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After a surfeit of gourmet, gimmicks, leaves and ferments, Myrna Robins is ready for simple, rustic, flavour-packed classics. Turn to bistros, she suggests, to find time-honoured  Gallic  creations, made with love, prepared with  care and offered at palate-pleasing prices.

 


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It’s that time of the year when the best of everything is awarded medals and certificates and, of course, gets welcome publicity. The recent Eat Out awards saw Western Cape restaurants take nine out of the Top Ten places, with a single Gauteng venue taking fifth place. While culinary practices of pickling, smoking, foraging and fermenting continue to be prominent on menus, the Eat Out website suggests that the hottest current trend is that of vegetarian “charcuterie”,  illustrated by colourful pictures of artfully arranged forests of leaves, strewn with edible flowers , funghi  and baby veggies.

While it’s exciting to explore the world of gourmet innovation, few can afford to dine at these exalted venues regularly. The appeal of popular alternatives – burger and pizza joints and Asian noodle bars – can also pall. Time, perhaps,  to consider finding a neighbourhood  bistro, preferably one that offers traditional French  dishes.  If the quality of ingredients and the care taken in combining them are regarded as the yardsticks by which to judge the fare, you probably have a winner. Of less importance is the plating, likely to be straightforward with nary  a wisp of foam, puddle of essence or scattering of crumbs in sight.

French bistro food celebrates generous, full-flavoured cooking, family  fare that includes robust soups, rustic salads, wine-scented stews and casseroles, bubbling gratins and granny’s desserts.  It adds up to inexpensive soul food from small eateries all over France, where pride and tradition ensure maintenance of quality: even truck drivers would not continue to frequent bistros where popular  items like sausage and potato salad, coq au vin, salade niçoise and  lemon tart were not consistently good.  Summer may see pan bagnat or pissaladière on the menu or mussels steamed in white wine, while winter warmth comes as  pot au feu  and chicken with tarragon vinegar. Creations are  usually well-balanced, combining  chicken roasted in chicken fat or butter with fresh watercress to foil the richness and  leg of lamb roasted above a gratin of potato, onion and tomato, the latter flavoured by the meat juices which drip into it.

b2ap3_thumbnail_BISTRO-Christophe.JPGWhere to find these sources of Gallic goodness? Meet one of our most popular of French chefs, known to hundreds of Cape diners: Christophe Dehosse  has lived in  South Africa for some 25 years, where he has delighted  locals and visitors with both gourmet cuisine and now bistro fare in two venues.

Paris-trained, Christophe was working in a well-known restaurant in Cognac country when he met Susan Myburgh, who grew up at the historic Joostenberg farm, near  Klapmuts. The couple relocated  to South Africa where they opened the popular La Maison de Chamonix restaurant on the Franschhoek wine estate in 1992, then  moved to the city and started the Au Jardin restaurant at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands  two years later. Regulars were devastated when they left the suburbs to join the Myburgh family enterprises:  a farm stall and nursery at Klein Joostenberg soon blossomed into a deli and bistro, while a pork butchery, cut flowers, and a winery on the old farm occupy  other family members.

Today the deli and bistro are well established, the wines attract awards and Christophe leaves the kitchen to head chef Garth Bedford, who started as a trainee way back at Au Jardin.  A  peek at the a la carte menu reveals a delectable choice of bistro classics: starters include homemade charcuterie with terrine, rillette, cured pork and ham with a mini-bobotie quiche for local flavour. Mains offer that famous toasted sandwich Croque Monsieur, English-style pork sausage with apple sauce and mashed potato, and braised beef and mushroom ragout in red wine on homemade pasta.  Families that reserve tables for Sunday lunch can expect trays of starters to include items like brawn and pickles, hummus, a vegetarian roulade and salads with homebaked breads.  Their choice of main course could vary from tuna steak with ratatouille and sauce vierge to slow-cooked Karoo lamb or roast shoulder of pork.  The final course is a mélange of local cheeses,  classic floating islands, fresh strawberries and a blueberry cheesecake. This feast costs R205, while children can enjoy two courses for R85. The value is obvious and the culinary standards consistently high, and advance bookings are required.

When I heard that chef patron Dehosse was to open a bistro on the sophisticated Glenelly wine estate outside Stellenbosch, I wondered if the downhome bistro principles could be maintained: a recent lunch there has proved that indeed they can. He continues to be inspired by traditional French fare, sourcing ingredients from local organic growers, adding a soupcon of African  flavours to the mix. A starter of tuna tartare preceded silverfish or beef fillet in red wine sauce  and chocolate fondant with poached pear and yoghurt Chantilly completed the meal. Prices are higher here than at Joostenberg, but, says Christophe firmly, Glenelly is still a bistro where no jacket is required.

It ‘s a measure of his talent that Glenelly’s owner, 91-year-young Madame May de Lencquesaing chose a chef who specializes in rustic  fare to complement her ranges of distinctive estate wines, which offer Old World elegance and New World fruit in appealing combinations. Visitors can choose to dine at long wooden tables on the terrace, or inside where antique chairs and classic Parisian tables offer views of  verdant hills of manicured vineyards. 

 

This article first appeared in the Life section of the Cape Argus on Tuesday November 29.

 

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This inviting, unpretentious Durbanville estate scores on so many levels. That it has managed to fend off suburban creep (which had already reached its boundaries decades ago) is something to celebrate. That the clever Parkers have managed to maintain the original cellar, the ringmuur and slave bell, the ambience of a bygone era are equally important. (the farm was granted by Simon van der Stel in 1698 and named Tygerberg)

And the fact that, along with the lesser-known cultivars that the cellar has been producing (barbera, gewürztraminer) and sauvignon blanc, the winemaking trio have now added a cab to their ranges, rounding out the choices nicely.

To start with the cabernet sauvignon 2015, this is a pleasing example of modern cab-making, easy on the palate, yet with plenty of body, and a delicious freshness. Described as full-bodied, but I found it less so than many others, making it suitable for summer drinking, and as a good partner for fare other than red meat – a mushroom burger for example.

Juicy tannins, a smooth finish, and plenty of lightly spiced berry flavours add up to a well-balanced whole. The grapes came from 17-year-old bush vines, and the wine was aged in French oak for 10 months.

Priced at between R75 and R79 it’s even more appealing to stock up with a case or two as its sure to improve over the next year or two.

The 2016 vintage of sauvignon blanc was a wine I enjoyed very much – firstly because it is not searingly zesty, so no antacid tablets were required. I also loved the wide spectrum of aromas that greeted my nose whenever I unscrewed the cap – some verdant, a little green fig, and far more granadilla and other tropical fruit . These also showed on the palate, but occasional wafts of that distinctive Durbanville verdancy.

This multi-layered wine is sourced from berries from seven separate blocks of dry-land vineyards, ranging in age from 24 down to 10 years old.

This is a most companionable sauvignon, good for an aperitif or partner to summer salads, seafood and poultry. As one of the first Durbanville farms to present their award-wining sauvignon blanc in 1988 – now the region’s rallying cry – Altydgedacht’s version is an essential label on visitor itineraries. And well-priced at around R75.

 

Although gewürztraminer has grown in popularity – thanks perhaps because of its affinity with Thai and other South-east Asian cuisine – but its still fairly uncommon, and the Atltydgedacht gewurz is even more unusual as its made in the style of its European home, Alsace, that is dry rather than the off-dry vintages of other Cape cousins.

