ELGIN GRABOUW TOURISM ON AN UPWARD TRAJECTORY

On Cape Town’s doorstep and offering so much…

2019 started on a positive note for the Elgin Grabouw Valley, with exciting developments that have paved the way for the relaunch of tourism.

As at 30 June 2018, Elgin Valley Tourism closed, however, Wines of Elgin recognised the vital role tourism plays for the Valley and led the decision of a relaunch. Wines of Elgin is recognised internationally for its highly acclaimed and award-winning cool climate wines.

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Ensuring a hands-on involvement of members representing the relevant sectors in the valley, the newly established tourism body will be represented by the following committee members:

Marion Smith (Chairperson and co-owner of Elgin Ridge Wines)
Nicky Wallace (Paul Wallace Wines)
Liesl Cluver Rust (Paul Cluver Wines)
Nick King (South Hill Wines)
Roger Orpen (Elgin Railway Market)
Pieter Silberbauer (Trails End)
Alfra Cox, assisted by Edward Cloete (representing Theewaterskloof Municipality)

The committee will be supported by a full time Executive Head of Tourism, Catherine Boome, who resides in Elgin on a family apple and pear farm. Mariaan Meyer manages the administrative tasks.

The new structure and name encompasses the entire Elgin and Grabouw community, offering a broader scope of information for local and international tourists. These include all sectors, namely wines, the new Elgin Railway Market, outdoor adventure activities, restaurants, accommodation facilities – that range from authentic farm experiences, mountain bike hotels to glamping – as well as the traditional farmstalls hat feature as an integral part of most passing travellers’ journey.
The Valley sits within the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, a 100,000 hectare UNESCO designated home to the most complex biodiversity on our planet with more than 1,880 different plant species

Whilst in the process of the transition, visitors can make use of a virtual tourist office for any queries via exec@elgintourism.co.za or visit http://www.elgingrabouwtourism.co.za There are plans in place for an on-site office, but for the interim the committee feel it would be the ideal opportunity to put their innovative ideas to the test.

The valley is approximately 70km from Cape Town, and is internationally recognised for its cool-climate wines and warm hospitality. World-class eateries, accommodation and outdoor activities which add extra appeal to visitors.

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TRUTH, LOVE & CLEAN CUTLERY

 

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A truly exciting and important restaurant guide has just been published.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery is edited by Jill Dupleix and Giles Coren and is a guide to the truly good restaurants of the world. (Coren you may remember as co-presenter of the television series, Amazing Hotels).

One of the things that separates this guide from any other I have seen is its ethos: “Of all the qualities that distinguish a truly outstanding restaurant or food experience, perhaps truth love and care are the most important.”

“A passion for food that is so good that it will never be forgotten, an environment that makes that food taste even better, and a care for the ground or water from which that food is derived and the community in which it is served. These then are the true food heroes of the world.”

The book lists 400 restaurants from Asia, Australasia, Europe, Latin America & the Caribbean, Middle East, USA & Canada. Africa is not included this time, but a separate volume on our continent is in the pipeline, I believe.

The listings in Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery are well written and not over-wordy. Each entry includes a brief description of the kind of restaurant, who owns it or is its chef, when its open, its address and contact details and a price guide.

But the three sections in each listing: What they say; Signature dishes; and What we say, make for fascinating reading.

One needn’t be a global traveller to enjoy reading this restaurant guide, it is a great read on its own account. But if you are headed to foreign climes and subscribe to the ethical eating mantra (we all should), Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery will be an important and enjoyable companion to inform your dining choices.

It is a magnificent and highly commendable work.

Bon Appetit.

WOW BENGUELA COVE, WHAT A DIFFERENCE TWO YEARS HAS MADE!

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When my wife and I visited Benguela Cove in November 2016, its cellar and other buildings were under construction nearing completion. At the time, Winemaker Johann Fourie painted a picture of the Estate’s exciting plans and they certainly sounded impressive.

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Fast forward to December 2018 when we paid our second visit. From the moment we turned off the R43, we were impressed by the Estate’s spectacular rolling vineyards and their sea-side location.
Our yellow, hard-hatted experience and hearing about the future has been replaced by the breath-taking site of the main buildings and the adjacent winery. On entering, we liked our first impression – modern and spacious with understated elegance. There are gorgeous works of art on display, thankfully not too many, but enough to beautifully enhance the interior ambience.

