Sunday, December 24, 2017

MENU's Wine choice. The bargain of the century. Buitenverwachting Meifort 2008,

opened yesterday evening to go with our grilled sirloin. 
Ripe black cherries and a little cassis supported by cigar box incense, gentle tannins and lovely mouthfeel. 2014 was Old Mutual Trophy winner in 2016 and is still available at around R80. Buy cases and put them away for a few years; you won't regret it.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

MENU’s Wines of the Week – Great wines for wonderful meals and celebrations

This season calls for special wines to go with the wonderful food we will all be enjoying in the next week or so.
We have reviewed some wonderful wines this year, so here are our favourites, any of which would be brilliant accompaniment to your Christmas dinner. 
This being a pretty warm time of the year, we have chosen a larger number of whites than reds
They are all reviews we have published in the last year or so; please click on the titles below to open the reviews

White wines
To welcome the New Year
Enjoy the celebrations and go forth into the New Year refreshed and ready for the many challenges and special events which will come our way

MENUs Recipes of the Week - Dishes to Accompany Christmas dinner

You will all have decided by now what your main course will be. We thought you might like some accompanying dishes that should work with your choice
Classic Chestnut Stuffing
It is not wise to put the stuffing into a bird and much better to cook it separately. If you must, then just stuff the neck cavity of a turkey. Why? Because cold stuffing will absorb all the raw juices of the bird and may not cook properly as heat has to penetrate the flesh and bones, so it can become a haven for any bacteria that might reside in the inside of the bird, allowing it to breed in the moist gentle heat. Now if we haven’t put you off stuffing completely, try this one. It is delicious. And it goes well with Turkey, Goose, Chicken, Capon, pheasant and almost all other birds, but is perhaps a little rich for duck.
50g bacon, finely chopped - ½ T canola oil – 1 onion, finely chopped – 1 stick of celery, finely chopped – 50g butter - 100g fresh white breadcrumbs – 1T parsley, chopped – grated zest and juice of 1 lemon – 500g canned whole chestnuts or unsweetened chestnut purée - salt and freshly ground pepper to taste – 1 jumbo egg – optional, sweet sherry
Fry the bacon in the oil until crisp. Remove and crumble. Add the onions and celery to the pan and fry gently until they are softening. Mix all with the butter, breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon and chestnuts. Season and add the beaten egg. Fry off a teaspoonful to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. If the mixture seems a little dry, add a small amount of sweet sherry. Oh hell, add a spoonful or two anyway for flavour. Put into a greased Pyrex dish and roast, covered, for about 35 to 40 minutes.
Want to spice this up? Leave out the chestnuts and add chorizo, olives and red peppadews.
Want an accompaniment to meat or fowl? How about making
Red Wine Jelly
375ml red wine (half a bottle); use a soft shiraz - 200g sugar - 1 star anise - 1 clove - 2½ cm piece cinnamon stick - pinch of allspice - ½ split vanilla pod, seeds scraped out - skin and pith of one used lemon.
Put the red wine, sugar, star anise, clove, cinnamon stick, allspice, vanilla pod and seeds and lemon skin and pith in a medium saucepan. Stir together, then heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Turn up the heat and boil for 20 minutes until reduced and syrupy. Strain into a small, sterilised jam jar and leave to cool completely. It will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month. The lemon skin adds the setting agent.
And for your pudding or mince pies
Brandy Butter
125g butter, softened - 125g icing sugar - 3 tbsp brandy
Using a fork, cream the butter with the sugar and when nicely whipped, slowly incorporate the brandy a spoonful at a time, being careful that it doesn’t split.

And with that, we wish you all an extremely happy Christmas and a peaceful and productive 2018

