Friday, March 11, 2016

This week's MENU - Blaauwklippen Gin & Zin, Keermont, Waterford, Oak Valley, Hemel en Aarde, Restless River, Bientang's Cave, Creation, Domaine des Dieux, Keftedes

A flurry of Antarctic terns
 Food Fact: Americano coffee
To get the whole story with photographs, please click on the paragraph title, which will lead you there. At the end of each story, click on RETURN TO MENU to come back to MENU.
And so begins the Gin Revolution     
There is suddenly a huge renaissance for gin in South Africa. Not only are gin bars springing up everywhere, but new gins are appearing some from large alcohol producers and from small artisanal producers. Respected wine farms are also producing their own interesting gins. We have been involved a little bit in sourcing botanicals and aromatics for some of the producers and we love good gin. So we were very excited to be invited to taste three new gins last week, produced on Blaauwklippen Estate. The gins were presented at the annual Zinfandel lunch, held this year at La Mouette Restaurant, where a superb lunch was paired with Blaauwklippen Zinfandel wines and the gins. Read on.....
Keermont Open Day     
This was a great chance to taste Keermont wines, some older vintages and some just being released. The farm is high up in the hills above Stellenbosch and they have vineyards on both sides of the valley between the Stellenbosch and Helderberg mountains, facing each other. Read on.....
Waterford wines are worth tasting     
On the way back down the mountain from Keermont and De Trafford, you come to Waterford and, as we had a friend from Australia with us, we went in for their superb tasting. Read on.....
Heading away for a short break     We took our Dutch visitors to Hemel and Aarde for a short break from Sunday to Tuesday and have lots to report. We started with a lovely lunch at the Pool Room on Oak Valley wine farm, visited a new farm for us Restless River which was right behind where we were staying, had lunch on the rocks at Bientang’s Cave in Hermanus, braaied, and then, on the way back visited one of their favourites, Creation, and another new farm (although the wines are well known to us) Domaine des Dieux. Here are some stories with words and pictures:
We return to the Pool Room for lunch. 
We stopped off for a proper lunch at the Pool Room on Oak Valley Estate this time, on our way to a stay in the Hemel en Aarde Valley. It certainly was worthwhile  Read on.....
Restless River     
We love staying in the Hemel and Aarde Valley and on this visit we decided to try out some new farms. Restless River is right behind where we normally stay - in fact we could walk there, so it was a great find. Read on.....
To Bientang’s Cave for lunch and a view of the Ocean 
This is where you want to lunch in Whale season; they will swim almost up to the rocks in front. We didn’t see any in Hermanus this time, although there are lots on the Atlantic seaboard at the moment as they return from the Antarctic with their newly born calves and head north  Read on.....
Another visit to Creation to buy some wine
Our Dutch friends love Creation's wines, so we took them for another visit to replenish their cellar   Read on.....
Domaine des Dieux (the Land of the Gods) 
has marvellous MCC wines and some others to sample at their tasting room in the Hemel and Aarde which we know from tasting outside the valley at festivals, award ceremonies and restaurants. We went exploring to find another as yet undiscovered venue. Read on.....
We are doing our best for the economy     We have had or are still to have no less than 9 different friends: families or singles visiting us from overseas this year and we are not only working, but taking them around our wonderful Cape to as many good restaurants,wine festivals and farms as we can while they are here. Sometimes the organisation is hectic, but they are loving it and so are we. A case in point is yesterday when we took 1 Australian, 2 Dutch and 2 UK friends for a short Peninsula tour starting with a tasting and cellar tour at Buitenverwachting, a marvellous lunch at The Food Barn in Noordhoek, a quick trip to the penguins at Boulders, a long stay in an horrendous traffic jam in Fish Hoek and then, having dropped most of them off at the Vineyard Hotel, were joined by another friend for the 20/20 cricket at Newlands. Such a pity SA lost, but it was close. So was getting to the Cricket with the awful traffic. Whew. We will show you pictures of the marvellous lunch at the Food Barn next week, as time has run out for John to process them
FOOD FACT: An Americano coffee is a double espresso topped up with hot water. IT DOES NOT COME WITH MILK. That is a Latté, South Africa. Pleeeze - get the message. We are tired of being asked if we want milk with our Americanos. We don't. That is why we are ordering them
Wine of the Week: It is a white wine this week and it is the Restless River chardonnay, which earned a 4½ Star rating in the 2016 Platter. It has lovely citrus elegance with an undertone of nuts and subtle vanilla and a mineral backbone. Quite delicious. It is made in limited quantities, but you may find it at Wine Concepts
Recipe of the Week is Greek Meatballs or keftedes. These make an ideal meze or, if rolled into small 2 cm balls, an easy canapé
¼ cup breadcrumbs - ¼ cup milk - 500g beef mince - ½ T extra virgin Olive oil - 2 T grated onion - 1 T chopped fresh mint - ½ T chopped fresh oregano - 2 good pinches of cinnamon - ½ t cumin - 1 finely chopped garlic clove - 1 egg - salt - freshly ground black pepper - 1 round of feta cheese, broken up into small crumbs - a good squeeze of lemon juice
