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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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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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Review: The Bertazzoni La Germania Americana 90cm gas/electric stove

18 Jan

Last year I was scrolling through Instagram one morning and came across a range of Italian stoves imported by Chef’s Pride. Although I’ve never heard of this company before, I couldn’t help but notice how incredibly beautiful their range of freestanding stoves were. They were so beautiful that the thought of them kept me up that night, to be honest.

I decided to contact Chef’s Pride suggesting a collaborative campaign where I would receive my very own Bertazzoni La Germania Americana 90cm gas/electric freestanding stove to try out, cook with and review in exchange for creating original content for them over a period of time. As with all of my collaborations/endorsements/reviews, I only publish reviews if the end verdict is positive (negative reviews never get published, I rather send a list of constructive criticism to the client). Well friends, I’ve been cooking on my Bertazzoni since December and this stove is rocking my world.

Firstly, let’s get the specs on the table:

  • Model: Bertazzoni La Germania Americana, burgundy, dual fuel (gas/electric), 90 cm
  • 5 gas burners (one 0.48-5.00 kW dual ring lateral wok)
  • 11 multi-function settings (on electric oven models)
  • dual oven fan for even heat distribution
  • oven dimensions 400 x 760 x 470 mm / 142 liter
  • thermometer on facia displays oven temperature
  • single hand electronic automatic ignition
  • safety termocouple/valves (flame failure device) on each burner
  • seamless single piece stainless steel squared worktop
  • cast iron pan supports
  • large soft/cool touch control knobs
  • triple glass drop down oven door with soft close hinges
  • utility drawer and oven cooling fan system
  • Retail price: R22 685
  • Available online from www.chefspride.co.za and www.yuppiechef.co.za 

This is a large, sturdy, solid stove. It doesn’t rattle and it doesn’t wobble. The legs can adjust in height, so I’m happy to have it at its maximum height which is around 90 cm. The door handle is very solid and the door closes softly. The oven is wide enough on the inside to accommodate my largest baking trays, sometimes even two standard trays next to each other. Because of the even heat distribution, I can bake four trays of cookies, two trays next to each other on two different shelves, without seeing much of a difference in cooking colour on the four trays. I have also slow roasted 23 kg of pork shoulders at once in this oven overnight in four different roasting trays – it was a tight fit but it worked! Incredible.

The oven preheats to any temperature in about 10 minutes, according to the built in thermometer. This is a great way of checking actual temperatures, and I’ve found that I can slightly turn down the oven temperature on fan mode because it heats to roughly 20 degrees C more than the regular element. Which is exactly what it should be doing.

There is a large storage compartment at the bottom, which is perfect for storing unused trays and racks out of sight.

The gas top works seamlessly with single handed electronic ignition and I have not noticed any throttling on the gas outlets – just smooth blue flames. The smallest gas plate is very small and I love this, because I regularly cook with small saucepans and many other gas tops don’t cater for really small pots (the flames usually leak around the sides and causes the sauce to burn there). The large centre dual-ring plate evenly heats my biggest pots easily (I sometimes need to cook with a 20 liter pot) and is powerful enough to keep a very large pot boiling.

Cleaning is made easy with very few seams on the inside (almost none) and no seams on the top stainless steel panel. The door can be removed for intensive cleaning, as well as the inside glass panel (I won’t be doing that very soon, though).

This stove is pure pleasure to cook with and I highly recommend it for serious home cooks, but also for anyone seeking classic Italian styling and flair in their kitchen. Find this burgundy Bertazzoni La Germania Americana also in cream, black and stainless steel online via www.chefspride.co.za or www.yuppiechef.co.za.

The beautiful Bertazzoni La Germania logo shield on the front of the oven.

 

The centre dual ring gas plate (one of 5 in total, including 1 small, 2 medium, 1 large and 1 wok).

 

Solid gas plate knobs, cool and soft to the touch, with electric single hand ignition.

 

The iconic thermometer on the Bertazzoni La Germania Americana.

 

The massive 142 liter capacity oven with two oven racks and 4 oven rack slide-in settings.

 

Twin fan for quick and even heat distribution.

 

The oven function knob and sturdy stainless steel oven door handle which closes softly.

 

Contact Chef’s Pride for more information about this oven and others in the range:

Physical address: 10 Bell Crescent, Hennopspark, Pretoria

Web: www.chefspride.co.za

Tel: 012-653 3132

Email: info@chefspride.co.za

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Revamped small plates menu at Majeka House

17 Jan

The table at the entrance to Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House.

