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The A to Z of Stellenbosch – a #WinterWinederland

4 Jul

We recently had the great pleasure of taking part in a campaign by Stellenbosch Wine Routes, the #AtoZofStellenbosch (#visitStellenbosch, #WinterWinederland) where we received a few letters of the alphabet to explore in magnificent Stellenbosch – our home town. Take a look at what we saw, tasted and explored!

N: Neethlingshof Flash Food Slow Wine Pairing and Y: Young Foodie Pairing

This landmark wine estate was recently returned to private ownership after decades in the well-known Distell stable. With a history that spans 230 years, Neethlingshof continues to evolve as a favourite destination for locals and international visitors alike on the competitive Stellenbosch wine landscape.
Their famous kilometer-long avenue of stone pines that leads to the gabled homestead is an iconic feature of the farm and the central motif of their wine labels.

The “Flash Food Slow Wine Pairing” experience at Neethlingshof allows you to truly taste the terroir of the region, focusing on some of their best award winning wines paired with a few fast food bites with a twist. At only R100 for tasting 5 premium wines with 5 bites, it is one of the best value for money experiences in the Winelands. Their contemporary tasting centre is spacious and also allows for cellar tours right next door.

Gone are the days when you left your kids with a babysitter when going on a wine tasting! At Neethlingshof, children are especially made to feel welcome with their very own professionally presented little tasting board of chocolate milk, grape juice and apple juice paired with delectable treats like cupcakes, chicken filled mini pancakes and mini burgers. At only R50 for kids tastings, parents can rest assured that they’ll be able to wine and relax a little longer while the whole family is entertained and fed.

S: Stay at Spier

The Hotel at Spier is more like a delightful countryside village than a regular hotel. With its cobble stoned walkways, sculpted gardens and winding paths, you’ll feel like you’ve just arrived home on checking in. Rooms are spacious and decorated with a distinct South African flavour. Take a stroll towards the restaurant and picnic areas, do a wine tasting at the tasting centre, book a vineyard tour to see more of the estate, or just cosy up under an ultra thick duvet in front of the tv when it’s pouring down outside.

There’s just so much to do and see when staying at Spier. With a spa on the premises, a farm shop, gift shop, play area for kids, craft market, segway tours, eagle encounters and more, you’d want to stay for longer.

H: Hoghouse lunch

This fabulous smokehouse served the living best smoked meat, beerhouse snacks and pasteis de nata in town. They’ve since closed down to make space for the same chef, PJ Vadas, to open his very own Vadas Smokehouse and Bakery. I will watch this space when they’re ready to open – very exciting times.

E: Eat breakfast at Spier

The breakfast area at Spier is an energetic, bustling affair. Expect large tables laden with the freshest sliced seasonal fruit, various freshly baked pastries, cured hams and smoked fish, cereals and toasted seeds, large trays of fragrant grilled bacon, more than one type of cooked sausages, and much more. Ask for tailor-cooked eggs or pancakes at the hot section, and order your choice of various coffees, tea and even hot chocolate. With a team of enthusiastic serving staff, you’ll be well looked after and ready for a day of exploring the Winelands!

I: Interactive Stars at the Eagle Encounters, Spier

Nothing can prepare you for the majestic beauty and magical presence of the birds at the Eagle Encounters unless you’ve been there before. With the help of a professionally trained falconer, you’ll be able to hold and stroke large live owls, falcons and other birds of prey within a safe environment (wearing protective gloves, of course). The birds are mostly rescued after injuries, nursed back to health, and some (those who have the capacity to be released back into nature) even rehabilitated back to the wild. See some of the world’s largest eagles up close, and get ready to smile on seeing some of the smaller owls “dance” to music. It’s an inspiring visit for young and old, and a MUST when visiting Spier.

Find the rest of the #AtoZofStellenbosch and more #visitStellenbosch adventures here.

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Lanzerac: The jewel of Stellenbosch is back and better than ever

3 Jul

It’s no exaggeration to say that Lanzerac is an iconic landmark in Stellenbosch. David Rawdon was the first hotelier to convert the historical homestead and outbuildings – first established in 1692 – into a hotel in 1959. Today the property represents a multi-faceted destination that includes a luxurious five star hotel with conference and event facilities, winery, deli, bar, multiple restaurants (including the Manor Kitchen), tasting room and day spa.

After a devastating fire in the early hours of 28 May 2017 that severely damaged the main operational areas of the hotel, extensive renovations have been going on for the past year, closing the hotel for guests until the grand reopening on the 1st July 2018.  I was extremely fortunate to be one of the first guests to visit Lanzerac this past weekend for a taste of their many premium offerings, including lunch at the deli, wine tasting, dinner at the brand new restaurant, staying over in a newly renovated room and enjoying a treatment and the hydro facilities at their world class spa.

