Warwick Picnic, Truffle chicken, Sate House, Vaudeville

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Warwick Picnic, Truffle chicken, Sate House, Vaudeville
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This Sunday will be Valentine’s Day and we have some specials for you. R70 gets your loved one a bottle of Morgenhof Fantail Rosé and a pack of Belgian dark chocolate truffles. We also have small boxes of four Belgian truffles. Other shops in our Nedbank Centre also will sell you a DVD voucher for R20, a Manicure voucher for R80, a Wash and blow dry voucher for R120 and a rose from FineAlly florist for R35. If you want to book at Dynasty, he will do a Chinese set dinner for 2 for R200.
PICNIC AT WARWICK On Sunday we were invited by Warwick to come and enjoy their picnic, which has been designed by Bruce Robertson. It was cloudy in Cape Town, but sunny over Warwick the whole afternoon. We arrived at 12h30 and were shown to our requested table on the deck, which has lovely views of their lake and the nearby hills, and we were shaded by the oak trees above, and enlivened by the occasional crash of acorns, Lynne receiving a bull’s eye mid-cranium. You can also have a table on the lawn, in the "Forest" - actually a treed area between the main building and the cellar or in one of their oddly named Pods. We didn’t opt for these as they sounded like hollowed out plastic structures. They are in fact charming constructions of wood with one wall and the roof made of horizontal branches to protect one from the wind. We think they should call them Loggias or even Lapas. We had a rather extended wine tasting and then waited for our picnic basket, which came at 13h50. It was delicious and worth the wait. Applause for the green packaging: all recyclable cardboard, paper, glass, bamboo or Burgos cutlery. It arrives with a bread board, a chopping board and a hot, crusty baguette. We had a small à point (ripe) camembert, lovely humus with a red pepper coulis, a slightly sour biltong paté with brandy, some charcuterie, round slices of poached chicken breast with a tiny pot of divine truffle mayo, meatballs in a tomato sauce, a couscous salad in a box, two chocolate brownies (where were the nuts!?), and a small bag of wine gums. Washed down with the excellent, slightly peachy Professor Black sauvignon blanc, (the vineyard was originally Professor Black’s peach orchard) there was plenty for two. We saw some children enjoying their box with an apple, sandwiches, crisps, amongst other things plus colouring-in pages and crayons.

Goat’s Cheese Panna Cotta (you will need to make this in advance to allow it to set) 
- 1 round of Fairview chevin goat’s cheese 
- 1 tub of pouring cream 
- 3 sheets of leaf gelatine 
- a little milk 
- freshly ground black or pink pepper 
- sea salt Optional: 2 T small 1/2 cm cubes of fresh celery 
- 2 finely chopped pepperdrops

Put the cream and the cheese into a small pan and heat gently till the cheese melts into the cream. Do NOT boil. If it is very thick, add a little milk. It should coat the back of a spoon. As soon as it has melted, remove from the heat and add the flavourings. Soak the leaf gelatine in cold water for just a few minutes till it softens, remove, shake off any water and put into the pan with the warm cream cheese mixture. Stir until the gelatine dissolves completely. If you like a bit of texture, stir in the celery and the pepperdrops. Pour into a square dish (approx 16 cm) and put into the fridge to set. Cut into single portion squares and serve as a starter with melba toast. Decorate your plate with rocket and watercress, a drizzle of a nut oil and a drizzle of Orange Zest balsamic reduction. You could add a segment or two of orange or another fruit. You could also serve in individual ramekins. 

Sake House We were intrigued to see this voted as one of the best sushi restaurants In Cape Town, as we had not heard of it - and usually there is a customer buzz about good restaurants. We went with friends last week and were delighted to see that they served Chinese dim sum. Not a large choice, but those we had were absolutely delicious and authentic. We then tried four of the chefs recommended sushi Specials. This is where we think there should be a classification for classic sushi and one for modern. We are definitely prefer the classic variety. We were horrified when our selection came, the sushi was huge, approximately five bites in one piece, you needed a knife and fork rather than chopsticks and it was very messy, the rice was congealed rather than sticky and the Nori was like black insulation tape, as it had obviously been rolled quite a while before. We had a Spider (crab) roll, a duck roll – tempting, but the duck was very tough - it doesn’t work in sushi, a huge roll that appeared to have everything in it - and a sushi Boerewors - deep fried rolled tuna in batter and then in a vinegary marinade, very strange, and it did remind one of Boerewors. Our friends had more normal sized sushi and some tofu and loved it. We should have done the same, but we thought we should try the adventurous dishes. We had Teddy Hall’s Chenin blanc and Cape Point’s new Splattered Toad sauvignon (R29 corkage per bottle) and each was a very good accompaniment to the food. 

