Spring, restaurants and wine (good and not-so-great)

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Spring, restaurants and wine (good and not-so-great)
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The latest news from John & Lynne ford, owners of Main Ingredient, one of the many gems in Cape Town.
The weather has thwarted our ideas of taking another ride up the West Coast to see the spring flowers, but the flowers in our garden are doing their best!

We have had a busy and slightly exhausting week, but we have had fun. Our visitors from Hawaii arrived on Saturday, after the painter had left and we had restored the house to a semblance of order. We took them to Hout Bay to see the sea and the lovely Atlantic coastal drive before feeding them the Warthog Potjie and a melktert and lighting a huge fire. When is Chapman’s Peak Drive going to be open again? And when is winter going to end?

Pomegranate
Our trip on Sunday to Postberg Nature reserve didn’t happen - it was absolutely bucketing down, so we were off to see Stellenbosch, Oom Samie se Winkel and a leisurely lunch at Pomegranate. This charming restaurant on Vergenoegd farm is really worth a trip for any visitors to the Cape. The main house was built in 1773 and is exquisitely furnished. We had a tasting of their excellent selection of red wines and port and tried to admire the collection of ducks and coots in the lake outside, but the weather wasn’t letting up, so we retreated to the restaurant for a marvellous meal at a table right in front of the roaring fire. Lynne’s crèpe with wild mushrooms and white truffle oil was a delight. John had a risotto which included shreds of springbok with a delicious, meaty red wine jus. One of our guests had their signature tomato tart with puff pastry made by the chef-proprietor, while the other enjoyed a seafood Thai salad. Three of us had Kabeljou in a beurre blanc with leeks and mashed potato – fresh fish, delicious sauce and very comforting. Spotless plates were returned to the kitchen. Peggy had a fillet of Kudu, which she really enjoyed so much that she asked for more jus. We didn’t have room for dessert and the bill with 2 bottles of Mooiplaas Chenin, coffee and tip was just over R800, which we think is excellent value, especially when one considers the excellent quality. John takes wine tour clients there and we will definitely return later in the year.

Wine Mag Shiraz tasting

After the somewhat controversial Wine Magazine top 10 Shiraz tasting at the Nellie, we were invited to join friends at Casa Nostra, a new small Italian bistro near us in Regent Road. Home made pasta, lots of vegetarian options, good pizza selection too, only three desserts, good coffee and friendly staff. You need to book.
With regard to the tasting, some of you may have seen the video on the Wine magazine website, in which Carrie Adams of Norman Goodfellows in Johannesburg had a huge problem with the Kango Cellars shiraz, which was awarded 4½ stars. We agree with her: Lynne gave it 12 points out of 20 and John, generously, gave it 13. ’Nuff, as they say, said! It was horrible. However, we loved the Lynx, Rudi Schultz, Dombeya and Kleine Zalze shirazes which stood out well above the other six in the tasting. On the subject of competitions, we were thrilled to read that Danie Steytler’s Kaapzicht Steytler Pinotage 2006 has won the International Trophy for Best Single Red Varietal above £10 in Decanter’s annual competition in London – probably the best accolade our unique grape has achieved.

We also attended the opening of Portofino in the premises which formerly housed The Showroom. The new owner has brought the restaurant and contents lock, stock and barrel, so you won’t feel much has changed. The chef has, and we were served plate after plate of bruschetta with our drinks. Many of the staff appear to have come from Nova, Richard Carstens’ late lamented restaurant. They have a small menu with a simple Italian flavour, a la Jamie Oliver or River Café. We await reports of the food quality.

On a higher note, we were invited to the launch of De Grendel’s new Bordeaux style red blend, Rubaiyat, at the farm yesterday. One of us had to keep the shop open, so John was the lucky attendee. We go to many wine tastings and launches, and this stood out above most. The wine is magnificent, very rich and complex, with aromas and flavours of violets, black cherries, blackcurrants and even hints of chocolate. It is great now, but will improve for a good number of years. It is reasonably priced for a wine of this quality. Let us know if you would like to order it and we will quote you. We believe it will rival many of the “iconic” wines and it will cost you a fraction of the price of most of them. The launch was made more special because chef Nic van Wyk, from the fabulous Stellenbosch restaurant Terroir, presented a selection of dishes to complement the wine, including baby lamb cutlets with rosemary and garlic jus, beef fillet with smoked salt and brown butter, lamb’s liver with caramelised onion pies, grilled wild mushroom polenta and gruyère cheese and North Indian black lentil and sweet potato curry. The matches were excellent; even the mildly spiced curry being a good partner for the wine. Rumours abound and one which we have heard is that Hidden Valley Wine Estate and their renowned Overture restaurant had closed. We are happy to report that the rumour is false and sad that anyone could be so malicious as to spread it.

