Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Brandy Alexander Day at Shaker with Distell

Cocktails or straight up?
We love having our predilections challenged. We like good brandy, gin and whisk(e)y. We didn't think that we liked cocktails. Distell threw us in at the deep end and taught us how to make some cocktails with their brandies. We had a ball and loved the experience, although it did have an effect on the rest of the afternoon. And yes, we took the bus there and back
Brandy Alexander day is celebrated on January 31st every year. It is the only cocktail to have a day officially named in its honour. Bet you didn't know that; neither did we. The motivation for the day, therefore, was to teach us how to make them. The venue was at the Shaker Bar School, a school for bartenders and the public. First, we sampled some great brandies and imported cognacs like these
Just in case the cocktails made us hungry, some snacks were provided. The sweet ones went very well with what we were sampling. Yes, chocolate brownies, almond biscuits and macarons are the perfect match
The savoury options were good if you had skipped lunch. The lecture started at 2.30
Rissoles with dips
Beetroot and cream cheese
and Thai vegetable rolls
The lecture room
Also has a proper mixologists' bar
Dr Winnie Bowman CWM talked us through the brandy tasting and gave some history and some tasting hints
Professional snifter glasses
The French Cognacs. We didn’t taste the Bisquit XO, sadly. Our South African brandies stand up well to the French ones. We consistently win lots of international awards with them
Discussing the finer points
Then it was time to learn from the expert. Anil Sabharwal was our instructor and he is the Director of the Shaker Bar School at 235 Bree St Cape Town. They also have a school in Johannesburg. He is a Londoner, so we got on well
Here he is showing us how to make the Brandy Alexander. Preciseness is important. Chill the glass with ice too. Here is the recipe: This relatively simple cocktail is a concoction of 1 part brandy, 1 part chocolate liqueur and one part cream, garnished with a dusting of nutmeg. And for a decadent dessert, just add a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream and transfer to a bowl. You will need for one cocktail:
25 ml crème de cacao - 25 ml cream - 75 ml Van Ryn’s 10 year old brandy - Nutmeg, - Ice cubes
Add all the liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker, fill the shaker halfway with ice cubes and shake for about 30 seconds or until the outside of the shaker is getting nicely frosted. Strain into a glass, traditionally a cocktail glass or martini glass which, ideally, you’ve been chilling in the freezer. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg and you’re ready to celebrate!
This is the cocktail he made. Dark Crème de Cacao chocolate liqueur is difficult to get in South Africa. He used the Bols white version. You can use Klipdrift Black Gold, a chocolate coffee liqueur, or other brands of chocolate liqueur on the market
We get to make our own and were encouraged to try and make other versions. Here Lynne receives instructions on making a variation
Shaking well is the key. And chilled glasses
Everybody's doing it!
TaDa! Lynne has invented a new Alexander, named by her the Almond Alexander, using DiSaronno Amaretto liqueur, a favourite
We all made the Alexander and then an old fashioned cocktail, The Side Car from the 1920's. Wow - we absolutely loved this sour cocktail made with Brandy, fresh lemon juice and Cointreau. Perfect if you don't like very sweet cocktails. And not drowned in ice as Mojitos so often are
Fiona MacDonald getting in the spirit
Benika Palfi enjoying a very popular cocktail which originated in Harry's Bar in Paris. Thank you Distell and Dayne Stern. We are converted
A creative Bree Street sign
We were amused. We hope it works
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Day in Darling

You might think the West Coast is quite sleepy but it is not! There are so many things to do up there. While we were on holiday, we accepted two invitations, which included wine and food, from Darling people: Lukas Wentzel at Groote Post and Charles Withington of the Darling Wine shop, who was doing a wine tasting at Chicory Cheese restaurant. We decided to see them both on the same day so we could spend the other days relaxing by the sea!
Tasting wine from the tanks, lunch at Hilda's and a game drive at Groote Post with Lukas
It is a short and very pleasant drive from Yzerfontein to Groote Post, especially now that the roadworks are finished, and we arrived there mid morning on a hot and sunny day
Lynne toasting Lukas and wishing for a great Harvest. He was very generous and gave us a superb tasting in the cellar from tanks and barrels. Their range of wines is impressive, nearly all of them have been awarded 4 stars and above in Platter; well deserved. Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz, Riesling, all impress us
 Lukas makes a lovely Pinot Noir, some of which we bought. We all admire Newton Johnson very much and he generously added this bottle of the Family Pinot (adjudged by Decanter to be one of the two best Pinots from the world outside Burgundy) to be drunk with lunch
There are some magnificent ancient gum trees on the farm. These were planted for shade when people travelled by ox wagon and horse
Into Hilda's Kitchen, run by chef Debbie McLaughlin, for lunch. They have lovely friendly staff
The red wines we drank with lunch
We love the terrace, but the day was so hot that we elected to sit indoors
John began with the classic Tomato and Camembert tart
Lynne enjoyed the smoked salmon, cream cheese on a Blini
and Lukas a generous portion of Roast Butternut and Feta salad
A delicious main course of Coq au Vin with lots of vegetables
and of course the superb Steak sandwich with chips (this one was photographed in January when John took American tourists to Groote Post)
At the insistence of Lukas and the kitchen we shared three desserts:
chocolate ganache tart
a wicked chocolate gateau
Hilda’s getting ready for Christmas
The 18th century Cape Dutch manor house, which houses the restaurant
The Winery, which contains the tasting room, basking in the afternoon sun
And then it was time for the game tour. Groote Post is a huge farm and besides grapes and cattle they have a large wild section. We went hunting the newly introduced Giraffes, without success. And found this bontebok
with his family
some of the herd of eland with the huge bull. You too can do this game drive after a wine tasting. Check out their web site: They also have a free monthly Country Market that is great fun. Dates for 2017: 26th February | 26th March | 30th April
And then it was time to drive to Darling to meet Charles and Janet Withington of the Darling Wine Shop at Chicory Cheese restaurant, where Charles was getting the room ready for the wine tasting, ably assisted as always, by Ida van Tonder
A busy Charles. The tasting was of wines grown and made in Darling; wines made elsewhere from Darling grown grapes like KWV Mentors Sauvignon Blanc, a Thelema Riesling, Niel Joubert Malbec and a couple of foreign wines introduced to excite, confuse and confound us: a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a Mosel Riesling. It was very enjoyable and the invited audience were very appreciative. Charles holds these tastings quite regularly and you can book to attend. 
They are organised with Anesia Darné, who is the chef and owner of Chicory Cheese, seen here talking to Janet Withington
and in her kitchen preparing the dinner which followed the tasting
On the menu were Coronation Chicken, Broccoli, Beetroot and Bacon salad, a Strawberry, black pepper, spinach and candied almond salad, a superb blue cheese and tomato fig tart of which Lynne would love the recipe to share with you. A fun and very satisfying meal
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016