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Cape Mediterranean: the way we love to eat – IN STORES NOW

10 Jul

It is with the greatest pleasure that I share the arrival of my first cookbook with you! It is titled Cape Mediterranean: the way we love to eat, published by Penguin Random House / Struik Lifestyle, with photography by my dear friend Tasha Seccombe. The book is available from this week in most South African book stores as well as online (Loot.co.za, Bidorbuy.co.za, Amazon.com, ExclusiveBooks.co.za etc.) and as an e-book at a recommended retail price of R360.

Writing a cookbook (hopefully one of many to come) has been one of my biggest aspirations for many years. In June 2018 I finally approached the legendary Linda de Villiers from PRH with my concept. Apart from agreeing to publish my book, she and her team have made this process the smoothest and most pleasant that I could have ever wished for and I am so grateful for their belief in my concept. It was a privilege to produce this book with my incredibly talented friend Tasha Seccombe who photographed & styled while I cooked and co-styled – I couldn’t have done it without her. With ceramics, fabrics, background textures and props provided by our friends from Hertex, Hertex HAUS, Mervyn Gers & Southern Art Ceramics, this book has a very unique local look and feel.

A Cape Mediterranean spread, featuring green-on-green salad, loaded hummus, fennel & apple salad, pork & port terrine, trout fillets and panzanella. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. From my book, Cape Mediterranean – the way we love to eat.

 

So let’s talk about the book’s theme. Cape Mediterranean food/cooking is a contemporary South African hybrid cuisine strongly influenced by the broader Mediterranean basin (Southwestern Europe, Middle East and northern Africa, surrounding the Mediterranean Sea) that has developed naturally from within the Western Cape due to the inherent Mediterranean climate and the abundant occurrence of classic Mediterranean-style local produce. It is not defined by race or ethnicity. Although ‘Mediterranean cuisine’ is still a term that isn’t easily defined and varies across the wider basin, it is mostly accepted to be driven by olive oil, wheat, grapes (wine), fruit, vegetables and seafood, also including dairy and meat. The more well-known Cape Malay, Cape Dutch and indigenous African styles of cooking are well settled within South Africa.

With this book, I would like to add another Cape hybrid to our rainbow repertoire: contemporary Cape Mediterranean (Cape-Med) – a South African style of cooking and entertaining influenced by one of the oldest and arguably also the healthiest cuisines in the world.

What are the biggest differences between traditional ‘Mediterranean’ and ‘Cape Mediterranean’? In South Africa, we traditionally consume more meat than in the Mediterranean basin. Also, our exceptional local olive oil industry is still very young compared to the Mediterranean basin, which has an olive producing history dating back to 2600 BCE, according to some sources. Few of us know how to make fresh homemade pasta or gnocchi (we mostly prefer the quick and easy store-bought dried versions), although they are both very popular items on restaurant menus. However, our culture of alfresco dining because of good weather is shared, as is our love of good wine and an active outdoor lifestyle. This book focuses on contemporary South African gatherings, not heritage food nor nostalgia. You won’t find any twists on milk tart, chakalaka or bobotie. Cape Mediterranean cooking is a natural South African interpretation of classic Mediterranean-style cooking, celebrating our Western Cape-based Mediterranean climate, worldclass local produce and dedicated producers.

May this book bring many hours of joy and togetherness around your table! Please tag me with #CapeMed if you’re sharing your cooking experiences from this book on social media.

I’d like to share one of my favourite recipes from the book with you: a festive pavlova with lemon curd & passion fruit. Lemons are one of the cornerstone ingredients for Mediterranean & Cape Mediterranean cooking – they’re listed in more than 40% of the book’s recipes. This specific recipe was created in collaboration with Lemongold – the newly launched cousins of the much loved Clemengold premium citrus brand. These seedless, thin-skinned, extra juicy lemons are perfect for making lemon curd, for cooking, for squeezing, for juicing etc, without the hassle of removing seeds. Lemongolds are grown widely in SA and forms part of Woolworths’ “Farming for the Future” sustainability programme.

A classic pavlova topped with whipped cream, lemon curd and fresh passion fruit. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. From my book Cape Mediterranean – the way we love to eat.

 

Ingredients: (serves 8)

6 XL egg whites (save the yolks and make *lemon curd)
400 g caster sugar (extra fine sugar)
10 ml (2 teaspoon) white vinegar or lemon juice
15 ml (1 tablespoon) corn flour
1 teaspoons vanilla extract (or scraped seeds of a vanilla pod)
250 ml fresh cream, whipped
about 1 cup *lemon curd, for topping (see page xxx)
pulp of about 4 fresh passion fruits

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 150 C. Whisk egg whites in a large bowl (with an electric whisk or stand mixer with whisk attachment) until soft peaks form. Gradually add castor sugar to egg whites, small amounts at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Add the vinegar/lemon juice, cornstarch and vanilla and mix well.
Dot a big roasting tray with some of the mixture then place a sheet of baking paper on top (sticking like glue). Pour the pavlova mixture on the tray and shape with a spoon or spatula into a round shape with a diameter of about 23 cm, like a cake (draw a circle on the back of your baking paper, if necessary). The mixture will rise a bit to the sides, so leave enough space. Place in the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 120 C. Bake for an hour and 15 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave to cool (in the oven) for about 2,5 hours without opening the oven door.

To serve: Carefully remove the baking paper from the bottom of pavlova and transfer to a serving dish (it will have a few cracks, that’s 100%). Top with whipped cream and lemon curd, swirling the cream and curd together softly. Top with lashings of passion fruit pulp and serve at once, sliced.

Note: Pavlova must be assembled just before serving as it becomes soggy on standing. Store the unassembled baked pavlova on the baking tray covered with a sealed large plastic bag. Can be baked a day ahead if stored airtight.

