Friday, December 09, 2011

111130 Main Ingredient's MENU - The Darling Wine Shop, Boxed wine awards, Dynasty, Lamb with anchovy, Christmas stock, events and restaurants

Main Ingredient’s weekly E-Journal
Gourmet Foods, Ingredients & Fine Wines
Eat In Guide’s Outstanding Outlet Award Winner from 2006 to 2010
Click on anything underlined and Green to open a link to pictures or more information
A grey heron, taking off

You will note a couple of new web addresses at the head of this edition. John is taking a course in Internet Marketing at UCT and has designed two new websites as part of the course, one for Main Ingredient and the other for our tour business, Adamastor & Bacchus
On Thursday, having put MENU to bed, we headed off to Darling for the opening of Charles Withington’s new venture, The Darling Wine Shop, (pictures here). You can now taste and buy all the wines from the Darling region in one place, if you don’t have time to go to all the farms and want to get a good idea of the rich variety they produce. The lovely drive down the coast road to Darling took us about three quarters of an hour on a lovely afternoon. Darling is a charming little Boland town and there are 5 wineries in the area as well as Evita se Perron (Evita’s platform – it’s part of the old railway station, a nice pun) and a couple of good restaurants to visit. Lots of familiar faces from the surrounding wine farms were there as well as a couple of well known faces, friends of Charles, who both made very good speeches: Mzoli Ngcawuzele of Mzoli’s Place in Gugulethu and Remington Norman, British Wine Master and author of books about Burgundy and the Rhône. Lynne had good fun reminiscing with him about his wine shop in Walton Street in London the 70s. We tasted a few of the wines and ate some lovely canapés, prepared by Charles’ wife, Janet. Special mention goes to tiny hot meat pies, salmon stuffed pancake rolls and some very good cheeses, especially the Dalewood Huguenot, all of which complemented the wines. Darling Cellars’ Lime Kilns white blend was a highlight, along with their bush vine sauvignon, which has been a favourite for a while. Cloof produces several very good wines which were mainstays when we were in our shop, especially the Inkspot (which we used to sell as a special in sets of 3), Crucible Shiraz and the Lynchpin cabernet franc-based blend. It was good to see Nick Pentz there, from Groote Post, because his wines and farm have also been favourites of ours for a long time. John also enjoyed The Yair, a white Bordeaux style blend from Lanner Hill. After a good look at the shop and conversations with other visitors, we headed back down the lovely coastal road to Cape Town for the  Boxed Wine Awards     We have been waiting for younger people (other than those we know who are making and selling wine) to start becoming seriously involved in the wine industry and, suddenly, it is happening. (see pictures) Organised by Anel Grobler, who writes the blog Spit or Swallow, and scorekeeper Jan Laubscher of Wine Times, this second vintage of an annual, unpretentious wine award was meant to be good fun – the theme was Magnum PI, so lads (and a few girls, see the pics) could sport their “Movembers” and wear loud Hawaiian shirts, while the girls wore leis. All this at a cost of only R50 pp. Boxed wine seems to us to be directed at people who don’t drink much wine, because of the perceived cost, and like to have a good supply in the fridge. There were at least 39 boxes of wine, which Anel had patiently covered in newspaper so that no one could identify the containers. Supplied with a large Bohemian crystal wine glass, you could taste the wines on one of three tables, each bearing all the wines. The tasting was held on the roof of the old Labour Court in Loop Street, which allowed them to have music, some small snacks and lots of fun. You had to tweet your favourites and at the end of the evening they came up with the winners: Robertson Winery Sauvignon Blanc won most popular White wine and Drostdy Hof Merlot 2010 won most popular Red.
Did we like the wines? – no, not many. Would we buy the wines? - no, not many. Would we drink the wines? There were a couple that we didn’t object to at all but some were very acidic and the acid etched your teeth. Others were just plain terrible. There are so many bottles of wine available on special at the moment, which are better and probably cheaper. We did notice that the wines were arranged in order of dry to sweetness and it was clear from peoples’ spoken choices that they were preferring to drink wines which we knew were far sweeter than they those would buy sighted. It is still unfashionable to drink off-dry wines, but in boxes they are often the most friendly. We do buy a box of Robertson Sauvignon Blanc and a box of Robertson Chenin Blanc whenever we travel to Europe and we bury them in our suitcases, so that we have an emergency supply if the local plonk is too expensive or too nasty, which has happened occasionally. The full list of results can be seen here.