 

Yesterday, I attended a media lunch preview of the revamped popular small plates menu at Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House in Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch. This restaurant was named as one of the top 30 in SA by Eat Out Magazine in 2017 and remains a favourite dining spot for locals and international visitors alike.

One of the pigs in Majeka House’s iconic pig collection.

 

After a welcome drink at the plush M Lounge and a quick site tour of their luxurious premier (entry level) and poolside (premium) hotel rooms, we took our seats at the iconic golden tables in Makaron Restaurant to sample chef Lucas Carstens’ finest new offerings.

Here is my photographic journey through the dishes that I tasted yesterday, all of which are on the current small plates menu (available until around March 2018). Diners are encouraged to choose four to six small plates per person, with or without wine pairings (I highly recommend the wine pairings though, as recommended by their acclaimed sommelier Brenda Karamba). This way you can taste your way through more than one dish without the heaviness of huge portions, savouring many different flavours and textures, mostly influenced by traditional South African cuisine and produce, with refined yet unpretentious flair.

Compliments from the kitchen: ceasar taco, crispy chicken skin & truffle, beetroot & trout cracker.

Roosterkoek & bokkom butter, mosbolletjie en korrelkonfyt.

Poached oyster, peaches, pickled sea vegetables.

Eggplant tartare, artichoke, turnip.

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

Zucchini risotto, raw mushrooms, cured egg yolk shavings. This was my favourite dish of the day. It has been on the menu since chef Lucas started his journey with Makaron and it is still a firm favourite for many diners.

Leipoldt’s springbok rafeltjievleis, stewed fruit, apricots, onion.

Suckling pig, suurvytjie basting, sweet potato, nasturtium flower vinegar.

Banana tartare, roasted yeast caramel, sour dough ice cream, grated fudge.

Fermented blueberries, olives, olive oil.

Mini toffee apples.

Chef Lucas Carstens explains his revamped menu.

So what’s the verdict? The style, attention to detail and great service offered at Makaron Restaurant remains unrivaled. This is a restaurant/hotel situated in a residential area, competing with all the big wine estates (and their views) and still they remain one of the top players in an extremely competitive arena. Chef Lucas’s food is elegant, inventive and downright delicious – keeping a focus on simple ingredients being meticulously prepared. If you have not visited Makaron Restaurant before, do so this year.

Check out Majeka House’s January special stay-and-dine offerings, as well as their April specials for a decadent Autumn breakaway in the heart of the beautiful Winelands.

Makaron Restaurant is open for dinner only from Monday to Sunday, 18h30-21h00 (last orders).

Compile your menu from 4 to 6 small plates per person:
4 small plates R450–R770 with wine pairing
5 small plates R565–R940 with wine pairing
6 small plates R675–R1100 with wine pairing
Note: For groups of 5 and more the same amount of dishes must be selected.
Contact Majeka House:
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Lunch with Clemengold

28 Jun

The beautiful lunch table, ready for our Clemengold taste adventure.

 

Last week I had the pleasure of joining the Clemengold team for cocktails and lunch at Mantra Café in Bantry Bay. I’m already a fan of the fruit and their gin, so it was a great opportunity to meat the people who make all the magic happen. Look out for the iconic Clemengold sticker on all of their fruit – when you see that, you’ll know your fruit is virtually seedless, juicy, easy to peel, sweet and of the highest quality.

Clemengold is also a versatile fruit to cook with – from sweet baked treats and preserves to zesty sauces, marinades and salads. We were treated to lovely a lovely Clemengold menu by the chef of Mantra Café. I had to leave before dessert was served, but I’m sure their Clemengold cake was magnificent!

Clemengold fruit is available in Woolworths countrywide. Get a box full of sunshine today.

A refreshing Clemengold Gin cocktail on arrival. I absolutely love their gin!

Peeling and tasting the fresh Clemegold fruit.

Marius du Plessis (CEO), Charlene Nieuwoudt (Communications Manager), Piet Pretorius (Client Relations) and Cobus Joubert (ClemenGold Gin project manager) – the friendly Clemengold team each told us more about the fruit, where the hybrid comes from, where it is grown, where it gets exported to, the making of their gin, etc.

Cobus Joubert showcases his product: Clemengold Gin.

A starter of Norwegian salmon with a Clemengold dressing.

Clemengold five ways – showing the versatility of the fruit in cooking.

Something fresh and something distilled to take home. The most beautiful packaging!

Thank you to Charlene Nieuwoudt and the Clemengold team for your hospitality.