For the lemon curd:

You only need three lemons to make 500 ml (2 cups) lemon curd. It’s a phenomenal spread for cakes, cookies and pavlova, and will last for at least a week in the refrigerator, once opened.  I usually make my lemon curd with four whole eggs, but when I’ve made a pavlova using six egg whites, I use the remaining six yolks instead of whole eggs. Use whatever you have on hand.

Ingredients: (makes 500 ml/2 cups)

peeled rind and juice of 3 medium-size lemons / Lemongolds
250 ml (1 cup) white sugar
180 g soft butter
4 XL eggs (or 6 XL egg yolks)
a pinch salt

Method:

Place the peeled rind and sugar in a food processor and process until you get a very fine, yellow, grainy mixture. Add the butter and process until light and creamy. Add the eggs and salt and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a small saucepan over very low heat. Stir continuously while it heats up (take care, it burns easily). The mixture will at first become runnier as the butter starts to melt, and then it will thicken again as the eggs form a glossy custard. Never let it reach boiling point. If at any stage it looks like it’s burning, remove from the heat at once and strain to remove any brown bits. Remove from the heat and transfer to a glass jar with a lid. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use – the mixture will continue to thicken on cooling. (Note: For an ultra-silky result, strain the hot mixture before cooling.) Best served at room temperature – spread it on cakes or cookies, or serve with meringues (Eaton mess-style) and on pavlova.

Note: In this photograph, I used freshly made lemon curd that has not cooled fully – that’s why it has a more runny consistency. Your lemon curd will be thick and spreadable once refrigerated.

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Discovering Anthonij Rupert’s homegrown Altima Black Truffles

19 Jun

An exclusive locally grown 100g Altima truffle, as shown to us at the Truffle Lunch at Anthonij Rupert Wyne.

 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to experience the brand new black truffles cultivated on the cool climate Altima Estate in the Elandskloof valley outside Villiersdorp – a farm that forms part of Anthonij Rupert Wyne in Franschhoek. Anthonij Rupert Wyne is the first producer of these rare Périgord truffles in South Africa.  Oak trees were planted on Altima Estate in 2010, their roots inoculated with truffle spores. It would be only 7 years later that the team at Anthonij Rupert would find that their patience has paid off, when they harvested their first truffle.

Truffle hunter (also known as a Trufelau) Hanene van Dyk, who learnt her craft in Piedmont, Italy, works closely with her specially-trained Lagotto Romagnolo dogs to hunt for the truffles. Truffles are seasonal and will only be available during May – July this year.

The Périgord truffle, or French black truffle is known as the world’s most expensive edible mushroom. Grown originally in France, Italy and Spain, it is now also being cultivated in other areas like Australia, New Zealand and Wales. It is revered world wide by culinary enthusiasts as a rare winter delicacy. They have a distinctively aromatic smell and can reach a size of up to 10 cm in diameter (although size doesn’t govern quality, in this case). Truffles are usually imported to South Africa at around R60/g, but the value of these local truffles is roughly estimated at around R40/g. To give you an idea, this truffle pictured above weighs around 100g, and is worth around R4000. An important note is that Anthonij Rupert Wyne doesn’t intend to sell these truffles yet, but truffle enthusiasts will be able to enjoy these delicate treasures at Anthonij Rupert Estate‘s exclusive Truffle Lunches at R950/person, including a wine pairing. The next four-course lunch will be taking place on the 28th of June 2019 (book here). To ensure an exclusive dining experience, each luncheon will be kept to a maximum of 10 people.

For those who want to see exactly where the truffles are grown, there is also an exclusive Altima Truffle Experience and Tour available at R2500 per person, including a guided tour of Altima Estate,  the tasting of 3 estate wines, an introductory talk by Altima Truffle hunter Hanene van Dyk, an opportunity to see how the truffles are discovered and harvested, return transport from Altima Estate back to Anthonij Rupert Estate, tasting of their truffle products produced from Altima’s truffles, a 4 course lunch inspired by Altima truffles, Cape of Good Hope Wine pairing through lunch, with focus on wines produced from Altima vines. The next experience is happening on the 28th of June 2019. Book here.

Take a look at my experience in pictures. It was the first time that I had the opportunity to taste a fresh truffle – I’ve only experienced it as infused truffle oil. The taste is very different to truffle oil – earthy, mushroomy, almost like a matured cheese and absolutely delicious. You can actually smell the truffles right through the soil (after the dogs have indicated that there is a truffle to be found in a certain spot). The truffle hunter then makes the careful decision to either leave the truffle in tact if it isn’t ripe yet, or harvest the truffle if it is fully ripened. Truffles must then be used within about 2 weeks.

Seeing the passion of the team that has successfully cultivated these truffles (9 years later!) on Altima Estate was a very special experience. Sharing in the fruits of their labour was an absolute privilege – thank you very much to Gidi, Hanene and everyone from Anthonij Rupert Wyne who made this memorable experience possible.

For more information or to book your truffle lunch/experience, click here.

The breathtaking views from the lookout point at Altima Estate, Elandskloof valley.

 

Gidi offering us a taste of the Cape of Good Hope range of wines by Anthonij Rupert Wyne.

 

One of the younger truffle hunting dogs.

 

One of the more experienced truffle hunting dogs.

 

Hanene follows her dog who will point out a truffle shortly.

 

The dog has pointed out a truffle, and Hanene tells us more about how she will go about unearthing it.

 

Careful not to damage the truffle, Hanene shows us the tip of a truffle peeking out from underneath the soil.

 

The menu for our exclusive truffle lunch.

 

Amuse bouche – truffle croquette.

 

First course: Asparagus, soft boiled quail’s egg, honey pickled golden baby beetroot, truffle caviar & vinaigrette.

 

Second course: prawn ravioli, saffron cream and truffle carpaccio.

 

Third course: estate raised black angus steak, thick cut chips, truffle butter.

 

Fourth course: golden paradise tartlet.

 

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The winter set menu at Cavalli

11 Jun

Welcome drink offerend on arrival: Cavalli Capriole MCC (100% Chardonnay).

