winemaker 

Joseph, from the Congo, who looked after us so well 

Lynne, Chef Jonathan Japha, Ed Saunders and DP Burger 

Waterford tasting at the Taj

Our notes on the vertical tasting of the 4 vintages of the Waterford flagship red blend, The Jem, can be found after the first 3 photographs.                                                                

 Max and Benj poring Kevin Arnold Shiraz

 Kevin Arnold

Tasting 4 vintages of The Jem, Waterford's Flagship red blend
Kevin Arnold always uses grapes from the same varieties in this wine, but he uses different proportions of the component grapes in the blend each year to get the integrated style that he wants. 
We started with the oldest wine, the 2004 vintage, first released in 2006, which we had sold in the shop. Herbal buchu and basil notes on the nose initially, with soft wood and truffle aromas, it has a deliciously tempting nose. The age of this wine shows well and it is a soft ‘drink me’ wine with nice integrated fruit, wood and soft tannins, dark liquorice, earthy rich truffles with slightly sharp fruit making it a good food wine. It should have a few years life in it; Kevin Arnold says it should last another 10 years, but you can definitely enjoy it now. About 65% comes from the 5 classic Bordeaux varieties, with the remainder being Shiraz, Mourvedre and Barbera.
Next the 2005 with its cedar pencil, red berry, raspberry and balsam nose, showing expensive wood and incense too. On the mouth it first shows soft, soft chalky tannins, then sweet boiled fruit. The fruit is rather  concentrated, with a tarry end and therefore together with the tannins. It is beautifully balanced but will benefit from being kept for a few more years. It was made from 58% Cabernet sauvignon, 12% Shiraz, 11% Mourvedre, 7% each Malbec and Merlot, 3% Barbera and 2% Sangiovese.
The 2006 has a softer nose than the 2007 with violets, vanilla, mossy forest floor but is full of fruit, which predominates. On the palate it is a beautifully balanced full-on barrage of fruit and warm alcohol, lots of rhubarb and red cherries, raspberries and mulberries with a lovely cedarwood end. We think this needs a few more years to settle, when it will reward the keeper. Made from 60% Cabernet sauvignon, 15% Shiraz, 7.5% each Malbec and Cabernet franc, 5% Mourvedre and 2.5% each Sangiovese and Barbera.
The 2007 Jem is just that. A blockbuster nose full of vanilla, incense, it is herbal, has lead pencils,  minerality and spice with lots of sweet berry fruits. On the mouth, fruit starts the journey with lots of red and black cherries, rhubarb, mulberries from the Malbec and then licorice, basil, lead pencils and chalky tannins. Buy some now if you can afford to and wait for this to shine. Components are as per the 2006. 
Sadly there is no 2008 Jem because of an uneven harvest, but there will be a 2009, which Kevin says should be the best yet. We do look forward to tasting it.

Lynne and Michael Pownall, Taj GM

Christmas in July with Warwick wines at 15 on Orange

Mike & Pip Ratcliffe with Lynne

Xolani Mankotywa, sommelier

Sole Paupiettes on cauliflower purée

Duck & Foie gras Crème brulée

Butter roast turkey ballotine

Christmas pudding parfait

Mike Ratcliffe and guests

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wine Magazine's Brenn-o-Kem Shiraz Challenge Awards

Wednesday, July 20th 2011
Wine magazine's Shiraz Awards lunch, which had elements of a wake, was at Catharina's on Steenberg wine estate in Constantia. Garth Almazan's excellent food was paired with the winning wines. It was a beautiful, clear mid-winter day, the only sad note being the imminent closure of the magazine. Of the 165 wines tasted, only one wine received 4.5 Stars and was an outright winner. Eight faulty wines were not scored, which left 5.7% of the wines scoring 4 Stars, 8.3% scoring 3.5 Stars and 22.6% receiving 3 Stars. a five-person panel (Carrie Adams, Miguel Chan, Karl Lambour, Angela Lloyd and James Pietersen) tasted the wines blind and assessed them using the 20-point/5-Star scoring system. Carrie Adams, the co-ordinator of the judging panel, said that the overall quality of the wines was very good, but that there was too much brettanomyces infection in the submissions. The outright winner, Land's End Shiraz from Hidden Valley, made by Louis Nel, was well clear of the others. The Best Value Award winner was Obikwa 2010, which earned 2½ stars.
Steenberg manor house

Alan Ramsay, Stuart Lowe and Michael Olivier

Norman McFarlane and Friends

Lynne with Cathryn Henderson

Judging co-ordinator Carrie Adams, dressed for a chilly Johannesburg

Dave Hidden with his Award-winning Land's End (Hidden Valley) Shiraz, made by Louis Nel.

Garth Almazan, Catharina’s Executive Chef

Higgo Jacobs, Sommelier

The lunch dishes:
fresh salmon cured in biltong spice, red wine jus, served with the Value wine winner, Obikwa Shiraz 2010.

Chargrilled springbok loin, served with the Award-winning Land's End Shiraz.

Chocolate trilogy

Cathryn Henderson, Publishing Editor

Celia Gilloway, Events Co-ordinator

Kate Clohessy, Events & competitions assistant

Lynne, Samm Bain, Wine National Sales Manager and Andrew Moth, Hotel & Restaurant Editor

Stuart Lowe, Managing Director

Brandon de Kock, Group Content Director

Allan Mullins CWM

Alan Mullins with Lauren Cohen

Angela Lloyd 

Kim Maxwell, Michael Bampfield-Duggan, Mel Minnaar, Michael Olivier, James Pietersen CWM 

James Pietersen, Karl Lambour, Nikki Werner, Kim Maxwell, Mike Bampfield-Duggan, Mel

Garth Almazan and his team 

Norman McFarlane

Kobus du Toit, Brenn-O-Kem CEO

Greg Landman

Kathy Marston, Garth Almazan and Dax Villanueva

Dax Villanueva (Relax with Dax)

Graham Howe