Franschhoek, Portofino & Stupendous Stuffing

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Franschhoek, Portofino & Stupendous Stuffing
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The latest news from John & Lynne ford, owners of Main Ingredient, one of the many gems in Cape Town.
Computer woes  Our email program had a meltdown last weekend and everything in our inbox disappeared into the ether, never to be recovered. There were several requests for names to be added to or removed from our mailing list, and other queries as well. If we have not responded to your messages, this will be the reason, so would you please re-send your message and we’ll take the necessary action.

Franschhoek was glorious on Saturday for the “Magic of Bubbles” MCC and Champagne festival, which appeared to have very good attendance, and some seriously good and interesting bubbles, both local and foreign. Arriving after we closed the shop on Saturday, we didn’t have enough time to taste as much as we’d have liked - and we always meet numerous friends and stop for chats - but Graham Beck always pleases our palates and we especially liked the new vintage of Tanzanite. Simonsig Brut Rosé and Kaapse Vonkel are also favourites. Guy Charbaut champagne might be a less well-known brand, but we were impressed with the blanc de blancs, rosé and blend.

Boschendal scored a slightly sour note when we were poured a glass which was badly corked (seriously nasty musty flavour) and the team behind their counter had no idea what we meant until we had explained several times that they would do themselves no favours by continuing to pour a tainted wine.

We saw lots of you and had a great time until the heat (40ish degrees in the open-sided marquees) got to Lynne and she went into meltdown and ended up in the back of an ambulance! Heat is N0T is not great for low, low blood pressure but once the handsome ambulance crew had plied her with electrolytes and rehydrated her and cooled her down there was a very quick recovery. Marvellous food on the restaurant stands and some were very, very good value. We sampled the seared glazed Salmon at La Provence, fantastic lamb burgers made by Margot Janse at Le Quartier Français and the really authentic bagels with cream cheese and at least half a pound of smoked trout from the Trout Farm stand.

Portofino We accepted an invitation to sample the food at Portofino (the old Showroom) and, surprisingly, we were able to go last Friday night. We had expected town to be very full with the FIFA draw, but it seems that only Long Street was bubbling over. We had a lovely window table, the wind being a bit too strong to allow us to sit outside. We spoke to Cormac, the owner, about his concept and he said he had gone to Books for Cooks in London where he bought a huge pile of cookbooks to bring back to his chef and had shown him the recipes for the dishes he likes and which he thinks his customers will like. We wonder if the chef might find this a tad limiting to his creativity! Starters were in the R40 to R65 range.

We decided to have the antipasti for two which comprises crisp breaded baby calamari, 2 good aubergine bruschetta, olives, thinly sliced seared aubergine with mint (delicious), salami, a mixed salad, pepperoni wrapped around feta, and ham called Parma which, sadly, didn’t taste like Parma. This generous portion for two, which could be a meal for small eaters, cost R85. The next section of the menu is mainly pasta, risotto and gnocchi between R55 to R85 which we though a little too heavy for the warm Friday evening. Then comes the Entrée menu at R90 to R105. John ordered a Veal parcel stuffed with pesto, mozzarella and ricotta with a butternut ravioli and Lynne had four small Lamb cutlets (completely trimmed of all fat) served on a haricot bean purée with a good meat jus.

We did find room for dessert as John had to try Lindt’s Nemesis chocolate cake - absolutely up the best high standard, so Lynne supported him with a lovely crisp lemon tart topped with a lemon ice-cream, no condensed milk flavours in sight. The food is more dinner party than fine dining but is competently prepared. We felt very relaxed and will return in the future to try the pasta, risotto and gnocchi. The one thing we didn’t like was the smell of fat from the grill when something was being cooked, which rather permeates the restaurant. Cormac says the ventilation hood does need to be extended so this shouldn’t happen in future. Our waiter, Raymond, was a complete star and is one of those professionals we so love to see in the industry – and he enhanced our impression by giving Lynne a hug when we left.

Gourmet Lunches  Good friends of ours have a monthly gourmet lunch with 2 other couples. They rotate the starter, main and pud and each month’s hosts are allowed to invite 2 guests. It’s a lovely concept if you have friends who love to cook, drink great wine and eat. We were honoured to be invited last Sunday and had a fabulous meal. We began with a Pomegranate and Campari cocktail with a mussel and avo dip. Lunch started with a cucumber and prawn mousse, followed by Turducken (Turkey stuffed with Duck and Chicken), roast potatoes, crackers of filo filled with spinach purée and the best and most adventurous stuffing we have had – see their recipe below. The luxurious dessert - layers of meringue, cream and Crème de Marron topped with a whole Marron Glace - was followed by coffee and a long rest and no supper after we reached home at 6! Each course is accompanied by three excellent wines thought to match the food, which are served blind so we had to guess at possible location, varietal and maker.

Pete & Michelle’s Stupendous Stuffing 
First Layer: 4 Leeks, sliced – 1 small onion, finely chopped – ½ T canola oil - 25g shelled pistachio nuts – 2 slices stale bread, crumbed – 2 Woolworths Lamb bangers, meat removed from casing - 50g cranberries – small egg to bind – salt and pepper. Fry onions & leeks till soft, mix with the other ingredients and put into a greased bread tin. Add a layer of pancetta or Parma ham then the stuffing, then another layer of pancetta or Parma ham.
Second Layer:10 chopped sun-dried apricots, 25g chopped dry roasted almonds - 1 long celery stick sliced into small half rounds - 2 slices stale bread, crumbed – 2 Woolworths Lamb sausages, meat removed from casing – small egg to bind – salt and pepper. Mix together and layer in tin, cover with a layer of pancetta or Parma ham.
Third Layer: 6 dry slices bread - 1 green apple roughly chopped – 20g fresh sage, roughly chopped - medium onion, roughly chopped – ½ T canola oil - handful of pecan nuts – salt, pepper and egg to bind. Fry onions & leeks till soft, mix with the other ingredients, put into tin and cover with ham. Bake at 180⁰C for 30 minutes then turn out and slice. You could line the tin with foil to make turning out easier. If ham isn’t in your diet, you may substitute slices of smoked chicken.

They also rolled balls, frikkadel sized, with the leftovers and baked in muffin type baking tray, which worked out really well, this time baked open, no foil, but only for 20 minutes – very useful way to use the leftovers…

We’ve put together a few Special boxes each with 6 assorted wines for your Christmas drinking. They are priced at R235, R360, R625 and R845. Details are in the attached list, and you can order by clicking here

We will be open for business on Wednesday 16th to give you a chance to do some of your Festive shopping, especially if your work is preventing you from getting out of the office the rest of the week. We’ll have wines open for you to taste, including Axe Hill’s fabulous Dry White Port We’ll have Fairview’s La Capra range open for tasting this Saturday.

NEW YEAR SPECIALS Our list is growing of restaurants who will be offering Christmas and New Year specials. If you know of any, please send us the information soon.

CHRISTMAS AND CORPORATE GIFTS The individual Christmas cakes are selling as fast as Lynne can bake and decorate them, as are our Christmas puddings. We are also ordering in lots of new stock for foodie Christmas presents and we have a good selection of boxes and wrappings to make your purchases even more special.

Food and Wine entertainment for you
Zevenwacht will be hosting a concert on the farm, featuring Watershed & Cofield. Details are on the attachment.

We have more specials in the Restaurant Specials list, including additional Christmas and New Year menus. Unfortunately, the aforementioned computer meltdown lost some information we’d have liked to include, and we are waiting for updated information.

Click on the highlighted hyperlinks to book for 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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