Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A birthday breakfast at Smak

We don't often get out for breakfast, much as we would like to. Mornings at home are precious, especially after a long week of work, and some late nights. But last week a dear friend had a birthday and we decided to take her out for breakfast to celebrate. She chose to introduce us her favourite breakfast restaurant, SMAK in Bree Street. A first for us; she and her husband have grown fond of this newish venue which was opened by two young entrepreneurial chefs, Devin Hogan and Katia Scherf, in February 2016
They bill themselves as a delicatessen, patisserie, restaurant and coffee bar. It’s light, modern and open six days a week for breakfasts and lunch and take-aways. They are closed on Sundays
Plenty of seating just after 9 on Saturday morning, with lots of regulars
We began with a bottle of Colmant Brut Rosé which we had taken with us. They do not have a licence yet
It's an open kitchen
An Americano coffee with a small fennel and almond biscuit fits the bill
Chef Devin on the pass preparing a dish. Both chefs are graduates of Prue Leith’s Academy
They make their own pasta; we hear it is excellent
The good ol’ scramble with cream cheese, balsamic caramelised onions, scrambled eggs, pan-fried mushrooms & parmesan served on toasted ciabatta
A fluffy omelette for John with bacon and cheese, made to order
Lynne had the interesting take on an Arnold Bennett omelette. It comes in a cocotte, has scrambled eggs on the base, smoked haddock is substituted with smoked trout and it is topped with both béchamel and hollandaise sauces, quite rich, a scattering of parmesan and flashed under the salamander grill. Served with toasted ciabatta. Not for take away, it says on the menu
The Birthday girl had the smashed avocado on toast, topped with lemon juice and poached eggs. She said the eggs were perfect. Neither of us is able to reproduce these at home, much as we try all the different methods. Probably because the supermarket eggs we get are not fresh enough, is the theory
Prices are very reasonable, we felt very comfortable and relaxed and the Deli counter is full of lots of different temptations, including good looking gateaux. They also sell some good Italian ingredients
For once, we left the Nikon at home. The photographs were taken with John's Nokia Windows phone
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

