Tag Archives: wine

The new spring menu at Tokara with Chef Carolize Coetzee

6 Sep

The beautiful Tokara Restaurant, Helshoogte, Stellenbosch. (Picture from tokara.co.za.)

 

Following a three-week stint at Cosme Restaurant in New York (ranked 23rd on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019) under the watchful eye of superstar Chef Daniela Soto-Innes,  Tokara Restaurant Executive Chef Carolize Coetzee has found global inspiration for her new ingredient-driven spring menu.

Chef Carolize Coetzee with Chef Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme in New York. Photo supplied.

 

I was invited to experience a taste of this new menu at a media luncheon a week ago, and had the pleasure of talking to Chef Carolize about her New York experience – a dream trip that was initiated because of her deep admiration for Chef Daniela Soto-Innes (at 28 years old, the youngest ever winner of Female Chef of the Year 2019). She was inspired by how Daniela manages to present traditional Mexican produce, heirloom recipes and ancient techniques in a refined and modern context.

Chef Carolize’s spring menu is filled with ingredients unique to the Simonsberg area of Stellenbosch, fresh produce growing in Tokara’s organic vegetable garden and playful flavour combinations. Fragrant Cape flavours such as nasturtium, kapokbos, renosterbos and sorrel are infused in classically prepared dishes alongside broad beans, asparagus and stone fruit.

Chef Carolize Coetzee joined us at the table, seated next to me. It was a joy to hear more about her New York adventure – a destination that I would love to visit.

 

For starters, I tried the oyster and ‘viskop’ broth with Chinese cabbage, peach & caviar, as well as the spinach, renosterbos and cured egg yolk. For mains, the smoked duck breast, parsnip, whisky
and hazelnut shitake was a feast of nutty & umami flavours. For dessert with a twist, the Spanish almond cake with hibiscus and lemon posset, hibiscus meringue, almond streusel and Spanish nougat ice-cream is utter indulgence and a combination of some of my favourite flavours all in one dish. Chef Carolize’s female touch shines through in her food, and this new spring menu is a celebration of delicate natural colours, clever textures and deep flavours.

“We often tend to shy away from finding inspiration in revisiting our own culinary history and rather try to imitate what’s going on elsewhere in the world. As Daniela and her mentor Enrique Olvera remained loyal in their pursuit of the essence of Mexican cookery, I’d like to remind our guests with each new menu of something they may have forgotten about our collective South African culinary memory.

My aim is for my food to have a real sense of place and that our guests should leave with an indelible impression of our restaurant at the foot of the Simonsberg Mountain. That impression should not only concern the food, wine, views and architecture, but the joy and enthusiasm of all the people cooking, serving and cleaning behind the scenes,” says Chef Carolize.

She was particularly inspired by the family-style kitchen culture at Cosme. “Chef Daniela has a real connection with her staff from diverse backgrounds and a multitude of different countries. Every morning she takes the time to personally check in with each and every member of her team, asking about their well being and the well being of their families. To her, family is everything. The Cosme culture has changed the way in which I see the industry. You can create your own ‘vibe’ and culture within a kitchen with joy and respect right at the core,” says Chef Carolize.

With both chefs being 28 years old, Chef Carolize resonated deeply with Chef Daniela’s connection to her heritage, family recipes, and generations of woman cooking together in the kitchen. These food memories are also at the heart of Chef Carolize’s cooking. Take a look at my lunch experience in pictures:

Garden vegetables, vetkoek & dips to start with.

 

Tokara’s incredible wines complemented Chef Carolize’s menu in every way.

 

Oyster and ‘viskop’ broth with Chinese cabbage, peach & caviar.

 

Spinach, renosterbos and cured egg yolk.

 

My favourite wine of the day, Tokara’ Director’s Reserve 2015 – a premium white blend.

 

Smoked duck breast, parsnip, whisky, hazelnut & shitake.

 

Spanish almond cake with hibiscus and lemon posset, hibiscus meringue, almond streusel and Spanish nougat ice-cream.

