Thursday, June 30, 2016

This week's MENU recipe: Vietnamese Fried Rice Paper Spring Rolls - Cha gio

The rice paper pancakes we get here seem to be much thicker than those they use. Instead of dipping them in water, take a plate of about the same diameter and put on it a damp tea towel. You take the rice paper pancake and press it on the tea towel, turn over and repeat till it is soft enough to roll. It does not take long. These rolls are gluten free.

1 cup of cooked thin bean thread noodles, about 1 skein (You soak them in boiling water till soft, then drain well and cool) - 1 cup of grated red onion - 1 cup grated carrot - 1 cup finely sliced spring onion - 1 cup finely sliced mushrooms (wood ear fungus is best but any will do) 1 cup minced pork (or chopped prawns or a combination of both) - 2 cloves of garlic, chopped - 2 T Vietnamese fish sauce - 1 T sugar - 1/2 t salt - 1/2 t white pepper - 1 egg, beaten - canola oil for frying
Then the ingredients are mixed together very well. Try to keep the mixture as dry as possible. Some lazy cooks do the whole mixture in a food processor, just add the noodles at the end and mix well.
On a damp rice paper sheet put just one dessertspoon of the mixture about 5 cm from the top of the roll, then make one fold from the top to cover the filling. Shape into a small sausage. Then carefully fold the sides in and then slowly roll up and set aside on a dry plate. Seal the ends with a dab of beaten egg. Aim for rolls no thicker than 3 cm and 8 cm in length.
 Repeat till you have enough. 3 or 4 per guest as a starter is enough. Refrigerate for when you need to fry them but cover them with cling film or a damp towel to prevent them drying out and cracking. This should make about 20. You can leave out the meat and or the prawns for vegetarian rolls. Just add more vegetables like bean sprouts, or some crumbled tofu
In a wok, add the oil and heat . Do not crowd the pan, fry in batches, 5 or 6 at a time. You need the oil about 8 to 10 cm deep and fry the rolls twice, first at 160C, remove with a strainer, raise the temperature to 175 to 190C and fry again till golden brown. They are meant to bubble up on the skin. Serve with the dipping sauce. Sprinkle the plate with some fresh mint, basil, shiso and coriander. You can wrap the rolls in lettuce leaves to eat.
Dipping sauce - Nuoc cham
5 tablespoons sugar - 3/4 cup warm water - 1/4 cup plus 1 T Vietnamese fish sauce - 2 tablespoons rice vinegar - 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice - 2 chopped garlic cloves - 2 thinly sliced fresh red Thai

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water then add all the other ingredients. Serve in bowl suitable for dipping
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

MENU's Wine of the Week: Saronsberg Shiraz 2014

A red wine for a change. This is a Shiraz we liked enough to buy it in future, tasted at the Shiraz Showcase last week. It was one of the Top 12 selected by the judges.

Ripe fruit makes it soft and juicy, spicy too and very, very satisfying. Soft tannins and the wood beneath supporting the fruit make it a very well balanced wine. Another to drink now or safely keep. It has won many awards: The 2014 was awarded Gold in Decanter 2016; Double Gold Top 100 SA 2016; Gold Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2016. It costs R190 from the farm and should be available from good wine merchants like Wine Concepts, Caroline's and Norman Goodfellows. Retail prices may differ, but the petrol driving to Tulbagh will cost you more
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

