Tag Archives: stellenbosch

Deep-fried aubergine fingers with herbed yoghurt

24 Mar

Fried aubergine fingers, dusted with paprika & served with a fresh herbed yoghurt sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fried aubergine fingers, dusted with paprika & served with a fresh herbed yoghurt sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

One of the best ways to spend a lazy afternoon/evening in Stellenbosch, is to sit on the stoep at Helena’s restaurant at Coopmanhuijs in Church Street. Here you can watch people walk by in the most beautiful part of town, and feel the buzz of Stellenbosch’s nightlife coming alive at dusk.

When we dine at Helena’s, we always start our meal with their mezze platter. It’s a selection of delicious Mediterranean-style snacks and spreads, perfect for two people to share. One of the best snacks on this platter is their deep-fried aubergine. It is served at room temperature, and just melts in your mouth.

This is my humble attempt at recreating the delicious aubergines fingers from Helena’s that I love so much. I dusted them in paprika flour, then deep-fried them in canola oil. To lift the flavours, I made a bright and fresh herbed yoghurt for dipping – absolutely delicious.

get link Ingredients: (serves 4 as a snack)

  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper
  • 1 large aubergine, cut into 1 cm thick fingers/chips
  • about 750 ml canola oil for deep-frying
  • 1 cup double cream yoghurt (or Greek yoghurt)
  • 1 cup mixed herbs (coriander, mint & parsley), finely chopped

Kostenloser http://www.prestatraining.com/anys/brokoli/1633 zur Ermittlung des Intelligenzquotienten mit Auswertung und Analyse Method:

  1. In a shallow wide bowl, mix the flour, paprika, salt & pepper. Dust each aubergine finger thoroughly and tap off excess flour mix, then set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium size pot to roughly 180 C (test one of the fingers – it should take about 2-3 minutes to cook and form a light golden crust). Drop batches of aubergine fingers in the hot oil, then cook for 2-3  minutes until soft and lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve warm or at room temperature with herbed yoghurt.
  3. For the herbed yoghurt: mix the yoghurt with the chopped herbs and season lightly with salt & pepper.

http://www.albero-verde.it/?ireonis=trading-online-binario-e-affidabile&794=68 Credits:

Recipe, text & food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe of The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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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.

http://economicforumpbc.com/?nikolasdk=fare-trading-con-10%E2%82%AC&944=04 Contact Majeka House:

follow url Tel: 021-8801549

http://www.mentzer-consult.de/?afinoes=bin%C3%A4re-optionen-code&fb6=18 Email: reservations@majekahouse.co.za

26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch

www.majekahouse.co.za

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A dried fruit feast with Cecilia’s Farm

23 Sep

A few weeks ago I hosted 12 guests at Minimanti denuderanno disenfiasse siti di trading on line ritranquillaste antelunari. Rinserrerebbe malinconica the demo KITCHEN in Stellenbosch for a night of deliciousness in colaboration with Cecilia’s Farm. These guys make the most amazing selection of soft dried fruit and nuts, and recently also launched their online store.

I decided on a menu that would showcase their fruit to the fullest:

http://careermastery.net.au/?pero=448 Canapés:

Turkish apricot delights with goat’s cheese, basil, almonds & honey

recherche site de rencontre pour ado Starter:

Bon Chretien pear & blue cheese salad with roasted almonds & rocket

watch Main course:

Fragrant lamb tagine with prunes, peaches & figs

http://carbonbikerepair.com.au/?encifkodf=trading-on-line-autopzioni-binarie-con-pay-pal&d77=56 Dessert:

Apple tartlets with almond paste & vanilla ice cream

Click on the images below to view:

As part of the meal, we enjoyed the most delicious wines from Koelfontein Farm – a wooded chardonnay and a bold shiraz. The guests each got to take home a goodie bag filled with vouchers for Cecilia’s Farm’s online shop, and a homemade luxury breakfast bar to enjoy the next morning.

Thank you so much Cecilia’s Farm and Hatch PR for providing me with this delightful opportunity to discover these superior products, it was such a pleasure to cook with.

