Friday, November 24, 2017

This Week’s MENU. White Blends, Platter 5 star brandies, “Finer Things in Life” Champagne Affair, Bientang’s Cave, Wine & Recipe of the week

This has been a rather interesting week with some quite different functions to attend. We had a short but welcome break at the weekend at De Kelders and have now re-entered the week running. Welcome rain over the last two days and nights has filled our 'water tank' almost to the rim and the fish are very happy indeed

And to our many American friends and readers, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving celebration

This is the second time has held this competition. Wines entered need to contain some Chenin Blanc (more than 15% and less than 85%). Why do they insist on a Chenin Blanc blend? The panel of judges feel that "If we were to make Chenin Blanc non-compulsory, then producers forfeit a significant point of difference relative to wines from elsewhere in the world. With approximately 18 000ha of Chenin in the ground, it's our most planted variety and we should find ways to celebrate it". Chenin is what we do best, it is a wine with a unique character, identifiable but also able to appear in many different guises and it always adds something unique. Still there is no sponsor for this very important wine blend; it really does showcase the very best of what South Africa can make in the white wine field. South Africans need to be encouraged to drink these delicious blends too, they don't know what they are missing
What a great invitation and they promised that a special canapé menu had been created to pair with the four award winning potstill brandies, while Van Ryn’s Master Distiller, Marlene Bester, would be on hand to guide us through the tasting.
We love this annual celebration of Champagne as it is a real opportunity to taste the top Marques of French champagne and not pay a fortune for a tiny taster. This year there were also lots of Cavas and Proseccos and a Lambrusco or two as well. It is the 16th year this event has been held at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands.
Lunch at Bientang’s Cave     We stopped off in Hermanus to do our Christmas dinner shopping at Woolworths; they have good gammons and then could not resist a walk along the front to see if we could spot any whales, but they were absent all weekend. As we finished our walk, we realised we were a bit peckish, so we went down the (new and no longer so steep!) stairs to Bientang’s cave, one of our favourite places in Hermanus for a quick seafood meal and a sensational view. We were given a table so close to the water, it was marvellous, but still no whales.
Lynne made this to take with us on our break in De Kelders with vegetarian friends and it was very well received. The rich cheese pastry is a doddle to make in a food processor. We used very large asparagus spears and didn't cut them up. You might wish to. We also put them in raw; you could steam them for a minute or two or even use a large tin of asparagus if you want to make this out of season. It does make a very large quiche. Be careful with your pastry when you line your tin, so there are no cracks or leaks (it has happened to Lynne.)  As a precaution, wrap it in aluminium foil. Or just use a large ceramic quiche dish.
Pastry: 140g plain flour - 85g cold butter, cubed - 85g good mature cheddar cheese - (optional) 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper - ice water
For the filling: 6 eggs - 225 ml cream - salt and white pepper to season - 100g cheddar - 300g fresh asparagus spears, washed and dried
Put the flour in a bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the grated cheddar and cayenne and mix. You can do this quickly in a food processor. Add 3 tbsp cold water and mix until the pastry forms a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for 10 minutes while you prepare the asparagus.
Snap the hard bottoms off the asparagus spears - you can freeze the bottom pieces to make asparagus soup later
Heat oven to 160ºC. Butter a 20cm x 5cm deep loose-bottomed tart tin, or a 35 x 12cm rectangular tart tin. Dusting your surface with some flour, carefully roll out the pastry and line the tin. Chill in the freezer for 20 minutes, then blind bake the pastry case, first lining with baking paper, and filling with baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, and return the pastry case to the oven for more 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
In a jug, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the cream. Season. Sprinkle half the grated cheese over the pastry case, then add the asparagus and egg mix. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese (if using a rectangular tin, you may not need all the mixture, so add it gradually). Bake in the lower half of the oven for 30-35 minutes or until it is just set. We had this with a butternut, beetroot and creamed goats cheese salad and a bottle of Vondeling Chenin blanc

A blend of Chenin, Chardonnay, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. This is an appealing dusty, grassy warm land wine. A lovely rich and full blend of golden fruit, apples, gooseberries, ripe cling peaches and more, on both the nose and palate. Showing so well with more of everything than most of the other wines in the competition; it went very well with food too.
Price: R165. It scored 93 points in the recent Cape White Blends Report

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