 

I was recently invited to experience the winter set menu with wine pairings at Cavalli Estate on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. Cavalli is a pristine destination for dining, but also for tasting and buying wine, viewing their equestrian facilities, or taking a stroll through their contemporary art gallery and remarkable collection of rugby & sporting memorabilia.

A sample 2019 winter set menu (with vegetarian option) at Cavalli looks like this (subject to change, according to the seasonality/availability of produce):

WINTER SET MENU R350
with Cavalli wine pairing R425

AMUSE BOUCHE

FIRST COURSE
Slow- cooked local octopus, fermented black garlic
aioli, apple, squid ink crisp, radish, fynbos dressing
Cavalli ‘Pink Pony’ Grenache Noir 2015

SECOND COURSE
Barley & mushrooms, parmesan custard
Cavalli ‘Vendetta’ Viognier/Verdelho 2016

THIRD COURSE
Confit duck leg, orange, fennel marmalade,
mustard pommes mousseline, black kale
Cavalli ‘Nightmare’ Shiraz/Grenache 2015

FOURTH COURSE
Tonka bean crème caramel, palmier
Coffee/Tea

PETIT FOURS

VEGETARIAN WINTER SET MENU R300
with Cavalli wine pairing R375

AMUSE BOUCHE

FIRST COURSE
Parsnip, truffle & honey velouté, 65°c free range egg,
mushroom ragout, crispy enoki, smoked crème fraiche
Cavalli ‘Pink Pony’ Grenache Noir 2015

SECOND COURSE
Barley & mushrooms, parmesan custard
Cavalli ‘Vendetta’ Viognier/Verdelho 2016

THIRD COURSE
Pearl couscous risotto, red pepper, homemade
almond yoghurt, pickled naartjies, kale crisp
Cavalli ‘Nightmare’ Shiraz/Grenache 2015

FOURTH COURSE
Tonka bean crème caramel, palmier
Coffee/Tea

PETIT FOURS

Cavalli Restaurant takes full advantage of their remarkable setting. It’s a space bathed in natural light, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening out to a spacious terrace. Beyond the tables the views spill out across the farm dam, vineyards and paddocks; a scene framed by views of the distant Helderberg Mountains. 

Looking out from the restaurant terrace towards the equestrian facilities and the Helderberg mountains.

 

Head Chef Michael Deg has held the reins of the Cavalli kitchen since 2017, cementing the restaurant’s reputation for seasonal, sustainable cuisine. It is refined food without pretence, served within a world class setting.  For his winter menu this year, Chef Michael has created an enticing, affordable, 4-course food and wine pairing menu that will have you coming back for more. Considering the extras included in this menu (multiple amuse bouche, palate cleanser and petit fours) coupled with the service excellence and delicious wine pairings, this is one of the best fine dining winter deals the Winelands has to offer this winter.

Note: Althought chef Michael was on leave the day that we visited, his capable, talentede kitchen team provided all guests with a seamless dining experience.

I chose the vegetarian set menu, while my husband had the regular set menu (he opted for the international wine pairing too, an option that cost slightly more, but totally worth it – a wine lover’s adventure). Take a look at my photographs of our experience:

We sat outside on the terrace, overlooking the pristine pond.

 

Amuse bouche: crispy carrots on marinated tofu, pickled vegetables and garden greens, fresh flour tortillas, fried black beans.

 

Another amuse bouche: I didn’t make a note of what this delightful mouthful was, but if I remember correctly, it was smoked beetroot on goatscheese and a cheese biscuit.

 

More amuse bouche: Corn & cheese croquette.

 

Yet another extra treat from the kitchen, this was a type of crispy dome that covered a mushroom mousse (if I remember correctly!).

 

Last of the surprising bites coming from the kitchen: cauliflower fritter with pineapple salsa.

 

Wine pairings with our first course.

 

FIRST COURSE: Slow- cooked local octopus, fermented black garlic aioli, apple, squid ink crisp, radish, fynbos dressing. Served with Cavalli ‘Pink Pony’ Grenache Noir 2015. One of my favourite dishes of the day (not on the vegetarian menu).

 

FIRST COURSE (veg): Parsnip, truffle & honey velouté, 65°c free range egg,mushroom ragout, crispy enoki, smoked crème fraiche. Served with Cavalli ‘Pink Pony’ Grenache Noir 2015.

 

SECOND COURSE (regular & veg): Barley & mushrooms, parmesan custard. Served with Cavalli Cremello.

 

A closer look of the barley risotto (second course).

 

Palate cleanser: raspberry & pineapple sorbet, white chocolate, lemon curd.

 

THIRD COURSE: Confit duck leg, orange, fennel marmalade,mustard pommes mousseline, black kale. Served with Cavalli Warlord.

 

THIRD COURSE (veg): Bean puree, charred broccoli, homemade coconut yoghurt, toasted nuts, kale crisp. Served with Cavalli Warlord. This was one of my favourite dishes of the day. I’ll eat vegetarian forever if it tastes like this!

 

Cavalli’s Cremello white blend was one of my favourite wines of the day.

 

One of the international pairings of the day, in Schalk’s glass, from the Nappa Valley in California. Look at that colour!

 

FOURTH COURSE: Tonka bean crème caramel, palmiers.

 

After the dessert, we also enjoyed two petit fours each, served with coffee. This winter set menu is exceptional value and a must on your winter calendar. Sit back and enjoy premium Winelands hospitality at an affordable rate.

The winter menu is available from 1 May – 30 of September 2019 for lunch/dinner at R350 for the 4-course menu, R425 with Cavalli wine pairing and the 4-course vegetarian menu at R300 or R375 paired with Cavalli wine. Bookings are limited to a maximum of 15 guests.Cavalli Restaurant is open from Wednesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, as well as Sundays for lunch only. For bookings email the reservation team on restaurant@cavalliestate.com

Cavalli Estate is situated at R44 Highway (Strand Road), Somerset West.

