Friday, July 27, 2012

19 July 2012 Main Ingredient's MENU - Bastille & Franschhoek, Whisky tasting, organic chicken,Taj Expressions, products, Events, Restaurant specials, Wine courses , cooking classes, etc


Main Ingredient’s weekly E-Journal
Gourmet Foods, Ingredients & Fine Wines
Eat In Guide’s Outstanding Outlet Award Winner from 2006 to 2010
+27 21 439 3169 / +27 83 656 4169
A GlenWood farm worker walking through the vineyards

In this week’s MENU:
*     Products
*     Our market activities
*     Bastille festivities and Franschhoek farms
*     The Common Room at Le Quartier Français
*     Liquidity whisky tasting at French Toast
*     Expressions of… at the Taj
*     Free range Red Barn chicken
*     Events and Restaurant specials
*     Wine courses & cooking classes
To tell the whole story here would take too much space, so click on underlined and Bold words in the text to open links to pictures, blogs, websites or more information
This week’s Product menu Last week’s cold, wet weather kept most Capetonians tucked up in front of their fires, so there was not much exposure for the brilliant new range of French sauces in jars: béarnaise, burgundy, tartare and mayonnaise, all very attractively priced, which join our range of French mustards (green peppercorn, tarragon, basil, wholegrain, Dijon & mild brown). There has been a surge of interest in risotto (warming comfort food), so we have boosted our stock of Carnaroli and Violone Nano creamy risotto rices. Don’t forget that we also have authentic Spanish paella rice. If you’ve only used run-of-the-mill supermarket rice to make paella, you need to try this and join the satisfied customers who have used the real thing. We have stock of the Mayor hazelnut and walnut oils in 500ml cans and 125ml bottles of Moroccan Argan oil. Many of you have been using it for cosmetic purposes (we believe it is very good for skin and hair), but we like it for its amazing, complex, nutty-fruity flavour. To see what else we have available for you, you can access our product list and see pictures in our website. If you can’t find what you need, let us know and we will try to find it for you. Until our online shop is ready, drop us an email and we will help you. We are very happy to see that traffic on our website is increasing and more orders are coming from it.
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 Come and visit us at the Old Biscuit Mill’s wonderfully exciting, atmospheric Neighbourgoods Market, as always, this Saturday and every Saturday between 09h00 and 14h00. Tip: Some visitors tell us how they struggle to find parking. It’s quite easy if you know how. Click here for a map which shows where we park. We will be back at Long Beach Mall tomorrow, Friday 20th July from 09h00 to 16h00We look forward to seeing you there.
Bastille weekend in Franschhoek – and afterwards...     We had an opportunity to visit the Bastille celebrations again this year and stay in the lovely Cape Dutch Basse Provence manor house on Sunday and Monday nights. The weather was absolutely atrocious on Sunday – we measured 15 mm of rainfall in Sea Point between 8 and 11 am – and we departed a little later than expected, dressed for the Arctic in all our warmest winter wear, with a little French accent, and with the car full of extra clothing for our stay. Snow was reported to be falling in the middle of the Karoo and blocking our main N1 motorway. Usually the road is full of traffic heading to Franschhoek; this time driving rain preceded us, so it was a relief to get to the festival.
They had moved the marquee to the side of the Main Road and there was parking in the churchyard for R30 a car. We had tickets for the VIP tent, where there was a group of French winemakers from the Rhône valley offering their wines for tasting, along with representation from some local farms. Food was part of the VIP entrance ticket and we had a lovely time - despite the fact that Lynne was getting bronchitis - tasting interesting and intriguing wines, chatting to old friends and making new ones. If you want to see what we tasted and ate, click here. We both wandered through to the main tent to soak up the atmosphere and chat to friends on some of the tables. On Saturday, apparently, they were very, very full but on Sunday it was a bit more spacious. Lynne also went into the Town Hall to see what was on offer there and succumbed to some of the wonderful French cheese from Fromages de France, owned by Lodine and Ludwig Maske. By 5, we had had enough and retreated to our very comfortable accommodation to enjoy a rare early evening in.