 

Delicious petit fours to end with.

 

Tokara Restaurant & Olive Estate is a landmark destination in the Stellenbosch Winelands framed by
spectacular views and contemporary art.

Tokara Restaurant is open for lunch from Tuesday to Sunday (Monday to Sunday from 7
October) and for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday. Chef Carolize’s signature six-course dinner
menu runs from Wednesday, 4 September, with her new a la carte menu from Wednesday, 18
September.

For reservations call Tel: 021 885 2550, e-mail reservations@tokara.com or
visit www.tokararestaurant.co.za

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Discovering The Tree House at Boschendal (and much more)

2 Jan

A few weeks ago I was invited to visit Boschendal with my family for a two night stay. It was specifically a family affair, because the team at Boschendal recently launched a brand new offering for kids – The Tree House, a place where children can safely play, learn, forage, cook and have a fabulous time under the watchful eyes of Boschendal’s trained staff while parents are having dinner at The Werf Restaurant or chilling at their cottages. Sometimes pictures tell better stories than words, so I’m going to keep my words few and show you what we found.

Boschendal never fails to make me fall in love with it all over again – every time I visit the estate. It simply is a breathtaking property, with its lush gardens, fruit orchards, original Cape Dutch architecture, majestic oak trees, mountain views and tranquil atmosphere. But what seems to linger most in your mind when you’ve spent some time there is the coherent respect and commitment that the Boschendal team exudes towards their environment, their animals, their guests and each other. It’s a philosophy that might seem like a dream to many, but is indeed a reality here. I take my hat off, because it takes buckets of dedication and hard work to make this happen.

Part 1: The Tree House

I’m going to start my story here, because this is the main reason that we visited Boschendal (although we only discovered it on day 2). The Tree House is a beautiful new space at Boschendal where guests of The Werf Restaurant and the farm accommodation can take their kids (ages 4-14) to spend some quality time, supervised and free of charge, doing what kids really love doing. Kids can be “booked in” for a few hours – they even get their own locker to stash their valuables, a sun hat when necessary and all-day free popcorn. There’s a kitchen where kids learn to cook some basic foods (like quiche-in-a-mug made with free range eggs that they fetched themselves from the chicken coop, or roosterkoek on the fire), forage fresh vegetables from the vast vegetable garden, retreat to the library & movie room, or do arts and crafts in the garden under the trees. There’s also a bike “pump track” and lots of little actual tree houses where kids can ride and climb to their delight (bike hire costs not included). My 8-year old daughter loved this place to much that she wanted us to physically move to Boschendal so that she could be at The Tree House every day – a stellar testament to the success of this service.

Entrance to the reception area of The Tree House
The back door of The Tree House kitchen that leads to the garden area.
Cooking the kids’ handmade quiches in “blikbekers” over a fire.
“Foraged” rainbow carrots from the garden.
Fresh eggs from the chicken coop.
Making roosterkoek from fresh dough.
A hearty lunch of roosterkoek, quiche, homemade lemonade and fresh veggies is served.

Part 2: The Orchard Cottages

We checked in at one of The Orchard cottages (number 4) that are situated about 2km from the main werf at Boschendal against a magnificent mountain backdrop amongst fruit orchards. The self-catering cottages are incredibly well equipped and beautifully furnished – perfect for a family stay in the most scenic natural surroundings. There’s even a communal circular pool and fire pit. Rates include the services of a daily housekeeper. Our cottage had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with kitchenette and outside braai/entertainment area.

Booking enquiries:

accommodation@boschendal.co.za / Tel: +27 (0) 21 870 4271

The Orchard Cottage number 4, just before sundown.
The shaded communal circular pool at The Orchard Cottages.
Plush bed with luxurious linen.
Kitchenette with Le Creuset cookware.
Afternoon sunlight through the kitchen window.
Outside braai & entertainment area.

