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Celebrating 250 years with Hennessy at La Colombe

6 Jul

Paradis

Hennessy Paradis (picutre courtesy of Hennessy).

I was recently invited to celebrate the 250 year anniversary of Hennessy cognac at the “new” La Colombe restaurant at Silvermist organic wine estate in Constantia, headed by Chef Scot Kirton.

Most cognac lovers will know that Hennessy is the largest producer of cognac in the world – the brand sells more than 50 million bottles a year, making up 40% of cognac sales globally. Hennessy was founded in 1765 by Irish officer Richard Hennessy who was serving in the army of King Louix XV. Eight generations later, Maurice Richard Hennessy (great-great-great grandson of Richard Hennessy) is still actively involved with the brand.

Hennessy blends more than 100 vintage eaux-de-vie (spirit before it’s aged into cognac) for its special blends. The creators believe that an excellent cognac starts with the wood barrels. Therefore, they only use barrels that are made from oak from the Limousin region and from (sustainably managed) trees that are between 100 and 150 years old – these add the rich vanilla and toast aromas to the brand’s cognac.

Pascal Asin, MD of Africa and Middle East at Moët Hennessy, who has been supervising the Hennessy brand in Africa for more than a decade, says: “Hennessy and the consumer in Africa have a very special relationship: there is a strong emotional connection between the two, and the significance of the brand here is unlike elsewhere in the world. In many countries, cognac is still seen as the old-fashioned drink favoured by an older, affluent generation who enjoys it as an after-dinner toast near a cosy fire while puffing on a cigar. The typical consumer in Africa, however, is young, aspirational and middle-class: the man whose ambition and inner drive will steer him to realise his full potential. It’s customary for him to meet his friends and colleagues in their favourite club or pub at the end of the day or week to celebrate their journey to success. They will also, most likely, drink Hennessy from a balloon glass – a ritual that is often viewed as archaic in other parts of the world. Yet, in Africa, the balloon glass differentiates the Hennessy drinker from the rest of the crowd: it’s the symbol of the relentless African spirit of conquest.”

To celebrate its 250th birthday this year in Cape Town, the brand invited a handful of female media representatives to experience Hennessy Paradis at La Colombe with a foie gras inspired pairing menu. Paradis is the result of successive blends that combine several hundred exceptional eaux-de-vie aged from 25 to 130 years. It has a splendid coppery gold colour and a velvety texture, richly fragrant with spices like cardamom and cinnamon as well as sensual floral scents. This cognac reveals itself masterfully and gradually, like a mysterious lover, and is surprisingly accessible to women – a market that is traditionally not familiar with cognac.

Chef Scot Kirton treated us to a personal demonstration inside his La Colombe kitchen of some of the food that we were about to enjoy – such a privilege to see a master at work. It was a first for me to drink cognac with lunch, and made me rethink my preconceived ideas about this premium amber liquid and the versatility of how to enjoy it. Take a look at my pictures from this unique lunch experience:

Guests are keen to learn more from Chef Scot Kirton.

Guests are keen to learn more from Chef Scot Kirton.

Chef Scot Kirton frying a slab of fois gras to perfection.

Chef Scot Kirton frying a slab of foie gras to perfection.

My first taste of Hennessy Paradis.

My first taste of Hennessy Paradis.

Our fabulous lunch menu at La Colombe, paired with Hennessy Paradis.

Our fabulous lunch menu at La Colombe, paired with Hennessy Paradis.

Bread board at La Colombe.

Bread board at La Colombe.

Amuse bouche at La Colombe. Delightful little surprise!

Amuse bouche at La Colombe. Delightful little surprise!

Pan-fried foie gras, jasmine & Paradis broth, snow crab, citrus marmalade, hazelnut and endive.

Pan-fried foie gras, jasmine & Paradis broth, snow crab, citrus marmalade, hazelnut and endive.

Pouring over some jasmine Paradis broth...

Pouring over some jasmine Paradis broth…

Palate cleanser: melting citrus balls.

Palate cleanser: melting citrus balls.

Confit pork belly & shoulder, sous-vide loin, smoked apple puree, pomme anna, apple & Paradis jus

Confit pork belly & shoulder, sous-vide loin, smoked apple puree, pomme anna, apple & Paradis jus

Gorgonzola, creamed fynbos honey, walnut cake, Paradis pickles apricots, honeyed oats, spelt croute.

Gorgonzola, creamed fynbos honey, walnut cake, Paradis pickles apricots, honeyed oats, spelt croute.

Bitter chocolate & Paradis cremeux, foie gras gelato, toasted kumquat cake, naartjie, foie gras caramel.

Bitter chocolate & Paradis cremeux, foie gras gelato, toasted kumquat cake, naartjie, foie gras caramel.

The bottle of Hennessy Paradis that we had the privilege of enjoying with our lunch, finished. It currently retails for R18 000-R19 000 per 750 ml.

