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Posted by on in Reviews

A CULINARY JOURNEY OF SOUTH AFRICAN INDIGENOUS FOODS [compiled] by Kgaladi Thema-Sethoga and Ursula Moroane-Kgomo. Published by Indiza Co-operative and Modjaji Books. 2015.

 

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Myrna Robins enjoyed the gastronomic trip through our provinces, but questions the fare included in one of the chapters.

Those following western diets may gulp at thought of a snack of salted stinkbugs fried in butter, while others – who spend as little time as possible in the kitchen – may appreciate the Swati dish Indakala,or boiled,salted peanuts. Both can be found in the second edition of a compilation of our indigenous dishes, following on the original, published in 2000 through the CSIR.

The new and intriguing collection of heritage recipes from 11 ethnic groups across South Africa, reveals that much of the fare is also contemporary, as current generations of rural cooks continue to use local ingredients and traditional recipes to feed their families.

IndiZA Foods is a Pretoria-based company headed by MD Kgaladi Thema-Sethoga and Operations Director Ursula Moroane-Kgomo, both high-powered businesswomen with degrees in food science, business management and considerable experience in the food industry. Both are also passionate about the preservation of indigenous culinary cultures, women empowerment and rural development. Their joint enthusiasm resulted in the publication of this worthy addition to our traditional culinary literature.

Women in the rural communities were invited to submit recipes for the food they cook daily: These reveal simple fare using local ingredients, occasionally enlivened by stock cubes, seasonings, and items like margarine. Several high schools were also involved in the project.

The compilers started in North West, with Tswana dishes and went on to Mpumalanga where Ndebele and Swati specialities were hunted down. The Free State yielded Sotho staple fare and the northern province of Limpopo saw recipes collected from Tsonga, Pedi and Venda cuisines. In the Eastern Cape the Xhosa gastronomic heritage was celebrated and Kwa –Zulu Natal presented Zulu menus. From the Western Cape comes a listing described as Khoisan recipes and the final grouping is Afrikaans marked, somewhat strangely, as centred in Gauteng.

The dishes are, as one would expect, simple, largely straightforward renderings of grains, legumes and leaves, gourds and tubers, sparked by indigenous fruits and enlivened by worms and insects. Beef and chicken feature occasionally. There is not a single seafood recipe in this collection.

Perhaps because of their (comparatively) exotic nature, I enjoyed browsing through the cuisines of the northern groups in particular: Among the Pedi recipes is one labelled baobab-fruit yoghurt, a good start to the day, while Venda cooks lift their protein intake with Mashonzha (mopani worms and peanuts) and Thongolifha (stinkbugs fried in butter ). Several species of Morogo, or wild leaves are used, including Pigweed or Amarinth, Blackjack, Spider plant, pumpkin, and wild jute. Breads are uncommon, but the Tswana make Diphaphata, a flatbread using wheat flour, Ndebele cooks use brown bread flour for their steamed bread, while others are based on mealie meal. Desserts are almost non-existent although there’s a Sotho recipe for bottling peaches in sugar syrup.

I contacted the compilers to ask why Gauteng was used as a source for Afrikaans recipes and was told that they invited several groups in the Western and Northern Cape to take part, without success, so eventually resorted to finding them from Gauteng-based Afrikaners. The recipes are authentic Cape cuisine, dishes that have become South African classics.

I gazed, somewhat incredulously, at the pictures and recipes in the Khoisan section, pages where I expected to find items like shellfish, venison, ghaap, sour figs, veldkool, waterblommetjies, and perhaps drinks based on milk. Instead, there’s a Greek-style salad with feta and olives, a caramel pud and a standard white bread recipe. Liver and onions and a mutton potjie (with red wine and packet soup powder) could just pass muster but there is virtually nothing that says “Khoisan” or “Khoi-khoin” in this mini-collection. The recipes were sourced from a group of cooks in Vredendal, and I contacted one of the contributors to ask her how these came to be regarded as Khoisan. Freda Wicomb is the housekeeper at a local boarding school, and is a popular and capable cook, but she had no answer, saying this was how she cooked.

Khoisan, referring to two distinct groups of early South African inhabitants, is a term that should not be applied to their cuisines, as they were very different. The Bushmen, or San were hunter-gatherers while the Khoi were herders. The latter group’s culinary and cultural heritage has been well researched, by fundis such as Dr Renata Coetzee whose brilliant book Kukumakranka presents an exhaustive discussion on the subject. Ingredients used in the past can still be found today, and cooks of both Griqua and Nama descent use veldkos in their potjies, and make askoek, potbrood and vetkoek, as did their forbears.

I suggested that the compilers also contact Chef Shaun Schoeman of Solms Delta’s Fyndraai restaurant, whose Heritage menu includes Khoe-Khoen breads, waterblommetjie soup and desserts starring herbs like buchu, for their next edition.

Kgaladi Thema-Sethoga assures me this section will be more authentic and will also include Cape Malay cuisine. Sadly we will have to wait until 2024 for the new edition.

Meanwhile, this title, illustrated with photographs of many of the recipes, is well-indexed and includes information on many of the ingredients unknown to western cooking. The book is endorsed by the SA Chefs Association and supported by the Department of Arts and Culture.

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We all knew that Kleine Zalze's new cellarmaster had big boots to fill, as he took over from Johan Joubert. Alastair Rimmer's maiden chenin blanc and chardonnay are both ample, enjoyable proof that he will be carrying on the cellar's impressive reputation for over-delivery on quality and pure enjoyment with a range of wines that have attracted strings of awards both here and internationally.

The farm's Vineyard Selection chenin blanc 2015 follows in the tradition of a beautifully balanced meld of fruit with structure lent from subtle oak. Enough acidity to keep everything fresh, ideal late summer wine for both aperitifs and al fresco fare, but can safely be kept for a few years as well. A very good buy at R77.

In similar style, the Vineyard Selection chardonnay 2015, selling for R80 from cellar door is a fine example of Rimmer's talent: both Stellenbosch and Robertson grapes were sourced for this wine, which spent seven months in oak before blending and bottling. The citrus, pear and stone fruit, with apple providing a floral note, fulfil chardonnay fans' expectations, there's a mineral core, and overall elegance which combines to make this a classic with complexity that should develop further if cellared.

In best Kleine Zalze tradition, these constitute another pair of winners.

 

 

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Posted by on in News

b2ap3_thumbnail_Rose--Ken-F-Petit-Ros.jpgINb2ap3_thumbnail_Saronsberg-rose.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_Muratie-Lady-Alice-Brut-Ros.jpg THE PINK AND LOVING IT

 

The focus has been on rosé recently,as these wines are promoted for Valentines day – or weekend as it is this year. I’ve been sampling enjoyable examples while putting together a story for the national lifestyle pages of the Independent group. And, doing it during a heatwave made me appreciate the charms of a well -chilled pink, particularly those with some backbone along with berry flavours.

I am sure that the first Rickety Bridge rosé fest on Saturday the 13th is going to be a sellout – the attractions are wide-ranging and the heatwave should be past its worst, according to predictions. It’s been a while since I tasted examples of their winemaker, Wynand Grobler’s craft, but I have long regarded him as one of the valley’s most talented – and his Foundation Stone rosé (shiraz/Grenache/mourvèdre) and his scintillating NV Cap Classique brut rosé confirm my opinion.

Meanwhile, up the Franschhoek pass to La Petite Ferme, that perennially popular destination for thousands of repeat visitors, now under new Swiss ownership. There’s a new winemaker too, but the 2015 rosé, a largely merlot affair with a dash of sauvignon blanc, is still a product of the Dendy-Youngs. This salmon-tinted summer charmer presents an aroma of rose petal, with berry and cinnamon flavours, with a little sauvignon zest. It finished dry on the palate.

Staying in the Franschhoek valley, Vrede en Lust's enjoyable dry rose, named  Jess, has become a firm favourite in the Vrede en Lust range. Named after the owner's eldest daughter, this crisp wine with its berry and melon notes is a blend of mostly pinotage, with some shiraz and a dash of grenache.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Glenrose-3rd-attempt.jpgThe L’Avenir team from Stellenbosch is not content to produce admirable conventional pinotage, but has added a fine pinotage rosé to the range, its patrician status emphasized by an unique bottle featuring a protea-shaped punt. Glenrosé is made in the Provencal style, its nose of rose petals and strawberry and citrus ahead of a crisp, dry but fruity flavours on the palate, along with a mineral presence. This top of the range example sells for R200. b2ap3_thumbnail_Glenrose-3rd-attempt.jpg

 

 

Turning to my adopted wine region, there are two rosés that I strongly recommend to visitors heading Robertson  way soon: Tanagra’s superb example produced from cab franc has just one fault, and that is there isn’t enough of it. The other is the 2015 rosé from Quando, Fanus Bruwer’s boutique cellar near Bonnievale. He use mourvèdre for this charmer.

