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A baking class with Martjie Malan

30 May

Martjie Malan with trays of gougères and craquelins, ready for the oven.

I’m such a fan of recreational baking and always keen on learning more and sharpening my skills. Yesterday I attended Martjie Malan‘s first baking class in her winter series of 2018, with a focus on choux pastry. Here are some of the pictures I took (in the short moments when my hands weren’t full of custard or chocolate!). Martjie is a talented baker who’s come a long way since being runner up in Koekedoor, kykNet’s super popular reality baking series/competition. A few years back, while she still had a bakery and restaurant in Stellenbosch called M Patisserie, I was a massive fan of her French pastries, especially her almond croissants and her petit fours. That being said, I jumped to take up the opportunity to learn from a master like Martjie.

Keen an eye on Martjie’s Facebook page for more upcoming classes, all held at The Styling Shed outside Stellenbosch on the Devon Valley Road. If you’re an avid baker, keen to learn more, book your spot for one of Martjie’s upcoming classes.

 

Tea, coffee and pastries on arrival.

A leafy corner of the venue, The Styling Shed.

Martjie welcomes us.

Crème de pâtissièr, or pastry custard, as demonstrated by Martjie.

Making perfect choux pastry.

How to pipe like a pro.

Scooping choux dough into pastry bags.

And now for the longer shaped choux pastries, or eclairs.

Freshly baked profiteroles, straight from the oven.

Assembling the craquelins.

Freshly baked gougères. They disappeared in a second – so delicious!

Everyone got a chance to fill the freshly baked pastries.

Elmarie taking a picture of the beautiful chocolate ganache.

My finished product: fresh chocolate profiteroles filled with chocolate custard and glazed with chocolate ganache.

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A stay with dinner and breakfast at Majeka House

28 May

The pathway from our room door towards the entrance and reception area of Majeka House.

 

Earlier this year, I received an invitation to visit Majeka House Hotel & Restaurant in Stellenbosch for a stayover for two including a four course dinner with wine pairing. Majeka House is a boutique gem in the heart of residential Paradyskloof, discreetly tucked away between the quiet neighbourhood houses adjacent to Vriesenhof Wine Estate. Their restaurant, Makaron, has won numerous awards and is considered a must-visit on the Stellenbosch food landscape.

A bird’s eye view of Majeka House Hotel & Spa. Picture supplied by Majeka House.

 

Here are the highlights of our stay, our dinner and our breakfast in pictures. For me, Majeka House is a premium, boldly stylish, intimately private retreat where you will feel pampered and refreshed. The rooms are lavishly decorated with wall art, bold colours, eclectic furniture and beautiful tropical glass panels. There’s no room for “boring” here, and you’ll know for sure that you’re not in just another hotel suite.

Makaron’s small plate menu is driven by Chef Lucas Carstens – a man of few words that prefer to speak the language of good food. His courses were thoughtful, delicate, sometimes provoking and an all-round pleasure, especially with the spot-on wine pairing that really opens up the experience to another level. The amouse bouche and bread board (compliments from the kitchen) were some of my favourite items of the evening. The wine pairing is highly recommended and adds a lot to the dining experience at Makaron, presenting the inhouse sommelier’s clever and sometimes surprising wine choices from hand picked estates and boutique wineries. You’ll probably also discover a wine (or two) that you’ve never heard of before and that might just become your new favourite. All staff members at Makaron were friendly, professional and highly informed.

Breakfast has always been a highlight for me at Majeka House, especially with MCC on ice, trays full of freshly baked canelés (and other baked goods), individually potted treats and jugs full of freshly juiced fruit and veggies that will make you feel like a champion. I’m not one for hot breakfasts (my husband loves a good scramble or eggs Benedict, and that is also available, of course), but you can catch me in a trap with proper French pastries. Theirs are simply fantastic.

