Friday, December 07, 2012

6th December 2012, Main Ingredient's MENU - Our new On Line Shop, Christmas food, Crayfish Thermidor, Bargaining,Diemersdal, Winex Select, CTICC Food, Bubbles in Franschhoek, Winter's Drift

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 83 229 1172
Evening view from Cape Point Vineyards to Noordhoek and Kommetjie, with tree
In this week’s MENU:
*       Main Ingredient's new On Line Shop
*       This week’s Product menu   
*       Our market activities - new Cape Point Vineyards Market
*       What to eat for Christmas
*       Crayfish Thermidor
*       Bargaining in markets
*       Lunch in the stables at Diemersdal
*       Winex Select
*       Food at CTICC
*       The Magic of Bubbles, Franschhoek
*       Winter's Drift at Elgin station
*       Wine and Food Events in 2012 & 2013
*       Wine courses & cooking classes
To take a look at our Main Ingredient blogs, follow the link: because to tell our whole story here would take too much space and you can also read earlier blogs. We are constantly surprised at how many of the older blogs are still being read. Google Analytics tells us how many people are reading them and where they are. There is something special about seeing that our ramblings are being read in China or South Korea. Readers in Europe, The UK and North America are a good percentage, but the surprise always comes from the countries outside our normal reach. Click on underlined and Bold words in the text of this edition to open links to pictures, blogs, pertinent websites or more information. Follow us on Twitter: @mainingmenu
Main Ingredient's new On Line Shop     Our big news this week is that, at last, we have a proper on-line shop. John has spent a couple of days photographing products so that you can see the products we sell. The front page has a selection of product groups. Click on one that interests you and it will open to show you all the products in that group. Click on a product and you can add it to your "bag". If you want something else, click on "continue shopping". Do the same for every product you need. When you've done, click on Checkout. Our software is American, so you will need to agree to the terms & conditions. You will need to fill in your details on the form that appears and email it to us. Do not pay until we have confirmed availability and invoiced you.  Click here to see the shop.
This week’s Product menu    Marrons glacé are selling well and we have boosted our stock of the strong French Fallot mustards. We have a range of wicked French patés, especially for our French customers who must have them for their Christmas celebrations.
Fresh truffles are still available to special order. We need to know your requirement as soon as possible after you receive this, so that we can quote you and receive your payment in time to send your order to the supplier. Burgundy is the most affordable and orders must be in multiples of 50 grams. The truffles will be airfreighted. We can source white truffles from Alba and black truffles from Perigord but the price is significantly higher. Send us a message if you wish to order.
Christmas cometh whatever we may do....     Lynne has been baking her individual Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings this week. Send her a message if you’d like to place an order.
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.
Cape Point Vineyards Market in Noordhoek is where we were this evening from 4.30 till 8.30 pm and we'll be there again next Wednesday evening. Come and buy some Christmas gifts, enjoy some of their stunning wines and have a picnic while you watch the sun go down.
We will be back at Long Beach Mall tomorrow, Friday 7th from 09h00 to 16h00. We look forward to seeing you there. Please note that this will be our only day there in December, so that will be the only December day for Christmas shopping at the Long Beach market if you live in the “deep South”, but you will find us every Thursday apart from next week) at Cape Point Vineyards, with beautiful views over Noordhoek.
What to eat for Christmas      The food channels are bombarding us, with all the top chefs cooking a perfect Christmas meal and then using up the leftovers. However, they are mostly showing traditional northern cold weather food and our Christmas day is usually quite hot, even though the chances of it raining on the day in Cape Town are high (no explanation for this but often it is a relief from the heat). There is nothing worse than being overfed in the heat. So we have had lots of request from people for ideas of what to serve in Southern climes. It is difficult and, while we like to do some of the traditional things like Christmas pudding and duck fat potatoes, we steer away from turkey and just serve things we absolutely love and which we don’t eat often, because they are rare, expensive or out of season. Things like crayfish, duck, deliriously rich patés, prawns and scallops. We once did a huge duck salad using a tin of Duck Confit and put on all sorts of lovely extra things like mango and avocado slices, asparagus and artichokes. Evening eating is essential and the debate this year is whether we serve a chestnut stuffing with our duck – or not. Definitely a cold seafood starter for us. Good luck with your own planning.
This classic recipe would be at the top of our list if only we could find fresh crayfish. Those were the days ... When Lynne lived in Llandudno in the 50’s and 60’s one of local lads would knock on the door asking if we wanted a couple he had just caught and, in those days, they were whoppers.