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(review) New small plates menu at Makaron Restaurant

17 May

Small plates at Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House, Stellenbosch. (Photograph supplied by Manley Communications)

MAKARON RESTAURANT is confirming its reputation as one of the most exciting dining destinations in the Winelands with an exciting new ‘small plates’ menu from Head Chef Lucas Carstens.

Situated in the stylish Majeka House & Spa in Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch, this luxury small hotel has recently earned yet another award, being named the Best Design Hotel in Africa & the Middle East at the international Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence 2017.

This winter, Chef Carstens is heating things up with an innovative menu of tapas-style dining where the idea of flexibility and social eating gets preference.

The small plates offering begins with an amuse bouche of leaves from the Majeka vegetable gardens, tossed in rooibos vinegar and served alongside korrelkonfyt, sourdough and butter. From there you can choose from 18 small plate dishes on the menu, varying from vegetarian to meaty to sweet and everything inbetween. Fermenting and curing play key roles in bringing out umami flavour, with the team making kombucha, malt vinegars, cured duck breast, pickled figs and ginger beer.

I had the privilege of experiencing a taste of the small plates menu earlier this week. Makaron remains one of my favourite restaurants in Stellenbosch. Their new small plates offering is highly recommended and their wine pairings were, as always, exquisite. Here is my experience in pictures:

Our media table at Makaron Restaurant, where I had the privilege of tasting many of the small plates on the new menu.

Chef Lucas Carstens tells us more about his new small plates menu.

Majeka garden leaves & rooibos (compliments of the kitchen).

Bread board with spiced butter dip (compliments of the kitchen).

“Mielie pap” croquette & Sheba (compliments of the kitchen).

Heirloom tomato, white balsamic, house ricotta, gazpacho granita.

House made duck breast ham, baby figs, cos lettuce.

Cured trout, beetroot-apple kraut, milk kefir dressing.

Charred cauliflower, cabbage, sweet corn, parmesan.

Beef tartare poke bowl, avocado, sesame bar – one of my favourite dishes of the day.

Kingklip, black garlic, eggplant, ash baked carrot, black rice.

Baby marrow risotto, cured egg shavings, raw mushroom, truffle.

Springbok rump, beetroot, cabbage.

Dark chocolate, almond milk ice cream, home brewed ginger beer.

Passion fruit, buchu meringue, coconut, spekboom.

“Melktert” ice cream sandwich.

Makaron Restaurant is open daily for dinner (closed on Wednesdays during winter between May and September), from 18h30 – 20h30. Diners can choose four/five/six courses from the ’small plates’ menu for R450/R565/R675 respectively. An optional wine pairing is also available, at a cost of R770/R940/R1100 for both food and wine.

Take advantage of the special winter promotion available at Majeka House & Spa where you will pay only R1420 per person sharing a night inclusive of breakfast and dinner at Makaron, available from Sunday to Thursday, May to end of August 2017. 

Majeka House & Spa and Makaron Restaurant are situated at 26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch. For bookings call 021 880 1549 or email reservations@majekahouse.co.za. For more information visit www.majekahouse.co.za

Thank you to Makaron Restaurant and Manley Communications for hosting me.

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(review) Chef’s Table at The Twelve Apostles

20 Apr

The view to the right from the Leopard Bar at The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.

Two weeks ago I have the pleasure of attending the first degustation dinner at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa – a new and exclusive “secret menu” chef’s table experience that will be available once a month for a limited number of people all sharing a long table adjacent to the Azure restaurant kitchen.

Chef Christo Pretorius ready for action.

Chef Christo Pretorius and head sommelier Gregory Mutambe welcomed us at 18h30 in their restaurant, against an awe inspiring backdrop of ocean, mountains and sunset. The award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is part of the family-run Red Carnation Hotel Collection and is situated on Cape Town’s most scenic Victoria Road in Camps Bay. Poised above the Atlantic Ocean, the 5-star boutique hotel is flanked by the majestic Table Mountain National Park, a World Heritage Site, and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. The hotel offers 70 guest rooms, with unique features that include a holistic spa, private cinema, and breathtaking views from the legendary Azure Restaurant and The Leopard Bar.

A quick pic with award winning sommelier Gregory Mutambe, before the start of our dinner.

The sunset view from the Leopard Bar at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.

For the chef’s table dinner, you can enjoy a surprise six course degustation menu designed by chef Christo Pretorius – a menu that will change with every occasion. Starting on the 5th of May 2017, the hotel will be hosting these dinners on the first Friday of every month.
The recommended wine pairings with each course, featuring an exclusive selection hand-picked by acclaimed sommelier Greg Mutambe, is one of the highlights of the experience. Chef Christo and Greg will be on hand to guide you through the menu and the wines, but a screen with some footage of the action in the kitchen is a welcome addition (their kitchen space do not allow the chef’s table to actually be inside the kitchen).

