Thursday, May 05, 2016

This week’s MENU Food Fanatics, Elgin Cool Wine & Country Food Festival, Lemon herb chicken

Trees silhouetted against the Helderberg
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It has been one of those weeks. The usual busy one, but then the hurdles. Phone line down, Internet, connection abysmal, the door of our wood burning stove off, being repaired just as the cold weather kicks in, and all this while we were trying to book hotels and flights for Hong Kong. We have been invited to attend VINEXPO Hong Kong as media and we are going. This will be our third one; the previous two were in Bordeaux. It is a feast of international wine. And we are fascinated by the growth in the Asian wine market
 So you can expect another of our travelogues while we spend a week in Hong Kong and a week in northern Vietnam. What did we do before the internet and Google? It does make life so much easier. We are now investigating the street food and the best places to find it. Also looking at a tour to Ha Long Bay. Any information and good suggestions will be gratefully received
FOOD FANATICS NOW HAVE A VENUE, The Homestead     Caterers have always been our friends. We get to eat their food on a regular basis. We are happy to recommend those whose food we have enjoyed at functions and relationships have grown over the years. So it was with delight that we attended the opening of Food Fanatics new function venue in an 1820 farmhouse in Constantia Main Road this week. For many years Elaine Rousseau and her crew have been rushing all over the Cape to do functions some times 2 or 3 on one day, now she and the team can do it all from their great new venue. Check out their web site if you are interested in using them at the Homestead. Read On
A WEEKEND TASTING ELGIN - COOOL!     We spent the weekend at the Elgin Cool Wine & Country Food Festival and managed to fit in 7 wineries before we ran out of time and steam. It is such a lovely area to visit and here the wines do not conform to any particular style, which is refreshing. You almost never know what you are going to get. From supreme elegance and style to gentle quaffing wines, from well aged whites to stonkingly robust reds, they continue to surprise us. Read on for the first day and the second
1 onion, finely chopped - 1 T canola or grape seed oil - 1 T butter - 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped - 4 roughly crushed cloves of garlic - 2 T of finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, whatever you have in the garden or fridge) - grated rind of one lemon - juice of half a lemon - 8 skinless thigh and leg chicken joints - 1 T plain flour - 1 glass of dry white wine - 200ml good chicken stock -salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fry the onion gently in the oil and butter till soft and golden, add the celery and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic. This will fill the house with wonderful smells and will soften and cook down. Add less if you must. Continue to fry gently for 4 or 5 minutes. Dust the chicken with the flour and season well. Push the vegetables to the side and briefly brown the chicken flour side down. Then add the herbs, the lemon zest, the lemon juice and the wine and bubble quickly to reduce the wine to half. Add the stock, put on a lid and put into the oven for 40 minutes, checking once to stir, taste and adjust the seasoning and add more lemon juice if you think it needs it.  Add more liquid if necessary. When the chicken is cooked, remove and serve with the jus from the pot. We had this with carrots and courgettes cooked in stock and butter, de-podded broad beans cooked with spring onions and mint and a small baked potato each
Food fact You can cook with corked wine. The chemical TCA (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole) which makes corked wine so musty and unpleasant to drink, disappears when you cook with it. So when that expensive bottle of red or white wine turns out to be ruined, keep it for a good coq au vin or the recipe above
Wine of the week - South Hill Sauvignon blanc 2007     Unless you still have some, sadly this wonderful wine is now unobtainable. We tasted it with winemaker Sean Skibbe this weekend when he gave us a tasting of 10 years of his wines and it was amazing, it has aged so well. Still fresh, fruit driven, lively with green notes and fig leaf pyrazines and wonderfully full and rounded. We then bought a case of the newly released 2015 and are going to put it away for a few years to see what it becomes. We have high hopes. As we keep saying, drink older white wines, they do not suddenly deteriorate in a year, often they get better and better
and three older reds which show how well our wines can last when kept in good cellars
We had supper in front of a roaring fire and treated ourselves with some really good older wines.

The 1987 Nederburg Paarl Cabernet Sauvignon was a total surprise. We all expected it to be interesting when first opened and then to fade quickly. We could not have been more wrong. It was full of smooth dark cassis fruit and elegance and improved in the glass as we drank it. As Peter said, it was up there with some good French Cabernets 
The 1998 Thelema Cabernet also delighted us with its classic cassis fruit and elegance and minty flavours 
The Beaumont Mourvedre 2001 was another surprise, heavy, dark and wild; almost Italian in character, we loved it
 Who says good South African wines don't last? Not us
In Next Week’s MENU
New Idiom venue, Wade Bales’ Wine & Malt Whisky, Old Mutual Trophy Feedback, 96 Winery Road turns 20, !Khwa Ttu, Thali Thali

5th May 2016
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