Thursday, June 23, 2016

This Week’s MENU. Heat and humidity in Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Leeu Collection, Vondeling's Babiana Vertical tasting, Chenin & Shiraz showcases, Wine & Recipe of the week

MENU
The weekly Cape Food, Wine and Lifestyle E-Journal
Dinner in the street, 40ºC in Hanoi at 9pm
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.
This has been a rather busy week and a bit of a struggle to get all of these photographs and write ups done in time, as we have another busy one on the go as we put this to bed tonight. A sore throat for Lynne has at last gone after 5 days, but it did keep her in bed for a day or two, as we were not sure if it heralded a bout of something worse. Icy cold winter is upon us and the fire is going constantly to warm the house. The instinct to hibernate is with us. The winter solstice strawberry moon this week graced us, but brought with it a bitterly clear cold night, with the temperature dropping to 2.5⁰C, not often seen in Sea Point. Today was one of our fabulous Champagne days, clear skies, lots of sun and the air in the winelands sparkled, as did the mountains. The temperature went up to about 23⁰C in Stellenbosch. and we were warm again
The launch of the Leeu Collection Estate Boutique hotel, spa, gallery and winery     Last week we attended the launch of the Leeu Estates, the exclusive five-star boutique property which opened to paying guests on the 15th of June. Indian billionaire, Mr Analjit Singh visited Franschhoek for one day during 2010 FIFA World Cup and he and his wife fell in love with the town and the countryside and decided to build a home there. This soon grew into a world-class hospitality and winemaking destination. (Singh means lion and Leeu is lion in Afrikaans)
He has since bought several properties in the area starting with Le Quartier Français hotel and restaurant and the three farms Dieu Donné, Von Ortloff and Klein Dassenberg. He is the non executive chairman of Vodafone India and the founder and chairman of the listed Max India Group, whose interests include life insurance and private health care. Take the tour.....
An historic 11 year vertical tasting of Vondeling's Babiana Cape White blend     It is very seldom indeed that we get a chance to taste 11 years of one wine from any wine farm. Not many farms have vinotecs (wine libraries) that can go back that far, especially for a white wine. So we leapt at the chance to taste Vondeling's Babiana white blend of vintages from 2005 through to 2015. Winemaker Matthew Copeland took over in July 2007 from the previous winemaker. And he has really taken this wine to new heights. Babiana is a white blend with never less than 50% Chenin Blanc and the 2015 has 60% Chenin, 18% Grenache Blanc, 16% Viognier and a little (6%) Chardonnay. Famed UK Chef Albert Roux imports 50 % of this wine for use in their renowned restaurants Michelin starred La Gavroche; Roux at the Landau and Roux Parliament Square. An 11 year success story.....
The Chenin Blanc Association Showcase at the Cape Grace     South African Chenin Blanc continues to gain recognition at home and internationally. We heard it referred to twice at VinExpo as the most exciting grape from South Africa and another commentator referred to it as the grape that can represent us so well as we are making Chenin Blanc better than anyone else, in several different impressive styles. The Chenin Blanc Association showcased their members wine this week at the Cape Grace and this gave the trade, media and sommeliers a chance to taste some of the best. Spectacular wines, great canapés too.....
The 2016 Shiraz Showcase and Winners' List     Before we went to this Showcase Lynne asked herself what she was expecting to find. And the answer was she didn't know. And now that we have tasted through as many of the 114 (? some people brought wines not mentioned in the catalogue) wines as was humanly possible in three hours, she still does not have a clear idea of what the South African wine industry is trying to express with Shiraz. Yes, there are some wonderful examples of this lovely grape variety, spicy, fruity, juicy, complex, woody, herbal, with chocolate, liquorice and even coffee, but are there any styles people are trying to make and reproduce each year? It seems not yet. Everyone is doing their own thing. There certainly was one style that emerged, that of quiet elegantly restrained Shirazes, that need time and show huge potential. Several of those were in the top 12 line up this year, like the Saronsberg, Fairview, Rickety Bridge and Eagles’ Nest. The De Morgenzon Reserve is in a class of its own. A huge nose, spicy, sappig, concentrated , long and quite warm. A food wine to drink now with wintery food and/or keep for years if it so takes you