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Year end letter 2017

The further we travel on this journey through life, the more alarmingly time accelerates. This has been a year packed with experiences and adventures and it is almost over before we have had much time to contemplate the many things we have done. After all the activity, some of it relaxed, other things a bit frenetic, with most week’s governed to an extent by the need to publish our weekly MENU to a growing band of readers. It has been a year with many highlights, most of which we have covered in MENU, which many of you will have had the opportunity to see.
As we are used to telling our stories in the form of photo essays, we will tell you this in the same format.
John has earned a little money for quite a few years by “starring” in advertisements, none of them for local consumption. This year started with riding a vintage motor cycle in a TV advertisement for Sun Life of Canada with 5 brave souls (3 of them in this pic, including our friend Loraine on the right) riding on his shoulder – trying to sell life insurance to senior citizens. Safely bolted to the floor with a huge screen behind to show the moving landscape. Silly, but it paid quite well.
As always, our year has been full of events round the food and wine industry, most pretty happy and we’ve had a huge variety of food, some very ordinary and some wonderful like this Japanese dinner at Kyoto Garden Japanese restaurant
We enjoyed the use of three successive VW Sharan MPVs during the last 13 years and, sadly had to say goodbye to the last of them when maintenance costs for a hard-used vehicle with a quarter of a million Kilometres behind it became too heavy. So we said a sad goodbye and bought something much smaller and enormously more economical: A VW Golf Sportsvan. Great to drive, very comfortable with more “toys” than we could have imagined and saves us about R1000 per month in fuel costs
We decided, some time ago, that we would take an interesting trip each year, usually to a place either or neither of us has visited before. In 2015 it was Turkey and Greece, last year Hong Kong and Vietnam. This year we took a road trip to Scandinavia. John lived in Oslo at the end of the 60s and Lynne had never been north of Holland, so we flew to Amsterdam, rented a car – the manual VW Golf we ordered was unavailable but “would we mind having this automatic Opel Estate with Satnav? – very comfortable, and drove to our friends Peter and Yvonne in Wieringerwaard, a pretty village in North Holland, where we stayed with them,
being royally spoiled for a few days and exploring the area with them
Then off we went, first to Hamburg, in the rain
where a highlight was the bombed St Nicolai Church tower and museum, a memorial to the folly of war and where acrophobic Lynne gathered all her courage and took the lift to the top of what was once the tallest steeple in the world to take in the views over the city and the harbour
Most of Hamburg was destroyed in the horrific fire storm caused by the Operation Gomorrah bombing raid in July 1943. An old Yiddish curse, “May you get what you wish for” is perhaps appropriate. The rulers of Nazi Germany wished for revenge on the victors of WW1 and brought horrific retribution on themselves for what they unleashed on the cities of Britain and Europe. Hamburg has been rebuilt and brilliantly restored, but one perceives that it is in many ways a memorial reflecting the idiocy and horror of war.
From Hamburg, we drove the short distance to Flensburg near the Danish border, where we stayed overnight in a very disappointing AirBnB (in the rest of the trip, they were pretty good to excellent)
and drove up through Denmark to København. We only spent enough time there to take a canal trip, visit the Tivoli Gardens and see a little of the city centre, our goal being to spend a week in Oslo, so spending extended time in other places en route would have made the trip longer than the nearly 4 weeks at our disposal. 
In this photograph, John’s credit card is being used for the last time to buy us a couple of beers (in South African money, R90 for 500ml).
After the canal trip, we took a very crowded bus for the short ride to the station (should have walked, but we were tired) and when we reached the station, John discovered that his pocket had been picked and his wallet was gone – cards, driver’s licence, ID card etc. So next stop was to the very efficient police to report the theft. Apparently it happens often, they blame the Gypsies. Like all the cities we visited, Copenhagen is full of refugees from points south and east. Thankfully, Lynne’s cards were safe, so we could continue.
We spent a few evening hours in Tivoli, but the prices were exorbitant for very ordinary food (Wiener schnitzel, fish and two beers came to DKK549, plus 10% tip = R 1160), so we decided to go to our digs and have a picnic supper – we travel with a good supply.
A small highlight in Copenhagen was seeing this sign in a side street advertising JP Colmant’s Cap Classique bubbly at the bargain price of R358. It sells for R230 from the farm so, from a European perspective, this is a very good price. In comparison, this Shiraz from Riebeek Winery sells for R90 from the winery and was R560 in a Dutch restaurant
In the afternoon, from Copenhagen, we drove a short distance north to our next AirBnB on a farm near Helsingør (Hamlet’s Elsinore) and, the next day, visited Kronborg castle and then took the 11Km ferry ride across the Øresund strait to Helsingborg in Sweden
A four hour drive through the Swedish countryside took us to our overnight accommodation in a wooden cabin near Varberg, rustic but comfortable with all the mod cons we needed but no modern communications; a real get-away-from-it-all. Here you can see part of our travel arrangements; each of our suitcases leaves home with a 3 litre box of white wine. It means that we can have a sundowner at the sort of price we are used to. Our cases aren’t large, we travel light, but we do make room for essentials!
Next stop was Oslo, after a confusing drive through Göteborg where the motorways had changed but the SatNav data had not been updated. We were constantly sent down streets which turned out to be dead ends with the route we needed just across a barrier. We visited the local Ikea and reached Oslo in the afternoon. We ended up in a rather insalubrious area looking for our digs but, fortunately, managed to get our host on the phone and he came and fetched us. What a lovely surprise. We were in a beautiful modern flat in Haugerud, overlooking the city and Oslofjord, equipped with every convenience we could have wished for; our home for 6 nights and a short walk across a bridge to the tube station