Vinimark trade wine show at the CTICC

Back in the Ballroom at the CTICC for the third time in a week, this huge trade tasting is overwhelming in its depth, variety and scope of the wines available to taste. There is no way you can consciously even contemplate tasting all of the wines, we usually manage a wine or two at about a third to half of the farms. And it is a very social evening as they also invite some of their customers and we know many of them.
We started with a tasting of the two French Champagnes from Nicolas Feuillatte from Épernay, poured by Vinimark Director Ginette de Fleuriot
Tomato and mozzarella canapés
Krone were showcasing an assemblage of three very old vintages (2004, 2005 and 2006) called the Phoenix. The wines spent a minimum of 10 years on the lees. Not to our taste at all but perhaps yours?
Smoked salmon on soft pancakes
Johan Reyneke had some great wines to show, most especially the Biodynamic Cornerstone 2013 which is a blockbuster full on red blend with layers of red fruit to delight
The two Downes brothers, Stuart and James with their Shannon wines. Lynne loved the green fig leaf Sanctuary Peak 2015 Sauvignon Blanc so layered and full on a typical nose. The 2015 Semillon is spicy and grassy, with lean minerality. Semillon mutton fat and clean tangerine . Rockview Pinot Noir 2015 is pretty and perfumed, very French soft and gentle red fruit with cough sweet spice notes on the end. These wines will sell out very fast.
Small quiches
Stephanus Eksteen, Checkers wine buyer, was finding the evening interesting and asked lots of questions about the wines
Charles Withington of Darling wines, Ida van Tonder and Gemma Botha chat about the wines
Nora Sperling Thiel  of Delheim with Raymond Noppe. Their 2014 Chenin Blanc is chewy with full on fruit, a great wine for pairing with food
Happy faces on a happy  De Morgenzon farm's table. We write often about how good these wines are. The DMZ 2015 Sauvignon Blanc is, Lynne wrote: "Serrriuus". The DMZ Chenin is clean and elegant, another full on fruit layered wine and the DMZ Maestro 2014 is a great white blend with some wood and good fruit. No wonder these are appearing on more and more restaurant wine lists.
David Finlayson did it again with his Edgebaston wines. The new vintage of the Berry Box 2015 white (2015 had 63% Sauvignon Blanc, 34% Semillon, 3% Viognier )is still a bit bottle shocked but has clean fruits with oyster shale notes and roundness in the glass from the viognier. His 2014 Chardonnay sparkles with full golden fruit, has nice length and depth and keeps on talking to you. Another good food wine.
John sampled the Dalla Cia Grappa. The Single Cultivar is exceptionally smooth. The golden liquid on the right is the 10 year barrel matured grappa, which is reminiscent of an Armagnac
J C Martin was kept busy on the Creation stand, speaking here to visitors from France. Their Sauvignon Blanc is a good example of what the Hemel and Aarde Valley does with this grape Passion fruit with a spicy end and a good prickle in the centre. Lynne wears a Giorgio Armani perfume called Aqua de Gio and she found it's lovely clean floral notes on the 2016 Viognier and peaches and cream on the palate. Wow.
Three happy winemakers: Corlea Fourie of Bosman, Etienne Louw of Altydgedacht and Bertus Fourie. Corlea's Optenhorst 2015 Chenin Blanc with wood supporting the rich golden fruit is superb and the very Burgundian style Chardonnay 2015 from the Upper Hemel and Aarde is tight, clean, crisp with flinty minerality. Lynne has written Want Some in her notes. The Adama White 2015 is intriguing with layers of different aromas, flavours and textures that keep talking
As expected the Ollo white blend excited and delighted but the interesting wine was their Muskarade 2016. Rose petals on the nose and palate but dry with full flavours of hanepoot from the Muscat grapes. A wine to pair with spicy food.
We took a taxi home, we had a driver from the Congo and we were surprised how much more fluent we were in French ! That was why we took a taxi. It was all those good wines talking
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

