Thursday, January 18, 2018

This Week’s MENU. De Vrije Burger; A relaxing time up the West Coast; Leeto Restaurant in Paternoster; Russell's on the Port; West Coast Fossil Park; A cold soup. Salmorejo; Quando Mourvèdre Rosé

Fishing on the beach near Velddrif
*      De Vrije Burger
*      A relaxing time up the West Coast
*      Leeto Restaurant in Paternoster
*      Russell's on the Port
*      Travelling back 5 million years at the West Coast Fossil Park
*      This week’s MENU recipe is a cold soup. SALMOREJO
*      MENU’s Wine of the Week. Quando Mourvèdre Rosé

This is our first edition of MENU for 2018, after enjoying the summer and taking a well earned holiday. Our last media function was on the 12th of December and then it was time to proverbially pack up the work desks and relax. Well that was the theory but, of course, working at the pace we do, lots of things at home get neglected, so we spent a couple of weeks before Christmas cleaning, tidying and fixing. It becomes quite satisfying, seeing things you have meant to do for a long time finally finished and you do feel more organised, but we were beginning to get a bit obsessive when Christmas arrived. We got our tree up, doused the three year old Christmas pudding with more brandy and we had a very happy festive season with friends and family.
We did go and visit one new restaurant before Christmas, Bertus Basson's burger house in Plein Street in central Stellenbosch. Die Vrije Burger - it's a play on words, it’s named after the original Free Burgers in the Cape in the 17th Century and fits nicely into Bertus' concept! (And no, these burgers are not free). It is already popular with the students and locals and tourists, offering just one thing, a very good burger, with accompaniments, chips and a soft serve ice cream cone to finish. We do like his witty logo. 
After New Year, it was time to get away from the house, tidying, fixing and bemoaning the death of the garden and escape to one of our favourite places to chill out, the West Coast, a couple of hours’ drive north of Cape Town. We hired a simple self-catering cottage at the St Helena Bay Hotel for 9 nights and took with us piles of books, quite a lot of wine and some food that didn't need much preparation. We discovered two new West Coast restaurants - see the reviews below - and came back really relaxed and ready to dive right in to the 2018 media season. Harvest has begun.

One of our best chefs, but largely unrecognised and unsung, Garth Almazan, who was at Catharina's Restaurant at Steenberg for many years, had left and we heard that he was opening a restaurant in Paternoster at the Strandloper Boutique Hotel. We had this on our list of things to do when we were there on holiday and were absolutely delighted when their PR agent invited us to visit and sample the food. And we were not disappointed. Garth is a very good chef.

This is a small 15 room boutique hotel in Port Owen, owned by Russell Foster, a British restaurateur from Durham in Sutherland in England where he and his son-in-law own and run 12 restaurants. He told us he had come here to retire, found this place on auction, saw the potential, bought it and opened just 16 months ago. It has been a success. We had recommendations from people we know in Cape Town long before we decided to come up to this area for a holiday, so when Carmen Lerm of West Coast Way asked if we would like to visit it and write a review, we were very keen to oblige.

We have long wanted to visit this interesting place. Lynne studied Gemmology for the FGA in London and we are both fascinated by the environment, man. rocks, minerals and the earth's formation and history. We decided to go on our way back to Cape Town last Sunday and are so glad we did. It seems our delay played in our favour because just two months ago the brand new centre opened and it is almost as impressive as the fossils themselves. It is located on the R45 just off the R27 between Langebaan and Velddrif. And they are a National Heritage site, so they need funding.

This week’s MENU recipe is a cold soup. SALMOREJO 
We had a dinner for friends on their annual pilgrimage from Johannesburg last night. It is rather hot and muggy in the Cape at the moment, so a cold soup is not only easy to do, but is well appreciated
This is one of our best and easiest recipes, a cold fresh tomato soup, no cooking required. It is from the second Moro cookbook, Casa Moro.
Photo courtesy of

2 garlic cloves – 1 kg ripe tomatoes (Roma or jam work well) – 5 tablespoons of olive oil - 100g white bread, no crusts, lightly crumbled - 1 or 2 tablespoons good quality sweet red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar – a pinch of caster sugar (optional) – sea salt and black pepper
Cut a small cross in the top of every tomato, this will help when peeling them Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a couple of minutes then remove, dip in cold water briefly and allow to cool off. Then peel, remove the cores and halve them. Crush the garlic with a good pinch of salt until you have a paste. Using a food processor or an electric hand-held blender, purée the tomatoes and bread until smooth. If there are many pips, strain through a sieve. With the machine running, add the garlic and then the olive oil. (I have to confess that the original recipe says 10 tablespoons of olive oil. 5 worked for us. Use your own discretion). When the oil has combined, transfer to a large bowl and stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of sugar if the tomatoes are not particularly sweet. Put into the fridge for 2 hours to chill. Just before serving, check the seasoning once more. Add some iced water if it seems too thick. Traditionally, you serve it with chopped egg and jamon Serrano (cured ham). You can also use a mild chorizo if you can't get jamon.
As they suggested in the recipe, we took all the peel, skin and pith off a large orange, sliced it and then cut it into small wedges and added three to the bottom of each bowl – it is magic and a lovely surprise. Or just open a tin of naartjies (clementines), drain and add them. Serve with crusty sour dough bread or rolls.
We enjoyed this wine with this week's MENU recipe at a dinner party last night. It is a wonderful accompaniment to any dish with a tomato base and is a perfect summer wine. Light in texture with a nice mineral edge and a hint of cranberry. We buy this wine by the case; we are always surprised how well it goes with food, whether it is vegetarian, fish or fowl or meat.

18th January 2018

© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
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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.

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