The empty bottle of Hennessy Paradis that we had the privilege of enjoying with our lunch. It currently retails for about R9 000 per 750 ml.

The exclusive Hennessy Paradis Food-Creation Experience will be available from 8 July to 31 July for lunch daily from 12pm and dinner daily from 8pm at R1350 per person. For more information or to make a reservation, please contact La Colombe on 021-795-0125 – please reference ‘Hennessy Paradis Food-Creation Experience’ when making reservation.

For more information on Hennessy and its 250th anniversary celebration, please visit www.hennessy.com/en-africa and join the conversation on Facebook (HennessySA) and Instagram (HennessySA).

Thank you to Hennessy, La Colombe and OFyt for this magnificent experience and the beautiful leather gift bag.

WIN a Lindt Excellence hamper

25 Jun

My #EveningOfExcellence hamper, courtesy of Lindt South Africa. What a treat!

My #EveningOfExcellence hamper, courtesy of Lindt South Africa. What a treat!

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to an #EveningOfExcellence from Lindt South Africa. The invitation included a luxury chauffeured ride from my home in Stellenbosch to the coveted Café Chic in Cape Town, two tickets to see the famous Swan Lake St Petersburg ballet production at Artscape Theatre, as well as an amazing hamper containing 4 international wines, Riedel glassware and oodles of fabulous Lindt Excellence chocolate to pair with the wines.

My husband and I accepted the invitation and proceeded to have an unforgettable evening filled with pure pleasure, indulgence, adventure, luxury and relaxation. But the good news is this: one lucky reader will WIN a fantastic Lindt Excellence hamper containing 4 exceptional local wines, lots of Lindt Excellence chocolate and 4 beautiful pairing cards to help you pair the wines with the chocolate. To enter this competition and stand the chance to win, mention the following line on Twitter: “I want to WIN a @LindtSA #EveningOfExcellence hamper via @the_foodfox!” The winner will be drawn randomly (and notified soon thereafter) on Friday 26 June 2015 at 17h00. Enter as many times as you want before the time of the draw.

Here are some of the pictures from our #EveningOfExcellence. We also hosted a dinner with friends afterwards to enjoy the hamper wines and chocolate with a home-cooked French-inspired menu.

Thank you to OFyt and Lindt South Africa for making this adventure and give-away possible.

On our way to Cape Town for an #EveningOfExcellence.

On our way to Cape Town for an #EveningOfExcellence.

Outside Café Chic, ready for dinner. #EveningOfExcellence

Outside Café Chic, ready for dinner. #EveningOfExcellence

Checking out the fabulous menu at Café Chic. #EveningofExcellence

Checking out the fabulous menu at Café Chic. #EveningofExcellence

The St Petersburg Swan Lake performance at Artscape Theatre. #EveningOfExcellence

The St Petersburg Swan Lake performance at Artscape Theatre. #EveningOfExcellence

Our stylish ride! #EveningOfExcellence

Our stylish ride! #EveningOfExcellence

 

Review: Lunch at Ryan’s Kitchen, Franschhoek

30 Apr

Ryan's Kitchen interior

Panoramic view of the interior at Ryan’s Kitchen, Franschhoek

I was recently invited to experience the “new” Ryan’s Kitchen  – a recent move to a new location on Main Road gave this restaurant room to grow on the competitive and established Franschhoek culinary scene.

Given their reputation for excelling in modern South African cuisine, I was quite intrigued as to how they would present this to the market keeping in mind that they will be serving a discerning crowd of locals as well as international guests. So on Friday the 30th of January I took my husband and daughter along for a lunch trip to Franschhoek.

Chef Ryan Smith and his wife Lana make a strong team in this relatively new space. Ryan, who has worked in numerous Michelen-starred restaurants and schools across the world, heads up the kitchen while Lana commands the front of house. Their modern and fresh interior lended a clean slate for what was to come, as we took our seats inside the restaurant (we later moved to the terrace outside, as the gentle breeze started to cool down a scorching hot day).

The menu is divided into four sections: 1) salads & vegetables, 2) fish and shellfish, 3) meat and poultry and 4) dessert. Guests are encouraged to see the lists as grouped smaller dishes (like tapas) and not as “starters”, “mains” etc. Lana explained that we should order a few dishes and share, as they “love seeing the often lost art of social dining” – something that really resonated with me.

We proceeded to try quite a few dishes, and here are some of the pictures:

Bread box

Artisanal bread box with rotis and flavoured butters

Seared tuna

Seared tuna slices, pepper-pineapple and cucumber atchar.

Cape salmon

Tandoori cured Cape salmon, tomato and chilli “snow eggs”.

Brinjal dumplings

Smoked brinjal dumplings, basil and pine-nut dressing. This was one of my favourite dishes of the day.

