Dinner in the street, 40ºC in Hanoi at 9pm

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This has been a rather busy week and a bit of a struggle to get all of these photographs and write ups done in time, as we have another busy one on the go as we put this to bed tonight. A sore throat for Lynne has at last gone after 5 days, but it did keep her in bed for a day or two, as we were not sure if it heralded a bout of something worse. Icy cold winter is upon us and the fire is going constantly to warm the house. The instinct to hibernate is with us. The winter solstice strawberry moon this week graced us, but brought with it a bitterly clear cold night, with the temperature dropping to 2.5⁰C, not often seen in Sea Point. Today was one of our fabulous Champagne days, clear skies, lots of sun and the air in the winelands sparkled, as did the mountains. The temperature went up to about 23⁰C in Stellenbosch. and we were warm again

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Last week we attended the launch of the Leeu Estates, the exclusive five-star boutique property which opened to paying guests on the 15th of June. Indian Billionaire, Mr Analjit Singh visited Franschhoek for one day during 2010 FIFA World Cup. He and his wife fell in love with the town and the countryside and decided to build a home there. This soon grew into a world-class hospitality and winemaking destination. (Singh means lion and Leeu is lion in Afrikaans)

It is very seldom indeed that we get a chance to taste 11 years of one wine from any wine farm. Not many farms have vinoteques that can go back that far, especially for a white wine. So we leapt at the chance to taste Vondeling’s Babiana white blend of vintages from 2005 through to 2015. Winemaker Matthew Copeland took over in July 2007 from the previous winemaker. And he has really taken this wine to new heights. Babiana is a white blend which never has less than 50% Chenin Blanc and the 2015 has 60% Chenin, 18% Grenache Blanc, 16% Viognier and a little (6%) Chardonnay

We confess, we are a little in love with Hong Kong. And the evening light is so charming. The last real junk in Hong Kong is now a tourist boat. And how beautiful does it look in front of the new causeway suspension bridge

Before we went to this Showcase Lynne asked herself what she was expecting to find. And the answer was she didn't know. And now that we have tasted through as many of the 114 (? some people brought wines not mentioned in the catalogue) wines as was humanly possible in three hours, she still does not have a clear idea of what the South African wine industry is trying to express with Shiraz. Yes, there are some wonderful examples of this lovely grape variety, spicy, fruity, juicy, complex, woody, herbal, with chocolate, liquorice and even coffee, but are there any styles people are trying to make and reproduce each year? It seems not yet. Everyone is doing their own thing. There certainly was one style that emerged, that of quiet elegantly restrained Shirazes, that need time and show huge potential. Several of those were in the top 12 line up this year, like the Saronsberg, Fairview, Rickety Bridge and the Eagles Nest. The De Morgenzon Reserve is in a class of its own. A huge nose, spicy, sappig, concentrated , long and quite warm. A food wine to drink now with wintery food and/or keep for years if it so takes you

This competition has so many entries that we think the tasting should be over two days. The big question is: Is Shiraz the red wine of South Africa's future? Can it be? It is certainly easy to drink. Most of the time. But we are not the Rhône

We awoke to a rainy and humid day. Lynne decided to sample the Vietnamese breakfast. Quite similar to what we had eaten the night before. Those mushroom and onion rice pancakes, and some Pho with noodles and fried soya nuggets. Extremely filling.

John stayed with the omelette, but lost the rather stringy indigestible cheese filling. The fruits came as an appetiser every morning, good dragon fruit, crisp slices of different melon, but not always with much taste. The fruit juices were superb, especially the mango. They tasted freshly squeezed

When you go to Vietnam, people tell you of all sorts of places you must see. We will come back one day to see the rest of the country. The one place we think you should never miss is Ha Long Bay. We were given the advice not to go with the small and cheaper operators, but to go with the big, fairly expensive companies. It was the best possible advice. This trip was a dream come true. We absolutely loved every moment of it and thoroughly recommend that you add it to your bucket list.

It is a three and a half hour trip to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. It is not that far, but the roads are very busy and congested and go slowly through many towns, rather like our N1 motorway through Somerset West. So it was an early start as our luxury bus came to collect us at 8. We took overnight bags and left our suitcases at the hotel to which we would return after three days away


The cold always makes us want to eat more spicy food but not always meat. So this week's recipe was a great discovery. Use as many or as few chillies as you like. Lynne used three birds eye chillies. If using tinned tomatoes you do not need to add the passata. But fresh tomatoes are best.