Dynasty     Tired, after all this activity, we settled for a quick meal and a beer at one of our favourite local Chinese restaurants, which is above our old shop on the corner of Kloof St and Irwinton Rd in Sea Point - Dynasty. We were delighted to see the place was really full at 8 o’clock, but they found a table for two and we shared a plate of their excellent fresh sushi as a starter. Then John had Chicken in Black Bean Sauce and Lynne Singapore noodles. The portions are so big it was impossible to finish them. They still have their daily special of Eat As Much Sushi As You Can for only R129 a person and honestly, we don’t know how they do it, because many young people were ordering plate after plate of delicious sushi, which is only made to order. They now have an excellent wine list with many wines available by the glass.
John’s birthday, last Sunday. We had another favourite, roast lamb and this might be an alternative main course for some of you for Christmas dinner. We have sold anchovies and now anchovy paste, for many years and we have often been told how delicious they can be as a marinade for lamb – most often from Italy - so Lynne decided to try it. Be assured, it does NOT have a fishy taste at all, just a very deep savoury flavour, and with the large amount of garlic and rosemary, you end up with a really lovely jus. It went very well with a bottle of Morgenhof Cabernet sauvignon Reserve 2001.
2 to 2.5 kilo leg of lamb – 9 anchovies or one tube of anchovy paste – 6 garlic cloves, crushed – 2.5 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped - ¼ cup of olive oil – sea salt – freshly ground black pepper – bottle of semi sweet wine (we used Robertson Beaukett)
Turn your oven to 200°C. In a pestle and mortar, crush the anchovies with the garlic and the rosemary till you have a good rough paste. Moisten with the olive oil and then season. Cut several 4 cm slashes in the surface of the lamb and then rub the paste all over it.
Place the lamb on a grid in a roasting tray, pour a little water on the base of the pan and put on the centre shelf of the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Then pour over 100ml white wine and baste the lamb. Reduce the heat to 180°C and leave the lamb to cook for 1½ to 2 hours (dependent on its weight and how well you like it cooked). Baste the lamb regularly with a little more of the wine and the juices in the bottom of the pan and do add a little water to the pan if it becomes dry. Remove the lamb from the oven, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes. Pour off as much of the fat in the bottom of the pan as you can, then deglaze it and use the juices mixed with corn flour, more wine and water to make a really good gravy,
Lynne served this with crisp duck fat roast potatoes, baby peas and roasted butternut with nutmeg.
Market manners We have been hearing some very funny stories of ‘Head Prefect’ or ‘Army orders’ at one of the markets which we do not attend. “Stand to attention behind your stall, face forward, drink only water, no cokes or hot drinks, no eating and NO talking to the other stall holders and very short breaks”. If we ever did consider going there, we are certainly not attracted to a place where this, frankly, disrespectful management is normal. We are all adults, independent businesses, simply hiring the stands from the market organisers and paying for the privilege. We are not there to have our behavior controlled, we are there to sell our wares. Perhaps someone should tell the very young organizer that slavery has been abolished …. We don’t work for you chaps, and we wonder how long others will..
Steenberg Picnics    While we were out at our Friday market last week, we had a call from Steenberg’s delivery van to say they were trying to deliver a parcel to us, so we had to divert them to a friend’s shop and, when we collected it that evening, we discovered that they had sent us a superb picnic hamper, which included a bottle of one of our favourites, their Sauvignon Blanc and two good crystal glasses. Very clever marketing. To quote them, they have: ”introduced these decadent picnics for the festive season at R300 for a basket for 2 - including a bottle of Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot. These will be available daily from 16th December, served between 11:00 and 17:00, offering visitors another great Steenberg wine experience by relaxing on the rolling lawn with friends and family. It includes all local delicacies: Mini French Style Baguettes enjoyed with a generous spread of the accompanying Home-made Smoked Salmon, Mushroom and Thyme Patè, topped with tempting Cape Cheeses from Dalewood Fromage in Klapmuts. The delicious Charcuterie selection provided by Martin Raubenheimer of Cure Deli fame will no doubt add to the sensory delight, along with Goat’s Cheese Tartlets, Baby Potato Salad and Baby Bocconcini Salad. Melt-in-the-mouth Chocolate Brownies end the meal off on a sweet note. Most of the packaging is biodegradable. While reservations are not essential for single picnic baskets, pre-bookings are essential for groups. Kiddies’ picnics are available on request, as are picnic baskets with special occasions and requests. Group picnics are available by prior arrangement for Christmas parties and corporate functions too. Steenberg Vineyards Tel 021 713-2211
We think it would also be a good idea to order these to take to the concerts at Kirstenbosch and have your supper all in one box, but do pack a cold bag if you want your wine cold.
