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Real hot chocolate

15 Aug

Delicious hot chocolate with melted marshmallows, made with real dark chocolate and fresh cream. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

When I watched the movie Chocolat back in 2000, there was one scene that mesmerized me completely: Juliette Binoche poured a cup of devilishly dark hot chocolate with a pinch of hot chilli pepper for Judi Dench.

That cup of hot chocolate has been in my dreams since that day. I’ve tried to recreate it numerous times, and my conclusion is that you really need to go overboard with the chocolate content in order to get it that dark and that glossy. Almost like 100% melted dark chocolate and very little milk (or no milk at all). Of course I’d be able to drink that kind of thing (with my decadent appetite), but most people won’t. And it would cost a fortune to make a liter.

There are purists who believe that hot chocolate shouldn’t contain milk or cream at all, adding some water instead for the right consistency. I can appreciate that, but I do love the silky texture of cream and milk with hot chocolate (especially because I know that my daughter and husband are such dairy lovers).

So I decided to create a hot chocolate that would come as close as possible to that of Juliette Binoche, without being totally over the top. The right amount of sweetness, bitterness, creaminess, spice and texture. It is  made with real chocolate, cocoa powder, brown sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, spices and just a teaspoon of corn flour for a luxuriously thicker texture. Pour into mugs, add marshmallows and let it melt for a few minutes before serving.

Nothing can beat this on a cold winter’s evening. Happiness in a mug!

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 150 g dark chocolate, chopped (at least 55 %)
  • 30 ml cocoa powder
  • 5 ml corn flour
  • 15-30 ml brown sugar (to taste)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground chilli powder
  • marshmallows, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan until very warm (not boiling). Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted completely.
  2. In the meantime, mix the cocoa powder and corn flour in a cup. Add some of the warm milk mixture and mix to form a smooth runny paste.
  3. Add the paste to the warm milk, along with the brown sugar, vanilla and spices. Stir with a whisk over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and comes to a boil and thickens slightly.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour into mugs. Top with marshmallows, allow to melt for a few minutes, then serve immediately.

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A food and wine showcase at La Petite Ferme

15 Aug

La Petite Ferme Verdict 2015 – one of the wines that was part of the food and wine showcase at La Petite Ferme.

 

Last week I had the privilege of attending a food & wine showcase – the last in their winter series – at La Petite Ferme, Franschhoek. We were treated to MCC and canapés at the fireplace before a tutored tasting for red blends with La Petite Ferme winemaker Wikus Pretorius. Then it was time for Executive Chef Sidwell Yarrow and his kitchen team to treat us to a three course food and wine pairing (with choices of starters and mains) with added amuse bouche and pre-dessert course.

With guests seated at a special long table, the team of La Petite Ferme pulled out all the stops to guide us through their carefully curated event complete with thematic centre pieces for each course. The service was impeccable and I enjoyed every minute of this luxurious food and wine showcase.

Keep an eye out for more seasonal food and wine events coming up at La Petite Ferme (the last series was priced at R750/person) or visit them for their a la carte restaurant offering with wine, open every day. Here is my recent experience in pictures:

Morena NV Catherine Brut MCC on arrival at La Petite Ferme, in front of a cosy fireplace.

The fire place in the lounge at La Petite Ferme.

The last of the canapés being served before our tasting.

Red blends tutored tasting.

La Petite Ferme winemaker Wikus Pretorius.

Domaine Magellan 2013 from France, being tasted by Schalk.

The food and wine showcase menu for the evening.

Fig and blue cheese plaited rolls.

Bread board at La Petite Ferme.

Amuse bouche: pork shank croquette.

Starter (option 1): Ocean trout gravlax, apple & celeriac remoulade ,yuzu pearls, coral tuille. Paired with La Petite Ferme Viognier 2017.

Starter (option 2): Fire and Ice, spicy yellow fin tuna, cucumber and daikon relish, sea lettuce, ponzo dressing, wasabi foam. Paired with La Petite Ferme Viognier 2017.

