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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 roaste 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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A weekend in the Elgin Valley

31 Mar

The most incredible view of Elgin Wine Valley from the stoep at Almenkerk Wine Estate, Elgin.

 

Last week I spent two days in the Elgin wine valley with my husband and daughter, visiting a few wine estates and restaurants for a taste of their characteristic cool climate region.

This post is a photographic journey of our experience. The valley is so breathtakingly beautiful that you cannot even try to communicate it via pictures. It sometimes felt like we were in another country, perhaps Italy or France, enrobed by the rolling green hills, pristine vineyards and gardens, luscious fruit orchards and fading blue mountains in the distance. It was a feeling of discovering a gem that’s been right under our noses, still unpolluted by the commercialized machine of mass tourism. This valley is generous in all of its glory – unprecedented cool climate wines, honest and personal countryside hospitality, robust flavours and an earthy tranquility that transcends time and space.

We started our trip with a wine tasting at the picturesque Almenkerk Wine Estate followed by lunch at the newly launched Rojaal Eatery (already proving to be a favourite among the Elgin locals). After a laid back night in (watching cricket next to the fire place with a few glasses of wine) and stayover at the plush manor house at Elgin Vintners, we enjoyed breakfast and took a stroll around the vast gardens and surrounding grounds. A generous wine tasting of Elgin Vintners followed, after which we took a drive to Oak Valley for an indulgent lunch at The Pool Room, balming in the most perfect Autumn weather. My 7 year-old daughter found her own magic along the way by making friends with the winemaker’s kids at Almenkerk, playing in their cellar, riding a horse with the very friendly local farm girls and taking a swim in the rain at Elgin Vintners, watching tv in her huge bed, eating freshly picked pears from the surrounding orchards and playing in the puddles at The Pool Room.

Elgin is situated off the N2 just 45 minutes outside Stellenbosch and there are so much more to explore. We’ll certainly be back soon to sip, savour and see more. This is a weekend getaway that almost feels like a trip to the most beautiful countryside of Europe, only much better, because it is right here on our doorstep and costs a fraction of traveling abroad.

Thank you to Yolandi de Wet PR for putting our itinerary together, and a special thank you to Almenkerk, Rojaal Eatery, Elgin Vintners and The Pool Room for hosting us so generously. We absolutely loved our stay.

Tasting the Lace range by Almenkerk, starting with a cool climate sauvignon blanc. Elgin is also well known for producing excellent apples and pears.

The Almenkerk Estate range, featuring their premium sauvignon blanc.

The cake table at Rojaal Eatery. This place is situated in a warehouse-type building with a fun, eclectic, colourful style of decor.

Old and new meets at Rojaal Eatery. Housed in a former flower-packing shed overlooking one of the fruit region’s many valleys, Rojaal (the Afrikaans word for abundance) was established in 2016 by enterprising apple farmer Arno Reuvers.

Pork belly with slaw and baked pears at Rojaal Eatery. Portions are generous and the style of cooking is “abundant”, just like the name suggests.

Fish cake with guacamole on a squid ink bun, onion rings and potato wedges. This was really delicious! Rojaal Eatery is now also open for dinner on Fridays and they are very popular with the local Elgin community – a great testament to their establishment.

Happiness is… crispy house-made chicken strips! At Rojaal.

The recently renovated manor house at Elgin Vintners. The house has four rooms, three with on-suite bathrooms. The house is also suitable for larger functions like weddings and can be rented out as a whole. We stayed in the Denniston and Browne rooms, both with king size beds and on-suite bathrooms.

The majestic garden view from the stoep at Elgin Vintners.

The wine tasting room with wine display, also doubling up as a tv room with fire place and wine tasting bar. At Elgin Vintners.

Exploring the garden at Elgin Vintners. Spot the squirrel…

Ready to go for a stroll to find the horses! At Elgin Vintners.

Some pretty magical pathways in the garden at Elgin Vintners.

On our way to the horses at Elgin Vintners.

One of the local farm girls showing us how cool life can be around horses. They were all so friendly! At Elgin Vintners.

One of my favourite farm views of our stay at Elgin Vintners, on our way back to the manor house.

Morning dew in the rose garden at Elgin Vintners manor house.

The swimming pool next to the manor house at Elgin Vintners. Although it was slightly rainy, my daughter took a dip and it was surprisingly warm!

Freshly picked pears on the wine tasting counter at Elgin Vintners.

Tasting The Century, a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon at Elgin Vintners.

An incredible wooded chardonnay by Elgin Vintners.

So this is why it’s called “The Pool Room”! Surely an iconic view, surrounded by beautiful, painted sculptures.