New Mediterranean menu at Ocean Basket

© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

2016 Cape Winemakers Guild tutored tasting and Auction Showcase

This is, without doubt, always our best wine tasting experience of the year. We had the opportunity to taste 38 of the 54 Guild 2016 Auction wines and one brandy, at speed, hear what each winemaker has to say about the wine he or she is entering in the auction, make notes, empty a glass for the next wine and move on quickly. Some winemakers are great and talk up their wines giving the tasters time to do all the above. Others just say the name of their wines and move off at speed, which adds to the frisson of the event, but leaves us breathless
The wines are extraordinary. If you love and buy wine, register now to attend this year's auction which will be on the 1st of October at Spier. It is open to the public. Registration for the Auction and sales of VIP Lounge tickets will close on Wednesday, 16 September 2016. Contact CWG for details. http://www.capewinemakersguild.com/auction We will see you there
The tasting was held in the Reserve at The Taj Hotel
A choice of welcoming bubblies from Villiera, Spier, Graham Beck and Simonsig to open the palate
Radio broadcaster Guy MacDonald in high spirits, already
The room fills up fast. This tasting is for wine trade, media and other invited guests
Kevin Arnold of Waterford with Journalist Maryna Strachan
A hello hail from Michael Olivier
John Loubser of Silverthorne getting the tasting bottles lined up. The pouring staff were magnificently efficient
A forest of bottles
Enjoying the day, Michael Olivier with Mike Bampfield Duggan of Wine Concepts
Guild Chairman Miles Mossop opens the tasting
Our great pourer, Inga Rix of Nitida, kept us on our toes. While you are tasting the wine in your glass you must have the other glass empty for her to pour the next wine. You have one minute to taste and write your notes before emptying the glass and going on to the next wine. It’s a nonstop process for about 2 hours. Oh, and it is recommended that you spit rather than swallow or you will need an UBER home – or, perhaps, an ambulance
Bernhard Veller of Nitida introduces his auction wine, the Swan Song 2015 Sauvignon Blanc - 30 cases. Green, lovely mouth feel, zingy. Will do well
Bartho Eksteen took seconds with his presentation of the Vloekskoot wooded Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - 44 cases. Cat's pee nose, Tropical fruit palate and long finish
Simonsig has two wines this year. Johan Malan presents his Mediterrano 2015, a great blend of Roussane, Grenache Blanc and Verdelho. 50 cases in the auction. Complex layers of fruit, a white Rhône style wine, for food
Linda Potgieter and Marine Point observing the tasting
We were so pleased to see new CWG member Sebastian Beaumont with his first Guild wine, The "Moerse Moer" 2015 Chenin Blanc - 40 cases. A wine to invest in, we think. He received a nice warm welcome from the audience
Kevin Arnold introducing his Waterford '88 Kept Aside Chardonnay 2015 - 40 cases Refined and elegant, made to last
The other Kevin, Kevin Grant of Ataraxia presenting his Under the Gavel Chardonnay 2015 - 40 cases. It's a major food wine, very complex, layered and giving
The room in full flight, concentrating hard
Jonathan Snashall, Michael Pownall and Anel Grobler in the front of the room, all seriously tasting
Miles Mossop of Tokara with his Siberia Chardonnay 2015 ("If you lot think it's so darn cool, call the farm Siberia!", said Tokara owner GT Ferreira) 30 cases. Silky smooth and rich
Boela Gerber with his Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2015 - 40 cases Zingy Citrus, concentrated, time
Pourers at the ready
Another new member welcomed was Gordon Newton Johnson. He presented the Family Vineyards Seadragon Pinot Noir. 40 cases. Spicy cherries, smooth and sweet. free of sulphur in the winemaking, this should do well
Neil Ellis with his Insignium 2013 a blend of Tempranillo and Grenache, which was the talk of the tasting. 60 cases. Layers of ripe dark Mediterranean fruit, grippy tannins and long finish. A great expression of Rioja's grapes
Carl Schultz introduces his Hartenberg Auction Shiraz 2014 - 60 cases. Always anticipated, its rich full fruit with right tannins. this wine is made to last and will sell for top prices
After the afternoon tasting, we walked down to the CTICC for the public tasting of CWG wines. Here Pierre Wahl showed both his Rijks Pinotage and the 2013 Chenin Blanc. A Pinotage which Lynne enjoys (there aren't many); it’s salty with layers of dark fruit and spice
Peter Finlayson of Bouchard Finlayson had his Missionvale Chardonnay 2012 and the Galpin Peak 2012 for tasting. Always good
Miles Mossop is excited about this year's auction wines and we hope that he will do as well as he did last year
Here he enjoys a tasting with Neil Ellis of his Tokara Siberia Chardonnay
David Finlayson of Edgebaston with Annemie Adriaanse and Mark, tasting his CWG Edgebaston Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Reserve - 60 cases. One of our highest scoring wines. Soft and silky fruit with a spicy buzz, warm and magnificent, berries, cherries with length and depth. Watch this space. from the GS vineyards
Duncan Savage pouring his Savage White 2015
Every year, we try to support the CWG Development Trust Protégé programme by bidding on the Silent Auction, it is our way of putting something back into the industry that supports us so well. . Despite several bids Lynne only managed to secure one wine this time. The silent auction is getting deservedly more attention. It is Teddy Hall’s Mediterranean White

We will try to get more bids in on the Silent Auction on the day of the Auction. But Lynne hopes not to encounter the man who followed her closely and immediately (with a huge smirk on this face) topped every one of her bids as she made them last year. He was obviously very competitive and very rich. She was tempted to make a huge bid on something so he would have to top that too but she is not that devious. Or rich
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016