Chef Sidwell Yarrow talks us through his dishes for the showcase.

Mains (option 1): Rooibos tea smoked springbok, sweet potato mash, rooibos gel, thyme flowers, jus. Paired with La Petite Ferme Verdict 2015. This was my dish of the night – impeccable.

Mains (option 2): Braised black angus beef short rib, truffle mash, sous-vide baby beets, crispy garlic flakes. Paired with La Petite Ferme Verdict 2015.

Pre-dessert: “Hertzoggie”

Dessert: A Study of Papaya, bruleed banana, caramelized white chocolate, passion fruit. Paired with La Petite Ferme Merlot Rosé 2017.

The kitchen team receives a well-deserved ovasion for their food showcase.

Contact La Petite Ferme:

Telephone: +27 (0) 21 876 3016
Franschhoek Pass Road
PO Box 683
Franschhoek
7690
South Africa
Restaurant reservations
reception@lapetiteferme.co.za
+27 (0) 21 876 3016
Accommodation reservations
accommodation@lapetiteferme.co.za
Tel: +27 (0) 21 876 3016
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Mushroom, spinach & cheddar frittata with sage butter

7 Aug

Spinach, mushrooms & cheddar frittata with sage butter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Frittatas are so unfussy – just comfort food in a pan. They’re super easy to make and can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Choose a pan without a plastic handle – preferably an iron skillet – that can go straight into your oven. I’ve added some classic vegetarian ingredients to this frittata that are usually available all year round, but choose whatever you prefer. Mature cheddar add so much flavour – another option would be goats cheese or feta. Or go meaty with some serrano ham, creamy fior di latte and rosa tomatoes.

Luckily there is less technique going into a frittata than a French omelette: fry your seasonal filling ingredients first, then add the whisked eggs to the hot pan. Fry for another few minutes, gently stirring now and then, then transfer to the oven and cook until set.

Ingredients: (serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a light meal)

  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 15 ml butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped leeks, white parts only
  • 250 g mixed mushrooms, sliced or broken into smaller pieces
  • a few sprigs of thyme, woody stems removed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 200 g baby spinach, just wilted (cook separately in microwave or in a small pot on the stove with a little olive oil)
  • 6 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup grated mature cheddar
  • 60 ml/g butter
  • a handful of sage leaves

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. In a ovenproof medium size pan (I used cast iron), heat the olive oil and butter. Add the leeks and fry over medium-high heat until they go soft but not brown yet.
  3. Add the mushrooms and thyme, turn up the heat to high and keep frying until the mushrooms are golden brown and tender. Season well with salt & pepper.
  4. Add the spinach, eggs and cheese and stir gently to distribute evenly. Keep on cooking for about 3 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  5. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until the frittata is fully cooked.
  6. While the frittata is cooking, add the remaining 60 ml of butter to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Keep on cooking, swirling the pan often, until it turns light brown and nutty in flavour. Add the sage leaves and remove from the heat. Swirl the pan until the foaminess subsides and set aside.
  7. Remove the cooked frittata from the oven and leave to cool. Serve with crispy sage leaves and a drizzle of the butter that it has cooked in. Can be enjoyed hot or cold.
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Lunch at Love Thy Neighbour

3 Aug

An unpretentious space at Love Thy Neighbour.

 

Last weekend I had the pleasure of having lunch at Love Thy Neighbour in Cape Town – the recently refurbished and rebranded space where And Union used to be. The setting is 110 Bree Street, a very central location that has been frequented by Cape Town locals for years.

I’ve always had a deep affinity for Mediterranean food. Having traveled in Greece a few years ago, I was excited to see what these guys had up their sleeves. We arrived for lunch at 12h30 while the venue was still quiet (just the way I like it). The interior was modern with beautiful stone walls and striking mini tiles on the floors. What followed was a lunch that I absolutely loved and will never forget – indulging in some of my favourite dishes prepared faultlessly by the kitchen team and the griller outside.