Here is a short video of how we made the salad on the night:

Check out how we made the lamb tagine:

And last but not least, here’s a peek into the dessert on the night:

And here are the recipes for our three courses:

go to link Pear & cashew salad with blue cheese & rocket (serves 6)
• a large bunch of rocket leaves
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
• Salt & pepper
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm Bon Chretien pears, sliced
• 100 g Cecilia’s Farm cashew nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
• 120 g blue cheese, crumbled
Preparation:
1. In a large mixing bowl, add the leaves, olive oil, lemon juice and toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper, then arrange on a large flat salad plate.
2. Top with sliced pears, warm nuts, and crumbled blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Lamb tagine with prunes & peaches (serves 6)
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 cinnamon sticks
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
• 1,25 kg boneless lamb (shoulder or leg), cut into 5cm cubes
• ½ cup (125 ml) white wine (or water)
• about 2 cups water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• freshly ground pepper
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm prunes
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm peeled cling peaches
• 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
• cooked cous-cous, to serve
• fresh coriander, to serve (optional)
Preparation
1. Pre-heat oven to 170 ˚C.
2. Add oil in a large iron pot or authentic tagine over medium-high heat, then add onions and fry until soft. Add spices and fry for another minute, stirring.
3. Increase heat to high, then add meat cubes and fry until the meat changes colour (you don’t have to brown it too much). Add wine/water, stir and bring to the boil. Cover pot with oven-proof lid, then roast for 1 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper, then add the peaches, prunes and honey. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 45 minutes or until the meat is completely tender and the fruit are plump and soft.
5. Serve the tagine with cous-cous, topped with toasted sesame seeds and fresh coriander leaves.
Note: Tagine can be cooked 1 day ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Reheat gently, thinning with water if needed.

Pink Lady Apple and Almond Tartlets
Makes 12 tartlets
For the almond paste:
• 100 g (250 ml) ground almonds
• 250 ml icing sugar
• ¼ teaspoon almond essence
• 1 egg white (large egg)

For the tartlet:

• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm apple rings
• 400 g all- butter puff pastry, defrosted
• 125 ml apricot jam (to glaze)
• vanilla ice cream (to serve)
Method:
1. For the almond paste: Place all the ingredients together in a food processor. Process until it comes together into a ball (add more icing sugar if your mixture is too sticky). Remove and refrigerate (for at least an hour) in an airtight plastic bowl.
2. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
3. Bring 1 litre water to the boil in a small sauce pan, then add the dried apple wedges and boil for 5 minutes to soften. Drain the water off and set aside.
4. Lay the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface, then cut into rectangles of 12 x 6 cm each.
5. Prick each of the rectangles carefully with a fork, leaving a border of about 1 cm around the edges, unpricked.
6. Grate the almond paste generously over each of the pastry rectangles (within the borders), then lay about 6 cooked apple wedges on top of the paste of each tartlet.
7. Place the tartlets on a baking tray lined with baking paper, then bake for 10 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and brush with fine apricot jam, then return to the oven for another 2-5 minutes to turn brown on the edges. Remove from the oven, then allow to cool slightly and serve with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream on top.

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THE DEMO KITCHEN is open

25 Jul

the demo KITCHEN - interior (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

the demo KITCHEN – interior (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our kitchen was designed by Dave Leatt.

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Stellenblog: my unforgettable week in pictures

12 May

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the thumbnails below for a larger view.

 

 

 

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#Stellenblog is coming…

30 Apr

StellenblogAs some of you might know, I am very excited and honoured to be involved with the upcoming #Stellenblog campaign as the local host blogger – I’ll be the one showing the rest of the group around my town! For those of you that don’t know what #Stellenblog is, you can follow the hashtag on various social media platforms, and quickly find out more.

The group of international and local bloggers will be living in the heart of Stellenbosch wine country, in a soon-to-be-revealed villa on a working wine farm. From there they will explore and uncover Stellenbosch as a multi-layered destination, and experience some fantastic local food, wine, people and places.

“The itinerary of discovery planned for #Stellenblog is complex and full of surprises, for the bloggers to peel away the layers of Stellenbosch and share their first hand experiences with the world. It will also aid in collecting authentic content for the region to use on our own web platforms and for promotional activities,” explains Annareth Bolton, CEO of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes.