Tapioca

Mushroom tapioca “pudding”, sautéed exotic mushrooms.

Seafood parcel

Cape Malay pickled seafood, cooked in a bag (before opening).

Seafood parcel open

Cape Malay pickled seafood, after opening the parcel. The simplicity of the presentation deceives the flavours that come out of this parcel.

Outside

Sitting outside in the sunny courtyard at Ryan’s Kitchen.

Duck parfait

Duck parfait per-peri, lemon jelly & green bean chutney.

Soufflé

Granadilla soufflé, mango ice-cream. This exquisite dish was the winner of the day.

Chef Ryan Smith

Owner/chef Ryan Smith at Ryan’s Kitchen, Franschhoek.

Some of my highlights were the beautifully presented bread box and the smoked brinjal dumplings. But the dish of the day was the absolutely breathtaking granadilla soufflé – the best soufflé I’ve ever had – perfect in every way. The soufflé cost R85, but is a massive portion and great to share.

I will recommend Ryan’s Kitchen to anyone who would love to experience a fresh and modern take on classic South African cuisine – you’ll find no clichés here. Every single dish was meticulously prepared and masterfully presented. The service was personal, attentive and very professional. This is one of my favourite new restaurants of 2015 and I cannot wait to see what the menu will bring later in the year.

Ryan’s Kitchen is open for lunch (12h30-14h30) and dinner (18h30-21h30), Monday to Saturday.

Prices vary from R40-R115 per dish.

Bookings are advised: info@ryanskitchen.co.za / 021-876 4598.

Thank you to Ryan’s Kitchen and Manley Communications for the opportunity to discover this gem of a restaurant.

A day at Anthonij Rupert Wines, Franschhoek

8 Feb

The glass entrance door at Terra del Capo.

The glass entrance door at Terra del Capo.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to experience a day at Anthonij Rupert Wines in Franschhoek. We put aside a Saturday as we heard that it was worth spending more time than just the usual for a tasting, and took the drive over the magnificent Helshoogte Pass towards Franschhoek.

Anthonij Rupert Wines is home to two exquisite tasting rooms. The first is their Terra del Capo Tasting Room, situated at the entrance to the property, which was designed to showcase the company’s Italian-inspired Terra del Capo range. At the restored original Manor House on the farm, wine aficionados can also enjoy tailored wine tastings  of the Cape of Good Hope and Anthonij Rupert Wine ranges.

Both tasting rooms are unique in their own rights and offer visitors an exquisite day out to the Winelands. Earlier in 2014 the farm introduced two beautiful vintage trams offering visitors a complimentary transport system between the two tasting rooms as well as the adjacent Franschhoek Motor Museum on the picturesque L Órmarins Wine Estate.

Below is our day at Anthonij Rupert Wines in pictures. It is surely one of the best day-trips to make in the Winelands, and offers exceptional value in terms of scenery, wine tastings, tapas and adventure. The tapas restaurant at Terra del Capo is still one of the best kept secrets in Franschhoek (not too commercial, not overcrowded) and it is very affordable. I’ll return there often – one of my favourite new places to eat. You can sit inside with a view of the cellar, or outside underneath the beautiful olive trees on comfortable couches.

This experience is highly recommendable for food and wine lovers looking for a quality day out in the Winelands, but is also a picture perfect romantic Valentine’s excursion with your beloved – especially with the newly released L’Ormarins Brut Classique and Rosé. The motor museum at the adjacent L’Ormarins is breathtaking (even for those who aren’t necessarily gearheads) and the sheer beauty of the pristine grounds and gardens will leave you in awe.

Anthonij Rupert Wines & Terra del Capo is open: Tuesday – Sunday, 10h00-16h30.

Cost for tastings: R10-R60

Prices for tapas vary from R20-R150

Contact: Elana Bernhardt – 021 874 9041 / tasting@rupertwines.com.

The Franschhoek Motor Museum is open:

Mon – Fri: 10h00 – 17h00  (last admittance 16h00)
Sat & Sun: 10h00 – 16h00 (last admittance 15h00)
Open most public holidays (phone for confirmation +27 (0)21 874 9000 / fmm@fmm.co.za)
No motor bikes

Admission prices are R60 adults, R50 pensioners, R50 motor club members, R30 children (3-12yrs).

The lush green gardens at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

The lush green gardens at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

The tram waiting for us under one of the huge trees at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

The tram waiting for us under one of the huge trees at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

The beautiful vintage tram - our ride for the trip to the Manor House and L'Ormarins.

The beautiful vintage tram – our ride for the trip to the Manor House and L’Ormarins.

The exotic entrance to Anthonij Rupert Wine's Terra Del Capo tasting room.

The exotic entrance to Anthonij Rupert Wine’s Terra Del Capo tasting room.

Lounging on the counches under the olive trees outside the Terra del Capo tasting room.

