Wednesday, June 19, 2013

15th June 2013 Main Ingredient's MENU - Cape Town to Bordeaux, Charentes, Cognac, Saintes and Oléron, La Rochelle

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The view from our B&B at Cherac
In this week’s MENU:                                                              
*       Flying from Cape Town to Bordeaux
*       Chérac and Cognac
*       Ile d’Oléron
*       La Rochelle
Bordeaux, here we come     This week’s MENU has a different format. Nominally, we are on holiday, but some of our activities are worthy of communicating to you. Most of it is links to blogs, where we will let the pictures tell the story. Click on the links to see it or just catch them at www.adamastorbacchus.blogspot.com or follow us on Twitter, @mainingmenu
On Sunday night, we flew out of Cape Town to Bordeaux via a short stopover at Schipol airport, Amsterdam. It was very tiring, the seats were very uncomfortable in the Boeing, better in the smaller second-leg plane. We picked up our hire car, a diesel Renault Kangoo estate. Highly recommended, it is in the cheapest category - it’s an up-specced van - and has loads of space and all the mod cons we need: a TomTom (invaluable for finding new places) cruise control, air conditioning, very comfortable seats and it’s amazingly quiet and very economical. Diesel here is cheaper than petrol at about €1.27 a litre. We’ve just had to get used to using a clutch again. We had a two hour drive through lovely green countryside with roses everywhere and arrived at about 7.30 at our first B&B, 2 Route du Puits des Brousses in Cherac with hosts Claudy and Alain Caillaud, between the towns of Saintes and Cognac. After supper in a local restaurant, we retired to a much needed bed after being up for more than 37 hours as neither of us could do more than doze on the plane. See more here.
Cognac     Next day, we drove down the road to a small local producer of Cognac and Pineau des Charentes, a sweet fortified wine. After a tasting, we drove through to Cognac, where we visited a couple of markets. The quality of the produce is so much better than anything we see. Everything is fresh and immaculately presented. More here. Then the highlight of our day, a visit to Cognac producer H.Mounier, where we were privileged to taste some very old and special cognacs from the barrel.  They have three websites: www.hmounier.fr    www.polignac.fr     www.reynac.fr . Then via a brief look at Remy Martin, back to Cherac for an al fresco supper of things we bought in the markets.
Saintes is a very pretty town on the River Charente. We visited a very innovative small negociant who buys cognacs of different ages from small producers, bottles and markets them. Guilhem Grosperrin took over his father’s business ten years ago, when he was 23. His father had multiple sclerosis and the business was failing. He is very entrepreneurial and has revived and grown the business. We tasted some superb single vineyard, varietal and very old cognacs. More here.
After this visit, we drove west to the Ile D’Oleron, a largish island linked by a causeway to the mainland where we planned to have a real holiday.  More here.
Next day, we explored more of the island and you can see what we saw here.
Yesterday, we drove to La Rochelle, an ancient town about an hour to the north, which John visited in 1971. We knew that prices in the restaurants round the harbour would be scary – they were – so Lynne made baguette sandwiches for us, which we enjoyed with a beer on the harbour’s edge. After a few hours’ walking round La Rochelle, we returned for a long walk on the beach on the Atlantic side of the island. Pictures here.
Internet access has been sporadic in Oléron and, both here and in Cherac, we have been able to receive emails, but have had difficulty in sending them, so we apologise for any lack of response.
Tomorrow we head back to Bordeaux, quite early, to be at the start of Vinexpo, which lasts five days.
This week’s recipe has taken a couple of weeks’ break, but we are picking up ideas.
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. It will be updated when we return.
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 here and the CWA courses here.
Chez Gourmet in Claremont has a programme of cooking classes. We plan to visit their French establishment after Vinexpo. 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. Emma Freddi runs the Enrica Rocca cooking courses at her home in Constantia. Brett Nussey’s Stir Crazy courses are now being run from Dish Food and Social’s premises in Main Road Observatory (opposite Groote Schuur hospital). Lynn Angel runs the Kitchen Angel cooking school and does private dinners at her home.  She holds hands-on cooking classes for small groups on Monday and Wednesday evenings. She trained with Raymond Blanc, and has been a professional chef for 25 years. More info here 








15th June 2013
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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.
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