Crayfish Thermidor      Gently and briefly cooked Crayfish is removed from its shell, combined with a rich béchamel sauce flavoured with white wine, shallots, cream, tarragon, and mustard. The mixture is then placed back into the crayfish shells, topped with Parmesan cheese, and grilled till it starts to brown on top. The dish, using lobster, is credited to Chef Tony Girod at the Cafe de Paris in France.
If you have access to fresh crayfish or lobster and want to try this, do Google one of the many recipes there and cook this once in a lifetime dish. Nigella has one, as does James Martin. Jamie does too and so do many others. It may be retro, but it will knock your socks off. Usually half a crayfish for person is plenty. Serve with a salad and boiled new potatoes.
Bargaining in markets     There are a lot of visitors in Cape Town at the moment and we have noticed that people from Johannesburg think it is OK to bargain when buying something from stallholders. Perhaps that is customary in North Africa but it has not, until now, reached the South and we really have to say we don’t appreciate it at all. We view ourselves as professional retailers. Would you bargain in Edgars or Woolworths or Pick n Pay? We would like to hear what you think, especially if your job is working in markets.
Lunch in stables at Diemersdal     We had a lovely introduction on the new Farm Eatery in the converted old stable building at Diemersdal in Durbanville last week. (we think they should call it Louw's). They haven’t changed the building much, so it retains all its ancient farm building character with thatched roof and thick walls which help to keep it cool. We were welcomed with a glass of their very characteristic Durbanville style 2012 Sauvignon Blanc – fresh and fruity and delicious. This came with an unusual canapé: sweet marinated peppers in a bread puff with light goats cheese cream. We loved it.. The Louws, who own Diemersdal, are now in their 7th generation and we met Thys, (6th) now the winemaker. His one year old son Tienie (named for his grandfather) will be the torchbearer for the 7th generation of Louws on the farm. Then we met their terrier, their beautiful Percheron horse Big Boy, saved by the Louws from a miserable existence, who used to live in the stables and their cute Argentinian miniature horse.
The restaurant was the idea of Thys’ mother Joanita and they wanted to keep the food simple and local and with a Mediterranean feel.  This lead to their collaboration with chef Nic van Wyk, previously a co-founder of Terroir restaurant in 2006, when they were voted Eat Out Best Restaurant in South Africa. He has also proved his mettle with Franck Dangereux in his time at La Colombe. After overseas travel, he returned to Kleine Zalze Lodge where he spent the last four years. His sous chef Martin de Kock honed his skills at the Greenhouse, Cellars Hohenhort and at Jordan with George Jardine. He is a keen charcutier and is building a smoke house behind the restaurant. Definitely one to visit when you are in the area. It is a beautiful old farm, full of historic white farm buildings which boast 29 traditional Dutch gables in 9 different styles because grandfather “Oupa” (3rd generation) Louw,) had a soft spot for them
The food was absolutely delicious and served simply on boards to share. Click here to see lovely pictures of the day and the food.
We drank two more wines: The crisp and elegant Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012, which perfectly matched the five tapas style starters. Then we had the absolutely beautiful 2011 Grenache, full of tomato and umami flavours, with a lovely perfumed nose of roses and violets. This also went very well with the Basque style Hake and asparagus and potato salad. There was no wine with the sweet dessert of rum poached peaches, covered in gooey nougat-like Italian meringue, which was a wonderful substitute for cream for us non-dairy people. We think they should be encouraged to think about making a dessert wine this next vintage as desserts so need something slightly or very sweet to accompany them, as does cheese. Photographs of the restaurant are here.
Winex Select     There were over 800 wines to taste at Winex this year, which was held in the Ballroom of the CTICC. Lots of space to taste and some really great wines. We had to go on Friday because we were working on Thursday and we really enjoyed ourselves at what has become a great social event, as well as a good opportunity to taste some great wines. We always try to taste new labels and then of course there are the wines we know, many which are a little out of our price range and it was interesting to taste some of those as well as many of our favourites and new vintages. Some old favourites were the marvellous shirazes from Zandvliet near Robertson (Lynne couldn't resist buying some) and Martin Meinert's wines, under his own label and with Ken Forrester. Their Forrester Meinert FMC (effing marvellous chenin) is frighteningly expensive but a classic. Some of the big boys were showing superb wines. Bellingham's The Bernard series (named for Bernard Podlashuk, Bellingham's founder) has some brilliant wines, as does The Mentors series from KWV. We were especially impressed with The Bernard chardonnay and the chenin blanc. Supermarket group Checkers had a very large stand, with the famous Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris and Cape Wine Master Clive Torr there to give advice. A special treat for visitors this year was being given Riedel tasting glasses to use and then take home. We would have loved to have had more time, and we're sure we must have missed a few gems.  Click here to see the photos.