For someone like me who grew up around the corner from Lanzerac, this grande dame of Stellenbosch has played a landmark role in my life and in the lives of so many others. Ask around – you’ll hear stories of Lanzerac’s hey-days as a prime student hang-out spot in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Do you remember their fabulous restaurant Vinkel and Koljander? That place was my first experience as a waiter in 1995 – situated in the building that now houses the tasting room and deli. I also remember how we visited the terrace area as youngsters, ordering our first legal drinks and feeling super fancy. I learned to love wine with Lanzerac’s iconic pinotage rosé – then still in their famous round bellied bottles.

The terrible fire has been a catalyst for the birth of a brand new era for Lanzerac. Out of tragedy, a world class hospitality facility has risen better and bolder than ever before. The hotel’s main operational areas has been transformed sporting a much more contemporary and airy feel with higher ceilings and open plan spaces, featuring a lot of glass and marble alongside the original historical wood and stone. Bold, eclectic, vintage & antique furniture pieces add to the magic of the new Lanzerac, including a massive antique bar display cupboard and some of the fire damaged re-framed artworks in the bar area. The renovation is an ongoing process, with plans for the manor house still to be executed and a large chef’s table room situated in the old Danie Craven Lounge still to be furnished. Go take a look – the old-world historical feel of Lanzerac is still strongly present, but the renovations provide an unmistakable modern atmosphere filled with light and positive space.

Hotel and spa guests can make use of the spa’s hydro facilites that include the heated pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and mist area. Multiple world class treatment options are available with state of the art equipment. I enjoyed a 60 minute full body massage with therapist Antoinette and it was a welcome relaxing pamper that left me walking on a cloud for the rest of the day. The spa facilities are breathtaking and highly recommended.

The deli and tasting room are two of the most accessible areas of Lanzerac in terms of affordability for the public – have a taste of their premium wines and enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch.

Staying at the hotel is the epitome of luxury and no detail has been spared to ensure the ultimate five star winelands getaway. We were welcomed to our room with salty treats from the deli (beef biltong, honey spiced nuts and infused olives) as well as a plate of sweet treats from the kitchen (petit fours, macarons and chocolate dipped strawberries). Complimentary mini bars are stocked daily – yes, complimentary. Bathrooms have underfloor heating and heated towel rails – so comforting during winter especially. The upholstered bathroom bench was one of the best traits of our huge bathroom, and I now need one in my life!

Our dinner at the brand new Manor Kitchen headed by Chef Stephen Frazer was a great reflection of what the new Lanzerac stands for: contemporary twists on classic dishes – inventive, beautifully plated and a pleasure to eat. The highlight of my dinner was the perfectly crafted raspberry soufflé – I’ll go back for more soon, so I hope they keep it on the menu for a while!

Take a look at some of the photographs of our stay. I’ve chosen 50 photographs, making this my most comprehensive featured post ever (I could have easily chosen 50 more). Lanzerac is a fabulous getaway during winter with many cosy fire places and warm indoor air-conditioning. Sitting in the hot jaccuzi with a glass of bubbly while the rain was pouring down outside was an absolute highlight! What a pleasure.

Catch the special Winter Retreat Package: Enjoy a one night stay for two in a King or Twin room, with select mini-bar, including an English breakfast, lunch at the Lanzerac Deli, a premium tasting, 60 minute full body massage, use of the hydro facilities and complimentary shuttle services to and from Stellenbosch town for R6500 per couple. Available until 30 September 2018 – see full info below.

 

I took a tour of the grounds and hotel facilities:

The reception entrance to Lanzerac Hotel. The new reception area is situated directly on the left after entering the existing hotel building.

The massive flower arrangement at reception.

The large, open, vaulted new entrance hall and lounge area at Lanzerac Hotel.

The new Taphuis bar area at Lanzerac – this photo was taken when they were still unpacking stock, therefor the boxes on the counter! (View the Taphuis small plates menu here.)

The new Craven Lounge & Bar – perfect for a pre-dinner or a post-dinner drink and tapas. (View the menu here. )

Leather couches at the Craven Lounge.

One of the new conference rooms at Lanzerac. This room has a glass ceiling and is fully cladded in wood.

Another conference room at Lanzerac with a cathedral-like feel.

The upper pool bar is currently not in use during winter. I’ve never seen it before, so this was a great find!

The magnificent mountain view and stretching lawn at Lanzerac.

The old Danie Craven Lounge is one of the areas that are still in the process of begin renovated – you can still see the fire damage at the top window that is being restored.

 

We stayed in a suite that included a lounge area with private pool:

The pathway leading to our room. Winter in Stellenbosch.

This is Elvis who showed us to our room.

Our lush suite.

A plate of complimentary sweet treats on arrival at our room.

Double basins, upholstered bench and underfloor heating in the massive bathroom with bath and separate shower.

Beautifully, classically neutral furnishings in the bathroom with semi-exposed brick walls.

Our room as seen from our private pool. We had a view of the vineyards from our veranda.

 

Lunch at the Lanzerac Deli:

The entrance to Lanzerac’s Wine Tasting and Deli.

House-made preserves inside the deli.

A highly recommended lunch that consisted of the generous cheese platter and a glass of Lanzerac chardonnay.

