Friday, June 29, 2012

Saints Burger Bar on Kloof




I've been to Saints Burger Bar on Kloof Street twice now, and I really enjoyed it :-)
The first time was on a Friday night and the last night we went for the burger-special night.

Every Thursday it's half price drinks (Beers, cocktails and milkshakes) until 8pm and it's buy-1-get-1-free build-your-own burger night.

Jessy was my burger buddy, so we built a beef burger with sesame seed burger buns (I had mine "naked"), with smoked mozzarella, fresh avo on side and basil pesto. It came with a large portion of sweet potato chips that were amazing!

What I love about their food is that it's all made from the freshest ingredients and it's done in-house. They make their burger patties from scratch (you can choose between lamb, chicken, beef or vegetarian - which is a grilled giant big mushroom). The buns are baked in-house too, with a choice of either sesame seed kaiser, brioche, multi-grain, plain or olive ciabatta...

Toppings range from swiss emmental and creamy camembert to roasted red peppers and tomato-coriander salsa.

It's totally gourmet at an affordable rate.

But besides the food, we love that they support local craft beers and if you're unsure about the names and types of beer, opt to do a tasting, which costs R30 for 6 small glasses of beer.
I love the triggerfish and saints house draught the best... the cocktails are also pretty popular.




Other cool things to look out for: the fully functional 60s juke box, awesome artwork on the roof interiors and on a sunny (warm) day, book to sit outside and catch some of that Kloof-street culture.

For more info, visit http://saintsburgerjoint.co.za, or call 021 424 0030 to book.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wheat-free Vegan spongecake with gooey strawberry icing

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So I felt like experimenting last night, and as one of my colleagues  at H&G has become vegan – for health reasons – I decided to try out a 100% vegan cake.
Here's the recipe:

Cake mixture:

500g wheat-free cake flour
35ml fresh baking powder
160ml fructose or caster sugar
2 cups room-temp water (500ml)
160ml natural oil (heart-friendly, like Canola)
15ml freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Stir dry ingredients together. Slowly beat in oil, water and lemon juice – taking care not to over beat the mixture.
Divide cake mixture into 2 x 20cm baking tins, bake for about 40minutes in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees Celsius.
You will be able to smell the cake when it's nearly done. Test with a cake tester to make sure that the mixture doesn't stick, and the sponge should bounce back lightly if touched.
Let cool on a cooling rack.

Icing:

this is very much based on a guestimate. Place 2 cups of icing sugar in a bowl and add water a tablespoonful at a time until the desired consistency is reached. It should not be too runny.
Spread the white icing between the two sponges and pour some over the top, so that it covers the top. Let cool (even put it in the fridge for a bit to set).

Strawberry sauce:

5 to 6 large strawberries
half a cup of caster sugar or fructose (125ml)
About 50ml of water

In a small saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar into the water. Add the strwaberries and stir continuously for about 5 minutes, so that strawberries are broken down and the mixture is boiling. Keep stirring occasionally until the mixture becomes syrupy.
Let cool completely. Pour this over the iced cake.

Garnish with slices of fresh strawberry. 


Serve right away for best results, or keep it for the next day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

broccoli soup with baby spinach



Yesterday I had a craving for a really nutritious soup... now that it's winter, we regularly have soups for lunch at work and my colleagues Julia and Staci often have homemade broccoli soup. So feeling inspired, I asked Julia to roughly jot down her recipe and bbm it to me so that I had a base to work from – and what a winner recipe it is! So simple, affordable and delicious!


Vegetable oil
4 to 5 large leeks, finely sliced
6 spring onions, finely sliced

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
half a bag of baby spinach (three large handfuls)
1 large head broccoli, chopped roughly
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2cm pieces
1 red chilli (mine was homegrown), finely shopped
2 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil and extra baby spinach leaves for garnishing

Saute leeks, spring onions and garlic until soft in a tablespoonful of vegetable oil, over medium heat. 

Add broccoli, spinach and potato and sweat for a bit, then add chicken stock and chilli. 
Make sure potatoes are covered, if not, add a touch more water. 


Bring to a boil, cook for about half an hour or until potatoes are soft. 


