Thursday, December 10, 2015

This week's MENU - Tourism Awards, Alto Wine blending fun, Franschhoek Magic of Bubbles , Thelema Boland Braai, New Nuy tasting venue, Tasting Steenberg wines, Sir Ian Botham walks Kumala wines, Beetroot cured Salmon Gravadlax

A baby owl at Steenberg
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By the end of this week we will have driven to the winelands five times and been transported to the Nuy winery the next day. But our working year is drawing to a close and we are off on our first ever Cape summer holiday together, after 15 years. We have always been working right up to Christmas but, this year, we have managed to book a week on the coast and cannot wait to relax and not think about work. Of course we will post a story on our return.
We hope you will all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, Hanukkah, Yule, Zarathosht Diso or Kwanzaa, or just renewing relaxation, if you are not celebrating the festive season. We are taking a short break until early January and look forward to catching up with you all in 2016.
For those of you who asked, John has made a very quick recovery from his cataract operation and now has almost perfect sight - without the glasses which he has worn since he was 10. It is almost miraculous what they can do nowadays.
Great Wine Capitals & Cape Winelands District Wine Tourism Awards     Last Friday, we were off to Marlenique in Simondium, a conference and wedding venue which was new to us, for the celebration of the awards in these two competitions. The Best Of Wine Tourism awards celebrate innovation and excellence in wine tourism throughout the eight greatest wine regions in the world. These were the awards for the Cape Winelands, which were announced in November. The CWDM Mayoral Tourism Awards celebrate the achievements of tourism businesses in the Cape Winelands tourism industry, showcasing outstanding performers, products and service excellence  ....>
Wine blending fun at Alto Estate, Stellenbosch     Can you blend wine? You can learn to at Alto. Last Saturday, we were invited to join the large group of people who had won the Alto wine blending competition held at the many Hussar Grill restaurants. Some of the Hussar owners and staff were also there. After a meet and greet with a glass of Alto Port, we all went into the cellar to learn how to blend wine. We were met by winemaker Bertho van der Westhuizen, who took over from his father in May this year, and is only the fifth winemaker in the estate’s 80-year history. He took us through the whole process. If you are interested in doing this, contact Alto, Apparently these blending sessions will take place on Saturdays over the season but you need to book  ....>
Sunday at the Magic of Bubbles Festival in Franschhoek     This very popular bubbly festival is always held in what seems to be the hottest time of the year so we were relieved to find the temperature still in the 20's on Sunday. The theme this year was Black and White with a touch of "Bling!" and we must say people did dress accordingly with some very smart attire. They had moved the stage back and there were thankfully lots more tables and umbrellas. We tasted many new releases and a couple of very different Methode Cap Classique bubbles and a couple of classic French champagnes as well  ....>
The annual Thelema Boland Braai     Held at the Thelema manor house every year, the Webb family and their team entertain the wine trade, sommeliers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and some media friends. It is informal and friendly and one of our favourite events each year, but the scary thing is that it seems only a few weeks ago since we were at last year's braai. All the Thelema & Sutherland wines are there for tasting and Gyles Webb gave us a guided tasting of older Sutherland white wines in the spacious lounge  ....>
Opening of the new "On The Hill" Nuy tasting venue     To Nuy for the opening of their new Tasting room. What vision! And what a lovely spot they have chosen for this modern and airy tasting room, deli and restaurant. In the past to get to Nuy (which is at the end of Worcester on the R60 to Robertson) you had to turn off the main road and drive another 7 kilometres to get there. Not many people did. Now you cannot help but see this very well designed building on the hilltop alongside the road and be tempted to stop and enjoy the wines, food and the magnificent view  ....>
Tasting new wines at Steenberg     It was extremely exciting and quite moving to be able to stand one metre away from a just fledged downy baby owl. We were invited to a tasting of Steenberg's new wine range and were served a superb charcuterie platter with the owl perched on a branch just above us.