Tel: 021 855 3218

Email: info@cavalliestate.com

Wine tasting is offered from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-6pm. Tasting fee of R60 for five premium wines, R40 for ‘Passions’ wines. For bookings or further information send a mail to wines@cavalliestate.com.

High Tea is offered in The Conservatory from Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm – 3pm. R220 per person, with a minimum of 10 guests. 

Stable tours are offered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 11am – 12pm. 

Carriage rides (one hour) across the estate are available on request, and can carry up to four passengers. R2000 per carriage, including a bottle of Cavalli Estate wine. For bookings send a mail to stables@cavalliestate.com or call 021 855 3218.

The Cavalli Private Collection of South African Masters is frequently rotated in the portico situated within the main gallery and two memorabilia rooms allocated in close proximity showcase a remarkable collection of rugby and sporting memorabilia.

The gallery at Cavalli is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm.​ For all enquiries or a catalogue of available artwork, please contact gallery@cavalliestate.com or call 021 855 3218.

 

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Welcoming the new Winter set menu from Terroir

28 May

Chef Michael Broughton of Terroir. Photography by Mark Hoberman.

 

Every Winter, Terroir Restaurant at Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch announces the start of the colder season with a fresh new set menu. This year, diners will once again receive incredible value where they can choose from either a two-course option at R295 per person or three courses at R395 per person (including vegetarian options). This price also includes two glasses of Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection wines served with the starter and main courses.

I recently had the pleasure of getting a taste of the new Winter set menu alongside a table of industry friends, hosted by chef Michael Broughton, Klein Zalze cellarmaster Alastair Rimmer and Lise Manley of Manley Communications. The Winter set menu at Terroir is an annual highlight for me and for many diners in and around Stellenbosch, and this year’s menu is a must-do on the Winter calendar. Take a tour through my photographs of my lunch experience, and be sure not to miss the show-stopping pistachio soufflé when you visit Terroir.

I shared a table with some wonderful industry peers & friends, but also had the pleasure of sitting next to Kleine Zalze cellarmaster Alaistair Rimmer (left). The wine pairings are part of the success of this package – don’t miss out.

 

As always, Terroir bread boards are served with their own sour dough bread, flatbread, olives, paté and butter.

 

Coconut cooked beef cheek doughnut with paprika and apricot jam – served with Kleine Zalze MCC Brut and Rosé NV. Such a stunning savoury and sweet amuse bouche.

 

Fennel cured and smoked trout with horseradish and Vichyssoise – served with Kleine Zalze Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2017. It was great to see a “fresher” starter choice as part of a winter menu.

 

Braised shoulder and grilled rack of Karoo lamb “au jus” with Fregola, pickled mustard seeds, peas and bagna cauda – served with Kleine Zalze Whole bunch Syrah 2017. Chef Michael does lamb very well, and his sauce skills are uncontested.

 

One of the side dishes as part of the main course – zucchini tempura. Stunning!

 

Poached pineapple, scented Catalan Crème with vanilla and saffron ice cream.

 

Pistachio soufflé with milk ice cream and vanilla caramel – served with Stellenrust Chenin d’ Muscat Noble Late Harvest 2015. My dish of the day. A must have.

 

And just because the pistachio soufflé was that good, here’s another view of it. One of the best soufflé’s I’ve had in years.

 

The winter special offer is valid from 2 May to 30 September 2019, for both lunch and dinner (max 10 pax per booking). 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 from 12h00 – 14h30 and for dinner from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 18h30 – 21h00. Advance reservations are highly recommended. To book call 021 880-8167 or email restaurant@kleinezalze.co.za

Please note that Terroir will be closed for their annual winter break from 17th June 2019 and re-opening on the 10th of July 2019.

Kleine Zalze Wines and Terroir restaurant are situated on Strand Road (R44), Stellenbosch, South Africa.

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JAN comes home to open KLEIN JAN in the Kalahari

24 May

Jan Hendrik at a bush camp fire. (Photograph supplied.)

 

Born and raised on a farm in Mpumalanga, South African Michelin-star Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen always knew he would one day return to the bush – to the campfires and the open skies of his home land. With a shared passion and vision for all things South African, a global partnership with the Oppenheimer family has led to this incredible new project that celebrates the unexplored culinary territory of the vast Kalahari.

KLEIN JAN will open its doors at Tswalu Kalahari, a first class unspoiled refuge that celebrates the simple, authentic splendours of this unique land. Driven by the values of local authenticity, heritage and sustainability of the environment, KLEIN JAN will become the place where this specific region’s culinary offering will be translated into world-class cuisine. Discovering this unexplored culinary territory with its unlimited potential has been a dream of Jan Hendrik’s for years.

In addition, JAN Innovation Studio will be opening its doors in Cape Town, where a team of chefs and students will continually develop and innovate South African cuisine. The Cape Town team will share their findings with their colleagues at Michelin star restaurant JAN in Nice, France, which will remain Jan Hendrik’s “mother ship”. In addition, South African diners can look forward to a series of pop-up dinners where they will be able to taste what Jan Hendrik and his teams have been up to.

JAN Innovation Studio will also be home to JAN the JOURNAL, a biannual publication that shares Jan Hendrik’s ideas, passion and curiosity about the culinary world. This collector’s book is available in both South Africa and in Europe.

I had the pleasure of talking to Jan Hendrik about his new plans a few weeks ago (see the video below), and to spend some one-on-one time with a young South African food icon and pioneer in his field. It was utterly refreshing to experience Jan Hendrik’s solid sense of self and his brilliant sense of humour. What a delightful conversation! I hope you enjoy the video – we shared a few light hearted moments that I’ll treasure forever.

#kleinjan #tswalu #JAN

 

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Review: The Germanicum Arminius by Sternsteiger

15 Apr

A year ago, I reviewed the Achilles chef’s knife by Sternsteiger of Solingen, Germany. I’ve been using the knife almost daily, and it is still one of the top performing knives in my kitchen. Now meet the brand new addition to Sternsteiger’s stable: the Germanicum Arminius, a new generation Damascus chef’s knife.

