Monday, February 18, 2019

This Week's MENU. Norval Foundation, Piekenierskloof and Hebron, Org de Rac, Tierhoek, Org de Rac Die Waghuis, Watermelon salad


The view from the top of the Piekenierskloof Pass
Load shedding. It is, yet again, the horrible buzz word in our minds. As we type this, we anticipate the awful deadness of unsaved words and a blank computer screen. Save at the end of every sentence! It does make one conscious of the importance of electricity in our lives. We are closer than ever to installing a photovoltaic electricity system in our house. It is called “Sunkissed” for a very good reason, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer. The criminals who tried to steal our country have done tremendous damage and it will take a lot of time and effort to repair and recover and, while the politicians dither, we must take care of our own needs. This week’s stories are largely about a little expedition to a very interesting area, the “home” of Grenache in South Africa…

We attended a function at the Norval Foundation Gallery in Constantia late last year and wanted to go back and have lunch at Skotnes restaurant and see the gallery. We headed there this week but, unfortunately, picked a bad week to see the art. All the galleries were closed as exhibitions were changing . However we had a great lunch, became Members and had a good walk in the garden and a small tour inside. Becoming a member is easy, and has real benefits. You get free entrance for a year and discounts in the restaurant and in the shop. https://www.norvalfoundation.org/membership/ The building is very impressive…

We love travelling out into the country and were really intrigued when we received an invitation to Piekenierskloof, an area up the N7 about 2 hours from Cape Town that we have not visited before. It is near Citrusdal and we have not ventured into that area for several years. Coincidentally, we had driven near it on our way back from holiday in Lambert's Bay, having taken the wrong road home…

After we checked out of Hebron on Saturday morning, we drove back down Piekenierskloof Pass and headed for Piketberg where we wanted to taste the wines at Org de Rac. We were invited there last year to a media day, but were not available as we were travelling. We had meant to come for a long while and this was our opportunity as they are not open on Sundays. It is a beautiful farm high on a small hill overlooking the N7 and the wheat fields…

Our friend Shelley Sandell owns Tierhoek wine farm in the Piekenierskloof and when she heard we were going to be in the area at the weekend for Friday night, she offered us a stay at the farm afterwards, which we were very happy to accept. She and her late husband Tony bought the farm in 2001 and discovered very old Chenin and Grenache bush vines, which they have cultivated.  Tierhoek wines have won several good awards. They also modernised the old farm buildings, but in a very respectful way, to preserve their heritage…

a blend of Verdelho, Roussanne and Chenin. Elegance on the complex nose, rather French in style. It lights up the palate, and has that elusive but sought after tingle on the tongue, a great blend with summer peach flavours. Such a good food wine…
It is so hot at the moment that cooking becomes a chore and we are eating lots of salads. This one was popular several years ago and we thought it about time to revive it given that watermelon is in season. Besides some chopping, there is not much to do. And it looks and tastes sensational. Sousing the onion in lime or lemon juice takes away that raw onion flavour that makes it repeatable and indigestible.

Sunday 24th February      Groote Post's February 'Made with Love" Country Market  For further information Contact I Love Yzer: 022 451 2202 or info@iloveyzer.co.za  www.grootepostcountrymarket.co.za Facebook.com/GrootePostCountryMarket • @GPCountryMarket
14th February 2019

© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2019

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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 our website and ancillary works are © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus. Our restaurant reviews are often 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, pleaseclick here to send us a message and if you wish to be  removed from our mailing list

Thursday, February 14, 2019

On the MENU This Week. Watermelon, Feta and Olive Salad

It is so hot at the moment that cooking becomes a chore and we are eating lots of salads
This one was popular several years ago and we thought it about time to revive it given that watermelon is in season. Besides some chopping, there is not much to do. And it looks and tastes sensational. Sousing the onion in lime or lemon juice takes away that raw onion flavour that makes it repeatable and indigestible
Small red onion – 30 ml lime juice - 1.5 kg ripe watermelon – 250g feta cheese - 100g black calamata olives - good handful of fresh mint - good handful of fresh flat leaf parsley - 4 T extra virgin olive oil - black pepper
Peel and thinly slice a small red onion. Marinade this in lime juice for at least one hour. Cut watermelon into roughly 2.5 cm cubes and remove all the pips.  Cut the feta cheese into similar sized cubes. Stone the olives and cut in half. Roughly chop the  mint and parsley. Combine everything in a large salad bowl and pour over the lime juice with the onion and olive oil. Add a good grinding of black pepper. Mix gently but well. Chill in your fridge for a couple of hours for the flavours to blend.