This 2015 vintage, produced from bush vines with an average age of 15 years, has just collected gold from the 2016 Michelangelo Awards.  Floral and spice on the nose, and the characteristic combo of rose petals and lychees, is followed by more of the same on the palate, balanced with a crispness and mineral hint that add to its charm. Some will find it an elegant aperitif that offers something more than conventional summer whites, others will pair it with spicy fare with great satisfaction. Expect to pay about R95.

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps it’s only when you have taken part in an organic certification audit that you begin to realise the lengths wine farmers and producers need to go to to obtain that international certification.

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to sit in on such an audit, and one that had particular significance for both the farmer – Patricia Werdmuller von Elgg – and one of the auditors! But let me set the scene…

If you wish to label your wines as organic, you need to have your farm and cellar certified by one of the international certification organizations. One of these is SGS, an enormous global group which certifies many manufactured as well as natural products. Because of the limited number of serious organic farmers in South Africa, SGS recently appointed a German company specialising in certifying organic agriculture to conduct the final audit and issue the certificates.

Hout Baai farm is a beautiful boutique wine farm just outside McGregor, in a high valley that looks onto the Sonderend mountains which surround it. From the owner’s terrace sweeping views over vines take the eye toward Die Galg – the saddle at the end of the “road to nowhere” - which is really a high meeting place for hikers and travellers who revel in the protea-rich fynbos which cloaks the terrain.

The picture-perfect farm has been certified as fully organic since 2005. This year Hout Baai was chosen by the certification team as an example of just how an organic farm should look and operate with a place for everything and everything in its place. The audit was particularly important as not only was the resident SGS auditor conducting the checking, but the LACON international auditor was present, overseeing the process, and both were under the eagle eye of DAkkS, the German accreditation body for that country’s Federal Republic.

The inspection date for this three-tier audit was set for mid-July, but the three arrived in Mcregor a day ahead of schedule. They settled into the office where the local representative of the certification body started her work with a long list of questions, which needed not only oral answers but proof by way of reams of paperwork. Pat Werdmuller possesses more files than I have ever seen on a farm, where delivery notes, invoices, statements, receipts and printouts provide years of proof of transactions with approved service and material providers. These were hauled out on demand, as they worked their way through how water is tested, how pipes are cleaned, what fertilizers are used. Records of purchase of guano, seaweed and donkey manure were checked then questions turned to frequency of their application and in what concentrate?

Moving to harvest time, when grape picking machines were hired, questions were asked about the possibility of their bringing in unwanted residue of non-organic matter. They are delivered the day before, replied farm manager Del Jones, “so our guys can scrub and wash them down, ready for harvesting which started at 3.30am."

If there is any doubt about dates, the diary is consulted – this set of annual volumes, dating back to when the farm started operations – is filled with daily entries of chores completed, indoors and out, accompanied by photographs as way of proof.

The second half of the audit took the form of a tour of the farm, as the visitors were shown firebreaks, and buffer trees along boundaries (to limit the chance of non-organic sprays drifting over from neighbouring farms). The approved korog, a wheat-like grass planted between the vine rows to provide a nutrient-rich mulch was starting to show green and pruning of the sauvignon blanc vines was under way , each row numbered (and named after an animal or bird that frequents the farm). Del showed the inspectors the sizeable hole dug by a friendly anteater which had these Germans looking a little bewildered. She also pointed out the camera traps which record the visits of caracals, jackals, hares and antelope, as this farm is as much of a nature reserve as it is a wine grape farm.

The compost plant and the worm farm were duly inspected, and then the stores and workshop revealed just how diligently tools are looked after and kept in their place. The farm labourers’ wendy house – cosily furnished with places for both wet and dry weather uniforms and footwear and sporting refreshment facilities – was duly admired and also noted were the required warning signs and notices detailing safety and health information both inside and outside buildings and machinery.

It came as no surprise to any of us that Hout baai farm passed inspection with flying colours and was thanked by SGS for their faultless presentation and co-operation.

Since that day I have been thinking about the number of organic wine and grape producers listed in the latest edition of the SA wine industry directory, which I received recently. In this useful compendium, published annually by WineLand media, a total of 38 organic growers and cellars are listed. According to one Western Cape producer, who shall be nameless at this stage, only three of these are certified organic. While I have not trawled through those 38 to see if they have included details of international certification in their Platter entries (if, indeed, they are all listed in Platter), it does bring up the vexed question of some producers labelling their wines as “organic” without having been certified.

“We’re all organic these days!” was a cheerful comment from one (non-organic) farmer and winemaker. Many would beg to differ.    

Those who are spending inordinate amounts of time and money to transform their farms and cellars to comply with the exacting demands of global organic auditors do so, of course, of their own free will. But it’s unsurprising they also grit their teeth in frustration at the lack of monitoring and control over those who are benefitting from the green and environmentally-conscious consumer through fraudulent labelling.

Even if farms grow grapes and produce wine organically, only those certified by an internationally accredited body – accompanied by a seal of this organisation – are entitled to label their wines as organic. However, some producers who follow organic principles in every respect choose not to be certified, because of the expensive, labour- intensive, regular, obstructive and lengthy inspections.                                                  

And to further muddy the waters, SA producers are allowed, I am told, to state on bottle labels that their wine was produced from organically grown grapes. And, what about the cellars who produce a range of organic wines alongside non-organic …

At which stage, it seems high time for a glass or two of enjoyable wine, made from organically grown and certified grapes in an organically certified cellar. Make mine a Solara sauvignon blanc. Cheers!

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A varied lineup of events as winter gives way to a green and glorious spring!

 

Benguela on Main restaurant is offering a five-course Christmas dinner on Saturday July 30 . Chef Jean Delport is including treats like smoked breast of goose on his menu, which costs R540 a head. Pair your meal with Benguela Cove wines, and Somerset West residents can enjoy a complimentary drive service to and from the restaurant. For more information or to make a reservation to avoid disappointment, visit the website, call 087 357 0637 or email onmain@benguelacove.co.za

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 Steenberg’s Cool Runnings charity trail run takes place through the Constantia vineyards on Saturday August 6. Choose from a 5 or 10km loop. All proceeds to the Mdzananda Vet Clinic in Khayelitsha, a community project that provides quality care for ill and abandoned animals. Finish with a glass of Steenberg sparkling sauvignon blanc and follow with a free wine tasting if you wish. A Mdzananda Vet Donation Box will be available prior to the race where leashes, blankets, dog or cat food and other pet items can be dropped into.The entry fee is R130 per trail runner, R50 per teen between the ages of 12-17, while children under 12 have free entry. Registration opens at 7am outside the Bistro1682 Restaurant. Walkers are welcomed. The briefing takes place 15-minutes ahead of the race at 8am. Pre-booking is essential and can be done online at www.quicket.co.za.

 

Bottelary Hills Wine Route ‘Pop Up’ Lunch

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Savour a slow-cooked Sunday pork lunch with chef Bertus Basson on August 14 at Groenland estate when he will present a three-course lunch that smokes, sears and sizzles. The fires will be lit and guests can enjoy Bottelary Hills wine ahead of their meal. Lunch costs R350 a head, including a wine tasting and glass of wine per course. Book through www.wineroute.co.za or Tel: (021) 886 8275 or marketing@wineroute.co.za

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Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase of rare, individual wines

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This popular annual event takes place in Cape Town on Thursday, 18 August at the CTICC from 6pm and in Johannesburg on Wed August 24 at the Atrium, Nedbank Sandton at 6pm. Tickets cost R250 which includes a tasting glass.

