Thursday, August 17, 2017

This Week’s MENU. Bottling Vineyard Hotel wine, Simonsig Vintage Day, Pruning at the Vineyard, Tarte à l’Oignon, Simonsig CWG 2010 Heirloom Shiraz

A prehistoric beast or a reincarnation of Spielberg's ET? - One of the giant tortoises in The Vineyard Hotel's gardens
Beside the events we are covering, we have been rather taken up this week by Lynne's 70th birthday celebrations. Despite having vowed after John's a couple of years ago, that she was never doing this again, she did, but there was some help from outside too. A dear friend baked a huge loaf and made a plate of humus. We ordered a LOT of sushi from Dynasty, three chocolate cakes from Cassis (why they can't make one for 24 people is a mystery) and a huge spinach and feta quiche from Hartlief in the Gardens Centre. But cooking has been ongoing for a few weeks - thank heavens for a freezer and then for the two days before our small party on Sunday for family and very old friends (some of whom are still substantially younger than Lynne). A great time was had, we managed to squeeze everyone in, the weather behaved and remained sunny and reasonably warm and she didn't collapse in a heap until Tuesday
Expectation and Delivery     A lot of information is sent to us about events, wines, restaurants and accommodation by PR companies, asking us to publish their blurbs.  If we are not invited to them, or sent samples, we can't write about them; we have nothing to tell or show. Repeating is not what we do, nor is it what you expect from us. It’s that simple. We will never regurgitate press releases about wines we have not tasted, or places at which we have not eaten, or stayed. We tell you first-hand and honestly about what we have seen and tasted, as we only write about our experiences (which we think you in turn might like to try). We pay for many of these - and we always make it clear when we do. An invitation to a "free meal" invariably costs us time, petrol and often overnight accommodation. We don’t like driving a long way home after a dinner with wine, so it is never free. A recent “free” dinner in Paarl cost us about R1000 in accommodation, transport etc. We are not paid to publish any of the information we give you; we want our reports to be authentic. We do accept invitations and, when we do, we will tell you if we are sponsored; we will still be as objective as possible. Do check out our Events Calendar and experience the listed events yourselves. We can't afford to get to everything, but we try
So click on these headlines to see this week’s stories:

Bottling the vintage of the Vineyard Hotel’s own wine    
This was a very good year for grapes from the small vineyard at the Vineyard Hotel. The three rows of Semillon and the five rows of Chardonnay produced 244 kilos of grapes which have been turned into 168 litres of wine by this year's producer, Simonsig. Klein Constantia, Meerlust Wine Estate, Simonsig Wine Estate, Warwick Wine Estate and Waterford Wine Estate are the Vineyard Hotel’s five official wine partners, and each takes a turn to craft the wines. The grapes were first harvested in 2013 and this is the 5th year in which there have been enough grapes to produce wine. We were invited to join in and help as we are custodians of one of the vines which grow on the bank of the Liesbeek River. Next year it will be Klein Constantia's turn again
Simonsig's Annual Vintage Day Preview    
It was a complete coincidence that this followed The Vineyard's bottling day, enabling us to visit Simonsig twice in two days. Once a year, Simonsig offers the public a tasting of their vintage wines (held on Saturday, August 12th). We were invited to the trade and media preview which was held the day before. The tasting also included a master class of some of the winery's gems, to be presented by Cellarmaster Johan Malan. How could we say no to such an offer?
Pruning day at the Vineyard      
Having bottled this year's vintage on Thursday this week, we headed back to the Vineyard Hotel on Saturday to help prune the vines. This annual event means that the old wood which bore the fruit this year has to be taken off the vine and pruned back to just two new buds at its base. It is an expert job, so the winemakers and viticulturist involved were there to assist. We had been taught previously how to do this and were allowed to properly prune the vines but, this year, it was decided that the custodians would prune the vines to the top of the second wire and the experts would take over from there. We were a bit disappointed, but there have been some bad mistakes made in the past which may have limited production, so we accept that it may have been necessary

What’s on the Menu this week? Tarte à l’Oignon – Onion tart from Alsace

Pastry: 110g Plain flour – 50g butter - 1 egg – salt – iced water
Rub the butter into the flour with a pinch of salt, until it resembles large breadcrumbs, stir in the egg and enough water to bind together into a firm dough. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours. Roll out thinly and cover the base of a greased loose-bottomed 21 cm quiche/flan tin. rest in the fridge while making the filling
800g onions, peeled and finely sliced – 50g butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil- a grating or two of nutmeg – sea salt and pepper – 3 egg yolks – 125ml thick cream - 30g gruyere cheese, grated
Turn your Melt the butter with the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add the onions and a liberal pinch of salt. Gently cook the onions, covered, until they are quite soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally to prevent them sticking – do NOT fry them. They will caramelize in their own juices and be quite sweet and begin to break up. This will take about half an hour. Taste and then season with black pepper, nutmeg and more salt if necessary. Cool, then stir in the egg yolks, cream and cheese. Pour into the pastry tin, place on a metal baking sheet and bake in a hot oven at 200ºC for 30 minutes. Serve hot or cold with a crisp green salad
Menu's Wine of the week. Simonsig Cape Winemakers Guild 2010 Heirloom Shiraz    
This intensely fruity wine has a nose so beautiful that you want to dive in. It has richness and careful wooding that supports but doesn't comment, except with a note of vanilla. Cherries, ripe mulberries, tayberries and raspberries, ending with some spice and pepper. The fruit and wood are in concert. Drink now and in the future

18th August 2017

© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
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Recommendations of products and outside events are not solicited or charged for, and are made at the authors’ pleasure. All photographs, recipes and text used in these newsletters and our blogs are © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus. Our restaurant reviews are usually unsolicited. We prefer to pay for our meals and not be paid in any way by anyone. Whether we are invited or go independently, we don’t feel bad if we say we didn’t like it. Honesty is indeed our best policy. While every effort is made to avoid mistakes, we are human and they do creep in occasionally, for which we apologise. This electronic journal has been sent to you because you have personally subscribed to it or because someone you know has asked us to send it to you or forwarded it to you themselves. Addresses given to us will not be divulged to any person or organisation. We collect them only for our own promotional purposes. If you wish to be added to our mailing list, please click here to send us a message and if you wish to be removed from our mailing list, please click here to send us a message.

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