After you get through the extremely impenetrable security at the front gate, you find yourself in an oasis of green and calmness. We met Caroline van Schalkwyk, the Marketing manager, on arrival and she first took us on a short tour. Steenberg has taken over the running of the Spa, the restaurant and the accommodation and if you want a wine tasting with nibbles, a platter or a meal, you head to Catharina’s restaurant  ....>
Sir Ian Botham walks the rainbow nation and Kumala launches wine range     Sir Ian Botham is in SA to lead some sponsored walks. We were invited to The Table Bay Hotel (Sun International is one of the sponsors) to tweet about another of the sponsors, Kumala wines, with winemakers Ben Jordaan and Bruce Jack, before meeting Beefy Botham and hearing about his walks and to hear about the four causes to which the money is being donated after the walks. It looks as though at least half of the Barmy Army will be walking with Sir Ian ....>
Rank sewage on the coastline affects us all     If any of you saw Carte Blanche last weekend, you will know all about the huge sewage outfall problem in Table Bay, Mouille Point and other points round our coastline. The city puts all the city and Atlantic seaboard sewage out into the ocean. This also happens in other areas like Hout Bay. Besides the smell, the toxic chemicals, medicines, dangerous bacteria and microbes in the sewage are really causing major problems and could be a serious disease and long term health hazard for all ....>
A lovely stay in the area recently was marred by the awful stench of sewage. We didn't write about it then, as it was not the fault of the venue and we didn't want to lose them business, but now that it is out in the open, we do hope that the people of Cape Town will rise as one and demand a solution to this dangerous problem from the Council, the Province and the Government. We need an efficient land-based sewage plant; we have to stop polluting our ocean and our beaches with millions of litres of sewage pumped into the bay. They have always ducked this, saying it is too expensive. The population of Cape Town continues to grow enormously as people from other countries and provinces flood in. How expensive is our health, loss of tourism income and our marine life, on which many people depend?   See sense, no sea sewage. Please.
This week's recipe: Beetroot cured Salmon Gravadlax is something Lynne made for John's birthday and would be a great starter for Christmas or New Year celebrations. Gravadlax is not difficult to make and you don’t need a huge quantity of salmon. We did two large 200 x 140 cm salmon fillets, but one fillet would be plenty for about 8 to 10 people. If you use two, put them face to face, covered in the cure and compress together. The key to gravadlax is to decide whether you like a salty or a slightly sweeter cure. This year, Lynne altered the proportions of salt and sugar and we loved it. She also used grated fresh beetroot, which gives the salmon a wonderful ruby-like colour but doesn't affect the taste very much. It was incredibly popular. You need to start making this about three days before you want to serve it. ....>
1 oblong fillet of fresh salmon, skin on, about 800g - 2 T rough salt - 3 T pale brown sugar - 1 fresh beetroot, peeled (approx 200g) - 3 juniper berries - 2 T finely chopped fresh dill - 1/2 t ground allspice - a good grinding of black pepper - 50ml Aquavit/dry gin/vodka
Pin bone the salmon, place it on a large piece of cling film (enough to completely wrap it later) and put into a deep oblong (non metallic) container like an ice cream box or Tupperware. Put all the other ingredients into your liquidiser and blitz till you have a nice, slightly rough red paste. (You might want to use gloves for the next bit!) Cover both surfaces of the entire salmon with this and then wrap it up. Put some heavy weights on top of it and put in the fridge. You will need to turn this one every 12 hours for about 2 to 3 days. Lots of liquid will come out; you can pour it off. Just before you want to serve it, remove from the fridge and brush off all the rub. This will leave you with a glowing piece of salmon gravadlax which you can thinly slice off the skin (using a very sharp knife), sprinkle on a little freshly chopped dill and accompany with some creamed horseradish sauce. Left overs - if there are any - will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.
Lynne found a great solution for the weights by wrapping two concrete garden path bricks in cling film. They will be used again!.

9th December 2015
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