Friday, August 19, 2011

110810 Dombeya dinner at The Vineyard, Venison in Port, interesting events and restaurant special offers


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Enjoying the winter sun on Hout Bay beach
We had lots of replies to our question about the identity of the bird in last week’s MENU photograph. There were quite a few possibilities, but the majority opinion was that it was a female fiscal shrike. We are full of appreciation for all the replies. Thank you all very much.
On the first Friday of each month, there is a dinner where the chef matches dishes to wines from a specific wine producer. This, and the lead-up to it, was probably one of the most interesting and intriguing things we have done this year - to sit in on a pre-dinner planning session with a chef and a winemaker, come up with flavours we found in the wine and then make a few suggestions about what other flavours they might match. We also had a table full of different foods to taste with the wines, to see what matched or what absolutely clashed. They were not looking for specific dishes, just suggestions, e.g. that the butter tasted in the chardonnay might match well with butternut and the tomato nuances found in the rich red blend might match with fresh or cooked tomato. Then, last Friday, we were able to attend the dinner and see how the chef had interpreted the initial tasting session. What was even more interesting was that the Executive Chef Alex Docherty, who cooked the meal, did it from the notes of Chef JB Louw, who sat with us in the first tasting and, in our opinion, he got it very right.
The restaurant was The Square, at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, with winemaker Rianie Strydom and her Dombeya wines. Our welcome drink was, unusually, a red: the Dombeya Shiraz. Lynne is fairly traditional about the order in which she likes to drink wine and would normally have preferred a dry white but, because this Shiraz is so soft, fruity and ready, it was lovely to drink through the meeting, greeting and speeches before dinner.
With our first course, we had the Dombeya Chardonnay. It is full of lime and apple flavours, with some buttery backing but lean and crisp, rather than flabby. The chef’s choice was, for us, a stroke of brilliance and it certainly echoed what we had found at the first tasting session. A rectangle of Norwegian salmon was wrapped in Parma ham, gently cooked till the ham crisped and the salmon just fell apart - with a lovely butternut puree, accompanied by lime and apple jelly cubes and some micro greens. The second course was an unctuously soft, almost jellied, long cooked neck of lamb, topped with a caramelised onion and black cherry chutney with a Nicoise style salad to accompany the very cherry flavoured 2008 Merlot. The main course was served with the Dombeya Samara 2006, a blend of traditional Bordeaux grapes, meaty full-flavoured and many layered. This was served with a traditional oven-roasted beef sirloin, served in 2 cm thick slices of perfect pinkness and tenderness. It was accompanied by a rich braised oxtail and bone marrow stuffed single ravioli, sitting on a wild mushroom and fennel fricassee with, for us, the absolute stroke of brilliance - the confit vine cherry tomato and liquorice cream. Who would have risked this combination in a reduction? And yet it worked amazingly, highlighting both flavours in the wine. Lynne had tasted and smelled forest floor aromas in this blend, as well as the tomato and liquorice, and there it was on the plate to match the wine. Dessert was matched to the Dombeya Sauvignon Blanc - not everyone’s idea of the perfect match but, for a wine so full of tropical litchi and passion fruit flavours, matching it with a passion fruit cheesecake, litchi cream and passion fruit custard was adventurous: a rather sweet and rich dessert matched with quite a dry white wine. An interesting and brave match indeed, you certainly could pick up the matches with the litchi and passion fruit. The wine had just been bottled when we tasted it at the planning session, where it came across as being more fruity and with lower acidity than we tasted at the dinner – perhaps this was a challenge associated with tasting a just-bottled wine. Coffee, and then carriages, saw us home to bed, not too late which was good as a bad cold was vengefully asserting itself. These food and wine pairing dinners are a monthly event and we hope to be at another one soon. You can see the details of each month’s dinner in our Events column and you can see a few pictures from the Dombeya evening here.
Both of us have had awful colds this week, Lynne requiring assistance from antibiotics and stronger chemicals on Monday because the ailment simply was not responding to a week of home remedies. Please try and avoid this one, it’s horrible and does seem to hang around. Steam helps. It starts with a very thick head and a headache and gets to a very painful sore throat and bronchitis. It is what we pay for hot weather with berg winds in winter, alternating with freezing cold storms. If only it would rain like mad and stay cold for a while as it should do, so that the dams can fill up again for the summer.
We have been eating lots of full flavoured and spicy food because of the colds. Sunday was beef curry, Monday was Indonesian pork Babi Ketchup, last night we had Spaghetti Marinara (seafood) and tonight it’s a quick Red Thai curry with chicken breasts.
Venison in Port
The supermarkets have lots of venison at the moment and this is one of our favourite ways to cook it. We know it is traditional to tenderise the venison in buttermilk, but we find that this softens it too much. The port works very well indeed to tenderise the meat; it does not taste too sweet when roasted and it isn’t necessary to use an expensive, old bottle. You do need to start this a day or two before you plan to cook it, because it does need to marinade for at least 24 hours or longer.
Small leg of venison (Springbok) 1.5-2 Kg – a bottle of red port - 1 tablespoon wine vinegar - 1 sliced onion - 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds - 1 teaspoon crushed Juniper Berries - 2 crushed cloves of garlic - a large sprig of thyme or marjoram - ground black pepper – salt – strips of bacon or beef fat
Pour the port over the venison in a deep china or glass bowl and marinate with all the ingredients (except the bacon or fat) for at least 24–36 hours. Dry off the meat and roast, covering the roast with some strips of fat to protect it. Venison is a very lean meat and does need protecting or it will dry out. You can use the marinade (strained) to make delicious gravy to serve with the roast. Traditionally, it is served with matchstick potatoes, and good winter vegetables like roast parsnips, butternut and some green peas.
We do stock juniper berries if you have trouble finding them.
Our products. The first batch of tubes of anchovy paste flew out so fast that we hardly knew it was there. We’ll have more tomorrow. Carnaroli rice continues to fly (for the creamiest risottos and rice pudding) as does the Sense of Taste Chilli garlic paste, for those of you who want something hotter than the very popular Prego sauce. We have increased the stock level of Protea Hill Farm’s fabulous balsamic raspberry vinegar because we struggle to keep up with demand. It makes a wonderful salad dressing when used with hazelnut oil. We also have more of their delicious basil, thyme, dill and raspberry merlot vinegars. We have also obtained more stock of walnut oil, after a brief hiatus, in addition to the fabulous hazelnut oil. We have an interesting range of unusual spice mixtures like Ras al Hanout, Za’atar, Chinese Five Spice, Shichimi Togarashi, Zhoug, Garam masala and Sumac as well as more common spices like Mace, Nutmeg, Cardamom and seriously pungent, unwashed Black pepper. We are one of very few local sources of leaf gelatine, couverture chocolate and real extracts. Our Italian truffle salt continues to gain fans as does our range of French pat├ęs and preserved meat dishes like Cassoulet and Confit of Duck.
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 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 Carnaroli risotto rice and truffles, amongst lots of other strange and difficult things to find that they use.
Our market activities   We expect to be at the Long Beach Mall market in two weeks time, splitting ourselves between there and Cavendish, but have not yet had confirmation from the organisers. This week, you will find us at The Place at Cavendish (Woolworths underground entrance to Cavendish Square) this Friday, 12th August, from 10h00 to 17h00, and we will have our great selection of delicious treats and ingredients there for you. We will be at the Old Biscuit Mill’s brilliant, exciting and atmospheric 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.
10th August 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
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. 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. Our Avast! ® Anti-Virus software is updated at least daily and our system is scanned continually for viruses.
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