Oslo has changed enormously since John lived there in 1969 and 70. Oil money has brought great development. Public transport is superb and relatively inexpensive. We bought Oslo Cards for about R300 each (after a 50% pensioner discount) which gave us full access to buses, trams and trains, plus a few ferries for a week. Buses, trains etc run on a 10 minute cycle 24 hours a day, so one seldom waits more than a few minutes. Our car stayed in the flat’s basement parking for our whole stay. Norway gives a 20% tax rebate to purchasers of electric cars and you can charge your car at no cost at any kerbside charging post, so one has never seen so many Teslas and other electric cars such as Nissans, BMWs, Kias etc.
Some of the attractions have hardly changed. The Norske Folkemuseet is a collection of historic buildings which were transported, many over 100 years ago, to a park in Oslo and gives a great reflection of rural life in old Norway. The wooden Stavkirke church is over 800 years old
One of the highlights was visiting Ivar and Elisabeth Tøsti, John’s friends from his time in Oslo, whom he hadn’t seen since they lived, briefly, in Johannesburg in the early 70s. They gave us a lovely dinner, enhanced by an Allesverloren Shiraz. They live in the flat previously owned by Ivar’s parents, so it was very familiar. We left after midnight and the trip home by bus and train took only about 30 minutes.
The Viking museum is most impressive. Viking ships from about 820 to 900AD were unearthed roughly 100 years ago from graves and rehoused in an elegant vaulted building together with numerous other artefacts from the Viking age. A great place to spend a rainy afternoon.
Sadly, it rained most of our time in Oslo while the Cape was experiencing terrific storms. We took a “selfie” of ourselves in the Studenterlunden park in the middle of Oslo, enjoying a sandwich in light drizzle
We searched for the photographic studio where John had worked, found the building, but it was gone. Sadly, we only discovered on our last day that they had moved to the next block. We went in and spoke to a lovely lady who turned out to be the wife of John’s former boss Svein Sturlason. He was at the palace photographing the King at a ceremony, so we missed a special opportunity. We took a walk up to the Palace anyway and enjoyed a lovely walk in the beautiful Palace park, full of spring blossoms and birds
And then it was time to leave, so off we went, driving south through Sweden, with an overnight stop at a pretty farm near Värnamo, south east of Göteborg and about 450Km from Oslo
From there, it was a short drive to Malmö and the impressive 8Km bridge over the Øresund strait to Sjælland, the island which is home to Copenhagen, bypassing Copenhagen and driving straight on to Odense island and our destination for the next couple of days in the country outside Bogense, an apartment in a house belonging to a school principal
We explored the Bogense district, visiting the local nature reserve, the town, its harbour and the very pretty surrounding countryside
On the way back to Germany, we stopped in the city of Odense, Hans Christian Andersen’s home, where his house is preserved as a museum and the surrounding streets have been kept much as they were in his life time
After an overnight stop in Kolding, we drove on to Kiel, where Lynne had found us a superb apartment in a recently renovated Victorian house. We went in search of U995, one of the last German U Boats, which is preserved on a beach as a war memorial. We were in luck, it was open to the public at no charge as part of the German naval Association’s open day, so we could go aboard and walk through the extremely cramped accommodation
Then a quick visit to Lübeck, home of the world’s best marzipan and garnted what the French would call “Appelation Controlée” status by the EU. We stopped at the two most famous marzipan emporiums, bought some treats and treated ourselves to coffee with the most delicious marzipan cake ever made
Then it was lickety-split back through Germany and Holland, with an overnight stop in Germany and a visit to Arnhem to the scene of the famous battle en route to Schipol. Lynne booked us into the Radisson Blu at Schipol, where we could take the car back the evening before our daytime KLM flight home, with a shuttle to the hotel and then back to the airport in comfortable time to check in the next morning
Then back, as my mother would say, to “old clothes and porridge”, to Cape Town in the winter, praying for the sort of rain we had in Europe which never came in the quantities we wished for.
A special celebration of a special life in August; Lynne, born at the same time as modern India at midnight on 14th August 1947, celebrated her 70th birthday. We had a fairly small celebration, about 30 friends and family at home, with mounds of bought in sushi from our favourite Chinese restaurant, special dishes prepared by the hostess and some friends and some suitably great wines. Later, we celebrated with lunch at Foxcroft in Constantia, just the two of us and a bottle of Danie Steytler’s 1947 Chenin blanc, made from vines planted in 1947
Amid all the usual eating and drinking, we had one more excursion when we were invited to review the historic Lord Milner Hotel at Matjiesfontein in the Karoo. John had an overnight stay there on honeymoon in the freezing winter of 1974. Happily, the service, the rooms and the weather were much better than they had been 44 years previously and we enjoyed a couple of interesting days there with a brief excursion to the SA Astronomical Observatory at Sutherland
And so, life continues at a merry pace. We’re taking a break from it all till mid January. A bit of essential domestic maintenance to look after, Christmas with friends and Clare and then, in early January, a 10 day break at St Helena Bay on the West Coast. Books, beach, some good food and wine and valuable R&R.
We’re very proud of Clare. While working with all her responsibilities as Academic Manager of the SA College of Applied Psychology, she has studied with great dedication and graduated cum laude with her Bachelor of Social Science Honours degree in Psychology.
And then it will be back onto the merry-go-round. We are already receiving invitations for 2018, the most exciting being to the annual RMB Starlight Concert at Vergelegen in March. And another trip is planned, this time to Portugal, especially the Douro, and a bit of Spain.
We wish you all a happy Christmas, Hannukah or simply Festive break and hope that all your wishes for 2018 will be granted
And a huge amount of love
John & Lynne signature for Sendblaster.JPG
If you would like to have a closer look at our Scaninavian Odyssey, we published it as a series of blogs:          MENU's Scandinavian Odyssey 1. North Holland

