Tag Archives: Manley Communications

Dinner at Makaron Restaurant with new chef Lucas Carstens

5 Mar

Chef Lucas Carstens with consultant Pete Goffe-Wood and sommelier EsméGroenewald

Chef Lucas Carstens with consultant Pete Goffe-Wood and sommelier EsméGroenewald (picture supplied by Majeka House)

After a magnificent era with head chef Tanja Kruger at Majeka House‘s Makaron Restaurant, chef Lucas Carstens took over the reigns in November 2015. Under the guidance of Pete Goffe-Wood as their consultant, the Makaron team is now presenting a lunch and dinner menu that is more focused on ‘special’ rather than ‘special occasion’ dining.

“We’re into food that’s more about ‘origin’ rather than ‘process’. If you take a beautiful braised shoulder of lamb as an example, it definitely won’t be manipulated in seven different ways. The aim is not to dazzle or intimidate diners,” says Pete, “but to create a relaxed, inviting environment in which to enjoy a delicious plate of food that relies on excellent sourcing.”

I was invited by the Makaron team to experience their new offering earlier in February this year as a three course dinner with wine pairings. As all of my previous experiences at Makaron were superb, I was interested to see what the new team had up their sleeves.

Majeka House & Spa is situated in Paradyskloof, a quiet leafy suburb in Stellenbosch. Tranquil surrounds have always been a great backdrop for luxurious hospitality experiences, and if you take a look at the nearby majestic mountains and adjacent vineyards you’ll know that you’re in the centre of the glorious Winelands.

We kicked off the evening with cocktails next to the pool, then moved into the dining area where we were seated outside on the terrace. It was a perfect evening in Stellenbosch. We scanned the menu and asked for recommendations from our very well-informed waiter. Here is our dinner in pictures, each accompanied by sommelier Esmé Groenewald’s suggested wine pairings.

Cocktails next to the pool at Majeka House & Spa.

Cocktails next to the pool at Majeka House & Spa.

The brand new menu at Macaron Restaurant.

The brand new dinner menu at Makaron Restaurant.

Bread board at Macaron.

Bread board at Makaron.

Amuse bouche from chef Lucas Carstens.

Amuse bouche from chef Lucas Carstens.

Trout ceviche, melon, sea lettuce - served with Thelema Verdelho 2015

Trout ceviche, melon, sea lettuce – served with Thelema Verdelho 2015.

Steak tartare, onions, horseradish - served with Sutherland Pinot Noir 2014

Steak tartare, onions, horseradish – served with Sutherland Pinot Noir 2014.

Macaron8

Springbok, butternut ravioli, spiced jus – served with Longridge Pinotage 2013.

Macaron9

Pork belly, celeriac, apple – served with Super Single Vinyards “Pella” Malbec 2013.

Macaron10

Caramel bar – served with Blaauwklippen Noble Late Harvest Viognier 2012.

Schalk had the Sesame Panna Cotta for dessert, but the light did not allow me to take a deserving photograph.

It would be my absolute recommendation that you take the wine pairing option with your choice of dishes as it elevates the dining experience to new heights. I especially loved the Blaauwklippen Noble Late, the Pella Malbec and the Longridge Pinotage pairings – superb suggestions.

My favourite from this dinner was the Springbok main course – meltingly soft meat, beautifully presented, perfectly seasoned. The Sesame Panna Cotta with nectarines and miso was also a total hit, served with Signal Hill Straw Wine 2011.

Makaron Restaurant continues to deliver invigorating and stylish food with their new menu and new team, although it is uncomplicated and truly accessible. I specifically enjoy their attention to detail when it comes to service – friendly, informed, attentive, knowledgeable staff. They are comfortably situated on the outskirts of town, close enough to make your journey just a handful of minutes from the centre of Stellenbosch.

Majeka House & Spa: 26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch.

Lunch: 11:00 – 21:30

Dinner: 18:30 – 20:30

For bookings call +27 21 880 1549 or e-mail reservations@majekahouse.co.za.

For more information, visit www.majekahouse.co.za

For press assistance contact Ian or Lise Manley of Manley Communications on 0861 MANLEY (626 539), email to premierbrands@publicity.co.za or visit the Press Room of Manley Communications at www.manleycommunications.co.za.

