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Myrna Robins

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Restaurants

Posted by on in Restaurants

 

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The setting is simply superb. From both the terrace and through the wrap-around full-length glass walls of the restaurant, vineyards and pastures roll out below you, bisected by the R60. The Brandwag, Rabiesberg and long line of the Langeberg range frame this inviting hilltop venue, open for some eight months.

Well-situated between Worcester and Robertson , this is an ideal stopping-point; Nuy could not have thought of a better way of celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Paging through the nostalgic and beautifully illustrated Nuy gedenkboek, we read about the cellar’s maiden harvest in 1965, a total of 6 192 tons, made up of Muscadel, Othello, Pontac, Pinotage, Hanepoot, Witsag and Hermitage. While hermitage is today better-known as cinsaut, the latest old-timer to head to trend-topping status, I could not find info on Othello or Witsag.

It it did not take Nuy long to become renowned for the outstanding quality of its soetes – muscadels both red and white, which even today continued to attract awards annually, yet are stil sold at giveaway prices.

As the number of reds and whites continued to increase, Nuy has slotted wines into three ranges. The entry wines, Inspiration, consist of five whites – sauvignon blanc, chenin, chardonnay, colombar and their perennially popular Chant de Nuit a blend of chenin and colombar finished with a little Ferdinand de Lesseps, a table grape. From the reds, my table companion found the 2015 cabernet sauvignon very agreeable, and there is also a shiraz and pinotage which we did not sample. There’s an off-dry sparkling wine made from sauvignon blanc and a semi-sweet bubbly using muscat. The 2015 red and white muscadels complete the range. Prices range from R30 to 47 for the whites, the reds are all R55 and the muscadels R52. The sparkling wines cost R50.

The middle range, called Mastery offered a delightfull, carefully wooded chardonnay, which makes a perfect “winter white” (R85) and a trio of reds , all priced at R103– 2013 pinotage (exceptionally light in colour, characteristic nose, medium bodied, modern and enjoyable), and a cab and shiraz, both 2013.

Nuy’s top range Legacy, leads with their flagship red blend Argilla 2013,(R150) a blend of 62% shiraz, 31% pinotage, finished with cab. Elegance joined by a good backbone, smooth tannins, this will be worth keeping for a few years . We did not try the bubbly, (R150) nor the potstill brandy, but I can vouch for the hugely impressive 50 Vintages Red Muscadel (R165). Matured for three years in small oak, bottled to mark the 50th anniversary, this sophisticated fortified has already attracted double gold from Michelangelo, and 4 and half stars from Platter – worth five I think.

And so, to the food.

When I see a menu as large and varied as Nuy’s I usually find that the cuisine suffers, as few kitchens can cope with such a huge number of dishes . While two of us enjoyed a simple lunch there one Friday, I can report that not only was the restaurant buzzing with happy diners, but also I did not see anyone complain or send back anything but well-cleaned plates. I have not heard a single bad report on the fare at this restaurant from local diners in the Robertson valley – so perhaps this is an exception to the usual rule.

Breakfast offers predictable variations on the bacon and egg theme, plus a salmon rosti and a Nuy Benedict. There’s a a choice of seven burgers, including a Banting burger which replaces the bun with a giant mushroom. The tapas menu is extensive – my companion tried and enjoyed the beef carpaccio, which was a generous offering teamed with shaved parmesan and a balsamic glaze. From the speciality dishes, - pork, battered fish and chicken enchilada – I opted for mushroom soup, and it was a good choice – plentiful, creamy, and well-flavoured and served with toast. There is also an extensive pizza menu prices ranging from R85 to R105, while steaks – fillet and sirloin with a choice of toppings and sauces - start from R115.