Thursday, December 14, 2017

This Week's MENU. Overture, Giulio's, Waterford, Christmas starter, Rosés

The water lilies in our fish pond are thriving, fed by the fertiliser provided by the fish

2017 has been a very hectic and busy year, full of great events and experiences. some superb wine and food as well as an interesting and fun north European road trip, most of which we have enjoyed very much. Not all has been roses, but everything we do teaches us something more. Next week’s MENU will be the last of the year and will probably be a compact edition with a recipe and another wine suggestion. And then we will close for a holiday until mid January.....
To celebrate John's recent birthday we were taken to Overture by our friend Angela, who was visiting from London. We wrote a week or so ago that both John’s SD card on his camera was corrupted and the photos on Lynne's phone also disappeared, so we had no photographs - technology! Angela has now sent us her pictures, we so wanted to tell you about our excellent lunch

Overture is on Hidden Valley wine estate, high up in the Helderberg mountains in Stellenbosch. You turn up the Annandale Road and follow the signs after Peter Falke Wines. The views of the Cape are sensational. The restaurant has a large terrace with see-through screens if the wind is blowing or the weather is inclement. In the winter you can eat inside. It is run by renowned award winning top 10 chef Bertus Basson, who is very talented
We went to Giulio’s on the corner of Loop and Riebeek Street for breakfast several months ago and told you how good it was in our article then. He serves breakfast and also lunches, as well as his baking. We were informed that he is now going to be open for dinner every Friday and Saturday night from now on and we were invited to the media preview of some of the food he will be serving. The invitation was for 6.30 pm and we were told it would be over by 8.30. Not a chance! Media, especially the young and inexperienced bloggers are often late and many guests arrived more than an hour late. There were many dishes to try so the evening did turn into a very joyous and fun event

How could we resist an invitation from Mark le Roux, Waterford's wine maker, to come, with other media members, to a tasting on the farm of recent releases and some of his special selections from the Waterford cellar. We were also to do a short vineyard visit which would be followed by lunch. And they organised a pick up from everyone's home, so no problems with drinking and driving. Thank you Waterford

