Beached boats at a boatyard on the north bank of the Douro, Porto

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We write in MENU about our experiences, not only to entertain you, but to encourage you to visit the places and events that we've been to. We know you will enjoy them and we try to make each write-up as graphic as we can, so that you'll get a good picture of what is on offer at each place, restaurant, wine farm, festival we visit. We never regurgitate other peoples' copy. Our stories are about our personal experiences

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In this Week's MENU

      We are settling back into our normal routine. We have stories about two wine related experiences and continue with our Iberian adventures in the Lower Douro Valley and return to Porto. The wine industry has lost two of its stars and John’s stolen cameras have been replaced. Two stories from this week will appear in next week’s issue as well as more Portuguese adventures. Please read on and enjoy…

      We enjoy sharing the fun, and the few misadventures with you and hope that a bit of the spirit of what we've seen and done will give pleasure to you!

      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

      This now very popular annual tasting was held last week at African Pride 15 on Orange Hotel between 6 and 9pm and there were some gems to taste

      Rain was promised for the weekend and luckily it did not rain on Saturday, although we do still need it desperately. So this interesting single varietal carnival was able to be held outside and was very much enjoyed by all who attended. There were some very interesting Cabernet Francs, some absolute classics, some high scorers, some wild children and sadly just a couple that bore little resemblance to this noble grape. Many thought one was a Pinot noir rather than a Cab Franc! It was so light and perfumed. For your R200 entrance you got a glass and could taste everything on show. We think this is the best way. Coupons and tick sheets restrict you and make you choose which means you might miss an interesting gem. 

      On our first day at Pinhao, we set out to explore the area and to find two Quintas (Port farms) that Joaquim Sá of Amorim Cork had organised for us to visit. For the next few hours Google maps got us terribly lost and we could not get to the Quintas,
      We had booked another AirBnB apartment in Porto and this was a really good one, it had underground parking and we would leave our car there and just use Uber or the public transport. There is almost no parking in central Porto so this was a find. Our landlord Jorge was there to meet us and he was extremely helpful pointing out all the important local things, like supermarkets and then how to get to all the tourist things and give us instruction for the flat, which was spacious and modern. We were now in the Serralves Park area. Lynne is looking a bit bedraggled as we got caught in the rain

      RIP #1 Giulio Bertrand. A great loss to everyone who appreciates good things to eat and drink, Mr Bertrand died this week at the age of 91 after suffering a heart attack. He came to South Africa from Italy, having been the fifth generation of his family to work in the family’s textile business. He acquired Morgenster estate in Somerset West in 1992 and undertook a major restoration, planting olive groves and vineyards and restoring the historic buildings. Morgenster, under his guidance has become a very important producer of high quality wines and olive oils. We were at the launch of his massive new olive oil production facility last year. He did wonderful things for the industry and is a great loss

      RIP #2 Jean-Luc Sweerts. A very good winemaker with a very eccentric touch, Jean-Luc worked with Achim von Arnim at Boschendal before moving to Avontuur where he made some great wines. After Avontuur, he worked at Grande Provence before starting his own business MC Square. We remember well his MC Square Chardonnays from the early 1990s which were excellent in their youth but had the ability to age much better than most other Chardonnays of those years. He had been ill for some time and will also be missed

      This traditional ‘sponge cake’ - the recipe is more than 200 years old, bears its own EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). It is more like a soufflé than a cake; it is very simple and quick to make with only three ingredients and is delicious, rich and gooey with a crisp meringue like crust. This is perfect if you have been making meringues and have egg yolks left over. You are meant to have a fluted edge, so don’t try to be too perfect when lining your cake tin with the greaseproof paper.

      6 egg yolks – 2 whole eggs – 100g caster sugar – 50 g flour

      Set your oven to 180 ºC. Add the sugar to the eggs and yolks and whip till really light and fluffy using an electric whisk or a mixer. This can take 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully sift in the flour, folding gently so as not to break up the whipped mixture. Pour into a baking tin lined with buttered greaseproof paper. Bake at 180ºC for 10 to 15 minutes, allow to cool than carefully peel off the paper and serve. It should be soft and gooey in the middle with a light brown top.

      Amazing if served with a sweet white or pink port.

      Lynne has not made this yet; it is someone else’s recipe. But we have eaten this in Portugal and it was amazing. Hope it works for you and you enjoy it

      A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. It has a lovely nose of herbaceousness and fresh red berries, with some vanillins and violets. Sweet berry fruit, a hint of toasted oak, good tannins and some chalk and minerality on the end. No faults. Lovely with food, especially rich meat dishes. And a snip at R55 from Get Wine (was R95)


       In MENU Next Edition

      Broadway Café, Portuguese food in Maitland

      Gaggenau Sommelier competition

      More stories about our journey through Portugal and Spain

      Friday, 8th June Wine Concepts Pinot and Chardonnay tasting at the Vineyard Hotel  See here for details

      Wednesday, 13th June: 2018 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show public tasting at the CTICC  See here for details

      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


      25th May 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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