Lounging on the couches under the olive trees outside the Terra del Capo tasting room.

The cheetah statue outside the entrance to the Terra del Capo tasting room at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

The cheetah statue outside the entrance to the Terra del Capo tasting room at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

The tapas prep area at Terra del Capo's tapas restaurant.

The tapas prep area at Terra del Capo’s tapas restaurant.

Inside the tapas restaurant at Terra del Capo, adjacent to the wine cellar.

Inside the tapas restaurant at Terra del Capo, adjacent to the wine cellar.

The private boardroom / dining room / tasting room at Terra del Capo.

The private boardroom / dining room / tasting room at Terra del Capo.

Olive oil tasting of the Terra del Capo 2012 and L'Ormarins premium ranges.

Olive oil tasting of the Terra del Capo 2012 and L’Ormarins premium ranges.

Opening our tapas lunch with a glass of L'Ormarins MCC at Terra del Capo.

Opening our tapas lunch with a glass of L’Ormarins MCC at Terra del Capo.

Olive oil and wine tasting at Terra del Capo.

Olive oil and wine tasting at Terra del Capo.

Deep fried rillette balls at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

Deep fried rillette balls at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

White anchovies, quails egg, manzanilla olives & tomato salad, caper dressing at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

White anchovies, quails egg, manzanilla olives & tomato salad, caper dressing at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

Artichokes marinated with thyme, lemon & olive oil at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

Artichokes marinated with thyme, lemon & olive oil at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

Fried calamari with lemon & chive aioli at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

Fried calamari with lemon & chive aioli at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

Zucchini fries at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

Zucchini fries at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

Lamb chops at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

Lamb chops at Terra del Capo tapas restaurant.

The talented chef at Terra del Capo's tapas bar. Some of the best tapas I've had in this region.

The talented chef at Terra del Capo’s tapas bar. Some of the best tapas I’ve had in this region.

A wide variety of wines, oils, preserves an decor is available at the shop at Terra del Capo.

A wide variety of wines, oils, preserves an decor is available at the shop at Terra del Capo.

L'Ormarins MCC.

L’Ormarins MCC.

The premium range extra virgin olive oil by L'Ormarins.

The premium range extra virgin olive oil by L’Ormarins.

Terra del Capo wine gift boxes.

Terra del Capo wine gift boxes.

 

The beautiful cheetah statue outside the entrance to Terra del Capo.

The beautiful cheetah statue outside the entrance to Terra del Capo.

The facade of the Terra del Capo tasting room and cellar at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

The facade of the Terra del Capo tasting room and cellar at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

The pristine grounds at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

The pristine grounds at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

View from the tram, en route to the Manor House at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

View from the tram, en route to the Manor House at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

View from the stoep at the Manor House tasting room, Anthonij Rupert Wines.

View from the stoep at the Manor House tasting room, Anthonij Rupert Wines.

The manor house stoep, where we tasted the Anthonij Rupert Wine range.

The manor house stoep, where we tasted the Anthonij Rupert Wine range.

Cape of Good Hope Ultima - one of their premium wines at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

Cape of Good Hope Ultima – one of their premium wines at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

Three of the wines in the Antjonij Rupert range.

Three of the wines in the Antjonij Rupert range.

One of the rooms inside the restored Manor House at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

One of the rooms inside the restored Manor House at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

Some of the cars that you can see at the Franschhoek Motor Museum at L’Ormarins, next to Anthonij Rupert Wines.

IMG_1246

A panoramic view of the motor museum at L’Ormarins.

 

Dinner at the Kitchen Table, Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House

17 Nov

With chef Tanja Kruger at the Kitchen Table, Macaron Restaurant

With chef Tanja Kruger at the Kitchen Table, Macaron Restaurant

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to experience the newly renovated “Kitchen Table” at Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House, Stellenbosch. I was over the moon, because for years I have been supplying these guys with trout via my brother-in-law’s trout farm on Lourensford. I’ve seen their hotel and restaurant, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to experience their newly renovated kitchen and exclusive Kitchen Table. The invitation also included accommodation at Majeka House and breakfast the next morning, so I grabbed my husband and fellow food enthusiast Schalk to join me on this journey on the 2nd of November. It was his birthday two days after, so we had a big reason to celebrate.

The beautiful view from our balcony.

The beautiful view from our balcony.The kitchen table at Makaron Restaurant is a brand new experience: after recently renovating the kitchen at Majeka house, two guests at a time can now experience an exclusive food and wine adventure every night directly from the head chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier ……. inside the kitchen. Yes, inside the actual working kitchen. For food novices this might be a foreign concept, but for food lovers it is an absolute must food adventure.