Add salt and pepper to taste. Let soup cool slightly, blend in batches.
It will be fairly thick, but if you would like it more runny, just add a touch of boiling water and blend again to loosen up. But, personally, I love thick soup.


Drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil and garnish with baby spinach leaves and serve.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Grand Glenelly



After coming across the name Glenelly through H&G, having never previously heard of it, my fiance and I went in search of it on e Saturday afternoon.




Naming itself the 'South African wine etsate with a French touch', it's almost hidden away in the Idas Valley just outside Stellenbosch, and just as we thought we were going toe wrong way, we found it.

Madame May de Lencquesaing, previously the owner of the famous Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Bordeaux, France, purchased the Glenelly Estate in 2003 and started making wine. Well into her 80's, she came to South Africa with a wealth of experience and an ambition to make he best Bourdeaux-style blends in SA.


We loved the Shiraz, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Shiraz, Cab Sauv, Merlot and Petit Verdoux blend as our top three wines from the estate, and the wines are reasonably priced at around R80-R100 per bottle.




The winetasting room is open until 4pm on Saturday and 4:30 Monday to Friday. It also has an impressive glass collection downstairs - really worth a visit for history lovers, as some of them are said to be older than 2000 year's old.

http://www.glenellyestate.com
021 809 6440

* Cellar tours are offered during the week only.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show Winners

I love the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show – it helps me discover new wines,  find great recommendations and of course, when I am at a loss of what to buy in the bottle stores (If I haven't made it to any farms), I always look for the stickers as a guide line. 



As I consider myself a shiraz girl, one of the awards I always look out for is the British Airways Comair Trophy for Best Shiraz, which this year was won by the Painted Wolf Shiraz 2009.

I had a little chat with the winemaker Jeremy Borg (who is also a chef), who gave me a great breakdown of the wine.

'Harmony, flavour and beauty are what I like. I hate over worked and over fussed things and love authentic food and wines. The Painted Wolf Shiraz 2009 is a spicy elegant wine with a lovely coating texture and a long harmonious finish.'

For a food pairing recommendation, he went on to say 'I would venture into the French country repertoire and serve a lovely wintry naverin of lamb with baby onions, carrots, turnips and green beans served with creamy mashed potato. I love Elizabeth David's recipe Breast of Lamb st menehoulde. It is such a yummy rustic traditional French dish. We could go Provencal-Italian and do a ragu of pork with orange, bay leaves and salted black olives and with marjoram parsley and orange germolata (leaving out the anchovies) with soft polenta and chard. Another road is to grill yellow tail with chermoula and a nice couscous of butternut and black olives.'

Sounds Delish!! and a bottle goes for R95 from the farm, which is based in Paarl. Visitors are accepted by appointment only, and orders can be made through: emma@paintedwolfwines.com

Jeremy and Emma Borg
They also support wild dogs, and as of the 22nd of June, Jeremy is leaving for his next Pedals 4 Paws fund raining cycle ride from Maun in botswana to Hwange in Zim (1000kms), to raise money for wild dog conservation.

For more info, visit the website here: http://www.paintedwolfwines.com/

Below is the full list of winners:

The Audited* Results of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show
- Fairbairn Capital Trophy for the Most Successful Producer: KWV SA
- Old Mutual Trophy for Best Red Wine: Eikendal Classique 2009
- Old Mutual Trophy for Best White Wine: KWV The Mentors Chardonnay 2011
- Old Mutual International Judges’ Trophy: De Grendel Shiraz 2010
- Old Mutual Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine (M├ęthode Cap Classique):
   Villiera Woolworths Vintage Reserve Brut 2007
- Old Mutual Trophy for Best Dessert Wine (unfortified):
   Delheim Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2011
- Old Mutual Discovery of the Show: Secret Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Ultra Liquors)
- American Express Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon: Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
- British Airways Comair Trophy for Best Shiraz: Painted Wolf Shiraz 2009
- Grande Roche Trophy for Best White Blend: Thelema Sutherland Viognier Roussanne 2009
- Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc: Tokara Chenin Blanc 2009
- Miele Trophy for Best Chardonnay: KWV The Mentors Chardonnay 2011
- Riedel Trophy for Best Bordeaux-style Red Blend: Eikendal Classique 2009
- Tony Mossop Trophy for Best Cape Port: Axe Hill Cape Vintage 2009
- Best Museum Class Chenin Blanc: Jordan Chenin Blanc 2007
- Best Merlot: La Bri Merlot 2010
- Best Pinotage: Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage 2008
- Best Pinot Noir: Chamonix Pinot Noir Reserve 2010
- Best Sauvignon Blanc (wooded): Nederburg Two Centuries Sauvignon Blanc 2009
- Best Sauvignon Blanc (unwooded): Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010
- Best Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Blend: Vergelegen GVB 2010
- Best Museum Class Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Blend: Vergelegen 2007
- Best Semillon: Ormonde Ondine Semillon 2010
- Best Museum Class Semillon: Cape Point Vineyards Semillon 2008
- Best Museum Class White Blend: Lomond Snowbush 2008
- Best Museum Class Fortified Wine: KWV Reserve Port 1929

