Thursday, March 31, 2016

This week's MENU: MediterrASIAN sushi, Myoga, Ile Flottante, Old wines

Heavy clouds off Sea Point bringing us very welcome rain - Change is in the air!

 Wines of the week
 Coming events

Easter Break      We have had a lovely Easter, spending it with friends from overseas and those who live locally, eating and drinking - mostly at home as the March weather turned very wintry so there was not much incentive to go out. We have also had some incredible wines. Our Easter meal with family was on Saturday night when a friend brought a prawn and avocado starter which we had with Magdalena Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from Gabrielskloof. Lynne prepared duck breasts with pomegranate molasses and five spice seasoning and this went so perfectly with Newton Johnson 2008 Full Stop Rock (Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre) that we demolished 2 bottles. Our recipe for today is the dessert we had, Ile Flottante, one of Lynne's favourites, often relished in France in years gone by. It is a floating island of baked meringue in a lake of creamy vanilla custard. We were incredibly lucky to have been brought a bottle of an iconic aged dessert wine by a guest, a Nederburg NLH 1983 which had silky honey layered with good crisp limes and was the perfect foil for this rather sweet pudding.

We went to an Easter lunch party on Sunday and Lynne's contribution was a large Greek Easter spinach and cheese pie, known as Spanakopita, that will be our recipe next week
A fusion of flavours at Myoga     We were invited to lunch at Myoga, (Japanese: Ginger flower) Chef Mike Bassett's gourmet restaurant by overseas friends who were staying at the Vineyard Hotel. It is quite a while since we last visited and we looked forward to his always adventurous food and were not disappointed. He fuses Asian with modern fresh cuisine in exciting and different combinations. We all had the set 5 course lunch (R275) which has choices for all. You can see pictures and descriptions of the food here. We have now been invited to sample their new seven course dinner menu in April and will also be writing about it in MENU.\
‘Mediterrasian' Sushi at Ocean Basket     We love eating fish and seafood at Ocean Basket but, in the past, their Sushi has been less than perfect, often clumsily made hours or a day in advance, with mushy rice and minimal fillings. We are very happy to report that this has now changed. Last month, at the press launch we were invited to meet international sushi chef Pepi Anevski of Umami restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a sushi master and was named Chef of the Year at Japan's first World Sushi Cup. He was employed by Ocean Basket to come and train all their staff in how to make good sushi. This has taken more than a month, as he travelled around South Africa doing the training. We were embargoed from telling you about this until today, but can now pass on the information and you can see some of the excellent sushi we were served by him and the staff at Ocean Basket in Camps Bay in February.
Having your cake and eating it - Just desserts     There is a new bakery opening in town this week, where you can sample all, including the fruits of your labour. You will be able to build your own cake favourite from the selection of different ingredients on offer. Do you want jam with it? Sprinkle over some gold dust or sparkly diamonds on the designer icing. Chocolate or sour plum or plain sponge? What or who is flavour of the month? There is even a Halloween design with lots of little skeletons hanging in the cupboard. Or you can get your own slice of the pie. Great served with really expensive French Champagne. We hear the Imi Peachment pie is all the rage. All you have to do is submit a tender offer and it’s yours. It is going to be in April Street in Town and is called Gupthazum, opening for offers tomorrow. We were asked to promote it, for which we will be well rewarded. There are lots of fruit cakes on offer in the Cabinet too. And, of course, if you don't like what you have been sold, they will pay back the money. To mix metaphors: A mess of pottage is often served cold. Happy April 1st.
Nowadays you often see this recipe presented as small portions or quenelles of meringue in each plate. Traditionally however it is one large meringue island floating in warm vanilla custard to be shared. This is a much easier option as well, as you don't individually poach the meringues; you bake it whole.