Majeka House has a few fabulous specials running during Autumn and Winter, check it out:

Away in May: R1990 pp sharing

  • Choice of a 60 min treatment each and a 4-course small plate dinner (excl. beverages) at Makaron for 2
  • 1 night accommodation for 2 in a Premier room
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520

Winter Night Out: R1325 pp sharing

  • 1 night accommodation in a Premier room
  • 4-course small plate dinner at Makaron for 2 (excl. beverages)
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520
  • Valid from 1 May to 30 September except for Wednesdays

Winter Escape: R1845 pp sharing

  • 1 night accommodation in a Premier room
  • Choice of a 60 min treatment each and a 4-course small plate dinner (excl. beverages) at Makaron for 2
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520
  • Valid from 1 June to 30 September except for Wednesdays

Book now:  +27 21 880 1549 | reservations@majekahouse.co.za

Relaxing in our room in the Autumn sun, just after arrival.

 

Our plush king size bed with mesmerising wall paper art.

 

Our room opened up onto a semi-private pool and veranda (shared with the suite next door). This is the view from the veranda towards our back door.

 

 

The striking striped pool outside our room.

 

Blue pool chairs and shades of Autumn.

 

Time for an afternoon gin, of course.

 

Dinner starts: Compliments from the kitchen: caesar taco / crispy chicken skin & truffle / beetroot & trout cracker.

 

“Roosterkoek” & bokkom butter, mosbolletjie & korrelkonfyt.

 

Langoustine mi cuit, sea butter, fermented cucumber, green curry juice.

 

Zucchini risotto, raw mushrooms, cured egg yolk shavings. This dish has been on the menu since Chef Lucas started his journey at Makaron, and it has remained a favourite ever since. It was my favourite dish of the day – the cured egg yolk is such a stunner!

 

House smoked hake, celeriac, dill, whey soured onions.

 

Mushroom ravioli, house made malt vinegar, parmesan. PS: The “ravioli” wasn’t your regular pasta, it was a clear sheet of mushroom flavoured stock or something, that held a chunky mushroom filling that you could see from the outside. Mesmerising.

 

Pineapple, white chocolate, coconut, fennel.

 

I cannot remember this chocolate creation’s menu name, but I think the ice cream on top was malt-infused. It was the perfect end to an exquisite evening.

 

These dainty little toffee apples are the size of large cherries and they are incredibly delicious! Not your standard candy apples, for sure.

 

Early morning peak at the mountain on our way to breakfast.

 

My happy place: the breakfast table at Majeka House.

 

Many difference potted treats, including homemade yoghurts, compotes, granola, smoked fish and lots more.

 

One of my highlights: a freshly baked tray of canelés.

 

The breakfast table from the other end, also showing one of the many characteristic ornamental pigs at Majeka House.

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How to make a cortado frappé with the GREENIS Smart+ Power Blender

8 May

 

A few weeks ago I received a Greenis 888OT Smart+ Power Blender from Greenis South Africa to try out and review. I’ve since discovered the world of power blending and it has been a major game changer in my kitchen.

This machine not only blends chunky liquids like soups to a silky smooth consistency in a flash, it also grinds nuts to become nut butters and pulverises grains to become flours. With its digital touch interface, LCD display, bluetooth compatibility, Japanese commercial grade stainless steel blades and 3,7 peak horsepower, you can be sure that you’re covered when it comes to premium power blending.

As compactness and practicality are core principles in the design of the Greenis FGR-8880T power blender, it carries the most portable (2 liter capacity) jar in the Greenis range, made from Tritan material that is 100% BPA free and super durable. The blade is able to crush pretty much any type of food ingredients, both wet and dry, soft and hard, small and bulky, thanks to the unique shape and quality stainless steel material. It is also equipped with a smart microchip which allows the blender to control operations more precisely and stably without overheating.

I’ve made hummus with the most velvety texture, smoothies and fruit frappés without any icy grains mentionable, and even smooth tahini using dry toasted sesame seeds and some olive oil. The machine does make a noise, but I suppose you wouldn’t expect anything else from a real power tool.