2 Aubergines - sea salt - canola or coconut oil for frying - 1 t mustard seeds - 10 to 12 curry leaves, dried will work if you can't get fresh from Atlas - 2 onions, finely chopped - 2 or 3 dried chillies - 4 t garam masala - 2 t ground coriander - 2 t turmeric - 400 ml tin of coconut cream - 4 tomatoes finely chopped or 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes - 300 ml tomato passata - 1 x 400g tin of chick peas - 30g fresh mange tout peas

Slice the aubergines in quarters lengthwise, then into 2 cm thick slices. Salt them and set aside for half an hour so that they weep and get rid of any bitterness. Rinse and dry them off with a towel.

Heat the oil in a large casserole and fry the aubergine slices till they are golden brown and crisp all over. You may need to do this in batches. Set aside. Add another half a tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and stir fry for 30 seconds. Do not have the pan too hot or the mustard seeds will pop and fly out of the pan. Stir in the onion and continue cooking with a little salt until they are soft and beginning to brown. Add the chillies and the other spices with a spoonful of the thick top of the coconut cream and fry for one minute. Add the remaining coconut cream, the fresh tomatoes and the passata with one extra can of water. Simmer with the lid off for half an hour till the sauce is thick and creamy. Stir in the chickpeas and the aubergines and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It may need salt. Then add the mange tout and cook for another five minutes. Serve with steamed rice or Naan bread and scatter over some extra curry leaves just as you serve. Lovely with a good Chenin Blanc or  Sauvignon Blanc

The best Chenin at the showcase, for us, was Beaumont's Hope Marguerite, named for Sebastian Beaumont's grandmother. Layers and layers of fruit and complexity, great minerality and punch, this barrel fermented Chenin is a wine to pair with rich food or just enjoy with good friends. It will cellar well too and reward. Platter gives it 4½ stars. We paid R240 a bottle at the farm 

 In Next Week’s MENU

Ha Long Bay and back to SA, Jordan bakery, Durbanville, DeWetshof Chardonnay

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

Events in June and July:

Saturday 25th June. Beaumont Barrel Lunch. A celebration of new vineyards in old soils. Weather permitting, we will meet at 11:30 with a glass of our freshest Chenin to help get the day rolling. We will then take a walk to our newest Chenin vineyard where Sebastian will do a short demonstration on how we develop and shape these young vines. Following this we will wander up to the cellar for a long lazy lunch amongst our barrels. Menu @  R410 per person. To book contact info@beaumont.co.za. Beaumont Wines, Compagnes Drift Farm, Bot River, Western Cape

Wednesday, 29th June. A relaxed tasting event to showcase some of the fantastic (and fantastic value) wines that Raka has on offer at Southey’s Bistro & Wine Boutique, 196 Main Road, Somerset West. The meal will take the form of 8 tasting dishes – certainly enough to constitute a hearty meal!! Please note that there is limited space available, so please book ASAP. For bookings email: info@southeysbistro.co.za or call: 021 851 6060

Saturday, 2nd July. The Table Bay’s MINI CHEFS is the perfect recipe for teaching children that cooking is an enduring life skill that can be healthy, artistic, creative, and sometimes quite surprising! Each two hour class provides 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. This week is celebrating Warming Winter: Tomato beef bredie, our famous hertzoggies. Cost: R300 per child. Bookings: Send an email to TableBayDining@suninternational.com  or call: 021 406 5988

Sunday, 3rd JulyIndependence Day lunch at Lakeside Lodge & Spa, near Sedgefield, in celebration of freedom and the USA national holiday on the 4th of July. Guests can choose from a delicious two and three course set meal consisting of all American dishes and a special American cocktail. With options like prawn gumbo and New York cheesecake, guests can celebrate their freedom in the best way. The two course set menu costs R295 per person and the three course R345 per person. Book your table to avoid disappointment. Contact 044 343 1844, email info@lakesidelodge.co.za or book online. For more information, visit www.laksesidelodge.co.za and visit their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter and Instagram

Thursday, 7th July.  Tasting Time at Caroline's Fine Wine Cellar, Cape Town. Focus on CHARDONNAY – It’s time we took a look at how ouir Chardonnays stack up against those of France. Taste four top SA Chardonnays, plus William Fevre Chablis 1er Cru ‘Vaillons’ 2013 ( R772 ); Pierre-Yves Colin Puligny-Montrachet ‘Les Champs Gains’  1er Cru 2013 ( R1492 );  Marc Morey Chassagne-Montrachet ‘Les Vergers’ 1er Cru 2013 ( R1156 ); Meursault ‘Les Porusots’ 1er Cru 2012 ( R1316 ).  R350 p/p. For bookings: please click here or mail Lyzette on carowine@mweb.co.zaTo buy wine online, visit www.carolineswine.com

