Thursday, January 12, 2012

120105 Main Ingredient's MENU - Another year, Holden Manz picnic, Tulbagh & Ceres, cherries, events etc

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
In this week’s MENU:
     Christmas and a brave new year
     Tulbagh & Ceres
     Cherry recipes
     Our market activities, events and restaurants
BACK AT LAST      That was the year that was, one whose passing many of us will not regret; and here we are again, in a new year which some pundits warn will bring even more pitfalls than the last. All we can do, here at ground level, is try harder to build on the things that have worked for us and to look for new opportunities to help us grow. Last year, our first full year out of the shop, was good for us. We grew a little and made a move in an exciting new direction. We are very grateful for your support and will do our best to continue to entertain you, inform you and bring you the delicious things you struggle to find elsewhere.
Ah, Christmas. It already seems that an age has passed since then. We worked so hard in the run up to it that we hardly noticed that it was coming! We were both brought up in fairly traditional households and just love the whole rigmarole and fun that goes with Christmas. We finally got our tree out on the Thursday and the lights and decorations were completed by Friday night. Lynne has been collecting glass and crystal ornaments for years so this year we have a crystal tree. Our five sets of Christmas lights all failed this year - have you any idea what it is like to find more lights just before Christmas? We had a bumper day at the Biscuit Mill, packed our stock into the car, unpacked it at home and collapsed. After four intense weeks at markets and filling online orders, we were running on adrenaline. We slept on Saturday afternoon and for most of Christmas morning and then got up and started preparing our family feast. Scallops - a little undersized so they had to be supplemented with prawns, but delicious, served with Springfield Life from Stone 2010. Duck breasts, previously frozen, were a little dry but helped by Klein Constantia Marlbrook 1998. One year old Christmas pudding with brandy butter, divine, as was the 1998 Nuy Red Muscadel.
We took a good rest in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but Lynne thought we deserved a little change of scene and booked a room at the Tulbagh Hotel (rated with 4 very small stars – we did have a very comfortable room) who were offering extremely good prices (almost half), so off we went for a day in Tulbagh, to be followed by a day cherry picking at Klondyke farm near Ceres. We had a few meals out but, honestly, they were not great - our abiding opinion is that Tulbagh needs to sharpen up its game and give attention to detail. Most of it was very under-seasoned and very underwhelming. Perhaps it’s the season…. Chef’s away? The worst was the breakfast Lynne had at the hotel. Wouldn’t this description turn you on? Sweetcorn waffles with crispy bacon, crème fraiche and maple syrup? Passing on the cream, Lynne’s expectation was high. What arrived were two very soggy thick undercooked pancakes – you could still taste the bicarb, covered in what looked like boiled greasy bacon with slimy white fat. There was enough syrup! The salads at Rijks Country House were shocking, just a few dead leaves of skinny lettuce and six scrapings of carrot. Where was the chilli on the Thai noodle salad? Bland, bland, bland. We did have a lovely tasting at Saronsberg and bought some wine for our cellar. It was hot, the temperature at one point reached 40ºC but, luckily, it cooled down in the evening.
The next morning we bought ingredients for a small picnic at a supermarket in Ceres and headed off into the mountains. Our GPS gave us a few twists and turns and we ended up on top of the wrong pass but the vista was superb and well worth the detour. The countryside is quite barren up there and then suddenly you turn a corner and you find a huge cherry orchard. Entrance cost R15 each and we happily picked cherries for a couple of hours. The trees were laden and they will be open till the 14th of January. They charge R45 a kilo and less for wild cherries. We loved it and thoroughly recommend it as a family day out. They do give you plastic punnets, but we recommend taking a cold box for travelling back and take hand baskets, they made picking so much easier. Also sunblock and jackets in case it gets windy, which could be chill at this altitude. It wasn’t. We did overdo it a bit and Lynne has been dealing with about 7 kilos of cherries. We have some pictures.
We have made a Romtopf, using some of our cherries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries and used Cane spirit instead of rum. She also made wild cherries in (unsweetened) Vodka retaining some of the pips, so that we get a sort of Kirsch flavour - and also cherries in brandy. Still to tackle is cherry preserve. We have fruit salad most mornings; cherries are a main ingredient!
FANCY A PICNIC?    Just before Christmas, we were invited by Karl Lambour, the new Cellar master at Holden Manz in Franschhoek, to sample their picnic, which costs R145 per person for a basket for 2. Children have a special menu at R45 per head. Karl has moved there recently from Constantia Glen. See our blog for more about the farm, pictures of the picnic and what we ate.
Our picnic list is nearly finished – please let us know if you do them on your farm or in your restaurant and we will happily add you to the list.
A SWEET NEW YEAR   Our most successful dish over the holidays was a chocolate Pavlova Lynne made for New Year’s Eve when we had friends over to wish the old year goodbye. It sounds complicated, it isn’t. You can make it the day before.
Cherry and Chocolate Pavlova
6 large egg whites – 300 g caster sugar – 1 T corn flour – 2 t raspberry vinegar – 25 g cocoa powder – 50 g dark chocolate, chopped – 500 g cherry compote – 250ml cream – 1T Amaretto liqueur or 1 t vanilla bean paste – 150g fresh cherries
Heat oven to 140ºC. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then adding 1 tablespoon at a time, carefully whisk in the sugar, making sure you whisk really well between each addition. When all the sugar has been added, do whisk until the mixture is really thick and glossy and stands in soft peaks. Using a large metal spoon, carefully and gently stir in the corn flour, vinegar, cocoa powder and chocolate, just until incorporated.
Line a baking sheet with a piece of rice paper or baking paper or a silicone sheet. Spoon on the meringue, making a circle and building up the sides so that you have a bowl shape to keep the filling in. You could put the meringue into a piping bag if you want it to look really professional. Bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes, then turn off the oven, open the door and leave to cool. The rice paper is edible but do carefully remove the baking paper or silicone and put the Pavlova onto a pretty serving dish. Don’t worry if it cracks a bit, that is part of its charm. It is meant to be like soft marshmallow in the centre.
When ready to serve, whip the double cream and Amaretto together in a big bowl until soft peaks form. Spoon the cherry compote over the meringue, dollop over the cream, and arrange some fresh cherries on top and serve.
Cherry Compote
½ kg cherries, pitted – 1 cup of water - 250g sugar - juice ½ lemon - 4 t brandy
Put the sugar and the water into a heavy bottomed pan and heat till the sugar has dissolved. Add the cherries and the lemon juice and simmer for no more than 15 minutes, stirring gently only occasionally so the cherries stay whole. Using a slotted spoon remove the cherries and keep aside. Reduce the cherry liquid until it is getting thick, then cool slightly. Stir in the brandy and the cherries and put into a bowl in the fridge until you need it.
Products  The big movers over the Christmas season were duck & goose fat, confit, cassoulet, patés, chestnut products, truffle products and, predictably Prego sauce, which sold out - again. We are still taking orders for it and the back order list is growing, but Sense of Taste won’t re-open until mid January, so we all have to be patient. We have placed a big order and hope to have it by Saturday 14th. Hold thumbs.
Most other products are available, except goose fat, which we won’t see before the end of the month, but we have plenty of duck fat, which is an excellent alternative. If you are looking for anything, have a look at our product list and tell us what you want. We will soon have an online shop as well, accessed through our website, where you can order and pay us through Payfast.
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. 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     We will be at The Place at Cavendish tomorrow, Friday 6th January. 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. We are waiting for confirmation of the dates at which we will be at Long Beach Mall, but we expect to be there on alternate Fridays as before, with Cavendish in between.
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.

5th January 2012

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 ist 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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