Friday, June 15, 2012

5 Rooms at the Alphen Hotel



As you would know (from the updates below), Ive been spending a fair amount of time in Constantia lately, visiting wine farms and going for lunches etc... and, as it happens, I was in the region again for quite a marvelous dinner.

I had heard of The Alphen Hotel being under new ownership at the end of last year, and had heard some good things about the restaurant and how the whole estate was quite a landmark – but until the dinner, I had never set a foot onto the property.

I always get excited about trying out new places and sampling new dishes, and from the moment we arrived I was taken by the beautiful, old building. It was pretty chilly though, so we hurried in and were happily surprised when we found our table was in a cosy corner, literally right next to the fireplace.



The restaurant, 5 Rooms, is named after the fact that it has five rooms. We were seated in the 'portrait' room, taking its name from all the portraits that line the walls. I can be reproachably chatty at times and with a curious (bordering on nosy) nature, I asked our waiter about all the paintings and the history of the building. As it turns out, each portrait featured in the room is of people who visited and stayed at the estate over the past few 100 years.


The centuries-old manor house, in which the restaurant is housed, is a National Monument, in fact the whole estate is a national heritage site – so a must-see for history lovers – and has hosted the likes of Mark Twain, Cecil John Rhodes, George Bernard Shaw, Captain Cook and Jan Smuts. Most fascinating of all, is that the front door is actually made from the wood decking that was part of one of Jan van Riebeeck's ships (for those who don't know, he was the Commander of the Cape from 1652 to 1662). I checked to see if the waiter was pulling my leg – but he was being genuine.

So enthralled was I, by all the surrounding history, that I hadn't even looked at the menu, and kept asking for more time to decide upon our dishes.

They have a fairly extensive wine list and quite a few wines by the glass, which was helpful as my fiance and I couldn't agree on what bottle to share. He went for a glass of one of his favourite red blends, The Chocolate Block (R100 per glass) and I had a the Kevin Arnold Shiraz (R85).

To start we ordered the Bresaola beef with potato and horseradish to share (R70). The medallions were perfectly cooked to medium rare and went beautifully with both of our wines.



We decided to try two very different, restaurant-signature dishes for our mains. My fiance had the signature lamb trilogy dish (R160). It was spectacular and included: biltong dusted lamb loin, lamb tortellini with truffle sauce and a grilled lamb cutlet with wholegran mustard... he couldn't have been happier with his choice!



I had a very unusual seafood dish, called the fishtank, which literally arrives in a fish bowl. It includes a medley of seafood, such as salmon, mussels, squid and so on, in a bouillabaisse on glass noodles. It was spectacular and won the dish of the day. It also lead to a little argument about the stock, which after some inquiring turned out to be chicken – so my fiance won that bet. I had a glass of Warwick Chardonnay (R60), which complemented the seafood amazingly.



For dessert we shared a chocolate fondant with chocolate ice cream and a nachtmusik cuppuccino with sugar powder (R55)... YUM!!! With a little dessert wine from Vergelegen hmmmmmm....



Overall the service was excellent. Our waiter was very well informed about the food and had a wealth of wine knowledge.

For those wanting to try it out, the good news is that they also have a WINTER SPECIAL on at the moment: 2 course menu for R140 or 3 course menu for R190, plus half price cocktails everyday in winter and a special winter menu with dishes like 1kg of prawns for R99, slow-braised lamb shank with mushrooms, garlic and rosemary on a bed of creamed potato for R129 and an Osso Buco for R89. 

