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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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Pinotage Day at Lanzerac

20 Dec

Lanzerac is the world’s first producer of bottled Pinotage. Here is their Premium Pinotage 2016.

Earlier this year on the 13th of October, I was invited to celebrate Pinotage Day at the iconic Lanzerac Wine Estate – one of my favourite destinations in my home town of Stellenbosch. We were welcomed with a glass of Lanzerac MCC Brut, enjoyed a fantastic tutored Pinotage tasting with food pairings in the cellar with winemaker Wynand Lategan and viticulturist Danie Malherbe, and then continued the celebrations in their deli courtyard with fresh oysters and grilled Pinotage meat platters.

Lanzerac offers a wide range of Pinotages including the Premium Pinotage Rosé, the Premium Pinotage, the KV PROF and the Estate’s flagship wine, the 2016 Pionier Pinotage. It was a pleasure to experience all of these wines within such a premium tasting environment – winemaker Wynand and his team just does Pinotage exceptionally well.

Lanzerac is a world class destination in every sense of the word. We stayed the night – our second chance to experience their newly refurbished hotel and facilities (click here to read and see more about my previous stay). They’re also the world’s first producer of bottled pinotage, so it’s safe to say that this is probably the home of Pinotage at its finest.

Check out our visit in pictures below. Be sure to visit Lanzerac this festive season – whether for a wine tasting (with or without chocolate pairing), a lazy brunch at the deli, a day of relaxing treats at the spa, dinner at the Manor Kitchen, drinks at the Taphuis, or a luxurious stay with all of the above. It’s one of our favourite go-to destinations as locals in Stellenbosch and one that I can wholeheartedly recommend to visitors from all over the world.

A refreshing welcome drink of ice cold Lanzerac MCC at the Lanzerac Pinotage Day festivities.
Viticulturist Danie Malherbe gave us a quick introduction of Lanzerac beautiful vineyards.
Our exclusive paired tutured tasting with winemaker Wynand Lategan and viticulturist Danie Malherbe – amongst the massive steel tanks in Lanzerac’s cellar.
Lanzerac’s Pionier Pinotage 2015 – an exceptional wine.
The Pinotage Day celebrations in the deli courtyard.
Freshly shucked oysters to go with a glass of Lanzerac Pinotage or MCC.
I certainly cannot resist a platter of fresh oysters!
More Lanzerac MCC after tasting through the incredible Pinotage series.
The Pinotage Platter.
After the festivities, we checked into our luxurious room complete with private pool. To see more photographs about Lanzerac’s newly refurbished rooms and hospitality spaces, click here.

Contact Lanzerac:

Tel:+27 (0)21 887 1132 / info@lanzerac.co.za

No. 1 Lanzerac Road
Stellenbosch
7600
South Africa


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Stay at Eendracht Hotel and see Stellenbosch by bike with the Adventure Shop

5 Oct

The iconic Eendracht Hotel in Dorpstreet, Stellenbosch, has recently undergone a room refurbishment. This plush accommodation facility is known to be one of the most central and best value for money options in town. We were invited for a 2-night stay including breakfast and a bike tour with Adventure Shop Stellenbosch, courtesy of Cape Country Routes Collection. Have a look at my informal video of our stay and our biking adventure:

Eendracht Hotel & Apartments is an elegant 3-star establishment boasting 12 en-suite bedrooms and 3 semi self-catering units. Cape Town International Airport is within 35 minutes reach and the V&A Waterfront is under 55 minutes’ drive. The room interiors are contemporary and texture rich, yet the building’s architecture and entry halls clearly convey the deep historical roots of the setting. Being walking distance from many fantastic restaurants, supermarkets, theatres, shops and scenery, it is a great base camp for exploring the City of Oaks.

We were also invited to spend a few hours with Raino Bolz of the Adventure Shop Stellenbosch, where I took my first scenic tour on an E-bike. What a pleasure! We paddled about 16km without me once breaking a sweat – up and down hills, across the university campus, next to the beautiful Eerste River, and into the Jonkershoek Valley with a visit to Stark Condé and Lanzerac Wine Estates for tastings. What a splendid way to discover Stellenbosch – I’ve stayed here for almost 41 years and I was freshly bowled over by the beauty and scenery of my stunning home town. Highly recommended for people of all skill levels.