Food at CTICC     And no, the food at the convention centre has not changed at all. Still horribly undercooked sticky wraps, filled with dull tasteless roasted vegetables or chicken, playing very safe. However, we did manage to find a couple of soft bagel type rolls with smoked salmon and salad in them and there were lots of staff evident, but they still need to try harder. We see that the CTICC  advertised for tenders for the food and beverage operations last week, so they are obviously conscious of the problems. We think we know several good local catering companies who should apply!
The Magic of Bubbles      The Franschhoek Champagne festival was held this weekend and we always delight in going. Sadly, not much real French Champagne was sighted there this year. We saw Veuve Clicquot and tasted Guy Charbaut from Chabivin, the Woolworths Comtesse Alexia and Billecart-Salmon. Then it was all the marvellous (we think), sometimes just as elegant, local Cap Classiques, made in the identical method to the French, to taste. We arrived a little later than normal and were so relieved that it was a cool and cloudy day. What a delight not to have to fight heat stroke and try to keep cool, as we normally do. There also seemed to be much less food this year, but we did do justice to several dishes from Margot Janse of Quartier Francaise and Neil Jewell of Bread and Wine, who shared a stand. A superb pulled pork roll, a salmon ‘kebab’ and we took home two of the most superb and sinfully wicked chocolate brownies to eat with supper. John also had a rich pork pie from Oliver Cattermole at Le Franschhoek Hotel. It is a lovely social event, where you can talk to the winemakers and hear them talk with passion about their products. The dress theme was black and white again and we do hope that, next year, they will try to think up a different theme. Black is hot and Lynne doesn’t own a single white item other than underwear, as it makes one look rather large if you tend towards plump. Click here to see all the photos.
Winters Drift at Elgin Station     On Tuesday, we drove to Elgin again for the launch of the Winters Drift Tasting Station, which is now in the converted Elgin railway station building. Winters Drift is owned by Molteno Brothers and is on the farm Glen Elgin. As there is a whisky named Glen Elgin, they have had to use Winters Drift as their label. Named after the ‘winter ford’ crossing of the Palmiet River, on the farm, this formed part of the original ox wagon trail through the Overberg. The farm is the legacy of the two pioneering and philanthropic bachelor brothers, Ted and Harry Molteno who purchased Glen Elgin in 1903 and dedicated their entire lives to transforming Glen Elgin from a modest vegetable farm into a vast fruit-farming enterprise that spanned the valley. On the death of younger brother Harry in 1969, Glen Elgin was bequeathed to the Molteno Brothers Trust, with all profits to be used for the furtherance of ‘educational, cultural and charitable interests’.
All the grapes for the Winters Drift wines were grown on Glen Elgin farm and the white wines and rosé were made in the Gabriëlskloof cellar, a few kilometres beyond Elgin, under the watchful eye of winemaker Kobie Viljoen. The Winters Drift Pinot Noir 2011 was made by Koen Roose of Spioenkop Wines in Elgin. Only 700 bottles were produced, but bigger volumes will be available with future vintages. Definitely one to watch.
We tried their wines, starting with their light and dry 100% merlot Rosé, while speeches were made. Then when the snacks appeared, we changed to their rather good 2011 Chardonnay full of pears, butter and vanilla, the 2012 Sauvignon blanc with classic Elgin passion fruit and gooseberry flavours, the fruity and spicy shiraz and lastly had their rich, smoky bacon and liquorice, wooded Pinot Noir.  
Finally, when we were just about to leave, there was great excitement as a huge ore train rode past the platform on its way up country and the Engine driver gave us a blast on his whistle.  It was like being seven again watching the steam trains arriving and leaving at the old central station in Cape Town. Click here to see the photos.
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. We have a new calendar for 2013. Check it here.
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.
Sadly, refreshing our restaurant specials list takes more time than we have, especially at this time of the year, so we have set it aside for now. There are numerous special dinners listed in the above-mentioned events calendar.

7th December 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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