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Celebrate Sauvignon Blanc with the Durbanville Wine Valley in October

26 Sep

social-media-advert-2Join the 12 wineries that make up the Durbanville Wine Valley region during the month of October as they celebrate their signature varietal as a build-up to the Season of Sauvignon Blanc Festival on 29 and 30 October 2016.

Here’s more information on what you can expect from Altydgedacht, Bloemendal, D’Aria, De Grendel, Diemersdal, Durbanville Hills, Hillcrest, Klein Roosboom, Meerendal, Nitida, Phizantekraal en Signal Gun during the month of October: (click to enlarge)


And here is the official Season of Sauvignon Festival programme:


For a detailed map of the Durbanville Wine Valley, check this out:

map-low-res-2The Valley can be reached via the following channels:

Cointreau & pomegranate fizz

19 Aug

Classy and classic: a Cointreau fizz (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Classy and classic: a Cointreau fizz (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

It’s Friday! Celebratory weekend drinks at sundown are pretty standard in my house and I couldn’t be happier about it. Although a glass of wine or a nice gin & tonic are my usual go-to drinks, I sometimes crave the fabulous glitz of a cocktail.

One of my absolute favourite cocktail ingredients is Cointreau orange liqueur – an iconic triple sec imported from France. While attending a launch event at the Somerset Mall some time ago, the brand team from Cointreau South Africa taught us how to make a classic Cointreau fizz using their product, lemon juice, ice and soda water. It is one of the most refreshing drinks on this planet.

I’ve just added a squeeze of fresh pomegranate juice to this classic cocktail, to turn it a delicate hue of pink. If you don’t like pink drinks (I know a few people), rather substitute it with a shaved ribbon of cucumber or a thinly sliced round of fresh orange.

Cheers everyone!

Ingredients: (for one cocktail)

  • about 4-8 blocks of ice
  • 2 shots of Cointreau (50 ml)
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • a squeeze of pomegranate juice (optional)
  • some soda water to top if up with

Pour in a festive glass and top off with a straw. Voila!


Recipe, food preparation, food styling & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

This recipe has been featured on The Pretty Blog.

Top 10 Winter Winelands Taste Adventures

3 Aug

The spectacular view at Jordan, as taken a few weeks ago at a brunch. Beautiful winter's morning.

The spectacular view at Jordan, as taken a few weeks ago at a brunch. Beautiful winter’s morning.

It is mid-Winter in the Winelands and it’s one of the coldest ones in a long time. But the locals aren’t moaning, they’re smiling. Why? Because we’ve been looking forward to this: the magical comfort of a dreary, rainy, icy Winelands winter. “Kaggel-en-rooiwyn” weather, we call it.

I’ve put together my list of the top 10 places in the Winelands to visit this winter, specifically because they make us love winter even more. Places where you’ll find roaring fire places, more than enough of the very best red wine and the most delicious winter fare in the district. So get your car insurance quotes online, make sure your vehicle is covered and get out there!

  1. Boschendal – Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein
    • The Werf Restaurant is super cozy with a fire place that roars like a dragon. From wine tastings to visiting the deli or even staying over in one of the cottages (also with fire places and heaters), this is a winter haven.

      The fireplace at the Werf Restaurant, Boschendal (image from

      The fireplace at the Werf Restaurant, Boschendal (image from

  2. The Bakery @ Jordan – Stellenbosch Kloof Road
    • There’s just no substitute for a late morning breakfast in a place that smells like freshly baked bread all the time. And just in time for a wine tasting afterwards, because hey, wine in the morning is fair game in the Winelands. And did I mention they now also have luxury accommodation facilities?
  3. Cuveé Restaurant @ Simonsig – Kromme Rhee Road, Koelenhof
    • Ever had oysters and Kaapse Vonkel in the middle of winter next to a crackling fire? These guys will show you how.
  4. Glen Carlou – Simondium
    • The red wines at Glen Carlou keep me coming back for regular tastings during the cold months in the Winelands. Their huge glass doors leading to the stoep keeps the cold at bay (with breathtaking views right through the year) and a fireplace oozes warmth right through the tasting area and restaurant.
  5. Terroir @ Kleine Zalze – Strand Road, Stellenbosch
    • Heaters are placed around every corner of this understated gem of a restaurant. Winter specials include 2 or 3 courses with a glass of wine and is excellent value for money. A must-visit.
  6. Tokara – Helshoogte
    • With a massive fireplace in their tasting area and views to die for, this is also one of my favourite wine tasting venues during winter. Stay on for lunch at Tokara Restaurant or move a little further along to Tokara Deli for more roaring fires and kid-friendly zones.
  7. Terra del Capo @ Anthonij Rupert – R45, Franschhoek
    • Ask for the private tasting area on the first floor that has a fire place – just magnificent. Don’t miss out on the tapas downstairs, as well as a beautiful drive to the motor museum and a second tasting at the Anthonij Rupert tasting area. A full day of wonderful wine-induced activities.
  8. Makaron @ Majeka House – Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch
    • With a fire places in the lounge and heaters in the restaurant, you won’t even feel the chills of winter. Remember to try their Sunday roasts for lunch, or opt for one of the best breakfast experiences in the Winelands over the weekend. They always have Winter stay-over specials at their hotel, so check out their website for more info.

