Wednesday, July 05, 2017

This Week’s MENU. Winemag Merlot Report, 2017 De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay at La Tête, MENU's Scandinavian Odyssey 5. Oslo, Norway 6. Sweden, going south, De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2017, Tomato tart

Green lawns, white roses, winter vineyards and Stellenbosch mountains. An evening view from Asara Wine Estate & Hotel - Asara uses grey water on the gardens

Our “normal” routine is coming back into shape. This week, we have tasted some lovely wines, one of them accompanied by really excellent food, and we continue our story about our Scandinavia on a Shoestring road trip odyssey. A great week, made even better by some beautiful rain. The drought continues but our measured rainfall here in Sea Point in June was actually the third best June rain in the last 10 years. The rain has filled our koi pond and the few surviving plants in our garden are looking very healthy. Don’t take that as an incentive to start wasting water; it’s a start but it is nowhere near enough to get us out of trouble. We are being very abstemious and we’re very proud of the fact that our most recent rates bill shows that, together, we only used 150 litres per day in May

Winemag Merlot Report Presentation 2017      
Merlot worldwide is a very popular varietal, producing wines of good fruit and sometimes great quality. We get the feeling that South Africa has begun to grow it in the right places and is learning about the correct handling of this quite difficult grape. We all have experienced those extracted, minty, green and tough Merlots and, if we are lucky, those voluptuous fruit driven elegant wines that the grape can produce if properly grown and made presented the first annual Merlot Report in association with the official producer body known as the Merlot Forum. The certificate awards ceremony took place last week at Asara Estate in Stellenbosch. They do not yet have a sponsor and we do hope that they find one soon, as we feel that this grape is about to do good things for our market and needs support

2017 De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay released at La Tête     
This was held over lunch on a gloomy day at La Tête restaurant in Bree Street and it certainly helped to brighten up the day. It is De Wetshof's most popular of their five Chardonnays, the one you are most likely to see on wine lists. And, this year, it shows real potential to exceed its previous successes. Johan de Wet says 2017 is probably the best vintage they have ever seen

MENU's Scandinavian Odyssey 5. Oslo, Norway     
Scandinavia on a Shoestring continues, we reach Oslo. Why were we being so 'cheap" and not eating out? Well, the air fares were heavy, the car hire not bad but not cheap for the 3½ weeks we had it, petrol was shocking compared to our local prices and, while we certainly saved a bit by staying at AirBnBs the total cost, we knew, was going to be large. So the one saving we could make was on food and we used that saving to go further for longer. As we have a food budget while at home, we tried to stick to it by eating out of supermarkets and taking our wine with us, with one or two additions. Beer had to be bought too

MENU's Scandinavian Odyssey 6. Sweden, going south      
We left Oslo on a cold morning after doing our usual clean up and tidy of the apartment. We like to leave places the way we found them. Our next stop was another stuga in Sweden, near Värnamo in the country, but this time on an estate. It used to be an outbuilding of the main house and their daughter Sofia has made it into a tiny but well fitted space for one or two people. We are starting to love varying our stays between cities and then staying deep in the country. We could have gone to Gothenburg, but we saw it when driving through it on the way up to Oslo and the interchanges were a nightmare. They confused the SatNav going up and again going down, which saw us getting hopelessly lost on our way through the city but, eventually, we made it...

MENU's Wine of the Week. De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2017 
It has to be. We were so impressed tasting it at the launch this week. This vintage is like spring sunshine, with apple blossom perfume and whiffs of pine nuts, with limes and lemons, crisp and lean initially, but then very full on the palate and very, very satisfying. In fact with lunch, or any meal, or even alone, quaffable in extreme! R103 a bottle from the farm. Checkers do have the new vintage, we checked today and their price is slightly less

We have had quite a lot of meat dishes since we returned and Lynne thought it time to use up the tomatoes in the fridge, which are Romas and have very good flavour. There is a bit of preparation needed, but assembly is quick and easy. You can, if you wish, make your own flaky pastry; we and most of the rest of the world seem to buy this nowadays. Yes, we know homemade is the best; it is all about time and inclination. Lynne used the all butter one from Woolworths

1 roll or square of flaky pastry - 4 or 5 good Roma tomatoes - salt - 20g grated parmesan cheese - 8 or 10 halved and pitted black olives - some fresh basil or oregano leaves - 100g crème fraiche - white pepper
Defrost the pastry naturally on some baking paper on a baking tray. Keep it firm in the fridge when it has defrosted. You do not need to roll it out to make it larger. You could, if you wish, blanch the tomatoes first and peel them. We leave the skin on. Halve the tomatoes and, using a spoon, scoop out all the seeds and juice. (You can use the juices in a salad dressing or in a stew). Lightly salt them inside and set them aside on kitchen paper, turned skin side up, to drain. You need them to be fairly dry. Turn your oven on to 180C. Take the pastry out of the fridge and, using a knife, score a circle around the edge. Be careful not to cut right through the pastry. Scatter the grated cheese in the centre of the circle. Then arrange the tomatoes in the circle on top of the cheese, keeping the edges clear. Put some olives around the tomatoes, sprinkle over the herb leaves, a little pepper and then spoon on the crème fraiche just around the tomatoes. You will not need salt, the tomatoes will be salty enough. Put into the oven and bake until the edges of the pastry and the base are getting nice and crisp and golden. Take out, portion and serve. This could be a starter for four or a main course for 2. Delicious with a good Pinotage like the Darling Cellars, which goes well with tomato, a difficult fruit to pair with wine

5th July 2017

© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
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