Saturday, December 14, 2013

131212 Main Ingredient's MENU - Winding down to Christmas & New Year, Laws, damned laws, Uitkyk MCC, Hartenberg picnic, Avontuur races, Eikendal Lunch & tasting, Riesling Rocks

Main Ingredient’s weekly E-Journal
Gourmet Foods & Ingredients
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A Cape Wagtail (Motacilla capensis) with a juicy snack
In this week’s MENU:
* Winding down to Christmas and New Year
* Laws, damned laws
* A giant tree fell at Uitkyk
* Hartenberg picnic
* Avontuur fillies races
* Lunch and tasting at Eikendal
* Riesling Rocks Competition
Follow this link to see our Main Ingredient blogs, because to tell our whole story here would take too much space. Click on Bold words in the text of this edition to open links to pictures, blogs, pertinent websites or more information.
This week’s Product menu: If you want chestnuts, maron glacé, duck fat, duck confit or French pates for Christmas and New Year we have them, but do note that stock can run out and we would hate to disappoint you.  Phone us, send an email or come and see us on Saturday at the Biscuit Mill. We can still post but cannot guarantee how busy the Post Office is going to be. Courier is also possible. We do have most of the things you like to buy from us. But PLEASE don’t leave it to the last minute to get them from us as our suppliers have limited supplies this year and we are only carrying a limited number of each item and just ordering what we need as sales so far have been slow. Have a look at our on-line shop and order now.
Here comes Christmas
Many of us are winding down to Christmas and New Year celebrations and holidays. Next week will be our last MENU issued until 2014 and we, like you, are really looking forward to a good break, with time to spend with our family and to take a well earned rest. It has been a hectic business- and fun-filled year. We have done so much that has been enjoyable and met so many new people, eaten some really great food (and some not!) and tasted as many wines as possible. We are convinced that South Africa is producing world class award winning wines and food and it is lovely to see visitors and overseas media and trade organisations agreeing with us.
Our market activities Come and visit us at the Old Biscuit Mill’s Neighbourgoods Market, as always, this Saturday and every Saturday this year, 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.
As usual, we have a link at the bottom of this to our calendar of wine and food related events, which should interest all lovers of great food and wine and the events which promote them. We have always had a few from centres outside the Western Cape, but we now generally have enough to justify a separate list (quiet at the moment – maybe most of the organisers have plans to come here for the holidays!), so, if you live in one of the other splendid places in our lovely country, have a look. We have also added a separate list of picnics and other ongoing events. It used to be part of the events  calendar, but is has grown too much. If you are promoting an event in any of these places, please let us know and we’ll add it to the list.
A little commercial     While we have a huge list of subscribers, MENU does not earn us money, apart from a small amount of advertising revenue earned when readers click on the advertisements which appear in the blogs which are linked to this newsletter. So we’ll be most grateful if you click on some of the ads in the blogs. It won’t cost you anything – the advertisers will pay!
Laws, damned laws    It still distresses us to see how little support the government gives the wine industry, which is one of biggest tax and revenue earners for the country, here and overseas. New liquor laws seem to have been put in place which prevent good people growing the economy and employing and training other people, just when our wines are enjoying unprecedented praise in our export markets. Yes, we do need to control alcohol abuse and the illegal sale of alcohol. The proposed ban on advertising in the liquor industry needs much more thought and debate. It smacks of Prohibition and we all know what that led to in 1920s America. We have enough problems with gangs and their illicit activities as it is. PLEASE get involved and send in your comments and ideas when they ask for public participation – don’t leave it until it is too late - or else we will find that the Government has passed this stupid bill, saying that they did not get any participation. You may not realise it, but wine farms won’t be able to advertise or direct you to their tasting rooms, there will be no sponsorship of sport by the Liquor industry. Without the industry’s advertising revenue, publications will not survive and many jobs will be lost throughout the industry. And, if they pass this law, we won’t be able to publish MENU as we will be deemed to be advertising alcohol - it is that silly. Our health minister appears to have no understanding of the wine industry and thinks that a shotgun blast will cure all the ills he perceives. Very few people with an alcohol abuse problem can afford premium wines, single malts, aged brandies or other premium spirits, so banning advertising of these products will be ineffective. Our wine industry is a gem in the Western Cape’s financial crown, a major employer and tax contributor, and we need to protect it.