If you are unfamiliar with Damascus steel: it is named after the forged steel comprising the blades of swords smithed in the Near East from ingots of wootz steel imported from India and Sri Lanka (3rd – 17th century). These swords were characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water, and were reputed to be tough, resistant to shattering and capable of being honed to a sharp, resilient edge. It appears that the original method of making Damascus steel blades had been lost over time (ceased around 1750), but has regained popularity in recent modern knife making with new techniques.

The steel is named after Damascus, the capital city of Syria and one of the largest cities in the ancient Levant. The Germanicum Arminius knife was named after a famous German warrior of the mid century. The knife has 440 layers of steel (15N20 and 1084). A special coating is applied to the knife to keep it sharp and more rigid. Designed by the award winning knife designer UBUTT DESIGN GERMANY, the Germanicum has a Spanish walnut wood handle and a HRC hardness of 58-59.

The knife is lighter than most of my other chef’s knives (188 g, compared to around 220 g), which makes it unintimidating and easy to handle. The round wooden handle feels warm and comfortable.
As this knife is not made of stainless steel, it must be hand washed only, dried and oiled after each usage. This is a spectacular, hand forged steel & natural wood item made with the utmost precision and skill, and it deserves special care.
This is a stunning addition to my kitchen knife range and I cannot wait to spend more time with this knife. Purchase your Germanicum Arminius chef’s knife here (via Kickstarter), for the price of €92. Paring knife and bread knife also available. Have a look at Sternsteiger’s video for more info:

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Dinner at VADAS, Spier

21 Mar

The glass paneled area at VADAS, where we were seated for dinner.

 

November 2018 marked the opening of VADAS Smokehouse & Bakery at Spier outside Stellenbosch. This eatery replaced its predecessor, a local branch of The Hoghouse – a much loved destination of my family and circle of friends. We were happy to learn that PJ Vadas, previous head chef at The Hoghouse at Spier, was also the new chef/ower of VADAS Smokehouse & Bakery. This hopefully meant that the greatness of the place as a whole would be continued at some level!

Little did we know just how great it would be.

We were recently invited to experience dinner at VADAS, where I had the opportunity to order a good selection of items from their informal tick-box menu. Although we’ve been to VADAS quite a few times since it’s opening, this dinner was the best experience yet. The team has settled into a groove with very good service too. So what can you expect? In PJ’s words: “VADAS Smokehouse & Bakery is run by a group of long-time friends and colleagues with a shared passion for food and great service. The vision for the new restaurant is to create a place where families and friends can join together and eat food that is carefully, ethically and healthily sourced and prepared. VADAS believes in supporting local, quality-driven businesses and practices farm-to-plate dining where simple dishes embrace and showcase the quality of produce.”

In food terms, it is lip-smackingly tasty food, prepared simply but with the utmost attention to detail and a fine know-how that will show off their skills and unique smokehouse offerings to the next level.

Chef PJ Vadas has a colourful and decorated background in high end fine dining kitchens around the world, including holding the reigns at local jewels like The Roundhouse (has since reopened at Salsify at The Roundhouse) in Camps Bay and Camphors at Vergelegen a few years ago. He has now settled in as the rightful king of relaxed, authentic smokehouse dining the the Cape Winelands.

Take a look at my pictures below, with comments. We visited on a gloomy (cool, overcast and windy) evening and were seated at a cosy table in their glass paneled indoor area with open air vents at the top, making you feel like you’re still in nature. During the colder months, this will most probably where you’ll be seated as opposed to the outdoor seating next to the lawn – which is great during the warmer months, especially for families with young kids.

This area at VADAS is perfect for cooler weather, but it can also be opened up completely during warmer months. You are surrounded by massive oak trees, cobbled walkways, trimmed hedges and beautiful lawns.

The seating area next to the service station indoors.

At the front: Smoked pork belly with apple ketchup (100g portion).

Clockwise from the top: Smoked brisket and BBQ sauce, pickles, special of the day (meaty croquettes with cheese and ham, served with a herby green dipping sauce), Fried chicken with garlic aioli.

Closeup of the beef brisket (100g). Super smokey and really tender.

Beets with feta, grapes, pistachio dukkha and pickled fennel flowers.

Sourdough bread and butter with hummus.

Smoked harissa chicken wings with pomegranate and yoghurt dressing.

Pork fat fried chips and truffle aioli (at the back), Fire roasted broccoli, mustard cider vinaigrette and macadamia & smoked cheddar. The broccoli is my favourite item on the menu. It is HUGE, and it is so incredibly satisfying.

A closeup of the broccoli (see full description above) with the reveal of the hidden treasures underneath the cheese. A sublime vegetarian dish.

The must-have chocolate gelato. Don’t miss it.

View from the outside of the glass paneled area where we were seated. This is situated on the opposite side from the front lawn, where kids usually roam free on a beautiful summers day.

Gloomy outside, cosy inside. VADAS is a great place for lunch and dinner, any time of the year.

 

VADAS is one of my favourite eateries in the Stellenbosch region, simply because the food is that good. They’re consistent too. It’s a destination type of place, so plan to spend a few hours there and don’t be rushed. The Moro gelato is a múst – probably the best chocolate ice cream in the Winelands. At R50 per scoop it might seem pricey, but it is made the original Italian way, incredibly silky in texture, and enough for one person. I never leave without having some.

PS: Also, take some freshly baked bread and pastries home after dinner – they make the BEST pasteis de nata you’ll ever have outside of Portugal.

VADAS Kitchen operation hours:

Monday – Saturday: 12h00 – 15h00 & 18h00 – 21h00

Sundays: 12h00 – 15h00

Friday evening pizzas: 18h00-21h00

See a sample menu here. Tapas-style dishes range between R45-180, some charged per 100g portions.

Contact: +27 (21) 809 1137 or visit www.vadas.co.za to book.