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.

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

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: Picnic at Uitkyk

14 Feb

The picnic spread available at Uitkyk, in front of their historic manor house (photograph courtesy of Uitkyk)

Last week, I was invited to Uitkyk Wine Estate on the R304 outside Stellenbosch for a Georgian picnic. I confirmed the date for Thursday morning the 6th of February and took my husband along for the experience.

The picnics at Uitkyk cost R350 per basket and is perfect for two people to share. It includes a bottle of Uitkyk wine (you have a choice of about 5 wines and we chose the wooded Chenin Blanc) and mineral water, as well as a wide selection of charcuterie, cheeses, pâté, olives, fruit, smoked salmon with giant capers, dips, artisanal bread and decadent chocolate brownies. The picnic is beautifully presented in a classic picnic basket with an extra table cloth (if you’d like to make use of the tables) and a picnic blanket for the lawn.

The atmosphere at Uitkyk is absolutely serene. Their expansive lush lawn stretches out in front of the historical and beautifully restored manor house. This 18th century Georgian neo-classical double-story building was completed in 1788, and is one of only three such houses left in the country.

With many more wine farms presenting visitors with a picnic option these days, Uitkyk certainly impresses with the tranquillity of their estate, the natural beauty of their lawns and ancient trees, and the value for money that you receive on booking this picnic. Not only is this a fantastic option for a romantic or lazy lunch, but you can also play a game of boules or croquet – completely free of charge. The full experience has an air of timeless beauty and relaxation, and it is a great way of discovering the magic of Stellenbosch’s wine country.

Picnic bookings must be made 24 hours in advance. Call 021-884 4416 or email info@uitkyk.co.za for more information. Upgrades are possible to include Uitkyk’s MCC Glass Memoires and other exclusive wines from their collection. Uitkyk is a child-friendly venue.

Uitkyk is situated on the R304 between Stellenbosch and Paarl. Thank you very much to Uitkyk and Manley Communications for this delightful experience.

Review: Vegetarian tasting menu at Haute Cabrière

10 Jan

Haute Cabriere restaurant interior (photography by Charles Russell)

Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Haute Cabrière’s new vegetarian tasting menu on the 4th of December in Franschhoek. This 6-course food and wine experience is Pinot Noir inspired, and a product of chef Ryan Shell’s new vegetable garden at Haute Cabrière.

Chef Ryan Shell (photography by Charles Russell)

As Ryan put it: “In the kitchen, we talk about root to flower eating. Vegetables are such an exciting way of showcasing what’s in season”. With this in mind, we set off to a culinary wonderland adventure, each course surprising us with beautiful textures, intense umami flavours, intricate techniques and a sense of true fun with ingredients. Below is the full menu:

The vegetarian tasting menu at Haute Cabrière:
(This 6-course Vegetarian tasting menu is available for dinner at R595 including wine pairing.)

Chilled tomato consommé, textures and tastes of tomato, burnt mozzarella.

Haute Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir

***

Asparagus and truffle custard, organic asparagus tips and pumpkin seed crumble.

Pierre Jourdan Tranquille

***

Smoked ricotta ravioli, flavours of beetroot.

Haute Cabriere Unwooded Pinot Noir 2011

***

Celeriac soufflé, remoulade, honey and celeriac puree.

Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir 2009

***

Roasted porcini, mushroom tartare, gremolata emulsion.

Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir 2010

***

Peppe Charlot, fennel.

Pierre Jordan Ratafia

***

Trio of Valrhona chocolate.

Pierre Jordan Blanc de Blanc

Tomato Consommé and burnt mozzarella (photography by Jason van der Merwe)

Asparagus and truffle custard, organic asparagus tips and pumpkin seed crumble (photography by Jason van der Merwe)

Smoked ricotta ravioli, flavors of beetroot (photography by Charles Russell)

Celeriac soufflé, remoulade, honey and celeriac puree (photography by Jason van der Merwe)

Roasted porcini, mushroom tartare, gremolata emulsion (photography by Jason van der Merwe)

Peppe Charlot, fennel (photography by Jason van der Merwe)

Trio of Valrhona chocolate (photography by Jason van der Merwe)

This dining experience was one of my absolute highlights of 2013. Every course was truly magical, and the wine pairings were just spot-on. Considering that some of the best restaurants in the world are situated in Franschhoek, Haute Cabrière had a fierce reputation to live up to – one which they surpassed by miles.