Part 3: Pizza at The Deli

What was once the original wagon house, has been restored into a contemporary deli & bakery. This family-friendly eatery serves breakfast and lunch daily (as well as afternoon tea) and dinner from Saturday – Tuesday. On Tuesday evenings, there are a few cool specials that attract many runners and bikers for a post-workout dinner before heading home. Pizzas are made in their wood fired oven and are really delicious.

Opening times:

Breakfast Daily 08:00 – 11:00
Lunch Daily 08:00 – 16:00
Dinner Saturday – Tuesday 18:00 – 20:30

Tel: +27 (0) 21 870 4213

The Deli at Boschendal.
A wood fired oven.
Getting cosy with a glass of Boschendal red wine while we wait for our pizzas.
Kids margerita pizza – it was a total hit with my daughter.
We also tried the gluten free pizza base with beef brisket and garden carrots – unusual but very good!
My favourite pizza combo: bacon, avo, feta. And that scorched crust was just heavenly.

Part 4: Dinner at The Werf Restaurant

We were booked for a four course food and wine pairing dinner at The Werf restaurant, starting off with a glass of wine as part of the Wine Wednesday vibe where a specific Boschendal wine is featured every week and the “first pour is on them”. Boschendal’s menu changes daily and is designed around four themes by their award-winning chef Christiaan Campbell: Garden, Ocean, Pasture and Sweet (3 plates at R450 / R685 with wine pairing, 4 plates at R550 / R845 with wine pairing, 5 plates at R650 / 1005 with wine pairing) with 2-3 options per theme. Plates are generous from start to finish – there are no “starters” or “mains” – you can choose your collection of plates as you wish and there are no prescriptions.

Opening hours:

Lunch Wed-Sat:12:00 – 15:00. Guests to be seated by 14:30

Lunch Sunday: 12:00 – 16:00

Dinner Wed-Sat: 18:00 – 21:00. Guests to be seated by 20:30

Bar Mon-Sat: 12:00 – 21:00

Reservations are essential.

Tel: +27 (0) 21 870 4209

Email: werf@boschendal.co.za

Click here for more info and sample menu

The stunning werf area at Boschendal.
Wine Wednesday at Boschendal featuring Boschendal’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, paired with a unique canapé.
Welcoming gifts from the kitchen: carrot hummus, fresh garden produce and flour tortillas.
Garden: Flavours of roasted parsnips & ginger glazed turnips.
Garden: Grilled garden leeks, “vichysoisse”, dill, cured egg yolks. This was an exceptional dish – one of my favourites of the day.
One of our wine pairings. The pairing option is highly recommended and elevates the dining experience by far.
Some extra sides served with the Ocean dishes – the grilled courgettes with house-made ricotta was delightful.
Another surprise extra: layers of potato baked in cream with melted cheese and fresh herbs.
Ocean: Farmed kabeljou, smoked potato purée, taramasalata. This was probably my favourite dish of the day. The smoked potato went exceptionally well with the fish and the wine pairing.
Pasture: Charred pork neck, pickled cabbage and lomo, sultana. The meat comes from the Duroc pigs on Boschendal – less tender than what you might be used to but so much flavour. The jus was just incredible.
Sweet: Arlette biscuits, baked vanilla custard, roasted apricot sorbet. (By this time, it was already quite dark and difficult to take non-grainy photos.)

Part 5: Breakfast at The Deli

We ended our stay with breakfast at the deli, followed by a farm tour. I didn’t take my camera on the tour as I wanted to be as present in the moment as I possibly could. It was an experience not to be forgotten! We picked fresh herbs, visited the baby pigs, took home some fresh eggs from the coop and saw many incredible farm sights.

The story of Boschendal is neverending, and the inspiration that it brings is very real. Be sure to visit Boschendal in 2019 to see, sip and savour your way through everything they have to offer. This is by far one of the best all-round destinations in the Cape Winelands – family friendly, sustainable, premium, breathtaking, with so much to see, taste and do.