      M Lounge at Majeka House (picture from

      M Lounge at Majeka House (picture from

  9. Waterkloof – Somerset West
    • With a crackling log fire all winter long, you’ll feel right at home at Waterkloof. They offer delicious platters at their wine tasting lounge, or opt for a cheese and wine tasting. The restaurant is spectacular and a must-visit destination.

      The tasting lounge at Waterkloof (image from

      The tasting lounge at Waterkloof (image from

  10. Clos Malverne – Devon Valley
    • One of the best value for money three course meals with wine pairings in the Winelands, but don’t forget the magnificent views through the glass panes as well as the fireplaces and the authentic Devon Valley hospitality. Bring the whole family – you’ll feel truly welcome.

This post was written in collaboration with Dialdirect.

WIN 2 tickets (plus wine and a cookbook) to the Unplugged62 Festival weekend

29 Jul

Unplugged62 poster

Every year the Joubert-Tradauw Vineyards open their farm in true Klein Karoo hospitality style and welcome visitors from all over to join them for a fun-filled weekend of good live music, food and wine. The organizers, Red Hot Events, bring you an array of popular SA musicians throughout the weekend of 7-9 October 2016, including the blues rock phenomenon Albert Frost, the enigmatic Majozi and SA’s favorite instrumental dance band Nomadic Orchestra. Add to that the gypsy jazz sounds of Manouche, the raw melodic rock of Slow Jack and Hatchetman, Hezron Chetty and DJ Dirtroad’s “50’s,60’s,70’s,80’s, and some 90’s beats”. The weekend promises to be one of the best parties the Klein Karoo has ever seen.

All ticket options include a full weekend of festivities. The Joubert-Tradauw Vineyard will play host to nine bands starting Friday evening at 19:00 and ending Sunday morning at 11:00. Tickets also include access to camping facilities, as well as a Deli Alfresco Klein Karoo lunch on the Saturday from 15:00-17:00 along with a glass of Unplugged62 Sauvignon/Merlot (your choice).

Van Loveren have come on board as a sponsor for the event and will be hosting a ‘Breakfast with Christina’ on the Saturday morning. MCC classique style – a delicious plate of food and glass of bubbles in the garden. Tickets available at an additional R120 per person.

There will also be a market style tasting area on the farm with all sorts of delicious local fare to enjoy. Think cheeses, olives, freshly baked goodies, biltong and more. Wine on offer for the weekend will be plenty and a fully stocked bar will be set up next to the stage where visitors can enjoy tastings of Joubert-Tradauw’s wines as well as Van Loveren’s much loved brands.

Unplugged62 is a great weekend away for the whole family – all ages are welcome. Kids 12 and over can take advantage of the discounted ticket rate, while kids under the age of 12 are allowed free entry.

The enigmatic Route 62.

The enigmatic Route 62.

For those who don’t fancy setting up camp themselves but want to stay close to the party, check out Cherry Glamping and book yourself a pre-pitched luxury tent. Price of R3 500 is for 2 adults sharing, kids stay for free (just bring their bedding!). Email

Ticket prices:
Adults Weekend Pass: R750 (Joubert-Tradauw’s Deli Alfresco Saturday lunch included in the ticket price.)
Kids 12 & Over: R375 (Joubert-Tradauw’s Deli Alfresco Saturday lunch included in the ticket price.)
*Kids under 12 – free entry.

Link to buy tickets:
Link for accommodation options:

Want to have your meals sorted before you arrive? The R62 Deli run by Beate Joubert is conveniently located just meters from the stage and will be catering certain meals during the weekend. It will be wonderfully worth your while to experience Beate’s dishes. Her cookbook “Taste the Little Karoo” won the 2015 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in the category “Best Local Cuisine book in South Africa.” She is also well known for having been a contestant in the second series of Kokkedoor on kykNET

Pre-book your meals along with your tickets or buy from one of the local vendors in the market area. Meal ticket prices apply for all ages. Please note that the deli will not be open for normal business, so pre-booking is essential.