On Monday, the weather was a little brighter and, after a hearty breakfast, we drove across to neighbouring Rickety Bridge (which owns Basse Provence) to see the changes they have made to the tasting room and the restaurant. After a chat with Jan van Huyssteen, the MD, and a look at all the improvements they have made, we drove down the Robertsvlei road to Glenwood where ‘DP’ Burger, the cellarmaster/farm manager for the last 23 years, spoilt us rotten with a superb tasting and, generously, lots and lots of his time. We bought some of his delicious Merlot and will probably buy some of the other wines when our cellar is a little less full. They will be opening Franschhoek’s first Japanese restaurant on the farm in the next few months and there is lots of construction taking place at the moment, but the tasting room is still functioning well. We must confess that we had never driven down the Robertsvlei Road before and discovered that it is really beautiful, quiet and peaceful countryside. Click here to see the photos
Then we were off to La Motte, which we hadn’t visited since they made all the changes. Werner Briedenhann, the facility manager, took us on a tour of the restaurant (closed on Mondays) and the excellent shop where they sell food products and lovely household items – not the things you see everywhere else.
The new tasting room is comfortable and welcoming, even in cold weather and we did a tasting through the many La Motte wines.
No time for lunch, so we settled for a late pie and chips from Pick n Pay – a HUGE mistake, but it did fill in the holes. Making chips look as if they are cooked by sprinkling on paprika is just not on. They were soggy and half-cooked and the pie was full of gristle. Uuuuugggghhhh!
We had booked for dinner at The Common Room, the casual tapas-style restaurant at Le Quartier Français, so didn’t want to do anything huge. The village on Monday was not as empty as last year and the restaurant was nicely full at 7 pm, when we arrived. Very hospitable and friendly staff served us quickly and our food arrived soon afterwards. We ordered a bottle of Iona’s Sophie Terblanche Sauvignon blanc and it went well with the five dishes we shared. Click here to see what we ate. Margo is relaunching the Tasting Room this week and was at the restaurant kitchen testing out desserts for her new menu, so we were lucky enough to be able to chat briefly to her. Her concept is to only use local ingredients in a way that showcases them all and to use as much of each of them as possible. As she explained the fine cuts of a bird or beast are used in the Tasting room and the rest is used in the Common Room, which has a very tapas style menu. We loved it. The food was simply delicious, full of different textures and looks amazing.
Tuesday dawned bright and sunny, the temperature went up to 20°C during the day and it was lovely to be outside at last. Irene Waller had invited us to visit her at La Bri and we so admired the small but perfectly formed winery, all built for gravity feed winemaking, spotlessly clean and very innovative in design. The tasting room has just had a folding class door fitted so the balcony is more accessible and it lets more light into the room. Despite Lynne coughing horribly, we had a really good informative tasting of the La Bri wines and bought some of her Winemakers Blend, currently on special at R50 a bottle, and a magnum of the flagship Affinity red blend for putting down in our cellar. This is an elegant and beautifully made blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
We shared a quick Mediterranean pizza at Col’caccio in the village (excellent) and then it was time to get on the road home as we had some town appointments. Sad to leave, we know we will return again soon as the valley still has lots more places for us to visit and discover.
Liquidity Whisky tasting at French Toast     After our “French” experience in Franschhoek, we went straight into the highlands of Scotland. Liquidity had invited us to taste their range of Springbank and Compass Box whiskies at French Toast in Bree St. Springbank has four single malts: 10, 12, 15 and 18 years old. Whereas most ranges of fine whiskies show a consistency in the blend across the various ages, Springbank has a different blend for each of these malts. John’s favourite was the 10 year old, which was delightfully rich and mellow, with a light dusting of salt. The distillery is, apparently, close to the shore. The Compass Box range of blended whiskies has some interesting blends, including the Peat Monster, a blended malt which has a high proportion of Islay whisky. It will appeal to lovers of island whiskies like Lagavulin and, especially, Laphroig.  John’s favourite was the Great King Street, a smooth, richly-textured blend with fruity notes.
