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Review: The LG Neochef

4 Dec

A few weeks ago, I received a brand new LG Neochef microwave to review and keep. Our previous microwave was on its very last legs (we bought it 15 years ago from a friend, second hand, and although it has warmed many a leftover it was time to step down) so the timing was impeccable.

The thing is: you get microwaves, and then you get the LG Neochef. I’ve heard a few rumors about this machine, but it turned out I was even more impressed than I anticipated. I don’t like reviews that are too technical, so here is the bottom line: this is not only a spacious and beautiful microwave, it is also a smart oven. As in, a real oven that can bake, roast and grill. And you know what, it can even be a microwave and an oven at the same time, so your cooking times can pretty much be cut in half, if that’s what you want (that’s the “smart inverter technology” that LG is talking about).

The top reason I love this microwave so much is because of it’s superb, even heating. Food actually gets heated throughout (unlike other microwaves scorching the sides or completely overheating the middle). And butter actually gets properly softened (not half hard and half melted, like my previous microwave did, even on low heat).

I also love it because it is really spacious at 39 liter capacity, it truly looks sleek in a minimalist way, and it is very user friendly – it does everything I want it to do, without me searching for the booklet to look up a setting. I probably won’t end up doing a lot of baking in this microwave, only because I usually bake large quantities of stuff at once and that’s what my oven it for. But I do use and need a microwave daily and cannot do without it: for melting chocolate, for softening butter, for heating milk when baking sponge cakes, for defrosting meat, and so forth and so forth. It works like a dream – even the “time is up” tune sounds great.

The LG Neochef retails for R5499-R6499, depending on the retailer.

I’ll be doing a cooking video using the LG Neochef soon, so keep an eye out. Happy cooking!

 

 

If you want to read what LG says about their machine, here’s the full press release:

Combining a convenient design, subtle minimalism and the latest Smart Inverter technology from LG Electronics (LG), the new NeoChef™ takes culinary and microwave ovens to a new level. With the latest design trends, the microwave is both minimalistic and accessible, instantly bringing a touch of class to any kitchen. The ergonomic NeoChef features a simple intuitive control interface as well as a range of hygiene-enhancing features including Anti-Bacterial EasyClean™ that help users keep their ovens clean and fresh.

This elegant LG NeoChef has a unified tempered glass front, a refined matte exterior and is ergonomically designed with a rounded pocket-style handle and diamond cut dial weds form function to not only deliver the ultimate in precision and user-convenience, but to seamlessly blend in with the decor of any kitchen. To simplify operation, the NeoChef extends its usability features into input with its simple intuitive sliding touch control. The advanced microwave has received multiple world-renowned design awards including the 2015 PIN UP Design Award and the 2015 Good Design Award.

Equipped with LG’s unique Smart Inverter, there’s no cooking job the NeoChef can’t handle. The oven uses linear power control between 300 to 1,200 watts to evenly cook or defrost food, while at the same time preserving nutrients and locking in flavour. The Smart Inverter also boosts efficiency, as its motor has a 1200-watt maximum power output.

In addition, LG’s advanced microwave can be used to make healthy, lactobacilli-infused yogurt, and with its Healthy Fry feature is even capable of preserving the distinct taste of each dish while making them healthier, with less oil and 72 percent less fat.

The NeoChef also packs a number of features designed to increase cleanliness and streamline the cooking experience. The Anti-Bacterial EasyClean Coating makes it harder for dangerous contaminants to take root, eliminating 99.99 percent of harmful bacteria.

Equipped with a number of convenience-enhancing features such as its innovative, hexagonal turntable, as well as an energy efficient interior LED lamp that is three times brighter than conventional models, users can easily monitor the entire cooking process.With its compact exterior size, the microwave is at home in any kitchen while it is still able to accommodate large and tall dishes with its increased internal capacity.