By way of contrast the dessert menu is miniscule – cake, spring rolls, waffle with banana caramel, cream or icecream, and icecream with bar one sauce. We tried two of these, again a large serving, predictably rich and satisfying for every sweet tooth. Beverages include a range of milkshakes , and there’s a full liquor licence. Nuy on the hill cocktail (R45) melds peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and blue curacao. There are four artisanal beers from the Mountain Brewing Co made on the Klipbokkop reserve which seemed a popular choice with diners. A kiddies menu concludes a really astonishing range .

Six years go the Nuy directors handed over 1ha of white and 1ha of red muscadel vines to the cellarworkers who formed the Keerom Landbou Bpk, to develop and cultivate themselves. From their maiden harvest in 2011 their grapes have been rated in outstanding condition. They are delivered to the Nuy cellar and form part of the distinctive 50 Vintages Red Muscadel.

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Health benefits and sensational flavours are two reasons to welcome the current gastronomic craze of fermentation. Myrna Robins gets the lowdown on updates of this ancient technique . This article first appeared in the Cape Argus on July 20 and in The Star the following day.

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Less adventurous palates will no doubt shy away from an offering of fermented black garlic with a “tender, almost jelly-like texture with a consistency similar to a soft dried fruit…” Yet the same diners probably relish their breakfast yoghurt followed by crisp toast, and enjoy fine wine or a good artisanal beer when eating out. All of which have undergone fermentation, which is best defined as a metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases or alcohol. It occurs in yeast and bacteria, and also in oxygen-starved muscle cells, as in the case of lactic acid fermentation.

We humans have been busy fermenting our food and drink since the Neolithic age, both for preservation and good health. China, India, Egypt, Babylon (Iraq), Mexico and Sudan are countries where evidence of fermented fare and beverages have been uncovered, the earliest around 7 000 years ago.

Early this year culinary websites were announcing fermentation as one of the hottest trends of the year. And, predictably, South African chefs are not being left behind as they experiment with a range of ingredients that are adding zing to our tastebuds . I contacted a few of the Western Cape’s leading chefs to get their say on the subject.

First stop Franschhoek where executive chef Oliver Cattermole presides over the kitchens of Leeu House, a boutique hotel in the village and the five-star mountainside Leeu estate. At the launch of the latter last month, his luncheon menu included black garlic and smoked miso as accompaniment to braised heirloom carrot, an intriguing mix of bland root vegetable with tingling flavours. Miso, a traditional Japanese seasoning is produced by fermenting soybeans with salt, a particular fungus and other ingredients such as rice or barley.

With an enviable relaxed approach that belies carefully created, utterly delicious five-star cuisine, Cattermole is embracing the new trend comprehensively, as these comments from him prove:

“Jac [his baker] ferments all of his yeast for his breads and sour doughs – we have one that he feeds daily that is nearly three years old. All the chocolate that we use is fermented. We are currently fermenting red onions, slowly turning them translucent, which we use in our butternut lunch dish. We have just started a ferment with walnuts, which should be ready by Christmas. And we are fermenting garlic, both wild and elephant ,which has been ongoing since October last year… about three weeks ago it started to turn black which is the desired effect, and it makes the kitchen smell lekker.”

Down the R45 to the Drakenstein valley and Boschendal estate where chef Christian Campbell has spent months researching and experimenting with fermenting produce traditionally popular in international cuisines. Along with the mammoth task of overseeing all the restaurant menus on this large estate, he sources his produce from the huge organic vegetable and herb garden, which enables him to present seasonal menus which change daily. Fermented lemons feature right now, while Campbell embraces the popular oriental traditions of kimchi, kombucha and kefir on his his signature shared meal platters in the Werf restaurant. He describes these classics for us:

“Kimchi is a national Korean dish consisting of fermented chilli peppers and vegetables, usually… Chinese cabbage, radish, garlic, red pepper, spring onion, ginger, salt and sugar… fermented with red pepper, garlic, ginger and salty fish sauce. …It is rich in vitamins, aids digestionsand may even prevent cancer…. The best tasting kimchi is stored at room temperature for an average of six months to reach its full flavour.