MENU's Wine of the Week. Org de Rac Die Waghuis 2017

a blend of Verdelho, Roussanne and Chenin. Elegance on the complex nose, rather French in style
It lights up the palate, and has that elusive but sought after tingle on the tongue, a great blend with summer peach flavours. Such a good food wine. R140 ex cellar

4 stars in Platter 2018, 94 points in WineMag Cape White Blend Report, Tim Atkin 91 points, Michelangelo Gold

Org de Rac organic winery

After we checked out of Hebron on Saturday morning, we drove back down Piekenierskloof Pass and headed for Piketberg where we wanted to taste the wines at Org de Rac. We were invited there last year to a media day, but were not available as we were travelling. We had meant to come for a long while and Saturday was our opportunity, as they are not open on Sundays. It is a beautiful farm high on a small hill overlooking the N7 and the wheat fields
The wine cellar and tasting room on the side of the winery building
The entrance to the tasting room. It was far too hot to contemplate sitting outside
Org de Rac means “organic from the vineyard”
It was the first farm in South Africa to produce organic grapes and wine from inception
Quiet and cool inside, we enquired about a tasting and were shown a tasting sheet. Many of the wines are in groups and you have to pay to taste each group. We opted to do five of the first group and share the tasting. We began with a lightly wooded Chardonnay which has an almost muscat hint on the nose, a good mouthfeel, rich texture with typical good chardonnay lemon, lime crisp favours, and lingering fruit acid. Then the Verdelho, which is perfumed, has a rich mouthfeel, bitter Seville orange marmalade and crisp acidity
And then GM and cellarmaster Frank Meaker came into the tasting room, recognised us and asked if we would like to taste from some of the tanks and barrels. How could we refuse? They are harvesting, but were not picking that day, so he had the time. And what a tasting he gave us. They specialise in Grenache, as do many of the farms in the area. As Frank says, "When KWV sent the postman with the message in a forked stick, to pull up all the Grenache vines, this area (thankfully) didn't get the message. And it is now one of their biggest assets. He fetched a bucket which we carried with us as a spittoon
First a tank sample of the 2019 Verdelho. Grapy and perfumed with fine minerality, good grapy flavours, almost a perfumed chardonnay. One to watch. Then a tank sample of 2019 Chenin, Hanepoot (Muscat d'Alexandrie grapes with lovely sweetness) to be processed into alcohol by the yeast. It is going to be very good; it already has minerality and complexity. The 2019 tank sample of the Chardonnay is clean, with minerality, and good sweet fruit
Now we know where Jan’s wine is made
Made for his Michelin starred restaurant in France, it will soon be available in Woolworths
On to the barrels. The Roussanne 2019 is smoky and with fruit in waiting, in just two first fill barrels and two tanks, which will be blended later. The 2018 Bakhuis, the flagship wine blend of Verdelho, Roussanne and Chenin in barrel has perfume and herbs on the nose, some bitterness, some herbs, limes, lemons on the palate; so interesting. Frank will add some young wine for more fruit
They are using French oak, but also some Magreñan Spanish oak barrels made from American oak
The 2018 clone 470 Shiraz has rich, red and black fruits, white pepper, green leaves
Terribly bitter tannins on the palate and fruit acids remain, but will soften with age
The SH9 Clone Shiraz has coffee notes, on nose and palate. Good fruit, long flavours and bitter tannins, with pepper on the end
The 2018 SMG in new oak barrels has Vanilla oak & good fruit on the nose, lovely sweet cherry fruit on the palate,
grippy tannins, built to last and with a little bitterness on the back palate
Frank is like a gazelle climbing up the stack of barrels to extract his samples
The cellar is scrupulously clean
The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot blend has blackcurrant and black cherries on the nose and good wood from the Boutes barrels. On the palate, grippy tannins, liquorice. It spends 24 months in barrel, but only one in new wood. It has gone through malolactic fermentation. Then we tasted the 2018. More cassis on the nose, dry chalky tannins, juicy below but cheek gripping tannins. This will spend longer in barrel and then go into magnums to age
Jan's maturing wine in the barrels
Then we went back to the tasting room to taste some of the current wines
Frank Meaker doing what he loves, pouring his wine for others to enjoy
It was an extremely generous tasting and we are very impressed with the wines at Org du Rac. Thank you so much Frank
One of our favourites, which is our wine of the week, was Die Waghuis 2017, a blend of Verdelho, Roussanne and Chenin. Elegance on the complex nose, rather French in style. It lights up the palate, and has that elusive but sought after tingle on the tongue, a great blend with summer peach flavours. Such a good food wine
We tasted the 2014 Blanc de Blanc MCC which spends four and a half years on the lees. Brioche, sherbet, lean limes and lemons as it should be. The 2017 Roussanne was awarded 4 stars in Platter, and 92 Points in Decanter. Shy on the nose, a warm country wine, full on the palate with lots of peach fruit, some mutton fat and the butteriness is from the wood. An impressive wine. Sadly, there is not enough fruit this year, so all will go into the Bakhuis. The grapes for the Sauvignon Blanc are grown by the Louws at Silvermist in Constantia. Full of green pyrazines, it has nice crisp acidity with mango and litchi notes
The tasting sheet. We also tasted two current red wines: The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon has tobacco on the nose with cassis and cherry. Made in refurbished barrels, it has a light toast. Sweet fruit, grippy tannins, long classic Cabernet flavours. The 2018 Merlot has nice clean fruit on the nose, cherry fizz, tannin grip and true merlot flavours on the palate, no mint, no greenness, and it finishes with lots of pepper. A very attractive wine
They serve some food in the tasting room; this is the current menu
The line up of wines
Frank ordered us a platter and, after all the wines we had tasted, we were extremely grateful
John also enjoyed six Saldanha Bay oysters, which he said were very good
Nico Bacon, owner of Org de Rac, also owns the Saldanha oyster farm