Azure Restaurant reception area.

The interior of Azure Restaurant at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa (picture supplied by The Twelve Apostles)

Take a look at my experience at The Twelve Apostles’s first degustation dinner in photographs. I shared the table with a few other digital media guests and their partners, as well as the GM Michael Nel and PR host Joanne Hayes from Tumbleweed Communications. I can honestly say that this dinner was one of the most welcoming, enjoyable, relaxing, luxurious experiences of my life. The unsurpassed views, the incredibly professional and friendly staff, the thoughtful interior, the absolute attention to detail, the magnificent selection of wines expertly paired with the food, the faultless service and of course the selection of scrumptious and inventive dishes from the kitchen – it was a unique all-round experience of the highest quality, one that I would certainly remember for a lifetime.

Amuse-bouche: 60 °c Saldanha Bay Oyster – oyster mayo | miso caramel | compressed cucumber ǀ passionfruit | wild rice puffs

First course: Chicken and Ham Terrine – pickled shitake mushrooms ǀ tarragon mayo ǀ honey mustard emulsion ǀ baby micro salad ǀ compressed granny smith ǀ cured egg yolk

Second course: Roast Cauliflower – cauliflower crème ǀ pickled sultanas ǀ Malay spice dressing ǀ onion dhaltjies ǀ aged parmesan

Third course: Citrus Cured Salmon – molasses curd ǀ hazelnuts ǀ pickled beetroot ǀ stem ginger ǀ fennel fronds

Fourth course: Loin of Venison – venison osso buco ǀ parmesan gnocchi ǀ roast butternut puree ǀ squash custard ǀ confit baby leeks ǀ seed crumble ǀ maple and coffee jus

Fifth course: Boerenkaas Biscuit – pickled plum ǀ plum gel ǀ watercress ǀ toasted macadamia mousse

Sixth course: Valrhona Manjari – crémeux ǀ macerated berries ǀ gingerbread ǀ vanilla meringue ǀ dulcey crème

Mignardises, served with coffee and tea.

This degustation dinner experience is limited to 6-12 guests per event and comes with a price tag of R2150/person for six courses (includes wine, water and gratuity). With 10 days notice, they can do this Chef’s Table on any date (other than advertised) for private bookings. The experience is certainly not for the budget conscious, but fits perfectly in line with The Twelve Apostles’s high end / luxury offerings. Do browse their website for other services, including spa packages, romantic getaways and even an option where kids stay free. And did you know they were pet friendly?

Contact The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa for your reservation:

Telephone: +27 21 4379000
Email: reservations1@12apostles.co.za
Address: Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
GPS Coordinates: 33º58’59.37” S ,  18º21’31.43” E

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Review: Lunch at FABER

1 Mar

The magnificent mountain and garden view from the front porch at FABER, Avondale.

I was recently invited to visit FABER – a new restaurant at Avondale Farm in the Paarl wine district. Avondale is a 300 year old, family-run farm that is situated on Lustigan Road, Klein Drakenstein, on the slopes of the Klein Drakenstein Mountains.

FABER marks the meeting of minds and passions between a chef and a winemaker, paying tribute to the craftsmanship in both the kitchen and the Avondale cellar. With a shared commitment to sustainability, it’s no surprise that acclaimed chef Eric Bulpitt and Avondale proprietor Johnathan Grieve decided to collaborate.

Proprietor Johnathan Grieve and chef Eric Bulpitt welcoming the crowd.

“I’ve always believed that we as chefs are craftsmen,” says Bulpitt, explaining the meaning behind FABER, the Latin word for artisan, or craftsman. “We work with our hands, using produce from the land. It’s the perfect way to capture who we are and what we do.”

“It’s always been a goal of ours to open a restaurant on Avondale. We’ve looked at it for over 10 years, but never really found the right chef,” explains Grieve. “I’m a firm believer that when the energies are correct the partnership will happen, but up until now that hasn’t happened. When we met Eric we knew we’d found the perfect partner.”

“We have very similar belief systems in our respect for nature and a natural approach,” adds Bulpitt. “We’ll be working hand in hand together in telling the story of Avondale through the food at FABER. Whatever’s in season on the day (from the fields or the vegetable garden), we’ll bring that onto the plate and tell the story of where it comes from. It’s a dish that sums up exactly what FABER stands for.”

Chef Eric Bulpitt and team getting ready to plate our pastrami course.

Our lunch menu. I love FABER’s logo.