I also enjoyed Saronsbergs all-shiraz rosé from their Provenance range. Cellarmaster Dewaldt Heyns specializes in shiraz, among other reds, and this offers a light-hearted aside, complete with sculptor Angus Taylor’s Earth Mother on the label. Tulbagh has acquired a major red wine player with the establishment of this art-filled estate.

One would hardly know where to start when contemplating pinks from the vast Stellenbosch region, but for good value for consistent quality, the dry, fruity and flavour-packed rosé in Ken Forrester’s Petit range is ready to complement many a late summer al fresco meal.

When it comes to rosé Cap Classique bruts, I always enjoy Allee Bleue’s, the NV from Graham Beck and have heard great reports about Webersburg’s NV pinot noir/pinotage brut. Finally, its been a long time since I tasted it, but if memory serves me well, the patrician Lady Alice all-pinot, MCC from Muratie, which comes complete with tales of memorable early 20th century parties, is a bubbly to consider.

A word of thanks to those marketing colleagues who obtained rosé samples for me at such short notice – Posy, Nicolette, Melissa, hugely appreciated.

Whatever fare you’re planning for the coming weekend it’s likely that a crisp pink will pair well. Picnics, salads, sushi, shellfish, salmon, berry finales, you name it, rosé will enhance it.

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Posted by on in Cookbooks

HOMEGROWN  by Bertus Basson, published by Russel Wasserfall Food, Jacana Media, 2016.

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It would be difficult to find a more fitting title for this collection of recipes, memories and snatches of  Basson’s life.  He is one of South Africa’s most down-to-earth chefs, describing himself as “an Afrikaner kid who didn’t eat his vegetables” and that the “flavours, smells and memories of growing up in South Africa make me the cook I am.”

Bertus gained immediate fame as the judge on the television show The Ultimate Braai Master, but before that had built a fine gastronomic reputation as head of  the renowned Overture restaurant in Stellenbosch   - along with a couple of others and a catering company.  In his foreword he offers a great tribute to his wife Mareli who is as keen on cooking as he is, as curious about good food everywhere, and who he describes as his “perfect parner for this journey...”

Given the tough time that sugar is having in  current  health-wise diets and articles, cookbooks and television shows, Homegrown offers a nice contrast by opening with a favourite dessert in  Childhood, the first chapter. It stars  sugar, cream, caramel, confectionery,  you name it...   It’s followed by his Kos Kos salad, canned pilchards in tomato sauce teamed with lettuce, cucumber, avo, tomato and soft- boiled eggs, mayonnaise-dressed with capers adding a little sophistication. Messy and delicious, it’s another  childhood staple that Basson  describes as poor man’s Nicoise.  This nostalgic section also offers braaied snoek, pumpkin pie, sweet mustard tongue, frikkadels, and melktert with variations.

Friends and family from his ‘hood who cook and bake star next, with Bertus featuring  both the characters and their specialities. These  range from bread and scones to Gatsby and peri-peri chicken, from  shisanyama of mielies and braaied brisket to  boerewors rolls, pies, and pannekoek.  To finish,  commonplace guavas get a lift with classic muscadel-spiked  egg custard.

In the chapter dubbed Ingredients, things go upmarket somewhat – soft-cured biltong is served with greens, Parmesan shavings,  anchovies and black olives. Whole roast lamb’s liver is paired with sorrel  or parsnips and green beans, and Basson’s favourite, black  mussels come with beer, bacon and seaweed. Octopus shares a plate with  gnocchi and nasturtium paste.

There’s much more before the final meal, a long  family Sunday lunch where slow- roasted  leg of lamb and veggies are  followed by his wife Mareli’s  popular dessert cake, topped with figs, pecans and cream.

The text is interspersed with a great selection of relevant photographs – at the sea, in the garden, on the farm, in the kitchen. Guest cooks are photographed in action or showing off their culinary creations, and the food pictures are appetising as well.

This collection offers   an enjoyable range of mostly traditional South African fare with a few twists and turns and little ceremony. The text finishes with a glossary and index. The editing could have been a little tighter here and there –  ingredients missing in either the list or the method  were noted, although I did not go through every recipe – but one feels that neither Bertus nor most readers will let these typos upset them

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SPRING SPECIAL AT DE KRANS

 

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Orchards in blossoms, crystal clear air, and vines  shooting with beautiful lime green  leaves. Thats the background to the Spring Blossom Festival taking place at De Krans cellar in Calitzdorp as Heritage month unfolds. Diarise September 2 and 3 for a superb start to the new season.

Before contemplating tasting De Krans ranges of award-winning wines and ports, jog or walk through hte vineyards on a five or 10km trail. Wander through the peach and apricot orchards, and take some photographs – theres a prize for the best spring pictures of the winners weight in wine and port. Adopt a vine – it costs R20 which helps fund the Hope Options Centre in Calitzdorp.

The local Saturday market will be filled with indigenous plants and trees, while herbs, produce and homemade bread will tempt as well. The De Krans Bistro and Deli will be open all day, offering brunch and lunch. On Sunday there is a high tea with a difference, starting at 11am which is port-based paired with treats. Booking essential.

Spring means refreshing white wines, and De Krans should be releasing their new

chenin, and sauvignon blanc, alongside  pinotage and moscato perlés. And Sunday also offers a range of port cocktails from lunchtime.

For more info and bookings email dekrans@mweb.co.za or contact Bessie Swanepoel on 044 213 3314.

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UNLOCK THE UNUSUALS!

 

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 Calling Gauteng winelovers! The popular Unusuals Wine Festival is back to showcase South Africa’s lesser known varietals in the only focused platform in Gauteng of these wines. This not-to-be-missed display of exceptional wines takes place at the Killarney Country Club on Thursday, September 7, at 18h00. Try some of the finest Tempranillo, Semillon, Cinsaut, Grenache, Carignan, Tinta Barocca and many more delicious wine varietals. Tickets at R250 are available from Webtickets and Wine Menu at Blu Bird Centre. The price includes unlimited tasting and light snacks. Go to www.winemenu.co.za or book tickets on http://www.webtickets.co.za/events/festival/unlock-the-unusuals-by-wine-menu/1472704606
 
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Bot River 2017 Spring Weekend

 

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Follow the rainbow for fanciful farm hopping and pantry shopping in and around Bot River over the first weekend in September. Organisers have selected a host of activities that showcase the region, while the wineries get ready to pour their diverse ranges for visitors.

The weekend starts with a Best of Bot wines, a food and wine pairing dinner presented by Forage executive chef Gregory Henderson with Higgo Jacobs and fellow sommelier Ewan Mackenzie on Friday evening. Tickets cost R850. During Saturday and Sunday the cellars – Arcangeli, Barton, Villion, Luddite, Genevieve, Beaumont, Gabrielskloof, Rivendell, Paardenkloof and Maremmana will present their wines, lay on fine fare, ranging from smorgasbord to burgers, lamb on the spit, Cape heritage dishes,  dinner dances and more.  Children will be well catered for as well.

Tickets for the 2017 Bot River Over the Rainbow Spring Weekend cost R100 per person and can be purchased, along with tickets to individual events, at www.quicket.co.za unless specified otherwise. The weekend pass includes an armband and wine glass, which you may collect at the Bot River tourism office. Quicket stations will also be at Beaumont, Gabriëlskloof, and Wildekrans on the weekend. Youngsters under 18 years may enter for free.For accommodation options in the area visit: www.botriverwines.com.

For more information on the Bot River Over the Rainbow Spring Weekend 2017 contact Melissa Nelsen at cell: 083 302 6562 or email Melissa@genevievemcc.co.za

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Sommeliers Selection Wine Festival – learn about wine that goes well with food

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The Sommeliers Selectionwine festival takes place at the Tsogo Sun Hyde Park Hotel on Thursday, September 28, from 17h00. Wine lovers will have the opportunity to try wines, from top estates, voted the best by South Africa’s top sommeliers and those that pair well with food and offer competitive value against other contenders.Tickets, which are limited to 150 people,are R200 which includes a glass and are available from Webtickets. Go to www.thesommeliersselection.co.za or book on https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1472721056

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WE LOVE WINE FEST CELEBRATES 6TH ANNIVERSARY

 

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The annual Capegate We Love Wine fest 2017 takes place on Friday and Saturday, August 25 – 26 with a programme designed to delight all palates and purses.