Brioche waffle with vanilla ice cream (it also comes with a berry compote which my daughter preferred to omit) – STUNNING.
Pain au chocolate – my favourite breakfast of all time.
Fresh fruit, dried fruit, coconut flakes, yoghurt – Schalk’s breakfast vibe.
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Exploring the Upper Blaauwklippen Vintners, Stellenbosch

12 Jun

The vineyard view from the tasting room at Kleinood.

 

Once a year, three boutique wineries in the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley, Stellenbosch, open their doors to a limited number of guests to exclusively taste their top varietals along with paired winter canapés. When I received an invitation to join the tasting which took place on the 2nd of June, I was extremely excited. I’ve never visited Kleinood or Keermont before, and have only visited De Trafford once, more than 10 years ago. With an allocation of only 100 tickets to this exclusive event, I knew I was in for something memorable.

Friends, if you have not been on a trip to this valley and you are serious about discovering some proper gems in the Stellenbosch region, this small valley is an absolute treasure trove. With its heady combination of valleys, mountain ranges, wine estates, crisp fresh air and fine wine, the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley offered guests a personal tasting of newly released, handcrafted vintages, rare and coveted vinoteque wines including Tamboerskloof Viognier 2013, John Spicer Syrah 2012, Tamboerskloof Syrah 2006 and Tamboerskloof Syrah 2012 from Kleinood,  first samplings of the upcoming Single Vineyard wines from Keermont and vertical tastings from the De Trafford Vinoteque, served with well-paired culinary treats. Winemakers and owners were all on site to chat to, sharing the stories behind their terroir-driven wines and unique wineries.

The five-kilometer trip up the valley leads along an elevation of 200 meters and a regular shuttle service between the farms ensured that guests could relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery along the untouched slopes of the Upper Blaauwklippen valley.

In order to ensure a personal experience, only 100 tickets were made available at R500 each. To take part in next year’s premium tasting, get your name on the list by sending an email to sales@keermont.co.za or call Juanita at Keermont on 021 880 0397.

Here are a few photographs of my incredible day experiencing Kleinood, Keermont and De Trafford on the 2nd of June 2018. It would be difficult to single out any wines, because there were plenty to taste and they were all exceptional. It was, however, a special privilege to taste the older vintages like De Trafford’s 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon, the exceptional Syrah range at Kleinood, and Keermont’s flagship 2013 Estate Reserve. Although these wineries are not open daily during the rest of the year, tasting can surely be scheduled if booked ahead. Otherwise, take note of their small-windowed tasting room opening hours:

Kleinood: Fridays 10h00-13h00

Keermont: Fridays 10h30-13h30 (closed on public holidays)

De Trafford: Saturdays 10h00-13h00

Upon entering Kleinood’s tasting room.

 

Our first sip of the day at Kleinood: the Katharien rosé made from shiraz grapes. “A rose gold coloured Rosé with strawberry preserve, papaya and hints of fruit salad notes on the nose, supported generously with flavours of tangerine, quince jelly, saffron and elegant white spice on the palate.” – winemaker, Gunter Schultz.

 

The 2013 Tamboerskloof Viognier from Kleinood. “A white gold coloured Viognier with melon, citrus blossom, mango and pollen flavours on the nose with apricot, ripe peach and citrus on the palate. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy.” – winemaker, Gunter Shultz.

 

Kleinood also makes extra virgin olive oil, called Die Boerin – a blend of selected Italian cultivars: Coratina, Favolosa, Delicata, Leccino and Frantoio.

 

The single vineyard syrah from Kleinood: John Spicer 2011. “This is a beautifully structured and balanced, dark-scarlet coloured Syrah with a magenta rim and a deep intensity. The nose develops with medium, but pronounced intensity, showing pure, red and black berry fruit, white pepper, plum preserve and chocolate éclair. On the palate, complex dry spices, loaded with complex plum and mulberry preserve with a white pepper finish.” – winemaker, Gunter Schultz.