Avondale’s organic and biodynamic food garden has already been extended to produce fresh vegetables and herbs for the restaurant, while stone fruits and citrus from the farm’s orchards arrive with the changing seasons. Eggs are harvested daily from the eco-friendly egg-mobile housing Avondale’s free range chickens, and in time the farm will provide a steady march of broiler chickens and pasture-reared organic beef to the kitchen.

The restaurant interior at FABER.

The décor inside the renovated dining space is a blend of country-style comfort and relaxed elegance. Interior designer Annie Dower helped to infuse the Old Cape-style space with a bright modern country edge. Crockery was handcrafted at the Potters Gallery in Kleinmond, while crystal stemware from Schott Zwiesel showcases the terroir-driven wines from Avondale. Artworks by local painter Scats Esterhuyse are seen on the walls along with delicate botanical prints, echoing the landscape seen from the terrace. Keeping in line with their sustainability theme, the table tops, bar counters and wooden planter boxes are all crafted from stone pines on the estate that were felled when a fire swept Avondale a decade ago.

One of the planter boxes at FABER.

FABER is a new gem on the culinary Winelands landscape. With exceptional views, wines and food, they are sure to become a hot favourite. Here are some of the dishes that I tried at my visit:

Amuse bouche.

Black Angus pastrami, mustard, mustard chantilly and fried celery leaf, to be topped off with a celeriac veloute (which was poured over directly after I took this picture.)

Avondale happy chicken, garlic maize rice, crispy cauliflower, radish and mustard flowers.

Lemon verbena infused watermelon carpaccio, watermelon and basil sorbet, consommé and jellies. The sorbet was one of the best things that I had tasted on the menu – just brilliant.

A box of truffles and coffee for the road.

  • 5-course lunch menu: R535
  • 5 course dinner menu with Avondale wine pairings: R825
  • (Note: Prices subject to change, please check website for more info.)

The restaurant is open for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday from 12h00 – 15h00 and for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday from 18H30 – 21h00. Reservations recommended. For bookings and more information phone 021-202 1219 or email faber@avondalewine.co.za. Visit FABER on Facebook and follow faber_sa on Instagram.

Thank you to Manley Communications and Avondale for the opportunity to visit FABER.

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Feature: A timeless watch from Daniel Wellington

3 Jun

My brand new DW watch, fastened onto my wrist with an Italian calf leather strap.

My brand new DW watch, fastened onto my wrist with an Italian calf leather strap.

The last time I bought a watch was in 1995 – 21 years ago. It seems fair that I need an upgrade. The team from Daniel Wellington sent me this beautiful Classic Sheffield watch yesterday and I feel like royalty wearing it. It is timeless (a little ironic for a time telling instrument, I know) and so elegantly minimalistic with a round white face, beautiful rose gold trimmings and a black Italian calf leather strap to match my daily black leather jacket “uniform”.

So it’s only apt to consider time at this point in my life, without being too sentimental. Apart from running a tight ship with my daily schedule from hour to hour, especially when I’m prepping for shoots and dinners, I’ve made an effort to make more time for myself and for the people around me since the beginning of the year. A month ago, I’ve started to make time for reading at night before I go to bed – a few minutes of silent page-turning me-time each day – no smart phones or laptops in sight. I read The Alchemist again, reminding me that life can take you on many different roads and that you should always trust your instincts.

It was also time for me to simplify my life – we moved into a smaller space in the heart of town a few weeks ago and got rid of all the things that gathered dust in our garage. Because of our new location, I now had more time in the morning to spend with my family. I traded rushed mornings and sticky traffic for slower breakfasts and swift commutes.

It is already the beginning of June and soon we’ll reach the shortest day of the year. Winter is upon us and I cannot wait to embrace the dark and dreary comfort of a my old friend: the cold and wet winter in Stellenbosch. If I’m lucky, I’ll still be around in November to celebrate my crazy 39 years on planet earth before hitting the big four-oh in 2017.

2017? Really? Where has the time gone? Nowhere. We’re in it. We’re here. We’re doing this.

They say the only two luxuries in life are time and silence. As I’m writing, I realize I have both in this moment. Smiling. Thankful.

Note: The friendly people from Daniel Wellington are offering you a fabulous 15% discount on your next purchase. Go to www.danielwellington.com and use this code: thefoodfoxDW

Al fresco with Daniel Wellington. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

Al fresco with Daniel Wellington. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

Dining with Daniel Wellington. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

Dining with Daniel Wellington. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

Wearing your DW with style. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

Wearing your DW with style. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

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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.

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