Wednesday, July 20, 2016

This Week's MENU. Dutch East lunch, Bastille Fest at Franschhoek, KRP Mandela Day wine tasting, Moroccan Lamb Tagine, Wine of the Week

Stormy weather on the Sea Point beachfront
Franschhoek has occupied a large share of our time in the past week with lunches at Haute Cabriere and Dutch East and the annual Bastille Festival. We'll be back there again in the next few days to cover stories that we'll tell you about next week. As we write this, there is a marvellous North Westerly storm pounding the Cape and bringing with it lots of longed for rain.  We hear from our friends in the winelands that it is raining hard and soaking the vines well. May it continue and help to fill up our very empty dams after the long dry summer.
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Bastille Day lunch at Dutch East, Franschhoek     Franschhoek celebrates Bastille Day every year on the weekend closest to the 14th of July. This year we were all a little subdued by the dreadful news of the attack in Nice on Bastille Day, but determined not to be deterred by terrorism and to continue our involvement in honour of the people who died so cruelly. We had been invited to lunch at Dutch East restaurant in the middle of Franschhoek before we attended the festival
Sunday at the Franschhoek Bastille Festival     The Festival was at the top of the main road and next to the Huguenot monument. The layout was very impressive this year. The marquees were much wider and there seemed to be so much more space. Finding a seat, however, is still as difficult as people reserve empty seats for ages while their friends do the rounds tasting, leaving others standing around. There was lots of food from the top restaurants, pulled pork seemed to be the dish of the day from many. And the wines from Franschhoek can be very impressive
Mandela Day wine tasting at Kitima’s new Raya's Kitchen      Kathy and Dane Raath have a good list of wines and beers which they represent in the trade and this was a chance to taste these together with samples of the food at the recently opened Raya's Kitchen. This new Asian restaurant, serving authentic food from the East, is in Mandela Rhodes Place with entrances on Wale and Church Street in Town. Kitima in Hout Bay is very popular and now you can experience some of the food here in town. You will find some of the wines which KRP represent on their menu. Have a look at their website http://rayakitchen.co.za/
We had a roast leg of lamb, deboned, from Woolworths on Friday night and it was tough. Why are we paying premium prices for meat like this? It was cooked as instructed on the packet. So what to do with the remainder? A Moroccan Tagine would tenderise it. We had lots of lamb gravy left over so that became the stock. You can use cooked lamb or raw. Ras al Hanout is a blend of spices used in Morocco, it is now available at good grocers or spice shops like Atlas. You can use many other vegetables: courgettes, butternut, aubergine, baby potatoes etc. Just cube or half them. And you do not have to add meat.
1 T Olive oil - 1 large onion, finely chopped - 3 small carrots, sliced - 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, crushed -1 or 2 teaspoons Ras al Hanout spice mix - half a kilo lamb cut into cubes - 1 red pepper cut into 3 cm pieces - 10 green beans, sliced - 1 tin of chick peas, drained - 250 ml tomato passata - 500ml lamb or chicken stock - 6 or 8 baby tomatoes - 6 dates, roughly chopped - 6 dried apricots, roughly chopped - 20g flaked almonds
In a cast iron casserole with a lid, fry the onion in the oil till soft and golden but not browning. Stir in the carrots and continue to fry for another 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and then the Ras al Hanout. Stir well for a minute to warm the spices. Add the lamb and stir well to incorporate the flavours. If raw, brown it all over. Then add the rest of the vegetables and the chick peas. Pour on the stock and the tomato passata, the dates and apricots and stir. Put on a lid and put into the oven. If you have a Tagine, transfer to that. Cook for 1 or 2 hours or until the meat is lovely and tender. Check that the liquid does not cook out, add some water mid way through if it looks a bit dry, you do need a sauce as you will serve this with cous cous (or rice or flat breads if you prefer). Just before serving sprinkle on the flaked almonds
Wine of the Week     
Tomato in food does overtake many delicate wines, so can spices and chilli. The wine that went so well with this dish was a Garagiste wine from Topaz made by Cape Wine Master Clive Torr from Stellenbosch grapes. It is a 2009 Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. This is full of robust cassis fruit and also some lovely savouriness from the Cab Franc. If you have some, try it with this sort of food and you will enjoy it. It was from our cellar and I am not sure Clive still has any to sell. But it might be worth looking for, he has always made excellent hand crafted wines. Some heavy red wines wash away the taste of the food, this added another dimension to it
20th July 2016
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