A giant tree fell today     Uitkyk really knows how to put on an event! Thankfully driven to the farm by bus, we had an easy trip on Monday. We so love event organisers who do this - they want us to drink their wines, but drinking and driving is not very responsible. Nowadays, petrol is very expensive and, sometimes, we go to the winelands three or even four times a week for functions. It can cost us a fortune writing about other peoples’ products. This month, we will need at least three tanks full, at over R1000 each.
We were informed that the dress code was ‘Picnic Chic’ and that they were planning a flirty picnic with fans and parasols to launch their new MCC, Glass Memories 2012. On arrival, we were presented with fans, and immediately transported back in time and forward to the lawn in front of the house in a wonderful old coach and pair. Uitkyk’s manor house is a  beautifully restored Georgian farmhouse, one of only three still surviving in this country. It was a hot day and there was lots of shade under trees and umbrellas. Click here to see the photos.
We all enjoyed a substantial lunch, laid out buffet style in the manor house, because of the heavy winds the previous night which, luckily, died down mid-morning, but caused chaos with the organisers’ plans, especially when a huge old tree came crashing down. As this was the night when our dearest Nelson Mandela died, we all saw it as a symbol of the passing of giants. We all raised a toast in celebration of his life and what he stood for.
We ate at tables on the lawn and really enjoyed the Shiraz, which had cherries and chocolate on the nose with a sprinkling of cinnamon, and is approachable, soft and juicy on the palate despite its 16 to 18 months in barrel. The wines, all bearing their new Estate Range brand labels, are made by Estelle Lourens who has been with Uitkyk for 14 years. We found the new MCC, a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, to be lean, crisp and dry, with notes of butter and perfume on the nose. The Sauvignon Blanc is unusual for Stellenbosch, as it is very crisp with green notes and tastes of lemons and granadillas, a little tropical but not as much as expected for the area. The Chardonnay is buttery and has whiffs of expensive wood, while the well-made barrel-fermented Chenin, which used to go into their five star Brandy, is from a single vineyard and has been in expensive French oak and is a great example of what we can do with this grape. The news we had received, while sending MENU out the previous night, cast a shadow over the day, but the way the day was organised helped us to celebrate a wonderful man and look forward to a bright future.
Avontuur invited us and other media to attend their annual Fillies’ day at Kenilworth Racecourse last Saturday. The last time Lynne went to the races there, Ding Dong won the Metropolitan Handicap and it was 1967! It was rather a strange afternoon, as we could find no one who was in charge and our “VIP” tickets, which invited us to the 4th floor Peninsula Room, were not accepted at the door. Eventually, we managed to get in and were directed to the table allocated to us at the back of the 3rd floor. We bumped into the small number of other media people who attended, ate something off the buffet there, washed down with a luke warm rosé in cheap Café de Paris goblets, and watched a couple of races before leaving. Sometimes, if you are a near-novice race goer, you do need someone to welcome you, tell you what to do and where to go. Pictures here.
A Picnic that deserves mention     We took our wine club to Hartenberg on Sunday and we have to tell you what a great time we all had and what a superb picnic they provide. Newly appointed Restaurant and Tasting room major domo Philip Costandius gave us an excellent tasting of the wines (fairly rowdy!) before we went to our long table for 28 under the trees on the bottom lawn. Photos here of the picnic. It costs R300 for two and includes a bottle of wine. We were offered a choice of Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay or Riesling and a red blend. Tastings cost R25 per person, which is refunded if you purchase wine to take home or drink there. We had a ball.
Eikendal     It is not often that one meets a winemaker who is so passionate about the whole growing process as well as the wine-making process. Nico Grobler is both viticulturist and winemaker on Eikendal and has spent the last 5 years nurturing his vineyards to bring out the best they can produce. With glasses in our hands we had a tractor tour through the vineyards and saw the results close up. He uses different methods of planting direction to each grape’s site specific needs and wind direction, changes the trellising, pruning, canopy management, topping out according to each varietal he grows and he has some very interesting plans for the future. His attention to detail is producing superb vines and this year a huge crop of very healthy looking grapes. He then follows this through into the cellar and with the building list of awards they have been receiving in the last few years, it is obviously paying off, most of them are 4.5 or 4 stars in Platter, with 2011 Classique, their Bordeaux blend, earning five stars.