Meal ticket prices:
Spitbraai (Friday): R90
Champagne Breakfast (Saturday): R120
Farmhouse Breakfast (Sunday): R80
*All prices exclude booking fees.

Buy tickets here.


Access to campsite on wine farm is included in the weekend pass this year. If you don’t fancy camping then check out the website’s accommodation page for some local hotels, Guesthouses and B&Bs we recommend.

Facebook: /Unplugged62Event/
Twitter: @Unplugged62Fest
Instagram:  @unplugged62fest


WIN two weekend passes for Unplugged62, as well as two bottles of Joubert Tradauw wine (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) and a signed cookbook by Beate Joubert (“Taste the Karoo”).

How to enter: Leave a comment below and name one of the live music acts performing on the weekend. The winner will be randomly drawn from all correct entries (competition also on Facebook) and will be announced on 26 August 2016. Good luck!

Note: Winner must attend festival to collect wines and cookbook.

Beate Joubert's book cover.

Beate Joubert’s book cover.

(All info and images supplied by LK MediaBook.)

(Review) The Ooh! Box

24 Jun

Hundreds of South Africans receive The Ooh! Box at their doorstep every month. Each box is filled with boutique wines and must-have, gourmet goodies. More specifically, each box contains 4 high-end wines (2 red and 2 white), a hot drink (a gourmet coffee or tea), a condiment, a gourmet treat, and a sweet treat. This box can be bought as a once-off option – R759. Or one can sign up for a subscription, starting at R554 per month. So basically, the Ooh! team travel the country sourcing the best South Africa has to offer in terms of wine and artisan, gourmet items. And their members get to experience a new batch of hard-to-find deliciousness every month, without even leaving their sofa.

They’ve just launched The Little Ooh! Box (2 wines and all the gourmet foodie goodies for R450) and The Gourmet Ooh! Box (just the gourmet foodie goodies for R350), which are already proving to be popular options.

Get R50 off The Ooh! Box by providing this discount code to enter at checkout for R50 off ANY Ooh! Box: The code is JOINTODAY50.

Review: Philips Saeco Poemia Manual Espresso Machine

30 May

I had the opportunity to test the Philips Saeco Poemia Manual Espresso machine over the past few weeks. I’m a dedicated coffee lover by nature, so the idea of making my very own espressos, Americanos and cappuccinos at home was just thrilling.

The machine is compact and easy to use. With its sleek black face it slotted nicely into my food prop cupboard. I love design elements that are slightly more masculine.

You can make an espresso in one minute from scratch. The crema that the machine produces is really superior to anything that you can create with a plunger or filter machine and the closest that I’ve been able to get to a professional barista-made coffee.  I struggled a little to make two similar coffees at once as the machine filled up the one cup faster than the other – seems like this is quite a common thing when I discussed it with other coffee machine owners. It wasn’t a big problem, as my husband and I prefer our coffees differently anyway, so we made our separate ones as a rule.

I now want one of these for my home and can really recommend it to anyone who is serious about making and drinking good coffee. We tested it with three different brands of ground coffee and the taste differences were pronounced and easy to identify. Our favourite coffee brand tasted even more delicious with the Seaco machine.

The Philips Saeco Poemia Manual Espresso machine is available from Pick ‘n Pay Hypermarkets, Yuppiechef, Takealot, Hirsh and other selected independent outlets at a recommended retail price of R2,499.

Farm to Table Festival at Boschendal, 23 & 24 April

21 Apr

Boschendal bannerA week ago I had the privilege of joining a handful of guests at Boschendal Farm for an intimate farm-to-table showcase. This historical farm dating from 1685, situated between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek on the Helshoogte Road, has been transformed over the past 3 years by new owners Sam and Rob Lundie into an agricultural farm that produces natural food in a way that respects the environment and helps the community to prosper.

The vineyards and fruit trees at Boschendal have been joined by lush vegetable gardens, a growing herd of free range, 100% pasture fed Angus cattle, a pasture raised chicken coup, picnics, two restaurants, a farm shop and deli showcasing all of the produce from the grounds, luxury guest accommodation, walking/cycling trails, child-friendly activities and much more.

Accomplished chef Christiaan Campbell has been part of the Boschendal journey for the past 18 months. His approach to food, with the availability of all the natural produce on the farm, has been to keep it simple and let Mother Nature do the talking. This respectful way of cooking helps guests to really taste the surrounding earth, soil and sun.