Here is my experience in pictures. Be sure to visit Love Thy Neighbour soon – it’s an inviting space with fabulous (and affordable) food, friendly service and a killer playlist.

110 Bree Street, Cape Town.

Friendly waiters at Love Thy Neighbour.

Food specials at Love Thy Neighbour.

The bar at Love They Neighbour.

Green walls and comfortable seats at Love Thy Neighbour’s inside area.

I just LOVED the little floor tiles at Love Thy Neighbour.

Crisp glasses of sauvignon blanc.

A seasonal menu at Love Thy Neighbour.

Saganaki, fried halloumi, pickled kumquat, walnut, basil. The crunchy nuts and soft cheese was a winning combo.

Calamari, harissa, za’atar, aioli. Meltingly soft with a fluffy coating.

Fried aubergine, whipped feta, date molasses, sesame, mint. This simple dish was my favourite of the day and I’ll be back for more very soon!

An outstanding lamb belly souvlaki, cherry tomato, cucumber, pickled red onion, tahina sauce, tzatziki.

From the fire: sardines in vine leaves, skordalia, ladolemono. I ate all 3 sardines with my hands and licked my fingers – delicious.

For dessert: Loukoumades – Cypriot doughnuts, hazelnut, chocolate. It has a soft centre and chewey exterior almost like a French canele. Outstanding! I want more…

Grilling peppers outside – most of their meat is also grilled here and you can taste the smoke and fire. This guy sure knows what he is doing.

Love Thy Neighbour on Facebook:

“We’re all about good Mediterranean style food, wine, beer, music and being good to people. Fresh, clean, free range. Wholesome and locally sourced. As organic as possible. 110 Bree Street. (021) 4222770”

Hours: Tuesday 12h30-23h00, Wednesday – Saturday, 12h00 – 23h30

See the winter menu here.

Pricing: Meze: R32-65, Mains: R70-R85, Sides: R35-R50, Dessert: R45

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Pickling and fermenting your own vegetables with Poetry Stores

1 Aug

A Wintry antipasti spread. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

I’ve heard so much about the health benefits of fermented vegetables. It activates the right elements for a healthy gut and will add longevity and “feel-good” to your life. Vladia Cobrdova wrote a book as Wellness Ambassador for the Australian whole food brand About Life, where her focus is all about raw food recipes, whole food, activated, pickled and fermented food, and general goodness.

She has also inspired me not to forget about entertaining antipasto-style during Winter, where you can add many flavourful pickles and fermented veg to your board, as well as raw pestos and other delicious items. Pickling vegetables is also a great way of minimizing waste and saving up stock for a “rainy day” – a delicious, lasting treat from your own cupboard.

Serve the pickles with an array of delightful charcuterie, cheeses and wholesome rye crackers. Check out my •notes for substitutes on some of the exotic ingredients.

Find Vladia’s book A Whole New Way to Eat at Poetry Stores, along with Poetry’s new range of beautiful marble and wood serving boards – perfect for serving antipasti.

Beautiful bright pink pickled cabbage. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Pickled veg (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
Rating: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, raw

(Recipe by Vladia Cobrdova from her book A Whole New Way To Eat.)

100 g purple cabbage, shredded
100 g white cabbage, shredded
1 kale leaf, thinly sliced, stalk discarded (about 1 cup)
30 g goji berries
2 tablespoons raw honey
2 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl with 375 ml water and combine well. Transfer to a large jar or airtight container and press the cabbage down firmly to compact. If necessary, add a little extra water to cover the cabbage, ensuring it is submerged in liquid. Seal and refrigerate for 2 days before serving.

Chinese cabbage makes the best ingredient for pickled kimchi. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Pickled Kimchi (makes 3 1/2 cups)

(Recipe by Vladia Cobrdova from her book A Whole New Way To Eat.)

