Thursday, October 12, 2017

This Week’s MENU. Catherine Marshall Wines, Sommeliers’ Selection, Dinner at Forage, Lunch at Newton Johnson, Hard Rock Café, Catherine Marshall Peter's Vision 2015, Broad bean, Bacon and Parmesan risotto

A southern red bishop (Euplectes orix) in a bamboo thicket, Wildekrans Estate, Bot River, Western Cape
The madness continues. This is truly a “silly season” when we speak of the huge number of activities happening in the Cape’s food and wine environment. We had a most enjoyable weekend at Bot River with fellow members of our wine club which meant that we missed the Veritas Awards and an invitation to lunch with members of the Elgin Valley’s Chardonnay Colloquium. We believe that one does not renege on a commitment made, even though other, later invitations might be very attractive. Not that we have been short of activities, as you can see below. Next week, we'll tell you of a sparkling lunch at a great restaurant, an important wine awards event and an environmental accolade amongst others, so we hope you’ll enjoy this week’s stories and come back next week....
Michael Hans “Spatz” Sperling (1931-2017)   
A giant of the South African wine industry has left us. Spatz came to the Cape from Germany in 1951. He joined his uncle Hans Hoheisen and his aunt Del on the Delheim farm where he started to experiment with wine making, eventually adding to his knowledge by consulting with established winemakers. His first wine Spatzendreck, a natural sweet, was tasted by a friend who pronounced it “dreck”. He bottled it with a picture of a sparrow relieving itself on the label and it has been a favourite dessert wine for many aficionados ever since. Sperling is the German word for Sparrow and Spatz is the colloquial equivalent

Spatz, Sydney Back of Backsberg and Frans Malan of Simonsig founded the Cape Estate Wine Producers Association when there were very few independent wine estates in South Africa. They were also the driving force in transforming wine estate legislation. The 1973 Wine of Origin system was largely the result of their combined efforts. He was also a pioneer producer of quality red blends and, together with Frans Malan and Neil Joubert of Spier, was a founder member of the Stellenbosch Wine Route. He also had an important role in the establishment of the Stellenbosch Bottled Wine Show and Food and Wine Festival. Pioneers like Spatz laid the foundation for the modern South African wine industry and we are all in debt to his spirit, hard work and enterprise. Our sympathies go to his wife Vera and his family. We celebrate his many achievements and we wish them long life
Catherine Marshall has been making wine now for 20 years! We all remember her first Barefoot wine, but making wine for this long matures one and her wines have changed, evolved and emerged as some of the best South Africa produces. We were delighted to be invited to taste them last week. Ellerman House is one of the best boutique Hotels in South Africa, with one of the best wine cellars, and a renowned art collection. We have been invited for wine tastings before; this time it was to be lunch

We were recently at the Sommeliers’ Selection announcements in Stellenbosch. This week we had a chance to taste them all at The Stack in Gardens. And what a popular tasting it was with members of the restaurant and hotel fraternity, the wine trade and media. You can see the 2017 Sommeliers Selection here: http://www.thesommeliersselection.co.za/2017/06/the-sommeliers-selection2017.html
The last time we stayed at Wildekrans in Bot River, chef Greg Henderson had just arrived to open Forage restaurant. A year later, we returned with most of our wine club in tow to stay in the Lodge for the weekend and have dinner in the restaurant on Saturday night. There were 18 of us seated at three tables. Forage has been gaining a reputation for interesting modern food and it is located in an area rather barren of fine dining

Following our stay at Wildekrans Lodge, we all dispersed and went for lunch in the area before heading home. We had booked a table at Newton Johnson for 1 pm and were given a great table with the best view

We were invited this week to the media launch at the Hard Rock Café, the day before it officially opened. Lynne has very fond memories of the London Hard Rock, the first one as, when it opened in 1971, she was working at Universal Pictures, which was next door at No 1 Piccadilly. Yes, there were long queues to get in and yes, you did see lots of celebrities when you eventually got in. Loads of Rock and Roll memorabilia on the walls. And they always had very good hamburgers. We were keen to see if and how the concept has changed in 46 years!

The wine everyone raved about at Catherine Marshall's Ellerman House tasting. It has been nominated for 5 stars in this year’s Platter Guide. Announcements will be at the Platter launch on the 4th of November. Peter's Vision 2015; a blend of 87% Merlot (an Italian clone) from Shannon and 13% Cabernet Franc (a French clone)

From Elgin, on the left hand side of the N2. Berries were hand sorted. Lead pencils, rhubarb, mulberries, cherries, savoury and herbal. On the palate, layers and layers of rich, ripe red and black fruit, elegance, wood and soft chalky tannins and some caramel, with plums in brandy enrobed in chocolate on the end. A WOW wine. This is dedicated to Pete Oxenham, Cathy's late partner, son Jonathan's (Jonno) dad who, sadly, died of cancer
What's on the MENU this week? Broad bean, Bacon and Parmesan risotto     Lynne was given a generous supply of broad beans this week and this was the first chance we had to eat them. She has been depodding them for hours and many have gone into the freezer
This recipe is Lynne's adaptation of one from the River Café Easy cookbook. We had all the ingredients in the house, so it was simple to make and really good. The Fontina cheese is optional, but it does add a lovely creamy stickiness to the risotto. You could make this vegetarian by leaving out the bacon and using a good vegetable stock. You will need to season
1.5 litres chicken stock - 2 or 3 rashers of streaky bacon - 1 small onion, finely chopped - 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped - 10 ml olive oil - 10 g butter – 100 ml dry white wine - 250 g Risotto rice - ½ kilo young broad beans (out of their pods) - 50 g grated Parmesan - 30 g cubed Fontina cheese - 50 g butter
In a large pot, heat the stock. In another pot, melt the butter with the olive oil. Cut the bacon into 1 cm strips and add to the butter. Fry gently for a minute or two, then add the onion and the garlic and fry for another minute until they are transparent and softening, but not browning.  Pour on the white wine and bring to a rapid boil to reduce it by half and burn off the alcohol. Turn down the heat, add the rice and coat it well in the remaining sauce. Add two ladlefuls of the stock and the broad beans. Add more as the rice begins to absorb it. Stir and continue adding stock and stirring occasionally until the rice is cooked - takes about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter and then both cheeses. Taste, season if required and serve

12th October 2017

© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
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