Good and bad meals, pain au chocolat and other taste temptations

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Good and bad meals, pain au chocolat and other taste temptations
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This weeks new installment from John & Lynne ford, owners of Main Ingredient, one of the many gems in Cape Town.
It has been such a busy week; our heads are spinning and any semblance of ‘cutting down’ on eating and drinking has gone completely by the board. And the next week looks equally busy. What larks!

Best and Worst Last Wednesday, we were treated to a lovely meal at Bizerca by an English friend who likes to try our recommendations when he is visiting. It was full and busy that evening as it is, we hear, most evenings. Lynne found her combination of dishes to be an absolutely perfect mix. She started with four slices of the tenderest veal tongue served with a superb sauce and accompanied by a rappé of celeriac from the blackboard menu. Then the small portion of raw salmon salad which was dressing in an Asian sauce possibly with Ponzu or Soy, with micro greens and topped with 3 spoonfuls of creamy goats cheese, and served with slices of thin, toasted ciabatta. Absolute perfection, from their printed menu. As she had two small courses, she believed she could manage a pudding and there was her downfall, but only later! On one plate comes a warm bitter chocolate fondant, a spoonful of the deepest raspberry sorbet AND a small crème brulée. She won’t learn that an allergy to dairy is fired by crème brulée. John had a pork and duck terrine served with thin slices of lightly toasted bread and a duck rillette, which was followed by a Provencal fricassee of lamb and a slice of French chocolate tart which was accompanied by a strawberry compote and just enough home made vanilla ice cream. They have a good selection of wines by the glass, so we were all able to match suitable wines to each course.

On Thursday, we went to the Wine Magazine Cap Classique tasting and afterwards, because we hadn’t been to the Cape Quarter for a long time, decided to try the special at Andiamo, because the idea of sitting in the piazza on a balmy summer evening appealed to us. The special had finished the previous Sunday! Honestly, had we examined the menu before we sat down, we probably would have gone to Tank, but we decided to stay. Sadly, not much on the menu spoke to us but we were hungry and needed something to soak up the bubbly, so we both ordered Calzone. They were absolutely awful because they used a cheese which, as John puts it: “has been made by that famous Italian cheese maker Pirelli”. Lynne donated half of hers to the dustbin. The restaurant was buzzing as it was a lovely evening to sit outside but, regrettably, there is still a lot of smoking going on in the Piazza, despite the z signs, and we won’t return until it is stopped; it always ruins the atmosphere for us. The manager we spoke to said that there was nothing he could do about it! The hefty fine might change his mind.

Sunday found us joining friends at the Helderberg Festival, where we started by sampling the wines of Miravel, Romond and Heron Ridge at Romond, paid visits to Grangehurst and Annandale and then stopped for a long, lazy lunch at Dornier, where we had a table on the shady verandah with a view over the red brick winery which clashes with the scenery and the beautiful mountainside beyond. The menu featured a range of dishes suited to a long, easy summer Sunday lunch, including a generous platter of cold meats, dips and patés, a good crisp rosti topped with smoked trout and asparagus; and duck spring rolls served with chilli jam. To end the day on a pleasant note, we went round the corner to Kleinood, where Gerard de Villiers produces his Tamboerskloof viognier and shiraz and De Boerin olive oil in a beautiful small winery. A full day of good company and food and many very good wines.

The new Cape Quarter extension off Somerset Road has an open courtyard with several new and interesting wining and dining venues. Among these, Cru Café offers a range of options, from tapas and light meals to dishes for a heartier appetite. We enjoyed starters of onion tarte tatin, and an enormous salad of roasted asparagus, blue cheese, avo, parmesan and pine nuts. We both had fillet served with roasted garlic & potato cakes with a red wine bone marrow reduction and Lynne had another crème brulée (she can’t resist) and John the SA dessert plate – take your tourists for this. The wine list has been chosen by Cape Wine Master Elsie Pels and is quite a rarefied list of wines, some quite expensive for the wine bar concept they have, but we’d have it as a wish list. We love the Ronald Searle wine murals.

Sadly, there is no recipe this week due to lack of space, but Lynne is working on one using broad beans, which she will cook this weekend. It’s the season and the beans in our garden are coming along fast. Woolworths has them too.

New and replenished products The French patés are proving very popular and we should have more today. Great news, for a short while, is that our croissant supplier has found a few cases of the popular Pain au Chocolat and we have taken them. Get them while you can. We also have mini almond croissants, made in Belgium like the others, and more of the double chocolate and hazelnut Danish pastries. We’ve added a “mittelscharf” German mustard to the range of mustards in the shop and also have jars of French Cornichons for gherkin lovers. Stock of Asian specialities such as Kewra water (pandanus extract), orange blossom water and rose water are in, as is asafoetida for those who want to give that special flavour to their Indian dishes. We also have crushed chilli and cinnamon quills for Christmas. We have replenished our stock of truffle oils, and can still get fresh Italian truffles flown in from Italy at about a week’s notice. Truffle salt continues to be in great demand. The Christmas puddings Lynne made in June are maturing well and should be even better by Christmas.

Axe Hill’s delicious white port is selling very fast, but we can still get stock and we have a bottle open for you to taste. The coffee character Barista pinotage is back on the shelf to cater to the many people who are fond of that flavour. It’s a style of wine which is converting many young people from other beverages to wine. The La Capra wines ordered for Saturday’s tasting are in the shop, but we’ll keep them closed till Saturday. Come in then and try them. We’ve heard good things about them.

Online Petition against electricity price increases: If you’d like to protest against Eskom’s drastic raising of the electricity tariff, please click on http://www.petitiononline.com/no2eskom/petition.html and sign the petition. You will receive an e-mail confirming that your signature against electricity price increases was received.

Food and Wine entertainment for you

RMB WineX Johannesburg 2009 - 10th Anniversary Edition – visit it today or tomorrow at The Pavilion, Sandton Convention Centre, Maude Street, Sandton from 5pm to 9pm daily. Tickets at the door: Thursday R100; Friday R120, includes tasting glass and unlimited tastings.   or Telephone 083 915 8000. The November issue of Wine magazine has a comprehensive guide to all the exhibitors as well as recommendations from Michael Fridjhon, Christian Eedes, Carrie Adams and Neil Pendock.

At the eighth Wine Concepts “Finer things in Life” Champagne Festival at the Vineyard Hotel and Spa in Newlands, Cape Town, there will be more than 40 cuvées of this illustrious tipple on offer to titillate your taste buds on November 6th from 18h00 to 21h00. Indulge in an impressive selection of champagnes, fresh oysters, rare cheeses and fine chocolates. Tickets cost R250 from Wine Concepts stores or at the door on the evening. Phone Newlands, 021 671 9030 or Kloof Street, 021 426 4401 or send an email. Booking is advisable to avoid disappointment.

At the annual Elgin Open Gardens on the weekends starting 31st October and 7th November, many of the beautiful gardens in the Elgin, Bot River and Houw Hoek area will be open for everyone to enjoy. Among the attractions you might want to visit, the Beaumont family’s wine farm in Bot River, with the oldest wine cellar and water mill in the Overberg, offers brunches, lunches & high tea by Zest Catering between 10h00 and 17h00 each day. Fun in the open air, overlooking the willow clad dam in their free flowing country garden surrounding the historic homestead. Click on the highlighted hyperlinks to book for all these events or to learn more about them.

Weekend market: 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 and a good wine to go with it. Wine and food are inseparable partners.

Regards,

John & Lynne
Main Ingredient
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