Wine enthusiasts cantaste these unique collectors’ wines crafted exclusively in small volumes for the 2016 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction by the Guild’s 47 members.Members of the Guild will also be presenting some of their acclaimed offerings sold under their own labels. Guests can also bid on rare signed bottles from previous Guild auctions during the Silent Auction. Founded in 1999, the Development Trust seeks to transform the wine industry by educating, training and empowering young talent through initiatives such as the Protégé Programme, a highly acclaimed mentorship scheme for upcoming winemakers and viticulturists.Tickets can be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za

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“WE LOVE WINE” FEST RETURNS TO CAPEGATE 

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If Calling northern suburbs winelovers! Just ahead of spring, head to Capegate Shopping Centre for a great weekend wine fest, taking place from 5 - 9pm on Friday August 26 and from 12 noon to 6pm on Saturday 27th.

 

 

Festival visitors can taste and buy more than 100 wines directly from the wineries, which include large producers with well-known brands and smaller boutique and family-owned wineries, giving a taste of the best of South Africa’s winelands in one venue.

 

The Cape Wine Academy is presenting a wine theatre (Three sessions on Friday and four sessions on Saturday) with fun tastings and pairings on the programme at set times.

 

Participating wineries include: Alexanderfontein/Ormonde, Arendskloof/Eagle’s Cliff, Beyerskloof Wines, Biocape Wines, Bonnievale Cellar, Diemersfontein Wines, Dieu Donnè Vineyards, Deux Frères Wines, Du Toitskloof Wines, Edgebaston, Eerstehoop Wines, Fledge & Co, Groenland, Imbuko Wines, La Couronne Wine Estate, MWS, Orange River Cellars, Overhex Wines International, Perdeberg Winery, Peter Bayly Wines, Stellenbosch Hills, Villiera Wines, Villiersdorp Cellar, Yonder Hill Wines.

 

The Pebbles Project, which looks after disadvantaged children, especially those impacted by alcohol, is the charity beneficiary of the festival and will be present to spread their message and raise funds and awareness.

 

Tickets from the door or through www.quicket.co.za  cost R70 pp (Includes a branded tasting glass) Bookings for the CWA theatre sessions can be made at the ticket office.

 

For up to date information, visit www.capegatecentre.co.za

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Bot River hosts blooming nice Spring Weekend

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Enjoy a relaxed weekend in the Overberg from September 2 – 4 during the annual fest hosted by the winemaking community. The region features 11 wine farms, each of which will offer attractions ranging from farm fare, olive oils, fine wines and local talent. Attractions include sausage-making course at Luddite, oysters and bubbles from Genevieve MCC, fynbos hikes at Paardenkloof, lunch at Wildekrans and at Gabrielskloof. Plenty to amuse the small fry as well. Farms will be open from 10am to 4pm. Tickets (weekend pass) cost R100 and obtainable from www.quicket.co.za .For more information on the Bot River Spring Weekend 2016 contact Melissa Nelsen at Cell: 083 302 6562 or email Melissa@genevievemcc.co.za.

 

MIKI CIMAN OF LA MASSERIA INTRODUCES SMALLER CHEESE MAKERS

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Be it gorgonzola, pecorino, fontina, mozzarella, provolone, brie, chèvre, blue or cheddar, the Say Cheese! Artisan Cheese Fair will celebrate all things cheese on 24 and 25 September 2016 at the Italian Club, Milnerton. THE event will bring together artisan cheesemakers, cheese lovers, bakers, brewers and visitors. Says Ciman, “The Fair will allow guests to appreciate every step of the farm-to-table process of cheese making, while highlighting the extraordinary local talent we have in this field. Chefs will take part and wine will be on sale. Tickets will be on sale at the door, at R80 for adults and R30 for children from 11 – 18. Children under 10 go in free.For further information, please email Kiki at saycheesefair@gmail.com or phone Elize Nel on 072 795 4214.

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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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Victorian wine cellar at Mont Rochelle

 

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Great to see winemaker Dustin Osborne back in the mountainside cellar of Mont Rochelle. Pretty sure I recognised one or two of the staff at the Country Kitchen as well; if they were there seven years ago, then I am probably right in thinking I met them when gathering information on this unique farm for my Franschhoek Food cookbook.

Champagne was its first name, given to this picturesque stretch by Abraham de Villiers in 1694. It changed to an equally positive Goedehoop more than a century later, finally was christened Mont Rochelle by a 20th century descendant, Graham de Villiers when he acquired it. Earlier this century then owners of hotel and vineyards, Erwin Schnitzler and Miko Rwayitare merged the two to create Mont Rochelle hotel and Mountain vineyards, and newly appointed winemaker Dustin Osborne started producing some memorable reds, one of which is the farm’s flagship red blend today.

Although Franschhoek is a sophisticated village growing increasingly used to foreigners buying bits and pieces, the acquisition of the estate by Virgin Limited Edition collection, and Richard Branson in particular, caused a buzz, which died down while renovations were undertaken at the hotel and gourmet restaurant, and at the rustic Country Kitchen and picturesque cellar.

The latter two venues have not changed much – the 150 year-old-cellar, a former fruit packshed, is as appealing as ever, although Dustin is happier with new flooring and updated machinery. The restaurant, open to terrace and lawns lining a big dam, is still relaxed, serving deli-type fare inside and out, along with picnics.

During a recent visit, a handful of wine writers started their tasting in the cellar, with a charming sauvignon blanc 2015, grapes from the farm’s 22 -year-old vineyards, the fresh wine with subtle fruit lent complexity by 10% semillon and 2and half % viognier. Well-balanced and a great buy at R85.

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Osborne has long been a champion chardonnay maker, and his latest, Mont Rochelle’s 2015 chardonnay is as good as any I remember. It’s elegant, fresh, with tangible minerality, full-bodied, with a long finish. Limited edition from vines planted in ’94, just over half barrel-matured, this is equally delicious as an aperitif or complementing voguish salads and well-bred poultry. We paired

[Caption: Dustin Osborne, Enrico Jacobs and Jenny Prinsloo in picnic mode] Photograph: Shantelle Visser

it with an inspired cauliflower and vanilla risotto – memorable. The wine is also reasonably priced at R100 from farm.

More good news is the launch of an easy-drinking red, Little Rock Rouge 2014, a cab-based blend with merlot and splashes of mourvèdre and petit verdot adding aroma and flavour to a vibrant, enjoyable wine with smooth tannins. Along with its 2015 white counterpart, not yet released, these cost R72 each.

During Dustin’s first stint at the farm he created a fine syrah-based blend named Miko in honour of former owner the late Miko Rwayitare. This flaghip 2009 vintage wine, intense, complex, and well-balanced with dark fruit, spice and savoury undertones, is showing well and is an impressive introduction to the potential of the farm’s terroir.

Our little group had moved through cellar to lawns to tasting cellar to terrace, where we teamed this vinous star with tender venison on sweet potato. Dustin then produced a number of aged cabs which had been discovered under a floor in the adjoining manor house during renovations and an informal vertical tasting commenced, starting off with the ’96 vintage… A few of these may be added to the cellar stock for those seeking museum class reds.

 

We did not see the hotel or more formal Miko restaurant during our visit but heard that the hotel is just about full until Easter, with bookings for weddings increasing nicely. What impressed me at the winery and Country Kitchen was the informality, the friendly yet efficient service, and an atmosphere that is far from stiff or grand. One gets the impression that Branson, having appointed good staff, is content to leave his estate in capable hands. Global visitors can now move from his private game reserve, Ulusaba, in the north of South Africa to our incomparable winelands, for a holiday that can compete with the best on the planet.

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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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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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Launches and celebrations at the venerable Rietvallei estate outside Robertson are always specials events, memorable for Burger hospitality at one of the valley’s most historic estates. Close family loyalties combine with a fine winemaking tradition going back six generations to 1864 and the results can be as fascinating as proven by this multi-faceted sauvignon blanc.

