Tuesday, November 01, 2011

111020 Main Ingredient's MENU - Robertson and Veritas feedback, broad beans, product news, events & restaurant specials

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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An early 20th Century house in Robertson
Sing for your supper     This lively musical evening was held on Friday night in the tasting room at De Grendel wine estate in Durbanville. The chef who cooked for us was Marc Wassung and the very talented mezzo soprano who sang for us was Monika Voysey, his wife, who works with Cape Town Opera and has recently returned from a spell singing in Germany. We were welcomed at 6.30 with a glass of De Grendel Sauvignon Blanc. Good canapés and oysters were served while guests arrived and we all got to know each other. Dinner began at 7.30 with a starter of a good gazpacho soup and afterwards we were royally entertained by Monika singing arias including Cherubino’s aria “Voi, che sapete” from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and one from Samson and Delilah by Saint-Saëns and the lovely ballad “As Long as He Needs Me” from Oliver. She has a lovely voice with a huge range and great power. Dinner was a buffet which included slices of very good pink seared beef and fresh poached salmon, roast baby potatoes and lots and lots of salads. There were several vegetarian options as well. We shared a bottle of the wonderful award winning Winifred, De Grendel’s excellent blend of Chenin, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. When the supper was cleared away, we heard more songs including a very powerful rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. Her final romantic aria also from Samson and Delilah gave us cold shivers it was so good and it earned her a deserved standing ovation and shouts of encore so she sang the Habanera from Carmen. Dessert was a lovely plate with a small individual fruit tart accompanied by honey ice cream. Then came coffee and time to wend our way home, an easy half an hour drive. This marvellous evening will be repeated and if you want more details, contact Monika at monika.voysey@gmail.com. We thought the price of R280 for the dinner, one glass of wine and all the entertainment was very good value and hope you will go and enjoy the next event. When the summer is finally here, they will be able to expand onto the terrace with its superb views of the city and our glorious Mountain.
PLEASE VOTE      Do not forget to cast your vote for Table Mountain as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world. You can vote on http://www.votefortablemountain.com/ but please note that voting closes on November 11th, so please do it now. You have to pick 7 of your favourites then they send you an email and you send back a confirmation. If you pick one that might conflict with Table Mountain you might be endangering its place in the list so please do be careful which you choose….  This will do wonders for our tourism and for job creation, which we so need.
SUCH A SUNDAY      After a nice leisurely breakfast, we were off to the Robertson Wine on the River festival on Goudmyn farm on the banks of the Breede River. The festival this year was, apparently, very busy on Saturday (when we were working, so we had to go on Sunday) and we had worried about the weather after Saturday’s rain here. We need not have, it was a perfect balmy day with a little cloud, not too hot and no wind. We had such an amazingly social time that we didn’t make it to the wine buying tent. Instead, we spent several hours ‘kuiering’* with our mates in the wine industry. The best thing about the festival this year was the plethora of great food on lots of the stands and we had a hard time choosing what to have for lunch. Eventually we chose some great, tender battered calamari strips from one stand and then Lynne had two sensational lamb chops, with crisps and huge onion rings from the Zandvliet stand, which were a perfect match for the estate’s Kalkveld Shiraz. John had their other choice, the tempura yellowtail with the same crisps and onion rings. We took part in the excellent Chardonnays of the Valley wine and food pairing in the tent, which was a super way to taste all the available chardonnays, which they separated into different styles and paired with matching canapés. This is a free tasting and has become a highlight of the festival for us.
We spent the night with our very kind and generous friends at Riverzicht and then started on our buying part of the trip. We bought lots and lots of wines to drink this summer and most of them are at really great prices. First we ventured to town and bought some Bon Courage 2010 export Sauvignon blanc from Tommy Foulkes’ shop, On Route, then bought Pinot Noir and a fairly low alcohol Pinot Grigio from Robertson Winery. In Bonnievale, we bought Weltevrede’s River’s Edge Chardonnay and Tricolore white blend, then on to the most soft and delicious Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage at R39 and a 2010 unwooded chardonnay for cooking at R15 a bottle from Ashton Cellar. This was also going to be a food shopping trip and we had come with a large cold box in our car. We had wanted to buy half a sheep from our favourite Bonnievale butcher (the prices in Cape Town are still insane) but, sadly, he did not have one for us, so we settled for a huge leg of lamb, some lamb shanks, some bacon and some cold meats. Then it was off to the Happy Hog free range pig farm, of which we have heard many good reports. We bought 2 cuts of belly of pork, two organic free range chickens, pork schnitzel and more ham. We visited a couple of places for cheese but, sadly, they were out of the butter and strong cheddar we like to buy. This is a very good place to buy food - the valley is full of small producers. We also managed to get 12 fresh farm eggs (our local supermarket ones are shocking at the moment, old as the hills and you can’t trust the sell-by dates – we think they replace them weekly to extend the shelf life), some apricot ‘leather’ and some green figs, so the car was laden. We were home by 5.30 after a really good break. If you want value for money with wine and food, we can only say head off that way to the beautiful Breede River valley and do tastings at several of the wineries to find exactly what you want. There is lots and lots of reasonable and luxury accommodation in the area too, whatever suits your purse or style. Pictures from our visit can be seen here.