Supper for friends     We know that you like to hear what we are eating at home as, apparently, it gives you inspiration for your own meals. We had friends and John’s brother to supper last night and, after making 14 Christmas puddings during the day, Lynne wanted to keep it simple. On Saturday she started a salmon Gravadlax, which we had as our starter with the salmon mousse and mushroom paté which had come from the Steenberg picnic box. Our main course was a very simple tomato, fennel and anchovy pasta sauce served on tagliatelle (River Café recipe from the Green cookbook), to which Lynne added pieces of monk fish for texture. This was served with freshly steamed green asparagus and a huge salad. She made a quick chocolate fondue using a bar and a half of unsweetened 85% dark chocolate, mixed with some cream, and we had marshmallows, amaretti biscuits, strawberries, and banana slices to dip.
Our products: Christmas is coming and we have the goose fat but, sadly, no fat geese. We have had numerous enquiries from readers who would like a goose for their Christmas dinner. We sympathise, goose is so much better, richer and more flavourful than turkey, and we haven’t had one for several years. There are very few geese produced here for the table, but we recommend that you talk to Salvin Hirschfield, the Neighbourgoods butcher, who says he will have a few (talk to him on Saturday at the Biscuit Mill). If anyone knows of any other sources of geese, please let us know and we will pass the information along.  
We have ample stock of preserved truffles, truffle oil and truffle salt, but the supply of fresh truffles this season has been shocking in Italy, France and Croatia. Our supplier of Italian truffles is pleased to advise that he has managed to find some fresh Black Autumn truffles (Tuber uncinatum) from Italy. The price is predictably luxurious, so ask us for a quote. The minimum order is 1 truffle, ±50g. Should you require any, please contact us as soon as possible, as stocks are limited. Orders take at least 10 days to 2 weeks because they have to be flown in from Italy on special order only.
If you are getting sucked into the vortex that Christmas is becoming, please note we have stocked up with lots of foodie items which make great presents. We can put together hampers or boxes for you, just tell us what you want. Lynne has made more  Christmas puddings. The price has not changed – they are still R85 each and are full of all the necessary luxury ingredients like cherries, dates, figs and nuts. Made with butter rather than lard, they also have lots and lots of brandy and can be quickly reheated in the microwave. She will be making small individual Christmas cakes which make delicious small festive gifts and were so popular last year. We should have these by next week.
Also for the rapidly approaching Christmas festivities, we have added lovely small Italian Panettoncino cakes and Cantuccini biscotti. Chestnuts are always popular for stuffings and we have them tinned and vacuum packed and we can provide frozen chestnuts to order (they need to be ordered and paid for and collected from our house) but please don’t leave buying these to the last minute, they do run out every year just before Christmas and we cannot get more. We also have sweetened and unsweetened chestnut purees. We have our home made Strawberry preserve, Bread and Butter pickle and Preserved lemons, all of which make great gifts.
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, but don’t leave it too late. Remember the old maxim: “Post early for Christmas”!
Our market activities   You will find us at Long Beach Mall this Friday, 2nd December from 09h00 to 17h00. We will also be at Long Beach on Tuesdays 6th, 13th and 20th December and Fridays 2nd and 16th December. We will be at The Place at Cavendish on Fridays 9th and 23rd December. We will be at the Old Biscuit Mill’s brilliant, exciting and atmospheric Neighbourgoods Market, as always, this Saturday between 09h00 and 14h00 and every Saturday, including Christmas Eve, December 24th.
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, click on our list of Interesting Food and Wine Events. 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. that so many have sent, to give you the essentials. Click on the name to access the relevant website. All communication should be with the individual restaurants.

30th November 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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