Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fork Restaurant's refurb party

Ed Saunders’ Fork restaurant has been refurbished
So, on Saturday night, a small crowd of his loyal guests, suppliers and also friends joined him at a cocktail party to celebrate the new space, introduce his new chef "Aristotle" and his new manager Emma Farquharson. Fork, which is a tapas bar, has been open now for 10 years and he felt it needed a fresh approach. It was a very social evening with lots of people we know, the Krone bubbly flowed like water and there was also wine from Beaumont, Elgin Ridge, Rustenberg and Warwick, with just a few canapés circulating overhead
His clever signage
The spruced up front of house, with the valuable balcony area above the entrance
The invitation
The daily special menu
Crowd gathering
Out on the balcony, which is well used in the summer
The well stocked bar for the evening
The reception area
Ed wanted to thank all his staff for their loyal service during the speeches. His teenage daugher (seen here with Ed) and son also made amusing speeches about their father and their growing up at Fork
One of his staff Lungi, started with Ed when he opened, as a kitchen porter and is still there now, having climbed up the ranks and is invaluable, he says
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Vertical tasting of Simonsig Tiara Bordeaux-style red blend and lunch at Cuvée

We had an early start to our trip to Simonsig, as we had the offer from Emile Joubert of a very much appreciated lift. Some events are hard to resist and the opportunity to taste through 7 vintages of this iconic Bordeaux-style blend, Simonsig's flagship wine, was indeed irresistible. Simonsig made their first serious red wine in 1984 from Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. In 1990, they made the first Tiara (released in 1992) and planted Merlot and more Cabernet. Cabernet Franc was added in 1992 and in 1997 Petit Verdot, after tasting Walter Finlayson's Grand Classique blend. Finally, in 2009, they added Malbec. Not all these grapes are used in each year's Tiara; the blend does vary according to their quality and what they add to the blend, and there have been some years when they didn't produce any. When Johan Malan took over as cellarmaster in 1998, he started to make classic red wines, having seen what Jan Boland Coetzee, Etienne Le Riche and other Stellenbosch wine producers had produced. He likes the style that Pauillac makes, and wines with the potential to last a long time
Winemaker Debbie Thompson is also passionate about quality wines. Her first vintage was in 2000. They leave the grapes hanging longer on the vine these days, it doesn't give you more sugar, just more depth. When to pick and press is critically important. She says the most exciting part of her job is making the blends. You play with the tannins which give the wine its longevity, search out quality, know the characteristics of all the blocks and the put the best to barrel. And they do vary the wood used: Mainly French oak, with small amounts of American. She says it's like starting with Cabernet and then adding the salt and the pepper
Following the tasting, we had an excellent lunch in their restaurant Cuvée, paired with more Simonsig wine.
Arriving at Simonsig on a chilly winter morning
It was lovely and warm having coffee in front of the fire in Cuvée restaurant waiting for the other guests to arrive. Lynne chatting with Greg Landman of Country Life
The table set up for lunch
Staff getting the restaurant ready
Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel MCC bubbles to welcome the mêlée of media..
..poured for us by Dirk Vorster
Maryna Strachan of Wine Extra with PR man Emile Joubert of Media Vision
Tasters seated in the upstairs venue which was used for the tasting
Johan Malan took us through the wines. There is indeed a linear connection between the vintages, recognisable as Simonsig. But there are, of course, differences in the blends and the aging of the different years. It was interesting to taste the 1995 made with just 72% Cabernet & 28% Merlot. It is beginning to show its age; the  colour was still a rich garnet, with the beginning of a brick red tinge, and there was excellent fruit for a 20 year old wine. The 2001 was still amazingly fresh, full of cassis, violets and incense wood, with delicious cassis fruit, a hint of bacon and a dash of green capsicum on the end. The 2003 is, Johan Malan thinks, the great vintage of the decade. The wine has good wood and good ripe fruit with touches of coconut and vanilla and a long finish
Johan Malan with Emile Joubert and, on the left, journalist Johann Crafford
The tasting continued. Tiara 2013 was many peoples' favourite wine. It is fruit first on the nose then violets and savoury tomato soup and ends with some herbaceousness; a classic blend. On the palate, there is sweet fruit, licorice, cassis, cherries and dark toasted wood with vanilla. It is very elegant and has a long way to go. Lynne's favourite came next, the 2007. Classic cherries and Cassis and wood on the excellent nose. Dry, but gently chalky, tannins gave it good structure with layers of cherries and other black berries
Tiara 2009. Has vanilla, coconut and incense from the wood on the nose and perfume from the Petite Verdot. It has a full mouth of tomato cocktail, cassis berries and leaves and nice tannins. It is still to come so is one to lay down. The latest release 2011 has a beautiful Bordeaux nose, violets, incense with lots of elegance. Sweet delicious fruit, nice friendly chalky tannins and enough fruit acid to make this wine last for years
We taste, chat and make notes on each wine
As do Petro du Toit, Publisher of Visio Magazine, Emile Joubert and Simonsig Social Media manager Nellie van der Walt
Johan introduces winemaker Debbie Thompson to us
She talks to us about her winemaking methods and philosophy
Christian Eedes of WineMag.co.za
A serious bouquet for Robyn MacLarty, Deputy editor, Fresh Living magazine
Is the tasting is over? Debbie van der Watt looks pensive
Time for lunch
and some newly released 2015 Simonsig Sauvignon Blanc with the first course
A crystal table
Some of Simonsig's own olive oil to taste with the bread
First course was matched with the Sauvignon Blanc. Different colours of pickled baby beetroot, with quenelles of goats cheese "'pannacotta", lemon curd and walnut bread
Johan answering many questions
The main course of wonderfully long and slowly braised sticky beef short rib (bones removed) with parmesan gnocchi, confit turnips, edamame beans and carrots. Perfect for a winter's day. This went so well with the 2011 Tiara
Lynne actually likes this photograph better, but says that the previous one shows the food in a more delicious way
We ended with a selection of cheese with fig and orange preserve, nuts and bread crisps - paired with the sweet Vin de Liza 2010
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This Week's MENU: Aegean Odyssey. Part Three, Niel Joubert, Boplaas tasting at Dear Me, Shiraz SA showcase, Sommeliers Selection Awards at Open Door, Den Anker Winter Menu specials, Elgin Hidden White Gems, Caribbean Soup