“Kefir is high in nutrients and probiotics and is incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health… a fermented drink, traditionally made using cow’s or goat’s milk. It is made by adding kefir “grains”– cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria… to milk. These multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk, turning it into kefir. All the rage with health addicts, this is considered to be a healthier, more powerful version of yoghurt.”

Readers who shop at pharmacy chains and health shops will have seen bottles of kombucha on the shelves, a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. Kombuch ais a colony of bacteria and yeast which is added to sugar and tea, and left to ferment. The result is rich in vinegar, B vitamins and other compounds.

Campbell also uses fermented black garlic, which he describes as “sweet meets savoury, a perfect mix of molasses-like richness and tangy garlic undertones” and has turned to honey mead, which he describes as “fermented honey and water mixed with herbs and spices.” As one of the original alcoholic drinks of Africa, this is a good choice indeed.

We continue our culinary journey from bountiful Boschendal to the equally aristocratic Delaire Graff estate, off Helshoogte pass. Here pampered guests can choose to go oriental when dining in the Indochine restaurant where chef Virgil Kahn is introducing fermented ingredients with their rich probiotic profile to several dishes on his exotic menu. He had this to say about the hot topic of fermentation:

“On the whole consumers are still nervous to experiment with fermented foods, however they add a wonderful flavour profile to a dish, a natural refreshing zing which I love to experience in a dish. From kimchi to our salt- fermented black garlic, fermented foods are transforming not only the balance of flavours on a plate, but our overall health.”

So there you have it. Back to Chef Campbell for the following list of benefits that probiotics and a good balance of healthy bacteria, found in ferments, afford us: Boost our immune system and lower cholesterol. Reduce allergic reactions to both food and environment. Help reduce intestinal inflammation, prevent constipation, and suppress growth of harmful micro-organisms. And finally they apparently help manufacture K and and B-group vitamins, along with digestive enzymes and essential fatty acids.

Wow! no wonder fermented ingredients and drinks have long been red-hot hot favourites in the East, both with chefs and home cooks. Now that the West has cottoned on, are South Africans making their own versions of kimchi at home, or are our Occidental palates staying with sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers?

Fermentation festivals are taking place, I hear, across the United States in Portland, Oregon, in Massachusetts and in California at Santa Barbara. Perhaps we can look forward to our first South African celebration soon? An event where both the health-conscious and trendoid diner will mingle, palates a-tingle…

 

 

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As the lime-green baby leaves emerge from the pruned vines the original heart of wine production at Buitenverwachting, the old cellar, is being renovated to take on a new and very appropriate role.

This gracious building was first restored in the early 1980’s by Gwen and Gawie Fagan, which was also when the modern wine cellar and restaurant were built on the farm.

But the cellar’s history goes back to the late 18th century, and its likely that wine has been made on the farm since 1769, date which is reflected in the name of its  exceptional Noble Late Harvest.

Recently the cellar has housed the picnic facility, where generations of locals and overseas visitors have booked to savour family lunches on the lawned court enclosing the venerable outbuildings.

Now MD Lars Maack is breathing new life into the cellar, taking it back to a vinous role: A large terrace will seat guests for al fresco wining and dining, and inside a wine bar will cater for those visiting in inclement weather. Part of the cellar will showcase older vintages and present the history of these wines on a story-board. And, to keep the decor trendy, a lounge area will be added where guests can relax in comfort with their choice of vintages and order from a selection of light snack fare.

A large illuminated map illustrating the vineyards anad detailing the various cultivars and soil types, will add further interest.

Those 18th century walls are set enclose a facility where aromas and tastes will be evocative of the days when berries were brought in for crushing, and new wine gurgled in old oak barrels.