For many years sauvignon blanc has formed the core of the estate’s wine production, and this barrel-fermented star is the first single cultivar wine in the Esteanna range which was launched in 2009. Previous white vintages saw unwooded sauvignon blanc blended with barrel-fermented chardonnay, chenin blanc and even viognier, with the 2017 blend garnering Veritas Gold at the 2018 contest.

 

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CEO and winemaker Kobus Burger realised the potential of the 2018 harvest early and decided to add a new and wooded sauvignon blanc to the farm’s four ranges of this popular varietal. He used juice from vineyards occupying various unique locations on the estate, including alluvial soils on the Breede river banks and red calcareous soil on the south-east-facing slopes. After harvesting, free-run juice was selected and settled for three weeks before being racked and transferred to steel tanks. The must was then moved to second-fill French oak and fermented dry. After nine months and after regular batonage, the wine was stabilised , fined and bottled without filtration.

This is a big wine, presenting an array of aromas ranging from passionfruit to citrus, green fig and little green pepper. These are followed by a complexity of flavours, lent crispness from acidity and agreeable backbone from the oak. A touch of cream adds to the nice balance of a serious sauvignon, which can pair more than seafood with panache – think of classic French poultry dishes, especially rich versions like chicken with morels and cream from the Jura region.

The alcohol levels are held at just over 14% and the retail price is around R185.

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TASTING PLEASURES IN THE SPOTLIGHT AT HERMANUS FYNARTS WINE PLUS 2019

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The sixth Wine Plus programme – now a firm favourite of the dynamic Hermanus FynArts festival – takes a few new turns this year. Although each of the seven presentations is a well-worth stand-alone, the complete series is designed to fulfil  the theme of offering instruction on enhancing the pleasure inherent in tasting a range of fine wines.

 

This year Wine Plus has a new home and date slot, the latter scheduled for Thursday to Sunday, June 13-15 taking place at The Wine Glass in Hermanus, a venue well geared to provide sustenance from their popular menu.

 

Exploring the theme - the tasting pleasures of  fine  wine – will offer those less familiar with the how and what with an introduction and guide to tasting today.

 The programme will  offer ‘snapshots’ of three of today’s newsworthy regions and three varietal wines that define our unique winelands. 

Wine Plus is curated for its sixth iteration by Melvyn Minnaar, who was honoured last year by Veritas for his contribution to SA wine. Presenters comprise some of the movers and shakers in contemporary local world of wine.

To start the series,  Master of Wine, Cathy van Zyl will share her passion, labelled “Discovering the Pleasure” on Thursday, 13th. Her choice of eight wines include both the reinvented classics and the thrill of the new.

Later that afternoon Bevan Newton Johnson of the well-known wine family will join Cathy van Zyl to present their selection of the super stars in A Snapshot of Hemel-en-Aarde. Once again expect the unusual and the well-known.

 

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Friday, 14th, sees A Snapshot of Constantia with  Boela Gerber, celebrated winemaker at Groot Constantia, and his regional colleagues Danna de Jongh of Constantia Uitsig and Brad Paton of Buitenverwachting together with  eight super wines.

 

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For A Snapshot of the Swartland, the international-acclaimed winemaking team Chris and Andrea Mullineux have selected wines from the likes of David & Nadia, JC Wickens, The Sadie Family, AA Badenhorst and their own.

Saturday, 15th, the tasting-talks focus on two of South Africa’s standout individual varietals.

Celebrating, as it turns out, International Chenin Blanc Day, A Snapshot of Chenin Blanc brings Alastair Rimmer, cellarmaster at Kleine Zalze, to the morning session. Supported by the SA Chenin Blanc Association, expect showstoppers.

 

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The latter too will feature  Mr Pinotage himself, Beyers Truter who presents A Snapshot of Pinotage in the afternoon session. Supported by the SA Pinotage Association, he will show regional styles and ageability.

Wine Plus concludes on a fitting sparkling note on Sunday morning, June 16 with the now traditional bubbly presentation. MCC master Pieter Ferreira is joined for A Snapshot of Méthode Cap Classique by Paul Gerber of Colmant to showcase the latest of the best. Supported by the Cap Classique Producers’ Association.

Bookings via www.webtickets.co.za or www.hermanusfynarts.co.za

More Information, call  0609575371 or 0283122629

            

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As the wall calendar flips over to May, bringing a public holiday for starters and probably another on election day, winemakers look back on an odd 2019 harvest. (One farm in Tulbagh has yet to harvest its cab, a fact echoed by at least one other in Constantia). Chardonnay and Pinot Noir star in festivals both in the Cape and Gauteng, while looking ahead to June, some fun events should draw the crowds to both the Boland and the Robertson valley.

WINTER OF WANDER AT DURBANVILLE HILLS

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Durbanville Hills will be hosting a series of food and wine evenings over the winter months, where the fare of one of four countries will be matched to the cellar’s cool climate red wines from Collector’s Reserve range. France leads the way on Thursday May 9, followed by Brazil, Austria and Spain in June, July and August.

The evening includes a tutored tasting and a three-course menu with each wine of the evening. Booking is essential and tickets cost R325 per person. For more information or to book please contact Kamo Malaza on mkmalaza@durbanvillehills.co.za or 021 558 1300.

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CAB FRANC CARNIVAL CELEBRATES NICHE VARIETAL

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The 2019 Cabernet Franc Carnival takes place on Saturday, 18 May from 11am -4pm at scenic Avontuur Estate between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. Twenty of South Africa’s most passionate producers of this fascinating varietal will offer their wines for tasting and sale.

Participating wineries are: Avontuur Estate, Bushmanspad Estate, Delaire Graff Estate, Druk my Niet Wine Estate, Hillcrest Estate, Holden Manz Wine Estate, Keermont Wines, Landskroon Wines, Morgenster Wine & Olive Estate, Mulderbosch Vineyards, My Wyn, Nelson Wine Estate, Onderkloof, Ormonde Vineyards, Raats Family Wines, Rainbow’s End Estate, Spookfontein Wines, The Garajeest, Vrede en Lust and Whalehaven.

Good wine and food go together and delicious  food from the Avontuur Estate Restaurant is sure to be popular, while there's another option of selected fare from a food truck..

Don't miss out on the interactive tutored tastings of the Top Six finalists of the  2019 Cab Franc Challenge; These are  presented by convenor of the judging panel, Christine Rudman. Tickets cost R150pp extra and only 20seats per session are available at 11h30, 13h00 and 14h30.

Tickets:

At www.plankton.mobi .R250pp on-line and R280 at the gate. (Includes the tastings, a branded glass and R50 coupon to spend on food.)

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Wine Menu's Chardonnay & Pinot Noir Festival in Joburg

 

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The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Festival takes place at The Crystal Room at the Killarney Country Club on Thursday, May 30, from 18h00. It includes more than 80 high-end, award-winning Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Many of these are not shown at other festivals because they are expensive and production is limited.

 
Some of those taking part this year:

  • Oak Valley (Groenlandberg Chardonnay, Tabula Rasa Chardonnay and Pinot Noir)
  • Hartenberg (Eleanor Chardonnay)
  • Jordan (Nine Yards Chardonnay)
  • Eikendal (Infused by Earth Chardonnay)
  • La Brune (Pinot Noir)
  • Groot Constantia (Chardonnay)
  • Ataraxia (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir)
  • Bouchard Finlayson (Pinot Noir)
  • Creation (Reserve Pinot and Chardonnay)
  • Thelema (Ed's Reserve Chardonnay)
  • Radford Dale (Freedom Pinot Noir)
  • Lismore (Chardonnay)
  • Almenkerk (Chardonnay)
  • Laarman (Focal Point Chardonnay)
  • Uva Mira (The Single Tree Chardonnay)
  • Springfield (Methode Ancienne Chardonnay)

Only 300 tickets are available at R250. The price includes a tasting glass and light snacks chosen to complement the styles of wine. The wines will also be on sale at discounted prices. Some are no longer available in the general marketplace.
 Booking is essential.  Tickets can be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za  or from Wine Menu in Kramerville.
 