“Through #Stellenblog we aim to expose Stellenbosch beyond the veneer of its Cape Dutch history and the wine bottle. We want to introduce the world to a place that has a far more interesting story to tell and invite visitors to come and discover the warm heart of South Africa’s wine and gourmet capital.”

This campaign was designed by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold from Destinate for Stellenbosch Wine Routes. Says Mariette: “Word of mouth through social media is now the most powerful tool for any destination marketer today and this is being utilised fully through the campaign.”

As I cannot reveal too much of the upcoming secret adventures yet, I thought I’d give you some hints as to what the group can expect during the #Stellenblog week:

  •  one of the best launch parties the Winelands have ever seen (I’ve seen the food and wine contributors for this event, and it’s going to blow your socks off…)
  • a lekker intimate local braai at the villa, cooked by one of Stellenbosch’s top chefs (actually, one of SA’s top chefs)
  • the chance to learn how to cook local Stellenbosch cuisine, using age old recipes passed on through generations
  • dinners at some of the best fine dining establishments in town
  • experiencing historical Stellenbosch on foot
  • a secret vineyard lunch experience
  • a luxury pampering session
  • exploring surrounding wine farms by alternative transport…

Need I say more? This is only the tip of the iceberg. #Stellenblog is coming!

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Review: Lunch at Inniebosch

3 Mar

Inniebosch Restaurant getting prepped for service (picture courtesy of Inniebosch)

A few months ago, one of my favourite restaurants in The Black Horse Centre, Stellenbosch, closed down. In its place opened another restaurant called Inniebosch – not a fine dining establishment like its predecessor, but still elegant in its approach to food and wine. I was pleased to receive an invitation for lunch, because I was very curious to experience the new kid on the block.

The Black Horse Centre is slowly turning into a popular food hub with the addition of Dorp Street Deli in 2012, and Mila The Cake Shop and The Lunch Department in 2013. With a beautiful shady courtyard and tranquil atmosphere, it has always been one of my favourite spots to have a relaxing lunch or dinner in Stellenbosch.

The “Taste of Inniebosch” platter for two.

Inniebosch’s lunch menu is varied with choices of ostrich, chicken, beef, line fish, lamb and pork (as well as a few options for pasta and salad). They also pride themselves on their “Taste of Inniebosch” – a platter with tasting portions of five of their most popular menu items. Schalk and I ordered this platter to share as a starter. At R150 it is really good value for money, and was more than enough for two to share as a light lunch. The pork fillet and the beef sirloin were both favourites on the platter, and it was lovely to get a feel of the bigger menu in bite sizes – perfect for those who want a little bit of everything.

Seared chalmar fillet with parmesan & rocket.

After this, Schalk ordered the seared chalmar fillet (R65) – sliced on a bed of rocket with parmesan shavings, sundried tomato, peppadew paste and red onion. It was quite a fresh approach in terms of plating, almost like a fillet salad. I went straight to dessert and ordered the berry mille feuille – light and crisp layers of pastry with creamy custard and tangy berries.

Inniebosch Restaurant is a great value-for-money addition to Stellenbosch’s very competitive dining scene. It’s perfect for lunch any day of the week, but also for special occasions or as an outing for the whole family. They have a well chosen wine list, but charge corkage of only R35. Expect unpretentious, good food in a very tranquil setting.

Berry mille feuille for dessert.

Inniebosch‘s menu changes often, and prices range roughly from R50-R75 for starters, R75-R150 for mains and R35-R45 for desserts. Bookings can be made at 021-886 7077. Inniebosch is situated in the Black Horse Centre off Lower Dorp Street, Stellenbosch.

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The Food Fox Kitchen, 25/27 Feb 2014

19 Feb

If you LOVE cooking and you want to learn more, join me for an intimate dinner-demo of some of my favourite food! Sit back with a glass of D’Aria wine while we sample all the dishes, talk about food, ingredients, gadgets & wine. Take home the recipes and the inspiration – it’s a relaxing food night amongst friends!