Piekenierskloof Wines tasted at Hebron Guesthouse & Restaurant

We love travelling out into the country and were really intrigued when we received an invitation to Piekenierskloof, an area up the N7 about 2 hours from Cape Town that we have not visited before. It is near Citrusdal and we have not ventured into that area for several years. Coincidentally, we had driven near it on our way back from holiday in Lambert's Bay, having taken the wrong road home
These are views of the valley from the top of the Piekenierskloof Pass
You can almost feel the heat of high summer in the dry valley
and see why the black mountains have given the area its Swartland moniker
Below is one of the citrus farms that proliferate in the area and in the far distance is the West Coast
Farms dot the landscape and, down in the valley, the main crop is wheat
The shaved fields look like striped tweed at the moment
The Atlantic Ocean is just over the horizon
We had been invited to come and taste Pikenierskloof wines https://www.piekenierskloofwines.co.za/ and to stay overnight at Hebron Guesthouse which is high in the mountain, right at the top of the pass
It has good accommodation, a small shop, a restaurant and has the Piekenierskloof tasting room. It is rustic and charming. You can find them on https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/hebron-guesthouse-amp-restaurant.en-gb.html
An outside seating area
They do get lots of people stopping off on their way up or down the N7 and Citrusdal is just a few kilometres away. The restaurant is very popular.
The reception is in the restaurant building
Hebron is run by Caro & Steve Oldroyd and owned by Caro's mother Jenny. It is child friendly
Steve is a chef who spent several years in London. They moved back 10 years ago
to live and work at Hebron and take over from Caro's mum who bought the place many years ago
The restaurant has several rooms for those wishing to sit inside
There is a covered terrace and seating in the garden near the swimming pool
Lots of bygones decorate Hebron
Beautiful summer sunflowers
We had booked for dinner and on Friday nights they have Pizza night
In the shop, some good jams and chutneys. We couldn’t resist the Seville orange marmalade
Our wine tasting had been booked for 13h00 at the Piekenierskloof Tasting room where we met Janine de Vries, who runs things there. She is nice and sparky, knows a lot about the wine and has a good palate. You can also do a Carmien Rooibos tea tasting. If you want to do one of these special tastings, you have to prebook
It was too hot to sit outside
So we took a table at one of the windows. Our tasting of Piekenierskloof Grenaches was to be paired with four canapés, matched to the wines and they would be served from outside, a clever arrangement, as food was delivered from the kitchen
Some of the wines for sale
The tasting room is small, but cool
Our view from the tasting room
Janine pours us our first wine, Piekenierskloof 2017 Chenin Blanc, while we waited for the food for the pairing to arrive. It is quite tropical on the nose and palate, warm and full. The 2018 is full of fresh, golden fruit acidity, biting lemons, granadilla and loquats; it's a hot country Chenin and needs time to soften
These are the pairings to go with the four Grenaches. They are served, not on a plate, but on a dried palm branch
Rather appropriate to Hebron, which is named after Hebron, a city on the West Bank in Palestine
Chef Steve explains the food
The first wine was the 2017 White Grenache, with an almost Semillon nose, warm fruit and wood. On the palate, it's full of citrus, bitter grapefruit and naartjie (tangerine) flavours, rather satisfying and hard to describe. It was paired with a crostini with ripe camembert and a rich and rather sweet cranberry jam. We felt that the sweetness of the cranberry overpowered the wine - perhaps marmalade with its citrus might work better?
The second wine was the 2018 Grenache Rosé, perfumed with rose petals and red plums. Slightly pétillant, with red wine flavours of raspberry, strawberry and red plums, it has long flavours. Paired with green olives stuffed with bokkom, coated in panko crumbs and deep fried. The concept of the pairing had us worried. Bokkoms are strongly flavoured, salted, sun dried mullet; a delicacy to West Coast people, but not to us. However, in this guise with the strong green olives, they took the place of good anchovies and, because of the salt, they worked very well with the wine. The olives came with a dip of a smoky tomato relish