This menu also puts a new spotlight on vegetarian cooking, and will surely satisfy even the most discerning meat lover with their fresh spin on meatless cooking and intelligent way of creating bold flavours. I felt a new respect for vegetarian fine dining in chef Ryan Shell’s capable hands, and cannot wait to experience more of it.

If you are a Pinot Noir lover, a food and wine pairing connoisseur, a fine dining lover or just someone looking for great quality vegetarian fare, the vegetarian tasting menu at Haute Cabrière is highly recommended.

Haute Cabrière’s Tasting Room and Restaurant are both situated on Franschhoek Pass (Lambrecht Street), Franschhoek. Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant is open for lunch from 12 noon to 3pm Tuesday to Sunday; and dinner from 7pm to 9pm Tuesday to Saturday. For reservations and enquiries: Email reservations@cabriere.co.za or call 021 876 8500.

For press assistance contact Ian and Lise Manley of Manley Communications on 0861 MANLEY (626 539), email to lise@publicity.co.za or visit the Press Room of Manley Communications at www.manleycommunications.co.za. All images supplied by Manley Communications.

Review: Dinner at Reubens, Abalone House, Paternoster

22 Nov

Paternoster, a beautiful town on the West Coast of South Africa.

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to spend the night at Abalone House & Spa in Paternoster on the 9th of November 2013. The invitation allowed me to bring my (lucky) husband along, to receive a treatment at their Healing Earth Spa and also to dine at the brand new inhouse Reuben’s Restaurant. We happily accepted the invitation and couldn’t wait to hit the road to the beautiful West Coast.

The swimmingpool in the courtyard at Abalone House.

Abalone House is a 5 star luxury boutique guesthouse situated in the very quaint town of Paternoster. It was only recently that they opened their new Reuben’s Restaurant and Healing Earth Spa, and we were some of the first guests to experience these luxurious and decadent treats. After booking in and settling into our beautiful room, we opted for a glass of bubbly in the jacuzzi on the upstairs deck. Then it was time for our afternoon tea, served in the downstairs lounge area.

Ocean view from the jacuzzi on the upper deck.

Personally, I just love a proper afternoon high tea. At Abalone House you are served a tray full of individually crafted treats – both sweet and savoury. Along with a cup of Earl Gray tea, it was the perfect introduction to an opulent evening.

Afternoon tea menu:

Butternut cheesecake, caramelized ginger

Apple tart, cinnamon, butterscotch

Eclairs, amarula cream

Scones, vanilla cream, strawberry jam

Blue cheese & caramelized onion, maketaan

Biltong pate, brioche

Smoked snoek springroll, apricot

Some of the sweet temptations at the afternoon tea.

A dramatic sunset: the view from Abalone House in Paternoster

That evening, we gathered for more fizzy drinks in the lounge as the sun set dramatically over the West Coast ocean. The surrounding buildings and scenery reminded me a lot of Greece and some of it’s smaller islands – a very tranquil, almost Mediterranean setting. After being seated inside the cozy new Reuben’s, we were welcomed by Lise Manley who then introduced us to chefs Reuben Riffel and Aviv Liebenberg – the spectacular culinary team that would cook for us that night. Reuben told us about his love for Paternoster, and how he would actually love to settle here. His passion for the West Coast and it’s produce was the inspiration behind this new restaurant’s menu, a menu that will keep on changing according to the season and the availability of local produce.