Expressions of... at the Taj Hotel      We promised to remind you in good time this month of this event. Next Thursday evening, 26th July, there will be a stunning tasting in the Expressions of...series at the Taj Hotel. The areas they are covering this month are Walker Bay, Elim and Bot Rivier and some of the most exciting farms will be showcasing their wines in the reception area from 6 till 7.30. These tastings are FREE.
If you want to stay for the four course dinner paired with the wines, which follows, it will cost R350 per person - very good value indeed and they throw in free mineral water at the table and parking in Mandela Rhodes place. The chef cooking this month is Duane Lewis of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.
If you don’t feel you want to drive home after this you can have the whole evening plus a night in the hotel with breakfast for only R1750 per room. If there are two of you this works out at R875 for a wine tasting, dinner, bed, breakfast and parking per person. Why not come through from the country for a night out in time to spoil yourselves? Booking is essential. Click here to book
Free Range Red Barn chicken
This week’s recipe is more a process for you to copy and adapt. Have fun with different herbs and spice combinations and vegetables beneath the bird to soak up the lovely juices.
After we wrote about eating one of these chickens at the Taj at the beginning of the month we were very kindly sent a very large one to try. Sadly it came frozen but after defrosting yesterday, Lynne decided to cook it the old fashioned way in her Romertopf clay chicken brick. She cut up some fennel bulbs, red peppers, and celery, added a drained tin of chick peas, about whole 8 cloves of garlic and a glass each of white wine and chicken stock in the bottom of the brick. The chicken was stuffed with half a lemon, and copious amounts of chopped fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay and sage from our garden were rubbed inside and out. Then the other half of the lemon was squeezed over it. sliced and tucked with the vegetables and a few more herbs in the pot. A drizzle of olive oil and then a generous sprinkling of Za’atar to the outside and under the skin of the breast and legs and the pot went into the oven. Usually cooking a chicken this way takes just under the hour but, sadly, last night it took over an hour and three quarters before the chicken was falling apart. The juices had all gone into the vegetables underneath and we had a lovely supper with crisp duck fat potatoes and some fresh steamed broccoli. It was a very good match for a Thokozani Shiraz Mourvedre 2006 (from Diemersfontein – newer vintages add viognier). We love cooking chicken this way, and try a different variation on the theme whenever we do. Just don’t forget to soak both parts of your chicken brick in water for at least an hour before you use it, this allows the chicken to steam gently and the brick can’t crack. Tonight some of the meat is going into a Tom Yum soup.
Erratum: Spellchecker’s revenge. We used Tabasco in last week’s recipe, but the spell checker changed it to tobacco. It keeps trying to do it here. As we are both avid non-smokers, we hope you realised that we would never tell you to use tobacco in a food recipe. (Alice B Toklas excepted).
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 Events Calendar. All the events are listed in date order and we already have a large number of exciting events to entertain you right through the year. Click here to access the CalendarYou will need to be connected to the internet.
Learn about wine and cooking We have had a lot of enquiries from people who want to learn more about wineCathy Marston and The Cape Wine Academy both run wine education courses, some very serious and others more geared to fun. You can see details here.
Chez Gourmet in Claremont has a programme of cooking classes. A calendar of their classes can be seen here. Pete Ayub, who makes our very popular Prego sauce, runs evening cooking classes at Sense of Taste, his catering company in Maitland. We can recommend them very highly, having enjoyed his seafood course. Check his programme here.
Restaurant Special offers. Some more restaurants have responded to our request for an update of their special offers and we have, therefore, updated our list of restaurant special offersClick 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.

19th July 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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