We will definitely go back, and soon I hope.

To book, call 021 795 6300
http://www.alphen.co.za/restaurants-bars/5-rooms

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wacky Wine 2012 wrap-up



This year's Wacky Wine was my best so far!

I'm a bit of a planner and ahead of time like to identify which farms I want to visit, which activities I want to do etc etc... but this year's trip started out a bit differently.

First we were running late as we had been to the Roxette concert the night before and were feeling a little tired (read: hungover) on Saturday morning. But nevertheless we packed up all our goodies, stopped at the new Vida e at Prestwich for take-away coffee (which, by the way is a really cute spot, find out more about it here: http://www.vidaecaffe.com/stores/cape-town/prestwich/), and were on our way.

Normally on the 2-hour trip to Robertson I spend time going trough the events programme highlighting options of places to see and work out in which order to see them on the map. This year I forgot to print the programme in advance, so that wasn't going to happen. I had to be more 'spontaneous'.

We arrived in Robertson, collected our passes and decided to find our accommodation, Bonnievale River Lodge, set up camp and then get started with the tasting. 

Of course, we took a wrong turn and before we knew it, we were in McGregor. This is the only farm I've been to all past three years in a row, but at least we had a chance to grab some lunch and recheck our directions. I also bought some books at a second-hand store and some olive oil. We really enjoyed the pinotage from McGregor Winery (http://www.mcgregorwinery.co.za), but knew we shouldn't drink too much before we had set up the tent, so off we set again to find our accommodation.

McGregor Winery




We ended following a dirt road for quite some time before we saw a sign for a small boutique winery – so small it didn't make it on the map – Buffalo Creek Wines. So, we drove up to what was the winemaker's house and tried the two wines on offer before asking for some directions. We realized we still had a bit of a way to go, so we thanked them, bought a bottle of their Pinotage and carried on our way.


Eventually we landed up at Bonnievale Cellars (http://www.bonnievalecellar.co.za/), which we knew was close by, so we went inside to ask the locals. We were immediately asked to jump on the scale in hopes of 'winning our weight in wine', before being whisked off to the busy tasting room. Besides not being able to find our accommodation, we became anxious to find a spot to settle down and enjoy the rugby. Bonnievale Cellars' tables were all fully booked, so we had to find an alternative.

Bonnievale Cellars


We figured out (with the help of some locals) that we had already passed our accommodation, so back we went, thankfully only 2.4km away, to finally set up camp. On our way there, we realised that the main road from the accommodation place to the town of Bonnievale had flooded, so we would have to use the roundabout road again. Finally arriving at Bonnievale River Lodge (http://www.bonnievaleriverlodge.co.za/), we had a sweet little place with a deck, and we promptly decided to set up camp on the deck instead of the ground. Hurriedly we unpacked and thankfully the neighbors had an electric pump for our blow-up mattress, because I was in no mod for manual labour.

Bonnievale River Lodge

Bonnievale River Lodge

Bonnievale River Lodge


It was now almost 5pm, which meant the rugby was about to start and that wine tasting at the farms was at an end for the day. We stopped at one more spot – a wine cellar in the town of Bonnievale – as we were driving the pub to catch the game. And I'm so glad we did as they had incredible wines for such affordable prices, that we walked away with three cases of whites and red. It was called Van Zylshof Wine Estate (http://www.vanzylshof.co.za/). They make an excellent Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay wooded and unwooded and a great red blend of Cab/Sauv Merlot, all around the R35 - R40 price mark per bottle. We also saw that they were hosting a traditional farmer's breakfast the next morning, so we decided to go back on Sunday...

Van Zylshof Wine Estate

Van Zylshof Wine Estate
Just down the road was the pub/restaurant: Grand Arena. It was filled with towns folk and drunk wine tasters, but we managed to grab a decent meal of rump steak, pizza and mulva pudding, followed by a bottle of Van Zylshof wines. After the rugby we mingled with the locals and had a couple brandy and cokes... as you do in these parts of the country.
We had definitely had enough to drink and it was time to head off to bed and get snuggly in our freezing cold campsite.


The next day we woke up slowly, explored the site, showered, packed up and went for breakfast.
The lodge also has cottages, and the accommodation is all very reasonable at R100 per person per night for camping and the rooms go fro about R240pp sharing.