I was absolutely blown away by the professionalism, humble approach and honesty of the experience at Boschendal. A couple of hours was not enough to experience all there is to see and I’ll certainly be back to do a walking trail with my family, try my hand at fly-fishing, try the picnics and do a full wine tasting.

This weekend, Boschendal is hosting a comprehensive farm-to-table festival where you will be able to meet the team, learn from the farmers, join workshops hosted by some of the top professionals in the sustainable food industry, experience guided tastings and enjoy the best that this iconic farm has to offer. Booking is essential as space is limited. This event is a MUST on the calendar for serious food and wine lovers and explorers of the finest and most natural farms in the Western Cape.

In a nutshell: if you have not been to Boschendal lately, go there as soon as you can!

Here are some pictures from my last visit at Boschendal:

Stuffed tomatoes to enjoy with a glass of MCC.

Stuffed tomatoes to enjoy with a glass of MCC.

Chef Christiaan Campbell, nice enough to pose for a selfie with me.

Chef Christiaan Campbell, nice enough to pose for a selfie with me.

The garden team, responsible for a magnificent variety of produce.

The garden team, responsible for a magnificent variety of produce.

A shaded part of the vegetable garden.

A shaded part of the vegetable garden.

Taking a stroll through the lush gardens.

Taking a stroll through the lush gardens.

The beautifully restored manor house at Boschendal.

The beautifully restored manor house at Boschendal.

Inside Die Werf Restaurant. Beautiful Spanish decor.

Inside Die Werf Restaurant. Beautiful Spanish decor.

Chef Christiaan Campbell showing us how to make their farm to table menu.

Chef Christiaan Campbell showing us how to make their farm to table menu.

The starter straight from the garden, also with inhouse made nut cheese. Delicious.

The starter straight from the garden, also with in-house made nut cheese. Delicious.

A blurry feast with the most delicious wines, massive roasts from the beef herd and vegetables from the garden.

A blurry feast with the most delicious wines, massive roasts from the beef herd and vegetables from the garden.

Meringue egg shell, mango sorbet, granadilla curd, toasted hazelnut crumbs. Delightful.

Meringue egg-shell, mango sorbet, granadilla curd, toasted hazelnut crumbs. Delightful.

Thank you to the Boschendal team and Atmosphere Communications for the experience.

Jerusalem hummus

7 Jan

Creamy hummus with olive oil, pine nuts, parsley & crushed olives (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Creamy hummus with olive oil, pine nuts, parsley & crushed olives (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I’ve made many, many batches of hummus in my life. I’ve searched for the best authentic recipes, but I’ve also devised shortcuts for quick fixes.

This recipe is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book “Jerusalem” as featured on the New York Times. It is one of the best recipes for hummus that I’ve ever come across, and the way he serves it (with crushed olives, toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley and olive oil) is absolutely exquisite. When you have a bowl of hummus like this in front of you with fresh bread, it becomes a full meal, a celebration of “the simple feast”.

I don’t add as much tahini (Yotam uses 1 cup of tahini for a batch of 250g dried chickpeas), but I firmly believe that adding water and lots of lemon juice to get the right texture works a lot better than adding olive oil.  Also, I process the hummus for at least 5 minutes in my processor to create a super creamy result – you shouldn’t have any gritty pieces left at all. Scrape down the sides a couple of times and continue to process. Check for a change in colour from medium sand-beige to light straw.

Note: The chickpeas need to soak overnight, so remember to start preparing a day in advance.

Ingredients: (makes about 3 cups)

  • 250 g (1 ¼ cups) dried chickpeas
  • 5 ml baking soda
  • 750 ml (3 cups) water, for soaking
  • 1,5 liters (6 cups) water, for cooking
  • 5 ml baking soda
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) tahini paste
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • salt to taste
  • 100 ml ice-cold water
  • olive oil, toasted pine nuts, parsley & olives, for serving


  1. Put chickpeas & 5 ml baking soda in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak overnight (or for at least 6 hours).
  2. The next day, drain chickpeas and place in a medium pot with 1,5 liters of fresh cold water and 5 ml baking soda over high heat. Bring to a simmer, skimming off any foam & skins that float to the surface and cook for about 45 min or until they are very soft but not falling apart.
  3. Drain chickpeas and allow to cool for 15 minutes, then place in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Add tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Slowly drizzle in ice water and allow it to mix for about 3-5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste, almost as loose as soft serve ice cream. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Transfer hummus to a bowl, cover and let it rest for 30 minutes before serving. Serve at room temperature, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley and crushed olives (and fresh bread to dip). Store in the fridge, covered.