Majeka House is situated on the edge of Stellenbosch’s residential Paradyskloof suburb, almost hidden beneath the lush trees with a strong feeling of privacy. We were ushered to our “mountain view room” which was situated on the first floor and had a magnificent view of the majestic Stellenbosch mountain. The room was spacious and luxurious with the most beautiful wall paper, free wi-fi, private balcony and a freestanding victorian bath. We opted for a swim in one of the private pools with sundowner drinks to soak up the tranquility and the beautiful weather. After a quick freshening up we were ready to clock in at the Kitchen Table at the restaurant.

A selection of cookbooks next to the Kitchen Table.

Chef Tanja Kruger’s photo album from her recent trip to Spain where she walked the legendary Camino.

In the middle of the action: a view from our table.

There is only one two-seater table inside the kitchen, which makes this experience quite unique and exclusive. We were greeted by head chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier Esmé Groenewald, who proceeded to tell us more about what we could expect on the evening. We were in for a 5-course tasting menu that came with many surprises – a night of excitement, laughter and loads of food fun.

Chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier Esmé Groenewald.

Chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier Esmé Groenewald.

Chef Tanja explains her elaborate bread board with different butters.

Chef Tanja explains her elaborate bread board with different butters.

Tanja and Esmé make a great team in letting the food and wine shine along one another, and Tanja’s inventive mind along with her well-traveled soul makes for some very creative and forward-thinking dishes. We were taken on a journey that included “ancient grains”, pink vienna sausages, chicken and corn, sea bass  and even dried milk skins. There was no red meat to be seen – such a fresh take on the usual fine dining menu. Here’s a look at our 5-course menu with wine pairings that evening:

2010 Villiera “Natural”

Ancient grains, cauliflower velouté, courgette, romanesco (2012 Nivo van der Merwe White)

Mauritian Seabass, Laksa Foam, Carrots, Cashew, Coconut (2014 Paul Cluver “Close Encounter” Riesling)

Pork Belly and fillet, jewel sweet potato, apple, mebos (2014 Neetholingshof Gewurztraminer)

Free range chicken, dumplings, corn, buttermilk, chive (2011 Vriesenhof Grenache)

Milk mousse, salted caramel popcorn (2010 Lammershoek “Cellarfoot”)

(PS: After our first course, we were served a surprise extra course that was not on our menu. It was a small tin filled with something pink, and next to it a bite of real pink vienna on a fork. Around the tin, there was a printed label that read: “Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Mine is viennas, the nasty pink ones just to clarify if there were any confusion. My grandfather used to call them “gwapse” because of the sounds they make when you bite into them. I think I like them so much because of the memories of going to the butcher as a big shopping day once a month. We would buy loads of these viennas and sit around the table and eat them as a simple supper the same evening – just like that, no mustard of bread or tomato sauce. So I hope tonight you feel like you are sitting around my table and enjoying a meal with my Makaron family.” What a joy!)

Ancient grains (quinoa ring) cauliflower velouté, courgette, romanesco)

Mauritian seabass, laksa foam, carrots, cashew, coconut

Free range chicken, dumplings, corn, buttermilk, chive.

Pork belly and fillet, jewel sweet potato, apple, mebos.

The "surprise" second course of pink viennas.

The “surprise” second course of pink viennas.

Milk mousse, salted caramel popcorn.

The experience as a whole was one of my favourites of 2014 so far – a total must if you consider yourself a fine dining lover and an adventurous eater. The service was impeccable, yet friendly and relaxed.

Our king size bed for the night, inside a mountain view room.

Our king size bed for the night, inside a mountain view room.

The breakfast buffet spread at Majeka House.

The pastry section at breakfast.

Our stay at Majeka House was top quality and I can certainly recommend the hotel to anyone who loves a luxury boutique accommodation experience. Their attention to detail is commendable. The next morning, we were treated to probably the best breakfast spread in town –  French pastries (I think I had about 8), homemade yoghurt, beautiufl charcuterie and smoked fish, fresh fruit, veggie juice to nurse the indulgence of the night before, great coffee and a great selection of hot breakfast options.

Majeka House is a great example of how a hotel should be run in a highly competitive environment like Stellenbosch. The owners are hands-on, their staff have a strong sense of “family”, and they do everything properly. The restaurant can hold its own against any of the best restaurants in South Africa, and there is a reason why they currently feature on the top 20 nominated restaurants for the Eat Out Awards 2014.

Thank you Majeka House and Manley Communications for the opportunity to experience this.

Contact Majeka House:

Tel: 021-8801549

Email: reservations@majekahouse.co.za

26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch

www.majekahouse.co.za

THE DEMO KITCHEN is open

25 Jul

the demo KITCHEN - interior (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

the demo KITCHEN – interior (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

After months of planning, dreaming, building and visualizing,  it gives me tremendous pleasure to introduce my brand new project to you. Situated in central Stellenbosch, the demo KITCHEN is a multi-faceted new food studio where I’ll continue to host my demo dinners and generate food content in the form of recipes, text and photographs. The space is also partly a kitchen retail outlet where you will find an array of KitchenAid appliances, Wusthof knives & utensils, Riedel glassware and much more.