The Lanzerac chardonnay is my favourite white wine in their series.

 

Wine tasting at the Wine Tasting Room: (A wine tasting experience is highly recommended – the cream of Stellenbosch’s finest wines.)

Display cupboard of Lanzerac’s current and previous wine collections and packaging. Note the iconic round bellied rosé at the top left – now updated to a more contemporary look.

Tasting the premium wines in the Lanzerac wine collection.

Merlot tasting.

The 2015 Lanzerac Pinotage – the estate is famous for being the first commercial producers of pinotage in South Africa.

The textured label and gold detail says it all: this is a very special wine. The Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage.

 

Dinner at the Manor Kitchen. Each course was paired with a unique Lanzerac wine as recommended and presented by their new sommelier. The cabernet sauvignon was a highlight: (View the full menu here)

Brand new restaurant in an airy space with high glass ceiling details and marble tables.

I love the industrial feel of the windows and doors at the Manor Kitchen.

This chef was busy making raspberry soufflé – one that I had later that evening. It was absolutely superb!

Flavoured butters to go with our bread board: truffle butter, balsamic butter and classic butter.

Schalk’s starter: Confit duck leg salad, whipped Dijon mousse, shimeiji mushrooms, herbs.

My starter: Collection of cauliflower, beetroot gnocchi, sesame granola, Karoo williston, rocket, orange cream. Such a great mix of textures and incredibly smoky flavours.

Schalk’s main course: Fillet of aged beef, braised brisket, pomme anna, porcini mushroom, milk poached onion. This was one of the best dishes of the evening.

My main course: Citrus cured pork belly, chardonnay, barley risotto, poached pear, leeks, crisp sage. A stunning winter dish.

Schalk’s dessert: Vegan cheesecake, marshmallows, blueberry ice cream, toasted oats, raspberry compote. The cheesecake was made using pureed cashews along with other vegan ingredients. A triumph.

My dessert: Raspberry soufflé with white chocolate cream. This was the highlight of my dinner. Perfect in texture, tart and light, with poached raspberries at the bottom. Paired with the sweet white chocolate cream it was a match made in heaven.

Seeing into the newly built kitchen.

 

We enjoyed a delightful breakfast at the Lanzerac Deli and they served a version of what would be expected from breakfast in the main hotel soon. (Click here for the full hotel breakfast menu available from the Manorhouse Kitchen.)

A bowl of magnificent fresh fruit – just the way I like it.

A plate of local artisanal cheeses, crackers and preserves.

What would a breakfast be without pastries? My favourite!

Hot breakfast: Schalk ordered the French toast with

The spa: (See more info about packages and facilities here.)

The heated pool at the Lanzerac Spa with a magnificent view of the adjacent vineyards and mountain.

A dip in the hot jacuzzi on a cold winters day.

 

Here is more info on the Winter Warmth Spa Package 2018.

Visit Lanzerac online.

Tel:+27 (0)21 887 1132

Address: No. 1 Lanzerac Road, Stellenbosch, South Africa

A very warm thank you to Lauren (marketing), Joanne (reception), Patrick (manager), Eske (wine tasting), Cynthia (deli), Elvis (porter), Beki (dinner service), Tinashe (sommelier), Lizandé (spa manager), Julia (spa host), Antoinette (spa therapist) and everyone else from the Lanzerac team who made our visit so memorable. We will certainly be back soon.

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Dinner at the Quarter Kitchen, Portswood Hotel, Cape Town

28 Jun

The exposed brick and stone wall of the original prison at Quarter Kitchen that is now a national monument (since 2994) and a restaurant. Some of the original prison bars can also be seen.

 

We were invited to visit the Quarter Kitchen at the Portswood Hotel at the V&A Waterfront a few weeks ago for dinner. Not only has this restaurant introduced new dishes to their menu, it has also undergone a name change (from The Quarterdeck to the Quarter Kitchen). Furthermore they are celebrating the recent publication of a little inhouse cookbook packed with authentic recipes for traditional Cape Malay meals.

Cape Malay cooking was brought to South Africa in the late 1600’s when the first group of Malaysian state prisoners landed from Java and the neighbouring Indonesian islands. The spicy and aromatic dishes prepared by the Malay people were quickly assimilated into many Cape kitchens. Today, Malay-Portuguese terms such as “bobotie”, “sosatie” and “bredie” are considered iconic South African cooking vocabulary.

The Quarter Kitchen occupies a section of what was originally the Good Conduct Ward at the Cape Colony Prison for petty crimes, which was declared a national monument and transformed into a restaurant in 1994. Among the crisp white table clothes and beautiful dark wood furniture in the restaurant, one can still see reminders of an opposite world that existed in the building in 1860. Original prison bars and sections of exposed original brick & stone walls honour the history of the setting, as does a display of original antique suitcases that once belonged to the traveling prisoners.