For the meringue:
1/2 t butter - 4 egg whites - 225g caster sugar
Turn your oven on to 180⁰C. Lightly butter the inside of a 15cm  deep oven proof round cake tin or bowl with straight sides. Coat the inside with a little of the sugar. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then gradually whisk in half of the sugar till thick and glossy. Then, using a metal spoon, carefully fold in the rest of the sugar. Gently spoon into the tin.
Place the filled tin in a roasting tray filled with 3cm of boiling water and put into the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. As the meringue (which may be golden and a little crisp on top) cools, it will shrink, so you should ease the sides away to allow it to move, gently using a pallet knife or your fingers.
The custard
4 egg yolks - 25g caster sugar - 250ml single or pouring cream - 1 t vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla. If using a vanilla pod, cut it open and extract the seeds and add them and the pod to the cream in a small pot. Heat the cream with the vanilla gently till just below boiling (it must NOT boil), then pour it on to the egg mixture. Stir well to blend, then strain into a glass bowl set over simmering water. The bowl must not touch the water. Stir till cooked and thickened, it should coat the back of your spoon. It does take several minutes, so do watch it carefully or you will end up with scrambled egg. Let the custard cool.
To assemble the pudding
In a deep serving dish a few cm's wider than the top of your meringue, carefully upend the meringue island. Drizzle over hot caramel (*see below) in a thin random pattern. If you can do sugar work, you can make spun sugar, but just randomly drizzling caramel is fine. You can also make a flower or whirl on greased paper to top the pudding with the caramel. All this can be done in advance. To serve, surround it with the warm custard and enjoy the praise.
50g of white sugar
 Put the sugar into a clean, dry, small heavy bottomed pan, add heat and let it turn into caramel. Do not stir till it is all molten, but you can swirl the pan to make the colour spread. It does need to be a good dark caramel colour, but be careful not to let it burn. Be careful, caramel is molten sugar so do not touch it, you can be badly burned.
Wine of the week. The wine that impressed us the most was Alvi's Drift Viognier from their Signature range (a Platter 4 star), which we had with a prawn feast we enjoyed with friends. The wine is unusual, and keeps surprising as you taste. It is initially full of luscious white peaches and apricots then there is a bump of bitterness and finally grapefruit and limes take over and the bitterness disappears. It opens up in the glass beautifully , remains aromatic and faintly tropical and is perfect with seafood.
Aged wine of the week I: KWV Pinotage 1988. 

Our Dutch friends, who are about to return home,  invited us to join them for a small rijsttafel. Another friend also a guest, brought along this bottle, which she found in her late uncle's collection. It was extraordinary: a perfect cork, beautiful deep garnet colour and rich stewed plum flavour which was a perfect match for the spicy dishes. As we have so often said, Pinotage is the perfect red wine for spicy food and it ages better than any other wine in this country. Still full of fruit and freshness, it amazed us and it went perfectly with the spicy Nasi Goreng and Babi Ketchup we were eating
Aged wine of the week II: Nederburg Bukettraube Noble Late Harvest 1983. The cork was perfect, but the wine had turned to a dark brown colour. It was rich and unctuous with silky honey layered with good crisp limes and was the perfect foil for Lynne’s rather sweet Ile Flottante
Nederburg Bukettraube Noble Late Harvest 1983. From the same source as the Pinotage. The cork was perfect, but the slight pressure of the two-pronged opener pushed it into the bottle. The wine had turned to a dark brown colour. It was rich and unctuous with silky honey layered with good crisp limes and was the perfect foil for Lynne’s rather sweet Ile Flottante
Food fact: We do not have good duck in South Africa. Even our local Chinese restaurant has given up and imports his duck from China. It was with delight that Lynne found six duck breasts (packs of 2) in Woolworths. And they were not too fatty, she was able to render the fat on the breasts down well, but the skin did not crisp up. Why? And the portions were a disaster. In each pack was one very large breast and one small. Woolworths, thank you for providing the duck breasts, often impossible to source but please, pack them in even sizes. They are incredibly expensive, so to avoid having the small ones overcooked and the large ones under, it is so, so important to time their cooking accurately and, when you are in the middle of a lively dinner party, this is often not possible. Please do what they do overseas: allow us the choice of size

Our Events Calendar has information about interesting wine, food and related events happening in the Western Cape and, occasionally, in other areas. It is as up to date as the information we have received from the various organisers. Accuracy in the descriptions of events listed here depends on the information given to us by the organisers or their publicity agents. Some of this information comes to us in hugely verbose communiqués which we have to précis to make it easier for you. We will not be held responsible for any inaccuracies, however caused

31st March 2016
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