Friday, November 02, 2012

1st November 2012 Main Ingredient's MENU - Computer Crash, Busy doing nothing, Dangerous food, 2013 John Platter Guide launch, Pumpkin and Red Pepper Soup with Cacao Cream, Problems cooking Venison, Events and 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
+27 21 439 3169 / +27 83 656 4169
 Southern double-collared sunbird hen

In this week’s MENU:
*     Products
*     Our market activities
*     Computer Crash
*     Busy, doing nothing     
*     Dangerous food    
*     2013 John Platter Guide launch
*     Pumpkin and Red Pepper Soup with Cacao Cream
*     Problems cooking Venison
*     Events and Restaurant specials
*     Wine courses & cooking classes
To take a look at our Main Ingredient blogs, follow the link: because to tell the whole story here would take too much space. You can also click on underlined and Bold words in the text to open links to pictures, blogs, pertinent websites or more information. Follow us on Twitter: @mainingmenu
This week’s Product menu    November already. This year is disappearing far too quickly. Soon Christmas will be upon us. Lynne has made delicious Christmas puddings and mini Christmas cakes for several years and they have been very popular. Send us a message if you wish to order Chestnuts are also enjoying a sudden spurt in popularity, probably in anticipation of Christmas celebrations. We have more in stock in cans and jars, as well as chestnut purées. We expect to have marrons glacées soon. We have a small quantity of pickled walnuts, made by Yvonne Bayly whose husband Peter makes the delicious Bayly’s Port.  Have a look for these and other things you need in our Product list.
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 on Friday 9th November and again on Friday 23rd from 09h00 to 16h00. We look forward to seeing you there. Please note that, in December, we will only be at Long Beach Mall on Friday the 7th, so that will be the only convenient day for Christmas shopping at the Long Beach market if you live in the “deep South”.
Computer Crash      A term that usually refers to a failure of the hard disk. In our case, it was a foot hooking round the power cable of John’s laptop – the computer he usually uses for his emails, editing photographs and almost everything. It travelled a fair distance across the room and is now dead. Hopefully the newest data, which had not been backed up, and the unanswered and unread emails can be retrieved. Until then, if we haven’t answered a message or taken other requested action, please resend and we’ll attend to you.
Events calendar.     We apologise for the bad link to our events calendar which some of you have experienced. Interestingly, it still has the highest number of hits by some margin compared with our other blogs. It has been fixed; somehow the link dropped a digit, which is why it couldn’t connect.
Busy, doing nothing      We have just had a lovely weekend, doing absolutely nothing. Our weekend starts at 4 on Saturdays when we get home from the Biscuit Mill and usually we are either rushing off somewhere special or doing some entertaining. The past few weeks have been hectic and so we were delighted to find we could just STOP for a day or two and gather ourselves together, eat some homely food and catch up on all those things you love to do when you have time at home – which includes cooking, gardening and computer games and watching recorded shows like Masterchef in all its variations on TV for Lynne and, for John, working on photos, reading and catching up on nature programmes and sport. Especially watching Western Province take the Currie Cup, which was particularly sweet because most of the pundits said they had no chance. The weekend didn’t go quite as planned....
Dangerous food      As we have said before, being in the food business can be risky - one gets to eat all sorts of interesting and unusual items, without knowing how they will affect us, or whether we will like or enjoy them and whether we will have an allergic reaction. However, this week it was something quite mundane that took Lynne out, a fresh egg from the country gave her a very nasty dose of food poisoning (it was the only thing John did not eat) and necessitated a dash to our doctor, lots of pills, potions and injections. She is fine now, if a little thinner. She thinks there might just be a better way to lose weight than this very unpleasant route. No drinking in a week that features the Platter Guide launch (where we get invited to taste all the top 5 star voted wines), The Klink Awards, Caroline’s White Wine Review and the Expressions of Swartland and Darling wine tasting and wine pairing dinner at the Taj hotel is a sacrifice and a challenge. She went to Caroline’s and will go to the last two but will have to spit when tasting wine and be very choosy about what she eats.
2013 John Platter Guide launch     Lynne’s ailment meant that John went to the Platter launch at the Vineyard unaccompanied. The 2013 guide, with a bright coral cover, has been printed in Paarl, rather than Singapore, where it has been printed for the last few years. Local, as they say, is lekker. Andrew McDowall, the publisher gave a typically amusing account of the preparation of the Guide.  In this edition, a record 62 wines earned five stars, with the winery of the year, Cape Chamonix garnering four 5 star ratings. Three cellars (Fairview, Mullineux Family and Nederburg) each earned three 5 stars, and Boschendal, Fleur du Cap, Jordan, Raka, Sadie Family and Tokara were each awarded two 5 stars.
Of the 5 star awarded wines, the reds and whites which receive the most votes from the judging panel are named Platter’s Wines of the Year. This time the Red Wine Of The Year is Mullineux Family Syrah 2010 (Wine of Origin Swartland), described in the guide as “an icon in the making”, whilst the White Wine Of The Year is Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2011 (Wine of Origin Elgin), a botrytised riesling dessert wine noted as “a thing of beauty”.
In an ongoing focus on value for money, Platter's identifies a number of entry-level wines which are exceptionally drinkable and well priced. The best of these, like the 5 star candidates, go into a second round of “blind” tasting (without sight of the label) to select the Superquaffer of the Year. For the first time since 2007, the ultra-easy sipper of the year is a red wine – Melck’s Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 by Muratie Estate (Wine of Origin Western Cape), noted in the guide as “a model of lively drinkability”, showing “a curvaceous smoothness”.