Next came the 2016 Grenache Noir which is garnet in colour. Elderberry and a little bloody on the nose, it has the tart, sharp fruit acids of cranberry and plum with long flavours. Rather southern French in style with good ageing potential. It was paired with a Parmesan cheese straw and a rich mushroom dip, which was an excellent pairing, as it enhanced the wine well
The final wine to be paired was the 2015 Heirloom Red; a blend of 45% Grenache, 45% Shiraz, 5% Mourvedre and 5% Tannat. Janine describes this wine as Black Forest Gateau and indeed it is. There is chocolate and sponge cake, kirsch and black cherry on the nose. Black and red cherries on the palate; rich, hot, spicy and fulfilling. The 2016 is soon to be released. The pairing was inspired, one of the very best we have done in a long time. Steve has made a beetroot and rose water Turkish Delight topped with dark Lindt chocolate and a sprinkling of white pepper grains. He says its the most difficult item to make, as it has to be made fresh and refrigerated, but is absolutely delicious and so good with the wine. It makes it shine
The list of wines with prices. We also tasted the 2016 Single Vineyard Berg en Dal Chenin; full of honey, tinned pineapple on the nose with lime and pineapple on the palate, long flavours with hints of wood smoke on the end. Very good
Their line-up. We did have a palate refresher of the Carmine Honey Bush tea, but not the rooibos
Garnet red on the 2016 Cinsault, which has smoke, paprika, thyme and fynbos on the nose. Soft and silky on the palate, with liquorice, chocolate umami, long plum and cherry berry fruit. Concentrated wood remains on the end. Has potential
The pool area. Do remember to take your swimming costumes
and a view of the valley below, near Citrusdal
Those are the Cederberg mountains in the distance; we have to come back to visit them later in the year
Harvest is upon us, so February is a busy time of the year up here
Misty early evening light
The garden was set up for a 30th birthday celebration that night and they were a very good crowd; not at all loud, just happy
Because of the function, there were a couple of other options besides Pizza
so Lynne had the Beef burger which comes with chips and a mustardy dip
John had the fig, ham and blue cheese Pizza. We had brought with us a bottle of Glenelly Estate Reserve 2014
and one of Cape Point’s 2018 Cape Town Sauvignon blanc. Both were superb
The restaurant does not have a licence, so you can drink your own wine or buy something from the tasting room, when it is open
Our table on the stoep. There were lots of foreign visitors staying at Hebron, some from Germany and others from Sweden
John finished with a chocolate ice cream sundae topped with nuts and crumbled meringue, followed by a good espresso
Our room was the third of the three rooms along the verandah of this building
This was our beautiful room, well decorated, very comfortable and cool
The antique cot in the corner became a resting place for cushions overnight but could be useful if you have a small baby
The tiny bathroom is very adequate and has a shower built into one wall.
Our bedroom window. We love the tiny bird hangers on each window;
they do seem to discourage insects from flying into the rooms
Each room has its own chairs outside on the porch which has a lovely view of the garden
Car parking is close by, so not far to carry luggage
Breakfast the next morning was perfect. Lynne had the Classic English with fresh sunny side up fried eggs, oh so crisp bacon (thank YOU! you would be surprised how much leather bacon we are served), tomato, and a small cake of sausage meat. Accompanied by a pot of green tea with lemon, and toast, butter and jam
John had the enjoyable brioche French toast with bacon, syrup and berries. He had two cups of black coffee
We must mention the cheerful and friendly staff who smooth the way
And while he was taking some photos in the garden, he found some turkeys. They do have hens as well
What a lovely overnight stay, we felt very well cared for. Thank You to all at Hebron