Thursday, August 07, 2014

140806 Main Ingredient's MENU - The future for South African Shiraz, SHIRAZ Showcase 2014, Banting, Mediterranean and healthy eating, Smoked Mackerel Paté

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In this week’s MENU:
* What is the future for South African Shiraz?
* SHIRAZ Showcase 2014
* Banting, Mediterranean and healthy eating
* This week’s recipe: Smoked Mackerel Paté
* Food and wine (and a few other) events for you to enjoy
* Learn about wine and cooking
To get the whole of our story, please click on READ ON..... at the end of each paragraph, which will lead you to the related blog, with pictures and more words. At the end of each blog, click on RETURN TO MENU to come back to the blog version of MENU.
This week’s Product menu – This cold weather does make one think of sustaining food and risotto certainly fits the bill. If you are longing for a wonderful mushroom or prawn risotto, we have the perfect Italian rice, Violone Nano, which is best with seafood and Carnaroli for those with chicken or butternut and goats’ cheese, or even a simple saffron and artichoke. See them all here
What is the future for South African Shiraz?     South African shiraz is rightfully wowing people here and abroad. It is entered into every possible wine competition locally and abroad in large numbers (it is currently the largest category in many competitions) and some of the farms come off very well indeed with many awards. But it is a little schizophrenic. We want to know if we are developing our own style of Shiraz or are we just copying overseas styles? That is already visible as people try to convince one that by naming shiraz ‘Syrah’ it is made in the Northern Rhone style. But is it? Undoubtedly some are using the French spelling to look more authentic, without being so. If you took 12 samples of Shiraz and 12 of Syrah randomly, would they show a definite style or is that style profile all in each winemakers head. And then, what style are they achieving or aiming for with plain old Shiraz? It might be Southern Rhone style, even Australian or Californian, Argentine or Chile, depending on where the winemaker trained. What style profile does SA do the best? We think the intelligent winemakers are looking at what their climate and terroir produces and using that to their best advantage, not trying to copy styles which could be unachievable in Africa.
We are asking these questions because we have been tasting, drinking and buying quite a lot of this versatile varietal recently. It is one of our favourites to drink with robust food. When it is done well, and there are some stunning examples, it shines brightly with intense but soft red fruit, well integrated wood and lots of elegance. When it doesn’t, it can be thin, insubstantial, over wooded and, quite frankly, sour. Conversely, it can be over-extracted and overblown with super high alcohols. We have even picked up on several samples which showed that horror of the industry, burnt rubber. As for two distinct styles, we are mystified.
There are areas that seem to be producing good wines with their own singular terroir signature – Tulbagh and Elgin are two that stand out for us and climatically they could not be more different. We would love to see Shiraz SA do a blind tasting to see if others can pick up these two styles or explain to us what they are. We are very familiar with French and other international shirazes, so we are not speaking from the point of view of ignorance.
SHIRAZ Showcase 2014     We were invited to this annual event, hosted by Shiraz SA and held at the Vineyard Hotel on Friday evening. There were approximately 70 shirazes to taste and some farms had brought a couple of vintages. It was a good tasting of some very interesting wines and a couple that were amazing. Although we are puzzled at the style question, we certainly think that we can produce some beautiful expressions of this very friendly grape, that has the potential to keep for several years. We tasted some that have already lasted well. Rich, spicy and alluring, with lovely fruit layers and soft tannins and a hint of smoke or chocolate is a style we like a lot. There are also some farms making a sweet and sour lighter version. which we can’t say we love, but perhaps it is a terroir thing. When a grape becomes fashionable, everyone plants it and then some find that their soil does not allow the grape to show at its best. Luckily, you don’t seem to get any heavy tannic bombs with Shiraz, as you do with Cabernets. These need putting into an armoury and waiting a long time before they are good. Shiraz is up front and friendly almost from the start.
We couldn’t possibly taste all the wines, so here is a selection of some that we did and liked. Almenkerk is full of violets and good cassis, cool climate indicators we are told. Boschkloof is savoury with violets and white peppers and a very long finish. Cederberg lived up to expectations and was layered with good spice and vanilla, this one will age. Edgebaston was very good indeed and they declare that it is leaning towards its European heritage. It has white pepper, violets, mulberry and umami and an aging potential. The Hartenberg is full of turmeric on the nose and layers of cassis and silk on the palate, with a nice chalky elegance, making it a good companion to food. La Bri has the necessary violets, chocolate and spice with good sweet fruit to entrance us. Lomond has a lovely bouquet, nice fruit, a little chocolate and long flavours, so we scored it high. Rickety Bridge has a two word description, ‘pure fruit’ and a good score. Riebeek Cellars Kasteelberg has nice sweetness (4.5 g/l) high alcohol at 15.5%, but it is not hot. Its tannin makes us think this can also last. Rijks has good strong fruit and elegance, and has many more years to go. And our favourite wine for the evening (tasted separately then we swopped notes) was De Trafford 2012 Syrah 393. Incense and mystical aromas of spice. Soft deep red fruits, soft tannins. Long, long, layer after layer of flavour with an end of salty liquorice. A food wine and one to keep and to drink now.