 

Not only is there an impressive lineup of Cape wine producers, but the itinerary at the Wine Theatre offers a wealth of free experience for those keen to learn and entertain at home in style. Tastings include Perdeberg’s Barrels and Hops, Orange River Cellar’s Create your own cocktails and Nibbles and Wine by Overhex, while themed tastings include Budget Beaters, Sweet Treats and The Diversity of Pinotage.  

 

Cellars taking part are: Badsberg, Bonfire Hill Wines, Bonnievale Wines, DeuxFreres Wines, Devonvale Golf & Wine Estate, Front Row Wines, Fryer’s Cove Winery,  HauteEspoir, Imbuku Wines, Kingna Distillery, MWS - Montagu Wine & Spirits, Overhex Wines, Louisvale, Orange River Wines, Perdeberg Wines, Peter Bayley Wines, Roger Clayton Wines, Ruitersvlei, Stellenbosch Hills, The Fledge& Co, Triple Three Gin, Villiersdorp Cellar, Winkelshoek Cellar, Yonder Hill Wines.

 

Tickets are R75 each from www.computicket.com or R90 at the door.  The ticket price includes the tastings, a branded glass and free entry into the CWA Theatre. The show hours are 17h00-21h00 on August 25 and 13h00-18h00 on Saturday 26.

Visit the Capegate Facebook page for the latest news and updates or www.capegatecentre.co.za.

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Rare wine gems at Nedbank CWG Auction Showcase

 

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This popular annual event takes place in Cape Town and Johannesburg on August 17 and 23 respectively. As a preamble to the Auction which follows in September, the showcase provides a valuable meeting place with our top winemakers and samples of the treasury of hand crafted wines that will go under the hammer.

The Guild members will also present a range of their own flagship wines sold under their own labels. Another important feature is the Silent Auction where visitors can bid on rare signed bottles from previous Guild auctions. This fundraiser helps contribute toward the Development Trust which supports the education and training of young wine industry talent through the Progege Programme, a mentorship scheme for upcoming winemakers and viticulturists. Tickets cost R300 a head and are obtainable through www.webtickets.co.za. The Cape Town Showcase is at the CTICC ballroom on Thursday Aug 17 from 18h00 – 21h00. The Johannesburg event takes place at The Atrium, Nedbank Sandton on Aug 23 at the same times.

 The CWG Auction takes place on Saturday, September 30 at Spier Conference Centre and is open to the public. Registration closes on September 20 Visit www.capewinemakersguild.com, email info@capewinemakersguild.com or call Tel: +27 (0)21 852 0408 for more info.

 

AUGUST POP UP LUNCH AT BOTTELARY HILLS

 

 

This takes the form of a Scottish braai with chef George Jardine at the helm. The venue is Kaapzicht estate, the date is Sunday August 27 and the event promises to be a memorable Sunday. Accompanied by the acclaimed wines of the Bottelary Hills producers – Kaapzicht, Mooiplaas, Hazendal, Hartenberg and Bellevue – chef Jardine will demonstrate his culinary flair over an open fire around which tables will be set.

 

Tickets are R550pp and include a wine tasting the meal itself, paired with individual wines; and, a bottle of wine from the Bottelary Hills region to take home.

 

To make a reservation or see a map of Bottelary Hills, visit the Stellenbosch Wine Routes website at www.wineroute.co.za. For more information phone (021) 886 8275.

 

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Posted by on in Restaurants

 

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There can be few landscapes more evocative of the rural Cape than that of Val du Charron – the iconic gabled farmstead, the whitewashed ringmuur, orchards and vines all set in an exquisite valley edged with mountain ranges.

Nicely named to encompass Wellington’s earlier name - Valley of the Wagonmakers -  while adding a Gallic tribute to the Huguenot founders, the beautiful 45ha Val du Charron is in the Bovlei,  in itself a district worth visiting for beauty, history, hospitality and good wine.

Just over a decade ago the Entwistle family bought the neglected fruit farm, first registered at the close of the 17th century, and set about restoring it. Once again English settlers have joined Afrikaners in this region, confirming a pattern that has been developing over the last few decades with beneficial, even synergetic,  results.

 

Val du Charron is today a renowned destination offering a choice of luxurious accommodation, fine fare and some fascinating wines. The farm acquired estate status some five years ago and today  produces two wine ranges, the Val du Charron Reserve, comprising chardonnay, pinot gris, shiraz and  cab, while their Theatre of Wine presents a trio of blends.

Catherine Entwistle sent me a pair of blends, plus the 2017 pinot gris from the reserve range.  Pinot Gris is an uncommon cultivar at the Cape, consisting of just .35% of the Cape vineyard area. I have found some previous examples rather characterless, so was keen to see what Bovlei terroir produced. This one is pleasing without overwhelming, crisp and fresh,  offering sufficient fruit, both citrus and melon, along with  discernible structure and with moderate 13% alcohol levels. A portion of the harvest from the eight-year-old vines was barrel fermented which no doubt helps account for fullness and good mouthfeel. Cellar door price is R89.

 My favourite wines of the moment are chenin-led blends, so it did not take me long to unscrew Four White Legs, a 2015 vintage comprising 38% chenin blanc, 28% pinot gris, 18% roussanne and 16% viognier. In a word – delicious! From its complex nose combining stone fruit with vanilla to wafts of flavour on the palate, fruit, cream  and honey, full-bodied but retaining freshness.  Fourie harvested the components over two and half months, and matured a portion of each in French oak, mostly second fill, for eight months. Alcohol levels at 14% are a little high for today’s tastes, but at R59 from the farm, I certainly would not let that detract me from a great buy.

This is also a chenin blend with a delightful  story behind its unusual name which is  spelled out on the back label  - suffice it to reveal that the four legs are those of a horse.

The tale behind the Black Countess red blend is also printed on the back label – this involves a British remittance man from Wellington  who met the daughter of a freed slave in the Northern Cape. The couple settled in Wellington and in 1883 the man, Harry Grey inherited the title of Earl of Stamford and his wife became the Countess. They stayed in this country, undertaking the building of schools and uplifting the poor.

The wine is a shiraz-led blend finished with 21% mourvèdre and 5% grenache. Medium-bodied, well-rounded with berry flavours alongside some herbiness, the oak adding a dash of vanilla.  French and American oak were used for 12 months maturation. Alcohol levels just over 14% and the farm price is R99.

Val du Charron also produces a merlot, malbec and other red blends.

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A BITE OF LATIN AMERICA by Susie Chatz-Anderson. Published by Human& Rousseau, Cape Town, 2017.

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A collection delectable in every aspect, and one that fills a gap in culinary literature as well. There has been little in the way of comprehensive cookbooks covering Latin America on our bookshop shelves for years, and none, as far as I know, written by a local..

Now we have Susie’s delightful gastronimic diary , a very readable account of the year she and husband  Mike spent travelling through Mexico and South America, in a quest for the best taste trips. Or rather that’s what she wanted, while he  spent the time hunting down the best kite-surfing sites.

They resigned their office jobs, stored their possessions and bought two air tickets, waving goodbye to Susie’s mother who, we are told, feared for her daughter’s life every day!

In choosing Latin America, they embraced cuisines where Maya, Aztec, Inca, Spanish and Portuguese contributions mix and meld, followed by more recent influence from Africa, Caribbean, Asia and Europe.

Mexico was the first destination, and a good choice seeing that their fare is rated as one of the finest peasant cuisines in the world. They found more meat in the north, seafood at the coast, spicy vegetable and chicken in the south.  Favourite Mexican meals were breakfasts, which included rice, beans and avocado with their morning eggs. Her chorizo omelette is a dish that’s perfect for a winter brunch, and tortilla-wrapped fish with salsas is  an appetising informal lunch suggestion. Gorditas – corn pockets with saucy fillings – make a great alternative to pitas,  add some Margaritas and you have an easy way to feed guests.

They headed south to, Guatemala,  a country whose cuisine is not well-pubicised. Plantains, rice and beans and salads are featured, while Nicaraguan more pork chops -  well laced with rum and finished with cream and green peppercorns  - are starred along with a saucy chicken pie that looks worth a try. I also like the Atolillo, described as a chilled rum custard, and it reminds me of melktert filling garnished with boozy sultanas.