This cortado frappé is a spin on the classic cortado condensado of Spanish origin, where espresso and condensed milk is enjoyed in equal quantities to make a sweet dessert coffee. With the addition of ice, you can make a 3-ingredient iced coffee with a silky, creamy texture that will beat any coffee milkshake, any day.

The Greenis FGR 8880T is available from Takealot at R4699.00 and is available in white and black. For more visit Instagram @greenissouthafrica.

A smooth and creamy cortado frappé using espresso, condensed milk and ice cubes, made with the Greenis Smart+ Power Blender.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • a double espresso (or 60 ml very strong coffee), cooled for better results
  • 60 ml condensed milk

Method:

Turn the machine on and select the cold drinks setting. Add the ice cubes, espresso and condensed milk and press “on”. The machine will blend for 30 seconds with short pause intervals every 10 seconds. Pour and enjoy immediately.

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Product review: Achilles Chef’s Knife by Sternsteiger

4 Apr

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A weekend in the Elgin Valley

31 Mar

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Almenkerk Estate range, featuring their premium sauvignon blanc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The majestic garden view from the stoep at Elgin Vintners.

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

Exploring the garden at Elgin Vintners. Spot the squirrel…

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

Some pretty magical pathways in the garden at Elgin Vintners.

On our way to the horses at Elgin Vintners.

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

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

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

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

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

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

An incredible wooded chardonnay by Elgin Vintners.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trout, avocado mousse, citrus dressing, garden greens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Contact details:

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

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

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

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

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

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Launch: Mynhardt’s Kitchen at Cathedral Cellar, KWV

16 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bubbles all around, courtesy of Laborie.

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

Our colourful starters, plated on paper.

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

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

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

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

A long table of colours and flavours.

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

Cheesecake mousse, fig ice cream and fresh figs.

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

 

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Review: Coffee, cold brews and pastries at Coco Safar

12 Mar

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is my experience in pictures:

The friendly espresso baristas at Coco Safar.

My flat white. The coffee was fantastic.

Couture pâtisserie section at Coco Safar.

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

More sweet indulgence at Coco Safar.

Some of the exquisite looking pastries at Coco Safar.

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

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

The cold brewing section at Coco Safar.

 

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

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

The syphon coffee master at Coco Safar.

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

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

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

Savoury galettes with brussels sprouts & mushrooms. So buttery!

The legendary bobotie croissant – absolutely delicious!

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Review: Merino lamb terroir tasting with Bertus Basson

3 Mar

Yesterday I attended the first merino tasting session hosted by well known Stellenbosch Chef Bertus Basson and Cape wine master Bennie Howard of Veritas, in collaboration with Agri-Expo and Lamb & Mutton SA as part of the Woordfees 2018 in Stellenbosch.

Four legs of lamb, taken from animals of the same age, farmed in different areas (Hamtam, Kamdeboo, Overberg and Boland) were cooked at 68 °C sous vide for 12 hours, with no salt/herbs/spices and served at room temperature. This way the unique terroir of each of the meats can be identified, tasted and appreciated. In case you didn’t know, most of the mutton that we find in SA is free range. Along with the four meats, a tasting of four Veritas awarded wines were presented by Bennie Howard: Holden Manz Big G 2013, Ridgeback Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Diemersdal Pinotage 2016 and Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Shiraz 2013. All four incredible wines could be paired with your choice of meat, and the differences in tastes in the audience were interesting to see.

Some notes on the terroir of each of the meats:

1. Hantam (Calvinia, Great Karoo): hard, sun scorched, dry, biodiverse hotspot, winter rainfall, animals mainly eat karoo bossies.

2. Kamdeboo (Graaf Reinet, Eastern Cape): succulent Karoo, grass lands, cold winters, summer rainfall.

3. Overberg (Swellendam): fynbos territory, the heart of merino territory, winter rainfall, cold winters.

4. Boland: animals feed on “stoppellande” after harvest season, receive additional feed because of current drought, very hot summers.