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Wine Concepts 9th exclusive Chardonnay & Pinot Noir Celebration at The Vineyard Hotel

 

 

Guests will be treated to a fine selection of charming Chardonnays and praiseworthy Pinot Noirs from a select 40 of the country’s top producers.

Some of the names you can expect to see are: Thorne & Daughters, Hamilton Russel, Tesselaarsdal, Radford Dale, Shannon, Ataraxia, Kruger Family Wines, Almenkerk, Uva Mira, Lothian, Jordan, Paul Cluver, La Bri, Chamonix, Laarman, Mulderbosch, Glen Carlou, De Grendel, Springfield

Delicious snacks that complement the styles of wine will be served throughout the evening.All the showcased wines will be available at discounted prices from Wine Concepts on the evening.

Venue:             The Vineyard Hotel, Colinton Road, Newlands,

Date:               Friday 31st May 2019

Time:               17.00 – 20.00

Cost:                R200.00 per person – includes entrance, wine glass and light snacks

 

Only 200 tickets are available and these can be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za, or at any of 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. See http://www.wineconcepts.co.za

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16th Wacky Wine Weekend is growing in size and sophistication

 

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The famed Wacky Wine Weekend takes place from 7 – 9 June 2019. The event attracts wine connoisseurs, novices and families & friends alike travelling far and wide to “taste the lifestyle”.

The programme includes products and producers from over 30 wineries and tourism establishments in the Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor and Robertson region. The cellars will be opening their doors to showcase the finest vintages in the Robertson Wine Valley, Award-winning wines can be savoured through tours, pairings and interactive tastings by exceptional winemakers. Live music, food stalls with hearty country cuisine and fun activities for children complete the well-rounded entertainment experience.

Weekend pass tickets are available at www.howler.co.at R200pp and R150pp for pensioners. Children under 18 enter for free. Visitors should go to the festival website www.wackywineweekend.com to tailor-make their own itineraries..

Book accommodation soon as this is one of the most popular festivals in the country. Contact the Robertson Wine Valley office on 023 626 3167, email admin@robertsonwinevalley.com or visit www.robertsonwinevalley.com

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Franschhoek Winter Wines | 15 June 2019

 

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As the southern hemisphere heads toward midwinter, diarise Saturday June 15 and head to Franschhoek for their winter warmer festival, Franschhoek Winter Wines.

The venue is the Franschhoek Cellar, the opening times are 11am – 4pm and tickets, available from www.webtickets.co.za cost R295.

The valleys finest red wines will be there for sampling and pairing with seasonal inspired soul food.

Live music will add to the ambience . Tickets include glass, all tastings and a R20 voucher. Ticket numbers are limited, so booking is essential.

For more information contact 021 876 2861 or info@franschhoek.org.za.

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La dolce vita can be savoured anywhere in South Africa where fine Italian fare is paired with Terra del Capo wines – especially the recently released 2016 vintage of the Sangiovese.

If you drink it in Franschhoek, at the inviting tasting room that is named for the range at LOrmarins, the exquisite farm where it is produced, you will have the best of both worlds – an enjoyable wine, designed to complement food, especially Italian classics, in an historic Cape setting with its Mediterranean climate similar to that of Italys.

This Sangiovese is an accessible wine, where austerity has given way to a fruity, inviting red, the berry flavours backed by a little oak and mineral notes that add complexity while the finish has a sweetish note. The late Anthonij Rupert was the first to produce wines from Italian cultivars in South Africa, starting with Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, Today, the range consists of the Sangiovese, a Sangiovese/Merlot blend and a Pinot Grigio.

The wine matured in 500 litres French oak for 15 months before being bottled, then left to develop in bottle for another 10 months before being released. Alcohol levels are held at 14%. It is available from the farm at R85.

As one of the lighter Italian-style reds, it is a versatile food wine, happy to add enjoyment to Italian platters of olives, salami and ciabatta, to perk up a spaghetti sauced with wild mushrooms in tomato or take on classic lasagna or rigatoni with lamb ragu. For more information and to book a tasting of the Terra del Capo wines, call 021 874 9074 or email tasting@rupertwines.com

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HOME COOKING BY Esther Malan published by Human& Rousseau, Cape Town, 2019.

 

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Drawn from You, Huisgenoot and Drum magazines, this collection of 100 recipes was created by the magazine team’s assistant food editor. It is Esther Malan’s first book and readers will surely know what sort of fare to expect, given that these magazines are among the longest-running, most popular weeklies in South Africa.

The majority are South African to the core – staples that could be Afrikaans, Dutch, British, Cape Malay, Portuguese or Italian in origin - but are now firm favourites among all races. There are a few low-carb dishes, one or two that are based on African ingredients like samp and several that owe their popularity to vendors of street food in Europe and the Americas: Think empanadas and arancini, corn dogs and patatas bravas...

Above all this is a compilation that readers can rely on, being well tried and tested, produced for keen cooks who work to a budget, but who will appreciate new ideas to spice up old favourites.

The contents are organised by the classic menu formula: Good breakfast and brunch ideas include baby marrow fritters with cottage chese, avocado and biltong, and eggs partnered with hummus and chimichurri. Among the tarts and pies you’ll find old-fashioned Marmite tart side by side with easy mini- onion and garlic tarts topped with herb drizzle. There’s a chapter of street food – the naan sandwiches filled with roast masala chicken and yoghurt look good – followed by a bunch of salads that precede a group of family classics. Here pumpkin fritters get scattered with dukkah rather than the trad cinnamon sugar, and lasagne sheets are rolled around a filling of butternut, spinach and biltong before being baked in cheese sauce.

A good selection of chicken dishes precede mostly meaty ideas under the comfort food heading: the latter includes hearty soups, oxtail stew and samp risotto. Braais are not forgotten – along with chops, ribs, steak and kebabs, fish features in the  form of mullet and sardines, the only seafood in the book.

Sweet bakes are mostly trad in nature, from pancakes to lemon meringue custard slices. Desserts make the finale, classic favourites, sometimes with a twist, including a recipe for red velvet beetroot cupcakes , which seems to have become the trendy bake that cannot be omitted.

Good full-page colour photographs contribute eye appeal and the index is comprehensive. Only niggle I have is rather slack proof-reading: in the recipe below there were both spelling errors and duplication of phrases.

Suitable for any Easter feasting is Esther’s recipe for chocolate swirl brownies, also gracing the book’s front cover. They look as good as any I’ve tried, the cheesecake filling adding a degree of decadence and extra expense, but this could be omitted – as could the chocolate sauce . Here is the recipe:

 

CHOCOLATE SWIRL BROWNIES

From Home Cooking by Esther Malan. Illustrated on front cover.

Cheesecake mixture:

1X250g tub cream cheese

60-80ml castor sugar

1 egg

Brownies:

250g butter or hard margarine, cubed

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

250ml light brown sugar

4 eggs

80ml cream

310ml cake flour

Half t baking powder

Pinch salt

Chocolate sauce to serve, optional

Preheat oven to 160 deg C. Line a 25cm square cake tin with baking paper and grease paper with non-stick spray.

