The freedom of flight – Kelp gulls off Strandfontein

Follow us on    Twitter   Facebook   LinkedIn   Instagram

One thing you never hear anyone say in the Western Cape: “Damn, it’s raining!” Right now, the spirits are lifted, a steady, soft, soaking rain is falling; the pipe from our gutters to the fish pond is sending a largish trickle to bring a little relieving fresh water to our embattled koi whose home has about half its proper content. This has been a Festival week. We have been to Harvest festivals at two historic wine estates and to a preview of a very popular, very South African Festival which will take place mid next month. We will miss it as we will be in the Iberian environment. So, click on the links below to see what it’s all about….

Click any of the headings, photographs or green buttons below to look at a complete story. When you reach the end of a story, click on RETURN TO MENU to come back to MENU

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

It is Harvest time in the winelands, so we were up early to get the arranged transport to Lanzerac in Stellenbosch (for which we are very grateful) and warmly welcomed on arrival by General Manager Barend Barnard

This year's festival will be held on the weekend of the 14th and 15th of April at Perdeberg Wine Cellar in Voor Paardeberg, easy to get to: down the N1 and turn off at the R44, then left at Windmeul Cellar. Tickets are available in advance from or at R200 (and R230 on the gate depending on availability). You will get a wine glass to keep, and can taste 18 Pinotages that have been paired with 18 biltong flavours, which will be marked off the card as you taste them. The wine farms involved will also be bringing other wines and you can taste these as well at no charge. There will be live music, food trucks, craft beers, cheese platters and a play area for children. Sounds like a wonderful day. Dress code is purple and white. 

An annual event we really look forward to, this Harvest is worth celebrating. We had a lot of fun, as did everyone else who attended. In a very difficult year for the wine industry because of the drought, most farms are producing slightly less because yields are down and there are smaller grapes, but they are getting very good quality. The wines are looking good. However we must have rain this winter; if we don’t, next year's harvest is doubtful.


3cm piece of ginger - 1 onion - 2 cloves of garlic - 150 g ripe tomatoes - 3 T vegetable or coconut oil - ½ t black mustard seeds - ¼ t fenugreek seeds - 12 fresh or dried curry leaves - 1 t chilli powder - 1 t ground coriander - ¼ t ground turmeric - 1 T tamarind pulp - 12 peeled king prawns - sea salt - 1 x 400 ml tin coconut milk - 2 dried red chillies - 1 fresh green chilli if you want more heat

1 T = Tablespoon 1 t = teaspoon

Peel and finely chop the onions, crush the garlic. Grate the ginger and chop the tomatoes. 

Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and, when it’s almost smoking, add the mustard seeds, the fenugreek, ginger and the curry leaves. Fry for a few seconds, then add the onion and the garlic and cook over a medium heat until golden.

Add the chilli powder, coriander and turmeric, and stir for a few seconds. Add the tomato and tamarind. Simmer until slightly reduced and you can start to see oil separating from the sauce. 

Add a few tablespoons of water to get the sauce back to the consistency it was before, season with sea salt. Simmer until the sauce is quite dry. Then add the coconut milk and the prawns; bring back to boil and turn the heat down to low till the prawns are cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning. This makes quite a chunky curry.  If you want it smooth, and we do, just put in your stick blender and blitz to the desired consistency BEFORE you add the prawns. They only take a minute or two to cook.

In another pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil, the chillies and remaining mustard seeds and curry leaves. Fry for 10 seconds or so, then tip into the curry. Serve with steamed rice, some atchars and a sweet chutney which will temper the tartness that the tamarind brings.

We enjoyed with a 2016 Chenin blanc from De Wet cellar, a previous Wine of the Week

This is the Villiera Traditional Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2017. Rich on the classic Chenin nose; on the palate it starts shyly, then suddenly blossoms out and grows in depth and fruit, showcasing just how versatile and enticing Chenin with a little wood can be. Full of golden fruit, pineapple, peach, lemon, honey, some subtle spice and with just a little toasted vanilla wood, it shows lees and some minerality. Perfect for food and so quaffable. 4 months in oak barrels, 20% new French, the rest 2nd fill, given regular batonage to the lees and fermented with natural yeast. We predict that this wine is going to win more awards; it already has two. It will age beautifully. Get some soon. R129 on the farm. Platter gives it 4½ stars

It’s almost impossible not to feel the pull of the craft-drinks revolution. Wine Concepts will host their inaugural Craft Festival on Friday 23rd March from 17h00 to 20h00 at The Vineyard Hotel, where they’ll showcase a fine selection of diverse and enticing Beers and Ciders along with creative Spirits including Gin, Vodka, Tequila, Rum, Brandy, Absinthe, Grappa, Vermouth etc. The Festival offers the opportunity to taste a range of craft beverages from over 20 of the country’s top producers. All the showcased products will be available for purchase at special prices from Wine Concepts on the evening. Cost: R200.00 per person – includes tasting glass, tastings and light snacks. Tickets can be purchased via, or at any of the Wine Concepts branches or at the door on the evening subject to availability 

 In MENU Next Week


Japanese festival


We keep talking about rain and the scarcity of water in our blessed, beautiful province. We are now at a crisis point. This week, 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 will 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.

At the end of 2016, we had received 580mm for the the year to date. In 2017, 492mm. The annual average at our home in Sea Point at the end of November in previous years was 667mm. "Day Zero" is creeping closer.

So don't think that it's OK, we might have some rain next week. This is close to Kalahari desert level. We need to try harder. It is no use hoping that rain will come. If it does, it will be a blessing, but the forecast does not encourage optimism


14th March 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

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. 

Advertise here

Ask us about our rates