                                        

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If I didn’t already live here, this is a weekend that I would book for right now! Our little village, perched on a road that climbs through vines and orchards to reach a dead end among drifts of fynbos and proteas on the Sonderend mountains, is small, historic, beautiful. It is also home to a diverse collection of fascinating wine cellars and restaurants that range from award-winning fine dining to hearty country fare presented on a terrace with heart-stopping views across valleys, hills and undulating ranges.

Along with weekends as quiet and reflective or as energetic and busy as visitors wish, there’s a new attraction to contemplate: Geared to small groups of friends or family (8 – 12) or even corporate colleagues, Fiona Cameron-Brown is orchestrating slow wine and food weekends for visitors who enjoy taking the road less travelled and unearthing the secrets of rural cellars, small and large, who produce good to outstanding wine at palate-pleasing prices.

Mouthwatering meals will be as varied, the wines matched to courses, the hospitality will be warm, and the accommodation cosy and central or luxurious in a lofty setting. Weekends that are planned well ahead are themed, but groups who would like their own itinerary catered for, are welcome to discuss their wishes with Fiona.

The best part is that those who yearn to be pampered from start to finish, will relish typical itineraries that start with transport from Cape Town International airport to McGregor on a Friday afternoon, with sundowners and dinner to come. Saturday could see the group enjoying morning tastings at local cellars, and free time to explore the village attractions in the afternoon. Tastings and dinner at another venue will be on the Saturday evening programme, with more to follow on Sunday morning, finishing with a memorable Sunday wine and dine lunchtime finale before being taken back to Cape Town.

Slow Wine Weekends are designed for the 40 – 50+plus set. Visit the website at www.slowwineweekends.com. For more info, send an email to info@slowwineweekends.com with your queries or call 023 6251450 between 10h00 and 13h00 from Mon – Thurs.

Among the cellars taking part is the large McGregor Wines, a producer of agreeable white wines selling at budget-beating prices, good cabernet, easy-drinking merlot and pinotage.

In a charming thatched cellar perched on the lower slopes of the Sonderend, Lord’s Wines are producing some fine wines: their pinot noir has been discovered by retailers in other regions, their cap classique is moreish, and their sauvignon blanc is a good choice on a warm day.

McGregor is also home to Solara, the valley’s first certified organic wine, a single vineyard sauvignon blanc that makes a memorable sundowner. A portion of profits from sales of every bottle is channelled to the Landmark Foundation which does sterling work in conservation of Cape leopards across the Western and Eastern Cape provinces

Ilse Schutte is a talented garagiste who makes her hand crafted shiraz and an excellent bone dry non-vintage cap classique from accommodation in the centre of McGregor. These make a fine pair and I hope she will include a rosé in her range soon, as she has made fine examples in the past. Bemind Wyne translates to Beloved Wines.

A few kilomeres outside the village Tanagra Private Cellar has already been discovered by hundreds of enthusiastic German visitors, and if you haven’t sampled their superb cabernet franc, grappas and eaux de vie of world class, you are in for a treat. Their rosé is in a class of its own, and is sold out virtually before bottling. Robert and Anette Rosenbach have restored a rundown farm with a magnificent wild fig tree to pristine perfection, and their stylishly decorated cottages are another attraction for weekenders from afar.

Jan Kannemeyer, owner and winemaker at Wolfkloof, has had a life-long love affair with merlot.  Set in spectacular surroundings and producing wonderful wines, Wolfkloof’s cellar is located on the edge of Robertson.

Also taking part is well-known winemaker and consultant Lourens van der Westhuizen who makes great wines and enjoys sharing his expertise with keen winelovers. His single vineyard wines are renowned for their affordable quality.

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RESULTS of local wine shows,  contests and steakhouse finalists.