The Malay influence in South African cooking is best displayed in the use of chillies, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric (especially in curries) as well as the use of fruit cooked with meat, marrying sweet and savoury with fragrant spices. The Quarter Kitchen provides guests with the opportunity to taste and enjoy authentic Cape Malay favourites such as daltjes, samoosas and pienang curry, prepared by South African hands within a premium central setting in the heart of Cape Town.

Here are some pictures of our dinner at Quarter Kitchen. For only R275, you can enjoy the “Chef’s Feast” with a three course meal of starters (choose 1 of 3 options), four different curries (yes, you get four different little pots of curry, selected from a list of 7 options) and a dessert (choose 1 of 3 options). Otherwise, choose from the a la carte menu with options like a savoury Malay platter, bobotie, and koesisters. The highlight of the Cape Malay experience at Quarter Kitchen lies in the authenticity of the food and their friendly Cape hospitality. There are no “deconstructed” frilly fine dining here, only hearty, traditional fare served with true Cape hospitality and really friendly service.

Quarter Kitchen is well worth a visit if you’re looking for real Cape Malay food in the heart of Cape Town. The restaurant interior is quiet, cosy and neat with clear historical elements – not as bustling and commercialized as the rest of the waterfront. Don’t miss out on the piping hot koesisters for dessert – they were the best I’ve ever tasted.

The Chef’s Feast menu at Quarter Kitchen.

The Cape Malay starter platter for two – with daltjes, samoosas, vegetable spring rolls, crumbed prawns, minted meatballs, jalapeno rissoles, chilli blatjang, cucumber & mint yoghurt, and tomato & onion sambal.

Bobotie at the back and butter chicken curry in the front.

Penang curry at the back, seafood curry in the front.

Cape Malay seafood curry.

Roti, poppadom, white rice and yellow rice – to go with your curries.

Hot koesister soaked in syrup and covered in coconut, served with fresh strawberries.

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A welcoming winter offering at Terroir, Stellenbosch

22 Jun

The entrance to Terroir Restaurant, reflecting the luminous green vegetation on their stoep after the winter rains. The doors are only closed on account of the weather – inside it is cosy and warm.

 

Acclaimed restaurant Terroir has recently welcomed the arrival of winter in the winelands with a special menu offering from Chef Michael Broughton, encouraging guests to indulge in the true Terroir experience with a taste of the full à la carte menu at an extremely pocket-friendly price. From May to September 2018 guests can enjoy their choice of two dishes (starter/main or main/dessert) from Terroir’s French-inspired chalkboard menu for just R395 per person. This price also includes a glass of Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection wine.

Due to the success of 2017’s multi-course winter tasting menu, Chef Michael Broughton has come up with an additional offer of a chef’s choice of four courses at R550 p/p including a glass of Kleine Zalze’s award-winning wines. After receiving an invitation to experience the winter menu, I visited Terroir yesterday – what a pleasure! There is a reason why Terroir remains a favourite amongs locals (and international visitors alike). They consistently serve guests with carefully designed seasonal dishes, expertly crafted flavours and true winelands hospitality within a premium yet unpretentious environment. There’s certainly something to be said for keeping up your game for 14 years consistently – it’s not easy and the playing field in Stellenbosch is especially tough. Well done Chef Michael Broughton and team, you’ve once again shown why we continue to recommend you to visitors from all over in our beautiful town. You’re simply brilliant.

The winter special offer is valid from 2 May to 30 September, for lunch and dinner. Individual à la carte orders can still be made and will be charged at the listed menu price.

Terroir is open for lunch from Tuesdays to Sundays (12h00 – 14h30) and for dinner from Tuesdays to Saturdays (18h30 – 21h00). Advance reservations are highly recommended: 021 880-8167 or email restaurant@kleinezalze.co.za .

Please note that Terroir will be closed for their annual winter break from 25 June 2018 and re-opening on 17 July 2018.

Take a look at our winter lunch experience below, featuring the chef’s four course tasting menu:

An interior view of Terroir Restaurant: clean, cosy, contemporary, unpretentious, welcoming.

The wine list at Terroir.

The iconic hand written chalk board menu at Terroir. This menu changes according to the seasons and availability of ingredients.

This photograph was taken through the glass window on a chilly yet semi-clear winter’s day – the view from our table, indoors.

What better way to start a Thursday winter lunch than with Kleine Zalze bubbles? Aaaah.

Friendly, professional serving staff at Terroir.

Bread board at Terroir with home baked sour dough and tomato bread, with olives, kimchi butter and aubergine puree. You will LOVE the butter and puree – exquisite!

Kleine Zalza Vineyard Selection wooded chenin blanc with our starters. One of my favourites wines from Kleine Zalze. So versatile.

Comté onion soup with poached hen’s egg & onion brioche. This was one of my favourite dishes of the day – so simple, yet so difficult to take to the next level. Silky onion, runny egg yolk, crispy brioche – prefection.

Malay-style baby squid, smoked mackarel aioli and coconut. Who would have thought that “curried fish” goes so well with pineapple salsa? A fantastic combo, both flavour-wise and texture-wise.