An elegant Three-master on a rainy Naxos night
In this week’s MENU:
* Hidden White Gems at an Elgin Tweet Up
* Caribbean Soup
* Learn about wine and cooking
We write about our experiences in MENU, not only to entertain you, but to encourage you to visit the places and events that we do. We know you will enjoy them and we try to make each write up as graphic as we can, so you get a good picture of what is on offer at each place, restaurant, wine farm, festival we visit. To get the whole story with photographs, 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.
Our Aegean Odyssey continues with Naxos and Athens      This week, we tell you about the rest of our stay in Naxos and our first day in Athens, most of which we spent in the Acropolis, immersing ourselves in nearly 3000 years of history. Read On:
Tasting and lunch at Neil Joubert Wine Estate     Charles Withington has had a respectable career in wine. He owns the Darling Wine Shop and has become a friend. During his tenure as General Manager at nearby Backsberg, he got to know the Jouberts very well and has looked after their export marketing since the mid 90s. Recently, he suggested that we should all go and have a tasting and lunch with them. We met him there last Wednesday and a wonderful day was had by all. Read On
Boplaas tasting with lunch at Dear Me Restaurant in Longmarket Street     We were invited to taste four Boplaas wines made with Port varieties and four of their ports last Thursday. The tasting was held in Tjing Tjing on the ground floor and then we went upstairs to the Dear Me restaurant to lunch, paired with more of the wines and Port. Read On
Shiraz SA showcase at the CTICC     Since its inception in 2009, the Shiraz Showcase has grown and, this year, it took place at the CTICC for the first time, previous venues having become too small to accommodate it. Shiraz has become a signature varietal for South Africa and shiraz plantings now account for about 11% of the national vineyard. CTICC is a good venue for this huge showcase of shiraz and it was a very good tasting indeed this year. It was difficult to manage to taste more than half of what is on show but we tried. It is always a very social evening as well and we met lots of you enjoying yourselves. Read On
Sommeliers Selection Awards at Open Door Restaurant at Constantia Uitsig     A total of 101 wines was selected from 400 entries for the first Sommeliers Selection Wine List, which was judged only by members of the South African Sommeliers Association (SASA). The judging panel was chaired by internationally acclaimed sommeliers David Clarke and Higgo Jacobs. The awards ceremony was attended by many members of the wine and food industry last Friday and, following the awards, the wines were available for tasting. Read On
Winter Menu specials at Den Anker     We always enjoy it when we are invited by restaurants to come and taste their food; better still when we know the food they produce is good. Last Friday was a beautiful crisp and sunny winter’s day and, following the Sommeliers Selection Awards, we made our way to this waterside restaurant in the Waterfront. We were able to sit outside on the dock and eat our way through tasting portions of their winter specials, accompanied by a selection of samples of Belgian beers. The selection is very good and those of you with children will love Sundays, when they eat free (but no beer for them!). Read On
Hidden White Gems at an Elgin Tweet Up     Last night we headed off to Rococoa in the Palms Centre in Woodstock, where this Tweet Up was to take place. It is a very good venue indeed, in the cellar which used to house Cuvées Classiques. It is large, spacious and the Wi-Fi connection is excellent. We tasted through 11 Elgin white wines and thoroughly enjoyed the two hour tasting, as there were some excellent wines. We discovered that the Tweet Up was the #1 trending site in SA at 7 pm! If you want to follow us on twitter our handle is @mainingmenu
This week's recipe comes from the days when we sold Sue Long's wonderful fruit vinegars. They have all but disappeared now, sadly, but in this one, you can just use lime juice or even Roses Lime Juice instead of the vinegar in the delicious winter warming soup.
Caribbean Soup
2 chopped onions - 30g butter - 70g rice, uncooked - 45ml grated coconut - 400g spinach leaves, washed and cut up - 1.5 litres good beef stock or 1 beef stock cube - 80ml coconut cream - salt- freshly ground black pepper - 30ml lime juice
Soften the onion in the melted butter, add 1.5 litres boiling water or beef stock, bring to the boil and add the rice and grated coconut. Allow to cook for 20 minutes, add the well drained spinach and, if using, the beef stock cube. Bring to the boil, add the coconut cream, a good grinding of black pepper, salt to taste and the lime juice to taste. Serve hot. If you have any jerk spice, you can try a dash of that too.
Saturday, 27th June at 18h30 for 19h00  Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa invites you to enjoy a gourmet meal paired with a wide range of carefully selected wines from Quando Vineyards & Winery. R295 per person for Dinner only or R1995 per couple includes the dinner, room and breakfast. ENQUIRE TO BOOK
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, has a variety of courses. See the details here
In addition to his 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
Nicolette van Niekerk runs baking courses at La Petite Patisserie in Montague Gardens
George Jardine will be running a series of winter cooking courses and other activities at Jordan. Details here

24th June 2015
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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.
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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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