Location: VADAS is situated on Spier Farm, Baden Powell Drive, outside Stellenbosch.

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The story behind “Klankbord”, my new tv series on VIA (DSTV channel 147)

4 Feb

Catch me on #Klankbord every Wednesday from the 6th of Feb, on VIA, DSTV 147, at 21h30. Thank you BMW for the use of your X4.

 

On Wednesday 6 February 2019 at 21h30, the first episode of my brand new tv series #Klankbord will air on VIA (DSTV channel 147). If you haven’t seen the promo video, watch it here. To many people’s surprise, this is not a cooking show! It is, however, a multi-sensory showcase of incredible food, beautiful music, breathtaking destinations, and the people and stories behind it.

I’d love to tell you more about this journey and how it came about. As many of you know, at the end of 2010 I realized that I wanted to change careers from the music industry as a booking agency owner and event organizer, to something in the food world. At that time, I was hooked on watching food television, and while watching another few hours of Bill Granger, Ina Garten and Jamie Oliver on BBC Food (now BBC Lifestyle), I suddenly knew that I had found my calling: food tv. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to approach it or precisely where I would fit within this industry. I decided to start a food blog in January 2011 to get a foot in the door, meet some people in the industry and build up a decent online audience. Early in 2011, I set up a meeting with a friend and tv producer, Carien Loubser (now the producer of the award winning Republiek van Zoid Afrika on kykNET), and shared my vision for a tv series. She agreed to help me put together a concept and produce a pilot. We didn’t manage to get it commissioned by a channel, so I started the difficult journey of trying to find a sponsor for the show. Time passed as we received many “sorry, not at this time of the year” or “our marketing budget just won’t allow for a production of this scale” or “we’ve just committed to another project – maybe next time”.

I continued to write my blog, met some incredible people on the way and became quite good at networking. People started respecting my opinion on food and I got a few opportunities to do short tv cooking inserts on SABC2’s Expresso & Pasella, SABC3’s Top Billing and kykNET’s breakfast show. My blog won the Fair Lady Consumer Awards for Best Food Blog in 2014. I served on the Eat Out review panel twice. I even started to film, produce and edit short cooking videos all by myself – I loved every second, but I never lost sight of my pursuit to host a tv series.

In March 2017, with renewed vigor, I vowed to finally get the show on the road for a cooking show. I knocked on the door of local food icon, experienced PR specialist and inspirational food writer Errieda du Toit for some feedback as a friend, and as a sounding board for my ideas. At Errieda’s home, we agreed that I should be creating something that is absolutely unique to my background and set of skills. Errieda was adamant that I focus of the idea of something “multi-sensory”, and told me that she feels there is magic somewhere in my link to Schalk, my husband, who is a seasoned musician. Her words kept lingering in my mind…

At the end of 2017, I attended the launch of Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen‘s tv series, Jan, on VIA. After the screening, I bumped into Izelle Venter, channel head at VIA, who mentioned that we should “do something together”. I jumped at the opportunity and emailed her the next day to schedule a meeting. Izelle suggested that I conceptualize a cooking show for kids and young families for VIA. I saw the opportunity as another foot in the door, although I never envisioned myself within this niche environment of cooking with kids. A few weeks after, having already met with a new potential production team that Izelle introduced me to, I tore my ankle ligaments after jumping from a small flight of stairs. This stupid accident set our planning back a bit, and I was constricted to my home for quite a few weeks with loads of frustration (and a lot of time to think). A few new food shows like Chef’s Table, Mind of a Chef, Parts Unknown, Ugly Delicious and Somebody Feeds Phil made a huge impact on me during that time. By chance, I came across a short Youtube video by Bon Appetit where one of their female editors drove a vintage mustang somewhere in New York and visited a Michelin star chef in his kitchen, drinking beer with him while he made his world famous tiramisu. The chef was also a drummer in a well-known band. It was a casual conversation – there were even a few swear words, but it was so incredibly entertaining and spoke to my soul. Something clicked: I was not going to make a cooking show for kids (well, not this time). I was going do something that is 100% unique to who I am and what I’m inspired by. Strangely, I didn’t want to be the one cooking in this series. I wanted to be the host. I wanted to drive a kick-ass car. I wanted to travel with my music friends of way back to incredible restaurants and visit the chefs in their kitchens while they cooked something for us. I phoned Carien and told her my new plan. She liked my idea and immediately added that the chefs should then do a music and food pairing using one of the artist’s songs. Yes! We were on to something and the feeling was tangible. After our first intensive planning meeting where we were throwing around titles like “Rockers, Roadtrips & Resepte”, I came across the more classic-sounding Afrikaans title “Klankbord” on my way back in the car. It’s a mash-up between music and food, but also means “sounding board” – and apt name for the role that I would be playing and what we were planning to film. Carien introduced me to Hannahmi Alfredo of Whippet Films (the perfect fit for this project) as she only had the capacity for being consulting producer at the time, and she pitched the concept shortly after to VIA. It was a done deal.

As content producer and presenter, I phoned and emailed dozens of musicians and chefs, pairing them up to form a story with a theme for each episode. Many weren’t available but everybody wanted to participate. Some of the best chefs in the country opened their restaurants to our crew and hosted us with the utmost generosity. Top musicians spent their rare off days with us, all on their own time. We filmed episode 1 in September, and episodes 2-13 in October/November 2018. It felt like everything I had done in my life has led me to this project, bringing together my previous music career, my current food career, my relentless networking, my love of writing, my intense affinity for connecting with people, and the ability to work in a fantastic team where everyone had the same creative goals. It was a more rewarding experience that I could ever have asked for – I loved every single second.

Episode one of #Klankbord is about to air on Wednesday (VIA, DSTV channel 147 at 21h30). After 8 long years, it is my turn to shine (15 minutes, as they say!). Although I really hope that viewers from all over will love this show as much as I love it, it has already been enough for me in terms of personal fulfillment. May this rodeo be the first of many – I have found my game and I’m going to keep on playing!

