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Uncorked wine, liver and onions in the Franschhoek Valley

September 21, 2012 5 comments

Tucked away behind the zhoosh coffee shops and bistros on the Franschhoek main road at the intersection with Reservoir Street you’ll find Café de Arts, a delightful little eatery run by Chris Hoffman and Louise Rambert.

I had the good fortune to eat lunch (and dinner) there on the Saturday of Franschhoek Uncorked a couple of weeks ago, and was I impressed!

Chris Hoffman hard at work in his open plan kitchen at Cafe des Arts, turning out his signature dishes.

Originally the preserve of the legendary and much loved Topsi Venter, the restaurant was taken over by Chris and Louise a couple of years ago when Topsi retired. Chris, who was running Café de Arts in Kalk Bay at the time, actually trained as a chef at Topsi’s some 16 years ago, so in many ways he was coming home.

I love liver so when I saw lambs liver with chilli roast potatoes, balsamic onions and bacon (R78) on the menu my choice was simple, and what a great decision!The menu is eclectic in that it changes literally daily, depending upon what’s available fresh and local Louise tells me, and it’s short but despite its brevity, choosing a dish is tricky.

The lamb was melt in the mouth tender, the creamy sauce just richly right, with a tiny hint of chilli, and the crispy bacon slices the perfect topping. Read more…

And so the big American adventure begins….

November 2, 2011 7 comments

Flight Emirates EK771m, Cape Town to Dubai: 23h40 CAT somewhere over Africa

The 10 hour flight path from Cape Town to Dubai on Emirates

I’ve finally figured out that I hate long distance travel. Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting new and interesting places, but I hate getting there and back. Take this current odyssey to  Los Angeles which is depressingly far away; 26 hours of flying time, and three hours of layover.

The journey commenced a few hours ago when Emirates flight EK771 from Cape Town lifted off the runway (almost on time I might add, only 12 minutes late!) at 18.22 and headed north-north-east for Dubai in the UAE. The pre-flight cabin routine went of with the usual degree of enthusiasm from the cabin staff, and the usual degree of attention from passengers, which is to say pretty much nothing from either. We’d all done or heard it before, depending upon which side of the blow-up life jacket your were sitting or standing on.

The plane was chock-a-block, full to the ceiling, and much as I had a seat at the emergency exit, I had leg room but little elbow room, at least on the one side. I’d cleverly (I thought) asked for an aisle seat, because that way I wouldn’t have to wake up a grumpy fellow traveller to get to the toilet during the flight.  Of course, sitting at the emergency exit means you can simply get up and walk around your neighbour’s feet, so I could have taken the window seat which gives you something to lean your weary head on once exhaustion overtakes the discomfort inherent in long distance flying in cattle truck class! Read more…

De Wetshof “The Site” Chardonnay and white sand mussel chowder

Preparation Time: 60 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes Yield: 4

White sand mussel chowder paired with Danie De Wet's fabulous 2009 "The Site" Single Vineyard Chardonnay

A recent holiday in Knysna found me on the beach at Brenton-on-Sea in search of white sand mussels. Commonly used for bait by fishermen all the way along our coastline, I’ve often wondered what sort of chowder they would make.

I’d taken a bottle of Danie De Wets’ 2009 “The Site” Chardonnay on holiday with me (along with a whole bunch of other wines, naturally!) and I had this plan to pair a white sand mussel chowder, made with crème fraiche, with this single vineyard Chardonnay. More about the wine and how it paired with the chowder later on. Read more…

Perdeberg cracks the nod in Chenin Blanc Challenge

January 26, 2011 4 comments

Riaan Moller


 

The drive up to Hidden Valley is not for the faint hearted. After turning of the Annandale Road hard by Peter Falke Wines, the road narrows alarmingly, and each approaching blind corner and rise pushes up the pulse rate from the adrenaline spurt which anticipates taking sudden avoiding action if an oncoming motorist, perhaps inattentive from imbibing at one or more of the many wine estates along the road, challenges you.

Read more…

What would life be without chillies?

January 24, 2011 2 comments

Christopher Columbus, the man we must thank for introducing the chilli to the Old World.

Christopher Columbus could have had little idea just how profound would be the impact, of him mistaking chillies (Capsicum) for the much sought after pepper (Piper nigrum), which he discovered in the Caribbean, while looking for a Western sea route to the East.

In what became known as the Columbian Exchange – a phrase coined by historian Alfred W Crosby in his book of the same name – in which the New World exchanged animals, plants and diseases with the Old World, chillies along with the likes of maize, potatoes and tomatoes were introduced into Europe by Columbus and his fellow explorers. Read more…

First Sighting 2009 Anders Sparrman Pinot Noir – a tribute to our history

October 11, 2010 1 comment

 

The starkly beautiful cellar at Strandveld Vineyards, the southern most vineyard on the African continent

 

When Bartholomew Dias’ expedition rounded the Cape of Good Hope in January 1488, he was completely unaware of it. Adverse winds had pushed his three tiny ships far south, and after sailing east for some time without sighting land, he realised that he had probably rounded the southern tip of the Prasum Promontorium (Green Promontory) postulated centuries before by the Egyptian geographer, Ptolemy.

He then sailed north for a few days, until the featureless tip of the continent, where Africa tumbles into the South Atlantic was sighted, and he named it Cape Agulhas (the Cape of the Needles).

Legend has it that on or about May 16, 1488, Bartholomew Dias set foot on shore at Cape Agulhas. He climbed the low hill, all of 260m high, behind and between what is today L’Agulhas and Arniston, and looking down towards the sea, his eye would have fallen for the first time, on the land which is today the home of Strandveld Vineyards, and more specifically, the vineyard blocks from which comes the First Sighting “Anders Sparrman” 2009 Pinot Noir. Read more…

De Wetshof Chardonnay d’Honneur and Cannelloni

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment
Preparation Time: 60 minutes Cooking Time: 90 minutes Yield: 4

Cannelloni it seems means “large reed”, an apt description for the large pasta tubes with a savoury stuffing that carry the name, except that they are actually manicotti.

Cannelloni are made from a rectangle of cooked pasta, into which a savoury filling is rolled, then baked in either a tomato or béchamel sauce.

The closest one can come to real cannelloni without a pasta maker, is to use lasagne sheets in which to wrap your selected filling. Alternatively, one can buy what are called cannelloni tubes (but which are really manicotti!) and use them instead. They tend to be a bit finicky, because once cooked they are quite delicate, so I’d opt for the lasagne sheets instead, if you do not have a pasta maker. Read more…