Our table could not have been more in the center of this restaurant – almost like a dream, so picturesque. At The Pool Room.

The interior of The Pool Room at Oak Valley. The restaurant is independently run to the rest of the estate.

The service area at The Pool Room, with host Emma Gordon in the middle. Her husband, Gordon Manuel, is the chef. Together, they run the restaurant as partners.

Amouse bouche: mole with chargrilled veg and crispy poppadoms. So robust in flavour!

Starter: citrus cured hake with garden salad and flowers. So fresh!

Trout, avocado mousse, citrus dressing, garden greens.

Our choice of wine with our lunch: a shiraz from Oak Valley, the larger estate where The Pool Room is situated on.

Grass-fed beef rump steak with thrice fried chips. This was Schalk’s main course. The flavour of the meat was intense and earthy – such a privilege to eat beautifully prepared produce from the estate itself!

Acorn-fed pork cutlet with caulflower puree, baked apples, and crackling. This was my main course and it was superb.

Pannacotta with candied orange and raspberry sorbet. Such a great combination of textures and flavours.

Peach frangipane with honey and ice cream. This was my dessert and the PERFECT end to an incredible meal. We were there for 2 and a half hours and we could have stayed for much longer – so tranquil!

A perfect Autumn day in the Elgin wine valley, having  a dreamy lunch at The Pool Room while my daughter played around the pool. We had a few drops of rain, but no wind. Cool and slightly overcast. I could have stayed there forever.

 

Contact details:

Almenkerk Wine Estate: 021 848 9844, ruth@almenkerk.co.za

Rojaal Eatery: 021 204 1085, bestuurder@rojaal.co.za

Elgin Vintners:  021 848 9587, info@elginvintners.co.za

The Pool Room: 021 859 4111, poolroom@oak-valley.co.za

Yolandi de Wet PR: 082-772 7519, yolandi@yolandidewetpr.co.za

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Launch: Mynhardt’s Kitchen at Cathedral Cellar, KWV

16 Mar

The remarkable Cathedral Cellar at KWV is now the home of Mynhardt’s Kitchen.

Yesterday, I attended the launch of Mynhardt’s Kitchen at Cathedral Cellar, KWV Wine Emporium. Chef Mynhardt Joubert is no stranger to the Paarl community and he’s been acting as brand ambassador for iconic Paarl wine producer KWV for numerous years. He has just fitted the breathtaking Cathedral Cellar at KWV with a state of the art kitchen and the venue is now open for functions.

In celebration of KWV’s 100 year celebrations in 2018, from today onwards anyone will be able to book a memorable dining experience in Cathedral Cellar, for groups of 20 up to a 100. Guests will be seated at long tables, flanked by imposing, 12000 ℓ stuk-vats, some showing historical wine making scenes carved by father and son, Karl and Karl-Heinz Wilhelm in 1969 and 1970. On either side of the impressive hall are large coloured windows – in tones of blue and green on the one side, and red and orange tones on the others side, resembling the Paarl mountain in the east and the setting sun in the west.

To celebrate the launch of this unique facility, Mynhardt treated us to a vegetarian menu with a “roots” theme, serving a visually striking, colourful starter course of root vegetables on paper (which was rolled up after – no washing up, very water wise). For mains we enjoyed deep fried risotto balls (arancini) on a creamy mushroom sauce made with a rich root vegetable stock, and for dessert he served cheesecake mousse with fig ice cream. All plates were made of paper and thus compostible. The food was accompanied by impeccable wines by KWV and Laborie.

The drama of this space is just unrivaled, and I can only imagine what evenings in this space must look and feel like with the added lighting that they’ve installed to make the most of the cathedral’s vaulted ceiling and massive wooden vats all around.

Enquire about Mynhardt’s Kitchen at Cathedral Cellar for your next dinner or function at chef@mynhardt.co.za or 076-033 1839. Thank you Jeanri Tine van Zyl of Feed That Bird Communication for the invitation. Thank you to Chef Mynhardt, KWV, Laborie, Montagu and XTN Family Farm for the fabulous lunch and the beautiful gift box.

Chef Mynhardt places the finishing touches on his root vegetable starters.

Bubbles all around, courtesy of Laborie.

A series of iconic KWV wines were served as part of the lunch.

Our colourful starters, plated on paper.

Lots of wine glasses (and beautiful fresh flowers, roots attached) ready for various wines to pair with our multi-course lunch.

Red, yellow and green food art – almost too beautiful to eat!

Fig, rosemary and pine nut focaccia. This was dreamy!