3 cups sliced Chinese cabbage (wong bok)
1 small kale leaf, thinly sliced, stalks removed (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Peruvian ground cherries (Inca berries)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons raw sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch dried chilli flakes

Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl with 375 ml water and combine well. Transfer to a large jar and press the contents down tightly. If necessary, add a little extra water to cover the vegetables, ensuring they are submerged completely. Seal and refrigerate for 2 days before serving.

*My notes: I couldn’t find inca berries in any of the supermarkets or health shops in Stellenbosch, so I left it out completely. You can substitute the raw sugar for palm sugar or white sugar.

Cream mint pesto with spinach, cashews and parmesan.

 

Creamy Mint Pesto: (makes 1 cup)

(Recipe by Vladia Cobrdova from her book A Whole New Way To Eat.)

135 g baby spinach leaves
30 g mint leaves
10 g Italian parsley leaves
80 g raw cashews
80 g pine nuts
50 g grated parmesan cheese
60 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 1/2 limes
60 ml kefir

Put all the ingredients in a blender with 2 tablespoons of water and process until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a small airtight container, level the top, then pour a shallow layer of extra virgin olive oil over the prevent it from oxidising. The pesto will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve as a dip, dressing or pasta sauce; use it on fish or with meat.

*My notes: Pine nuts can be quite expensive – substitute with more cashews if you want. Kefir is a fermented milk drink – substitute with Greek yoghurt if you cannot find it.

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Roasted tomato soup with pumpkin bread and garam masala marrow bones

25 Jul

A Winter evening’s delight: roasted tomato soup, roasted marrow bones with garam masala, and pumpkin bread toast. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. Tableware, linen and cutlery by HAUS.

 

There are few things that beat the smell of freshly baked bread. But have you smelled oven roasted tomatoes? Man, that is something very special. It permeates your house with a sweet and savoury umami fragrance that is second to none.

I’ve put together a menu for the ultimate wintery soup night in. Oven roasted tomato soup has been one of the favourites for many years, so I’ve decided to serve it this time with a deliciously chewy pumpkin loaf and roasted garam masala marrow bones instead of butter.

Because all three recipes need oven time, start with the soup. While it’s in the oven, make the bread dough. Then when the bread is baking, prep the garam masala. Roast the marrow bones right before serving everything.

Oh, and I’m also going to tell you how to make your own super fragrant garam masala. It will change your spice game in a huge way.

Bon appetit!

Roasted tomato soup: (serves 6)

  • about 16 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes
  • 200 g (about 4 large) leeks
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a handful thyme sprigs
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml sugar
  • 15 ml salt
  • 15 ml red wine vinegar
  • 250 ml crean

Preheat oven to 180C. Chop the tomatoes in batches in your food processor. They don’t have to be very fine, just chopped. Add it to a large deep rectangular roasting pan or a wide deep dutch oven. Process the canned tomatoes to a pulp and add it to the pan. Pulse the leeks, carrot and cloves into pieces, then add it on top of the tomatoes. Place the thyme sprigs on top, then drizzle all over with olive oil and sprinkle with the sugar, salt and red wine vinegar. Without stirring too much (just flatten the surface) place into the oven and roast for 2 hours, stirring well every 30 minutes. The mixture should get toasty on the edges and reduce by about 25 %. When it is read, remove from the oven, then remove the stalks of the thyme. Use a ladle to transfer the mixture to a pot, then use a stick blender to blitz to a smooth pulp. Because your using the tomatoes skins and all, your soup with still be chunky – that’s the way I prefer it. Add the cream and mix well. Check the seasoning and add more sugar, salt and vinegar if needed. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. To serve, drizzle with more cream or olive oil and your choice of herbs or croutons.

For this shoot, we got our hands on the fabulous new collection of Haus tableware by Hertex. Go to your nearest showroom to see the full collection, it is absolutely gorgeous!

A round loaf of pumpkin bread – chewey and nutty. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. Linen by HAUS.