My vision for this series is that it will inspire people to get into their cars and make the beautiful drives to these destinations – visit the restaurants, meet the chefs and enjoy the fabulous food. Fall in love all over again with South African music and make a playlist for the road. This country has so much to offer.

Thank you Carien Loubser and the super team from Whippet Films (Hannahmi, Michelle, Johan, Geoff, Nic, Sarah, Parfait, Pieter etc.) for guiding me through this journey. Thank you VIA for giving us a chance. Thank you to all the musicians and chefs who gave their time and creative input. Thank you BMW South Africa for providing me with that fantastic X4 during the filming of the series. Thank you Albert Frost, Francious Kruger & Schalk van der Merwe for the use of your music for the theme song. Thank you Pieter Steyn from The Oculus for the awesome sunglasses. Thank you Grant Munro of Freestyle for the stunning shoes. And thank you to all my friends and family who’ve been cheering me on along the way. I truly appreciate it.

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Lunch at Pierneef à La Motte

18 Jan

A view of some of the pristine historical buildings, lush gardens and vineyards at La Motte from the driveway, with a mountain backdrop to match.

In December last year I was invited to visit Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant in Franschhoek at the esteemed La Motte Wine Estate in Franschhoek for lunch with my family. I’ve visited their restaurant a few times before, but not since chef Eric Bulpitt has taken up the reigns as executive chef less than a year ago.

The name “Pierneef à La Motte” is inspired by the estate’s admiration of iconic South African artist Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886 – 1957) and celebrates his exceptional creativity and artistic innovation in their culinary execution of modern South African heritage cuisine.

Chef Eric Bulpitt of Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant.

Chef Eric Bulpitt recently made the move from Faber Restaurant to Pierneef à La Motte, following in the footsteps of chef Michelle Theron. Eric developed a love for farm to table cooking from an early age after spending childhood holidays on his grandparent’s self-sustained farm. Today, he shares La Motte’s passion of authentic local produce and sustainably sourced ingredients, cooking South African heritage cuisine with a modern interpretation.

The ever-changing new a-la-carte lunch menu at Pierneef à La Motte includes starters like the Cape Bokkom Salad, Heirloom Tomato Salad, Saldanha Bay Mussels and Braise Ox Tongue. Main course options are Sustainably Caught Line Fish, Kroon Duck, Butter Roasted Aubergine and Karoo Lamb Biryani. For dessert, choose between Spring Berries, Selection of South African Cheese, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio and Summer Fruit Tart.

Two-course lunch, excl. wines – R395 / Two-course lunch, incl. wines – R495

Three-course lunch, excl. wines – R425 / Three-course lunch, incl. wines – R595

(Kids menu also available.)

Take a look at our three-course lunch with wine pairing experience in pictures, with short descriptions and comments as captions. Pierneef à La Motte remains a pioneering destination for authentic South African heritage food, prepared innovatively with a contemporary take, and served within a premium, welcoming environment. Be sure to also visit the Pierneef gallery for an up-close view of Pierneef’s iconic artworks, La Motte’s Farm Shop for some beautiful produce, linen & gifts, and the wine tasting centre for a range of exquisite wines.

Contact the restaurant: pierneef@la-motte.co.za / T: +27 (0)21 876 8000

The entrance to La Motte’s restaurant, farm shop, art gallery, garden and wine tasting area.

Familiy portraits of the Rupert family against the wall inside Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant. La Motte is owned by the Rupert family.

Pierneef art printed on the lights at the serving counter at Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant.

Mosbolletjies and sour dough bread.

Beef fat spread, beetroot marmalade and green olives served with the bread & mosbolletjies.

La Motte’s chardonnay, served with my line fish main course. The wine pairings are highly recommended.

Cape bokkom salad, baby gem lettuce, home-made mustard, toasted organic almonds, pickles and bokkom dressing. Served with La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc. This is a stunning dish, a true SA interpretation of the popular classic Caesar salad.

This was an exceptional smoked trout starter. I didn’t get the full description, but I surely hope it will be featured again soon on the menu! One of the best dishes of the day.

Sustainably caught line fish (monk fish) two ways, onion confit. The texture of the monk fish was absolutely perfect – such a great dish! I would suggest that they drop the fish knives though, as a regular knife would make slicing much easier.

Poached apricots, almond crumble, clotted cream. Served with La Motte Straw Wine.

Selection of South African cheese and preserves. Served with La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chef Eric at work in the kitchen with a staff member.

 

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Discovering The Tree House at Boschendal (and much more)

2 Jan

A few weeks ago I was invited to visit Boschendal with my family for a two night stay. It was specifically a family affair, because the team at Boschendal recently launched a brand new offering for kids – The Tree House, a place where children can safely play, learn, forage, cook and have a fabulous time under the watchful eyes of Boschendal’s trained staff while parents are having dinner at The Werf Restaurant or chilling at their cottages. Sometimes pictures tell better stories than words, so I’m going to keep my words few and show you what we found.

Boschendal never fails to make me fall in love with it all over again – every time I visit the estate. It simply is a breathtaking property, with its lush gardens, fruit orchards, original Cape Dutch architecture, majestic oak trees, mountain views and tranquil atmosphere. But what seems to linger most in your mind when you’ve spent some time there is the coherent respect and commitment that the Boschendal team exudes towards their environment, their animals, their guests and each other. It’s a philosophy that might seem like a dream to many, but is indeed a reality here. I take my hat off, because it takes buckets of dedication and hard work to make this happen.