Tuesday, 12th & Wednesday, 13th July, 17h00 to 21h00. Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival returns for the 26th year with talks and tastings by some of the industry’s biggest names. Summer Place, 69 Melville Road, Hyde Park. Cost: R190 online, R210 at the door. Tickets will be available from Webtickets from April onwards. Keep an eye on the Juliet Cullinan Wines website for up-to-date information as it becomes available. For further information please direct your queries to events@julietcullinan.co.za   or call 074 359 7995

Thursday, 14th July.  Tasting Time at Caroline's Fine Wine Cellar, Cape Town. BURGUNDY TERROIR study with Tarryn Thomas of fine wine importers Reciprocal Wine Trading. Starting with Chablis, then looking at Cote de Nuits &  Cote de Beaune. Louis Latour Chablis ‘Montmains’ vs Domaine des Malandes Chablis 1er Cru ‘Montmains’; Marsannay Rouge 2013; Santenay ‘Les Champs Claude’ 2009; Beaune comparison: Henri de Villamont  Savigny les Beaune ‘Le Village’ 2012, Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru 2012, L Latour Beaune 1er Cru ‘Perrieres’ 2012.  End with three ten year-old Grand Cru wines from the hill of Corton:  Domaine Latour Corton Grand Cru 2006, Corton Clos de la Vigne au Saint 2006 and Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2006. R500 p/p. For bookings: please click here or mail Lyzette on carowine@mweb.co.zaTo buy wine online, visit www.carolineswine.com

Saturday, 16th & Sunday, 17th JulyFranschhoek Bastille FestivalTickets to the Food & Wine Marquee cost R220 person and include entry, a complimentary tasting glass, a booklet of five wine tasting coupons as well as a R20 wine voucher to be redeemed at the festival. Additional coupons can be purchased on the day. Tickets are limited and to avoid disappointment on missing out on all the action pre-booking through www.webtickets is advised. Take advantage of this year’s Early Bird Special, which is valid from 11 May to 11 June only. Limited tickets to the Food & Wine Marquee for Sunday, 17th July will be available at a discounted price of R180 per person if booked directly through Webtickets. Don’t delay, book today! Adding that extra pizzazz, the village, a hive of festival activities, will be kitted out in its finest French flare, as you take in the sights and sounds of all that’s on offer. Boules, markets, fine food and so much more. For more information visit www.franschhoekbastille.co.za or follow on Twitter @Franschhoek_SA

Thursday, 21st JulyHAVE THE BEST OF FOUR WORLDS It’s the perfect time for the winemakers to do the cooking… well, some of it! Four gourmand winemakers will vie to make you the best canapé in “Masterchef” style, after which you can enjoy a four course meal of our famous signature dishes perfectly paired with iconic wines from these exceptional winemakers. Cost: R450 per person. Bookings: Send an email to TableBayDining@suninternational.com  or call: 021 406 5988

Thursday, 28th and Friday, 29th July FNB Eastern Cape Wine Show – Port Elizabeth. Ticket Price is R160 per night which includes unlimited tastings, wine tasting glass and wine show guide. Light meals will be available for sale at Hemingways. Queries to 011 482 5936/5/4 or www.easterncapewineshow-el.co.za  For more information visit www.outsorceress.co.za

Saturday, 30th July, 10h30 until 16h00Flavours of Winter at Muratie Estate. A Celebration of Cape Port-Style Wines. Make the most of the Cape winter and head out to the historic Muratie Estate in Stellenbosch for a mellow fireside celebration of Cape Port-Style Wines at the Flavours of Winter Festival on Saturday 30th July, hosted by the Melck family, South Africa’s top Cape Port-Style Wine Producers, and African Cork Suppliers. Port lovers are invited to cosy up in one of the Cape’s oldest wineries, appreciating the rich and luscious flavours of Cape Port-Style Wines and noshing on delicious winter warmer treats prepared by the Muratie Farm Kitchen. All the wines on show will be available for purchase at cellar door prices.  In addition, von Geusau will be tempting taste buds with their decadently delicious hand crafted chocolates. Cost: R100 per person including a tasting glass. Due to limited space, visitors are advised to book in advance. Telephone: 021 865 2330 or Email: wine@muratie.co.za

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. More in the Events Calendar

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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