Pumpkin bread: (makes one large loaf)

  • 1 small butternut or pumpkin
  • 4 cups stone ground white bread flour
  • 10 ml salt
  • 7,5 ml instant yeast
  • 10 ml mixed spice
  • 125 ml pumpkin seeds
  • about 1/2 cup water

Peel the butternut and cut into chunks. Boil in water until tender, then process to a pulp. You’ll need about 2 cups processed pumpkin pulp for the bread. Set aside to cool slightly, but use it while still slightly warm.

Place the flour, salt, yeast, spice and seeds in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the cooked pumpkin and water and stir until it starts to come together. Use your hands to shape it into a soft pliable dough, kneading it until it is smooth (about 5-10 minutes). Add a little more water or flour if necessary. Shape into a smooth ball, then place on a lined baking tray. Cut a cross shape on the top, then cover with a plastic bag to rise until doubled in size. When ready, bake at 220 C for about 45 minutes until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve the slices toasted or untoasted with butter or with roasted marrow bones.

Make your own garam masala:

  • 30 ml cumin seeds
  • 30 ml coriander seeds
  • 30 ml fennel seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 2 star anise
  • 15 ml black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick or cassia bark
  • 2 bay leaves

Place all the ingredients in a wide pan, then dry roast them over medium-high heat until the mixture becomes fragrant. Transfer batches to a spice grinder, then store in an airtight container.

Roasted garam masala marrow bones on toast. Platter, linen & cutlery by HAUS.

Roasted marrow bones:

  • 3 marrow bones, sliced in half horizontally (ask your butcher)
  • 15 ml garam masala (see above)
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • salt flakes

Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Place the marrow bones cut side up in a roasting tray lined with foil or baking paper. Mix the garam masala with the oil to form a paste. Rub the paste all over the bones. Roast for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked. Serve at once, with toasted bread.

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Beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry

17 Jul

There are few things as comforting than a homemade pie on a cold winters day. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

I wish I was in a winter cabin in the woods somewhere, slowly simmering this pie filling while attending to the beautiful sour cream pastry. You don’t need to actually be in a cabin to enjoy these, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if we all could linger for a few days in a woodlands hideaway, sipping on steamy drinks next to a fireplace, slowly preparing comforting dishes throughout the day to enjoy when the sun goes down. Time stands still, the quietness fills the air with tranquility and the earthy smell of the thick pine needle carpet outside seeps into your clothes.

This hearty beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry is simply perfect for a cosy winters holiday. Don’t rush it – enjoy every moment of the preparation process like healing therapy for your soul. It’s totally worth it.

Beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry: (serves 4-6)

Tip: Start making this pie in the morning if you want to serve it for dinner. It takes a few hours to prepare, but I promise it is worth every minute.

For the filling:

Time: 30 minutes prep plus 3 hours simmering plus cooling.

Tip: Make the pastry while the filling is simmering.

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 kg beef cubes
  • salt & pepper
  • 30 ml flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 15 ml tomato paste
  • 440 ml stout
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • 15 ml Worcestershire sauce
  1. In a large dutch oven / cast iron pot, heat the oil and fry the meat over high heat in batches, giving it some colour and seasoning it with salt & pepper as you fry. Add a little flour to each batch as it is frying, using all the flour by the last batch. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside (it will still be raw on the inside).
  2. If the pot is smoking hot at this point, remove it from the heat and give it a few minutes to cool. Turn the heat down to medium, then add a little more oil and fry the onion, garlic and celery until soft.
  3. Add the bay leaf, cloves, tomato paste, stout, stock and Worcester sauce, stir well and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom to loosen and dissolve any sticky bits (covering the pot with a lid will help).
  4. Return the meat to the pot, then simmer over low heat for 3 hours, covered, until the meat is very soft and the gravy is dark brown and rich (stir once or twice during the process).  Pour some excess liquid off and keep aside for serving as gravy later. Use a fork to pull some of the meat apart, keeping some cubes whole.
  5. Cool the filling completely before baking in the pastry.