Chef Reuben Riffel (picture supplied by Manley Communications)

Chef Aviv Liebenberg (picture supplied by Manley Communications)

And then the feast began! Reuben’s in Paternoster is the 4th restaurant in the Reuben’s franchise (others are situated in Franschhoek, Cape Town and Robertsons). We were served 5 courses:

1. West coast fishcake Caesar salad, parmesan, quail egg, brioche

2. Asian style prawn cocktail, spicy mayo, wasabi, avo, sesame & ginger daikon

 3. Crayfish risotto, mussels, tarragon, basil & chilli

 4. Slow roasted sirloin, blue cheese and biltong croquettes, braised spinach, Japanese curry sauce

 5. Dark chocolate pave, ginger mousse, strawberry & mint granita

Grilled crayfish on mussel risotto with chilli and basil (picture supplied by Manley Communications)

Dark chocolate pavé, ginger mousse with strawberry and mint granita (picture supplied by Manley Communications)

This was one of the best meals I’ve had in 2013 – absolutely spectacular in every way. Reuben just showed us again why he is rated one of SA’s top chefs, and how his understanding for local ingredients is key to creating magic with great produce. I would love to experience more of this Paternoster flavour journey, hopefully we’ll be back very soon.

The salt room at the Healing Earth Spa where I received my spa treatment (picture supplied by Manley Communications)

The next morning I was treated to an hour pampering session at the tranquil Healing Earth Spa – what a fantastic way to start the day! Their unique Healing Earth products include the Earth Soul range, which uses indigenous ingredients such as Marula and Kalahari Melon, and the Pinotage Grape range – a vinotherapy range with powerful anti-oxidant qualities that is also thoroughly South African. A must-do experience when visiting Abalone House. Refreshed, we headed downstairs for a full breakfast, complete with bloody mary cocktails – a very welcome touch!

A special mention must be made about the incredibly friendly, professional staff – they really made our stay effortless and our dinner even more memorable. I think there’s something magical about real West Coast hospitality…

Thank you very much to the owners and staff of Abalone House for an unforgettable experience, as well as to the Manley Communications team for the invitation and for treating us like royalty.

Contact Abalone House for more information on 022-752 2044 or 087-820 5974. For accommodation rates, have a look at their e-brochure. Restaurant prices range from R55 – R165 per dish, and the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Tea is served between 15h00 and 16h00 daily.

Review: Lunch at Tokara

17 Oct

Tokara Restaurant, Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch.

I was invited to experience a preview of the brand new summer menu at Tokara Restaurant outside Stellenbosch on the 4th of October 2013. The menu will officially be launched in the beginning of November this year, but I was one of a lucky few that had the opportunity to chat to chef Richard Carstens about some of the new menu options and to experience 7 of these dishes first hand.

“Being situated on a working wine farm, I draw inspiration from the seasons, the alchemy of wine-making and how different flavours and intensities of taste and texture are overlayed. I create complexity from simplicity,” says Chef Richard – a man deeply influenced by Japanese cuisine. After being named Chef of the Year by the Eat Out Awards in 2005, he continued to wow guests at various restaurants in KZN, Gauteng, Franschhoek and Cape Town (also acting as consultant chef at a few establishments).

Chef Richard Carstens

Chef Richard’s precision with plating and his understanding of flavours – some very subtle, others bursting with umami – turns his food into a true culinary adventure for his diners. The Franco-Japanese interpretation of prawn, calamari, mussel and line fish was one of my lunch highlights, and will probably be part of a special degustation menu at Tokara this upcoming season. I cannot wait to return to Tokara this summer for a taste of the rest of the menu!

This is Tokara Restaurant’s new summer menu:

Starters 

Broccoli, parmesan fondue, yoghurt, marinated artichokes, pine nuts with a saffron mustard dressing

Asparagus, pea mousse, daikon, goat’s cheese, pumpkin seeds and oil with yuzu & buttermilk dressing

Beef tartare and cured beef, sushi rice, lemon, kimchee and black garlic with spiced lemon emulsion

Crisp line fish, turmeric rice, pineapple and coconut with a Cape Malay yoghurt sauce & apricot

Rice roasted rainbow trout, buck wheat noodles, cucumber, toasted nori and sesame with a roasted lemon cream

Mains

Pan-fried springbok, carrot ginger puree, croquettes, salted apricots, yoghurt sorbet with Japanese curry sauce

Line fish of the day

Duck, szechuan cucumber, sushi rice, pak choi with a lithci & Cantonese gastrique

Beef fillet, confir potato, asparagus, lemon glazed mushrooms with a green pepper corn sauce

Desserts

Lemonparfait, ice cream and sponge with meringue

Chocolate pave, ginger ice cream, hazelnut daquise and amaretto

Sumacice cream, candied carrot, confit orange and yoghurt

Fig leaf panna cotta with coriander ice cream and strawberries 

Selection of artisanal cheeses

Asparagus, pea mousse, daikon, goat’s cheese, pumpkin seeds and oil with yuzu & buttermilk dressing

Franco-Japanese interpretation of prawn, calamari, mussel and line fish

Beef fillet, confit potato, asparagus, lemon glazed mushrooms with a green peppercorn sauce

Lemon parfait, ice cream and sponge with meringue

Prices for starters average R85, mains vary between R100 and R155, and desserts average R65.