Destination Durbanville - a food and wine fair for the travel industry

Durbanville is one of our favourite wine producing areas. It is only 30 minutes from central Cape Town and has great wine producers. We were asked to attend this fair last week and, on arrival, were given a map of the valley with a star next to the name of the farm we would be visiting first. It turned out that we would not be visiting the farm, but a stall in the hall at Cassia restaurant on Nitida. It turned out to be an information day with each farm having a stand with representatives who could tell us what the farm has to offer. Afterwards, there was a bar, with a red and white wine from each farm to taste and some snacks
An early start at 10 am with fruit kebabs, coffee and rusks. We had been offered transport, but only from Canal Walk, and, as we live in Sea Point, we went under our own steam. Canal Walk is almost the same distance from us as Durbanville
Fruit kebabs for breakfast
Bran rusks
Opening speeches started with Angela Fourie, Durbanville's PRO
Liezel van der Westhuizen was MC for the day
The audience standing for the speeches. Lynne did eventually manage to find a chair on the De Grendel stand. Some of us cannot stand for a long time
Grant Newton, marketing manager of Groot Constantia, is also a member of the Cape Tourism board and spoke on their behalf
Then Mariette du Toit-Helmbold of Destinate
Then a presentation from one of the sponsors, Yoco, who have a new credit card machine
This is where we started. Everyone had a different starting point. You had to stay on your designated stand until they rang a bell, then you could move, which seemed to happen every 10 minutes. It did not take that long to find out what was on offer, so people just started moving in their own time
We thought it rather strange that the farms were not allowed to give tastings of their wines, as many of the invited guests were not wine media, but travel and hospitality operators not all of whom were acquainted with Durbanville. And it might have encouraged people to stay longer at each stand. Two, Diemersdal and Nitida, did have one wine each. Some farms, sadly, had untrained staff who had very little to tell us about their special attractions. We were just given some leaflets on some of them and not all were able to give prices. There were some promotional gifts like key rings and coasters. We wondered what their brief was. And are tasting room staff the right people to promote the farms' features? Some farms did shine and had lots of interesting information, given by people who knew their business
John started at Signal Gun, was given leaflets and moved quickly to Diemersdal where he tasted their Grüner Veltliner. Lynne chatted to Bennie Howard CWM on Meerendal, had a small sample of butternut soup from Carlucci’s restaurant there and admired Bennie’s mountain bike; they have an MTB route on the farm
Cassia Restaurant had this lovely sample of their food on the Nitida stand which John managed to taste, smoked salmon on a beetroot rösti. Lynne wasn’t that lucky
Cassia Restaurant owner Warren Swaffield with Inga Rix of Nitida. Nitida was one of the stars and their winemaker, Danie Keulder, was there with Inga to speak to the guests
A question for Karin de Villiers, owner of Klein Roosboom
There was a raffle for the Pebbles Project for R10 a ticket. Karen Alterthum of Volunteers Direct received her prize of a R800 De Grendel gift voucher from Douglas Swanson, De Grendel's tasting facility manager
Maryna Strachan with Grant Newton
An potential customer for the Yoco card machine 
The lovely girls on the Durbanville Hills stand were very welcoming and were well-informed
Finally, time to taste some wine and we started with the local Bubbles
The snacks
Small quiches
One of the stars of the fair was Etienne le Roux, cellar door manager at Bloemendal, assisted by Michelle Moller
They had their new labels on show and we tasted the Suider Terras Sauvignon Blanc at the bar. It has always been a great wine. We wait with bated breath to hear what is going to happen at the Restaurant at the top of their hill as the lease of the current occupier is up. A great site which needs a good operator
Flatbread stuffed with butternut? Not sure, we didn't taste.. There was not much to eat if you were Banting
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A preview of the new menu at The Bakery on Jordan Wine Estate, Stellenbosch

Jordan has taken over the running of the bakery from George Jardine as he now wants to concentrate on his 2 restaurants, the one on Jordan and his new restaurant in Stellenbosch. It is a sensible move for Jordan as they do have lots of people dropping in tastings who want for lunch and now breakfast who did not make a reservation and they can now accommodate them. We had a lovely brunch enjoying some of the items on the menu, seated on the deck below the bakery.
It is the middle of winter, which has been bleak and cold, but this day was wonderful. Full sunshine, not a cloud in the sky and even so warm on the deck that we needed umbrellas. One of our Champagne days, when the air and the mountains sparkle
Taking our seats at the long table
Fresh bread, baked by Hartley in the Bakery, with Jordan 's lovely olive oil and spicy chipotle butter
Marketing manager Thea van der Merwe
National Sales manager Jacques Steyn CWM welcomes us
Our brunch tasting menu
Layers of pressed winter vegetables (Carrot, sweet potato, butternut and celeriac) with a rich tomato emulsion, basil pesto and a potato glass flake. The perfect vegetarian/vegan dish. We drank this with Chameleon Rose 2015
Honey Niewoudt, the chef from the Bakery
Anker Ale, oh so crispy battered fresh hake served with a very mild creamy tartare sauce
Jordan is the only other place which sells draft Anker beer from Den Anker in the V&A Waterfront
It goes perfectly with the fish
Now believe it or not, these are mini editions of the Bakery burger. The meat has been marinated in Jordan's Prospector Syrah; they are served on sesame buns with tomato, mayo and lettuce, topped with cheese and bacon and skewered with a folded gherkin.
Lots of happy staff
The burgers came with unbelievably crisp golden triple cooked chips (SO hard to resist) and a glass, or two of the Prospector Syrah. The buns, apparently, have potato flour in them to make them extra fluffy
How could you not?
Dessert was one of our neglected winter fruits, guava, cooked and made into a delightfully sharp sorbet with some of Jordan's Mellifera sweet dessert wine. This was served with a savoury thyme cheesecake with some apricots incorporated
Magnificent Mellifera, their Natural Sweet dessert wine to savour, made from Riesling
Inside the bakery
Chatting over dessert
Enjoying the afternoon
And finally, beautiful fig and almond biscotti topped with à point (French for at the peak of ripeness ) Paarl camembert which went perfectly with the Mellifera, the Prospector and a double espresso. A lovely lunch that you can now go and try for yourself
And enjoy the magnificent views
A good place for an office meeting
Or just to gaze at the far fair mountains and the vineyards
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016