I'll be hosting my regular dinner demos from the demo KITCHEN (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I’ll be hosting my regular dinner demos from the demo KITCHEN (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Co-owned by myself and Mari Kleynhans, the demo KITCHEN hosted invited guests and media earlier in July for two exclusive launch events. Our shop is now officially open to the public, so please come by and we’ll tell you more about our in-store specials.

The lab sink and walnut shelves (photography by Tasha Seccombe)While the demo KITCHEN is not a restaurant, it is a unique addition to the growing culinary offering in Stellenbosch. the demo KITCHEN will also cater to foreign guests who want to experience and learn more about local Winelands heritage food. Situated inside a recently restored official heritage site in the center of town dated to 1785, the demo KITCHEN is also a landmark destination for guests who appreciate the rich history of Stellenbosch.

We are situated in the center of historical Stellenbosch (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

We are situated in the center of historical Stellenbosch (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates on upcoming events, demos and workshops. We can also host your private function or showcase your product, so talk to us for a tailored experience.

Thank you to Tasha Seccombe for taking these beautiful pictures of the demo KITCHEN.

Opening hours:
Mon-Fri: 09h00-17h00
Sat: 09h00-13h00

Demo dinners: Tue & Thu, 19h00-21h00
Closed on public holidays.
Contact us:
info@thedemokitchen.co.za / ilse@thedemokitchen.co.za
Tel: 021-813 5932
Address: 3a Drostdy Street, Stellenbosch, 7600
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedemokitchen
Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_demoKITCHEN

Our kitchen was designed by Dave Leatt.

Review: Dinner at Bistrot Bizerca

19 Jun

The interior at Bizerca, with their signature exposed brick wall and butterfly details.

The interior at Bizerca, with their signature exposed brick wall and butterfly details.

I was invited to Bistrot Bizerca in November last year for a preview of their summer menu for 2013/2014.  I couldn’t attend on the planned date and sadly had to decline the invitation.

The kind people at Bistrot Bizerca and Manley Communications then extended the invitation to a time that would suit me, and a whopping 6 months later I could finally confirm our booking. It took me a long time to get here, but it certainly won’t take me that long to be back. So let’s forget about the summer menu and focus on their hearty winter fare.

The beautiful butterfly detail on the brick wall at Bizerca.

The beautiful butterfly detail on the brick wall at Bizerca.

The courtyard at Bizerca, perfect for warmer weather.

The courtyard at Bizerca, perfect for warmer weather.

Bizerca is situated on Heritage Square  in the center of Cape Town (they moved from the Foreshore to the CBD five years ago). The square is a charming renovated block of restaurants and shops that form part of the Cape Heritage Hotel. As the weather played along nicely that night, we had the option to dine outside in the courtyard or inside in the cosy restaurant. We opted for inside amongst the bustling tables filled with other dinner quests. Bizerca had a full house that Friday night – a great testament to their popularity, and a chance to see how they handled their restaurant at full capacity.

Chef-owner Laurent at work in the Bizerca kitchen.

Chef-owner Laurent at work in the Bizerca kitchen.

Owners and husband & wife team Laurent Deslandes and Cyrillia van der Merwe classify their restaurant as a bistro, although Laurent’s skill and execution might easily be mistaken for fine dining cuisine. There are only six permanent dishes on their menu, with a daily chalk board for seasonal additions. For starters I ordered one of Bizerca’s signature dishes: Saldanha oysters with Cape gooseberry dressing. It was clear why this dish remains such a favourite –  a slightly sweet yet refreshing spin on a classic French favourite. I could have finished buckets full of these oysters. Schalk ordered the trio of cured fish from the chalk board menu, and it was one of the best dishes of the night – absolutely spectacular flavours, light yet intense.

Oysters with Cape gooseberry dressing.

Oysters with Cape gooseberry dressing.

For a main course, I chose the butternut gnocchi with roasted vegetables, tomato coulis & parmesan cheese. The gnocchi were large orange-coloured pillows, beautifully smooth and light, and they worked well with the peppery rocket leaves on top. I also loved the pan-fried texture on the sides of the gnocchi. Schalk had the beef fillet with stuffed mushroom and marrow and echalotte crust. It was perfectly prepared and a great option if you’re a meat lover.

Schalk's beef fillet with stuffed mushroom and marrow and echalotte crust.

Schalk’s beef fillet with stuffed mushroom and marrow and echalotte crust.

For dessert, I chose one of the most popular items on the menu: Valrhona soft centre chocolate pudding, white chocolate creme brulee and raspberry sorbet. It was generously portioned, and absolutely delicious. I also tasted Schalk’s choice of Granny Smith apple sorbet with calvados – simply delightful and so very refreshing!