 

OLD MUTUAL TROPHY SHOW

 

The 2016 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show results were announced recently.  Gold medal counts were significantly higher than in 2015, with a better spread across a number of classes. This year's winner of the Old Mutual trophy for the Show's most successful producer was Delaire Graff Estate, first time recipient of the coveted award. With the American Express trophy for the highest scoring cabernet sauvignon, gold medals for the Chenin Blanc Swartland Reserve 2014 and Coastal Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2015 and a clutch of silver and bronze medals, winemaker Morné Vrey’s stellar achievement was evident for all to see. Close on his heels were Tokara with the Grande Roche trophy for Best White Blend and the Old Mutual trophy for best White Wine overall for the Director’s Reserve 2014, and Nederburg with trophies for The Young Airhawk Wooded Sauvignon Blanc 2015 and the Private Bin Eminence Noble Late Harvest Muscadel 2012, respectively.

There were 1067 entries, from which the 9 judges awarded 509 bronze, 113 silver and 35 gold medals. There were 21 trophy winning wines and 27 trophies overall.The most decorated wine at the 2016 show came from a mystery producer: Secret Cellar chenin blanc’s identity remains unknown except to a lucky few.

 

 2016 Trophy Winners

Old Mutual Trophy for Most Successful Producer Overall

Delaire Graff Estate

American Express Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon, Old Mutual Trophy for Best Red Wine Overall

Delaire Graff Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2013

Grande Roche Trophy for Best White Blend, Old Mutual Trophy for Best White Wine Overall

Tokara Director’s Reserve 2014

Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc, Old Mutual International Judges’ Trophy,

Old Mutual Trophy for Discovery of the Show / Best Value Gold Medallist

Secret Cellar Chenin Blanc No. 235 2015 (Ultra Liquors)

Miele Trophy for Best Chardonnay

Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2013

Nestlé Pure Life Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc

Nederburg The Young Airhawk Wooded Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Riedel Trophy for Best Bordeaux-Style Red Blend

Gabriëlskloof The Blend 2013

Tony Mossop Trophy for Best Cape Port

KWV Classic Collection Cape Tawny NV

Trophy for Best Semillon

Franschhoek Vineyards Semillon 2014 (Franschhoek Cellar)

Trophy for Best Cabernet Franc

Vrede en Lust Artisan Cabernet Franc 2014

Trophy for Best Shiraz

Stellar Organics No Sulphur Added Shiraz 2015

Best Shiraz Blend,winner of the Trophy for Best Non-Bordeaux Red Blend

Zonnebloem Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier 2014

Trophy for Best Pinotage

Brampton Pinotage 2014

Trophy for Best Merlot

GrootePost Merlot 2014

Trophy for Best Unfortified Dessert Wine

Nederburg Private Bin Eminence Noble Late Harvest Muscadel 2012

Trophy for Best Fortified Dessert Wine

Landzicht Wit Muskadel 2015

Trophy for Best Museum Class Unfortified Dessert Wine and Trophy for Best Museum Class Wine Overall

Neethlingshof Short Story Collection Maria Noble Late Harvest 2009

Trophy for Best Museum Class Sauvignon Blanc

KWV Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Trophy for Best Museum Class White Blend

Vergelegen G.V.B 2012

Trophy for Best Museum Class Chardonnay

KWV The Mentors Chardonnay 2011

Trophy for Best Museum Class Chenin Blanc

Bosman Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2011

Trophy for Best Museum Class Cape Port

KWV Limited Release Port 1948

For more, see www.trophywineshow.co.za

 

 

2016 SHIRAZ CHALLENGE WINNERS 

 

Twelve  Shiraz wines were crowned  victors during the award ceremony of the 4th Shiraz Challenge held at Rhebokskloof in Paarl. A handful of cellars are staking their claim in the contest for the country’s foremost Shiraz by repeatedly winning top honours with five producers in particular taking the lead.