We were especially pleased to see some of the newer and smaller producers being awarded a 5 star rating for their wines, notably, Adi Badenhorst (Secateurs), David Sadie (Lemberg) and Chris Alheit (Cartology). Particularly thrilling was seeing Christopher Keet, who made such brilliant wines at Cordoba being awarded five stars for his classically elegant second vintage First Verse 2010. The full list of five star wines appears here.
Not only did he visit the Vineyard Hotel, but also the vineyard at the Vineyard. On the bank of the Liesbeek River, in the hotel grounds, there is a small sauvignon blanc vineyard, with vines allocated to various people who are involved with wine and who are supporters of the hotel. One of these vines has our name on it and GM Roy Davies took John to visit it. You can see it and some photographs of the event here.
Do you have problems cooking Venison?     We had some beautiful venison in the freezer that needed cooking this weekend and Lynne discovered a rather interesting recipe in Nigella’s cookbook How to Eat. The venison was not springbok, we think eland or gemsbok as it was a dark and heavy meat. So marinating it in white wine with spices for 24 hours was definitely going to improve the texture. Then cooking it, nestled between layers of onions which had been almost caramelised, for 3 to 4 hours at 160°C would also seem to have been designed to tenderise it. The flavour was amazing, but the texture of the meat was like old rope. Can anyone explain why this happened? Lynne is always keen to learn and make sure this tragedy doesn’t happen again with good meat. The meat was not browned before it went into the casserole and was in plenty of stock. We would love to know.
We have previously cooked venison in various ways - marinated in port is a favourite - and we don’t like the very soft texture of the meat after it has been marinated in buttermilk and not encountered this problem before.
Checking facts   Please be assured that, where we can we always check our facts after an event, from a PR handout or disc, the internet, other research or just plain talking to the people concerned. We have had a couple of comments recently about the spelling of BISTROT for Bizerca – if you check a good French dictionary or Larousse, you will see that it is an alternative spelling for the same word. Check their web site, or the photos on our blog: that is how it is spelt and that is how the chef and his wife want it spelt. Ditto the phrase jus gras (lit. Fat juice or gravy) is well used – check the Internet and is often the oil, scrapings and meat juices from the bottom of the roasting tin and it came directly off their menu.
However we are human and mistakes, which we always try to put right, can occasionally slip through the cracks, especially because we sometimes have to write and edit and put Menu to bed in the middle of the night on Thursdays, after an event. And sometimes, just sometimes, it can happen, we are given the wrong information...
Happy Halloween to those of you who are celebrating it.
Lynne thought you might like a pumpkin recipe this week to use up the remains of yours. We haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds delicious, and fairly quick and easy.
Pumpkin and Red Pepper Soup with Cacao Cream from Willie Harcourt-Couze’s cookbook Willie’s Chocolate Factory.
2 Kg pumpkin or butternut, coarsely chopped and peeled – 2 t fresh rosemary, chopped - 80m extra virgin olive oil – 2 red peppers, halved, seeds removed – 2 large onions, roughly chopped – 4 garlic cloves, crushed – 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock – 50 g cacao finely grated (good dark bitter chocolate, over 70% cocoa mass) – crème fraiche to finish – cocoa nibs to finish (not essential - you can grate over some more dark chocolate)
Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan) Place the pumpkin in a large roasting tray, top with the rosemary and drizzle over half the oil. Season with salt and grated black pepper then roast for 30 minutes or until tender. Halfway through add the red pepper halves, cut side down on a lightly oiled roasting tray. Meanwhile heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Take the pumpkin and peppers from the oven. Put the peppers in a plastic bag, seal and leave to steam and cool, this will make it easier to peel them.
Add the pumpkin to the onion and garlic with the enough of the stock to cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Peel and chop the peppers and add them to the soup. Liquidise or blitz till smooth. Adjust the seasoning and stir in the cacao or chocolate. Ladle the soup into bowls and finish with a spoonful of crème fraiche and a scattering of cacoa nibs or grating of chocolate.
TREKKING FOR TRASH     If you want to smile and be amazed at what Proudly South African people are doing in this country for the environment and communities - check out this wonderful website From now on we will always take a rubbish bag when we go for a walk on the beach and put what we can into our recycling. What a great initiative by Michael and Camilla.
Superior Pots & Pans     One of our readers has a glorious 22-piece set of genuine, old, heavyweight copper pots which she wants to sell. They are lined and in first-class condition. She is looking for R22,000 for the set. If yowould like to see them she can send you a photograph. We had it, but it’s in the crashed computer. Contact MaaDee at: 021 685 9329, 073 526 2474, or
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 Calendar. You 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 wine. Cathy 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. Nadège Lepoittevin-Dasse has cooking classes in Fish Hoek and conducts cooking tours to Normandy. You can see more details 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 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.

1st November 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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