Marzipan, chocolate, summer entertainments

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Marzipan, chocolate, summer entertainments
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The latest news from John & Lynne ford, owners of Main Ingredient, one of the many gems in Cape Town.
DINNER IN AND OUT We often 'eat in' with friends and some of them are really accomplished cooks. On Monday, we were invited to finish some wonderful gravadlax a friend had made. Absolutely sensational. She had used dill, brown sugar and vodka - not too much of any of them - and it was fragrant, firm but moist and delicious. She had also made an amazing seared tuna with avocado. We managed to polish off a bottle of Newton Johnson Rosé and a Cape Point Sauvignon Blanc while watching the stupendous sunset you see above from their beachfront balcony. What a wonderful life we lead. We are very grateful.

Last Friday, we were invited to the opening of Vanilla restaurant in the new Cape Quarter extension - very well attended and lots of very glamorous and well known people in a beautifully designed venue. Lovely Moët and Chandon Champagne and local bubbles were served with some interesting canapés. The staff is very professional and well trained. We will return soon to try out the menu, which promises good things.

Lindt Chocolate Studio The studio has moved to the older Cape Quarter centre and the re-opening was a really decadent occasion as we were served non-stop chocolate treats from arrival to departure! Western Cape Premier Helen Zille unveiled a portrait of herself in chocolate - very op art Andy Warhol - made by head chef Albert Henry. Our hosts plied us with an interesting red wine, berry and chocolate cocktail and red and white wine from Leopards Leap. There was a chocolate fountain and hand-made chocolates - the pistachio was everyone's favourite - and then marvellous confections: macaroons, chocolate brownies, petits fours and a white chocolate pudding, amongst others. They run marvellous chocolate courses. Check their web site.

Needing something savoury after that, we went next door to Tank and shared a plate of mixed sushi. The experience was ruined for us, again, by people smoking in the restaurant and we had to move to the back where they opened a window for us. Sadly there was a howling gale outside, so we had to close it and put up with the smoke. Both of us suffered seriously nasal problems during dinner, John with a headache and Lynne with aching sinus. People in the know tell us it was probably caused by MSG - possibly added to the sushi? We were not impressed by the price we paid for two glasses of KC sauvignon blanc, the normally inexpensive second label from Klein Constantia. The wine is usually very good value, but not at R42 per glass. Other restaurants sell similar quality wine for half that.

Marzipan Did you know that last Sunday was called Stirring Sunday and it was the day on which we were supposed to make our Christmas cakes and puddings. Co-incidentally, Lynne did make John his favourite Christmas cake and, fortuitously, Checkers has a special on ready to roll white icing. BUT we still need marzipan (the so-called “marzipan” in the supermarkets is made from peanuts and not almonds) and today we bought a large quantity of ground almonds. If you need any, we have them in 200g bags and if you need a recipe for the best marzipan you have ever tasted, here it is. And it is very easy and quick. You do, preferably, need real almond extract as it makes all the difference to the taste. We have the Nielsen Massey - if you want to smell how different it is from the supermarket essence, we have an open sample bottle. Come and try it.

100g icing sugar - 100 g caster sugar - 200g ground almonds - 1 t lemon juice - a few drops Almond extract - 1 beaten egg. Sift the icing sugar and caster sugar into a bowl, add the almonds. Then stir in the lemon juice, the almond extract and the egg using your hands or a spoon until you have a firm but workable dough. Knead lightly, then roll out. This is enough to cover a 7 inch/18 cm cake. Make double if you have a larger Christmas cake. You can also use the marzipan for confectionery – roll it out and use it to stuff dates, or make small rounds or squares and enrobe in dark chocolate.

Gardening experiment Because we found that a courgette plant takes up rather a lot of ground space, we have planted some in a hanging basket with regular water coming in a drip feed from our automatic watering system. We hope it will be a success and will report as it goes along. We hear that you can grow cucumbers and tomatoes this way. We will feed with organic liquid fertiliser from time to time. If anyone has any experience of growing vegetables this way, we would be delighted to learn more.

We have had the great good fortune to taste Jeremy Walker’s Grangehurst wines twice in the last two weeks, once at the farm and then at a wine club meeting last night, where we tasted 2001 and 2002 vintages of his Pinotage, Nikela blend (one of Lynne’s favourite wines) and Cabernet Merlot and two 2005 wines made for special releases. It is very rare to experience such consistently high quality across a range of single varietal and blended wines from several different vintages.

New and replenished More stock has arrived of Mavis’ popular coriander chilli chutney, Spanish smoked paprika and Italian red wine vinegar. New, very affordable additions to our wine selection are Landskroon Bush Camp rosé and unwooded chardonnay. The La Capra wines in last Saturday’s tasting were a huge success, especially the malbec and the viognier and we will have more for you soon.

Food and Wine entertainment for you

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 tomorrow, 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 to check if tickets are still available.

At the annual Elgin Open Gardens this weekend, 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 which surrounds the historic homestead.

The Pasta Factory will host a cooking demo with Chef Justin Paterson, on Wednesday 11th November. He is the head of the practical training department at The Culinary Academy. R50 per person includes the show, a glass of wine or soft drink on arrival, some tasters plus a LUCKY DRAW. Order any meal & drink off the menu at any point. To book, phone 021 423 3003 asap to avoid disappointment.

The third Voor Paardeberg Annual Wine Fair will happen on Saturday 14th November between 11h00 and 18h00, giving you a chance to meet the seven passionate producers who cultivate this untamed landscape. Entry includes free wine tasting of more than 40 wines as well as an elegant crystal tasting glass. Tickets: R100 adults, children under 18 free. Purchase tickets prior to the festival & by sending an email or visit www.voorpaardeberg.co.za for online ticket sales, or purchase your ticket at the entrance on the day. A limited number of tickets is available.

Join the Jesse Jordan Band on Sunday, 15th November between 17h00 and 20h00 for pure rock and roll and catchy melodies at Durbanville Hills summer evening sunset concert. The concert will take place under the olive trees and you can bring your own chairs, blankets and picnic goodies. Tickets cost R50 per person. No alcohol may be brought onto the premises. Durbanville Hills wine will be on sale. Booking is essential. To book or for more information, contact Simone Brown on 021 558 1300 or by sending an email.

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
Have a question?
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