There were also some blends using Shiraz with Viognier, Mourvedre, Grenache, Petite Verdot, Pinotage, Cabernet, even Cinsaut, which we think is A GOOD THING, unless of course you are covering up a shiraz that was not good in the first place. Kaapzicht Estate Red is sweet and soft and spicy, but waiting to develop more. Kleinood’s Tamboerskoof has very expensive wood notes and was delicious. Sadly, because of a bad harvest there is not much left. As always, we took some photographs
Banting, Mediterranean and healthy eating      The big topic in food circles right now is Tim Noakes and the Banting regime. Various cardiologists are fiercely combating Dr Noakes, who say that the dietary regime he advocates is a recipe for disaster. Muddled in amongst these arguments is a host of prejudices and a huge number of generalizations. One of the latter is the so-called “Mediterranean Diet”. There are many countries round the Mediterranean Sea, but the reference appears to be to the South of France (a narrow strip at the bottom edge of a large country) and an emphasis on salads and olive oil.
It is true that France, historically, has had a lower rate of heart disease than most other countries. The question is “Why?” We believe that the real answer is that people in France have preferred to eat fresh foods and have not been huge consumers of fast and processed foods. Sadly, this is changing and we saw a huge number of pizza and burger outlets on our visit last year. However, we have never seen many obese people on our visits to France in the last 40 or so years. But we don’t believe that this is just because of salads and olive oil. This quote comes from an internet article about duck fat: “The French Paradox - In the United States, 315 of every 100,000 middle-aged men die of heart attacks each year. In France the rate is 145 per 100,000. However, In the Gascony region, where goose and duck liver form a staple of the diet, this rate is only 80 per 100,000 This phenomenon has recently gained international attention as the French Paradox - They eat more fat in Gascony than anyplace else, but they live the longest.” Duck fat is high in Omega 3 fatty acids and is a largely unsaturated fat. It also makes the best roast potatoes.
We believe that most obesity in the last 30 years has been caused by fast and processed foods and sugary drinks like Coke and Pepsi. Large amounts of refined breads and pastas are big contributors. The body converts the starches into sugars in order to digest them, just as brewers malt barley and other grains in order to convert the starches to sugars to enable fermentation.
Dr Noakes advocates a diet high in fats, which is why he has been attacked. He also advocates a conservative use of starchy (“carb”) foods, because our bodies convert the excess that we don’t use as energy into fat. He emphasizes that his diet is aimed at diabetics and pre-diabetics. We are lucky and are not in that category, but have both managed to lose a significant amount of weight and girth by cutting down on bread, potatoes, pasta and beer, without a significant increase in our fat intake. Several friends and family members can tell the same story. But we do eat fresh, unprocessed foods and avoid fast foods and fizzy drinks (other than MCCs and champagne!) and we believe that this is the kernel of all the arguments we are hearing about healthy eating.
This week’s recipe makes a great starter or sandwich filler. It is also really good served with avocado. Or put into small tomatoes topped with olives or pepperdew slices.
Smoked Mackerel Paté
2 smoked peppered mackerel fillets – 30 g cream cheese – 2 t creamed horseradish sauce – 50 ml cream - a good squeeze of lemon juice – freshly ground black pepper – salt to taste
Remove the skin from the mackerel and flake, making sure you remove any small bones. Put aside one third. In a blender or with a stick blender, blitz the mackerel, cream cheese, horseradish, lemon and just enough cream to make a nearly smooth spreadable texture. Put back the flaked mackerel to add texture. Add pepper and salt and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Serve with good bread or your favourite alternative. You can also use any other smoked fish like snoek or even drained, tinned salmon, tuna or pilchards. And if you don’t like or can’t find creamed horseradish sauce, you could use a little wasabi paste. We served it with a lovely, fresh and crisp DeWetshof Bon Vallon 2013 unwooded chardonnay.
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 type of event 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 list of wine and food pairing dinners, list of Special events with wine and/or food connections, list of Wine Shows and Tastings and list of special dinner events. All the events are listed in date order and we 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. Karen Glanfield has taken over the UnWined wine appreciation courses from Cathy. See the details here
The Hurst Campus, an accredited school for people who want to become professional chefs, will soon start a new series of short courses in baking. Check the ad in our blog page or see the details here
Chez Gourmet in Claremont has a programme of cooking classes. A calendar of their classes can be seen here.
In addition to the new Sense of Taste Culinary Arts School, Chef Peter Ayub runs a four module course for keen home cooks at his Maitland complex. Details here
Nadège Lepoittevin-Dasse has French cooking classes in Noordhoek 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 Thursday evenings and she has decided to introduce LCHF (Banting classes). The Kitchen Confidence classes, which focus on essential cooking skills and methods, have been expanded and are now taught over 2 evenings. She continues to host private dining and culinary team building events at her home. She trained with Raymond Blanc, and has been a professional chef for 25 years. More info here

31st July 2014
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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 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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