More rice with beans, this time cooked in coconut milk, from Costa Rica and a similar version, without the beans, sweetened  and spiked, for dessert. From Columbia, chilli salsas,  Spanish-style omelettes and green apple and mint lemonade. On to Ecuador, where our adventurous couple savoured prawns ceviche and a potato and peanut stew with tofu and discovered countless varieties of Andean potatoes.

The author’s description of places and people in Peru are fascinating, the cuisine – indigenous dishes of Inca origin touched by Spanish influence, equally so. Her version of Causa  Limena illustrates this well – Peruvian potato, avocado, tomato and tuna layered stack – and makes a summery lunch.  For wintry days, their vegetable and quinoa soup  makes a colourful and nutritious meal. Husband  Mike’s favourite dish was Peru’s signature beef stir-fry, Lomo Saltado.

By way of contrast, the sophistication and diversity of Brazil’s fare was absorbed and relished  with delight. Recipes include cheese bites,prawn pie,upside-down banana cake (a breakfast special)  and Caipirinha, the  country’s signature cocktail.

From their final destination, Argentina,  Susie brought home recipes for Empanadas (beef and onion pies), a leek, sage and bacon bake, layered vegetable  tart,  the famous Chimichurri salsa and the Argentinian version of Dulce de Leche, caramel which is used in cakes, puds and cookies such as Alfajores, recipe given. The recipes finish with some good coffees, followed by a detailed index. Susie’s great travel photos add much interest, while the food shots are sumptuous, and beautifully styled.

What’s really appealing is the way the author suggests substitutes for exotic ingredients and alternatives and additions to the original dishes. Just the sort of helpful advice that every cook, beginner and experienced, appreciates. That and a down-to-earth modesty, an attractive trait that is by no means guaranteed in current cookbook-cum-diaries.

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A host of countrywide events in the Cape, Free State and Gauteng offer wonderful wines paired with companionable snacks. The events are chronologically arranged,  followed by  a few tempting winter wineland dining options .

 

 

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FREE STATE WINE SHOW IN BLOEMFONTEIN

 

The fifth Free State Wine Show takes place on Thursday and Friday August 3 -4 at Emoya hotel and conference centre in Bloemfontein. Visitors will find a choice selection of the Cape’s best, from bubblies to whites to reds to Cape ports and fine brandies. About 40 exhibitors will be pouring their best and the full list can be found at www.freestatewineshow.co.za. Tickets can be bought through Computicket and other outlets.  The show takes place from 18h00 to 21h00. Tickets cost R160 online until July 30 after that the price is R190 online and at the door. For more info, call 011 482 5936

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ROBERTSON SLOW FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL: 4-6 AUGUST 

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Robertson’s annual Slow Food and Wine festival attracts repeat visitors year on year who savour not only the  hospitable Robertson Wine Valley with its warm heart and fine wines, but a festival where wine farms offer personal itineraries that range from fireside tastings and hearty suppers to picnics and platters, underground cellar tours, game drives, horse-riding and slow cruising down the Breede river.

The Sunday Family Market on Klipdrift farm on August 6 from 10am is a finale worth staying on for . The setting, the produce, the ambience add up to a delicious slice of country life. Entrance is free, and  children are well catered for.

Look through the website programme and make your bookings – don’t leave this too late as some events are already fully booked.  See www.robertsonslow.com. And call 023 626 3167 for more info.

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Another perennial favourite to diarise: Wine Concepts will host their 5th Seductive Sauvignons Festival at The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands on Friday August 18 from 17h00. Taste a fine selection of recently released sauvignon blancs along with current cabernet sauvignons from more than 40 of South Africa’s top producers. Bubblies, rosés and dessert wines will be included to add delicious diversity, and moreish snacks will be offered throughout the event.

All wines showcased will be available at special prices during the show.Tickets cost R200 from www.webtickets.co.za, or at any of the Wine Concepts branches. Telephone Newlands at (021) 671 9030 or Kloof Street at (021) 426-4401 or at the door on the evening, subject to availability.Email: admin@wineconcepts.co.za.

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THE CRADLE OF FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

 

 

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Gauteng winelovers have a new festival to contemplate and it has the makings of an annual must-do. The Cradle Boutique hotel and leading wine outlet Wine Menu have joined forces to host an event, which marks August as women’s month by featuring the products of 10 estates where women star as both winemakers and creators of fine boutique gins.

The premium wines on show include those by Catherine Marshal (Elgin); Swartland’s Huis van Chevallerie (winemaker Christa von La Chevallerie) and Kloovenburg (winemaker Jolandie Fouché); Stellenbosch’s Haskell (winemaker Rianie Strydom); Franschhoek’s La Bri (winemaker Irene Waller); Greyton’s Lismore (owner and winemaker Samantha O'Keefe) and Waterkloof wine estate in Somerset West (Nadia Barnard).
 
Also at the show will be Callan Williams who will present her lauded handcrafted wine brand The Garajeest and Carla Pauw from Stellenbosch who will show both her Saltare wines and olive oils.
  
Taking place on Saturday August 19 at the Cradle hotel from 11am to 4pm, families are welcome, although only those over 18 will be sampling the wine and gins. The Cradle Explorers Club will have a guide on hand to take children for a two-hour nature walk at R80 per child, which includes a picnic. The hotel is at Kromdraai road, Cradle of Humankind.

Adults can opt to buy a picnic hamper after the tastings, or book for lunch at the hotel. Festival entrance costs R75, under 18’s go in free.

 

 

 

HARTENBERG WINE ESTATE WARMS WINTER WITH ITS SOUL FOOD

 

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Heart and tummy-warming soul food is on the winter menu at this hospitable estate, from classic farm-style soups with farm bread, to the Hartenberg hamburger with chunky fries. There's a Vintners Platter to share, Banting options, vegetarian choices, and, of course the estate fine wines to complement your meal.  Open for lunch from Mon - Sat from noon, booking advisable. Call 021 865 2541 or e-mail info@hartenbergestate.com.

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 Winter Classics at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel

 

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Winter feasting at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel’s Planet restaurant

 involves a  a menu of hearty, traditional and classic dishes. Modern mezze, antipasti and fritto misto make starters, or opt for Chef Rudi Liebenberg’s famous South African Cheese Fondue.

There's a Valrhona chocolate fondue as well, silky indulgence at R365 for two.

For mains, there's  Laingsburg lamb neck, linefish, grilled chicken breast and tortellini or mushroom risotto. The Winter Feast Special costs R325 per person. In addition, classic Beef Wellington - albeit with a twist - is back, presenting another sustaining option. 

 

For more info or to make  a reservation, please phone 021 483-1000 or e-mail: restaurantreservations.mnh@belmond.com

 

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It’s not only the Orange River winemakers that are notching up praise – and medals – for their wines, but there are now a couple of fine craft beers flowing out of Upington, that can take on any of the others being produced in various South African provinces.

Early this year Kalahari Craft Beer was launched in Upington, one of the first from that arid region. Playing on the desert theme, founder Renier Baard chose to name his creations after animals that cope particularly well with the hot dry climate: so there is a Gemsbok Lager and a Puffadder Weiss, both 440ml bottles retailing for around R23,50.

They share alcohol levels of 5% and taste great to me, but then I am no expert on beer. So I got keen beer drinkers to try them, and the result was what I expected – these are fine examples of the burgeoning craft beer industry, and you definitely don’t need to be in the Kalahari to enjoy them.

To order or to find your nearest stockist, log on to www.kalaharicraft.co.za  or contact Renier on 072 827 0009. I predict we are going to see a great deal more of these attractive bottles across the country this summer.

Here’s to the Kalahari, both the dry land and its excellent wet beer!

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Can it really be nine years ago that the Burger family celebrated the 100th anniversary of the planting of their 1908 muscadel vineyard, the oldest of its kind in the country? I do remember it was a party of note, one of those Robertson valley occasions that linger in the memory.

 

Fast forward six years and the family marked 150 years of Rietvallei being owned by the same family: Six generations of the Burger family have contributed significantly to the fine heritage that Robertson enjoys in the field of viticulture that moved, in the early days,  from fortified reds to quality white, red, rosé and bubblies over the decades.