 

Top 12

Alto Shiraz 2013

Babylonstoren Shiraz 2014

Cederberg Shiraz 2014

De Morgenzon Reserve Syrah 2014

Eagles’ Nest Shiraz 2013

Fairview Eenzaamheid Shiraz 2013

KWV The Mentors Shiraz 2013

KWV Laborie Limited Collection Shiraz 2014

Rickety Bridge Shiraz 2013

Saronsberg Shiraz 2014

Strandveld Syrah 2012

Windmeul Shiraz Reserve 2013

 

 In the division for Shiraz blends Alvi’s Drift, Eikendal and Middelvlei showed their mettle

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The Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report 2016

 

In conjunction with Prescient, a multinational financial services provider, Winemag.co.za is pleased to present the fifth annual Cabernet Sauvignon Report. Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s best travelled dark-skinned wine grape. In its traditional home of Bordeaux, it’s a component of some the world’s greatest wines and it’s been taken up far and wide as producers seek to emulate this. In South Africa, it’s the third most widely planted variety making up 12% of the national vineyard. The Report was devised to scrutinise the top producers on an annual basis.There were 60 wines in the line-up, submission by invitation only and judged blind. 12 wines were rated 90 or higher on the 100-point quality scale .

The top wines

94
Delaire Graff Reserve 2013
Price: R500

Spier Woolworths Private Collection 2013
Woolworths price: R149.95

93
Plaisir de Merle 2012
Price: R180

92
Nederburg II Centuries 2012
Price: R345

91
Môreson Magia 2013
Price: R750

Thelema 2012
Price: R195

Vergenoegd 2011
Price: R190

90
Boekenhoutskloof Stellenbosch 2014
Price: R420

Fleur du Cap Unfiltered 2013
Price: R144

Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection 2013
Price: R115

Rickety Bridge Paulina's Reserve 2013
Price: R250

Stony Brook Ghost Gum 2012
Price: R275

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WARMING  MUSCADEL WINNERS 

 

Winners of The 14th Muscadel SA Awards, sponsored by Enartis SA, were announced at, Paarl on 26 May. From the 16 entries received, Orange River Cellars White Muscadel 2015 and Du Toitskloof Cellar Red Muscadel 2014 triumphed.

 

The Breede Valley showed once again why it is the “soetes” capital with a handful of gold awards: Van Loveren Rooi Muskadel 2015, Rooiberg Red Muscadel 2015, Badsberg Red Muscadel 2014 and De Wet Cellar, who took gold last year as well, won gold for their De Wet CellarRooi Muskadel 2014.

 Boplaas from Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo won gold for the second consecutive year for their Boplaas Heritage White Muscadel. .

This year’s judges were Dave Hughes, David Biggs (wine writer), Bennie Howard (Cape Wine Master), Gert Van Deventer (winemaker) and Winifred Bowman (Cape Wine Master).

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The Wolftrap Steakhouse Championships 2016

Twenty Finalists have been announced and the 2016 Champion Steakhouse will be announced on 21 June

The 2016 finalists in alphabetical order, and colour-coded according to location, are:

  • Cattle Baron, Mossel Bay - Southern Cape
  • Cattle Baron, Tableview - Western Cape
  • Havana Grill, Durban - KwaZulu Natal
  • Hillside Tavern, Lynnwood, Pretoria - Gauteng
  • 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
  • Longhorn Steakhouse, Bloemfontein - Free State
  • Milhaus, Kyalami, Midrand, Johannesburg (North) - Gauteng
  • Milhaus, Olympus, Pretoria - Gauteng
  • Pioneer’s Butcher & Grill, Hazyview - Mpumalanga
  • Texas Grill, George - Southern Cape
  • The Butcher Restaurant, Camps Bay - Western Cape
  • The Cricketer, East London - Eastern Cape
  • The Godfather, Centurion, Pretoria - Gauteng
  • The Grumpy Griller, George - Southern Cape
  • The Hussar Grill, Rondebosch - Western Cape
  • The Local Grill, Parktown North, Johannesburg (North) - Gauteng – 2013 and 2014 Champion
  • ·  Woodstock Grill & Tap, Woodstock - Western Cape
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