Friday, December 08, 2017

In This Week’s MENU. Mission Britain, Saartjie wines from Hillcrest, Wine of the Month Club Winemaker Awards 2017, Thelema's Annual Boland Braai, Homemade Mince Pies, What to drink with Mince Pies

A fire boat practising in Table Bay – cool water for a hot summer
This week, busy as it has been, sees us looking at a quieter time in the remaining weeks of the year. The heat wave has hit us with temperatures in the Boland hitting the 50s. Not good in drought conditions, but we have a suggestion for cool, refreshing beverages
We will continue to publish MENU for another two weeks, but it will be a shorter edition with very few events. It will have more suggestions for festive foods and wines. MENU will then take a break until about the third week of January. We will spend some quiet time up the West Coast, looking at the cool Atlantic and reading books and then come back, hopefully renewed and girding the proverbial loins for the new year’s activities. We hope you’ll like this week’s stories, photographs and food and drink ideas. Click on these links to see them:

Mission Britain    
Last week, we were invited to a seminar at Joostenberg about Exporting Wine to the UK and to hear from two prominent Australian wine makers who really surprised us as we learnt how difficult winemaking can be in that country. We were so impressed at how open they were with all the facts and figures and they gave us a warning about water wars

Arno Smith the winemaker at Hillcrest Wine Estate in Durbanville invited us and other media to come and taste his newly released wines named after his rather cute Jack Russell terrier, Saartjie. Each of the four wines was paired with some tapas style food and a great evening was enjoyed by all. The wines are now available for tasting and buying at the Hillcrest tasting room

Time for Wine of the Month Club to laud their suppliers. The event was held at Vista Marine restaurant which is behind the Aquarium in the V&A Waterfront. This year's event was a chance to taste some of their most popular wines and meet the winning winemakers

This annual celebration for the wine trade is held on the farm each year. This year was special as patriarch Gyles Webb had his 70th Birthday celebrations that week. A family event; everyone may bring their spouse and children and this year it was lovely to see so many new babies. The full range of Thelema and Sutherland wines is available for tasting. There is a generous spread of salads, cheeses and dessert and much sausage and steak is expertly cooked on the fire. We think these fellows could enter one of the Braai competitions and win

What's on the MENU this week. Back to Planning for Christmas, so our next recipe comes under the heading of pleasure and entertaining. Fiona Burrell Stevenson is an old friend of Lynne's; she runs the award winning Edinburgh New Town Cookery School.  She was the Principal of the Prue Leith School in London for many years.  Yes, you could buy your pastry and the mincemeat, but it is so much nicer to make your own.
Author: Fiona Burrell Stevenson
Yield  12 - Servings
This mincemeat is so easy to make and can be stored in the refrigerator.
You can play around with the ingredients and change the dried fruit if you like. Try chopped dried apricots, dried mangos, dried cherries etc. It stores easily in the fridge so you may prefer to make double the batch so you have some to hand when the mince pies run out, which they will - quickly! Once you have made your own mincemeat you will never want to use shop bought again. The pastry is a simple shortcrust.
If you prefer or are feeding lacto vegetarians, or cannot find lard, substitute the lard for butter but the lard does make a very short pastry. You can also add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to the crumb mixture before adding the water if you would like the pastry slightly sweetened.
For the pastry
225g plain flour - pinch salt - 40g lard, chilled and cubed - 80g butter, chilled and cubed - very cold water
For the mincemeat
1/2 an eating apple - 45g sultanas - 45g raisins - 25g currants - 45g dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots - 25g flaked almonds - finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon - finely grated zest of 1/2 orange - 1 tbsp orange juice - 1 tsp mixed spice - 2 tbsp whisky - 30g melted butter - 1 small ripe banana or 1/2 large one
First make the pastry:
Sift the flour with the salt into a large bowl. Add the fats to the flour. Using your finger tips rub the fat into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. (Add sugar now if making sweet short crust). You can use a food processor for this but always add the water by hand. Add 2 tablespoons water into the mixture. Using a knife mix the water into the crumbs until they start to clump together. Add a little more water if necessary, remembering that too much water will make the pastry tough. Bring the dough together with one hand to form a ball of dough. Wrap in cling film and flatten to a thick disc. Chill for 20 minutes before using.
Now make the mincemeat:
Wash and grate the apple with its skin on. Put into a bowl and add the sultanas, raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, almonds, lemon zest, orange zest and juice, mixed spice, whisky and melted butter. Mash the banana and add to the mincemeat. Put into a plastic container or into glass jars and seal. It can be used immediately or it can be stored for a week before using. Keep refrigerated once opened and consume within 6 months.
To bake the mince pies, preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out two thirds of your pastry and cut into rounds with a cutter. Line a patty tin with these circles. Spoon a teaspoon full of filling into each pastry case. Then roll out the remaining pastry and cut slightly smaller circles (or stars). Top the pastry cases with these lids. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. To serve, eat warm dusted with icing sugar.
Well, in a cold northern country we might say a vintage Port or a warm Negus, but here in hot South Africa we might suggest a chilled white or pink port. Perfect for that pre- or after dinner indulgence.
All these wines come from Calitzdorp, South Africa's Port capital
·         Axe Hill Cape White is made by the Solera method from several vintages of Chenin blanc, is almost dry but has cooked apple flavour
·         Peter Bayly White Port is made from two vintages of Chenin blanc. Peter's description is: "A shy bouquet of roast almond, crushed oats and hints of orange blossom and lemon rind, unfolds into an ethereal, complex and lengthy palate.  Peach pip, dried apricot, Seville marmalade, roast almonds and hints of spice taunt the senses, while the Port ends with a characteristically dry finish"
·         De Krans Cape Pink. The farm's description says: "a port with a beautiful vibrant blush colour, rich ripe flavours of fresh red berries and a long, lingering aftertaste"
·         Boplaas Cape Pink Port. Cape Pink Port, as the style is called locally, is a fresh, fruity Port produced in a similar method to a rosé or blanc de noir wine, but of course fortified. The recipes for the Boplaas Karoo Sunset and Pink Lady cocktails are available from the website
All these wines are delicious straight from the bottle, but a popular use of all these wines in addition to drinking them straight, and always chilled, is to add Indian tonic or soda water to make a refreshing long drink for this hot summer

We are grateful to the producers for their notes

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