Friday, September 01, 2017

This Week’s MENU. Vinimark Tasting, Witlof, Chenin Blanc Top 10, Matjiesfontein, Winter Witlof salad, Cederberg 2016 Chenin Blanc

Rain comes to a vineyard in Rawsonville
The pot is full to overflowing. Our biggest story of the week has been a trip to Matjiesfontein, with a half day ride to Sutherland an its observatory thrown in. Schedules went a bit awry, which is why this week’s MENU comes to you a little later than we’d like. With the other activities we have to report, our Matjiesfontein experience was more than we could fit into this week’s MENU, so we start it here and will continue that story next week, along with a fairly hectic few days’ stories ahead of us, so we hope that you will enjoy this first instalment and we’ll do our best to be on time with the rest of the story

Lynne was catching up with articles for MENU and feeling a little stressed, so John went to the annual Vinimark trade tasting on his own. Vinimark is a huge organisation with a very large portfolio of excellent wine producers. We have been to several wine tastings recently and have tasted many of the wines on offer at this presentation, so John sampled as many wines as he could from producers whose wines we haven’t tasted recently

PRO Brian Berkman invited us to lunch this week at Den Anker in the Waterfront as he is promoting Witlof, also known as Belgian Endive and to some of us as white Chicory. It is often confused with the lettuce-like curly endive a.k.a. escarole or chicorée frisée in French which is grown outdoors

Chenin Blanc Shines its Sunshine on South Africa and the world - the 2017 STANDARD BANK CHENIN BLANC TOP 10 CHALLENGE WINNERS    
This happy grape, with so many different faces and guises is just the thing to warm up winter and cool down summer. It is the grape that is getting such good attention overseas for the many wonderful wines being produced and so well marketed overseas, thanks to the Chenin Blanc Association and Wines of South Africa. It has the Chenin Blanc Association says, become our calling card, offering such diversity of expression

August is the time of year when we get to taste the adjudged best Chenins in the land. The weather is usually showing signs of Spring but this year we are still in winter and it was a cold and wintry day at Delaire Graff at the top of Helshoogte pass for the Awards ceremony over a superb lunch....
We were invited by Michael Pownall of PMR Group to stay at the famous Lord Milner Hotel in Matjiesfontein. It is in the deep Karoo, straight up the N1 motorway - direction Johannesburg - and while it seems further because the countryside keeps changing, it is a really reachable two and a half hour drive from Cape Town, through some of the most beautiful scenery of the Western Cape. OK, the Karoo, which you reach after about one and a half hours, is very dry scrubland which can only sustain some sheep farming but it is high, the air is clean and pure and the nights sparkle with stars. Even on a wintry day, there was much to see and enjoy. In summer it will be hot. As one of John's relatives used to say, "Once you leave the Cape, its miles and miles of bloody darkest Africa". He obviously had never been to the real undiscovered Africa, like the Congo! But driving long distances in the past was very tedious in the slow transport they had then....

This is a quick winter salad with lots of different textures. Use the best mozzarella you can find, and we don't mean that plastic stuff that comes in blocks used on pizza. Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. All you need to do is some tearing, chopping, crumbling and arranging for a great result. Witlof, white leaf in Dutch, is also known as Belgian Endive

Delicious Winter Witlof salad
Leaves from one or two witloof - a round Mozzarella or Burrata cheese - 1 avocado - a roll of mild creamy goats cheese - 20 mini tomatoes - 25 g of roughly chopped walnuts, pecans or pistachio nuts - Extra virgin olive oil - balsamic reduction - salt and freshly ground black pepper
Check that the Witlof is not sandy; wash and dry if it is. Then remove and fan out the leaves of the Witlof on a flat salad plate. Cut up the Mozzarella and avocado into bite sized pieces and strew them over the plate, then crumble the coats cheese over the salad. Add the tomatoes and the nuts. Dress with olive oil and a balsamic dressing or your favourite French or Italian salad dressing and season to taste. Serves 4
We opened a bottle of Cederberg 2016 Chenin Blanc from our cellar. Not the prize winning Five Generations mentioned this week in our story about the Top Ten Chenins, but a lovely expression of this mutable grape. Cederberg winery is up in the high mountains of the Western Cape - they call them Wines with Altitude. Winemaker owner of Cederberg, David Nieuwoudt makes elegant wines in his mountain farm near Citrusdal. This has benefited from a year in the bottle; its dusty nose has whiffs of minerality and ripe pears. On the palate, it is lean and clean with limes, grapefruit and greengages. So good with all sorts of food. Sells for around R104

1st September 2017
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
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