The estate lies in the KlaasVoogds ward , about eight km east of Robertson off the R60. Vineyards of diverse cultivars flourish there, enabling cellarmaster Kobus Burger to produce a comprehensive range of wines, along with the current vintage – 2013 – of the unique renowned 1908 Red Muscadel

The popular, well-priced John B wines make up an entry-level range that has 

.just undergone a change of label – the new ones reflect the trendy retro-type of graphic art so in vogue today. The wines are noted for delivering quality at a pleasing price, with still wines selling for R46 and the pair of bubblies for R73.

 

I find this characteristic  particularly evident with the sauvignon blanc 2017, which b2ap3_thumbnail_rietvallei-Sauv-Blanc-2.jpgI enjoyed more than some at near double the price. It’s one of those well -balanced sauvignons that is neither over-acidic nor floral and flabby: winemaker Kobus Burger has crafted a fresh and flavourful wine offering some grassy and citrus flavours, followed by wafts of melon and sub-tropical flavours and backed by a hint of flint . Alcohol levels at just over 12% add to its charm

Its red 2016 counterpart, with an equally moderate 12,8 alcohol level, presents an attractive, moreish blend of 56% cab with 44% Tinta Barocca. Presenting easy-drinking pleasure around the braai or the fireplace, this screwcapped red is medium- bodied, fruity and smooth with spice from the Tinta Barocca adding interest. A great everyday red for pairing with informal meals, both indoors and out.

The John B rosé 2017 is a semi-sweet charmer, that will appeal to many who savour floral aromas and berry flavours in a crisp pale salmon wine. Produced from cinsaut, with low 12,23% alcohol levels, easy to understand its popularity, while I would like Rietvallei to come up with a gourmet cinsaut, dry and succulent, which could be a spring sensation.

The duo of sparkling wines are priced at R73 each, the Chardonnay Brut 2016 offering a light, lively, dry bubbly, with characteristic apply flavours: Carbonated class that makes a perfect brunch aperitif, solo or combined with fresh peach juice. Its pink companion, selling at the same price, is a fruity semi-sweet rosé 2016, berry-rich with a touch of Muscat to finish, that will fit the bill for many an occasion throughout the seasons.

More to come, as I look forward to trying the new estate vintages when released next month.   

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School holidays mean lots of extra traffic on the N2 as families head down to the Garden Route or move inland to Karoo destinations.  It’s also whale-watching time in the Southern Cape when locals argue about which bay is the best from which to watch the great mammals and their offspring cavort in the Indian Ocean .

Baleia means whale in Portuguese which ties in with the vineyard’s location in St Sebastian bay which is known as South Africa’s whale nursery.

Travelling winelovers should note  that there is a fairly unique tasting room, deli and restaurant on the N2 about 1`km from Riversdale as you head to Mossel Bay. There you will find the Baleia Wines cellar and La Bella restaurant and deli, and can taste the small but interesting range of wines and take home their olive oil as well.

Dassieklip  farm is sited near the hamlet of Vermaaklikheid where the Joubert family started producing wine and olive oil a few years ago. Their wine range, made by Abraham de Klerk has caught the eye and palate of many a connoisseur: the vines, rooted in  limestone soil are also conditioned by  the bracing, sometimes windswept Mediterranean climate of that coastal area,

 

The 2013 vintage of their flagship Erhard pinot noir notched up  awards, and the 2014 has nowb2ap3_thumbnail_Baleia-Erhard-Pinot-Noir-2014.jpg been released, a medium-bodied garnet-hued wine with moderate alcohol levels and rich tannins which promise longevity. There’s a herbiness along with the characteristic earthiness of the cultivar, and this could be a pinot to squirrel away for a few years and then open to increased enjoyment. It costs R180.

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THE GREAT SOUTH AFRICAN COOKBOOK, published by Quivertree Publications, Cape Town, 2016.

 

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Less than a fortnight to Mandela Day 2017, when South Africans, both individuals and teams from institutions, companies and a myriad organisations, will give up 67 minutes, or a  day, a week or more to do good in their communities and help alleviate poverty in some way.

 

 This handsome hardback was published last year, elicitng great  reviews for all those involved in its production. On  the final  page, number 372, an announcement in small print states that the Nelson Mandela Foundation  “will receive all royalties from sales... to develop and support community food and agricultural projects to aid in the upliftment of the impoverished through food sustainability and empowerment.”

 

Now, as July approaches, it’s a good time to remind potential purchasers about this generous gesture – anyone looking for a comprehensive cookbook that presents a treasury of recipes for fare found in the kitchens of our diverse communities could hardly do better than snap up  this culinary compendium. Add to that the feel- good, do -good  aspect of your purchase, and you may want to buy an extra copy for someone special in your life.

 

First, a little about the book production: As one expects from Quivertree, this is a great book to hold and admire, from its innovative and trendy  cover to Toby Murphy’s delightful photographs on the endpapers.  Plenty more wonderful images  of food and cooks throughout the book, taken in food gardens, fishing boats,on farms, in kitchens, restaurants and homes. And, almost without exception, every personality looks as cheerful as can be, which is pretty inspiring! There’s a glossary of terms used, a detailed index which precedes a second one, arranged by categories like baking , dressings, gluten- free and main courses, and a list of contributors. Several sponsors are also thanked.

 

The contributors of recipes  are, to quote the cover “...our finest cooks, chefs, bakers, farmers, foragers and local food heroes.” They also represent an intriguing mix of entrepreneurs from every corner of the land, each with their own  story and culinary specialities. Many hail from the Western Cape and Gauteng is also prominently in the picture, but after that the locations thin out to a few from KwaZulu-Natal, just two from the Free State and a few from the Eastern Cape. A lone cook from the Northern Cape shares this status with one from Limpopo province, while the North-West and Mpumalanga are not ignored. Down south the Garden Route features, but the Overberg is practically bypassed , which, given the gastronomic talent in the Elgin and Stanford areas, is surprising.

 

 The recipes cover the basic fare and classics of the major South African cultural groups, and there is a strong emphasis on greens and fresh produce, raw ingredients, and foraging, which is both trendy and health-giving.

An unexpected shortage of soups – just three – when you consider how many of us regard sustaining vegetable and meat soups, thickened with pulses, as essential survival fare. At the other end of the menu,  just one ice-cream makes the grade: admittedly a delicious recipe from brilliant chef Franck Dangereux, but again, South Africans regard ice-cream , preferably homemade, as a given during the hot months, whether inland or along our coasts.

Turning to main courses, it seems a pity that no ostrich dish is included, a meat so important to the Little Karoo farmers and townsfolk. The inspiring local and seasonal fare from the plains of Camdeboo in the Great Karoo should have a place in this book – but then, perhaps they were approached, one doesn’t know. Or maybe it was simply a case of space running out - the line had to be drawn somewhere!

 

 But with 360 pages of appetising, colourful, diverse gastronomical temptations, there is more than enough to digest and try out to keep keen cooks and bakers busy for years. This is by far the most comprehensive South African culinary title ever published, and for this reason alone, is a cookbook everybody who has an interest in food, should possess.

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When you havekingfor a surname and those who celebrate your 17th century winemaking tradition produce a patrician rosé in your name, the whole concept of provincial Provençal wines is elevated to premium status. This is emphasised by a beautiful bottle embossed with the founders initials – JR – which encloses a delectable pale coppery blend. It presents an unique Cape tribute from Franschhoek to a feisty pioneer from the village of Lourmarin in southern France.

Jean Roi Cap Provincial Rosé  2016  flows from the lovely L'Ormarins estate, where the creators of Anthonij Rupert Wyne have added this new limited edition maiden release -  a blend of 70% Cinsaut, 28%Grenache and 2% Shiraz -  to their ranges. 

 

The nose  offers delicate  wafts of blossom and and melon, preceding flavours of stone fruit and melon and a citrussy friskiness. But this is no fruit salad - on the palate is  a medium-bodied  wine, its backbone presenting quiet characteristics of the trio of components, led by the gentler cinsaut rather than either of the others.. Moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% are in keeping with current trends, although higher than some consumers are demanding. 

Honouring their  founder  is not the sole reason for its production: Good rosés are part of an increasing international trend in the USA as well as the UK as the favourite aperitif and food wines among enthusiasts, gourmets and connoisseurs. High summer there, so the right time for opening Jean Roi morning, noon and night...