One of the most popular dishes on Terroir’s menu: prawn risotto, sauce Americain. This is a very creamy risotto with surprising pockets of crunchy fresh corn inbetween, pan-fried prawns with chilli and citrus, and a smoky oil. The sauce is rich and almost like an aioli/bisque. Don’t miss it.

Lamb, Parisian gnocchi, kimchi, aioli, jus. Smoky, charred flavours, great contrasting textures.

Duck with roasted kohlrabi, kromeski, rhubarb jus, carrot crumble. This dish also featured a ketchup-style BBQ sauce. Bold and inventive.

Ribeye of beef, butternut terrine, crispy kale, beef cheeks in potato, burnt butter crumble, hollandaise foam. Big on umami, perfect winter fare.

Noble late harvest from Ken Forrester to match my dessert.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen such a beautiful dessert: Viennese sachertorte, caramelized rice crispies, kirsch ice cream. Such a stunning way to end this winter menu!

Trio of ice cream for my daughter: dulce de leche, lemon curd and cookies & cream. Exquisite.

Vanilla bean tart, almond crumble, vanilla ice cream. Delicate perfection.

Take a trip to the tasting room next door to purchase some wines for the weekend.

Terroir from the outside facing the golf course. You rarely see this view. We sat in the centre, just next to the glass doors.

The grass is luminous green in Stellenbosch because of the recent rains. This is the stunning lawn in front of Terroir Restaurant.

 

Incredible to have a proper rainy winter for the first time in a few years in Stellenbosch. Luscious green views from the front of Terroir Restaurant.

Autumn and winter collides in colour.

Terroir is situated on a working farm and wine estate. Be sure to visit their tasting room – it’s well worth it!

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Exploring the Upper Blaauwklippen Vintners, Stellenbosch

12 Jun

The vineyard view from the tasting room at Kleinood.

 

Once a year, three boutique wineries in the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley, Stellenbosch, open their doors to a limited number of guests to exclusively taste their top varietals along with paired winter canapés. When I received an invitation to join the tasting which took place on the 2nd of June, I was extremely excited. I’ve never visited Kleinood or Keermont before, and have only visited De Trafford once, more than 10 years ago. With an allocation of only 100 tickets to this exclusive event, I knew I was in for something memorable.

Friends, if you have not been on a trip to this valley and you are serious about discovering some proper gems in the Stellenbosch region, this small valley is an absolute treasure trove. With its heady combination of valleys, mountain ranges, wine estates, crisp fresh air and fine wine, the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley offered guests a personal tasting of newly released, handcrafted vintages, rare and coveted vinoteque wines including Tamboerskloof Viognier 2013, John Spicer Syrah 2012, Tamboerskloof Syrah 2006 and Tamboerskloof Syrah 2012 from Kleinood,  first samplings of the upcoming Single Vineyard wines from Keermont and vertical tastings from the De Trafford Vinoteque, served with well-paired culinary treats. Winemakers and owners were all on site to chat to, sharing the stories behind their terroir-driven wines and unique wineries.

The five-kilometer trip up the valley leads along an elevation of 200 meters and a regular shuttle service between the farms ensured that guests could relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery along the untouched slopes of the Upper Blaauwklippen valley.

In order to ensure a personal experience, only 100 tickets were made available at R500 each. To take part in next year’s premium tasting, get your name on the list by sending an email to sales@keermont.co.za or call Juanita at Keermont on 021 880 0397.

Here are a few photographs of my incredible day experiencing Kleinood, Keermont and De Trafford on the 2nd of June 2018. It would be difficult to single out any wines, because there were plenty to taste and they were all exceptional. It was, however, a special privilege to taste the older vintages like De Trafford’s 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon, the exceptional Syrah range at Kleinood, and Keermont’s flagship 2013 Estate Reserve. Although these wineries are not open daily during the rest of the year, tasting can surely be scheduled if booked ahead. Otherwise, take note of their small-windowed tasting room opening hours:

Kleinood: Fridays 10h00-13h00

Keermont: Fridays 10h30-13h30 (closed on public holidays)

De Trafford: Saturdays 10h00-13h00

Upon entering Kleinood’s tasting room.

 

Our first sip of the day at Kleinood: the Katharien rosé made from shiraz grapes. “A rose gold coloured Rosé with strawberry preserve, papaya and hints of fruit salad notes on the nose, supported generously with flavours of tangerine, quince jelly, saffron and elegant white spice on the palate.” – winemaker, Gunter Schultz.

 

The 2013 Tamboerskloof Viognier from Kleinood. “A white gold coloured Viognier with melon, citrus blossom, mango and pollen flavours on the nose with apricot, ripe peach and citrus on the palate. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy.” – winemaker, Gunter Shultz.

 

Kleinood also makes extra virgin olive oil, called Die Boerin – a blend of selected Italian cultivars: Coratina, Favolosa, Delicata, Leccino and Frantoio.