Part 1: The Tree House

I’m going to start my story here, because this is the main reason that we visited Boschendal (although we only discovered it on day 2). The Tree House is a beautiful new space at Boschendal where guests of The Werf Restaurant and the farm accommodation can take their kids (ages 4-14) to spend some quality time, supervised and free of charge, doing what kids really love doing. Kids can be “booked in” for a few hours – they even get their own locker to stash their valuables, a sun hat when necessary and all-day free popcorn. There’s a kitchen where kids learn to cook some basic foods (like quiche-in-a-mug made with free range eggs that they fetched themselves from the chicken coop, or roosterkoek on the fire), forage fresh vegetables from the vast vegetable garden, retreat to the library & movie room, or do arts and crafts in the garden under the trees. There’s also a bike “pump track” and lots of little actual tree houses where kids can ride and climb to their delight (bike hire costs not included). My 8-year old daughter loved this place to much that she wanted us to physically move to Boschendal so that she could be at The Tree House every day – a stellar testament to the success of this service.

Entrance to the reception area of The Tree House
The back door of The Tree House kitchen that leads to the garden area.
Cooking the kids’ handmade quiches in “blikbekers” over a fire.
“Foraged” rainbow carrots from the garden.
Fresh eggs from the chicken coop.
Making roosterkoek from fresh dough.
A hearty lunch of roosterkoek, quiche, homemade lemonade and fresh veggies is served.

Part 2: The Orchard Cottages

We checked in at one of The Orchard cottages (number 4) that are situated about 2km from the main werf at Boschendal against a magnificent mountain backdrop amongst fruit orchards. The self-catering cottages are incredibly well equipped and beautifully furnished – perfect for a family stay in the most scenic natural surroundings. There’s even a communal circular pool and fire pit. Rates include the services of a daily housekeeper. Our cottage had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with kitchenette and outside braai/entertainment area.

Booking enquiries:

accommodation@boschendal.co.za / Tel: +27 (0) 21 870 4271

The Orchard Cottage number 4, just before sundown.
The shaded communal circular pool at The Orchard Cottages.
Plush bed with luxurious linen.
Kitchenette with Le Creuset cookware.
Afternoon sunlight through the kitchen window.
Outside braai & entertainment area.

Part 3: Pizza at The Deli

What was once the original wagon house, has been restored into a contemporary deli & bakery. This family-friendly eatery serves breakfast and lunch daily (as well as afternoon tea) and dinner from Saturday – Tuesday. On Tuesday evenings, there are a few cool specials that attract many runners and bikers for a post-workout dinner before heading home. Pizzas are made in their wood fired oven and are really delicious.

Opening times:

Breakfast Daily 08:00 – 11:00
Lunch Daily 08:00 – 16:00
Dinner Saturday – Tuesday 18:00 – 20:30

Tel: +27 (0) 21 870 4213

The Deli at Boschendal.
A wood fired oven.
Getting cosy with a glass of Boschendal red wine while we wait for our pizzas.
Kids margerita pizza – it was a total hit with my daughter.
We also tried the gluten free pizza base with beef brisket and garden carrots – unusual but very good!
My favourite pizza combo: bacon, avo, feta. And that scorched crust was just heavenly.

Part 4: Dinner at The Werf Restaurant

We were booked for a four course food and wine pairing dinner at The Werf restaurant, starting off with a glass of wine as part of the Wine Wednesday vibe where a specific Boschendal wine is featured every week and the “first pour is on them”. Boschendal’s menu changes daily and is designed around four themes by their award-winning chef Christiaan Campbell: Garden, Ocean, Pasture and Sweet (3 plates at R450 / R685 with wine pairing, 4 plates at R550 / R845 with wine pairing, 5 plates at R650 / 1005 with wine pairing) with 2-3 options per theme. Plates are generous from start to finish – there are no “starters” or “mains” – you can choose your collection of plates as you wish and there are no prescriptions.

Opening hours:

Lunch Wed-Sat:12:00 – 15:00. Guests to be seated by 14:30

Lunch Sunday: 12:00 – 16:00

Dinner Wed-Sat: 18:00 – 21:00. Guests to be seated by 20:30

Bar Mon-Sat: 12:00 – 21:00

Reservations are essential.

Tel: +27 (0) 21 870 4209

Email: werf@boschendal.co.za

Click here for more info and sample menu

The stunning werf area at Boschendal.
Wine Wednesday at Boschendal featuring Boschendal’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, paired with a unique canapé.
Welcoming gifts from the kitchen: carrot hummus, fresh garden produce and flour tortillas.
Garden: Flavours of roasted parsnips & ginger glazed turnips.
Garden: Grilled garden leeks, “vichysoisse”, dill, cured egg yolks. This was an exceptional dish – one of my favourites of the day.
One of our wine pairings. The pairing option is highly recommended and elevates the dining experience by far.
Some extra sides served with the Ocean dishes – the grilled courgettes with house-made ricotta was delightful.
Another surprise extra: layers of potato baked in cream with melted cheese and fresh herbs.
Ocean: Farmed kabeljou, smoked potato purée, taramasalata. This was probably my favourite dish of the day. The smoked potato went exceptionally well with the fish and the wine pairing.
Pasture: Charred pork neck, pickled cabbage and lomo, sultana. The meat comes from the Duroc pigs on Boschendal – less tender than what you might be used to but so much flavour. The jus was just incredible.
Sweet: Arlette biscuits, baked vanilla custard, roasted apricot sorbet. (By this time, it was already quite dark and difficult to take non-grainy photos.)

Part 5: Breakfast at The Deli

We ended our stay with breakfast at the deli, followed by a farm tour. I didn’t take my camera on the tour as I wanted to be as present in the moment as I possibly could. It was an experience not to be forgotten! We picked fresh herbs, visited the baby pigs, took home some fresh eggs from the coop and saw many incredible farm sights.

The story of Boschendal is neverending, and the inspiration that it brings is very real. Be sure to visit Boschendal in 2019 to see, sip and savour your way through everything they have to offer. This is by far one of the best all-round destinations in the Cape Winelands – family friendly, sustainable, premium, breathtaking, with so much to see, taste and do.

Brioche waffle with vanilla ice cream (it also comes with a berry compote which my daughter preferred to omit) – STUNNING.
Pain au chocolate – my favourite breakfast of all time.
Fresh fruit, dried fruit, coconut flakes, yoghurt – Schalk’s breakfast vibe.
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