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We sat in the wine tasting area and I tried the few of the Benguela Cove range of wines with which I was not already familiar. I particularly liked their 2016 Benguela Cove Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, melon and floral tones and a note of maritime influence befitting its location. Had I not needed to do some driving later, I would have happily had a couple of glasses of it then and there.

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Instead I enjoyed a glass of it with the light lunch – battered fish – we had at the Moody Lagoon restaurant, which I would rename the Good Moody Lagoon! Sea view, fresh fish, good wine made for a delicious three way pairing indeed.

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Now here’s a “must do”, highly recommended – after lunch we took an hour long Pontoon Cruise on the lagoon aboard the Estate’s Lady Bonnie. One has the option to buy some wine to drink on the cruise, I took mine along already consumed. The pontoon heads towards the sandbank that separates the lagoon from the sea……and beaches itself on it! Because I am of that age, when we jumped out into the shallow waters and onto the whiter than white sand, I imagined I was part of the Normandy landing of World War Two and careered along the sand…unarmed though and to gain a view of the sea. One is allowed one’s fantasies, isn’t one?

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After the cruise we headed for Pirate Golf, which is a beautifully equipped outdoor kiddies play area, with Adventure Golf and an eatery for kids called Blackbeard’s Diner.

Johann Fourie, I challenge you to a pairing of adventure golf and wine tasting!

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Afterwards, we peeped in at the, not yet opened when we visited but open now, Tea Terrace, overlooking the lagoon – what else! As per its name, teas are served, pastries and wine. The place is elegant and tastefully decorated. We’ll certainly try it on our next visit.

Benguela Cove certainly offers a diverse range of experiences, we had a blast there!

AN OCCASION, A VENUE, AND A MEAL AND WINES TO SAVOUR

2018 has seen KWV celebrating its Centenary with a series of special events.
One of these was the opening of its spectacular Cathedral Cellar as a private events venue under the custodianship of KWV Ambassador Chef, Mynhardt Joubert. The cellar houses an impressive collection of thirty-two ‘stukvats’ measuring approximately 3 meters in circumference, serving as an imposing backdrop in the serene setting.
I attended the KWV’s Centenary climax, held in the majestic Cathedral Cellar, which saw the unveiling of a brand-new carved barrel, by wood-carving artist Ivan Hunter paired with a sumptuous celebratory lunch by Chef Mynhardt.

The new work is a fusion of past and present, with the inscription, “KWV celebrating 100 years of success in innovative viti- & viniculture” carved on it.

The new centenary vat in KWV's Cathedral Cellar

The KWV Centenary carving

The spectacular setting and the splendid new carved barrel could easily have out-impacted the lunch, but Chef Mynhardt’s food and the accompanying KWV wines more than held their own.

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The scene is set

 

The five course menu consisted of:

Charcoal and olive ciabatta with anchovy and caper butter. With this we drank The Centenary Blanc de Blancs MCC

 

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The Centenary Blanc de Blancs MCC

 

Summer tomato and nectarine gazpacho with local charcuterie, crème fraiche and roasted marinated. With this we enjoyed some Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc.

Smoked salmon tartare tian with cucumber spaghetti, beetroot cream, avocado, candies beetroot and baby salad leaves. A glass of Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay was poured with this.

Mediterranean deboned and stuffed lamb rib with zucchini spaghetti, roasted vine tomatoes and garlic emulsion served with Cathedral Cellar Triptych.

Italian flourless chocolate cake served with espresso ice cream, smoked salt, Chef Mynhardt’s fruitcake and crème anglaise and….drumroll: KWV 1949 Ruby Port.

All the pairings were excellent, but the two that really appealed to my palate were the salmon with the Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay and of course the privilege and the pleasure of the KWV 1949 Ruby Port…..and that dessert was a superb companion!

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A glass of KWV 1949 Ruby Port beautifully plated

 

Congratulations on your first 100 KWV, I look forward to being around for as much of your second as is possible.

 

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Enjoying a glass of The Centenary MCC with Wim Truter, KWV’s Chief Winemaker

Visitors can view the collection of KWV’s carved vats on various tours provided by the KWV Emporium. Visit http://www.kwvwineemporium.co.za to book.

