Thursday, February 16, 2012

120216 Main Ingredient’s MENU: Test Kitchen Lunch, Valentine’s at Greenways, Low carb eating, Fennel & prawn salad, Celeriac soufflé, Products, Our market activities, 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
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Another of our pond's dragonflies

In this week’s MENU:
*     Lunch at the Test Kitchen
*     Valentine’s dinner at Greenways
*     Low carbohydrate eating
*     Fennel & prawn salad
*     Celeriac soufflé
*     Products
*     Our market activities, events and restaurants
TESTING THE KITCHEN     We were treated to lunch last week at The Test Kitchen, Luke Dale Roberts’ restaurant at the Biscuit Mill, by a good friend and we were seriously impressed. Although we work at the Biscuit Mill every Saturday, we finish when the restaurant is closing, so hadn’t yet had a chance to go. We have heard almost nothing but great reports and the negatives were more about very small portions and price than criticisms about the food. It is a small space that can seat 30, with rather an industrial look, no frills and an open kitchen where you watch many chefs working very hard creating your meal, almost as many as there are customers. The plates look beautiful and make you want to clear them immediately. Portions are smallish, but once you have had lunch, you feel fully satisfied. More importantly there are layers and layers of flavours in each dish; the ingredients and sauces and other accompaniments are very brilliantly combined to bring you perfect mouthfuls – which to us is what fine dining is all about and why Luke Dale Roberts is, once again, the best Chef of the Year. See pictures
 You can have the Gourmand” 8 course menu for R550 (R750 if paired with Luke’s good selection of wines), but we are saving that experience for a special dinner. The description “gourmand” is, perhaps, a bit of a misnomer, because the Oxford Dictionary defines a gourmand as a glutton and this is more of a gourmet experience. Luke changes the menu according to the ingredients he finds available and in season. He also now has Pot Luck, an evening tapas style restaurant, where you order several dishes and share them with your companions. This leads off the Test Kitchen. You do have to book for both restaurants and do book well in advance as they are very popular.
We opted to eat à la Carte for lunch and ordered three starters: for John a Trout tartare, green apple, lime, crème fraiche, caramelized cured aubergine, flat parsley, creamy miso dressing; for our host, another John: Wood fired organic sweet potatoes, parmesan crème Catalan, crispy and blanched Brussels sprouts and for Lynne, Salmon sashimi, red cabbage three ways, apple dressing and horse radish where the subtlety of the dressing was perfect both with the slab of rich salmon and the cabbage.
You know you are in trouble when you covet all your fellow diners’ dishes, so we were delighted when the chef sent us an extra course with his compliments – a roll of soft sweet pancake liberally stuffed with shredded duck in a sweet hoisin sauce, topped with a sliver of foie gras and sliced radish, not on the menu but scrumptious. For mains, the lads both had to have the pan fried beef fillet with roast root vegetables, asparagus and mushrooms with cracked black pepper “café au lait”, while Lynne was more excited by Wood Fired Pork Belly, fondant potato, black-eyed pea and Swiss chard emulsion with cherry jus and almond cream, as she has been trying out different versions of this dish lately. The beef was as tender as it could be and had a wonderful long-aged flavour; the pepper cafe au lait sauce was a serious statement. The belly of pork was crisp and soft and so well matched with the cherry jus and almond cream – not sure if one would have black eyed peas with it again, they are a bit fibrous.
Lynne could go no further but the two Johns ordered dessert. Marinated strawberries, Stracciatella ice cream with basil and lemon granita for one and a selection of sorbets for the other – flavours were raspberry with Earl Grey tea, wonderful litchi and technicolor mango. Great double espressos ended a damn near perfect lunch. We drank a glass of Jacques Bruére bubbly with our starters, compliments of the chef, and bought a bottle of Oak Valley 2006 red blend, because our host, who is from the UK, usually drinks Claret and prefers blends. This was a great match for what we ate. Prices are about average for a top end restaurant. Our lunch cost approx R350 a head with alcohol and service.
Valentine’s dinner for the Little Lambs     On Tuesday night, we were invited to a charity function at Greenways Hotel in Claremont by the MD Suzanne Faussner-RInger. As John had a wine tour to Stellenbosch that day, we were a little late arriving and, sadly, missed the Oyster King, but were served a very elegant dinner of Scallops, Duck with red cabbage and cherry sauce and a large dessert buffet with cheese platters in the garden, with many of the guests dressed in DJ’s and very glamorous gowns. The evening was in aid of the Little Lambs School Nutrition and Education Programme which is in Hout Bay. During dinner there was a raffle, which raised much needed funds to support this worthy charity. We had a wonderful time, the food was good, the temperature a little lower than perfect, but not cold (it is Claremont after all and we are from sunny Sea Point) and the company was also very stimulating. We drank a glass of bubbly and bought a bottle of Dombeya to go with the duck and cheese.