 

A bowl of venison with butternut puree and all kinds of wintery flavours – delicious! Prepared by Stir Food at Kleinood.

 

This is what a winemaker’s hands look like! Thank you Gunter Shultz, winemaker of Kleinood, for the personal approach and friendly chat.

 

The picturesque building at Kleinood. this is the one side of the tasting room.

 

Arriving at De Trafford, you are surrounded by French oak barrels.

 

One of the most incredible wines of the day, De Trafford’s Cabernet Sauvignon 1996. “Dense, with purple tint. Intense, creamy blackberry and Christmas pudding aromas. Rich, sweetish berry fruit and spicy oak palate. Fine, firm structure and long finish.” – owner, David Trafford.

 

Gnocchi with wild mushrooms and truffle oil at De Trafford, served by Die Worsrol from their caravan while it was pouring down with rain outside. Winter at its best!

 

More of De Trafford’s iconic barrels that span a few floors on the one side of the cellar and tasting room area.

 

Another stellar cab by De Trafford. “Deep, dark, brooding red colour. Cassis, ripe mulberries and tobacco and cedar nose. Intense fruit flavours and firm persistent tannins follow through to a long dry finish.” – owner, David Trafford.

 

De Trafford’s Vin de Paille – or straw wine. I cannot racall the vintage, but this was an exceptional wine, served with their Italian-style orange cake.

 

The driveway that leads to Keermont’s tasting centre.

 

The stone walled tasting room at Keermont.

 

Keermont’s brand new Sweetwater Rosé. “Ferrari red in colour, this Rosé has a complex nose of cherry, black current, peach, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate it is full and rich with flavours of peach, baked pears, cinnamon, and white pepper. The finish is dry and textured hinting to the fact that it matures for 6 months on the lees in seasoned French oak barrels.” winemaker, Alex Starey. In 2015, they only made 4 barrels of this wine.

 

The Steepside Syrah 2015 by Keermont. “This is an intense wine with a bright strawberry red colour. Spicy, floral aromas are complimented by hints of cinnamon, ripe strawberries and black current. The palate is full and broad with ripe spicy fruit. The tight structure gives the wine a succulent dry finish with lingering flavours of vibrant and savoury red fruit.” – winemaker, Alex Starey.

 

Tasting the Keermont range of wines at Keermont’s cellar. This photograph is a great reminder of a memorable day – many open bottles, many corks, many happy faces, many incredible wines.

 

One of the big wines of the day: Keermont’s flagship Estate Reserve 2013: “Venetian red in colour, this wine exudes complex aromas of sandalwood, ripe cherry, wild berries, and dusty ‘fynbos’. On the palate, the wine has a soft entry and exudes an array of ripe berries, cherry sherbet, crushed herbs and spices. Elegant but firm tannin affords the wine a long dry succulent finish. Drink 2017-2030.” – winemaker, Alex Starey.

 

One of my personal favourites and the perfect wine to end off a spectacular day: Keermont’s Fleurfontein (NV). It exudes dried apricot and marzipan – two of my favourite flavours in the world.

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Lunch at Love Thy Neighbour

3 Aug

An unpretentious space at Love Thy Neighbour.

 

Last weekend I had the pleasure of having lunch at Love Thy Neighbour in Cape Town – the recently refurbished and rebranded space where And Union used to be. The setting is 110 Bree Street, a very central location that has been frequented by Cape Town locals for years.

I’ve always had a deep affinity for Mediterranean food. Having traveled in Greece a few years ago, I was excited to see what these guys had up their sleeves. We arrived for lunch at 12h30 while the venue was still quiet (just the way I like it). The interior was modern with beautiful stone walls and striking mini tiles on the floors. What followed was a lunch that I absolutely loved and will never forget – indulging in some of my favourite dishes prepared faultlessly by the kitchen team and the griller outside.

Here is my experience in pictures. Be sure to visit Love Thy Neighbour soon – it’s an inviting space with fabulous (and affordable) food, friendly service and a killer playlist.