 

The single vineyard syrah from Kleinood: John Spicer 2011. “This is a beautifully structured and balanced, dark-scarlet coloured Syrah with a magenta rim and a deep intensity. The nose develops with medium, but pronounced intensity, showing pure, red and black berry fruit, white pepper, plum preserve and chocolate éclair. On the palate, complex dry spices, loaded with complex plum and mulberry preserve with a white pepper finish.” – winemaker, Gunter Schultz.

 

A bowl of venison with butternut puree and all kinds of wintery flavours – delicious! Prepared by Stir Food at Kleinood.

 

This is what a winemaker’s hands look like! Thank you Gunter Shultz, winemaker of Kleinood, for the personal approach and friendly chat.

 

The picturesque building at Kleinood. this is the one side of the tasting room.

 

Arriving at De Trafford, you are surrounded by French oak barrels.

 

One of the most incredible wines of the day, De Trafford’s Cabernet Sauvignon 1996. “Dense, with purple tint. Intense, creamy blackberry and Christmas pudding aromas. Rich, sweetish berry fruit and spicy oak palate. Fine, firm structure and long finish.” – owner, David Trafford.

 

Gnocchi with wild mushrooms and truffle oil at De Trafford, served by Die Worsrol from their caravan while it was pouring down with rain outside. Winter at its best!

 

More of De Trafford’s iconic barrels that span a few floors on the one side of the cellar and tasting room area.

 

Another stellar cab by De Trafford. “Deep, dark, brooding red colour. Cassis, ripe mulberries and tobacco and cedar nose. Intense fruit flavours and firm persistent tannins follow through to a long dry finish.” – owner, David Trafford.

 

De Trafford’s Vin de Paille – or straw wine. I cannot racall the vintage, but this was an exceptional wine, served with their Italian-style orange cake.

 

The driveway that leads to Keermont’s tasting centre.

 

The stone walled tasting room at Keermont.

 

Keermont’s brand new Sweetwater Rosé. “Ferrari red in colour, this Rosé has a complex nose of cherry, black current, peach, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate it is full and rich with flavours of peach, baked pears, cinnamon, and white pepper. The finish is dry and textured hinting to the fact that it matures for 6 months on the lees in seasoned French oak barrels.” winemaker, Alex Starey. In 2015, they only made 4 barrels of this wine.

 

The Steepside Syrah 2015 by Keermont. “This is an intense wine with a bright strawberry red colour. Spicy, floral aromas are complimented by hints of cinnamon, ripe strawberries and black current. The palate is full and broad with ripe spicy fruit. The tight structure gives the wine a succulent dry finish with lingering flavours of vibrant and savoury red fruit.” – winemaker, Alex Starey.

 

Tasting the Keermont range of wines at Keermont’s cellar. This photograph is a great reminder of a memorable day – many open bottles, many corks, many happy faces, many incredible wines.

 

One of the big wines of the day: Keermont’s flagship Estate Reserve 2013: “Venetian red in colour, this wine exudes complex aromas of sandalwood, ripe cherry, wild berries, and dusty ‘fynbos’. On the palate, the wine has a soft entry and exudes an array of ripe berries, cherry sherbet, crushed herbs and spices. Elegant but firm tannin affords the wine a long dry succulent finish. Drink 2017-2030.” – winemaker, Alex Starey.

 

One of my personal favourites and the perfect wine to end off a spectacular day: Keermont’s Fleurfontein (NV). It exudes dried apricot and marzipan – two of my favourite flavours in the world.

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Exploring the MOJO Market & Hotel in Seapoint, Cape Town

1 Jun

The Mojo Market recently turned 1! These market guests seemed like they had something to celebrate too.

 

Sea Point’s seven-day-a-week indoor food & lifestyle Mojo Market recently turned one. I was invited to explore the market and adjacent hotel with my family a few weeks ago, and we had a brilliant time.

Based on Regent Road in the heart of Sea Point, Mojo Market is a contemporary indoor market featuring  an eclectic mix of 20 designer retail stalls, a weekend market and 35 food vendors. The 2000 square meter space unites the bustling roadside and passing pavement footfall with floor-to-ceiling views of the sea and palm-lined promenade. The Mojo Hotel is built on top of the market and features a variety of rooms – from spacious self-catering studios and apartments to compact crash pads. It’s emphasis is on keeping things accessible, affordable and real. The setting is very central (right across the street from the popular prominade) and a great base location for also exploring the rest of the Mother City and everything she has to offer.

Take a look at our stay in pictures (also featuring some of my more informal iphone snaps) and be sure to visit the MOJO Market soon. We loved the nighttime vibe of the market, featuring live music and a true bustling vibe of locals and international visitors alike. Lots of families with young kids were present, confirming that this market is an accessible place for everyone. Our comfortable deluxe sea view studio apartment had a king size bed downstairs, two single beds upstairs, a kitchenette and beautiful views of the ocean and promenade. It’s perfect for a family stay.

Mojo Market Trading Hours:

EARLY BIRD’S BREAKFAST:

Mondays to Sundays: 8am – 10pm

FOOD STALLS:

Mondays to Thursday: 11am – 10pm

Friday to Sundays: 10am – 10pm

RETAILERS:

Mondays to Sundays: 10am – 6pm

Contact the Mojo Hotel:

+27 (0)87 940 7474

30 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town

Our deluxe seaview studio with twin beds upstairs and kitchenette.