SUPREME SUSHI AT THE SEASIDE

For years now, for me Sushi has fallen into that category of food that I am happy to eat, but would never order when dining out, until now.

What changed my mind was tasting the new sushi offering at The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa in Camps Bay at their invitation.

From November 2018, SUSHI by 12A under Thai Chef Sarawut Sukkowplang promises to be a popular destination for those who like top end sushi. (Chef Sukkowplang previously worked at Nobu at the V&A Waterfront.)

Chef describes his classic, modern style as ‘Fusion Sushi’ – traditional and contemporary in perfect balance.   On the menu, you’ll find the Chef’s take on traditional dishes such as Nigiri, Sashimi and Tataki, but his Signature Rolls, with a wide selection of fillings such as Yellowfin Tuna, Norwegian Salmon, Trout and Beef fillet, and the Norwegian Salmon and Yellowfin Tuna Tacos.

“Using produce that is both local, as well as sustainable is key to our menu choices at The Twelve Apostles. Our Oysters (a twist on the Japanese version) and Sea Trout come from Saldanha Bay and the cold-caught Yellowfin Tuna from the Cape Atlantic area. The freshwater Trout is sourced from Fizantakraal in the Du Toitskloof Mountains.”

Chef Sukkowplang makes his own unique Dashi, with kelp foraged from the Atlantic Ocean right below the hotel. Every seaweed has its own flavour and character profile that makes it unique and once dried, it releases nutrients and intensifies in flavour (Kombu). Dashi is the base for many of Chef’s sauces and glazes.

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SUSHI by 12A Japanese Style Saldanha Oysters

The SUSHI by 12A menu covers a variety of sushi, my personal preference is for Sashimi and my palate was sent to foodie paradise by Chef Sukkowplang’s offerings. What flavours and textures, wow!!! I particularly loved the Japanese Style Saldanha Oysters (with momji, spring onion and ponzu), I could literally taste the sea.

 

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SUSHI by 12A Sushi rolls

There are no compromises on this menu, nothing but the best is served and I cannot imagine there could be a better sushi offering anywhere in South Africa. I will definitely be back and it will be the very first time I will order sushi.

Congratulations 12 Apostles and Chef Sarawut Sukkowplang – I loved every gorgeous mouthful on your sublime Sushi menu.

The setting is superb too.

Sushi By 12A is served daily in the Café Grill restaurant, from November 2018; 12h00 to 21h00.

 

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Phone: 021 437 9000

THERE’S MORE TO DARLING THAN EVITA, SWEETHEART

Wine, yes, food yes, but toffees? I never ever expected that the latter would be a savourite, but here we are.

I recently had the pleasure and indulgence of tasting some of the range of toffees from Darling Sweet and they were absolutely divine, darling.

Darling Sweet started a little over four years ago, and has become the town’s second icon.

Its founders and confectioners are Hentie van der Merwe and Frits van Ryneveld . at the time, Hentie was working at Stellenbosch University and Frits had an antique shop in Darling and was also a medical rep.

It all started when Frits mentioned that he wanted to find someone to provide him with toffee to sell in his  shop. Hentie (being a foodie and loving to cook) created a toffee recipe for Frits – Darling Sweet was born.

 

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In my beautiful box of Darling Sweet Assorted Toffee were six different flavours: Tannie Evita’s Classic, Liquorice, Honey & Salt (my favourite, by far!), and my Runner-up is Bird’s Eye Chili. I really liked the fact that the toffees were firm rather than hard.

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And if that wasn’t enough yumminess, my breakfasts enjoyed dollops of their Honey and Salt Spread and Tannie Evita’s Classic Toffee Spread on toast.

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Thanks to you Frits and Hentie, I had to work harder at gym…but it was worth it!

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ENJOY SOUTH AFRICAN BLISS THIS WEEKEND – PINOTAGE AND BILTONG

Pinotage.

Biltong.

On their own, the one an iconic South African wine and the other an iconic South African foodstuff, but together a match made in pleasure heaven.

I recently thoroughly enjoyed a preview of this year’s Pinotage and Biltong Festival which takes place this weekend on Saturday 14 April and Sunday 15 April, 2018 at Perdeberg Cellar.