110 Bree Street, Cape Town.

Friendly waiters at Love Thy Neighbour.

Food specials at Love Thy Neighbour.

The bar at Love They Neighbour.

Green walls and comfortable seats at Love Thy Neighbour’s inside area.

I just LOVED the little floor tiles at Love Thy Neighbour.

Crisp glasses of sauvignon blanc.

A seasonal menu at Love Thy Neighbour.

Saganaki, fried halloumi, pickled kumquat, walnut, basil. The crunchy nuts and soft cheese was a winning combo.

Calamari, harissa, za’atar, aioli. Meltingly soft with a fluffy coating.

Fried aubergine, whipped feta, date molasses, sesame, mint. This simple dish was my favourite of the day and I’ll be back for more very soon!

An outstanding lamb belly souvlaki, cherry tomato, cucumber, pickled red onion, tahina sauce, tzatziki.

From the fire: sardines in vine leaves, skordalia, ladolemono. I ate all 3 sardines with my hands and licked my fingers – delicious.

For dessert: Loukoumades – Cypriot doughnuts, hazelnut, chocolate. It has a soft centre and chewey exterior almost like a French canele. Outstanding! I want more…

Grilling peppers outside – most of their meat is also grilled here and you can taste the smoke and fire. This guy sure knows what he is doing.

Love Thy Neighbour on Facebook:

“We’re all about good Mediterranean style food, wine, beer, music and being good to people. Fresh, clean, free range. Wholesome and locally sourced. As organic as possible. 110 Bree Street. (021) 4222770”

Hours: Tuesday 12h30-23h00, Wednesday – Saturday, 12h00 – 23h30

See the winter menu here.

Pricing: Meze: R32-65, Mains: R70-R85, Sides: R35-R50, Dessert: R45

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Tasting unfiltered olive oil (and lunch) at Tokara

8 Jun

Tokara’s filtered premium extra virgin olive oil, an award-winning product that most of us know and love.

Visiting Tokara is a must on the Stellenbosch to-do list, whether you’re an out-of-towner or a local-for-life. This landmark winery, restaurant, deli and olive oil producer is one of my favourite destinations in my home town – one that we visit regularly and one that keep evolving to bring some us award winning wines, food and oils every year.

This week I had the privilege of visiting Tokara for a special tasting of their unfiltered oils, straight off the press. Unfiltered oils are preferred in top olive oil producing European countries like Italy, but in the South African market people still prefer a clear, filtered product. To tell the truth, I would seek out and buy unfiltered extra virgin olive oil if it was available on shelves. So I might try to twist the arm of Tokara’s olive farmer to sell me some of their milky, peppery gold.

We tasted three varietals, including a soft and mild mission, a new hybrid called FS17 with a walnutty undertone and a very peppery coratina that will take your breath away (literally). Afterwards we had a delicious lunch, prepared by Tokara chef Richard Carstens and Tokara Deli head chef Edwina van Niekerk, accompanied by Tokara’s award winning wines.

Here is my visit in pictures. Do take the time to visit Tokara and Tokara Deli for a wine tasting, some olive oil shopping, or anything from breakfast to dinner.

Autumn becomes Winter at the entrance to Tokara Deli. This is olive harvest season.

Tokara GM Karl Lambour welcoming guests to their unfiltered olive oil tasting.

Gert van Dyk, olive farmer and oil producer at Tokara’s Olive Shed.

We get to take a tour inside the olive production plant at Tokara.

Ulfiltered liquid gold.

The table in the private dining room at Tokara Deli, next to the olive oil production plant.

These little blue glasses are international olive oil tasting glasses – round so that you can warm them in your hands, blue so that colour won’t affect your tasting perception.

Our lunch menu.

Tokara sauvignon blanc to start with.

Freshly baked bread and parmigiano to go with our unfiltered olive oil.

Roasted beetroot & gorgonzola salad with orange, pear, winter greens, nuts, thyme & orange dressing.

Tokara grenache 2012 to go with our main courses.