The red section of the starter – roasted baby beets, fresh candy beets, goats cheese balls, raspberries, pomegranates, cranberries, microherbs, strawberries, beetroot mayonnaise.

A long table of colours and flavours.

Arancini, creamy mushroom sauce made with root veg stock, pan fried mushrooms, lattice pastry crust.

Cheesecake mousse, fig ice cream and fresh figs.

Back home, I unpacked this gift box, courtesy of Laborie, Montagu and XTN Family Farm. I now have a little vine in my home!

 

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Review: Coffee, cold brews and pastries at Coco Safar

12 Mar

The entrance to Coco Safar Café in Sea Point, Cape Town.

 

On Saturday I visited Coco Safar, a unique luxury café, espresso bar, (compostible) capsule emporium, couture pâtisserie and brand new cold brew facility. After relocating their flagship store from Claremont to Sea Point in January 2018, they are also proud to announce the opening of another store in New York later this year.

If you haven’t been to Coco Safar, prepare to be dazzled by their luxury approach and impeccable attention to detail. Sit down in the plush café for great coffee ranging from espresso to syphon to iced latté, and take your pick from their selection of immaculately crafted French-style pastries and chocolates. If you’re in the mood for something savoury, try the hearty yet refined breakfast options that include bobotie croissants, pulled lamb an poached eggs on bao buns, and buttery savoury galettes.

Across the isle from the espresso bar, a chocolate & coffee laboratory is visible where they work on creating new offerings almost daily. On the other side, yet another Coco Safar facility displays cold brew infused rooibos and coffee, bottled or on tap, all alcohol-free. These brews are deliciously refreshing and a must-taste experience.

If you are serious about coffee, tea and luxury pastries, then this place will be your slice of heaven. The consistency of quality and attention to detail are truly incredible. Coco Safar is a beacon of what constant innovation and a quest for excellence can become: “a journey beyond the ordinary.”

About the founders: Wilhelm Liebenberg and Caroline Sirois are passionate food and coffee specialists having spent the best part of 20 years traveling the world in search of the finest coffee and culinary experiences. These experiences lead to many creative endeavors including opening several restaurants and café’s around the globe including Montreal, Toronto and New York.

“Coco Safar is a natural evolution of this journey and their extraordinary vision to make the luxury experience, not just the domain of the privileged few, but an everyday experience for everyone.”

Here is my experience in pictures:

The friendly espresso baristas at Coco Safar.

My flat white. The coffee was fantastic.

Couture pâtisserie section at Coco Safar.

Some of the chocolate bonbons on display at Coco Safar. I tasted four of them, my favourite was by far the truffle with lamb bacon in it! Yes, lamb bacon in chocolate (they’re the speckled ones in the middle).

More sweet indulgence at Coco Safar.

Some of the exquisite looking pastries at Coco Safar.

I’ll be back for these creations. There was a salted caramel bomb with my name on it…

One of two (world-first) coffee machines of their kind – this one located in Coco Safar’s coffee lab.

The cold brewing section at Coco Safar.

 

Tasting cold brewed teas and coffee. These were my favourite drinks of the day. I’ll take anyone, anytime. So refreshing!

Bottled sparkling citrus coffee, cold brewed by Coco Safar. Such beautiful branding. And look at the colour of the coffee!

The syphon coffee master at Coco Safar.

Watching a syphon demonstration – it’s a coffee brewing method that involves a vacuum, using two chambers where vapor pressure produce a clearer coffee with a complex taste.

Some of the coffee capsules for sale in boxes at Coco Safar. Their capsules are 100% compostible.

Taking a look at the retail offering at Coco Safar: books, coffee gadgets, ceramics, leatherware and more.

Savoury galettes with brussels sprouts & mushrooms. So buttery!

The legendary bobotie croissant – absolutely delicious!

Raspberry croissant and plum galettes. I’m a sucker for croissants and theirs are really top notch. My favourite was the plain croissant.

Sticky bun and more fruit galettes. That sticky bun will chase me in my dreams – it was incredible!

The unique wall art at the booth next to the window pane at Coco Safar – go take a selfie for Insta! So beautiful. Also, leather chairs all around. Such a pleasure to sit on.

 

The Coco Safar flagship store is accessible at street-level at Artem Centre, which is located at 277 Main Road Sea Point, Cape Town, including secure onsite parking facilities.
For more information, visit Coco Safar at http://www.cocosafar.com, email capsules@cocosafar.com or call 021-433 0490.

Thank you to owner Wilhelm Liebenberg for the personalized tour, it was an inspiration. Thank you to Natalie Jardine of Vivid Luxury for hosting me.

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