Thursday, February 07, 2013

130206 Main Ingredient's MENU - Foreign critics, The week that was, Cheese tasting, School night suppers, How to use ingredients, Recipe, Events & Valentine’s activities

Main Ingredient’s weekly E-Journal
Gourmet Foods & Ingredients
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A False Bay fishing boat brings home the catch
In this week’s MENU:                                                              
*       On Line Shop
*       This week’s Product menu
*       Our market activities - Neighbourgoods, Long Beach
*       Do foreign critics “get” our fine dining?
*       The week that was
*       Cheese tasting
*       School night suppers
*       How to use ingredients
*       Recipe: Cous cous with attitude
*       Wine and Food Events with Valentine’s activities
*       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. 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 On Line Shop is performing very well. We are continuing to update it with new products and with photographs of products. Please do not pay until we have confirmed availability and invoiced you. When you make an eft payment, make sure that it says who you are. Use the form on the website to email us your order and we will send you the final invoice once we’ve made sure stock is available. Click here to see the shop.
This week’s Product menu    Morocco is all the rage, maybe because of Jenny Morris, maybe because of the African Cup of Nations football, but Argan oil, Ras el hanout, Orange Blossom Water (back in stock) and Rose Water are in demand. Perhaps it is just a Mediterranean thing, because we are seeing steady sales of Za’atar and Sumac from the eastern end and Hazelnut and Walnut oils, from the northern shore of the Med, are also popular.
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 This Friday, February 8th, we will be back at the market in Long Beach Mall, Sun Valley, Fish Hoek. You can also 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.
Do Foreign critics ‘get’ our Fine dining?     If you want to see what an International Food writer Bruce Palling thinks of South Africa’s top restaurants, click on this link. He was the controversial critic invited by Abigail Donnelly to review the top 20 restaurants for Eat Out 2012. We actually agree with a lot of what he has written, but not all.  Yes, there are some misunderstandings re: seasons and how we like our food to taste, including the preference for sweet flavours in main courses, but his comments about tough beef and game that has not been hung long enough, overcomplicated plates, and too many tastes in one dish are things we also experience often. Restaurants, even top restaurants, have bad days and if those happen often, they fall by the wayside. Overhyped restaurants also cannot survive if they don’t consistently produce good food.
And when you have looked at his pages on South Africa, click once more to see what he has writing about Yannick Alléno of 3 star Michelle Chez Maurice in Paris and his approach to food at his two new restaurants. We think this very basic and down to earth shift might change things a lot in the food world.
The week that was     We have had a remarkably quiet eating and drinking week up until now, but from today it starts to get hectic. Catching up on admin and accounts is definitely not our favourite thing but, as the financial year comes to a close, it is something that needs attending to and the offices do look a lot tidier afterwards. We know you are probably all suffering in your own small hell with paperwork.
Cheese tasting     Last week, we were on the panel of a very interesting cheese tasting for Classic Wine magazine. You will have to wait till their April edition to see the results. Tasting 24 cheeses one after the other on a Wednesday morning can be a great pleasure when the cheeses are superb but a huge pain when they are not. We tasted several local cheeses, all made on wine farms, and a similar number of commercial foreign cheeses. Go and order your copy to see who the surprise winner was. And no, we didn’t taste a single wine with any of them, we just had to recommend the wines with which we thought they might go well. Just rice crackers (too flavoured), Ryvita (dry), and good old water biscuits which work very well to clear the palate. Journalist and Editor of Whisky Magazine, Fiona Macdonald was the chair/scribe and she will be writing the article.
School night suppers     Sometimes when we haven’t seen good friends for ages we invite them over to have an early supper with us. It doesn’t always have to be a dinner party. We serve just what we might eat on an ordinary evening and the meal finishes quite early as all of us have to be up early the next day to get to work. Last night it was a simple supper of Prego chicken cooked in our best seller Sense of Taste Prego sauce, with rice and a mixed salad. We didn’t do dessert but put out a selection of cheeses we love: a good English cheddar, a local camembert (ripe but woefully lacking in flavour), a really good imported Stilton, a local blue which didn’t get opened as the Stilton was so good, and a ripe and nicely aromatic Angelot from Portobello, a cheese we like very much. We served fresh green Thompson seedless grapes, green fig preserve and a large box of mixed savoury biscuits. Preparation for this sort of meal is easy and we thoroughly recommend simple suppers during the week, especially in the heat when you don’t want to work yourself into a meltdown.
We drank a lively Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc 2009, a bottle of crisp and elegant (described on the bottle as fresh and vivacious) Douro 2011 Duas Quintas Vinho Branco from Ramos Pinot in Portugal, brought by our friends (the reason for the Prego chicken), and an amazing bottle of KWV Limited Edition 1966 vintage Tawny port, given to John for his 60th birthday, which was begging to come out of the cellar. Sumptuous, rich, full of Christmas fruit and nuts, it was hard not to finish the bottle, but there is half a bottle left, so Lynne now has to plan another meal around port. Such hardship. We don’t get to taste 47 year old port very often.
St Valentine’s Day     We have put together a really good list of activities and ideas for you (click here) and there are a few that are not extortionate. Yes Valentine’s Day is a huge commercial hype, but if you are feeling romantic and want to say something special to your beloved, it is a nice way to celebrate.
How to use:     Lynne has been experimenting again with our ingredients and having fun creating new dishes. She made a Lamb Tagine using our Ras al Hanout spice mix which is a mix of 11 different spices with whole chillies and pieces of cinnamon included in the bottle. It is very easy to use. Fry off your onions, brown your lamb well, then stir in the Ras al Hanout and temper it as you would curry spices, i.e. fry it for a minute or two before adding your vegetables and stock. To add flavour, she added a good 150ml of verjuice to the pot. Lynne added aubergine pieces, courgettes, carrots, celery, fennel, red peppers, baby potatoes (but only 30 minutes from the end of cooking). You can also use tomatoes, butternut, or any vegetable that can be simmered for a long time.
Aubergines are in season everywhere, with some very original shapes, colours and sizes. The Biscuit Mill greengrocer had something that looked like tree tomatoes, but bright orange and slightly wrinkled – one aubergine to try next time. Lynne likes to use larger ones, pierce them a few times, cook uncovered in the microwave for about three or four minutes to get them soft, cut them into thick slices and then brown them gently on both sides in a little olive oil. This prevents them soaking up too much oil, which they do when they are raw. She then cubes them and adds them to the pot with the other vegetables. They melt in the mouth. There is little worse than half baked aubergines.
This week’s recipe is what we had with the lamb tagine. We are not huge fans of cous cous but it is the traditional starch to serve with the dish. If you don’t want it too bland and tasteless you can add more flavour and some luxury ingredients to make it very special.
Cous cous with attitude
Half a cup of dried cous cous per person – half a cup of lamb stock per person – 1 sliced and fried onion – half a preserved lemon, finely chopped – 1 T roasted pine nuts – a drizzle of Argan oil or orange blossom water or rose water
Boil the stock and pour it over the cous cous. Leave alone for 7 to 8 minutes then fluff with a fork. Add all the other ingredients, saving the Argan oil or other aromatic till last, then drizzle it over the dish and serve.
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 see what’s happening in our world of food and wine (and a few other cultural events), visit 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. We have published a new blog with a list of Valentine’s activities all over South Africa. It is listed by area and venue, all alphabetically, i.e. Hermanus before Johannesburg. Inspect it here and look for a place to treat your love.
Learn about wine and cooking We receive 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 of Cathy’s WSET and other courses here and the CWA courses 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.

6th February 2013
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 and our blogs 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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