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This year, eighteen wineries will offer nearly 50 Pinotages for tasting and for sale, some of which are paired with specific biltong flavours, each chosen to highlight the best qualities of both. The wines range from traditional red Pinotage right up to Rosés, sparkling wine, MCC, blends and even a white Pinotage.

Also at the Festival, there will be food trucks, an Oyster & MCC bar, Perdeberg’s own craft beer range, a kiddies play area and music by the popular Guy Feldman and his band.

And the Perdeberg Tapas Picnic, which we enjoyed at the preview, is enough for 2 people and includes a bottle of their Dryland Collection Pioneer Pinot Noir/Chardonnay 2017.  Another very worthwhile and fun Perdeberg experience at the Festival is the opportunity to bottle your own Cape Blend of wines, mine was delicious.

Participating wineries at this year’s Pinotage & Biltong Festival are: Badsberg Winery, Beyerskloof, Boland Cellar, Bonnievale Wines, Delheim Wines,  Flagstone Winery, Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate, Idiom Collection, Knorhoek  Wines, Lanzerac Wines, Mellasat Vineyards, Overhex Wines International,  Perdeberg Cellar , Rhebokskloof  Wine Estate,  Simonsvlei Winery,  Stellenbosch Hills Wines,  Van Loveren Vineyards and Wellington Wines.

My first experience of pairing a variety of biltongs with a variety of pinotage styles was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. With each combination, I sipped the pinotage, then nibbled the biltong, then sipped again and if I hadn’t had to drive home afterwards, I would happily have overindulged on both…..

Pinotage and Biltong Festival promises to be lots of fun. Tickets are R200 pp at www.plankton.mobi or www.computicket.com or R230 at the gate. This includes access to the venue, a branded wine glass, a curated selection of 18 Pinotage and Biltong pairings and free tastings of the other Pinotages on show.  Perdeberg Winery is between Paarl and Durbanville and easily accessible from the N1.

LUBBLY BUBBLY AND LUBBLY LUNCH TOO

A bubbly lunch may sound to some that I am on the drinking man’s diet …..I most definitely am not.

The title refers to a lunch I recently enoyed at which each course was paired with a different bubbly from Simonsig – home of the original Méthode Cap Classique.

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Our genial and effervescent hosts were Simonsig supremos Johan and Diane Malan.

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Now by any criteria this was no ordinary lunch. Firstly Simonsig and in particular their Kaapse Vonkel, have led the way in South African bubblies for over 45 years. The lunch was held at one of this country’s leading restaurants, Harald Bresselschmidt’s Aubergine in Cape Town.

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Now that the wine and restaurant credentials are on the table, there is another hugely significant element to join them – many rate Bresselschmidt supreme amongst South African chefs when it comes to pairing food with wine.

So upfront it was likely that a huge treat was I store, and boy did it deliver and then some!

 

Here’s the majestic Simonsig/Aubergine menu:

Ocean Kabeljou marinated and sous-vide nettle and green apple shoots

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel 2015

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Calves Liver with fava beans, lemon balsamic-glazed white grapes

Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2012

Simonsig Cuvée Royale

Quail Breasts filled with mousseline, prawn reduction, pistachio, cherry-quinoa dressing

Simonsig Pinot Noir Brut Rosé 2015

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Ivory Chocolate Dome with MCC soft centre, almond streusel and angelica ice cream, white flower espuma

Simonsig Demi Sec 2015

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True confession. I am an avid wine drinker and food eater, but when it comes to doing both at the same time, I am severely handicapped. So enjoying food and wine pairings is usually somewhat of a challenge.

But I think a corner has been turned for me. Savouring the glorious range and different vintages of Simonsig bubblies before the lunch was pleasure enough. But then, my personal food and wine-pairing sea change…..

The superb Harald Bresselschmidt dishes and the Simonsig’s always excellent Cap Classiques were so magnificently complementary that my taste-buds finally got the food/wine pairing message. Food, wine, food, wine, food, wine , left right left right, whichever way I turned the balance and harmony were perfect.

Although Simonsig are the Cap Classique pioneers, they continue to strive for excellence and regularly receive industry accolades.