All pictures courtesy of Tokara Restaurant & Manley Communications.

Tokara Restaurant is situated at the top of the Helshoogte Pass, R310, Stellenbosch. For reservations call 021-885 2550; e-mail reservations@tokara.com or visit www.tokararestaurant.co.za.

Tokara Restaurant is open for lunch Tuesdays to Sundays and for dinner Tuesdays to Saturdays. Kindly note that Tokara restaurant is a non- smoking venue.

For further press assistance contact Manley Communications on 0861 MANLEY (626 539), email premierbrands@publicity.co.za or visit www.manleycommunications.co.za

Review: Gourmet Braai Festival at Hidden Valley

10 Sep

Hidden Valley Wine Estate against the majestic surrounding mountains (photo courtesy of Manley Communications, photography by Gideon Nel)

I was invited to attend the Hidden Valley Gourmet Braai & Wine Festival on Saturday the 31st of August. Knowing that Chef Bertus Basson would be in charge of the kitchen (and the fires), I couldn’t wait to see what he has prepared for us!

Chef Bertus Basson is one of SA’s culinary greats – famed for the phenominal success of Overture Restaurant at Hidden Valley where he is the chef and co-owner. Overture has been in the Top 10 of SA’s Eat Out Awards 5 times since it opened in 2007. Bertus has also been a judge in the recent tv show The Ultimate Braai Master, so the heat was on to show his true colours on the grid.

Bertus Basson braaing up a storm (picture courtesy of Manley Communications)

After being greeted at the door, I tasted the fabulous new Hidden Gem and Hidden Secret red wines, as well as a barrel selection that has not been bottled yet.

A fully booked Overture Restaurant at Hidden Valley – view from my seat.

We were seated at a long table alongside other food industry friends, and the waiters started to bring out platter after platter of amazing starters, snacks, salads, meats, sides and dessert. Here is the full menu: (R350/person)

TO START:

Roosterkoek with apricot and almond butter

Smoked Hidden Valley olives

Hidden Valley olive tapenade

Grilled squid with salsa verde, chilli, capers and fennel

Pickled fish with a coriander emulsion and a gem salad

MAIN:

Lamb wors with tomato and crisp waterblommetjie

Bourbon basted smoked pork loin with flour tortillas, sweet corn and avocado

Sugar cured jersey rump with bourguignonne sauce and crisp potato

slaw with dill and mustard cream

Maple roast sweet potato with pecan nuts

Ash roast beetroot with pumpkin and labneh

DESSERT:

Tannie Hetta’s apple pie with custard cinnamon ice cream

CHEESE & COFFEE:

Smoked camembert with walnut & ginger

I was amazed by Bertus’s ability to turn simple ingredients into an amazing feast. Dishes like the roast beetroot and the maple roast sweet potato were my absolute favourites, although the braaied meats were also really delicious. I also loved the pickled fish – it reminder me of the wonderful curried mussel cracker that my Dad used to make us on December holidays at Keurboomstrand, but Bertus’s coriander emulsion just took it up a few notches.

After this tremendous feast, I am inspired to make roosterkoek again – one of the joys of a real South African braai. This festival was a true celebration of South African braai culture, and I can surely recommend you to join in for the next events. Unfortunately, the tickets are currently sold out, but you can place your name on a waiting list for a possible extra date! Otherwise, there’s always next year…

Thank you Hidden Valley and Manley Communications for this huge treat.

Ready to be sent out to our tables: the beetroot salad (photo courtesy of Manley Communications)

The fabulous pickled fish, as served at our table.

A selection of braaied meat cuts, served platter style to each table (picture courtesy of Manley Communications)


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