“At LG, we’re dedicated to creating appliances with our consumers in mind, and as such we’ve developed this striking new microwave with functionality and beautiful design that will add a touch of class to any kitchen,” said Sofia Kim, MEA Marketing Cooking Team. “Powered by our unique Smart Inverter technology, the NeoChef efficiently and effectively reheats and defrosts food, decreases cooking times and makes it easier than ever for users to prepare delicious, highly-nutritious meals.”

 

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Col’Cacchio Stellenbosch revamped to celebrate 25 years

23 Oct

Early evening at Col’Cacchio, Stellenbosch.

 

This year, well-known pizza franchise Col’Cacchio celebrates 25 years in the industry. They’ve updated their branding and revamped some of their flagship stores, with more revamping rolling out countrywide shortly.

I was invited to visit my local Col’Cacchio in Plein Street, Stellenbosch last week. The location of this store has always been a hit – a tranquil courtyard in the absolute centre of town, perfect for families with young kids but also walking distance from campus for students. It has a distinct European feel, yet enough privacy and safety because it is not directly on the street.

Col’Cacchio distinguishes themselves as an Italian-inspired elegant pizzeria with an extensive menu, also including generous salads, antipasto, pasta and desserts. With their menu also recently updated, you can now do half-and-half pizza options, choosing any two of your favourite pizzas on the menu or even creating your own list of toppings.

The standard thin crust of Col’Cacchio’s pizzas wins my vote. I also love the size of their pizzas and the fact that they don’t feel heavy, but still are generously topped with fresh ingredients. I’ll definitely be back for the antipasti platter – such great value and perfect for sharing. Note that there are also gluten free and vegan pasta and pizza options!

As always, kids are well catered for with complimentary pizza dough and cookie cutters to play with, as well as crayons to draw on the brown paper table cover. This literally keeps them busy for ages – I love it.

Linger longer this summer season at Col’Cacchio Stellenbosch, invite a crowd of friends to join you and sit back while you snack through their menu. Their wine selection also includes many local favourites.

Take a look at our visit in pictures:

Garlic, chilli, parmesan, Tabasco, olive oil and balsamic vinegar comes standard with every sit-down table.

Happiness is fresh dough for the kids!

My favourite of the day: a delicious antiplasti platter of caprese salad, artichokes, charcuterie and marinated peppers. This platter also includes thin, crisp, herby pizza slices, plated separately.

Prosciutto and orange salad with rocket.

My half-and-half pizza – the smoke babe (Asian deboned smoked pork ribs, rosso onion, corn, spring onion, mint and coriander) and spicotta (fior di latte, garlic, spinach, ricotta, tomatoes and parmesan).

Schalk’s half-and-half pizza: the smoke babe and the moghul (Indian butter chicken, yoghurt, fior di latte, coriander & crispy onions).

Kids playing happily in Col’Cacchio’s courtyard.

 

Where to find Col’Cacchio Stellenbosch:
Location: Shop 29-31, Simonsplein Centre, Plein Street, Stellenbosch, 7600
Telephone Number: (021) 886-7088

For more info visit www.colcacchio.co.za or hop onto these social media platforms:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColCacchio/
Twitter: @ColCacchio
Instagram: @colcacchio

Download the Col’Cacchio Rewards app from the Apple App Store or Google Play & unlock delicious rewards.

 

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Exploring terroir with DV Chocolate at Spice Route

5 Oct

Last week I was invited to join a curated chocolate and wine tasting with a special focus on terroir at Spice Route, hosted by DV Chocolate‘s Pieter de Villiers.

Surrounded by some serious wine experts, it was such an enlightening experience to be exploring the unique terroirs of DV Chocolate‘s single origin organic 70% dark chocolate bars paired with Spice Route’s 2014 and 1015 Grenache. Flavours of citrus emerged from Magadascar, earthy tones from Uganda, raspberry notes from Dominican Republic, rose buds and coconut from Peru, and incredible balance from Panama. After the tasting we were treated by a chocolate-inspired lunch prepared by chef Philip Pretorius of Barley & Biltong next door.