Exploring the stairs with wall art.

King size bed in the deluxe sea view studio.

The view towards the Sea Point promenade from our balcony, deluxe seaview studio, Mojo Hotel.

Looking out towards Bantry Bay at sunset from our balcony.

Live music at the Mojo Market.

Giant donuts at the Mojo Market. (iphone snap)

Ordering burritos from Tortilla Modern Mexican – it was fantastic! (iphone snap)

Ordering oysters from The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar at the Mojo Market.

A plate of oysters from The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar. (iphone snap)

Oysters up close, from The Mussel Monger at the Mojo Market. They were delicious!

Having a ball at the Mojo Market.

Fresh flowers for sale at the Mojo Market. (iphone snap)

Mint choc chip ice cream from Baskin Robbins. (iphone snap)

Such a great vibe at the Mojo Market.

The incredible sunrise view from the promenade, Sea Point, just across the street from the Mojo Hotel. What a sight to wake up to! We took a stroll and soaked up the Autumn sun. (iphone snap)

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A baking class with Martjie Malan

30 May

Martjie Malan with trays of gougères and craquelins, ready for the oven.

I’m such a fan of recreational baking and always keen on learning more and sharpening my skills. Yesterday I attended Martjie Malan‘s first baking class in her winter series of 2018, with a focus on choux pastry. Here are some of the pictures I took (in the short moments when my hands weren’t full of custard or chocolate!). Martjie is a talented baker who’s come a long way since being runner up in Koekedoor, kykNet’s super popular reality baking series/competition. A few years back, while she still had a bakery and restaurant in Stellenbosch called M Patisserie, I was a massive fan of her French pastries, especially her almond croissants and her petit fours. That being said, I jumped to take up the opportunity to learn from a master like Martjie.

Keen an eye on Martjie’s Facebook page for more upcoming classes, all held at The Styling Shed outside Stellenbosch on the Devon Valley Road. If you’re an avid baker, keen to learn more, book your spot for one of Martjie’s upcoming classes.

 

Tea, coffee and pastries on arrival.

A leafy corner of the venue, The Styling Shed.

Martjie welcomes us.

Crème de pâtissièr, or pastry custard, as demonstrated by Martjie.

Making perfect choux pastry.

How to pipe like a pro.

Scooping choux dough into pastry bags.

And now for the longer shaped choux pastries, or eclairs.

Freshly baked profiteroles, straight from the oven.

Assembling the craquelins.

Freshly baked gougères. They disappeared in a second – so delicious!

Everyone got a chance to fill the freshly baked pastries.

Elmarie taking a picture of the beautiful chocolate ganache.

My finished product: fresh chocolate profiteroles filled with chocolate custard and glazed with chocolate ganache.

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A stay with dinner and breakfast at Majeka House

28 May

The pathway from our room door towards the entrance and reception area of Majeka House.

 

Earlier this year, I received an invitation to visit Majeka House Hotel & Restaurant in Stellenbosch for a stayover for two including a four course dinner with wine pairing. Majeka House is a boutique gem in the heart of residential Paradyskloof, discreetly tucked away between the quiet neighbourhood houses adjacent to Vriesenhof Wine Estate. Their restaurant, Makaron, has won numerous awards and is considered a must-visit on the Stellenbosch food landscape.

A bird’s eye view of Majeka House Hotel & Spa. Picture supplied by Majeka House.

 

Here are the highlights of our stay, our dinner and our breakfast in pictures. For me, Majeka House is a premium, boldly stylish, intimately private retreat where you will feel pampered and refreshed. The rooms are lavishly decorated with wall art, bold colours, eclectic furniture and beautiful tropical glass panels. There’s no room for “boring” here, and you’ll know for sure that you’re not in just another hotel suite.

Makaron’s small plate menu is driven by Chef Lucas Carstens – a man of few words that prefer to speak the language of good food. His courses were thoughtful, delicate, sometimes provoking and an all-round pleasure, especially with the spot-on wine pairing that really opens up the experience to another level. The amouse bouche and bread board (compliments from the kitchen) were some of my favourite items of the evening. The wine pairing is highly recommended and adds a lot to the dining experience at Makaron, presenting the inhouse sommelier’s clever and sometimes surprising wine choices from hand picked estates and boutique wineries. You’ll probably also discover a wine (or two) that you’ve never heard of before and that might just become your new favourite. All staff members at Makaron were friendly, professional and highly informed.

Breakfast has always been a highlight for me at Majeka House, especially with MCC on ice, trays full of freshly baked canelés (and other baked goods), individually potted treats and jugs full of freshly juiced fruit and veggies that will make you feel like a champion. I’m not one for hot breakfasts (my husband loves a good scramble or eggs Benedict, and that is also available, of course), but you can catch me in a trap with proper French pastries. Theirs are simply fantastic.