When you taste lamb or mutton meat, you’re looking for the following qualities: herbaciousness, minerality, fat content and grain. It was eye opening to taste and experience the unique differences in each of the meats and to see the differences in grain (like they say in Afrikaans: “Daar’s ‘n skaap vir elke smaak”). According to Bertus, his personal favourite mutton cuts are neck, rib and shoulders. He also said that mutton chops should be braaied crispy and seasoned only with salt. This way you can really appreciate the taste of the meat and enjoy the unique fatty edges. No fancy-shmancy pink chops for him! I like that.

Get your tickets for the upcoming exclusive merino tasting sessions with Bertus & Bennie from Computicket – next sessions on Thursday 8 March 12h00 and Sunday 11 March 12h00, R160 pre-bought or R180 at the door. #CookingWithLamb #Lambassador #WeLoveLamb #TheWayNatureIntended

Here is my taste experience in pictures:

The tables at Die Khaya, Woordfees 2018, almost ready for a merino tasting session.

Tasting notes and more information about the Veritas wines.

Our four Veritas wines as part of the tasting experience, to be paired with four different marino lamb meats.

Paper plates with four different lamb meats for the tasting session, served at room temperature with no flavourings or seasonings.

My tasting station at the merino tasting session.

Bennie Howard of Veritas tells us more about the four red wines that he has selected for the tasting.

Chef Bertus Basson tells us more about his love of South African mutton and lamb.

Bertus listens to Bennie’s expert wine tasting notes.

Marina Bester of Lamb & Mutton SA takes a picture of Bertus for social media. It’s always great to see a few behind-the-scene shots! What a great afternoon in the company of experts!

 

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Review: Lunch at Cavalli

27 Feb

Chef Michael Deg (center), head of the kitchen at Cavalli.

 

On Sunday, my family and I had the privilege of visiting Cavalli Estate for lunch. We’ve been for a few gallery visits and wine tastings there before, but never for lunch. After receiving an invitation to experience the restaurant at Cavalli’s new “One at Cavalli” menu, where the shining ingredient for the month of February is beetroot, I was intrigued to see what recently appointed head chef Michael Deg had up his sleeve.

Stretched across 100 Hectares of pristine land located in the picturesque Helderberg region of Stellenbosch, Cavalli Estate boasts 26 hectares of vineyards, 10 hectares of indigenous fynbos gardens, a contemporary restaurant, 350-seater function venue, wine-tasting facility, retail contemporary art gallery, luxury boutique and a world class equestrian facility.

Chef Michael Deg’s focus on quality rather than quantity is apparent in his small à la carte menu with 6 starters, 6 mains and 6 desserts, for lunch and dinner. He likes to change one or two dishes every week to ensure the menu keeps evolving with the seasons. His aim is for vegetarians and vegans to feel appreciated at Cavalli (see vegan menu options) and he now also offers two tasting menus for dinner – both are 8 courses, with one of them completely vegetarian.

Here is our lunch experience in pictures. The beautiful food and the surrounds will speak for themselves, but a special mention needs to be made about the fantastic service. From the front gate security to the various waiters, sommeliers and the restaurant manager that looked after us (and the kitchen staff that came out to explain their dishes) – the team at Cavalli seamlessly displayed their calm professionalism and friendly knowledgeability. We were served by a team of waiters (not just one), always receiving our courses at the same time, with incredible wine pairings by head sommelier, Farai. Truly a premium atmosphere all round.

The food at Cavalli was bold in flavour, beautifully plated and pure pleasure on the palate. From bright green silky pea gazpacho to perfectly flame grilled cauliflower, pale pink beetroot meringues and dewy garden salads (and that umami dumpling!) – the food was simply incredible from start to finish. Watch out, this restaurant will draw a lot more attention within the fine dining arena in the near future.

Check out our experience below:

The magnificent view from the restaurant entrance at Cavalli, when you look to your right.

On our way to the entrance at Cavalli.