This competition has so many entries that we think the tasting should be over two days. The big question is: Is Shiraz the red wine of South Africa's future? Can it be? It is certainly easy to drink. Most of the time. But we are not the Rhône. So many wines, so little time.....
MENU goes East - Day and Night in steamy Hanoi     We awoke to a rainy and humid day. Lynne decided to sample the Vietnamese breakfast. Quite similar to what we had eaten the night before. Those mushroom and onion rice pancakes, and some Pho with noodles and fried soya nuggets. Extremely filling
John stayed with the omelette, but lost the rather stringy indigestible cheese filling. The fruits came as an appetiser every morning, good dragon fruit, crisp slices of different melon, but not always with much taste. The fruit juices were superb, especially the mango. They tasted freshly squeezed. Join us on the tour
MENU goes East - From Hanoi to Ha Long Bay     When you go to Vietnam, people tell you of all sorts of places you must see. We will come back one day to see the rest of the country. The one place we think you should never miss is Ha Long Bay. We were given the advice not to go with the small and cheaper operators, but to go with the big, fairly expensive companies. It was the best possible advice. This trip was a dream come true. We absolutely loved every moment of it and thoroughly recommend that you add it to your bucket list.
It is a three and a half hour trip to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. It is not that far, but the roads are very busy and congested and go slowly through many towns, rather like our N1 motorway through Somerset West. So it was an early start as our luxury bus came to collect us at 8. We took overnight bags and left our suitcases at the hotel to which we would return after three days away. Click here and see the spectacular beauty of the bay
MENU’s Wine of the week     The best Chenin at the showcase, for us, was Beaumont's Hope Marguerite
Layers and layers of fruit and complexity, great minerality and punch, this barrel fermented Chenin is a wine to pair with rich food or just enjoy with good friends. It will cellar well too and reward. Platter gave it 4½ stars. R240 a bottle on the farm.
Recipe of the week      The cold always makes us want to eat more spicy food but not always meat. So this week's recipe was a great discovery. Use as many or as few chillies as you like. Lynne used three birds eye chillies. If using tinned tomatoes you do not need to add the passata. But fresh tomatoes are best.
2 Aubergines - sea salt - canola or coconut oil for frying - 1 t mustard seeds - 10 to 12 curry leaves, dried will work if you can't get fresh from Atlas - 2 onions, finely chopped - 2 or 3 dried chillies - 4 t garam masala - 2 t ground coriander - 2 t turmeric - 400 ml tin of coconut cream - 4 tomatoes finely chopped or 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes - 300 ml tomato passata - 1 x 400g tin of chick peas - 30g fresh mange tout peas
Slice the aubergines in quarters lengthwise, then into 2 cm thick slices. Salt them and set aside for half an hour so that they weep and get rid of any bitterness. Rinse and dry them off with a towel.
Heat the oil in a large casserole and fry the aubergine slices till they are golden brown and crisp all over. You may need to do this in batches. Set aside. Add another half a tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and stir fry for 30 seconds. Do not have the pan too hot or the mustard seeds will pop and fly out of the pan. Stir in the onion and continue cooking with a little salt until they are soft and beginning to brown. Add the chillies and the other spices with a spoonful of the thick top of the coconut cream and fry for one minute. Add the remaining coconut cream, the fresh tomatoes and the passata with one extra can of water. Simmer with the lid off for half an hour till the sauce is thick and creamy. Stir in the chickpeas and the aubergines and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It may need salt. Then add the mange tout and cook for another five minutes. Serve with steamed rice or Naan bread and scatter over some extra curry leaves just as you serve. Lovely with a good Chenin Blanc or  Sauvignon Blanc





23rd June 2016
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