The breakfast at Van Zylshof saved me! R50 for fruit salad and yoghurts followed by eggs, bacon and sausages with farm bread and tea or coffee... hmmmmm

Van Zylshof Wine Estate farmer's breakfast - swapping wine for juice
After that we were ready to visit a couple more farms before heading back to Cape Town. Our neighbours had told us about a cute little farm called Quando Wines (http://quando.co.za/), which was their favourite. It was on the road back to Robertson, so we made that our first stop. We were also the first people to arrive at the farm, so we got stuck into a good wine tasting and conversation with the wine maker. They have an amazing dessert wine, which I couldn't resist buying and their Chenin Blanc Viognier was yummy too (around R50 per bottle), so we bought some and carried on back to Robertson.

Quando Wines tasting room

Quando Wines

Our last stop was at Springfield (http://www.springfieldestate.com/) in Robertson, where we met up with a couple friends. They had some lovely live music – a jazz band – and it wasn't too packed with people, which made the tasting really pleasant. It is such a beautiful winery, I couldn't believe it was only my first time there. They have a great red blend as well, the Work Of Time Bordeaux blend, plus all proceeds from their Thunder Child red go towards an orphanage in Robertson.

Springfield
Springfield
Springfield

I was so not ready to leave and super sad as there were farms I really wanted to visit that i didn't make it to this year... but as my Fiance says, 'You have to leave some for next year's trip'.
Wacky Wine Weekend: http://www.wackywineweekend.com/

finally at home again... stocked up



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My birthday lunch at Terroir



I'm still catching up on posts from May and this one I had to share.
We went to Terroir restaurant (http://www.kleinezalze.com/terroir.html) at the Kleine Zalza Wine Estate just outside of Stellenbosch. The restaurant has won many awards in the past and is regularly included in the top ten restaurants in the country. Set under ancient oak trees with views of the golf course, it really is quite magical and gives you the 'out of the city' feeling we all sometimes crave.

Almost four years ago, when my fiance and I just started dating, he took me to the wine estate for a wine tasting, so it was quite nice to go back and to think how much has changed since then...
I have since been a big fan of their Chenin Blanc, and regularly keep it (but not for too long) on the wine rack.

We had a five-course meal with a wine pairing, which definitely set the tone for and was the highlight of my birthday (after the morning prezzies that is).

We were first presented with a glass of bubbly and an amuse-bouche of tomato soup, which we slurped down quickly as it was a fairly chilly day.


Our first course was tempura squid with japanese mango and tomato jam, paired with the Cellar Selection chenin blanc 2011 Bush Vines. 


Our second course was an unusual combination of pea puree with bacon lardons with a piece of oxtail ravioli in the middle, drizzled with truffle oil. This was paired with the Chardonnay 2011 (on French oak for three months).



Our third course was a piece of salmon wrapped in spring roll pastry garnished with a prawn, and paired with the Vineyard Selection Wooded Chenin Blanc 2011. It was so delish... every single morsel.



Then came the big daddy main course of 150g beef fillet with braised spinache, butternut and mushrooms... each bite as succulent as the previous one... Paired with it was the Vineyard Selection Shiraz 2009 (16 months on French oak barrels). It was simply scrumptious – and of course my fiance was more than impressed with the intricately balanced flavours and quality of food – he's quite the critic for someone who rarely cooks!



Last but definitely not least was the dessert. My fiance had a banana saverin baked with saffron, cloves and hazelnut, soaked in rum, with a garnish of raspberry coulis, pistachio nuts and ice cream – a stunning hearty winter pud! 



I on the other hand was presented with a gorgeous plate (personal birthday message and all) with a baked cheese cake, strawberry coulis, pistachio crumble with whole-nut ice cream, coconut and caramel coulis and a garnish of raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries... sigh* what a way to end the meal!!!



I'm salivating right now as I write this, remembering how good it was.

The menu changes with the seasons, but they currently have a winter special on – so it's great to take advantage of excellent quality food at a very affordable prices. So, try it out: R175 for 2 courses, or R198 for three courses, which includes a glass of Kleine Zalze Cellar wine

Book your dinner now: 021 880-0717, Strand Road (R44)
Stellenbosch