Here in South Africa midwinter days that are sun-drenched, windless, with cloudless skies are frequent enough, so no need to wait until spring to open a bottle of this patrician blend to toast the weekend. Or to pair with seafood and salads,  poultry and perfumed creations from Persia, Turkey and Iran. It could also well complement a Cape Malay bobotie that includes dried fruit. You will need a corkscrew, however, something to bear in mind if taking it on a gourmet picnic.

At R300 this rosé announces its intentions to be right on top of its class, with good reason. Available from the farm, online and at select wine shops.

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With snow and freezing temperatures featuring on the weather charts, it’s time for robust reds and full-bodied fortified wines, while rare steaks will be many diners’ first choice. These names of recent winners and finalists in national competitions  could offer inspiration to both winelovers and those who eat out with relish...

 

 

TOP TEN FINALISTS IN THE WOLFTRAP STEAKHOUSE CHAMPIONSHIP

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The first round of the 2017 Wolftrap Steakhouse Championships is complete and these finalists represent those who garnered most votes from the public. The judges now take over for the final round.

 

In alphabetical order

 

  • Beef Boys Grill, Potchefstroom – North West
  • HQ, Cape Town - Western Cape  
  • Jayz Grill, Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu Natal
  • Karoo Cattle and Land - Irene, Pretoria - Gauteng
  • Little Havana, Umhlanga Rocks - KwaZulu Natal (2015 Champion)
  • Rare Grill, Kenilworth - Western Cape
  • The Cricketer, East London - Eastern Cape
  • The Godfather, Centurion, Pretoria - Gauteng
  • The Grumpy Griller, George - Southern Cape
  • The Local Grill, Parktown North, Johannesburg - Gauteng (2013, 2014 and 2016 Champion)

 

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TOP SCORERS IN THE CAPE BORDEAUX RED BLEND REPORT

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Winemag.co.za released the results of the high scorers among the 60 entries that were received from 45 producers for the 2017 competition. The following 25 rated 90 or more on the 100-point scale.

 

Just one, Thelema Rabelais 2013 achieved 94. Three collected 93 – Morgenster 2011, MR de Compostella 2014 and Tokara Director’s Reserve Red 2013. Those scored 92 were Holden manx Big G 2013, Rustenberg John X Merriman 2015, and Simonsig Tiara 2011.

 

Many made 91: Allee Bleue Cabernet sauvignon Merlot 2014, Beyerskloof Field Blend 2013,
Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve 2014, LaibachThe Ladybird 2015, Longridge Ekliptika 2014, Morgenster 2012,Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2014, Muratie Ansela van de Caab 2013, Rustenberg John X Merriman 2014, Spier Creative Block 5 2014, Zorgvliet Richelle 2015.
The following blends were scored 90 points:Allée Bleue L'AmourToujours 2013, Creation Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Petit Verdot 2015,KnorhoekPantère 2014, La Vierge Nymphomane 2015, Villiera Monro Red 2013, VriesenhofKallista 2011, and Vondeling Philosophie 2015.

 

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SHIRAZ STARS FOR 2017 ANNOUNCED

 

 

The results of the fifth Shiraz Challenge awards were announced recently at the Rhebokskloof Wine Estate in Paarl. SA Shiraz chairperson Edmund Terblanche announced that 220 wines vied for honours.“Initially we focused only on Shiraz, but soon after we invited winemakers to put forward their best blends as well... We’ve witnessed consistent growth in the blends category.”

 

The shiraz winners are:

 

Cederberg Shiraz                                                                     2015

 

D'Aria The Soprano Shiraz                                                    2015

 

Eagle's Nest Shiraz                                                                   2014

 

Fairview Beacon Shiraz                                                          2014

 

Fairview Swartland Shiraz                                                     2014

 

Flagstone Dark Horse Shiraz                                                2013

 

KWV Cathedral Cellar Shiraz                                                2015

 

La Motte Pierneef Syrah Viognier                                     2015

 

Rustenberg Buzzard Kloof Syrah                                       2015

 

Saronsberg Shiraz                                                                    2015

 

Strandveld Syrah                                                                      2013

 

Wildekrans Barrel Select Reserve Shiraz                        2015

 

While the Top Three shiraz-led blends are:

 

Bellingham The Bernard Series SMV                                2014

 

Rustenberg Stellenbosch RM Nicholson                        2015 and

 

Saronsberg Full Circle   

 

 

 

MOREISH MUSCADEL WINNERS

 

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   Muskadel SA 2017 Platinum Winners l to r Alvi van der Merwe (Alvi's Drift) Chris Venter (ORC) Tiaan Loubser (Du Toitskloof Kelder)

 

There were 23 entries in this year‘s Muskadel SA Awards contest, and the Orange River Cellars emerged  triumphant overall for the third consecutive year.

 

Orange River Cellars White Muskadel 2016 and Red Muscadel 2016 both received platinum awards, adding more medals to their stock of five platinum and two gold since 2013. Also awarded platinum were Du Toitskloof Cellar Red Muscadel 2014 and Alvi’s Drift Premium 2014.

 

Nuy winery took home gold for their Rooi muskadel 2012 as did Rooiberg for their Red Muscadel 2014.

 

Gold awards

 

Two cellars situated on the R60 between Worcester and Robertson was awarded gold; Nuy Winery for their Nuy Rooi Muskadel 2012 and Rooiberg Cellarfor their Rooiberg Red Muscadel 2014.

 

Another winner from the Northern Cape is Landzicht GWK Wines who took home gold for their Landzicht Rooi Muskadel 2016 and Boplaas from Calitzdorp scored with gold for their Boplaas Heritage Collection 2014.

 

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MASTERCHEF STREET FOOD OF THE WORLD by Genevieve Taylor. Published by Absolute Press of Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 2017.

 

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This is a hefty hardback, its front cover presenting a mélange of dishes filled with fare both exotic and everyday: skewers of fiery offal share space with strawberry-topped waffles and cream,a  fried egg tops a plate of Danish leftovers alongside all-American picnic sarmies.

The very title intrigues, and food writer Taylor has added prestige to what is pleb cuisine  by getting  MasterChef champions from France, Denmark, Australia, USA, the Far East and the UK to add their touch to the recipes. As the back cover states, millions around the globe relish street food every day, so a compendium of these  recipes from all corners of the planet amounts to a treasury for adventurous home cooks to explore.

With the current vogue of food trucks in towns and cities dishing out portable street eats, along with night markets and food festivals proliferating across the globe, this sociable cuisine is trending, and it seems unlikely that such a  relaxed informal way of eating will go out of fashion soon, if ever.

Street food is hardly new, and can be traced back to ancient Rome and medieval London, among other cities. Today’s street and market  cuisines are usually characterised by a kaleidoscope of colour, flavour, aromas and taste sensations. As the author suggests, this collection of recipes enables every cook to bring a sense of wanderlust to their home kitchens.

Chapters focus on continents, opening with The Americas, followed by Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Indian subcontinent precedes a section on Asia and Australia.  While western classics like beef burgers, fish and chips are included in the line-up, it’s the exotic items from the Middle and Far East and north Africa that first attracted me, along with those from the Caribbean and Central  and  South America.

Tasty bites from  Louisiana sandwich shops start the American ball rolling, then it’s off to the islands, with Jamaican Jerk chicken and Trini Doubles from Trinidad (chickpea curry sandwiched between naan bread). Mexico offers up chicken and sweetcorn quesadillas with guacamole, tamales with pulled pork and chilli sauce and a tempting sorbet of tequila, mango and lime to make in summer. Heading south, there’s ceviche from Peru, arepas with queso blanco and guasacaca from Venezuela, which translates into little cornmeal cakes stuffed full of homemade cheese and accompanied by  robustly flavoured avocado- based sauce . Argentinian short ribs with chimichurri sauce already appears on local braai menues, its followed here by dulce de leche icecream.

British favourites include Cornish pasties and a variation on Scotch eggs, while France whips up niçoise wraps and crepes banoffee. Flamkuchen and kartoffelpuffer from Germany are followed by an appetising-looking leftover Danish classic, called Biksemad. There are also street specials from Finland, Poland, Bosnia and the Czech republic before the masterchefs look south to Greece, settling on souvlaki pitas with tzatsiki and tiropita. Arancini with Gorgonzola,  polpette, verduri fritti and gnocco fritto make the Italian selection while the sweet offering from Spain is churros and chocolate sauce.

