Thursday, April 07, 2016

This Week's MENU: Wildekrans, Beaumont, Luddite, Manny's Seafood in Bot River, Benguela Cove, La Vierge, Newton Johnson, Spanakopita, Forrester Meinert FMC

A blue headed agama lizard (bloukop koggelmander) basking in the sun

 Hemel and Aarde for lunch and a little wine tasting
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.
Relaxing at Wildekrans     We had a lovely weekend away re-discovering the Bot River valley. We were invited to come and stay at Wildekrans by owner Amanda Harlow when we met her and farm manager/viticulturist Braam Gericke last year at the Green Wine Awards. They received the Best Farming Practice Award, Leadership in Community Development and for Best Value IPW for their 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. With busy schedules and lots of overseas visitors this year, it took a while before we could take up the invitation, but we had a lovely weekend staying in their cottages Read on to see the farm
Bottles and seafood in Botrivier     As we were in Botrivier, we thought we would visit some of our wine friends in the area. We had just received an email from Beaumont telling us about their new releases and we had been meaning to visit Penny and Niels Verburg at Luddite for ages. Appointments were made during the week and off we set on Saturday morning. Lunch was to be at Manny’s 'on the plein' in Botrivier - a Portuguese restaurant with great sea food, we were told More here, with photos
Off to Hemel and Aarde for lunch and a little wine tasting     We checked out of Wildekrans on Sunday morning and had intended to visit Barton, a farm which we have wanted to visit for a long time, but we have never managed to be there at the right time. They are on the road just outside Botrivier, but we discovered that they are closed on Sundays. So off we went to visit Benguela Cove. They had invited us to their new wine release event a couple of weeks before, but we were unable to attend. So, where better to go on a Sunday morning. Then, still being early for our lunch booking at The Restaurant at Newton Johnson, we made a call at La Vierge. It was an expensive weekend, we bought wine at four farms. The lunch which followed was superb. Read on to see the places and the food
Please drive safely     When we left Wildekrans on Saturday morning, heading for the Hermanus market, we came past one of the worst traffic accidents we have ever seen. Horrendous and shocking. Please do be careful on our roads, you never know when your life may change disastrously. Courtesy and politeness may save lives, dangerous speed and impatience won’t
This week's Recipe     This makes a very large pie for a celebration dinner or party. You can halve the recipe to make a family pie. Please try to use real spinach, it gives the right flavour. You could use Swiss Chard if you like but leave out the thick stems. You will need to cook it first and drain it well then chop it very fine. The secret of this pie is the well drained spinach. If you have any filo left at the end, you can refreeze it safely.
1 to 2 T extra virgin olive oil - 1 large onion - 2 garlic cloves - 825g frozen spinach (NOT creamed), defrosted and drained of all water - 3 T fresh dill, chopped - 1 teaspoon oregano, fresh or dried or a mix of both – 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice - Zest of one lemon - 350g feta, crumbled - 150g ricotta cheese - 6 eggs, lightly beaten - 1 box frozen filo pastry, defrosted - 1 cup of melted butter - salt and freshly ground black pepper - optional: nutmeg
Make sure your spinach is defrosted and well drained, press out any residual moisture, you might like to start this about an hour before you use it
Set your oven to 180 ⁰C. You will need a large round pan or dish approximately 30 cm across and 5 cm deep. Butter it well. Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in some of the olive oil until soft, but not browned. Cool slightly. In a large bowl add the onion mixture and stir in the spinach, dill, oregano, lemon juice and zest. Then add the beaten eggs, and both the cheeses. Mix well so that everything is incorporated. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can add a good scraping of nutmeg which goes so well with the spinach, if you like.
Now to assemble the pie. Open your box of filo and roll out the filo. Cover it with a damp but not wet tea towel to prevent it cracking. Remove one sheet and, using a pastry brush, cover it all over one side with melted butter. Lay it in the pan, buttered side up, with the edges hanging over the sides. Do another sheet but lay it at about a 50° angle across the tin so that you have full coverage, and do the same with the next sheets. Do this until you have a layer of five sheets of filo. Carefully pour the spinach mixture into the pan. Now cover the top with another five sheets of buttered filo, laid in a wheel. Then pull up all the ragged edges and lay them on top of the pie in a fairly jumbled loose mess. Take another sheet of buttered filo and rumple it up and put into the centre of the pie, so that you have lots of edges to crisp up. Dot the top of the pie with any remaining melted butter.  Put into the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the filo is nice and crisp and golden on top. Serve in slices, hot or cool
Spinach is not very good with wine, as it can taste a little metallic. However any full ripe wines like a good crisp Chenin Blanc with a little bottle age and some wood work well with this and the cheese. For special occasions we love the zesty and full elegance of the Ken Forrester FMC (Officially Forrester Meinert Chenin, but Ken refers to it as Marvellous Chenin) with its layers of fruit which sing on your palate. Current vintage is 2013 and it sells for R449 a bottle from the farm,  For everyday drinking, have a look at another favourite which has similarities, Ken's Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015, R110 on the farm.
Food Fact: Do you know what this kitchen implement is for? 

Spear half an onion with it, and cut between the spokes and then across for perfectly cut onion in half the time, and no cut fingers. You can also just make slices.
We are going to be at the Pinotage and Biltong festival, which will take place over the weekend of the 16th and 17th of April on L'Avenir Estate in Stellenbosch. Book your tickets now, they are selling fast. It’s a great festival with some really good Pinotages which will be paired with Joubert and Monty's biltong.
The Wolftrap Steakhouse Championships     During the month of April anyone can vote for their favourite steakhouse, via Facebook and SMS, and stand a chance to win fabulous prizes of The Wolftrap wines.
So please cast YOUR vote, and please spread the news to get the public voting like crazy, via and SMS 32845

7th April 2016
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