DV Chocolate is making waves as a proudly African bean-to-bar chocolatier. They keep expanding their range with exciting products, the latest being a dark chocolate truffle with a longer shelf life and a spicy chocolate bark made for sharing with bigger crowds around a festive table. Apart from their chocolate shop at Spice Route, their full range of chocolates are now also available from an exclusive booth in the Woolworths Waterstone store in Somerset West, and a limited range at most other Woolworths stores countrywide.

Here is my visit in pictures. Be sure to stop by DV Café at Spice Route for a cold chocolate shot or a freshly baked chocolate muffin, as well as their chocolate tasting room (Monday – Sunday, 09h00-17h00).

Greeted by freshly baked chocolate muffins at DV Café.

Interior at DV Café.

One of the iconic chocolate label designs that DV Chocolate is known for.

A perfect coffee at DV Café.

They also sell single origin coffee beans.

My choice to start the day: an ice cold chocolate shot. This was incredible!

Welcome to DV Chocolate’s factory at Spice Route.

DV Chocolate’s owner, Pieter de Villiers, tells us more about single origin beans and bars.

Chef Philip Pretorius cooked a chocolate-inpired lunch for us. (picture from spiceroute.co.za)

Pork belly and lentils in a spiced dark chocolate sauce. So rich in flavour – a stunning dish.

Dusted dark chocolate truffles with a longer shelf life – a brand new product from DV Chocolate.

The spiced chocolate bark, also a new product from DV Chocolate.

The popular DV Chocolate tasting centre at Spice Route.

Hand crafted chocolate from DV Chocolate’s chocolate shop.

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New menu at The Werf, Boschendal

23 Sep

The shaded terrace at The Werf Restaurant, Boschendal, overlooking their gardens.

 

Boschendal Farm is one of my favourite destinations in the Cape Winelands. Their popular farm-to-table restaurant, The Werf, has a brand new menu and I was recently invited to check it out.

Here is our experience in pictures. The thing about Boschendal is this: there is a golden thread that runs through everything they do – a premium, relaxed, unpretentious, welcoming approach. They do many things right and it really shows. From the gate keeper’s friendly wave to the efficient waiters, the excellent wines and the beautiful gift shop, Boschendal hits it on the head. But The Werf Restaurant headed by chef Christian Campbell stands out head and shoulders next to the impressive, vast vegetable garden – it’s a real farm-to-table eatery, not just pretend. You can taste it.

Check out The Werf’s new menu here.

The pathway that leads to the historic buildings that house the butchery, gift shop and wine tasting at Boschendal.

The Werf’s iconic Spanish-inspired blue tile floor and flower-filled wine barrels.

An appetizer to start with, compliments of the kitchen.

Bread basket with beef fat and butter.

For starters: Chokka squid spaghetti, fennel & oyster emulsion.

For starters: Grilled tuna, charred beetroots & homemade yoghurt. This picture does not do this dish justice – it was one of the best of the day. The homemade yoghurt and the beetroot dressing was fantastic.

My daughter’s grilled fish with crispy potatoes and garden salad (kid’s portion).

Tucking into her beautifully prepared fresh fish.

Main course: Hake, sorrel sauce & seaweed. One of my favourite dishes of the day. It was topped with crunchy miniature popcorn and edible flowers.

Main course: Sirloin with chimichurri, marrow & grilled vegetables.

Side dishes of potato crispies fried in beef shallow, and mange tout with lemon & house ricotta.

We had a wine pairing with each course and it was world class.

Dessert: Turmeric brûlée, frangipane & kumquats – also one of my favourite dishes of the day! That bright yellow custard is the stuff dreams are made of…

My favourite wine pairing of the day (with dessert).

The plating station next to the kitchen at The Werf, Boschendal.

The interior of The Werf, Boschendal. Most people were seated on the terrace – the restaurant was packed to the brim.

The lush garden view from The Werf’s terrace.

The manor house at Boschendal.