For the cheesecake, beat all ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.

For the brownies, heat butter in saucepan until melted. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted, off the heat. Set aside.

Beat sugar and eggs together in bowl. Add a quarter of chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat well. Add remaining chocolate mixture and beat well.

Sift the cocoa, cake flour, baking powder and salt over the egg mixture. Fold the dry ingredients into the chocolate mix and then spoon mixture into prepared cake tin. Smooth the surface, then make random dents in the surface before spooning over the cheesecake mixture. Transfer to oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until baked through.

Let brownies cool slightly in tin, then turn out and cut into squares. Chill until completely cooled. Serve with chocolate sauce if wanted. Makes about 45 small or 20 large brownies.

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Just as Robertson Winery has long upheld a reputation for honest, consistent, value-for-money wines, so does it maintain a fine tradition of top quality and well-balanced complexity for its flagship pair, the Constitution Road Range. Add to that flavourful, well-priced enjoyment and you have a description that applies to both the chardonnay and the shiraz.

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The maiden shiraz appeared in 2004, and was joined by the chardonnay some years later. Today fans eagerly await new releases which are not made annually, but when speciality winemaker Jacques Roux finds the right grapes, produces wine to his demanding standard and releases them when they are market-ready.

The latest pair have been adorned with a new label: designer Anthony Lane illustrates four pillars of the SA constitution – liberty, governance, justice and equality and provenance. Robertson Winery applies these as freedom for winemakers to innovate, knowledge shared between generations of winemakers, balance and consistency through understanding of cultivars and vineyards and a sense of place, through creating wines that express their origin.

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The 2016 chardonnay was produced from grapes at the winery’s Wandsbeck farm. Natural fermentation took place in new and second- fill French oak barrels, left on primary lees and underwent malolactic fermentation before aging for 18 months in barrel.

This is a classic chard, presenting aromas of citrus, toast and vanilla, followed by layers of fruit and butterscotch on the palate witha hint of cream and welcome freshness. It has already collected accolades from the 2018 Chardonnay du Monde, and local competitions and sells for around R150.

The 2015 shiraz is a good example of one of the finest vintages of the new century, presenting a vibrant mix of dark fruit, warm spices and a hint of chocolate. Grapes were sourced from Robertson’s Wolfkloof farm, malolactic fermentation took place in new 225 and 300 litre French oak where it matured for three years. It combines opulent complexity with accessibility, and is sure to continue offering pleasure for several years. Alcohol levels are on the high side for modern trends but that has not affected its attracting local and international accolades and four and half stars from Platter. It sells for around R220.

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Tasting the wines of young and adventurous men and women who go solo is always a pleasure: No matter how difficult the marketplace, there are always those willing to take the chance and demonstrate their talent in creating a range of wines for the curious consumer.

Suzanne Coetzee is one such entrepreneur: Having gained experience at Clos Malverne in Stellenbosch, she branched out on her own with a boutique range of wines called Nuiba, which is the name of the Namibian farm on which she grew up. Her love of her family home is further expressed in the names given to the four wines, namely First, Second, Third and Fourth Posts, reflecting the farm’s cattle drinking stations.

The 2018 quartet includes one white and a rosé, and these were the ones I asked to taste, as best suited to high summer temperatures.

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The First Post is a limited edition Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc blend, with the back label informing me that the wine is unfiltered and is wine of origin Stellenbosch. As the press release and the tasting notes on her website refer to her 2016 vintage, I had no way of knowing if the new release is also a 60/40 blend but well could be: it’s also pale yellow, offers subtle fruity aromas leading to flavours of citrus and melon on the palate with a little grassiness in the background. There’s both purity and zest discernible, balanced by a hint of cream adding up to a very enjoyable wine that differs from the usual blends where the sauvignon dominates. It sells online for R190.

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The Fourth Post is a 2018 wooded rosé where Semillon has taken on salmon hues thanks to a little Malbec. Notes apply to the 2017 vintage which is also a product of Stellenbosch grapes and the wine matured in third-fill oak. The back label informs that the wine is unfiltered and alcohol levels held at  13,5%. It a is priced at R115 and is available only online, as it the rest of the range.

The Third Post consists of a blend of Pinotage with Cabernet and Grenache. If it follows the specs of the 2016 vintage, (which is highly rated) the grapes were sourced from venerable Piekenierskloof vines, while the Second Post is a Shiraz, with the 2016 grapes coming from Paarl and Simonsberg. Neither of the reds were tasted. For more information, visit www.nuibawines.co.za.

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BOOKLOVER’S ESSENTIAL WEEKEND EVENT – ESELTJIESRUS DONKEY SANCTUARY’S THREE-DAY BOOK FAIR

 

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The dates to diarise for the 2019 Giant Book Fair are May 17 – 19. The venue is, as always, the magical village of McGregor, and it’s not too early to book accommodation through the Tourism office if you require this.

From small beginnings, this hugely popular event has blossomed into one of South Africa’s major book sales of used books of every kind, plus new titles that are donated by generous publishers. There are always a few treasures – usually Africana – waiting to be snapped up by keen collectors, and the vast range of non-fiction attracts its own fans: cookbooks and gardening titles, travel and decor publications, self-help books and, of course, a wealth of biographies and autobiographies. There is always a fine collection of novels by popular overseas and local authors to browse through and the organisers keep prices very reasonable to attract buyers to this important annual fund-raiser. 

For those new to this event, it takes place in the village’s large municipal hall, from 10am to 4pm over the three days. Light refreshments are on sale in the hall.

Having done your browsing for the day, why not pay a visit to the beneficiaries at the welcoming sanctuary a few kilometres back on the Robertson road? Find out more about the amazing work the founders Annemarie and Johan van Zijl undertake to rescue and care for abused and elderly donkeys, finding foster homes for others and running an educational programme that see school children visit the sanctuary, and often adopt a donkey for a school year.

Adoptions are a wonderful source of revenue for the sanctuary, and visitors are encouraged to adopt one of the donkeys of their choice and so contribute to his or her welfare.

The sanctuary is also a great place to enjoy lunch, offering affordable, enjoyable fare, which can be accompanied by their own white, red and rosé wines or a handcrafted Saggy Stone beer from the Breede river valley.

If you have books you would like to donate, these, too, will be welcomed with open arms. Email bookfair@donkeysanctuary.co.za.

For more information, email info@donkeysanctuary.co.za. Visit their website at www.donkeysanctuary.co.za. And also log onto www.donkeysforafrica.org. an international organisation that spreads information, education and helps co-ordinate donkey projects and programmes across the continent.

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A SHORT HISTORY OF MODERN ANGOLA by David Birmingham. Published by Jonathan Ball publishers, Cape Town, 2019.

 

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Did you know that a Jewish colony was nearly created in Angola in 1912 backed by the Jewish community on the Witwatersrand and those on the Congo copper belt?

Or, that in the 1840’s, in Luanda’s  small stone prison one prisoner was being held in solitary confinement: He was a royal prince who had fallen foul of the authorities through non-payment of taxes due to the Portuguese. He insisted he had been wrongly accused so he was allowed to exchange his prison rags for his full dress uniform with braids and epaulettes once a month and march to the palace where he petitioned for a reprieve. This was always turned down, so he had to return to his cell and don his convict rags once again.

These are just two of several little-known vignettes in this very readable history. First published in the UK four years ago, Birmingham’s own experiences in Angola make fascinating reading in his preface, which also offers a useful summary of its history to this western land which has seen such flows of migrant peoples. During the 19th century more than half a million Africans were taken to work the coffee estates of the newly independent Brazil and the cocoa plantations of the island-colony of Sao Tome. During the 20th century the flow was reversed as close to half a million European migrants arrived in Angola, from northern Portugal, Madeira and the Azores. After 1975 change occurred again when the white population flowed back to Europe leaving black nationalists to struggle for control of their rich economic heritage.