Starters for Christmas dinner     Usually the main course at Christmas is big, like a turkey or a roast and is accompanied by many vegetables, stuffing, gravy and roast potatoes. Even if you are being South African and doing it on the braai, you can expect to be super full after the main event as most people do 'go to town'. So starters need to be something light and luxurious and delicious.
These recipes are two of our all time summer favourites and would be perfect for a hot summer day.
Ajo Blanco - White Gazpacho
225g whole blanched almonds - 750 ml iced water - 75g stale white bread, crusts removed, soak in cold water - 3 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with 1 level teaspoon of sea salt - 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil - 3 Tablespoons dry sherry vinegar - 200g white seedless grapes, preferable muscatel, cut in half - sea salt and white pepper - Balsamic reduction
If you can only find raw almonds with their skins on, start with 250g and soak them in boiling water until the water is cold. Then sip off the shells and use the skinned nuts. In a food processor grind the almonds as fine as you can, they should stick to the wall of the machine. Turn off the machine and loosen the nuts, then add 5 Tablespoons of iced water and blitz until the almond paste is fluid enough to turn back on itself. Squeeze the water out of the bread and add it to the almonds, along with the garlic, combine till smooth. Add the olive oil and then the rest of the iced water until you have the consistency of single cream. Add the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. You need a nice balance of almond, garlic and sherry. Chill for at least an hour or longer. Just before serving, check the seasoning again. Ladle into bowls and distribute the grapes evenly. Dot with a little olive oil and the balsamic reduction.
If you are doing a non-traditional Christmas, how about another refreshing cold soup as a starter? Tomatoes and peppers are in season and really good at the moment
Tomato and yellow pepper cold soup
500g very ripe tomatoes, core removed – 1 sliced yellow pepper, seeds removed - half a red chilli, seeds removed – 1 peeled clove of garlic – juice of one large orange - 1 t sherry vinegar – 1 sesame hamburger bun – sea salt – freshly ground black pepper
Put everything in your liquidiser and blend till smooth. Put in the fridge till the next day then adjust the seasoning. Add just a little sugar if it is too tart. Serve chilled with sliced peppadews, black olives, torn basil leaves and a few toasted flaked almonds. You can add crushed ice at the last minute as well if you want it colder and less thick. Serves 4
Our wine pairing suggestion for the starter is some of the best and most interesting rosé wines of the week which we have recommended this year
Summer is with us and so is the holiday season. We'll all be eating and drinking special meals and the variety will probably be almost infinite, so we've chosen a few of our favourite Rosés to go with that delicious festive food, Rosés being the most versatile of wines
Buitenverwachting Blanc de Noir - Summer has arrived with this wine. Well, if you are not convinced, all you have to do is open a bottle and you will feel the sun on your face. It is so reminiscent of the rosés of Southern France. A Merlot led blend of noble varieties, it is full to bursting with strawberries, raspberries, a good bite of juicy white peach and sunshine. So good with food. If you tasted this blind you might think it was a serious red, but its light, fruity floral nose and beautiful lipstick pink will convince you otherwise. Makro is advertising it at R49, a real bargain
L'Avenir Glen Rosé - This sophisticated Pinotage rosé really impressed us. From the first mouthful, you get perfumed raspberries and mulberries. It is seductively silky on the palate, the soft juiciness has a background of structural chalky tannin to support it and the wine develops in layers on the tongue. It took us right to the South of France, imagining what it might be like with a Salade Niçoise or a rich fish soup. A food wine of note. We also have to mention the special bottle which has the punt carved out to look like a protea and a glass Vinolok stopper. At the luxury end, R200 from the farm, but they also have entry level Rosé de Pinotage at R65
Bartho Eksteen Wijnskool Blom Rosé –This palest of pale rosé wines is made from Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and a dash of Viognier. Bartho took a risk. He says the grapes were producing such beautiful juice this year that he blended the juice first and then made the wine. It's a risk, and very hard to repeat. The wine was so pale that he had to add a dash of red to give it some colour and it still very pale. It has produced a delicate wine, with a floral perfume of rose geranium on the nose and the palate. If you close your eyes, it smells and tastes like a gentle Rhône red wine, but it is so pale. Pure gorgeousness, how all rosé's should be. We cannot wait for summer holiday lunches on the deck. R98 a bottle from the farm
Newton Johnson Felicité Rosé – We’re always looking for something easy to drink with our lunch choices, which are always varied. What better than Newton Johnson's Felicité Rosé, made from Shiraz? Fresh pomegranate and cherry aromas with a touch of spice. Crunchy palate, delightful fruit sweetness, and juicy acidity to finish, such a good wine to share over a Sunday lunch. Expect to pay about R65

14th December 2017

© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
PS If a word or name is in bold type and underlined, click on it for more information
Phones: +27 21 439 3169 / 083 229 1172 / 083 656 4169
Postal address: 60 Arthurs Rd, Sea Point 8005
If you like the photographs you see in our publications, please look at our Adamastor Photo website for our rate card and samples from our portfolio
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.