Take a look at our stay in pictures below, and find more information about Cape Country Routes and their many accommodation and activity options on www.capecountryroutes.com. Thank you Eendracht Hotel and Adventure Shop for an unforgettable weekend.

The historical facade and entrance to Eendracht Hotel, Dorp Street, Stellenbosch.

 

Street view from across Eendracht Hotel.

 

It’s green season in Stellenbosch! These rooms lead onto a walkway that looks out onto the swimming pool and courtyard.

 

Plush beds and crisp linen in the newly refurbished rooms.

 

Mountain views from our bathroom, room 10, on the first floor.

 

A crackling fire place to welcome guests on a cooler day.

 

Polished tables in the afternoon will turn into cosy breakfast tables the next morning.

 

Colourful plants next to the pool area.

 

Take a seat next to the pool.

Newly refurbished chairs become colourful reading nooks.

 

The most beautiful flowers in the foyer’s windowsill.

 

Wine tasting at Stark Condé’s cellar as part of our bike tour with Adventure Shop. The usual wine tasting area over the pond is being enlarged currently.

 

Postcard Café at Stark Condé, a stop on our bike tour with Adventure Shop.

 

A delightful chocolate & wine pairing at Lanzerac Estate as part of our bike tour with Adventure Shop.

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Lunch at Waverley Hills and a stayover at Orchard Stay, Wolseley

30 Jul

The roaring fireplace at Waverley Hills, ready to welcome guests in winter.

 

We were recently invited to visit Waverley Hills for a taste of their new menu, and a stayover afterwards at Orchard Stay – all in the beautiful Wolseley countryside between Tulbagh and Ceres off the R46 at the foothills of the Witzenberg mountain range.

Just 90 minutes from Cape Town, Waverley Hills is a premier organic wine producer, restaurant and function destination. The venue’s twin fireplaces and deep leather couches make it especially popular as a winter meal-stop for families out to see the snow on surrounding peaks, or for bikers and road trippers keen to explore a countryside ride with magnificent views.

Inspired by the the spectacular landscape, chef Francois du Toit has designed an enticing countryside menu that’ll have you linger lazily this winter. “Being out in the country is about hitting the pause button and I’ve made that my starting point for every new dish,” he says. “It employs seasonal ingredients as well as organic or bio-dynamically farmed produce where possible.

The food at Waverley Hills embodies the essence of hearty winter fare: deep and robust flavours, generous portions and comforting textures. All a la carte menu items come with a recommended wine pairing per glass. Have a look at our experience in pictures, below.

Waverley Hills’ restaurant, which is fully licensed, is open six days a week for breakfast and lunch, and twice for dinners on Wednesdays and Fridays. Contact: info@waverleyhills.co.za | Tel: 023-231 0002.

Note: The restaurant also offers a dedicated, five-course food and wine pairing menu, although bookings are required a week in advance.

The restaurant at Waverley Hills is spectaculary set at the foothills of the Witzenberg Mountains, just outside Wolseley.

Waverley Hills chardonnay to go with my starter.

 

My starter: Wild mushrooms, parmesan custard cream, truffle – with Waverley Hills Chardonnay 2016. Although very rich, this is my typical favourite food. Very creamy, very well seasoned, earthy and indulgent.

Schalk’s starter: Gambas pil pil, prawns fried in spiced paprika garlic parsley oil, ciabatta – with Waverley Hills Cabernet No-added Sulphites. This was the best dish of the day, and we could have eaten a bucket full of it! Punchy flavours, absolutely delicious.

My main course: Fish & chips – soy & ginger marinated kabeljou, spiced mushy corn, fries, lime mayonnaise – served with Waverley Hills Pinot Grigio. The mushy corn was a welcome sweet addition to traditional fish & chips. Perhaps the chips wasn’t even needed – the kabeljou, mielies & mayonnaise were delicious on their own.

Schalk’s main course: Pork belly, twice cooked pork neck, honeycomb, bacon jus, lemon pickled apple, pearl couscous – served with Waverley Hills Grenache. This dish is highly recommended.

The restaurant interior at Waverley Hills.