My choice of main course: mushroom risotto with spinach, leeks, parmesan and mascarpone.

Orange & polenta cake with orange ice cream and candied oranges.

Renowned Tokara chef Richard Carstens telling us more about his team’s choices for our lunch menu.

Tokara Deli head chef Edwina van Niekerk.

Freshly baked bread sticks, unfiltered Tokara olive oil, salt and recipes to take home!

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WIN this hamper with the Fairtrade Challenge

17 May

You can win this incredible hamper from Fairtrade SA.

In celebration of the #WorldFairtradeChallenge that took place this weekend I am giving away this fabulous Fairtrade goodie hamper to one lucky winner!

To enter this give-away, name one official South African Fairtrade product, along with the hashtag #fairtradeSA.

Leave your answer in the comments section below. (Winner via random draw to be announced on Tuesday 23 May 2017.)

One of the Fairtrade wines that we enjoyed over the weekend – a Merlot from Place in the Sun.

Over the past weekend, participants from all around the world celebrated Fairtrade labelled brands as we honour the commitment they have made to a fairer trading economy and the development of many hard-working farmers and workers in South Africa and the rest of the globe.

Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade. It is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Fairtrade offers farmers and workers improved terms of trade, which allows them to improve their lives on their terms. For consumers, Fairtrade is a powerful way to reduce poverty through every day shopping.

The Fairtrade system is one of the largest and most diverse global movements with thousands of relationships in more than 90 countries. Fairtrade takes a holistic approach to sustainability focusing on improving economic, social and environmental conditions for the long-term.

Have a look at the website www.fairtradechallenge.org/za and show your support by buying #faitradeSA!

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(review) Lunch and dinner at Stellenbosch Kitchen

16 May

The entrance to Stellenbosch Kitchen on Andringa Street, early evening.

This year, I’ll be celebrating my 40th year in Stellenbosch. A year ago we made a move from the outskirts of town to the beautiful bustling historical centre. While we gave up a chunk of living space (in size) in the process, we gained the incredible European-like lifestyle of locking up our apartment and walking a short distance to the best coffee shops and restaurants the Winelands has to offer.

Dorp Street and Church Street is where it’s at: the centre of my beautiful town when it comes to tourism, social hotspots, food and wine. Right in the middle of it all is Stellenbosch Hotel and its recently renovated restaurant Stellenbosch Kitchen – pretty much back to back with its sister-hotel Coopmanhuijs Hotel & Spa featuring Helena’s Restaurant. I recently had the opportunity to visit Stellenbosch Kitchen for dinner and lunch respectively, and would love to share my experiences with you.

The landmark veranda of Stellenbosch Kitchen on Andringa Street, early evening, just before the arrival of dinner guests.

Stellenbosch Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in town, built on Simon van der Stel’s property (a grant) between 1692 and 1701. It has since been restored in 1987 and declared a national monument. After the refurbishment in 2016, the name Jan Cats Restaurant was replaced by Stellenbosch Kitchen, featuring an eclectic yet contemporary spin on the existing historical eatery.

The space that is now called Stellenbosch Kitchen has forever been a local hotspot to both students, the mid-town working crowd and the wealthy. Their bistro-style fare has been a favourite for decades, being enjoyed on the tree-rich veranda that envelopes their landmark corner on Dorp and Andringa streets.

Here are my lunch and dinner experiences in pictures.

One of the massive old oak trees that surround Stellenbosch Hotel.

Our 18h00 arrival at Stellenbosch Kitchen meets a neatly prepped restaurant space.

Chef at work – the service hatch at Stellenbosch Kitchen.

Bread board with red wine butter and hummus. All bread baked in-house.

The dinner menu at Stellenbosch Kitchen. This menu changes seasonally.

An exceptional wine list is one of the attractions at Stellenbosch Kitchen. Here we’re enjoying Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs Shiraz.

Potato gnocchi, butternut, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, goat’s milk feta, basil pesto. Beautifully cooked gnocchi with a mixture of very punchy ingredients.