Delectable bites from Turkey include gozleme with spinach,feta and pinenuts, balik ekmek, midye dolma and simit, all of which translates into stuffed flatbreads, a mackerel sandwich, stuffed mussels and something similar to a bagel, topped with sesame seeds. Equally tempting snacks from Israel, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco follow, making this a chapter I would turn to often. The chefs then head south down the African continent, stopping in Ghana  ,Nigeria and Ethopia.

We have long savoured a street foods in South Africa,emanating from a variety of cultural traditions: Our country’s diversity  is represented with recipes for the Gatsby, bunny chow, masala pineapples and melktert. Mauritius also makes the cut with a dhall puri with butterbean curry.

And so, to India with Pakistan and Sri Lanka as add-ons. Expect kebabs and samosas, tikki with date and tamarind chutney, egg bhurji with parathas, kati rolls, masala dosa, chicken 65 and  cooling mango and cardamom kulfi lollies. I like the look of of Sri Lankan turmeric fried eggs with curry sauce - think it  could prove a meat-free sensation and will try it out soon...

Further east now, to sample Chinese tea eggs and char siu bao, on to Korea for mixed vegetable kimbap with gochugaru  dipping sauce, then daintier fare from Japan such as Yakitori chicken skewers and daigaku imo. Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam present a fragrant and vibrant mix of flavours while Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia serve up street fare that is familiar to most of us like satés and sambals, prawn curry laksa, and sate ayam with peanut sauce. What can we expect from Australia? I would not have guessed correctly, but its a trio that starts with fried prawns with citrus salt and sriracha  mayo, chiko rolls and steak and onion pie – perhaps they taste wonderful, but this was the only menu that disappointed on reading it. I expected something more exciting from Down Under and that included at least a couple of their indigenous ingredients or Aussie creations that combine native with input from oriental, Greek and Italian immigrants.

Many local cooks will embrace this treasury,  in search of vibrant new flavours or to recall those enjoyed in street markets in far-off lands. To mimic a former radio ad for a popular local white wine, these dishes are made for family and friends, eating, drinking, laughing and sharing occasions. I could not think of a better birthday or Christmas present for friends who like roaming the gastronomic world in their home kitchens. For one, I am thrilled to possess this gem.

 

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TRY THIS! TASTE OF TYGERVALLEY - A NORTHERN WINE FEST

 

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A first for this huge and populous centre! Don't miss out on the inaugural Taste of Tygervalley Wine Fest taking place on Friday June 30 and Saturday July  1. T.he venue is the Arena, where 21 cellars will be pouring their products, from potstilled brand and fortified wines to serious reds and full-bodied whites. Something for every palate and pocket, and most suited to the midwinter weather that we are welcoming with many a toast!

The wineries taking part are Blaauwklippen, Benguela Cover, Bonnievale, Brandvlei, Diemersfontein, Eagles'

Cliff, Edgebaston, Groenland, Hermanuspietersfontein, Imbuku, Kingna Distillery, Montpellier de Tulbagh, Montagu Wine and Spirits, Mooiplaas, Ormonde, Perdeberg, Peter Bayley, Spookfontein, Triple Three Distillery, Yonder Hill and Zorgvliet.

The Cabernet Franc Interest Group will man a special tasting stand for this trendy varietal. Wine of the Month Club and Good Taste will be present, and chocolate pairings and tastings are also on the menu.

Tickets cost R100 which includes glass, tastings, and a contribution toward a bursary for a local youngter to study toward becojing a sommelier. The festival times are from 17h00 - 21h00 on Friday and 14h00 - 19h00 on the Saturday. Tickets from www.computicket.com or at the door. Numbers of guests will be limited to avoid overcrowding. 

 For more information visit www.tygervalley.co.za

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DSTV FRANSCHHOEK BASTILLE FESTIVAL

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French flair to the fore, with berets, a red white and blue outfit, and an appetite for fine wine and gourmet bites? Then you are all ready for this years Bastille bash taking place on July 15 and 16.

As usual, it offers a mullti-sensory experience, and there is an optional package being offered this year dubbed Joie de Vivre: it comprises a number of mountain biking activies over three days, including Contre la Montre, a race against the clock in the Franschhoek mountains along with accommodation, exclusive functions and meals.

As before, the food & wine marquee will be sited at the Huguenot monument, where wines can be tasted and gourmet fare purchased. Tickets cost R280 a head, and include glass and five wine-tasting coupons. Book through www.webtickets. Visit www.franschhoekbastille.co.za for more info.

 

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FLAVOURS OF WINTER FESTIVAL AT MURATIE

 

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The beautiful historic estate of Muratie will host a celebration of Cape Port-style wines on Saturday July 29. The Melck family will welcome yhou to fireside sipping, then dining on rich flavours of warming winter fare from the Muratie Farm Kitchen. Wines on show will also be on sale at cellar door prices. Von Geusau will titillate tastebuds with their handmade chocolates.

The event runs from 10h30 to 16h00. Tickets cost R100 and include a glass. Advance booking is recommended. Email taste@muratie.co.za or call 021 865 2330.

 

 

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Whether it's a treat of a meal for Father’s Day or a supper to mark mid-winter, June is the right month to create a menu that incorporates our fabulous South African brandies, from cocktail to dessert.

Brandy imparts a special flavour when used in cooking, enhancing the final taste of any dish. The spirit can be flamed, simmered, stewed, or used to deglaze a pan in order to produce an irresistible sauce.

Don’t be bound by quantities of brandy as listed in recipes, as you may prefer less or more – but note that too much brandy will simply overpower the flavours of the food it is supposed to embellish. You want aroma and flavour of the spirit to elevate your creation to gourmet heights. The alcohol evaporates during cooking so there is no need to worry about after-effects.

South Africans are so fortunate when it comes to brandy – we really do make some of the best in the world – not that this is always appreciated. But the top judges in the northern hemisphere do – they are continually placing our brandies up there on top where they belong: the results below are two of the latest stash of awards scooped by our clever craftsmen and blenders.

Our brandies made a clean sweep at the 2017 World Drinks Awards recently, claiming gold, plus the title of World’s Best Brandy for the Oude Meester Demant. This contest takes place in London, hosted by TheDrinksReport.com with a judging panel of respected and experienced authorities from the drinks and hospitality industry. They score entries on nose, palate, finish, balance, character and quality. 

Last month our brandies wowed the judges in America’s prestigious San Francisco’s World Spirits Competition. The SFWSC awarded Oude Meester three Double Golds  for their 12- year-old, 18-year-old and Demant brandies. Van Ryn’s Distillery claimed two Double Gold medals for the Van Ryn’s 12-Year-Old Distiller’sRreserve and the Van Ryn’s 20-Year-Old Collectors Reserve respectively.This competition is among the most widely respected in the world, attracting more than 2 100 entries of spirits for evaluation by a judging panel comprising of 43 international experts.

Now to a celebratory meal: I have started the dinner with my own version of  brandied mushroom soup – if this doesn’t appeal, think about a delicious chicken liver terrine flavoured with fresh orange and brandy or a brinjal paté, baked and mashed with cottage cheese, brandy, yoghurt and fresh herbs for a trendy vegetarian first course.

For the main course I settled for a quickly prepared lamb chop recipe, Banting-friendly, a change from casseroles, curries, potjies and the like, which can be teamed with seasonal veggies or  salads.  It comes from a well-used book entitled California Brandy Cuisine written some years ago to mark 200 of Californian brandy production.

And then a trad Cape finale, given a twist, which you can find in Bertus Basson’s enjoyable cookbook Homegrown, published by Jacana Media and released earlier this year.

BRANDIED MUSHROOM SOUP

I have deliberately left off quantities, but have mentioned approximate ones in the method. They can be increased or decreased according to the cook’s taste.

Butter or  butter and olive oil

IX 350g punnet portabellini mushrooms, wiped and sliced, reserving a few left whole

1X350g  punnet white mushrooms, wiped and sliced

I large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, sliced

Fresh herbs tied together – eg thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, oregano, lovage

Chicken or vegetable stock

Milk

Cream

Salt and white pepper

Creamed horseradish

Fresh lemon juice

Brandy

Cornflour

Heat a generous quantity of butter or a mixture of butter and oil, and sauté the onion over medium heat until softened. Add garlic, stirring, then increase heat and toss mushrooms in the pan until their juices run, stirring frequently. Add the herb bunch, then about 2 cups of stock, bring to a simmer. After a few minutes add milk to taste – up to 2 cups if you want a cream of mushroom soup, less if not. Stir and simmer for about 10 minutes, then take off the heat and stir in cream – quantity depends on how rich you want the soup to be. Stir, then season with the salt, pepper, horseradish and lemon juice to taste. (The horseradish can be omitted, but I love the combination of this herb with mushrooms, they seem synergetic). Add more stock if you want increased quantities or a thinner soup. Finally mix brandy ( I use about 40ml or 3 scant tablespoons) into a spoonful of cornflour until well mixed, add to soup, bring back to a simmer, stir and remove from heat. Remove herbs. Cool, then using a hand held mixer, puree a soup a little, but still leaving it partly chunky.  Chill until serving time. Reheat and serve, topping each serving with a spoonful of grated raw portabellini mushrooms that you have tossed in a little lemon juice.  Serves 4 or more as a first course.