LACK OF CARBOHYDRATES     It is amazing how many people have listened to Tim Noakes and started to follow the Low Carb diet. We have had lots of feedback from them and from people who have been on this sort of regimen for a while and have lost weight. The good news is that the headaches disappear after a couple of days and, suddenly, two things happened to Lynne. She started to feel much more energetic and she wasn’t at all hungry. Still learning, the Internet is being trawled for all sorts of sensible information and our diet has been tuned towards many less carbs in our diet. John still wants potatoes, bread and rice but is eating a lot less of them than he did before. And we do still have a hangover of Christmas chocolates and treats, but are eking them out very sparingly. Eating out has not proved to be too difficult – the worst bit being no bread to sop up the divine sauces, and egg yolk for breakfast presents a problem. We had a delicious dinner with friends on Monday night and Lynne was quite able to avoid the ice cream but had a few raspberries. Our hostess made a superb starter which is all low carb so we thought we would give it to you.
2 fresh fennel bulbs, sliced thinly lengthwise on a mandolin grater so you still have the shape of the bulb - 800g large cooked pink prawns, shelled – some of the fennel fronds, roughly chopped – really good mayonnaise, preferably homemade – seasoning
Grill the fennel slices on both till they begin to brown slightly. You could slightly oil them. Mix the prawns with the mayonnaise and the fennel fronds and some of the grilled fennel, season to taste and put into a pretty dish. Arrange the rest of the slices of fennel around the edges and serve.
CELERIAC SOUFFLE     We treated ourselves to lamb shanks on Sunday night and Lynne accompanied this with celeriac puree and quinoa. The jury is still out on the quinoa – it obviously needs good sauces to add some flavour but the Celeriac puree was great. However we had lots left over and last night Lynne decide to see if you can use a puree to make a soufflé rather than a thick sauce. The answer is yes, you can. She did add one tablespoon of flour to help it bind the mixture and 4 small eggs and about a half a cup of cheddar cheese and it rose beautiful and ate well. And of course, besides the flour, all low carb. Next time she might risk leaving out the flour...
Tonight, Lynne is cooking a low carb hot Durban curry in the style of a Rogan Josh and will serve this with quinoa for herself and rice for John. If anyone has any tips for low carb lunch snacks, please oblige.
Products     Goose fat arrived today, we have a very special offer on goose foie gras mousse and more stock of the wonderful balsamic 10 year old raspberry vinegar and the rare Argan oil from Morocco. We also have our new range of salts for you to try (the Hawaiian Palm Island black lava salt is the most popular) and our exotic spice mixtures sell very well. Prego sauce is a perennial favourite. Flavour is obviously what you are looking for.
If you are looking for anything, have a look at our product list and tell us what you want. You will be able to access it through our website. If you can’t find what you need, let us know and we will try to find it for you. Until it is ready, drop us an email and we will help you.
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 Old Biscuit Mill’s brilliant, exciting and atmospheric Neighbourgoods Market, as always, this Saturday between 09h00 and 14h00 and every Saturday. We will be back at Long Beach Mall on Friday, 24th February.
There is a huge and rapidly growing variety of interesting things to occupy your leisure time here in the Western Cape. There are so many interesting things to do in our world of food and wine that we have made separate list for each month for which we have information. To help you choose an event to visit, click on our lists for February and March/April. 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.
Some restaurants have responded to our request for an update of their special offers and we have, therefore, updated our list of restaurant special offers. 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.
Summer time is picnic time and several wine farms offer picnic facilities. We have put together a list of wine farms who can provide you with a picnic, We haven’t put in much detail, just where it is, phone number, email address and a link to the website. The latter is where you will find all the important information. Go and check it out.

16th February 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 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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