Friday, November 29, 2019

This Week's MENU. DC Winemaker of the Year, Angala, Vrede en Lust, UK Adventure at Mousehall, Empire sushi, Wine & recipe of the Week

Summer wheatfields near Bredasdorp, Southern Cape

A week of celebrations, as we prepare for all the usual jollies which this time of the year brings. Too many to fit them all in this week, despite good intentions, and the best of them will be part of next week’s story. Lovely sunny weather, but a little rain would be a huge treat. One day, we may have a garden again. As we start to wind down, this will be the second last MENU of the year, as we prepare to take a holiday – not an extended road trip, but a quiet time by the sea on the Southern Cape coast. As the parties start, we wish you all safe driving, with good food and wine, but with necessary moderation. Have fun and be safe!


Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year presentation at La Residence, Franschhoek

The 2019 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year (and the Young Winemaker of the year) Awards dinner was held last Saturday night at La Residence in Franschhoek. The event began at 6 pm. It is always a Black Tie event. As no accommodation or transport was provided for media this year, we were lucky enough to be able to arrange to stay over near Franschhoek at Angala Boutique Hotel. Driving home from a late event involving wine is something we do not do. Read on...

An Overnight stay at Angala Boutique Hotel, Franschhoek

We were invited to cover a prestigious black tie award ceremony in Franschhoek last weekend, but no transport or overnight accommodation was to be provided. Our friends at Angala were very generous and allowed us to have a suite for the night, which meant that John could enjoy a glass or two of the two winners’ wines and we didn’t have to drive all the way back home at midnight on the motorway, which would have taken us at least an hour and a half. We are extremely grateful. It is one of our favourite places to stay and we wanted to show you just how beautiful and peaceful it is. It is located 2.4 kilometres up the mountain approach from Vrede en Lust wine estate, with marvellous views of Franschhoek and Paarl, and is an easy 20 Km drive before Franschhoek. Read on...

Tasting at Vrede en Lust wine estate, Simondium

While we were staying at Angala Boutique Hotel, we were given a voucher for a free tasting for two at their neighbouring wine farm, Vrede and Lust (which you drive through to reach Angala). We have been meaning to re-visit the estate and taste their wines for a long time and have received invitations from co-owners Etienne and Dana Buys. So this seemed like a great thing to do on Sunday morning after breakfast, before we drove home. Vrede and Lust was one of the first wine farms to invest in solar electricity generation. It is part of their commitment to being environmentally conscious and active. They have installed huge swathes of solar panels here on the main building and also in the vineyards. Read on...

A South African owned vineyard in Sussex. The Jordans at Mousehall

When Gary and Kathy Jordan, owners of Jordan wine estate in Stellenbosch, heard that we would be in England in September, they invited us to visit them on their farm, Mousehall in East Sussex. They told us that it is a very pretty and historic area and if we wanted to stop and see a classic country town, we should stop in Mayfield, which is just a few miles from them. We happened to arrive there at lunch time and it was indeed worth exploring. Read on...


Sushi lunch at Empire Asian restaurant, Sea Point

Since our favourite Chinese restaurant, Dynasty, closed and another which has no attraction for us opened in its place, we have been trying out different restaurants for our essential monthly dose of sushi. This restaurant is at the beginning of Main Road, Sea Point and its name seems to be the large signage above its door. But, if you look at the menu and the small sign on the left, it is called the Empire Asian Restaurant. Read on...

On the MENU this week. Mediterranean Celebration Salad
At this time of year, we give you some ideas for Christmas food. If you are doing a cold Christmas lunch here is a very easy salad to add to the celebration table. It looks wonderful and takes moments to prepare. Everyone can help themselves to their favourites. You could add sliced avocado, briefly steamed green beans or any favourite cold vegetable. Read on...

a classic barrel aged blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. All the grapes are from Elgin. Biscuit lees character shows on the nose and at first it is quite shy. Then greengage, fig leaf and English gooseberry aromas appear. It has a very good smooth mouth feel from the Semillon, with good green flavours of fig, greengage and gooseberry and some green pepper on the end. Read on...


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Phones: +27 21 439 3169 / 083 229 1172 / 083 656 4169
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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

MENU’s Wine of the Week, Vrede en Lust The Barrique 2017

a classic barrel aged blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. All the grapes are from Elgin. Biscuit lees character shows on the nose and at first it is quite shy. Then greengage, fig leaf and English gooseberry aromas appear. It has a very good smooth mouth feel from the Semillon, with good green flavours of fig, greengage and gooseberry and some green pepper on the end

A good chalky tannin grip, minerality and a hint of mint on the end. The wood just supports. The wine was matured in French second and third-fill oak barrels. Both wines were left on the lees and blended prior to bottling. A superb food wine which has years to go in the bottle. R150 from the tasting room on the farm

On the MENU this week. Mediterranean Celebration Salad



At this time of year, we give you some ideas for Christmas food. If you are doing a cold Christmas lunch here is a very easy salad to add to the celebration table. It looks wonderful and takes moments to prepare. Everyone can help themselves to their favourites. You could add sliced avocado, briefly steamed green beans or any favourite cold vegetable.If you can’t find the marinated pepper, roast two large oiled red peppers until the skin comes off easily, slice and put into a simple French dressing


1 jar of Marinated Peppers – 1 head of cos lettuce – 1 packet rocket
1 tin of chick peas – a jar of black olives – ± 20 baby tomatoes, halved – a tin of artichoke hearts, drained and halved – 3 courgettes cut in rounds -
1 tin of asparagus spears or fresh green asparagus, steamed for just 5 minutes - 25g toasted flaked almonds - a large handful of fresh basil, torn up roughly at the last minute
If you are using fresh asparagus, wash it and briefly steam it till it is just tender, then cool.