For the sour cream & thyme pastry:

Time: 30 min prep plus 2h30 resting.

Tip: For a more classic version, leave out the thyme leaves.

  • 3 cups (750 ml) white bread flour
  • 5 ml salt
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 250 ml cold butter, cubed
  • 250 g sour cream
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked, for brushing
  1. Mix the flour, salt & thyme together. Rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers. When it starts to resemble coarse bread crumbs, add the sour cream and cut it in with a knife. Continue to mix until the mixture comes together in a non-smooth ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangular shape. Turn the dough so that it lies horizontally in front of you (divide it into thirds in your mind), then fold the right side over to the middle, and the left side over the folded part, to form three layers. Turn the dough over, turn it 90 degrees, and roll out again, folding it in the same way. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Remove from the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding process. Return to the fridge for another hour.

To assemble the pie:

Time: 20 min assembling plus 1 hour baking.

  1. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface (the dough should be very smooth by now) to a long rectangle with a thickness of about 5 mm.
  2. Spray a medium size deep pie tin with non-stick spray, then line the bottom of the tin with pastry, easing it gently into the corners and taking care to not stretch the dough too much (leave the edges overhanging for now).
  3. Fill with the beef & stout mixture, then use a pastry brush to lightly brush the edges where the top layer needs to stick. Lay the rest of the pastry on top, cutting a hole in the middle or making slits here and there for steam to escape.
  4. Use a sharp knife to neatly trim the sides, then use a fork to press grooves into the edges. Use any leftover pastry to cut out shapes, or to make a plait for decoration. Brush with egg all over, then bake at 180 C for about 1 hour or until golden brown and cooked.
  5. Serve hot, with steamed veggies, the reserved gravy and mashed potato.

Beef and stout pie, perfect to make on a cosy winter holiday. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

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Lunch at Holden Manz

11 Jul

The Holden Manz estate and vineyards, set amongst the Franschhoek mountains. Picture from holdenmanz.com.

 

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting Holden Manz Wine Estate in Franschhoek for the first time. This hidden gem is situated on the beautiful Green Valley Road just out of the hustle and bustle of Franschhoek town. They make superb wine, they offer luxury accommodation, they have a spa and a brilliant restaurant, they offer picnics (when the weather permits) and they also host weddings.

I had the opportunity to walk through their 5 star country house & spa filled with the most incredible contemporary art collection, visit their wine cellar for a tasting with winemaker Thierry Haberer and sit down for a flavour-packed lunch at their restaurant Franschhoek Kitchen with co-ower Gerard Holden himself, prepared by Executive Chef Ricardo le Roux.

Visiting Holden Manz Estate is highly recommended, and I’d like to return soon to taste more of Chef Ricardo’s dishes – it was fantastic. Here is my visit in pictures.

The Holden Manz country house living area.

One of the lounge areas in the Holden Manz country house, complete with piano and roaring fireplace.

One of the fabulous fireplaces inside the Holden Manz country house. Perfect for winter!

The koi pond in the country house courtyard.

The backyard terrace and swimming pool for warmer months.

The wine tasting room and entry to the cellar.

Magnificent view from the wine tasting room.

Wine maker Thierry Haberer telling us more about his wine making process and the new vintages.

Gerard Holden introduces us to Chef Ricardo le Roux.

Baguette with tomato butter and dukkah.

Citrus, salt & mint salad: poached tomatoes, charred courgette, crispy artichokes, rosemary, lemon, salt fried seeds.

Tasting some of the Holden Manz wines with lunch.

Romesco Risotto: prawn, artichoke and mustard croquette, olive tapenade, smoked cauliflower. Served with Holden Manz Visionaire 2013.

6 Hour Braised Beef Cheeks: white bean & samp cassoulet, chorizo crumbs, oxtail bitterballen, pecorino wafer, greens, plum, orange & spice jus.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for dessert, but next time I won’t be in any hurry!

Thank you Tanja Fourie of Grape Stuff Marketing & Communications for the invitation.

