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Posts Tagged ‘Chardonnay’

Of cook books and amakhowe

December 23, 2010 4 comments
Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes Yield: 4

Erica Platter and Cindy Valayadan at the launch of Erica's cook book, East Coast Tables, at 96 Winery Road in Stellenbosch

Erica Platter launched her new cookbook, East Coast Tables, at 96 Winery Road in Stellenbosch a couple of weeks ago. Besides bringing with her Cindy Valayadan from Umhlali, one of the many local food personalities with whom she worked closely in the development of the book, and husband John, she also brought some genuine Natal banana leaves (a local supplier wanted R25 a pop for them!) and something that I have not had the pleasure of seeing for many a long year – amakhowe.

If you’re familiar with isiXhosa or isiZulu, you will recognise amakhowe for what they are – large (up to 25cm across), delicious porcini-like mushrooms that grow wild in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Transkei. They are considered by many to be our local equivalent of truffles.

The cook book – an enticing collection of specialities, flavours, family recipes and kitchen secrets from the Natal Coast – includes a whole section devoted to this remarkable mushroom written by well-known Natal chef, Marco Nico, who recently moved down to settle in Stellenbosch and start an artisanal charcuterie.

Detailed descriptions of popular seasonal ingredients, where to find them, how to prepare and use them, and a plethora of recipes for each, forms a substantial part of the book. Local personalities, like Cindy Valayadan and Marco Nico, are woven into the book with their personal recipes and tips lending remarkable diversity to the book. The recipes are easy to follow, and Clinton Friedman’s food photography is breath-taking. 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…

Is the grass really greener?

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Does it make sense to pursue potentially problem-fraught off-shore markets for South African wine,  when one of the largest US wine producers is entering our local market aggressively?

The Gallo Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, which is expected to retail at R49.95 per bottle.

About 100 people, mostly from wine estates in the area, sat and listened to a Wines of South Africa (WOSA) organised seminar in Stellenbosch last Wednesday about export opportunities into Angola and Nigeria. Neither of these markets is particularly large at present, but growth over the last couple of years appears to have been substantial.

Angola for instance, with an estimated population of around 19 million, has seen annual per capita wine consumption grow from 2.3 litres in 2003 to a projected 12.2 litres next year. Compared to most of the rest of the world, including South Africa, that’s pretty attractive growth. Even France has seen a dramatic decline in wine consumption, from a high of around 55 litres in 2006 to an estimated 48 litres in 2010. South Africa has seen a decline from 7.94 litres in 2008 to an estimated just under 7 litres this year. Whilst the numbers do differ significantly, the magnitude of consumption decline is pretty much the same at about 12-13%.

The picture gets more interesting when one looks at retail wine prices in Angola, which have risen from €1.23 in 2003 to €2.19 in 2009. At current exchange rates, that’s from around R12 (2003) to R20 (2009) a bottle. Now, with the excises, imposts, duties and “back-scratching” amounting to 60% – according to one of the speakers at the WOSA conference – of the cost of the wine, that makes the landed cost around R8 per bottle.  Not terribly much in there from the producer, now is there? 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…

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…