Chef Mark Radnor was not known to us, but turns out to be rather a hidden gem as the food he produced for us was excellent, innovative and very well matched indeed to the wines we tasted and drank with lunch. Click here for photographs. A case in point was the carefully made 2012 Chardonnay which is butterscotch and limes on the nose and butterscotch, limes and butter on the palate, very drinkable and rather refreshing when served cold. This was served with a rich and sweet fried sweet potato gnocchi, white and green asparagus in a clever lemon mint butter and grated parmesan.
The spicy notes on the Charisma blend of Shiraz with Sangiovese and Petit Verdot with elegant cherry fruit made it an excellent match for the lightly spiced ostrich carpaccio. We were served the 2011 and the 2012. They were both good but, as is so often the case, the older wine was the better match. The slow-cooked, succulent confit pork belly was enhanced by a prune confit and the intense, ripe fruit of the 2011 Merlot suited it very well. Two vintages of the Cabernet sauvignon were brought to pair with the beef fillet - 2010 and 2011. Unsurprisingly, the 2010 was a better match for the baby beets served with the dish, as it has more accessible fruit. The 2011 was a little austere, but will undoubtedly open up with age. For dessert, we were served a delicious raspberry chocolate gateau with cappuccino parfait and hazelnut tuille. This was matched with the flagship 2011 Bordeaux blend Classique, a Platter 5 star wine. We would have preferred a dessert wine, or even an older, riper vintage. The fruit in the dessert rather overshadowed the elegant character of the wine, which was too young to stand up to it. Give it a few years to reach its potential. It was a splendid way to showcase the wines and the “almost-hidden” restaurant, which we had heard nothing of before this experience, and will certainly visit again.
Riesling Rocks Competition. The lucky winner of two tickets to this event is Tamara K Gusovius. Thank you to all of you who sent in your correct entries, she was the first out of the draw. We hope to have more competitions in the near future, so do keep trying.
Tyres and food     An advertisement has been running on Cape Talk radio for some time, advertising the fact that a well known city hotel has “a Michelin trained chef”. We have bought many Michelin tyres and have found the Michelin guide to be very useful when travelling in Europe, but we are unaware of a Michelin chefs’ academy. Are they serving rubber food? Or have we missed something?
This week’s recipe may be the answer to your prayers. If it is a hot day and you can’t face a traditional Christmas pudding, make this. It is really easy to make and tastes delicious.  You make it the day before too and simply turn it out when you are ready to eat. And it is a beautiful red colour so you just need to add a spring of holly on the top and it looks Christmassy. You do need to plan this a few days in advance.
1 sliced white loaf, 2 days old – 1 kilo mixed soft juicy red fruits: Raspberries, cherries, strawberries, red and/or black currents – 100g caster sugar – a squeeze of lemon juice
You can also add sliced nectarines and blueberries.

Cut the crusts off about 8 slices of bread and then line the bottom of a large pudding basin (approx a litre capacity) with it. Cut a round to fit the base and then begin to line the bowl with bread. You will find it is easier if you cut the bread into triangles and then cut other slices to fit into gaps until the whole of the bowl is completely covered in bread. That was the difficult bit.  Now put the fruit (do please hull it and take out all the pips from cherries)  into a heavy based pan, with the sugar and the lemon juice.  Bring slowly to the boil over a low heat and cook for only 2 or 3 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and juices starts to run.  Remove from the heat and pour off about 75 to 100 mls of the juice and keep this in the fridge till later.  Spoon the warm fruit into the pudding basin then cover the top with a layer of bread.  Cover with a plate or saucer and weigh it down with a heavy jar or tin.  Put into the fridge overnight or at least 8 hours.  The red juice from the fruit will seep through the bread. When you are ready to serve, remove the weight and the saucer.  Put a pretty lipped serving dish or tazza over the bowl and carefully invert it so the pudding slides out  Use the reserved juice to cover any parts of the pudding that are not red with juice.  Serve with a bowl of thick cream.
Buying from us On Line      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 on line shop. We can send your requirements to you anywhere in South Africa. Please do not pay until we have confirmed availability and invoiced you, then you pay and then we deliver or post. 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. Click here to see our OnLine Shop.
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. Events outside the Western Cape are listed here.
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. A calendar of their classes can be seen here. Pete Ayub, who made 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
12th December 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 online shop 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 and standard 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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