BRANDIED LAMB CHOPS

4 or more thick beautiful free-range lamb chops

Butter – about 4T

Finely chopped mild onion, red if possible – about 4T

Finely chopped Italian parsley – about 2T

Worcestershire sauce, about 2T

Salt and ground black pepper

Brandy, up to half a cup

Heat half the butter and sauté the chops over high heat for 2 minutes on each side. Remove chops from pan. Add the onion and cook gently until soft and golden. Return chops to pan, add the remaining butter,  parsley, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning to taste. Cook about one minute more, then heat the brandy, ignite and pour over chops and sauce. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

BERTUS BASSON’S CREPE SUZIE

Bertus describes this recipe as a kind of gentrification “of a church bazaar pannekoek by introducing it to some alcohol and a chafing dish.”

Pancakes:

375ml flour

Pinch of salt

Half tsp baking powder

250ml milk

125ml buttermilk

125ml water

2 eggs

30ml vegetable oil

Sauce:

3T sugar

2T butter

2 oranges, zest grated and juiced

2 oranges, segmented

2 naartjies, segmented

 2 lemons, zest grated and juiced

45ml good brandy

100ml van der Hum liqueur

Sift all dry ingredients together into a bowl and whisk the milk, buttermilk, water, eggs and oil together in another bowl. Slowly pour the liquid mix into the dry ingredients, whisking continuously to form a smooth batter. Rest the batter for at least an hour, preferably overnight, in the fridge.

Rub a good quality 24cm non-stick pan with a drop of vegetable oil. Heat to moderate heat and add about 80ml of batter. Roll the pan around to spread batter evenly. Cook until lightly browned on one side, flip over and lightly brown the other side. Fold into quarters, allocating two pancakes per person. Repeat process until batter is used up.

For sauce, heat a large pan, big enough to fit 8 folded pancakes. Sprinkle the sugar onto the dry pan and let it caramelise lightly. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the orange and lemon juices and stir vigorously to form a syrup. Place the folded pancakes into the pan and coat with syrup. Add the orange and lemon zests Warm the brandy and van der Hum and ignite. Tilt the pan toward the flame  and add the flaming spirits to the pan. When flame dies, add the orange segments to the pan. Serve immediately with vanilla icecream. Serves 4.

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Italians always manage to add romance to whatever they do, and that includes winemaking. Attilio and Michela Dalpiaz of Ayama in the Voor-Paardeberg are no exceptions, having injected great appeal into their historic farm and fine wines that they produce on the lower slopes of the Paardeberg, itself a mountain that inspires beguiling stories.

Now they have added a South African first with the release of their maiden Vermentino, a limited edition of 1 500 litres, set to be sold by auction that will benefit a local farm school..

Vermentino is a wine with a long history, originally a Spanish cultlivar that made its way to Italy early last century where it was adopted with enthusiasm and much success, both on the mainland and on Sardinia  - where it was elevated to DOCG status in 1997 It produces a medium to full-bodied wine,  that sometimes offers flavours one would expect in a rosé.

It took the couple six years to import their Vermentino vines, get quarantine approval, and finally plant one hectare in 2014. The patterns on the label were inspired by those made by the must during fermentation, the result, Michela claims, of the classical music that serenaded the wine in the cellar at this state.

 

To mark the release of this special wine, a single vintage auction, both local and online, will take place on Youth Day, June 16 at the Roodebloem studios in Woodstock. The venue, a decommissioned historic church reminds one of many similar sites in Italy where beautiful churches also fulfil other roles – such as the world launch of Slow Food a couple of decades ago...

 

Perdjie school consists of a creche and after-school project started by Ayama and neighbouring farm Scali in the Voor-Paardeberg a few years ago. Close to 40 youngsters, children of farm workers, are cared for daily. Transport is difficult, and it is hoped to raise money to buy a school bus.

Ayama will donate all profits from proceeds of the Vermentino auction to this worthy cause, an apposite one for a Youth Day event.

See http://ayama.co.za/perdjie-school/ for more info.

 

There are just 40 seats reserved for members of the public who would like to attend this event. They cost R300, but readers who contact Ayama directly, identifying themselves as readers of this blog, can claim R100 discount, paying just R200 for their ticket. Either send an e-mail to info@slentfarms.com or call 021 869 8313.

 

 

 

 After the bidding closes guests will be served drinks and canapés . Seats can also be booked  through www.wine.co.za.

 

A new Mediterranean varietal to add to others being introduced to Cape vineyards is always a welcome achievement, and one presumes that Vermentino will be water-wise as well to suit our declining water reserves. Those who wish to bid online need to access the website http://ayamavermentino.com/.

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HERMANUS FYNARTS WINE PLUS:

 

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The wine focus at this year’s FynArts festival revolves around personalities in the wine world, from cellarmasters to critics, viticulturist to vinous  story-tellers. There are also two late-afternoon discussions and the hugely popular tasting of the Wine Critics’ Choice.

Hosted again by Melvyn Minnaar, the 2017 theme of 'personality' suggests someone out of the ordinary, outstanding, possibly unusual. He has asked  six personalities to select wines of “personality” which should prove an interesting collection. Starting on June 10 the wine sessions take place daily for four days at 12 noon and 15h00 , with two demo-talks at 17h00. Tickets can be bought individually or in sets. Pieter Ferreira starts the fun with his talk on bubblies, and he continues into the late afternoon session. Duimpie Bayly will recall great moments  and legends about local wine, along with pouring some vintage labels. Jan Boland Coetzee of Vriesenhof will focus on soil and climate, and Rosa Kruger will talk about wine heritage and pour some great examples.

Monday June 12 sees Ntsiki Biyela recall career experience and pour wines that influenced her. Ex-Nederbutg cellarmaster Razvan Macici will take the hot seat in the 15h00 slot.

On Tuesday June 13 Christian Eedes, well-known wine judge and editor will offer a discussion on the controversial manner of ratings, and illustrate his points with some vinous examples.

At 15h00 on June 13 eight wine critics will nominate a favourite wine and give their reasons while the audience  sample their choice.  This year’s critics are Michael Fridjhon, Myrna Robins, Samarie Smith, Tim James, Winnie Bowman, Gregory Mutambe, Christine Rudman and Higgo Jacobs.

Guests stand a chance of winning a set of the Wine Critics' Choice wines by buying a raffle ticket in aid of Hermanus FynArts Development Fund.

To book, visit www.webtickets.co.za or www.hermanusfynarts.co.za. For further info, call 060957 5371 or 028 3122629.

 

The Fine Art of Hermanus FynArts 2017

 

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Hermanus today is a busy, thriving town yet maintains its attraction for artists of all kinds, inspiring talent as it has done for many decades. Along with many art galleries and exhibitions at some of the Hemel-en-Aarde wine estates, there is the annual midwinter Hermanus FynArts festival, the 5th such event this year.

Taking place from June 9 – 18, it features the work of an invited artist, as well as shows at the art galleries.  Lectures and talks, debates and discussions are part of the programme.

Music and food complement the cultural angle and then there is, of course, wine.

Mary Faure, founding festival director, talks about “celebrating the creativity of people”.

The annual Sculpture-on-the-Cliffs at Gearing’s Point near the Old Harbour, for which sculptors and artists are invited to make public art, is a very popular project and the works stay  in place for months after the festival.

This year the curator is the well-known artist/writer Lien Botha. Her theme is EchoLocation, which set a specific challenge to participating artists such as Bronwen Clacherty, Hannelie Coetzee, Hasan and Husain Essop,  Ledelle Moe, Right Mukore,  Jaco Sieberhagen, Brahm van Zyl and Emma Willemse.

The festival artist is pioneer-painter/sculptor Willie Bester. Curated by Michael Godby, the exhibition will be a mini retrospective.

 

 

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