Schalk’s dessert: Tiramisu (you can choose from a black board with three or more choices). Very decadent and delicious.

My dessert: Pavlova with caramelized apples in toffee sauce and lemon curd. A few classic, comforting winter flavours. Perhaps a dollop of softly whipped cream would have made it even more delicious.

Taking a stroll in the garden at Waverley Hills.

The view of the mountain at the restaurant parking area – you are so close to nature here.

View of one of the mountain ranges as we left Waverley Hills. So many spectacular sights in this area!


After lunch, we checked in at Orchard Stay at Platvlei Farm, a self catering cottage in the middle of fruit orchards next to a tranquil pond, about 10km from Waverley Hills. I couldn’t stop taking photographs of this place from the moment we arrived – it truly is one of the most beautiful self-catering countryside cottage settings that I’ve ever seen, and one that deserves the time for immersing oneself into unplugging from city life.

Here’s the low-down: Two stylish bedrooms (both with en-suite bathrooms) with extra length beds. Main bedroom: king-size bed,  second room: twin beds which can convert to a king size bed. Rest your eyes on views of the orchards and Mostertshoek Mountain. Large fold back doors lead onto a covered wrap-around terrace. Fully equipped kitchen and covered built in braai. Lazy days can be enjoyed on the terrace, out on the lawn or curled up on the couch in the lounge. On winter days set the fireplace alight for a cosy day/night in. The eco-pool and hot tub has been purposely designed to be enjoyed all year round. The eco-pool is perfect for cooling off, relaxing with a book or drink, or just hanging out with family and friends.  The hot tub is fueled by a wood burner, great for an evening dip or night time star gazing. No tv (purposefully), but great, free wifi. Note: Orchard Stay is child friendly, but not pet friendly.

​Check here for availability and rates. Check out our stay in pictures below – it was breathtaking, spacious and exceptionally tranquil.

Contact Orchard Stay: info@orchardstay.co.za | Cell: 071-105 3121.

Arriving at Orchard Stay, Platvlei Farm.

The stunning cottage at Orchard Stay.

Table on the stoep at Orchard Stay, looking out onto the eco pool and hot tub.

Outside braai stocked with wood at Orchard Stay.

The beautiful Orchard Stay logo, as captured in tile detail next to the braai area.

The spacious, open plan kitchen at Orchard Stay.

A sunny corner on the couch alongside colourful wall art at Orchard Stay.

The inside fireplace at Orchard Stay.

The main bedroom at Orchard Stay.

Main on-suite bathroom with shower and bath, at Orchard Stay.

Second bedroom at Orchard Stay.

The wood fired hot tub, getting warm for a dip at Orchard Stay.

A sunny nook on the wrap-around stoep outside the main bedroom.

Orchard view from the front porch across the pond.

Pond view of the hot tub and surrounds.

Spectacular pond mirror views.

As the sun was setting, our fire was roaring inside and our braai was lit. Bliss.

Dusk at Orchard Stay. Pure magic.

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The A to Z of Stellenbosch – a #WinterWinederland

4 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

S: Stay at Spier

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

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

H: Hoghouse lunch

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

E: Eat breakfast at Spier

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

I: Interactive Stars at the Eagle Encounters, Spier

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

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

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

3 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I took a tour of the grounds and hotel facilities:

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

The massive flower arrangement at reception.

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

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

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

Leather couches at the Craven Lounge.

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

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

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

The magnificent mountain view and stretching lawn at Lanzerac.

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

 

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

The pathway leading to our room. Winter in Stellenbosch.

This is Elvis who showed us to our room.

Our lush suite.

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

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

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

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

 

Lunch at the Lanzerac Deli:

The entrance to Lanzerac’s Wine Tasting and Deli.

House-made preserves inside the deli.

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

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

 

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

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

Tasting the premium wines in the Lanzerac wine collection.

Merlot tasting.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeing into the newly built kitchen.

 

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

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

A plate of local artisanal cheeses, crackers and preserves.

What would a breakfast be without pastries? My favourite!

Hot breakfast: Schalk ordered the French toast with

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

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

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

 

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

Visit Lanzerac online.

Tel:+27 (0)21 887 1132

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

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

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