On a large wide serving platter, fan out the leaves of cos lettuce, the rocket and the asparagus in a circle from the centre. Drain chick peas and sprinkle them in the centre. Top with a circle of the red peppers. Add some black olives and the tomatoes then sprinkle on the roasted nuts. Serve with a jug of the following dressing:
1 clove garlic, crushed – 1 t coarse salt – juice of one lemon – 5 T extra virgin olive oil - ½ t sugar – 1 t Dijon mustard
Mix everything in a jar and shake well.
Just before serving, sprinkle over the roasted nuts. Put the torn basil into a jug with the dressing and serve
All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

MENU's UK Adventure 17. A South African owned vineyard in Sussex. The Jordans at Mousehall

When Gary and Kathy Jordan, owners of Jordan wine estate in Stellenbosch, heard that we would be in England in September, they invited us to visit them on their farm, Mousehall in East Sussex. They told us that it is a very pretty and historic area and if we wanted to stop and see a classic country town, we should stop in Mayfield, which is just a few miles from them. We happened to arrive there at lunch time and it was indeed worth exploring
Elizabethan half timbered buildings line the High street, including this 14th Century Middlehouse Inn,
which Gary recommended as their "local"
We went in and ordered a simple lunch and some local beer
We were happy to see that they stock a South African Chenin Blanc and a Shiraz, both of which you can order by the glass
After the north was so chilly and damp, it was really lovely to sit out in the garden in the sun
Yes, that is fake grass; so much easier for the children to play on and for animals, we were told
You enter through the side of the inn, down the old coachway
Then it was off through beautiful wooded country
to arrive at Mousehall, down its small country lane. This beautiful old house is very historic, going back almost to the Norman conquest in the 11th Century. Gary told us that they had to search huge areas to find land suitable for vineyards and, eventually, he sent up a drone, the area has so much woodland. This was how they found Mousehall
Gary was busy mowing the high grass, which grows so quickly in summer, and Kathy was indoors working on the house. They currently live there with their daughter Christy and are doing all the house restoration and vineyard, garden and field work without any help. It is a listed property, so the rules and regulations are many and complicated, but they have at last been granted all the permissions they need
Our bedroom was timber framed and very spacious with its own en suite. When you visit a house as old as this, you imagine that it is going to have low ceilings and be very cramped, but it is not and has been very well kept and restored. There are some lovely ancient marks on the oak wood, and some pieces may well have been ship's timbers before they were used in the house, as is often the case
Some nice, slightly more modern, touches in the house, reminders of a time when people still had servants
There are mullioned windows, high chimneys and pantiled roofs
and several useful outbuildings
Their daughter Christy had a huge and very taxing job, planting 500 saffron crocus bulbs
We hear that it was a success; they have all flowered and have given their first crop of Saffron, all picked by hand
They plan to build a distillery and the saffron may be a component there
A farmer's hands. Gary took us for a walk to their Chardonnay vineyard, which was planted this year
They have a five vine trellis and the healthy new vines are already shooting up towards the top wires
The vines have to be planted in plastic sleeves to prevent predators like rabbits nibbling them
And they do have a rabbit warren on their front lawn
They even have an Oast house or hop kiln on the property - where hops were fermented and dried
They intend to convert it, with permission, into a separate guest suite
The dogs and their cat have been imported from South Africa.  Lots of character!
The fire pit was making good coals as we went to sit outside in the early evening before supper
First, some glasses of chilled local Blanc de Blanc 2013 from Gusbourne Estate in Appledore, Kent
An impressive example of how good sparkling wines from the South of England can be;
definitely what Gary and Kathy are aiming for 
Crisp and clean with some lees notes; tasted blind, we might have thought it was from across the Channel, it was that good. From €34.84, ZAR640, £36.69
A tired Christy joined us; it was very pleasant sitting out drinking good wine and chatting over some fresh bread, paté and a dip
Getting a bit chilly and it’s time to go inside for supper. It’s autumn. The days are still quite long but the nights are getting colder
An inglenook fireplace in the beam ceilinged dining room which, with its long table, is a great place to entertain
Kathy had made us a wonderful supper of tender and flavourful slow-roasted and falling apart Greek style lamb
with Tzatziki, a beetroot salad topped with feta cheese, gem squash, and other accompanying dishes and salads
Gary opened a special bottle of Jordan Sophia, which was a very, very good pairing with the lamb - a superb wine 
We managed to get through two bottles; it was so good 
We had brought some desserts and pastries with us and we had them with the Jordan dessert wine, Mellifera,
a Noble Late Harvest made from their Riesling. Full of honey as the name suggests,
with good fruit acidity balancing the high sugar content, and such a good wine with very sweet desserts
Next morning, John was up very early and took some photographs of Mousehall and its land, as the early light is so beautiful
The Oast House in the rising sun
and Mousehall catching the early morning rays
The cowl on the oast house keeps the weather out of the Oast House. It always has its back into the wind
with the finger, which carries a mouse motif, pointing in the direction toward which the wind is blowing
The front garden has quite a slope
They have planted hops, usually an important ingredient in beer, but these may end up in gin
They have a small flock of black headed Dorper sheep (a cross between Dorset and Persian) in one of their pastures, brought from South Africa. Importing livestock from SA to the UK means they have to be quarantined en route, either in Germany or in Australia. These are well-travelled sheep
Healthy Chardonnay leaves
The vineyard
Foxgloves in the hedgerows
Autumn showing on the Rowan tree with red berries and pink leaves
One of the lovely, friendly family dogs
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