A Western Cape winter sunset

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We live in the most beautiful country and that attracts visitors, friends and family to come here. Often they are only here for a short while and can't afford to go upcountry to see a game farm. And they are interested in the ancient cultures of this land. This week we explored the West Coast and found two places we think you and your visitors will love and both will enhance the South African experience.

This week’s MENU, is the last we will publish for a couple of weeks. As we said last week we will fly to Hong Kong next Friday to visit Vinexpo and then have a week’s holiday in Vietnam. To see what we’ll be doing, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and our blogs. All the links are on our blog page. Choose any of them which suits you

Thali Thali is a 1460 hectare Cape West Coast game and fynbos reserve situated just off the R27 near Langebaan. You leave the R27 just before the Langebaan turnoff, opposite the Engen Garage and drive down a good dirt road to get to this small game farm with accommodation and a good restaurant. When you go on the game drive, you might think you were up country deep in the bush. You can go for the day or stay a while. They have three West Coast style self catering chalets and five B&B luxury en-suite tents. The big old farmhouse with 4 bedrooms is the latest addition to the line-up and is separate from all the others and ideal for families and groups. It has a massive fireplace in the kitchen and a wrap-around porch that lends it to lazy afternoons in the sun.. And in the Spring you can see the buck roaming in fields of flowers. We really enjoyed our night in one of the self catering cottages and the game drive

The oldest culture in the world and the first people to inhabit Africa are recognised as the San, so visiting this farm is like connecting with our own ancient culture, as we are all descended from them. Recognition of their culture has been hard for them, as so many incomers have tried to obliterate it, but this centre celebrates them and the old ways. As they put it: "At !Khwa ttu (pronounced with a click at the beginning of each word – easy for those of you who speak Xhosa or Zulu), we share with our visitors authentic interactions in a beautiful environment, walking and biking trails, inspiring San nature and culture tours, good food, compelling art and heritage exhibitions, professional friendly hospitality and stylish special event venues or corporate functions." We had a lovely stay there

Charles, who is a wine negociant and owns the Darling Wine Shop in Darling, must be one of the most hospitable people in the Cape. As we were in the Darling area and we owed him a lunch, we met at his shop and he produced an epic tasting for us of many Darling wines and a couple of others. Then we went off for a good lunch with Charles and his wife Janet at Chicory Cheese Café, taking along some of the tasting bottles to see how they went with food

Each year, Societi Bistro has this great gourmet tour on offer through the dishes of Italy. 10 weeks, 10 areas, 10 exceptional wines and this launches on the 18th of May. Each month features a different area and the food is paired with suitable local Italian style wine. On Saturday we sampled the food and wines. It was a large gathering of regular customers, friends, media and wine people and was a blast. Now all you have to do is look at their website or Facebook page to see which you should book for

We must apologise. Lynne always tests a recipe before publishing it and that is what we should have done this week. The chocolate Mousse cake is indeed a wonderful rich delight but there were a couple of problems with the recipe we printed, which Lynne discovered when she made it on Saturday..

Sugar was in the ingredient list, but nowhere in the recipe was it mentioned. You add it with the ground almonds

The chocolate we used was very dark and had almost no sugar. When Lynne made the mousse, she realised that it was too bitter and dry without the addition of a little sugar, so if you make the mousse, do taste it and, if it needs it, add a small amount - to your own taste - of icing sugar when adding the eggs. Also, chocolate should not ever be melted without some liquid or it can seize. So she has adapted the recipe slightly to prevent this and allow you to make a lighter mousse. Here is the revised recipe, with a photograph.

Chocolate Mousse Cake Revised

125g dark bitter chocolate – 100g butter – 100g caster sugar – 15ml rum or brandy - 15ml strong black coffee -100g ground almonds – 3 eggs, separated

Break up the chocolate into a glass bowl, add the butter, rum or brandy and the coffee and heat gently in the microwave or over a pan of hot water until melted. Take off the heat and stir in the ground almonds and the sugar. Beat the egg yolks well, then stir them into the chocolate mix. Stiffly whip the egg whites and then fold them gently into the mixture. Take a 23 cm spring form cake tin with a removable base, line it with a disk of baking paper and lightly grease the sides with butter, or with a ring of baking paper. Pour in the mixture, put the tin on a baking sheet and bake in a low oven, 150ºC for about 45 minutes. This cake is very fragile. Leave to cool in the tin.