Soak the breadcrumbs in milk and allow to soften, then drain off the milk and squeeze them dry. Put mince, oil, softened breadcrumbs, onion, oregano, mint, cinnamon, garlic, egg, salt and pepper, feta cheese and lemon juice. Mix well together. Fry a small piece to check the seasoning, adjust if necessary. Roll into small meatballs and fry gently in some cooking oil. Serve with Tzatziki on Pita bread or as a meze snack
Here is a list of coming events up to the end of the second week in March. There may be more, but we will add them as we receive them. Muratie on Saturday and Stellenbosch Vineyards on Sunday for the Stellenbosch Pizza and Wine Festival. Oh, and at the Starlight Concert at Vergelegen on Saturday evening. We hope to see many of you. Another busy but fun weekend....
Until Sunday, 13th March          Woordfees Picnic Concerts at Neethlingshof Wine Estate. Bring picnic blankets and chairs to laze on the lawns of the historic Neethlingshof grounds, whilst enjoying an exciting line-up of top vocal talent. Gates will open an hour before each event and the music will start at 18h30. All sales will be cashless, only debit, credit or the Woordfees cash card may be used. As Neethlingshof wines will be on sale, guests are not permitted to bring their own alcohol. Tickets can be purchased through or at any Computicket outlet. Tickets are also available for purchase at the Erfurthuis, Ryneveld Street, 37 – Monday to Friday 9:00 – 17:00. Alternatively tickets will be available from the farm on the evening.
Friday, 11th March 18:30 Tamboerynman – Koos van der Merwe sing Bob Dylan 70min | R100 | R120 at the door.
Saturday, 12th March 18:30 Die Heuwels Fantasties 70min | R100 | R120 at the door.
Sunday, 13th March 18:30 Bra Tete, The US Jazz Band  100min | R100| R120 at the door.
Neethlingshof is part of Cape Legends, a collection of award-winning wines from several boutique estates in and around the Cape Winelands.  For more information about Neethlingshof and its wines, visit, call 021 883 8988 or make contact on (or via Twitter @NeethlingshofW).
Saturday, 12th March, 11h00 to 14h00  Wine Concepts Second exclusive Chenin Blanc & Pinotage Celebration in the parking area at the Newlands Store. This “Local is Lekker” festival gives wine lovers the opportunity to taste a selection of dynamic latest release Chenin Blanc’s and prestigious current vintage Pinotage’s from 20 of the country’s top producers. This year we hope to include a bubbly and dessert wine or two to savour in the line-up as well. All the showcased wines will be available for purchase at special prices from Wine Concepts on the day. Cost: R50.00 per person – includes wine glass and tasting of over 40 wines. Tickets can be purchased at the door on the day. Telephone Newlands at 021 671 9030. Email:
Saturday, 12th & Sunday, 13th March Stellenbosch Vineyards Pizza & Wine Festival. Sunny days and balmy nights, delicious pizza and great wine - the perfect combinations for a good time in the winelands. Enjoy a selection of superb wines paired with mouth-watering pizzas and live music. Or take a break from the pizza and wine, and indulge in the oyster and bubbly bar set under the thatched area in the middle of the Welmoed pond. A first of its kind in the Stellenbosch winelands, the festival will take place on the picturesque Welmoed Farm, home of Stellenbosch Vineyards, offering fun-filled activities for the kids as well as a variety of pizzas creatively prepared to tantalise your taste buds. Tickets cost R120 per person which includes entry, a tasting glass, tasting coupons and the live entertainment. Additional coupons can be purchased on the day. Book directly via
Saturday, 12th March      Muratie Harvest Festival. The Melck family will once again be hosting their Annual Harvest Festival at Muratie Estate in Stellenbosch on 2016. The festival, which takes place under the ancient oaks that guard this historic wine estate, is a celebratory family event featuring good food, fine wine, great company, live music and lots of fun stomping the newly harvested grapes. The day will begin at 11h30. Entrance will be R50.00 per person. A selection of delicious meals and cold drinks will be on sale and Muratie’s full range of wines will be available for purchase, by the glass or by the bottle. Rijk Melck will be giving a talk on the extraordinary characters from the farm’s colourful past, after whom the Muratie wines are named. This talk will take place at 12h00 and all are welcome. After lunch, guests will be able to relax and enjoy a memorable afternoon of live music performed by the popular Kitchen Jammin Blues Band. Festival-goers must please book their tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. For further information contact Jean-Mari Strauss at Muratie on 021 865 2330 or
Sunday, 13th March         The Backsberg Centenary Picnic Concert Series continues with a performance by Valiant Swart Band. Come and enjoy your Sunday afternoon by relaxing on the lawns with a glass of wine whilst listening to some great SA music. Tickets are R120 from and R150 at the gate. Students pay R60 and there is no charge for children under the age of 12. Delicious food and snack boxes will be available on the day. Snack boxes can be pre-ordered at at a cost of R160 for two persons. Gates to Backsberg Estate Cellars open at 15h00.

10th March 2016
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