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A courtyard in the Sandeman winery, Jerez de la Frontera

In this Week's MENU

      We apologise to those of you who are not wine fanatics. We’ve had a week of wine tastings and we’ve even held two over until next week. But we do have two more Spanish stories for you, Jerez and Córdoba, two lovely places in the Spanish south which started to ease the tensions which had developed in Portugal with visa issues, misguided Satnav and, of course, stolen equipment. On a lighter note, we are having some beautiful rain; still not enough to take away the pressure, but the dams are starting to fill and, if we have a wet July (a lot of our problem is because we had a dry one last year), we might see the drought broken

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      We enjoy sharing our experiences with you and are so pleased when you tell us that we’ve given you some pleasure

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      We have been producing MENU for many years, in which we have written about many interesting things. You can find them all in the Blog Archive in the right hand column of our blog page and in the Previous MENUs page on our websiteEntering a word in the “Search this Blog” window on the blog site should bring up everything we have ever written which relates

      Once a year, Siris Vintners holds a trade tasting for their commercial customers. This year, it was held in the Ballroom at the Mount Nelson so there was plenty of space

      A trip to the Swartland this week to taste the wines of David and Nadia Sadie at their (soon to be opened) new venue in Malmesbury called Bill and Co., which will become a market 

      Last Friday evening saw us at Wine Concepts' annual celebration of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, held at the Vineyard Hotel. We decided that it was time to emulate the Burgundians and begin with Pinots Noir and then go on to taste the Chardonnays. They say Chardonnay muddies ones palate for Pinots. It was a good exercise for us, as we normally don't have time to taste many Pinots after so many Chardonnays. And there were a lot of wines to taste in the three hours we were there
      If you are planning to travel in this area you need to know that from Seville to Cadiz, our next stop, it only took one and half hours driving. We wanted to see this famous port on the coast, but our experience can be summed up in just a few words from Lynne's notes: motorway tolls, SatNav doesn’t work, reverse, reverse, reverse, green roads, too many roundabouts, council estates, no access, dizzy, stress. They do have a seafront like Sea Point, but not a single café or place to have lunch. We left and headed straight for Jerez, where we had booked an AirBnB for a night - 3/4 of an hour away. We eventually found these 2 competing cafés, five minutes’ walk away, to have some sherry and some supper! One had food, the other football, it was Liverpool 2, Roma 0
      The next city on this adventure was Cordoba and our apartment was unusual but lovely. The streets in this old area of Cordoba are narrow, cobbled and ancient. They have very confusing one way systems which are almost impenetrable to those who are not familiar with the area but using our phone we managed to find the place, 

      Quite an easy soup to make and great for dinner parties. One thing that is different about this is that it doesn’t contain any milk or cream. You can add some at the table if you wish.

      1 tbsp canola oil - 1 medium onion , finely chopped - 1 stick celery, finely chopped - 1 leek, sliced - 1 medium potato, diced - 1 knob butter – 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock - 1 large head broccoli , roughly chopped, core and stalk removed, chopped and put aside - 140g of good blue cheese, crumbled

      Heat the oil in a large saucepan and then add the onion, and fry gently on a medium heat until golden. Add the celery, leek, potato and a knob of butter. Stir and allow to sweat, covered with a lid, for 5 minutes. This really improves the flavours. Remove the lid.

      Pour in the stock and add any chunky bits of broccoli stalk. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.

      Add the rest of the broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Don’t cook for too long or you will loose the lovely green colour. Carefully transfer to a blender and blitz in batches, until very smooth. Be careful, hot soup can be dangerous in a blender, don’t overfill. Stir in 100g of the blue cheese and liquidize till smooth. Season with black pepper and serve. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

      We accompanied our soup with three things, bagel croutons, the other 40 g of blue cheese to sprinkle and crisp dried onions. We served a Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009 from KWV’s The Mentors range. Last week's Wine of the Week, the Strandveld Sauvignon Blanc would also be a perfect match

      This wine won the Grand Roche Old Mutual Trophy for the best white blend. It is an intriguing blend of three grapes, two very well-known: a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc, more often found as single varietals, and nestled in the middle of those two is a Roussane, a grape probably unfamiliar to many, found in the Rhône valley in France, often dry land and very rarely used alone, as it is a very good blending wine. They use it in Crozes Hermitage and in the red Chateauneuf du Pape. 

      Rousanne pulls the other two together and adds something very special. Fresh fruity, layered and with a summery attitude, do try it with food or just on its own. An excellent companion to duck or other poultry, rich creamy sauces or with soft, complex cheeses. We hope it will delight and charm you as much as it did us. With aromas and flavours of rich ripe peaches and apricots, vanilla oak and some spice, it is a wine that just keeps on giving, and will do so for a long while

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       In MENU Next Edition

      Morvino Trade Show

      Old Mutual Trophy public tasting

      More stories about our journey through Portugal and Spain: Granada, Valdepenas

      2018 Nedbank CWG Tastings

      Cape Town - Thursday, 16 August

      Pretoria - Tuesday, 21 August

      Sandton - Wednesday, 22 August

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      We keep talking about rain and the scarcity of water in our blessed, beautiful province. We are still at a crisis point. The City Council published an interactive map on the web, from which one can look at one's own neighbourhood and see which houses are being careful and which are not or are just using water as if there were no crisis. We have neighbours who still have lovely green lawns and they show up on the map as problem users. Please be careful. We caught a neighbour hosing down her steps; water running down the pavement past our house like a river. She didn't see the problem, said that the restrictions would only be effective next month....

      It is not difficult, just be aware of what you do with water and look after this precious resource. Don't leave the shower running while you soap, use grey water to flush, don't run the dishwasher until it is full..... We're in crisis. Think about it! Your garden will, like ours, become a desert. Sad, but necessary and a minor sacrifice in comparison to queueing at a hose for your daily 25 litre allowance.

      So don't think that it's OK, It's raining. The dams are still, on average, only a little more than a quarter full. We need to try harder. It is no use hoping that more rain will come. If it does, it will be a blessing, but the forecast still does not encourage optimism

      ...

      15th June 2018

      We are planning to use wine barrel staves as the covering of a pergola. If any of our wine maker readers have old barrels which have outlived their original purpose, we’d love to have them. Please let us know

      We receive a lot of enquiries from people who want to learn more about wineCathy Marston and The Cape Wine Academy both run wine education courses, some very serious and others more geared to fun. You can see details of Cathy’s WSET and other courses here and here and the CWA courses here. Karen Glanfield has taken over the UnWined wine appreciation courses from Cathy. See the details here

      The Hurst Campusan accredited school for people who want to become professional chefs, has a variety of courses. See the details here

      In addition to his Sense of Taste Culinary Arts School, Chef Peter Ayub runs a four module course for keen home cooks at his Maitland complex. Details here

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