Recipe adaptation, food preparation, food styling & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography, food styling & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.


Bistro 13’s Summer Menu Preview

30 Nov

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the first birthday celebration of Bistro 13 just outside Stellenbosch, owned by chef Nick van Wyk and cricketer Faf du Plessis. Nick and multitasking PR/marketing/front-of-house powerhouse Roxy Laker received us in style with bubbly and gave us a preview of their upcoming summer menu.

Nic was recently seen on tv as judge and mentor in Kyknet’s Kokkedoor, a popular Afrikaans reality cooking show. His love of robus flavours from France and North Africa is combined with a love of nostalgic South African favourites.

Here’s Bistro 13’s summer menu preview in pictures, as I ate my way through it:

Roxy Laker & Nic van Wyk – the dynamic team from Bistro 13.

The Bistro 13 summer menu preview with wine pairings.

Crumbed goats cheese, summer salsa, olive oil and honey vinaigrette

Bistro 13 Bread board, before we start. How I love a good bread board!

Smoked paprika dusted calamari, vinaigrette baby potatoes, avocade, pickled cucumber, rouille. The pickled cucumber was one of the favourites for the day.

Monkfish, green herb crust, tomato sauce (black and red), crispy potatoes.

Crispy sweetbreads, carrot puree, brown caper butter. This is one of their signature dishes and you are going to LOVE it.

Braised lamb shoulder and rib, asparagus barley, thyme & garlic sauce, broad beans.

Three chocolate terrine with caramel sauce and praline. This is a 5 star stunning dessert and I’ll totally be back for more.

If you love discovering the best of local Stellenbosch cuisine in an unpretentious, bold, yet relaxing package, you will fall in love with Bistro 13 and the team that keeps this place buzzing. I look forward to spending many more lunch and dinner hours here.

Bistro 13 has new opening hours:

Breakfast: Sat & Sun 08h00-10h15

Lunch: Mon-Sun 12h00-15h00

Dinner: Mon-Sun 18h30-21h30

Starters range from R70-75, main courses from R120-R160 (sides charged extra) and desserts from R50-85. Tasting menu options also available, and they are kid-friendly with a lush lawn outside.

Contact them on or 021-8813044.

Easy food & wine pairings with Nederburg’s 56HUNDRED

9 Feb


With the beginning of each new year, many of us are trying to find inspiration and clever ideas to make the most of our toned-down budgets after a decadent holiday season. The creative team behind Nederburg’s 56HUNDRED range asked me to come up with three food pairing suggestions for three of their wines – tasty, simple dishes that won’t break the bank and that will put a smile on your face (and maybe even a pat on the back from your dinner guests).

To start with, I tried the Nederburg 56HUNDRED Chenin Blanc – a lightly coloured yellow-green wine with guava, peach and apricot aromas. My food pairing suggestion would be this simple recipe for spicy pan-fried chicken livers on creamy polenta. It’s quick to make, delivers huge on flavour, and will especially be popular as a weekend brunch with friends (after a late night out). You can also substitute the polenta with regular “braai pap” for a delightful dinner around the fire.

Spicy pan-fired chicken livers on creamy polenta (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Spicy pan-fired chicken livers on creamy polenta (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

The second wine is a Nederburg 56HUNDRED Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – a vibrantly green wine with grass and passionfruit aromas. With this wine I would suggest a seafood dish like my beer-battered hake with homemade mayonnaise. Fresh hake is easy to find in most supermarkets, and the fishmonger should even be able to fillet the fish on the spot to make your life easier. The rich beer batter gives the fish a crispy golden outer layer that is just irresistible dipped in thick homemade mayonnaise. Such a perfect mid-week dish, so ditch the take-aways and opt for this classy version.

Golden beer battered hake with home-made mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Golden beer battered hake with home-made mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

The third wine from Nederburg’s 56HUNDRED range is their Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – a ruby red wine with rounded flavours of ripe berries, chocolate and oak. My pairing suggestion would be these Italian-style meatballs with fresh herbs and rosa tomato sauce, best served with freshly cooked spaghetti. It is robust and rustic, yet so simple to make. You can also use some of the Cabernet Sauvignon in the sauce, which makes it an even better choice as a pairing partner. Top with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and you’ll be in Mediterranean heaven.

Meatballs with herbs baked in a rosa tomato sauce

Meatballs with herbs baked in a rosa tomato sauce

Sometimes we need to be reminded of how satisfying the simpler things in life can be, like a beautiful home-cooked meal using great quality fresh ingredients, served with a glass of great wine. Bon appetit!