Trees silhouetted against the Helderberg

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It has been one of those weeks. The usual busy one, but then the hurdles. Phone line down, Internet, connection abysmal, the door of our wood burning stove off, being repaired just as the cold weather kicks in, and all this while we were trying to book hotels and flights for Hong Kong. We have been invited to attend VINEXPO Hong Kong as media and we are going. This will be our third one; the previous two were in Bordeaux. It is a feast of international wine. And we are fascinated by the growth in the Asian wine market

 So you can expect another of our travelogues while we spend a week in Hong Kong and a week in northern Vietnam. What did we do before the internet and Google? It does make life so much easier. We are now investigating the street food and the best places to find it. Also looking at a tour to Ha Long Bay. Any information and good suggestions will be gratefully received

 FOOD FANATICS HAS A NEW VENUE, The Homestead

FOOD FANATICS HAS A NEW VENUE, The Homestead     Caterers have always been our friends. We get to eat their food on a regular basis. We are happy to recommend those whose food we have enjoyed at functions and relationships have grown over the years. So it was with delight that we attended the opening of Food Fanatics new function venue in an 1820 farmhouse in Constantia Main Road this week. For many years Elaine Rousseau and her crew have been rushing all over the Cape to do functions some times 2 or 3 on one day, now she and the team can do it all from their great new venue. Check out their web site http://foodfanatics.co.za/ if you are interested in using them at the Homestead

Elgin Cool Wine & Country Food Festival

 Day One

Day Two 

We spent the weekend at the Elgin Cool Wine & Country Food Festival and managed to fit in 7 wineries before we ran out of time and steam. It is such a lovely area to visit and here the wines do not conform to any particular style, which is refreshing. You almost never know what you are going to get. From supreme elegance and style to gentle quaffing wines, from well aged whites to stonkingly robust reds, they continue to surprise us

1 onion, finely chopped - 1 T canola or grape seed oil - 1 T butter - 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped - 4 roughly crushed cloves of garlic - 2 T of finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, whatever you have in the garden or fridge) - grated rind of one lemon - juice of half a lemon - 8 skinless thigh and leg chicken joints - 1 T plain flour - 1 glass of dry white wine - 200ml good chicken stock -salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fry the onion gently in the oil and butter till soft and golden, add the celery and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic. This will fill the house with wonderful smells and will soften and cook down. Add less if you must. Continue to fry gently for 4 or 5 minutes. Dust the chicken with the flour and season well. Push the vegetables to the side and briefly brown the chicken flour side down. Then add the herbs, the lemon zest, the lemon juice and the wine and bubble quickly to reduce the wine to half. Add the stock, put on a lid and put into the oven for 40 minutes, checking once to stir, taste and adjust the seasoning and add more lemon juice if you think it needs it.  Add more liquid if necessary. When the chicken is cooked, remove and serve with the jus from the pot. We had this with carrots and courgettes cooked in stock and butter, de-podded broad beans cooked with spring onions and mint and a small baked potato each

Unless you still have some, sadly this wonderful wine is now unobtainable. We tasted it with winemaker Sean Skibbe this weekend when he gave us a tasting of 10 years of his wines and it was amazing, it has aged so well. Still fresh, fruit driven, lively with green notes and fig leaf pyroxenes and wonderfully full and rounded. We then bought a case of the newly released 2015 and are going to put it away for a few years to see what it becomes. We have high hopes. As we keep saying, drink older white wines, they do not suddenly deteriorate in a year, often they get better and better

and three older reds which show how well our wines can last when kept in good cellars

We had supper in front of a roaring fire and treated ourselves with some really good older wines.

The 1987 Nederburg Paarl Cabernet Sauvignon was a total surprise. We all expected it to be interesting when first opened and then to fade quickly. We could not have been more wrong. It was full of smooth dark cassis fruit and elegance and improved in the glass as we drank it. As Peter said, it was up there with some good French Cabernets 

The 1998 Thelema Cabernet also delighted us with its classic cassis fruit and elegance and minty flavours 

The Beaumont Mourvedre 2001 was another surprise, heavy, dark and wild; almost Italian in character, we loved it

 Who says good South African wines don't last? Not us

You can cook with corked wine. The chemical TCA (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole) which makes corked wine so musty and unpleasant to drink, disappears when you cook with it. So when that expensive bottle of red or white wine turns out to be ruined, keep it for a good coq au vin or the recipe above

Also, if you take a sheet of Glad Wrap and twist it into a candle shape and drop it into the bottle of corked wine and leave it there for a couple of days, the musty aroma and taste will become less nasty. The wine will probably not be at its best, but it will become more drinkable

 In Next Week’s MENU

New Idiom venue, Wade Bales’ Wine & Malt Whisky, 96 Winery Road turns 25, !Khwa Ttu, Thali Thali

We are planning to use wine barrel staves as the covering of a pergola, If any of our wine farmer readers have old barrels which have outlived other uses, 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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