At the recent 2017 Amorim Méthode Cap Classique Challenge, they won: Best Rosé: Simonsig Woolworths Pinot Noir Rosé No Sulphur Added 2015: Best Blanc de Blanc and Best Overall: Simonsig Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012 and Best Producer:
So seek out the Simonsig bubblies, dine at Aubergine, enjoy sensory excellence.

Long may they vonkel!

 

THE GASTRONOMIC JOYS OF SPRING

I recently made my third visit to La Motte in Franschhoek, this year. Each visit was more enjoyable than the one before and each offered something extra.

My first visit was to try the La Motte Food& Wine Pairing and then lunch; the second was to celebrate a new Pierneef Exhibition followed by a Pierneef inspired lunch.

The third visit was titled “The Splendour of Spring” and was for lunch in the form of a fynbos-inspired menu of modern Cape Winelands Cuisine at Pierneef a la Motte. With each meal I have become more and more a fan of Chef Michelle Theron’s cooking.

The something extra this time was that Michelle collaborated with Sarah Graham, the food writer, cook and the host of two food TV programmes on the Menu and the execution of it.

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Sarah Graham and Chef Michelle Theron collaborating

The Splendour of Spring menu and the pairing with the fine La Motte wines made for a very special four-course lunch indeed. For me, I was glad not to know the micro-detail of the partnership and be free to enjoy each dish on its own merits.

Here’s the menu and the wines that went with each item:

ODE TO BREAD

Mosbolletjies with farm butter, quince spread and buchu salt

FIRST

Tomato, honey bush and goat’s cheese “roosterkoek”

2016 La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc

SECOND

Fragrant Cape seafood curry with lavender, lightly smoked mussels and banana chutney

2016 La Motte Chardonnay

Fybos-inspired luncheon (83)

Cape Seafood Curry

THIRD

Waterblommetjie and samp risotto, Karoo lamb “sout ribbetjie”, pulled lamb belly, bone marrow, red wine jus

2015 La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon

FOURTH

Poached citrus salad with rosemary salted caramel, brandy milk pinch blanc mange, milk tart semi-freddo

NV La Motte Straw Wine

 

Each course was a joy and the wine pairings were spot on, but one dish and one wine were my personal favourites: my Dish of 2017 – the Cape seafood curry and I really enjoyed the La Motte Straw Wine that ended the meal.

Congratulations and thanks Michelle and Sarah!

I wonder what my next La Motte visit will bring……

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All photos were supplied by La Motte

50 SHADES OF HEAT

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Ishay Govender-Ypma is a journalist, writer and cook based in Cape Town. She grew up on the ambrosial, sometimes hellfire curries of KwaZulu-Natal and quickly embraced spiced dishes of all kinds.

Her new book, CURRY – Stories & Recipes across South Africa, explores the fascinating story of South African curry. In it Ishay features almost 90 recipes from 60 cooks and food experts across the nation.

Ishay avers that “the Durban curries of her childhood, though a proud and prominent part of South African food culture, are not the defining curries of this land.” She didn’t take the easy way out in seeking recipes for inclusion in this book, instead she and her husband took to the road, travelling across the breadth of nine provinces. On the trip, both the dish and the heart of our people revealed itself to her.

“It became increasingly clear that a recipe shared without the context of a person’s life would be lost on me, the reader and the interviewee. While there are a handful of well-recognised chefs here, the majority are home cooks who were elected and suggested to me by their communities.”

CURRY is not an ordinary cookbook. For a start, Ishay’s Introduction is a marvellous and important discourse on the socio-political South African context of the history of curry and its communities. Even if you are not going to tackle any of the recipes, it will add some depth the next time you eat a curry locally. And with each provider of recipes, there is a personal back-story, adding authenticity and a setting to the dishes they share with the reader.

A plus, not common to all cookbooks, is that all the ingredients for the recipes should be readily available at your local supermarket.

Is Durban curry the real thing for you? Or maybe it’s the Cape Malay curry that gets your taste buds going? If that’s the limit of your local curry experience, you are in for a treat…

As Ishay says: “And I learned that profiling a South African curry as a single entity is a futile task. It’s as complex and interesting as the many people who make up our land”

So delve into CURRY’S   regional nuances of the delicious diversity that is South African curry – I’m sure that you will agree that in more ways than one, variety is the spice of life.