Valrhona soft centre chocolate pudding, white chocolate creme brulee and raspberry sorbet.

Valrhona soft centre chocolate pudding, white chocolate creme brulee and raspberry sorbet.

Granny Smith Apple Sorbet with Calvados

The wine list at Bistrot Bizerca is hand selected by Laurent & Cyrillia, with beautiful items that I’ve never seen before. We had a bottle of Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir – a gem of a wine, made in Elgin. We had outstanding service the whole night, and our waiter had an exceptional grasp of the menu and wine list.

Bistro Bizerca seems to be firmly settled as one of Cape Town’s favourite bistro restaurants in the CBD. With their unpretentious menu, brilliant flavours and great service, they can certainly be recommended as a must-visit eatery for lunch, dinner or bites. Prices range from R80-R85 for starters, R135-R145 for mains, and R55-R75 for dessert.

Bistrot Bizerca operating hours: (Reservations: 021-423 8888)

Lunch: Mon-Fri, 12pm-3pm
Afternoon bites: Mon-Sat, 2:30pm-6pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat, 6:30pm-10pm
Late night bites: Mon-Sat, 9:30pm-10:30pm
Thank you Manley Communications and the whole team of Bistrot Bizerca for the experience, and for the use of their images due to low light restrictions on the night.

Review: New winter special menu at Terroir

28 May

Chef Michael Broughton being introduced by Lise Manley

Chef Michael Broughton being introduced by Lise Manley

I was invited to attend the media launch of Terroir‘s new winter special menu on the 14th of May. As I have been to Terroir quite a few times since they opened in 2004 (yes, they’ve been around for 10 years this year), I knew that I was probably in for a huge treat. I’ve been a big fan of Chef Michael Broughton‘s food since the very beginning, and couldn’t wait to explore his latest offerings.

Terroir is set amongst the huge oak trees and expansive gardens on Kleine Zalze – a family owned wine farm on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. They also boast a popular golf course, which you can see from the restaurant’s stoep. The relaxing view set the scene for an unpretentious and tranquil dining experience. Their numerous awards and nominations over the years testify of Terroir’s constant quality of their offering. Another feather in their hat is that Stellenbosch’s locals come back over and over to dine here – one of the best ways of establishing whether a restaurant is worth their salt, especially in a highly competitive market like Stellenbosch (SA’s gourmet capital).

Chef Michael Broughton has always kept Terroir’s changing menus seasonal and is still sourcing fresh produce locally as far as possible. While some guests at the table dubbed him “the king of sauces”, I too have experienced his knack for creating deep flavours. After a glass of Kleine Zalze brand new MCC, we were shown to our table.

And then the feast began. We were served four courses, each available on their winter special menu. Terroir’s winter special entails this: two courses for R240, or three courses for R280 – both including a glass of Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection wine of your choice.

This is what we tasted at the showcase lunch:

Our showcase menu at Terroir's launch of their Winter Special 2014

Our showcase menu at Terroir’s launch of their Winter Special 2014

The bread board at Terroir

The bread board at Terroir

Amuse bouche to share

Amuse bouche to share

1st Course: poached pear, gorgonzola, panna cotta

Poached pear, gorgonzola, panna cotta

2nd Course: Fresh kingklip with bouillabaisse, squid, rouille and mussels

Fresh kingklip with bouillabaisse, squid, rouille and mussels

3rd Course: Lamb belly, gnocchi, dukkah

Lamb belly, gnocchi, dukkah

4th Course: Pineapple tarte tatin, coconut and lime ice cream

Pineapple tarte tatin, coconut and lime ice cream

Every course was magnificent, but the kingklip dish with bouillabaisse was an absolute highlight for me –  one of the best seafood dishes I’ve ever tasted. The pineapple panna cotta was also superb: sticky, sweet and filled with aromatic tropical flavours. Every course was carefully paired with Kleine Zalze’s wines, which were perfectly chosen and stood tall against the food’s bold flavours.

In believe that the winter special at Terroir is exceptional value for money and I most definitely recommend it.

Phone 021-880 8167 for bookings.

Review: A secret dinner at Grootbos

27 May

Relaxing after the drive, on the stoep at Grootbos (Angelique Smith Photography)

Relaxing after the drive, on the stoep at Grootbos (Angelique Smith Photography)

A few weeks ago I received an invitation from the Secret Eats team to join one of their secret dinner adventures on the 5th of April 2014. I was only told that the adventure involved some traveling to a secret location, and that it involved a secret chef and a secret menu. Having heard of the Secret Eats adventures before (underground dining experiences with limited seats), I signed up immediately and couldn’t wait to discover more!