Contact Holden Manz:

Tel +27 21 876 2738

info@holdenmanz.com

restaurant@holdenmanz.com

winery@holdenmanz.com

Green Valley Rd, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa

Restaurant Open Hours
Lunch: Noon to 15:00
Dinner: 19:00 to 21:00
Closed: Wednesday Dinner and Thursday Lunch & Dinner (June, July, August)

Take a look at their brand new winter menu:

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All-in-one breakfast rusks

10 Jul

Delicious buttermilk rusks with various seeds, nuts, oats, coconut and olive oil. (Bowl by Le Creuset. Linen napkin by HAUS.)

 

I’ve published the recipe for these winning rusks twice before – one of my first posts ever on this blog in 2011 and again on Die Kos Vos last year. These buttermilk rusks are exceptionally delicious, packed with oats, bran, coconut, pecan nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds. I enjoy them with coffee or tea, first thing in the morning, then I’m good to go. These days I make the recipe with olive oil instead of canola oil, which brings a wonderful richness to the taste that I prefer. The oils and seeds contain precious Omega-3, -6 & -9 that keep our hearts healthy and enough fiber to keep our digestive systems in mint condition.

For smaller households I’ve found that a halved recipe is more than adequate. It fills one standard baking tray (roughly 51 rusks, depending on how thick you cut the fingers) and will last for many weeks after being dried out, stored in an airtight container. Take a smaller container to your office for a fantastic teatime snack.

Watch my video for an easy how-to guide. Happy baking!

Ingredients: (makes about 51 medium size rusks)

Note: This is the halved recipe. Feel free to double it up for a bigger batch.

  • 500 g self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup linseeds (flax seeds)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup regular oats
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup bran cereal flakes
  • 50 g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 XL egg
  • 1 cup olive oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 180 C and line a standard shallow baking tray (about 30 x 40 x 2 cm) with grease-proof baking paper. Place the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add the sunflower seeds, lin seeds, sesame seeds, oats, coconut and bran flakes. In a smaller bowl, mix the egg, oil and buttermilk, then pour over the dry ingredients and stir until it starts to come together. Use clean hands to work it into a ball, but don’t knead. Transfer the mixture to the lined baking tray, pat out evenly to fill all the corners, then bake at 180 C for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the oven, then carefully turn it out on a wire rack to cool.

When cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board, then cut into rectangular fingers. Remove an oven rack from the oven, then preheat oven to 100 C. Arrange the fingers slightly apart on the oven rack, then dry out for 3 hours or until crisp but not dark. Let it cool completely then store in an airtight container. Serve with tea or coffee (to be dipped).

Tip: Save money by buying the exact quantities of seeds and nuts at a weigh-and-pay store.

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A weekend in the Robertson Wine Valley

5 Jul

Breathtaking views from the front stoep at Paul René MCC’s private residence.

 

Last weekend my family and I had the privilege of visiting the Robertson Wine Valley in a delightfully curated itinerary made possible by Hot Oven Marketing and Robertson Wine Valley.

I’ve never really properly visited this valley before, although I’ve been to Wacky Wine a few years before and I’m familiar with some of the wine brands of the region. Our schedule consisted of a wine tasting visit to Springfield Estate, wine blending at Excelsior Wine Estate, wine tasting and platter lunch at Zandvliet’s Kalkveld Lounge, olive and olive oil tasting at Marbrin Farm, and sleepover at Mimosa Lodge and a tasting (and unplanned lunch) at Paul René MCC.

The visit completely exceeded my expectations with the most breathtaking views, quality wines, unpretentious hospitality and delicious food offerings. It is a quieter wine route, with many roads to choose from and so many venues and wineries to visit. The scenery is spectacular and the trip is suitable for families with young children (my daughter is 6 and she loved every second).