The entrance sign amongst steel and stone – architecturally, Cavalli is already a must visit.

The contemporary restaurant interior at Cavalli.

More of the restaurant interior and the terrace at Cavalli. The restaurants seats more than 100 guests.

Adjacent to the terrace at Cavalli, there is a tranquil pond with this incredible view.

The brand new release of Cavalli’s first MCC.

Some beetroot meringue kisses with a savoury filling from the kitchen as a welcome snack.

Beetroot salt and other flavoured butters to go with the bread board.

Bread board (tomato & feta flatbread, ciabattini & mini seed loaves).

Farai – the friendly, knowledgeable head sommelier at Cavalli.

Amuse bouche: pork dumpling in umami broth. I could eat a very large bowl of these, they were absolutely incredible. Very punchy in flavour.

SPICED CARROT TARTAR (VEGAN) | pickled shimeji, onion ketchup, shallot cups, crispy ginger. Great combinations of textures in this dish.

One of the many wines we enjoyed as part of a wine paired lunch journey. Cavalli has a very long list of wines that you can order by the glass – something that is very rare these days (and such a great way to taste through a wider variety of their wines with the many menu items).

GRASS-FED BOBOTIE KROMESKIES | kale pesto, mustard crème fraîche, crispy potato, apricot, curried crumble. A modern take on a classic South African favourite. The bright green crispy kale was delightful.

CHILLED PEA GAZPACHO | yoghurt & lemon ice cream, pea salsa, goats cheese. The goats cheese ball was deep fried, and the contrast in temperatures with the cold soup and very cold ice cream was delicious.

My daughter’s “fish & chips” with a fresh garden salad. It was delicious! Kids also have an option to order “chicken nuggets” and, if I remember correctly, a “beef burger”.

We were very impressed with Cavalli’s stainless steel reusable straws – very cool!

CAULIFLOWER STEAK (VEGAN) | tempura, cauliflower puree, macadamia nuts, capers, sultanas. The macadamia nut crumble was the perfect accompaniment to the soft and creamy cauliflower.

My main course red wine pairing: the Valkyrie by Cavalli.

GRASS-FED BEEF FILLET | pomme purée, creamed spinach, pickled baby beetroot, bone marrow crumble. You cannot see the inside of the meat on this picture, but it was absolutely perfectly cooked.

Pre-dessert: yoghurt, beetroot puree, tangerine granita, freeze dried raspberries. So fresh and cleansing!

MANJARI CHOCOLATE MOUSSE | blondie, dulcey ganache, mint ice cream, cocoa nibs. I’m a sucker for chocolate mousse AND blondies, so this was right up my alley.

BANANA & PISTACHIO GALETTE | salted caramel ice cream, peanut tuille, pistachio crème. One of the highlights of the dessert menu offering.

A final sweet gift from the kitchen to end off our lunch.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner 5 days a week, from Wednesday to Saturday. Sundays lunch only.
Restaurant bookings: (021) 855 3218 (8am – 5pm)

Starters range in price from R85-R120.

Mains range in price from R170-R250.

Desserts range in price from R85-R120.

Visit Cavallistud.com for more info. Menu changes seasonally.

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10 water wise recipes that’ll help you save

8 Feb

Never leave a running tap unattended. Use a thin stream of water with great care and intent, and only when necessary. (Photo by Kaboompics // Karolina from Pexels)

 

We’re all looking to gain smart new habits for coping with the little water left in the Western Cape. Hoping to avoid “day zero”, let’s adjust to a new normal of being truly water conscious and saving every drop that we can.

When we were struggling with power outages a few seasons ago, Private Property wrote an article, Energy savings will be crucial this winter. With the current water shortage they asked me to put together a few dos and don’ts of foods/recipes to embrace and to avoid. Check out Private Property’s houses for sale, and remember these handy tips: Keep a water-less hand cleanser in the kitchen and bathroom to minimize rinsing your hands under running water. Keep the plug in the basin plugged in (or use a larger bowl/bucket) to reuse grey water as far as you can.