Pan-seared line fish, fennel velouté, prawn barley risotto, grilled prawn, red pepper fondue. Perfectly cooked line fish, and I really enjoyed the texture of the barley risotto.

Ale-battered hake, hand-cut potato chips, sauce tartare, charred lemon, mushy peas. A stunning dish, yet so simple. Perfect tartare, fluffy hake, super crunchy chips – what more do you want?

Fondant of black cherry and Valrhona chocolate, Bulgarian yoghurt ice cream. Excellent texture and an interesting spin on the classic fondant – maybe a little too bitter and sour for my personal preference. Beautiful plating and delicious ice cream.

Our second visit was an early lunch at 11h30 – also much better lighting by day for my camera!

A buttery yellow glass of Jordan Chardonnay for me.

Roasted rack of Karoo Lamb, carrot purée, spiced pear chutney, polenta, fine beans. This dish is from the dinner menu, but was made for us on special request over lunch. It is one of the most popular dishes on the menu and well worth ordering (for dinner).

Osso bucco with risotto milanese. This dish certainly won’t win any prizes for plating, but it is hearty and moorish and hits all the right spots for comforting winter fare.

Apple and almond tart, vanilla bean ice cream, ginger crumble, crème anglaise – definitely my favourite dessert on the menu. They should serve this delicious pastry for breakfast too!

Coconut panna cotta, compressed pineapple, mango caviar, passion fruit mushrooms.

Stellenbosch Kitchen is well worth a regular visit, whether for a mid-week lunch, a lazy weekend dinner, or a special occasion with friends from abroad.

Thank you to the staff and management of Stellenbosch Kitchen for hosting us. We’ll certainly be back for more.

Make your booking:

Tel: +27 (0)21 883-2893
Address: Corner of Dorp & Andringa Streets, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa

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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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WIN: 2 tickets to #PinotageOnTap at Diemersfontein

19 Oct

POT_CT posterAlso hailed as “the best wine event in the world” via Drinks International in London, this year’s Pinotage on Tap Festival on Saturday 29 October 2016 at Diemersfontein, Wellington, sounds like it will once again be one for the books.

Apart from a neverending river of Diemersfontein’s own legendary signature Pinotage, you’ll also find their other wines on sale. Tickets cost R435 online and include a goodie bag on arrival, a welcome snack as well as meal vouchers for lunch. Due to popular demand the delectable chocolate fountain will be making a comeback, where guests can dip strawberries and marshmallows to satisfy their sweet tooth.

pinotageThe festival has been running annually since 2003 and is growing every year due to popular demand. Guests are all given the VIP treatment with platters of food, an endless supply of Diemersfontein Pinotage and top quality live classical entertainment in the shape of Maestro Richard Cock and his orchestra, talented tenor Aubrey Mlindi Pato and Zolani Mahola from Freshly Ground.

zolani

The popular, award winning Zolani Mahola of Freshly Ground.

WIN: Stand the chance to win two tickets to the value of R435 each by answering the following question in the comments section below: Name one artist performing at the Diemersfontein #PinotageOnTap festival 2016.

Tickets also available from Computicket here.

Terms: Competition closes Monday, 24 October 2016. The prize includes two tickets to the festival – entrance, wine on tap, lunch and dessert. Transport not included.

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Top 10 Winter Winelands Taste Adventures

3 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

      The fireplace at the Werf Restaurant, Boschendal (image from www.boschendal.co.za)

      The fireplace at the Werf Restaurant, Boschendal (image from www.boschendal.co.za)

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

      M Lounge at Majeka House (picture from www.majekahouse.co.za)

      M Lounge at Majeka House (picture from www.majekahouse.co.za)

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

      The tasting lounge at Waterkloof (image from www.waterkloofwines.co.za)

      The tasting lounge at Waterkloof (image from www.waterkloofwines.co.za)

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

This post was written in collaboration with Dialdirect.

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