The Werf Restaurant opening hours:

Lunch: Wednesday to Sunday 12:00 to 14:30 (Seated by 14:00)

Dinner: Wednesday to Saturday 18:00 to 21:00 (Seated by 20:30

Opening times from 01 October 2017:

Lunch: Wednesday to Sunday: 12h00 to 15h00. (Seated by 14h30)

Dinner: Wednesday to Saturday: 18h00 to 21h00. (seated by 20h30)

Please note that a 10% service charge will be added to tables of 8 or more.

Booking is essential:

Tel: +27 (0) 21 870 4207/09

Email: werf@boschendal.co.za

Thank you Boschendal Farm and Manley Communications for this experience.

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Dinner at Liberty’s Restaurant, Doubletree Hilton – Upper Eastside

22 Aug

Comfortable seats at Liberty’s.

 

This weekend I had the pleasure of spending an evening with my family at the Doubletree Hilton, Upper Eastside, Woodstock. Their restaurant, Liberty’s, recently had a seasonal menu change and we were invited to experience the new culinary offerings first hand.

The friendly staff welcomed us at reception with warm chocolate chip cookies and gave us the key to a very spacious Twin Deluxe room on the 4th floor, complete with an extra kids bed for my daughter.

At 18h30 we went downstairs to Liberty’s Restaurant, where we had a fantastic dinner. Below is our experience in pictures. What impressed me a lot was that this restaurant runs seven days a week from 07h00-23h00, also doing room service to the hotel. The staff seemed relaxed and came across as professional, friendly and in charge at all times. They cater for kids too as there are many families staying over, so yes, there is a great kid’s menu complete with crayons and activities.

Our stay at the Doubletree Hilton, Upper Eastside, was seamless. What a delightful way to spend some time in the Mother City – Woodstock is surrounded by beautiful art & furniture shops and the famous Woodmill Market is just around the corner. Table Mountain provides a dramatic backdrop to the hotel entrance and from some of the rooms you can see as far as the harbour.

Everything about our room was great: from the carpets to the bedding, the thoughtful lighting, the privacy and muted sound, the bathroom mirror’s lighting, the lovely soap and shampoo (really nice), and the fabulous shower head that is as wide as a dinner plate.

The breakfast staff were also very friendly and I want to make a special mention of the lady frying the eggs (and the pancakes etc.) at the hot section: her warm smile and welcoming nature was fabulous, even though some of the guests didn’t return the greeting (I hope it just got lost in translation with some of the international guests). She is a complete star!

I can highly recommend a stay-over and dinner at the Doubletree Hilton Upper Eastside & Liberty’s Restaurant. Choose between tapas, wraps, paninis, prego rolls, salads and burgers, or opt for a multi-course meal from the starters and mains options, also including pasta and vegetarian options with many dessert choices. See the dishes that we experienced below.

Our huge comfortable bed and a little bed for my daughter.

View from the bedroom window where you can see the harbour (I couldn’t open the window wide enough, for our safety obviously, so had to take this one right through the glass).

Getting comfortable for dinner at Liberty’s.

The menu at Liberty’s.

Our choice of wine for the evening at Liberty’s.

Chef Warren King was head of the kitchen on the evening that we dined at Liberty’s, while Head Chef Simon Kemp was taking a break.

My daughter’s freshly made chicken strips with chips – her favourite! One comment: I think the spices on the chips were a little too hot for little mouths. Great for adults, though! My husband and I finished them in no time at all.

My starter: Salt, chilli and pepper calamari, ponzu dip, wasabi mayo.

Schalk’s starter: Cajun grilled baby calamari tubes on creamy saffron orzo with feta and chorizo.

My main course: Creamy wild mushroom truffled gnocchi with butternut gremolata, roasted pine nuts, sage and parmesan.

Schalk’s main course: Teriyaki beef fillet with wasabi mayo, crisped kale, roasted baby onion, sweet potato puree and and teriyaki jus. This was a stunning plate of food.

My dessert: Dark and white chocolate fondant, with salted caramel ice cream. Delicious fondant, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the ice cream texture.