Birmingham starts his tale early in the 19th century when the Portuguese colony of Angola was formed as Portugal gradually replaced their former Asian empire with an African one. By 1960 Angola had become Portugal’s most treasured overseas possession. The slave trade proved profitable until the anti-slave movement in Europe saw Portugal follow other countries outlaw the trans-Atlantic trade in 1836. But labour remained the main theme of Angola’s history until after 1910.

The influence of the missionaries in Angola was important – with the Jesuits and the Franciscans taking Christianity inland. In the second half of the 19th century       a fine mix of French Catholic, British Baptist, American Methodist and Swiss Congregationalist brought religion, education and hospitals to various parts of the country.

The story of capital city of Luanda makes the subject of the second chapter - from mid-19th century when it was a picturesque market town where the wealthy households were run by armies of slaves of all ages. Along with blacks and whites the population of mixed race pointed to colonisation which had been almost exclusively male.

Life and trade in the inland areas varied immensely, with the Ambaca district, some 200 miles north of Luanda, standing out from neighbouring territories. The population considered themselves Portuguese , spoke the language, were educated , baptised as Christians and had a fine sense of dress style.

After the end of World War 2, Portugal – which had been neutral territory during the war - was debarred from joining the UN. The country and its colonies was the poorest in Europe, only Albania suffering worse poverty. In Angola life started to improve thanks to the world’s craving for coffee as planters and peasants began to meet this need. Labour practices and the rise of nationalism led to an uprising in Luanda in 1961, emphasising the the winds of change speech made by British PM Harold Macmillan. A violent outbreak followed in northern Angola weeks later, resulting in a huge conscript army being assembled in Portugal and dispatched to Angola . This saw the start of guerrilla warfare, led by Agostinho Neto in the north while in the south UNITA gained an exile base in Zambia, led by Jonas Savimbi.

After years of guerrilla warfare the coup of 1974 saw the Lisbon government overthrown mounted by young military captains in the Portuguese army. This led to a re-alignment of forces in Angola as the Portuguese prepared to leave Africa. In January 1975 an interim government was established that included Portugal, the FNLA, the MPLA and UNITA. Sadly instead of peace, a new war of foreign intervention ensued: the Congolese, Russian, Cuban, South African and American interests vied with locals in an offensive that saw South African troops invade along the coast . The extent of the horror endured by civilians and soldiers were made known, to some extent, to South Africans who had sons, brothers, uncles and friends doing their compulsory national service who were sent into Angola as part of the South African invading army.

As foreign forces withdrew, only the MPLA remained strong enough to eventually take control of Angola which had gained independence from Portugal. The fruits of freedom were not experienced by the people and a revolution took place in 1977 which was shortlived but violent. The liberation wars of liberation of the 70’s were followed by others through the 80’s with many causes – the Soviet Union, the Americans, the oil wells, Cuban support and South African destabilisation efforts among others: its intricacies and corruption make depressing reading. Worse was to come after a brief period of celebration of peace in 1991 with a civil war in late 1992 .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               After another peace accord negotiated by the UN, dos Santos became president and proceeded to develop the country into a presidential state with his power emanating from his vast palace complex.

The saga of violence and corruption is countered to some extent at the end of the text by optimism increasing in the 21st century as hope  centred around the energy and inventiveness of the women of Luanda and inland areas. They had developed giant markets which kept the city fed and clothed and inland by establishing many small scale business enterprises.

This softback contains no illustrations but there is a bibliography and an extensive index.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

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The South African Cheese Festival celebrates its 18th anniversary this year, taking place from Friday 26 - Sunday 28 April 2019 at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch.

To mark its value- for- money experience the organisers list 18 experiences that   your ticket includes. Here’s a brief round-up of them all:

 

  1. The Cheese Emporium: The heart of the Festival where you can taste and buy the largest variety of cheeses under one roof.
  2. The Italian Experience: A new addition created in collaboration with Food Lover's Market. Stroll through their piazza and experience Italian hospitality and gastronomy in abundance.
  3. Taste it first: Many exhibitors utilise the SA Cheese Festival as a platform to launch new products and test the market .
  4. The Tasting Room: We marry cheese with wine, beer and every new trend. Listen and taste at no extra cost ... and experience interesting combinations presented by well-known foodies.
  5. ‘Raak ‘n bietjie rustig’ day: Friday, 26 April, a working day? Never! It's pay day after all – perfect for a leisurely day out. Watch out for ‘Raak ‘n bietjie rustig’ packages for groups and discover the festival at your own pace.
  6. Meet boutique cheese makers: Come and support entrepreneurs who, despite the drought, come from far and wide to introduce their unique handmade cheeses.
  7. Cape Made:: A fresh from the farm collection of alternative products such as olives, honey and rooibos to pick and choose  ... with bargains directly from producers.
  8. The Cape Made Kitchen: Experience a taste of magic as chefs from the Private Hotel School pair cheese with bread and alternative products. As a bonus there is a free recipe book to take home!
  9. Making memories: It just gets better year after year! The SA Cheese Festival is a popular place to celebrate birthdays.
  10. Boutique is king: Support boutique producers while discovering and appreciating new taste experiences – from wine and beer to gin with honey, almond, buchu, strawberry or chai!

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  1. The Ladismith Cheese Carving Competition: A daily highlight in Blossom's Gazebo – enter for free at the festival (entries are limited). Prove your creativity, carve a cheese and win great prizes!
  2. The Music Gazebo: Kick up your heels to the rhythm of popular local artists.
  3. The Milk Factory: Visit the friendly cows and goats at the Milk Factory and show the little ones where cheese comes from.

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  1. The Gourmet Lane: Popular food stalls serve delicious dishes – with even more cheese!
  2. The Kiddies Corner: Hours of fun and entertainment for the children in a safe environment while parents relax.
  3. #SundayFamilyFunDay: Enjoy a true #SundayFunday with your whole family whilst some of the country's best cheeses and other boutique products are just a few steps away.
  4. The Connoisseurs Experience: There are only 100 tickets per day for this exclusive  experience with shaded seating, a cheeseboard,  bottle of wine and many extras
  5. Be safe: The SA Cheese Festival promotes the responsible use of alcohol. Make use of shuttle services and taxis for peace of mind.
 

DETAILS:

The festival times are  10:00 - 18:00 daily

Sandringham is  located next to the N1, Stellenbosch turn-off (exit 39), between Cape Town and Paarl.

Tickets cost R180 per person per day. Senior citizens pay R120 and children between 2 and 13 years R20. Tickets are available at Computicket. No tickets will be sold at the gates. The Connoisseurs’ Experience costs R950 per person (only persons over 18 years old) and is available from Claudine Wagner at claudine@agriexpo.co.za.

Discover more about the SA Cheese Festival's 18 year celebration at www.cheesefestival.co.za, or contact Agri-Expo at tel 021 975 4440 or admin@agriexpo.co.

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Autumn has arrived, the Cape wine harvest is largely over, and there’s a tempting  variety of festivals, markets and Easter weekend events taking place during April and into May. Our northern provinces are not left out when it comes to great wine shows.

 

GROOTE POST’S MARCH COUNTRY MARKET

 

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Join the Pentz family in the gardens at Groote Post for their Country Market on Sunday 31st March between 10h00 and 15h00.