I’m going to tell my story through my pictures below, rather than with a lengthy written post. Bottom line: go visit this valley and experience their charming country hospitality for yourself! It is a mere 90 minutes drive from Cape Town and such a worth while trip with so many gems to discover – highly recommended. (Also check out my social posts from the visit with tags #celebraterobertson #countrycharm #countryliving #tastethelifestyle.)

Thank you very much Mira from Hot Oven Marketing and the Robertson Wine Valley for hosting us – we’ll be back soon.

The tasting room & outside seating area at Springfield Winery.

Some whites to look forward to at Springfield’s wine tasting.

Complimentary olives while you are tasting wine at Springfield Estate.

A fabulous white blend by Springfield suitable for seafood: Miss Lucy.

Tasting the Thunderchild red blend at Springfield Estate – this is a community driven project (read more about it).

The incredibly beautiful pond view at Springfield Winery.

Valki (right) and her “instant” friend, Samantha, at Springfield Estate against their beautifully overgrown tasting room wall.

The tasting and blending room at Excelsior, set over their beautiful dam.

Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon to blend our own bottle of wine at Excelsior Winery.

Gondolier – my favourite Merlot at Excelsior Winery. Full of dark cherry flavours. Thank you Andries for presenting the tasting.

Schalk measuring one of the elements of our red blend at Excelsior Winery.

Putting in the cork with a manual corker. I had great fun!

Valki helped with the labeling of our unique blend.

Our very own Excelsior red blend, named by Valki: “Calypso”.

Another incredible view, this time over Excelsior’s dam. Valki was having a great time on the children’s playground too.

The wine tasting and blending venue at Excelsior Winery.

The newly renovated Kalkveld Lounge at Zandvliet Winery.

Inside the Kalkveld Lounge at Zandvliet.

Wine tasting at Zandvliet at their new Kalkveld Lounge.

Charcuterie and cheese platter for two at Kalkveld Lounge, Zandvliet – just what we needed after tasting a lot of wine!

The beautiful old manor house at Zandvliet.

Olive, tapenade and oil tasting at Marbrin Farm.

Home baked bread to taste their freshly pressed oils at Marbrin Farm.

More of the magnificent surrounds – this view from Marbrin Farm.

Mimosa Lodge & Restaurant, set amongst the incredible mountains in the heart of Montagu’s Church Street.

Beautiful old wooden floors at the entrance to Mimosa Lodge.

Spacious room, king size bed with extra single bed for Valki, full bathroom with bath and shower at Mimosa Lodge.

Our spacious room with wooden floors and garden views at Mimosa Lodge.

The lush gardens at Mimosa Lodge, Montagu.

The welcoming pool at Mimosa Lodge – come summer time this is where guests will spend their time!

A quiet corner in the garden of Mimosa Lodge, Montagu.

Dinner begins: Garlic & coriander prawns, aioli, red cabbage salad, sweet chilli drizzle – starter at Mimosa Restaurant.

Lavender & ricotta ravioli, tomato concasse, crispy parsley, pecorino chip, white truffle cream – entrée at Mimosa Restaurant.

Beef sirloin, pommes puree, seasonal veg, green peppercorn sauce – mains at Mimosa Restaurant.

Taking a stroll in Montagu on a crisp winters morning.

A quick visit to The Rambling Rose in Montagu.

We bought freshly baked pasteis de nata at The Rambling Rose in Montagu and they were exquisite!

View of the mountains from the R62 leading through Montagu.

Tasting Paul René Brut and Brut Rosé MCC.

The owners of Paul René even have their own herb & veg garden. I want!

After planning an earlier drive back to Stellenbosch to take care of some business, we were convinced to stay longer for an impromtu lunch prepared by Henk. How can you say no to spending more time with this view and another glass of Paul René MCC?

Henk’s venison, soon to become steak au poivre. The meat comes from his last hunting session.

Venison medallions on their way to becoming steak au poivre in a pan over the fire at the private residence of Paul René MCC. Henk van Niekerk, winemaker and owner, is a very gifted cook! Thank you Henk & Monica for welcoming us into your home like old friends.

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