Cost: R220 per person

When: Tue 25 & Thu 27 Feb 2014

Time: 19h00-21h00

On the menu:

1) Panzanella (Italian bread salad) with tomatoes, smoked chicken & basil

2) Potato gnocchi with sage butter & crispy bacon

3) Chocolate buttermilk layer cake with chocolate cream cheese icing

 

Email: ilse@thefoodfox.com

Venue: My kitchen, Stellenbosch (address t.b.c. on booking)

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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.

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Review: Dinner at Helena’s, Coopmanhuijs

12 Feb

The entrance to Coopmanhuijs, Stellenbosch

Living in the gourmet capital of South Africa, I am so very spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants, bistros, bakeries and coffee houses. At dinner time in the height of summer, the centre of Stellenbosch’s historic Church Street is alive with energy, the restaurants and sidewalks bustling with locals and tourists alike.

I was invited to dinner at Helena’s Restaurant at Coopmanhuijs Hotel and Spa, situated on 33 Church Street – maybe the most wanted address in all of Stellenbosch if you are talking location. They are a 5 star boutique hotel with 16 luxury rooms, the building dating back to 1713 (one of the oldest original residential buildings in town) and recently fully renovated. With the status of an African National Monument, Coopmanhuijs is already worth a visit just for admiring the building.

Inside Helena’s Restaurant, Coopmanhuijs

Helena’s Restaurant is located in two adjoining areas within Coopmanhuijs, one part situated in the dining room underneath an antique yellow wood ceiling, the other located in the charming conservatoire next door with a glass ceiling, which opens onto the courtyard. Another option for diners is to sit on the stoep on the bustling Church Street. On arrival we opted for the stoep, as it was a perfect evening in Stellenbosch.

The menu at Helena’s reflect the history and character of the building, yet gives a fresh spin on the Cape classics that we all know and love. The dinner menu is seasonal and is limited to 4 starters, 6 main courses and 5 dessert options. It wasn’t easy to make a choice, as all of the options sounded truly delicious! We opted for the mezze platter (Helena’s signature roasted peppers, crispy aubergine sticks, lightly toasted baguettes, smoked snoek paté, pork rillettes and roasted turnips with a warm caper dressing), which is large enough for two people to share, and also had a taste of the iced mango & coriander soup with a saffron poached chicken shank. Both starters were delicious, but it was the mezze platter that completely bowled us over – what a delightful plate of snacks and nibbles! And at only R75 for 2, it is such great value for money. This is also a perfect light lunch for two.

Helena’s signature roasted peppers, also part of the mezze platter

For main course, I had the springbok medallions on a large grilled black mushroom with grilled apple slices, beetroot pickled simeji mushrooms and a pomegranate jus. Schalk had the cinnamon lamb rib chops with a peach Tarte Tatin with smashed peas and a light mulled wine jus. Both our main courses were prepared exceptionally well, celebrating the flavours of the Cape that we love, yet succeeding in making the familiar spectacular.

Risotto with wild mushrooms from Helshoogte – a vegetarian main course option

For dessert, I had the fresh fig and butterscotch Crème Brûlée with pecan nut biscotti and fresh berries – one of the most memorable desserts I’ve had in a long time. The pale toffee colour of the crème brûlée, the perfectly smooth texture, the added baked figs – it was just perfect. If you’re a fan of custard desserts, this one is a must.

Schalk had the Chef’s Petit Four Plate – an assortment of delicately made sweet bites. Everything on the plate was just delightful, and the perfect ending to a truly unforgettable night.

The service at Helena’s is friendly, personal and attentive. The staff members are well informed and well trained, and made us feel very much at home. Helena’s is highly recommended on my list of must-visit restaurants in and around Stellenbosch, for a light lunch or for a very special dinner. Dinner menu prices range from R65-R75 for starters, R95-R175 for mains and R55-R65 for dessert. They also have a beautiful selection of wines on their wine list.

For more information, visit www.coopmanhuijs.co.za or phone +27 (0)21 883-8207.

All images courtesy of www.coopmanhuijs.co.za. Thank you very much to everyone at Coopmanhuijs for a spectacular dinner experience.

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