The terrace in front of Hilda’s Kitchen will be brimming with market stalls offering delicious and attractive country offerings including artisan foods, arts and crafts, homeware, clothing, décor, gifts, jewellery, accessories, toys, fresh produce and more. Local is always lekker with a selection of Darling gourmet produceand of course Groote Post’s well-loved wines.

Visitors can relax on the lawns under the trees enjoying the popular music and entertainment. Groote Post’s award-winning restaurant, Hilda’s Kitchen, will be open as usual, but booking is essential. Kids will be kept busy with various activities: tractor rides, guided horse rides, the popular playground and more.

Dogs are welcome but must please be kept on a leash at all times.   Entry to the Groote Post Country Market is free of charge.

For further information Contact I Love Yzer: 022 451 2202 or info@iloveyzer.co.za

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THE MPUMALANGA WINE SHOW

 

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It’s their 10th show this year, taking place on April 5 and 6 at Riverside Park in Nelspruit (Mbombela) from 17h00 to 21h00.

Close to 40 exhibitors will be presenting around 250 fine wines alongside fare to complement on the side.

Bookings: Computicket.com or www.mpumalangawineshow.co.za

Ticket Prices: Early Bird R180  for bookings made by Sunday 31 March.  Thereafter and at the door, R200 (includes unlimited tastings and wine tasting glass). Emnotweni Rewards discounts apply.

Light meals will be available for sale.

For more information: Visit www.mpumalangawineshow.co.za or call +27 11 482 5936

The Shop@Show facility with Makro Nelspruit, offers an excellent reason to stock up and buy - with the advantage of show prices and the optional convenience of delivery to your door. 

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25-Year Celebratory Tastings  with Ken Forrester Wines

Ken Forrester invites friends of wine to their 25-Year Tasting Series, four themed  tastings hosted by Ken at their old barrel cellar / tasting lounge in Stellenbosch.

The first, 25 Years of Chenin Blanc takes place on 4 April at 6.30pm, where Ken will present Chenin Blanc in its various guises, following which cheese boards will be served family-style.

The remaining three tastings - aptly named 25 Years of Stellenbosch (29 May), 25 Years of Winemaking (July) and 25 Years of Inspiration (September) - will  feature wines from Stellenbosch and around the world sourced during the past 25 years.
All proceeds from the tastings  will be donated to Spark Schools, an educational institution committed to providing top-class education to the children of the Winelands. “

Each tasting costs R150 per person or R250 per couple and is limited to 30 guests. Pre-booking is essential and tickets are available at www.quicket.co.za or in the tasting room.
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STELLENBOSCH WINE FESTIVAL COMES TO CAPE TOWN

 

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Top Stellenbosch wine estates will soon be on their way to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town for the first-ever Stellenbosch Wine Festival in  Cape Town presented by Pick n Pay.

The two-day event will take place at the North Wharf at the V&A Waterfront on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April 2019.

Winemakers and estate owners will be there to chat to visitors. Participating estates include, among others, Beyerskloof, Warwick, Ken Forrester, Kleine Zalze, Kaapzicht Estate, Le Bonheur and L’Avenir.

Of course, where there’s wine, there’s food, and Pick n Pay will have something scrumptious on offer  from good old-fashioned burgers and fish and chips, to elegant charcuterie and cheese platters.

Winelovers can also book a session at the Pick n Pay Tasting Room. Children under 18 enter free of charge.

DETAILS:

Saturday 6 April: 12 – 9pm

Sunday 7 April: 12 – 6pm

Tickets: R 150 

Tickets that include  a Pick n Pay Tasting Room experience: R 180

-          Tickets include tasting glass and 20 wine tasting tokens.

Booking:

  • Visit www.Webtickets.co.za and either book your tickets online and collect instore, book and pay online, or purchase your tickets at any Pick n Pay Supermarket or Hypermarket countrywide.

For more information:: www.stellenboschwinefestival.co.za

 

 

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MIDDELVLEI FAMILY DAY | 22 APRIL 2019

 

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Middelvlei Family Day, Monday, 22 April, promises to be a fun day out for the whole family. The Easter Bunny will be popping in making the Middevlei Easter Egg Hunt extra fun. 

Adding to the day’s festivities is the line-up of Boeresport games, guaranteed to be one of the day’s highlights while parents can relax  sipping Middelvlei wine and taking in the live entertainment. An Easter inspired spitbraai lunch completes the outing The cost for the lunch is R 280 per adult and R130 per child (12 years and younger), which includes the Easter Egg Hunt.

To ensure a truly memorable experience pre-booking is advised. For bookings or more information contact the farm on 021 883 2565 or email info@middelvlei.co.za.

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Spend the Easter weekend on the Jordan estate.

 

An Easter hunt with a difference – visitors are invited to search the gardens for the renowned origami chameleons, bring one to the tasting room and collect a spot prize! The hunt takes place on Sat and Sunday April 20 and 21.

Book a wine tasting at the farm then enjoy lunch at The Bakery which will be offering a special meal along with the a la carte menu, which includes harissa-rubbed chicken quarters with mint raita, garlc baby potatoes and glazed baby carrots for R110. Book your table at www.thebakery.co.za.

 

THE 2ND CAPITAL CITY WINE SHOW

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Calling Pretoria wine lovers! The second wine show takes place on May 3 and 4 at the Capital Menlyn Maine hotel in Africa’s only ‘green city’precinct. A premium range of icon wines and new kids on the block will be presented – think Grenache, Cinsaut, Malbec and Merlot. The list of exhibitors reads like a list of the best, most popular wine producers plus some new brands and international cuvees and sparkling wines for tasting. The best on the move deli fare will be there to accompany the wines.

 

Dates: Friday 3 and Saturday 4 May 2019

Venue: The Capital Menlyn Maine, 194 Bancor Avenue, Menlyn, Pretoria

Time: 17h00 to 21h00

Ticket price and bookings: Via www.capitalcitywineshow.co.za Via webtickets.co.za from 1 April.  Early Bird tickets until 28 April cost R180 for each night, R200 thereafter and at the door.  No under 18s.

For more information:  Visit www.capitalcitywineshow.co.za for more details on exhibitors and wines on show, available by the end of April.

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2019 SHIRAZ AND CHARCUTERIE FESTIVAL

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The annual Shiraz & Charcuterie Festival, takes place once again at the picturesque Anthonij Rupert Wyne in Franschhoek on Saturday, 25 May (11am to 4pm) combining some of the country’s finest Shiraz wines paired with charcuterie from artisanal producers.

 

Taste Anthonij Rupert Wyne’s range of Shiraz which include the limited release Anthonij Rupert Syrah, the site-specific Cape of Good Hope Riebeeksrivier Shiraz and Protea Shiraz. Alongside will be 18 of the country’s top Shiraz producing estates including Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Leeu & Mullineux Family Wines, Waterford Estate, Stark-Condé Wines and Hartenberg Wine Estate.

 Pair themwith delectable local and international charcuterie on offer - featuring everything from salamis and cured hams to flavoured chorizos. Nibble on the samples, choose your favourites and purchase them to enjoy at the festival or to take home. A lavish Anthonij Rupert Wyne Harvest Table, adorned with fresh seasonal salads, homemade Truffle arancini, estate olives, jalapenos, creamy tomato soup and pulled Moroccan lamb shoulder – is a match made in culinary heaven to complement the superb wine line-up. The Macaroon Bar, featuring an assortment of decadent flavours, guarantees a perfectly sweet finish.

Pre-booking is essential as tickets are limited. Your ticket, which costs R295 per person, includes entry as well as tastings of the wines on show. Book directly via www.webtickets.co.za.

 For more information contact DnA Event Management on info@dnaevents.co.za

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