Fabulous Frightening Fried Food - Fritters
Lynne practically never fries anything – it’s too fattening, bad for the health and the smell in the kitchen is very pervasive. However at this time of year, when winter just won’t end, comfort food like Banana, apple or pumpkin fritters springs to mind and she weakens. Here is a very simple recipe for a batter into which you can dip peeled and halved bananas or slices of apple or pineapple to make fritters. 250g Plain flour – pinch of salt – 2 eggs – 150ml milk – 1 T melted butter

Keep the white of one of the eggs separate and beat till stiff. Mix all the other ingredients together to make the batter and then fold in the stiffly beaten egg white. Heat the oil. Dip the fruit or cooked and seasoned butternut or pumpkin (formed into patties first) into the batter and fry in hot oil until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon when they are done and serve, with honey, maple or golden syrup.

New/Back in store
Truffle oils: Black and white; Tahini base from Israel And Za’atar, Sumac, Harissa, Zhoug and Falafel spice. Wedgewood’s marvellous Angels nougat shortbread biscuits have disappeared in advance of the Jewish New Year, but we should have more tomorrow, and we also expect more of the fabulous pomegranate Salad Splash and thyme balsamic reduction from Froggit.

Cloof is well known for its selection of red blends, headed by the flagship Lynchpin, and with the likes of Platter four-star Inkspot, which so many of you have enjoyed, in the vanguard. They believe that, by blending, they achieve wines that are not only better balanced, but also more complex. Over the past month they've been selling a selection of 6 different red blends at a discount of over R200 on the normal cellar door price - effectively below their wholesale price. We can’t compete, but we like them, so for R259 (plus R15 for delivery) you get a bottle each of six different wines that would normally cost R465. It's one of those "no-brainer" bargains that we'd all be crazy not to take advantage of. They've set up a dedicated website where you can place your orders.

Peter Allan Finlayson has released three new wines under his Crystallum label: a chardonnay and two pinot noirs, all of which are quite lovely and we have them available to special order. Let us know if you are interested in something different and very good.

Food and Wine entertainment for you
• Cloof’s famous Gourmet BBQ season kicks off this Sunday; menu and future dates are on their website (in the Events & Tastings section). For the last year, the kitchen has been the responsibility of Jonno Proudfoot, previously of Ginja and various other places. We have been lucky enough to enjoy his food and can heartily recommend this as a fabulous day out for the family, or just a loving couple. The meal is priced at R180 per head for a meal of this quality, with wine at cellar-door prices; really good value.

Zevenwacht Wine Farm will host a fundraising dinner for RAEL (Recovering Addicts Empowering Lives) on Monday, 21st September. To book, contact Carmen 021 903 5123 ext: 2219

Savoy Cabbage will hold their second Spring event on Tuesday 29th September: a South African Poetry and Musical Evening with a Menu featuring traditional South African cuisine. Cost: R275.00 per person, service and additional drinks not included. Deposit: R100.00 per person. Telephone: 021 424 2626

• The annual Durbanville Wine Valley Season of Sauvignon will be held from 2nd to 4th October on wine farms in the picturesque Durbanville area.

• Your invitation to Main Ingredient’s Free Saturday morning Wine Tastings every Saturday from about 10am in the shop 19th September: Barista, De Krans pink port and Altydgedacht gewürztraminer

Weekend markets
Nelle and Jane will be on our pavement as usual on Saturday, with their delicious country goodies. Come and buy fresh farm eggs, fruit and vegetables, preserves and home baked breads, cakes and pastries from them and then come and visit us! We will be tasting wines, so do come in and have a chat and a taste and buy something great to cook with this weekend.


Regards,

Lynne & John
Main Ingredient
Have a question?
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