We have a very good reason for buying produce from country producers, especially those like Happy Hog and Joostenberg. Much is written about “organic” produce but there is, sadly, still very little in the way of a standard in this country, so many producers are able to abuse the term. The average daily diet tends to be laced with a huge variety of chemicals, hormones, preservatives and other ingredients which are there to make production quicker, cheaper and easier to manage, but which do nothing to enhance the quality of our lives or our longevity. We do our best to avoid these things and to eat fresh produce from small producers, not only because it is better for us, but because it tends to taste better. Thought for the day: margarine tends to come from people who make soap. We prefer butter, duck fat, virgin olive oil and other fats which enhance flavour and, used sensibly, are better for us.
Veritas Awards tasting      Yesterday evening, we went to the Veritas tasting at the Cape Sun. All the Gold Medal and Double Gold winners were there, far too many wines to taste in one evening so, fairly predictably, we went to the Double Golds first, with a few others in between as they took our fancy. Our favourites were Anura Merlot Reserve 2008, Babylon’s Peak Carignan Shiraz 2009, BuitenverwachtingG” Gewürztraminer 2010, Cederberg Chenin blanc 2011, Cederberg Five Generations Cabernet sauvignon 2009, Delaire Chenin 2010, Fleur du Cap unfiltered Chardonnay 2010, David Nieuwoudt’s Ghost Corner Sauvignon 2011, Graham Beck Chalk Board Cabernet sauvignon 2007 (only available from the farm), Groot Constantia Gouverneur’s Reserve  2009, Jordan’s brilliantly minerally The Outlier Sauvignon blanc 2009, Hidden Valley Land’s End Syrah 2008, Kanonkop Pinotage 2006 (they showed three vintages), Nederburg Eminence 2003, Rickety Bridge Shiraz 2009 and Tokara Director’s Reserve 2007 red blend. The Babylon’s Peak won Double Gold, has an aroma of freshly ground, dark roasted coffee beans (not at all like the coffee pinotage character) and sells from the farm for R40. We have ordered some. There is, undoubtedly, a fair number of other wines we might have loved, but there is a limit to the amount one can taste in a fairly short time. Wine and food are natural partners. While it was good to see a generous number of trays of palate freshening bites, some of them were more effective as blotting paper than as accompaniments to the wines.
It appears that our link to the list of John Platter Five Star wines did not connect to every copy of last week’s MENU. You can see it here.
Broad Beans in Season     Lynne increased her likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome recently by depodding over 5 kilos of fresh broad beans, but it is so worth it. Despite the black fingernails which stay for weeks, we so love eating these ‘once a year’ seasonal beans. Many people are asking why we can’t have them readily available throughout the year, frozen like peas as they are in Europe and America. Perhaps this is something local farmers could grow as a winter crop? Ours came from a wine farm where they are grown between the vines as a cover crop whose roots put nitrogen into the soil. The plants will now be ploughed into the soil as compost, but the beans can be a viable crop and they are not difficult to pick, as we discovered. We steam them in a closed dish in the microwave for one and a half minutes, then take them out of their skins and eat immediately, but they are good in other dishes. This is our favourite way to eat them.
Beginning of summer Broad Bean Ciabatta
400g depodded and skinned cooked broad beans – 6 to 8 large slices of ciabatta bread – garlic – 2 T good olive oil – juice of half a lemon– 1 T fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped – sea salt and ground black pepper - parmesan cheese.
Lightly toast the bread on both sides then give one side a light brush with the cut edge of a clove of garlic. Mash the beans roughly with the oil, mint, lemon and seasoning. Spread onto the bread slices, roughly grate over the cheese and serve as a light snack or as a starter.
Our products. The Protea Hill Farm balsamic reductions, ‘Creams’, had a very good reception last week, especially the raspberry which sold out very quickly. We have ordered more and hope to have it in time for the weekend. Come and taste them at one of our market stalls. You won’t find them anywhere else and we know some of the top chefs are already using them enthusiastically.
We will have Carnaroli rice later today, as well as the Violone Nano, both excellent for risotto and also the more familiar Arborio. The Spanish Bomba paella rice continues to sell well. Goose fat will be with us early next week, and we hope to have hazelnut oil. We do have ample supply of duck fat and the delicious French patés, duck confits, cassoulet and other delicacies.
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.
Our market activities     You will find us at Long Beach Mall this Friday, the 21st from 09h00 to 16h00. Our other dates at Long Beach for October and November are Wednesday 26th October and Fridays, 4th and 18th November. We will be at The Place at Cavendish on Fridays 28th October and 11th and 25th November. We will be at the Old Biscuit Mill’s brilliant, exciting and atmospheric Neighbourgoods Market, as always, this Saturday between 09h00 and 14h00. The Neighbourgoods market has been rearranged. The tables have been arranged at right angles to the way we are all used to, with all the aisles running straight down from the entrance, in order to improve the flow of visitors through the market. Lynne will be wearing a gold plastic crown in order to help you find us

There is a huge variety of interesting things to occupy your leisure time here in the Western Cape. To help you choose an event to visit, we have taken our list of Interesting Food and Wine Events online. All the events are listed in date order and we already have exciting events to entertain you through into the new year. Click here to access the list. You will need to be connected to the internet.
Many of the specials in our list of restaurant special offers are continuing through summer and we have been told that there will be some new summer menus soon. Click here to access it. These 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. If they don’t update us, we can’t be responsible for any inaccuracies in the list. 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.

20th October 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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