Vaudeville An invitation from the management led us to this extravaganza last night. Performances run Tuesdays to Saturdays at 20h15 with guests to be seated before 19h45. Tickets cost R350 each, and R395 for ringside tables and booths. The price includes a welcome drink, the show, a three course meal and free entry into the Moroccan-themed Fez Bar and Club. Advance reservations are essential with all bookings via email or 0861 787 737. Special offers are available for corporates and groups of ten or more. 

We were welcomed with a Watermelon and Vodka cocktails and given very good 'ringside' seats. Great atmosphere, and very attentive staff, wandering performers chatting to you and an enthusiastic sommelier who keeps trying to whisk away your unfinished drinks and then refill your filled glass. All alcohol after the cocktail is for your own account. The wine list is fairly short, but well-chosen, with a reasonable choice of wines by the glass. We chose two old favourites, a glass each of Graham Beck’s Sangiovese rosé with our starter and a bottle of Cloof Inkspot, which we did not finish in deference to the (short) drive home. A mezze platter of humus, butternut paté, tzatziki, some nearly raw aubergine slices and a salad of leaves, beetroot, seeds and feta starts you off. We could have done with a little more bread for the dips. Then the show begins and there are many different acts. A strange band to begin, which was very Brechtian, quite a lot of beautiful male and female bodies, trim and toned, expertly doing very physical things like acrobatics, trapeze, juggling, dance, some singing, some break dancing, and a really killer pair of very talented tap dancers [Lynne has 2 medals for tap dancing!]. A very amusing male acrobat in tiny green shorts did amazing and funny things on a long piece of material suspended from the roof, and some very good jazz singers. A (male) bride, a five (false!) breasted woman, a cute penguin and a Marlene Dietrich Mistress of ceremonies fly, float and walk by often. Main courses were a very fatty and rather tough rib of beef with vegetable couscous, a good light salmon ravioli dressed with salad greens and a liberal sprinkling of pine nuts and a vegetarian option. These are served in intervals between the performances. The meal ended with a moist chocolate cake at the end of the entertainment. We think we'd like to see a bit more variety in the acts - perhaps less physicality, more magic, conjurers, comics, a rock band, a mentalist, Spanish dancing, etc., but there is huge talent on show and we enjoyed it. Go, enter into the sprit of things by dressing up and have great fun. It’s great entertainment. 

Our Saturday Wine Tasting this week should not be missed; we will have Constantia Glen wines - Sauvignon blanc 2008, Constantia Glen 2007 and Constantia Saddle 2007 - open to taste. All were given 4½ stars in the 2010 John Platter guide. They are a rare treat and are not often available for the public to taste. These are investment wines which deserve to be cellared for a few years if they are to show their best and we will decant the tasting reds. While we will have a small amount of stock on Saturday, we will be happy to take orders. 

An eagerly awaited event in wine enthusiast circles is the release of Cape Point Isliedh and Semillon. This will happen in the next few weeks and we will have a small allocation. The wines are only made in limited quantities, so we are taking orders now on a first come, first served basis, with payment needed up front to confirm the orders. The Semillon has 4½ stars in the 2010 John Platter guide and Isliedh, a Bordeaux style white blend, has been awarded 5 stars in Platter and in Wine Magazine. They will probably be slightly more expensive than they were last year, but are definitely worth the money, even if you only invest in a bottle or two. We’ll confirm prices when we receive your orders. We have not had enough in our previous years’ allocations to sell more than two bottles per customer. 