Majeka House has a few fabulous specials running during Autumn and Winter, check it out:

Away in May: R1990 pp sharing

  • Choice of a 60 min treatment each and a 4-course small plate dinner (excl. beverages) at Makaron for 2
  • 1 night accommodation for 2 in a Premier room
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520

Winter Night Out: R1325 pp sharing

  • 1 night accommodation in a Premier room
  • 4-course small plate dinner at Makaron for 2 (excl. beverages)
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520
  • Valid from 1 May to 30 September except for Wednesdays

Winter Escape: R1845 pp sharing

  • 1 night accommodation in a Premier room
  • Choice of a 60 min treatment each and a 4-course small plate dinner (excl. beverages) at Makaron for 2
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520
  • Valid from 1 June to 30 September except for Wednesdays

Book now:  +27 21 880 1549 | reservations@majekahouse.co.za

Relaxing in our room in the Autumn sun, just after arrival.

 

Our plush king size bed with mesmerising wall paper art.

 

Our room opened up onto a semi-private pool and veranda (shared with the suite next door). This is the view from the veranda towards our back door.

 

 

The striking striped pool outside our room.

 

Blue pool chairs and shades of Autumn.

 

Time for an afternoon gin, of course.

 

Dinner starts: Compliments from the kitchen: caesar taco / crispy chicken skin & truffle / beetroot & trout cracker.

 

“Roosterkoek” & bokkom butter, mosbolletjie & korrelkonfyt.

 

Langoustine mi cuit, sea butter, fermented cucumber, green curry juice.

 

Zucchini risotto, raw mushrooms, cured egg yolk shavings. This dish has been on the menu since Chef Lucas started his journey at Makaron, and it has remained a favourite ever since. It was my favourite dish of the day – the cured egg yolk is such a stunner!

 

House smoked hake, celeriac, dill, whey soured onions.

 

Mushroom ravioli, house made malt vinegar, parmesan. PS: The “ravioli” wasn’t your regular pasta, it was a clear sheet of mushroom flavoured stock or something, that held a chunky mushroom filling that you could see from the outside. Mesmerising.

 

Pineapple, white chocolate, coconut, fennel.

 

I cannot remember this chocolate creation’s menu name, but I think the ice cream on top was malt-infused. It was the perfect end to an exquisite evening.

 

These dainty little toffee apples are the size of large cherries and they are incredibly delicious! Not your standard candy apples, for sure.

 

Early morning peak at the mountain on our way to breakfast.

 

My happy place: the breakfast table at Majeka House.

 

Many difference potted treats, including homemade yoghurts, compotes, granola, smoked fish and lots more.

 

One of my highlights: a freshly baked tray of canelés.

 

The breakfast table from the other end, also showing one of the many characteristic ornamental pigs at Majeka House.

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How to make a cortado frappé with the GREENIS Smart+ Power Blender

8 May

 

A few weeks ago I received a Greenis 888OT Smart+ Power Blender from Greenis South Africa to try out and review. I’ve since discovered the world of power blending and it has been a major game changer in my kitchen.

This machine not only blends chunky liquids like soups to a silky smooth consistency in a flash, it also grinds nuts to become nut butters and pulverises grains to become flours. With its digital touch interface, LCD display, bluetooth compatibility, Japanese commercial grade stainless steel blades and 3,7 peak horsepower, you can be sure that you’re covered when it comes to premium power blending.

As compactness and practicality are core principles in the design of the Greenis FGR-8880T power blender, it carries the most portable (2 liter capacity) jar in the Greenis range, made from Tritan material that is 100% BPA free and super durable. The blade is able to crush pretty much any type of food ingredients, both wet and dry, soft and hard, small and bulky, thanks to the unique shape and quality stainless steel material. It is also equipped with a smart microchip which allows the blender to control operations more precisely and stably without overheating.

I’ve made hummus with the most velvety texture, smoothies and fruit frappés without any icy grains mentionable, and even smooth tahini using dry toasted sesame seeds and some olive oil. The machine does make a noise, but I suppose you wouldn’t expect anything else from a real power tool.

This cortado frappé is a spin on the classic cortado condensado of Spanish origin, where espresso and condensed milk is enjoyed in equal quantities to make a sweet dessert coffee. With the addition of ice, you can make a 3-ingredient iced coffee with a silky, creamy texture that will beat any coffee milkshake, any day.

The Greenis FGR 8880T is available from Takealot at R4699.00 and is available in white and black. For more visit Instagram @greenissouthafrica.

A smooth and creamy cortado frappé using espresso, condensed milk and ice cubes, made with the Greenis Smart+ Power Blender.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • a double espresso (or 60 ml very strong coffee), cooled for better results
  • 60 ml condensed milk

Method:

Turn the machine on and select the cold drinks setting. Add the ice cubes, espresso and condensed milk and press “on”. The machine will blend for 30 seconds with short pause intervals every 10 seconds. Pour and enjoy immediately.

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Product review: Achilles Chef’s Knife by Sternsteiger

4 Apr

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