Optional but recommended: Just before you add the mousse topping, sprinkle over a small glass of Framboise liqueur or another fruit flavour you like. We used Pear William. You can also use Frangelico or Amaretto. If you do not use alcohol, you can use a little fruit syrup.

The Mousse

300g plain dark chocolate, broken into pieces - 1 T brandy - 2 T of the cream - 4 eggs, separated - 300ml whipping cream - Optional: 20 to 50g icing sugar

For the mousse, melt the chocolate in a large bowl in the same way, with the brandy and cream and allow to cool until lukewarm. Use another 1T of cream if not using alcohol. Using an electric beater, whisk the eggs whites to stiff peaks. Then softly whip the remaining cream in another bowl until thickened but not as far as soft peaks.

Stir the egg yolks into the chocolate, then fold the cream into the mixture. Taste and if the chocolate you are using is very dark and has very little sugar, you may at this stage like to add a little icing sugar. Gently fold in a quarter of the eggs whites, then the rest, and then spread the mixture over the cake base and keep in the fridge overnight. Release the sides of the spring form tin and using a pallet knife carefully smooth the sides of the mousse if untidy. Very carefully transfer to a pretty cake plate and sprinkle with a little dark cocoa powder and top with a few raspberries or chocolate curls

And not because of bias but because this truly is an interesting, quaffable wine, full of fruit and dark flavours Charles Withington's Darlington Malbec 2012, available from his Darling Wine Shop http://darlingwine.co.za/shop

Food Fact: A little rice in your salt shaker will keep the salt dry and free flowing

 In Next Week’s MENU

We will update as we can, our story about Hong Kong and Vinexpo

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

Information about interesting wine, food and related events happening in the Western Cape and, occasionally, in other areas. It is as up to date as the information we have received from the various organisers. Accuracy in the descriptions of events listed here depends on the information given to us by the organisers or their publicity agents. Some of this information comes to us in hugely verbose communiqués which we have to précis to make it easier for you. We will not be held responsible for any inaccuracies, however caused.

If you'd like us to publish news about an event, please send us the basic details: What, where, when, price. If we have to cut it down to the size which we'll publish, it may take us too long to fit it into our very busy programme


It has information about interesting wine, food and related events happening in the Westerm Cape and, occasionally, in other areas. It is as up to date as the information we have received from the various organisers. Accuracy in the descriptions of events listed here depends on the information given to us by the organisers or their publicity agents. Some of this information comes to us in hugely verbose communiqués which we have to précis to make it easier for you. We will not be held responsible for any inaccuracies, however caused.

It you'd like us to publish news about an event, please send us the BASIC details: What, where, when, price. If we have to cut it down to the size we'll publish, it may take us too long to fit in to our very busy programme

Classes in culinary arts for kids at The Table Bay. Following the super success of the cooking workshops for kids in 2015, The Table Bay’s Executive Chef Jocelyn Myers-Adams, will be hosting monthly classes in culinary arts for emerging young cooks in The Table Bay’s Atlantic at 12h30 on scheduled Saturdays. The cost to participate is R300 per child April to November 2016. Mini Chefs will get to work side by side with Myers-Adams for two inspiring hours while learning some special tricks of the trade. Each two hour Mini Chefs class is an interactive learning experience that gives children between 5 and 12 years of age the opportunity to develop a life-long love for the culinary arts, whilst celebrating South Africa’s rich culinary heritage. Each month, the children will prepare something different based on a theme which is aligned with the seasons or a special occasion. They will be assisted by Myers-Adams and a dedicated minder, and will get to take home what they have prepared.

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

Nadège Lepoittevin-Dasse has French cooking classes in Noordhoek and conducts cooking tours to Normandy. You can see more details here

Emma Freddi runs the Enrica Rocca cooking courses at her home in Constantia

We write about our experiences in MENU, not only to entertain you, but to encourage you to visit the places and events that we do. We know you will enjoy them and we try to make each write up as graphic as we can, so you get a good picture of what is on offer at each place, restaurant, wine farm, festival we visit. 

5th May 2016

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