Schalk’s dessert: Oreo Delight, miso white choc mousse, crushed Oreo & Oreo truffles. One of the winning dishes of the evening.

The night time view from our room window. The city harbour lights were beautiful.

Just one section of the delightful breakfast buffet – especially because I’m a pastry girl! The churros were deadly – I could eat the whole plate!

 

Hilton Doubletree address: 31 Brickfield Road, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7935, South Africa

Contact: +27-21-4040570

Website: Click here.

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A food and wine showcase at La Petite Ferme

15 Aug

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

 

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

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

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

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

The fire place in the lounge at La Petite Ferme.

The last of the canapés being served before our tasting.

Red blends tutored tasting.

La Petite Ferme winemaker Wikus Pretorius.

Domaine Magellan 2013 from France, being tasted by Schalk.

The food and wine showcase menu for the evening.

Fig and blue cheese plaited rolls.

Bread board at La Petite Ferme.

Amuse bouche: pork shank croquette.

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-dessert: “Hertzoggie”

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

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

Contact La Petite Ferme:

Telephone: +27 (0) 21 876 3016
Franschhoek Pass Road
PO Box 683
Franschhoek
7690
South Africa
Restaurant reservations
reception@lapetiteferme.co.za
+27 (0) 21 876 3016
Accommodation reservations
accommodation@lapetiteferme.co.za
Tel: +27 (0) 21 876 3016
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Lunch at Love Thy Neighbour

3 Aug

An unpretentious space at Love Thy Neighbour.

 

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

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

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

110 Bree Street, Cape Town.

Friendly waiters at Love Thy Neighbour.

Food specials at Love Thy Neighbour.

The bar at Love They Neighbour.

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

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

Crisp glasses of sauvignon blanc.

A seasonal menu at Love Thy Neighbour.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Thy Neighbour on Facebook:

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

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

See the winter menu here.

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

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Pickling and fermenting your own vegetables with Poetry Stores

1 Aug

A Wintry antipasti spread. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

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

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

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

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

Beautiful bright pink pickled cabbage. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pickled Kimchi (makes 3 1/2 cups)

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

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

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

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

Cream mint pesto with spinach, cashews and parmesan.

 

Creamy Mint Pesto: (makes 1 cup)

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

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

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

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

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Lunch at Holden Manz

11 Jul

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

 

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

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

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

The Holden Manz country house living area.

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

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

The koi pond in the country house courtyard.

The backyard terrace and swimming pool for warmer months.

The wine tasting room and entry to the cellar.

Magnificent view from the wine tasting room.

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

Gerard Holden introduces us to Chef Ricardo le Roux.

Baguette with tomato butter and dukkah.

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

Tasting some of the Holden Manz wines with lunch.

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

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

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

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

Contact Holden Manz:

Tel +27 21 876 2738

info@holdenmanz.com

restaurant@holdenmanz.com

winery@holdenmanz.com

Green Valley Rd, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa

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

Take a look at their brand new winter menu:

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A weekend in the Robertson Wine Valley

5 Jul

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

The tasting room & outside seating area at Springfield Winery.

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

Complimentary olives while you are tasting wine at Springfield Estate.

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

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

The incredibly beautiful pond view at Springfield Winery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valki helped with the labeling of our unique blend.

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

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

The wine tasting and blending venue at Excelsior Winery.

The newly renovated Kalkveld Lounge at Zandvliet Winery.

Inside the Kalkveld Lounge at Zandvliet.

Wine tasting at Zandvliet at their new Kalkveld Lounge.

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

The beautiful old manor house at Zandvliet.

Olive, tapenade and oil tasting at Marbrin Farm.

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

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

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

Beautiful old wooden floors at the entrance to Mimosa Lodge.

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

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

The lush gardens at Mimosa Lodge, Montagu.

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

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

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

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

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

Taking a stroll in Montagu on a crisp winters morning.

A quick visit to The Rambling Rose in Montagu.

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

View of the mountains from the R62 leading through Montagu.

Tasting Paul René Brut and Brut Rosé MCC.

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

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

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

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

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