Water wise foods to welcome:

  • anything braaied/grilled (remember to serve these on paper plates that won’t require any washing up)
  • oven roasted vegetables instead of boiled vegetables (remember to use a sheet of foil or baking paper on your tray to minimize dirty trays)
  • roast chicken (or other meat) that can double up as leftovers on a sandwich the next day, limiting more cooking and washing up
  • salad, fruit and vegetables that can we wiped with a damp cloth (that don’t need extensive washing)
  • “hand food” that doesn’t require plates or cutlery (minimizing dirty dishes for washing later)
  • one-pot dishes that can go from oven/stove to table to fridge (minimizing dirty dishes for washing later)

Water unwise foods to avoid:

  • foods that need to be cooked/soaked in a lot of water, like rice, legumes and pasta
  • foods that need lots of water for rinsing, like sandy mussels or spinach (unless you can minimize the rinsing water and reuse it later as grey water)
  • foods that require large amounts of stock, like soups and risottos
  • food that will dirty various bowls/pots/trays (unless you use baking paper or foil on your trays that can be discarded) and will use more water for washing up than usual

Here are some of my favourite recipes that don’t contain any water, are made in one pot/pan, or require very little (or no) washing up:

Spinach, mushrooms & cheddar frittata with sage butter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  1. Mushroom, spinach & cheddar frittata: this is a one-pot recipe that is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, and also as leftovers for the office the next day. It can be eaten hot or cold, so no reheating required, and no extra dirty dishes gained. And yes, you can ditch the sage butter!

    Delicious buttermilk rusks with various seeds, nuts, oats, coconut and pecan nuts.

  2. All-in-one breakfast rusks: limit your tea/coffee intake by filling up with these “waterless” rusks – dip 2 or 3 in your one cup of daily coffee, and you might not require another cup soon.

    Freshly toasted granola with cranberries. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  3. Granola with almonds & cranberries: made with no water, this granola recipe is so delicious topped with a dollop of yoghurt. To minimize dirty dishes, add a few tablespoons directly to your plastic yoghurt tub (and not other way around).

    Freshly braaied ciabatta sandwiches with fior di latte, tomato, basil and chutney. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  4. Afritalian braaibroodjies: these can be assembled anywhere without using any water. Eaten with your hands straight from a plankie, they’re the perfect waterless food items.

    My ultimate caprese salad with soft mozzarella, an array of tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto and toasted pine nuts. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  5. Ultimate caprese salad: no rinsing necessary (unless you want to wipe the tomatoes with a damp cloth), easy to assemble, and the juices can be mopped up with crusty bread straight from the plate.

    Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic, thyme. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  6. Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic & thyme: add a sheet of foil or non-stick baking paper to the tray, which you can pop in the bin afterwards. No pre-rinsing, no washing up.

    Roast garlic prawns served with fresh limes. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  7. Roasted garlic prawns: another roasted favourite that can be done with a sheet of foil and eaten straight from the pan!

    Panzanella: a traditional Tuscan bread salad. Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius.

  8. Panzanella with smoked chicken: what a delightful, meaty, summer salad with oodles of crunchy croutons – perfect for entertaining a crowd. Make the croutons in the oven on a baking sheet lined with foil and save on washing up!

    Fresh, crunchy, beautiful to look at and oh-so-delicious Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

  9. Vietnamese chicken & vegetable spring rolls: although these paper rounds are made of rice, they require no cooking – only one minute of soaking in a little cold water (you can use a wide bowl with 1cm deep water for the whole batch and still reuse the water left for rinsing anything that’s dirty etc.) It’s hand food at its best, dipped in a fabulously salty peanut sauce.

    Braaied lamb chops make the ultimate shawarma topping. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  10. Quick braaied lamb shawarmas: marinate in a plastic bag, braai, assemble on chopping board, eat with hands, wipe with kitchen paper – almost no dirty dishes! Perfect for outdoor entertaining.
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