Archive for June, 2010

Smile, you’re on candid camera

The iconic Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden as it appears on Google Street View

Google Street View has arrived in the Cape Winelands. The groundbreaking system was launched during an innovative teleconference last Thursday, led by Google product manager for Europe and Africa, Jarda Bengle, speaking from Google’s European offices in Zurich, Switzerland.

Mr Bengle “walked” participating media people through the finer details of Google Street View, the controversial mapping system that allows users to move virtually around a growing variety of places of interest from the comfort of home, provide the user has a reasonably fast Internet connection. The controversy arose when Street View was first mooted, because it was seen in some quarters to be a violation of personal privacy, with the up close and personal views that it made available over the Internet of people, places, motor vehicles, homes, and businesses. Read more…


Out of the rot comes forth sweetness

June 23, 2010 1 comment

Die Bergkelder's 2009 Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest, the first vintage to be made from Chenin Blanc

Pieter Badenhorst of Fleur du Cap is the first winemaker I’ve listened to who actually explains the intricacies, pitfalls and barnacles inherent in making a noble late harvest (NLH) or noble rot wine.

Most all other explanations I’ve heard are glib and misleading, as if this benign fungus invades the vineyard and gently turns the grapes into super-sweet raisins, while the viticulturist and winemaker sit back with arms folded waiting for the right moment to harvest.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The fungus Botrytis cinerea infects grapes during the flowering stage but it manifests much later during the ripening stage. Intense humidity followed by longer dry warm periods at just the right time, results in noble rot (édelfaule in German), whereas sustained humidity with no warm periods of relieving dryness, leads to grey rot, The former is divine the latter, disastrous.

The most prevalent legend about the origins of botrytised wines says that the Reisling producers of Schloss Johannisberg (Geisenheim in the Rheingau region, not Jhb SA!) had to wait for the permission of the estate owner, Heinrich von Bibra, Bishop of Fulda, to commence the harvest. In 1775, the abbey messenger was waylaid en route by brigands and the ensuing delay of three weeks allowed the Botriytis to take hold. The shrivelled, raisin-like grapes were considered worthless, and given to the local peasants, who made a surprisingly good sweet wine, the very first “late harvest” or as it became known, Spatlëse. Read more…

Morgenster 2006: A step closer to Guilio Bertrand’s dream

June 17, 2010 1 comment

Guilio Bertand and Pierre Lurton enjoy a glass of Morgenster Rose at the Field House during the Morgenster 2006 launch

When Henry Kotze said he had big shoes to fill at Morgenster, he wasn’t kidding. It was the occasion of the annual launch of the next vintage of the boutique Helderberg estate’s Lourens River Valley and flagship Morgenster Bordeaux style blends, and Henry had the daunting task of introducing the 2006 vintage made by his predecessor, Marius Lategan, who moved to La Bri in Franschhoek when Henry took over as cellar master late last year.

Presided over as usual by estate owner Guilio Bertrand, the annual bash at the Morgenster Estate commenced in the tasting room, with a foreword by consultant winemaker Pierre Lurton, who made the annual pilgrimage from Bordeaux to be part of the unveiling of what many people consider to be one of the finest Bordeaux style blends in the country. Read more…

Feta and Basil Stuffed Calamari

June 15, 2010 1 comment
Preparation Time: 60 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes Yield: 4-6

The genesis of a recipe can be fascinating. A reader stopped me at the gym other day, and asked if I’d ever eaten calamari tubes stuffed with feta and basil. Seems he’d enjoyed the dish at a local restaurant, and wanted to replicate the dish at home.

That was more than enough to send me off on a wild goose chase, in search of a suitable recipe, but after trawling the Internet, and my not inconsiderable collection of recipe books – from Larousse Gastronomique to Stephanie Alexander’s “The Cook’s Companion” all the way from the land of sheep and South African ex-pats – ended up drawing a blank. Read more…

Lunch at Eikendal

The modern cellar/restaurant/tasting room complex at Eikendal Vineyards, seen from across one of the limpid trout dams that grace the estate, the back slope of the imposing Helderberg Mountain in the near distance

An email arrived in my mail box on Monday, which offered the alluring prospect of lunch with a lovely lady at a wine estate with spectacular views, and a couple of trout dams in situ.

Those who know the area will recognise it as Eikendal Vineayards, just  a short distance from Somerset West on the R44 to Stellenbosch. I  accepted with alacrity, knowing that the food would be cooked by the engaging and talented Mark Radnay, the exec chef at Bayede!, Eikendal’s recently relaunched eatery,  that the wine would be something intriguing from the Eikendal cellar, and that the company would be divine. Read more…

Categories: Food, Travel, Wine

Spicy Thai-style Pesto

Preparation Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 0 minutes Yield: 300ml

Dear wife Eppie has been banging on at me about making pesto. We’ve got this enormous perennial basil bush growing in the back garden, and because it is so vigorous, it sprouts leaves at a rate of knots. If it is left to its own devices, and the leaves not harvested, it eventually goes to seed, and becomes quite woody and the flavours and aromas coarsen somewhat.

Rather than make the traditional Italian style pesto that is so common – and quite fabulous with pasta by the way – I decided to do something with a bit of a bite. I remember tasting a Thai-style pesto some time back at a market stall, and I was much taken with it. From the flavours it had, it clearly contained fresh coriander, basil, chilli, Parmesan cheese, garlic, pine nuts and of course olive oil. Read more…

Rye Bread Revisited

Preparation Time: 60 minutes Baking Time: 30 minutes Yield: 1 loaf

I did a rye bread recipe a few weeks ago which was very well received, despite my initially talking of 125ml cups rather than 250ml cups of flour! Apologies to those who made what amounted to sticky gingerbread!

The previous recipe was a soda bread, which relied on baking powder and baking soda as raising agents, required virtually no kneading, and didn’t need to prove, so it was very quick and easy.

It made a fairly dense loaf, and whilst many people enjoy it, including daughter Alex, I find it a bit too sweet for my taste because of the ¼ cup honey included in the recipe.

A visit to the market at the Lourensford Estate at the beginning of the month (market at Lourensford first weekend of the month, 9am to 4pm both days) resulted in a chance encounter with Pierre Verneau whose bakery is right there on the premises. Read more…

Categories: Entertainment, Food, Provenance