Truffle Chicken A good customer has requested a recipe for this delicacy. Should you be fortunate enough to have truffles, all you need to do is mix a little thinly sliced and/or chopped truffle with some butter and push it carefully under the skin of the chicken, then roast as normal, not forgetting to season well with truffle salt and pepper. If you don’t want to do a whole chicken, you can flatten chicken breasts, spread on a little truffle butter, fold them over, dip in seasoned flour and then fry gently in more butter. You can make truffle butter by adding some truffles or truffle salt to butter. Or buy the real thing from us.

Product news Our attached product list has been updated and reorganised. Products are now listed in groups, which should make it easier for you to find them. At last, we have 1g packets of Iranian Saffron at a very, very good price, significantly lower than the price we’ve had to charge for the last two years. Come and get. New stock of smoked olive oil and smoked butter will arrive next week. 

Tastings and other events Late February will bring a rash of events worth visiting, so making the right choice becomes a bit of a challenge: De Krans Wine Cellar, in Calitzdorp, alongside the well known Route 62, will offer visitors to the area the opportunity to pick delicious, sweet Hanepoot grapes. This fun-filled picking experience will take place daily (except Sundays) from 10th to 27th February, between 08h00 and 16h00.

Join WINE magazine for an informative seated tasting of the 10 top-scoring wines (made from organically grown grapes) from this year's Nedbank Green Wine Awards. The tastings will be presented by leading winemaker Francois Van Zyl of Laibach. The Johannesburg tasting will be on 18th February at 18h30, Crowne Plaza The Rosebank. The Cape Town tasting will be on 25th February at 18h30, Mount Nelson Hotel. Tickets cost R150 per person. TO BOOK: Call 0860 100 205 / Fax 0866 704 101 E-mail For more information, please contact Jane Eedes on 021 530 3308. In the interest of fellow tasters, please refrain from wearing excessive perfume.

Award winning Chef Craig Cormack brings you a unique experience: "around the world with salt and wine". The first salt dinner for 2010 will be at Overture Restaurant on 24th February at 18h30. Seating is limited - Booking is essential please email or phone 082 562 8360 Price per head is R300, which includes an arrival drink and canapés, wine per course. A 10% service fee will be added.

The Robertson Wine Valley will host its second Hands on Harvest Festival from 26th to 28th February, giving you a chance to experience the magic of harvest for a day - without having to quit your day job! Groups are small and intimate, so you are sure to have a hands-on experience you’ll never forget. Many of the activities are 'kiddie-friendly' and, on Sunday, the Harvest Market promises to be a true family affair. Other activities include grape picking, grape stomping, vineyard tractor trips, grape vs wine tasting, and loads more. 

For the Love of Sauvignon Blanc Constantia Fresh Festival will happen on Friday 26th & Saturday 27th February. There is an exciting programme of events designed for serious lovers of wine and well worth visiting.

Darling Cellars will host their annual Crush Day on Saturday 27th February. The day begins with breakfast at 08h00, after which you can pick and crush your grapes (your wine, with your own label follows 10 months later), participate in a label design competition and enjoy a traditional West Coast lunch. The price is R190 per person. Contact Cornel Loubser on phone 022 492 2276 or email.

Constantia Fresh' Red Wine Tasting Saturday, February 27th from 11h00 to 13h30, Groot Constantia Wine Estate. Call 072 467 5943 to book and for information. 

Join the Durbanville Boutique Wine Association (DBWA) in kicking off the 2010 harvest with a Festival of Taste in the gardens of Rust en Vrede in the heart of Durbanville on Sunday 28th February from 12 am onwards. For more information, contact Karin de Villiers on 082 784 5102, email.

One of Cape Town’s iconic family events, the Community Chest Carnival opens its gates for the 59th time. The four-day event at Maynardville Park, Wynberg runs from Wednesday 24th February to Saturday 27th February. For more information call 021 797 5422 or visit www.comchest.org.za Bring the family and come and join the community for a day of food, fun and charity!

A date for the future which you should diarise now is the Taste of Cape Town 2010 from 24th to 28th March at the Granger Bay Extension – V&A Waterfront

Valentine’s Day We’ve received news of several special events around Valentine’s Day. There are too many to list here, so we’ve posted them on our blog site. Click here to open the list

Regards,

John & Lynne
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