On the 4th of April, it was revealed that our secret dinner location was Grootbos, an exclusive luxury destination in the heart of the Overberg. On the afternoon of the 5th of April, I joined a group of other adventurous eaters in the shuttle and headed out towards Hermanus. About 20 minutes past Hermanus we entered the Grootbos gates – a  private nature reserve that provides luxury accommodation, dining, wine tours, spa treatments, guided adventures, and supports responsible tourism.

The chicken coup at Grootbos (Angelique Smith Photography)

The chicken coup at Grootbos (Angelique Smith Photography)

We were treated to a guided tour of the Grootbos Foundation’s Green Futures project – a horticulture and life skills college that provides an annual training programme to 12 unemployed young adults from the Gansbaai area. In addition, the Grootbos Foundation also established the Growing the Future project – an organic food production and life skills certification course that provides an annual training programme to 8 unemployed women from the Gansbaai area. Here they have established an impressive organic vegetable garden and chicken coup, selling most of their produce (also including pork and honey) back to Grootbos. This means that Grootbos is not only able to supply diners with amazing, fresh produce, but more importantly they are making diners aware that they are supporting the upliftment of local women in their local community – an ethical way of eating.

Canapés before the start of our secret dinner at Grootbos (Angelique Smith Photography)

Canapés before the start of our secret dinner at Grootbos (Angelique Smith Photography)

After a quick refreshment and a new lick of lipstick, we gathered for bubbly and canapés before being escorted to our secret dinner location inside an ancient milkwood forest on the Grootbos grounds. The location was one of the most beautiful settings for a dinner that I have ever seen – absolutely magical.

Getting to know the guests at our Secret Eats adventure, Grootbos (Angelique Smith Photography)

Getting to know the guests at our Secret Eats adventure, Grootbos (Angelique Smith Photography)

The pathway to our secret dinner location... (Angelique Smith Photography)

The pathway to our secret dinner location… (Angelique Smith Photography)

One of the exquisite dinner tables inside the ancient milkwood forest (Angelique Smith Photography)

One of the exquisite dinner tables inside the ancient milkwood forest (Angelique Smith Photography)

Our dinner followed, cooked by Grootbos executive chef Benjamin Conradie. Here is a copy of his menu:menu

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Chef Conradie plates the first course (Angelique Smith Photography)

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Guests at my table, taking pictures of new friends (Angelique Smith Photography)

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1st Course: Klein Rivier Gruyere soup (Angelique Smith Photography)

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2nd Course: Trio of Langkloof rainbow trout (Angelique Smith Photography)

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3rd Course: Walker Bay poached crayfish (Angelique Smith Photography)

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Me, meeting new people! (Angelique Smith Photography)

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4th Course: Villiera and strawberry sorbet (Angelique Smith Photography)

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5th Course: Grilled lamb loin (Angelique Smith Photography)

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The star kitchen team, plating dessert (Angelique Smith Photography)

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6th Course: Chocolate flan with raspberry chiboust (Angelique Smith Photography)

The night was unforgettable – the food, the atmosphere, the laughter, the setting – and most of us made some lasting friendships with people who were complete strangers to us earlier that day. It was like being transported to a strange and beautiful planet where time and reality were completely irrelevant.

I can certainly recommend Secret Eats to anyone who wants to explore beyond the usual restaurant dining experience – locations and menus change all the time, as do the pricing range of dinner experiences. I can also recommend Grootbos as a destination – what a breathtaking place!

Keen to join SecretEATS for an evening?  Request your Private Invitation here: www.thesecreteats.com/request

Thank you Angelique Smith for the use of your beautiful photographs. And thank you to Yuppiechef for the R150 voucher gift surprise after dinner!

Stellenblog: my unforgettable week in pictures

12 May

Last week, I had the privilege of joining the #Stellenblog group of bloggers on an amazing journey of discovering the magic of Stellenbosch. Acting as the local host, I had the opportunity to show them around the streets and sights, and tell them more about my home town as one of the top destinations in the world.

It was a whirlwind week of fine dining, wine drinking, street hopping, spa pampering, local food discovery, sight seeing, breathtaking views, and making friends. While the rest of the world were enjoying the content on a digital platform, I was experiencing everything first hand with real people. It wasn’t only the Stellenblog group that left an impression, but also the winemakers, restaurant hosts, chefs, local food experts, hotel staff, tour managers, and drivers. Stellenbosch truly is a magical destination with unforgettable people and mesmerizing offerings!

Here are my #Stellenblog highlights in pictures – I’ve picked my favourites from the week, as taken by myself, Niamh Shields, Matt Long, Norman Roehlig, Keith Jenkins and Natalie Roos. You can track all of the #Stellenblog social feeds here.

Thank you Stellenbosch Wine Routes and Destinate for an unforgettable week!

See more pictures of the official media tweet-up and launch party here.

Click on the thumbnails below for a larger view.

 

 

 

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