Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Winter Pinot Noir Tasting Menu at Haute Cabrière

the restaurant at Haute Cabrière
 My husband and I recently went to the fabulous Haute Cabrière wine estate to try their new Pinot Noir pairing menu at the Haute Cabrière Restaurant. They are masters at making making good Pinot Noir and we were lucky enough to do a vertical tasting of their 2000, 2002 and 2009 – all of which were fabulous – although 2009 was still my favourite!
They also make the well-known excellent range of bubblies under the Pierre Jourdan label, which were also part of the tasting menu. The restaurant is beautifully suited to winter dining with its gorgeous fireplace. We were lucky enough to have a table right in front of the fire, meaning we were cosy and rosy all the way through our dinner.

Haute Cabrière restaurant entrance

Haute Cabrière restaurant
amuse bouche
We had a glass of bubbly on arrival and, once seated, we were presented with the pairing menu for the evening, which consisted of an amuse bouche, followed by five courses, each paired with a Pinot Noir of sorts.
The first course was a seared salmon, prawn and soy broth with saffron panna cotta and peanut tuille served with the Haute Cabrière 2011 Unwooded Pinot Noir.
The second course was a Saldanha bay mussel agnolotti, braised fennel, crispy onion and sauce nero, served with the Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose.
The third course was a Wild mushroom risotto, truffle creme fraiche pumpkin and salad with Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir 2002.
The fourth course was a Garlic-crusted lamb loin, Bolanger potatoes, curried crab salad, asparagus and aubergine with Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir 2000.
The fifth and final course was dessert, which consisted of a trio of valrhona chocolate with the Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir 2009.
seared salmon, prawn and soy broth with saffron panna cotta and peanut tuille served with the Haute Cabrière 2011 Unwooded Pinot Noir

Saldanha bay mussel agnolotti, braised fennel, crispy onion and sauce nero, served with the Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose
Barrels of Pinot Noir and other wine varietals are store below the restaurant
in the cellar at Haute Cabrière

Wild mushroom risotto, truffle creme fraiche pumpkin and salad with Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir 2002

Garlic-crusted lamb loin, Bolanger potatoes, curried crab salad, asparagus and aubergine with
Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir 2000

a trio of valrhona chocolate desserts with the Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir 2009
The dinner costs is served on Friday and Saturday night’s only, at R595 per person. If you happen to be in the are during the week, try the new Table d’Haute winter menu.
021 876 3688
Wine Tasting Details:
Tasting Room Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri: 09:00 to 17:00 | Sat: 10:00 to 16:00 | Sunday: 11:00 to 16:00

Monday, July 22, 2013

Christmas in July at Allée Bleue

 Yesterday I was invited to Allée Bleue's Christmas in July. Some people might think it's strange to celebrate Christmas twice a year, but let me explain the reasoning behind Christmas in July. In South Africa, Christmas is held in the height of summer. People are braaing, swimming in the sea, tanning in bikinis – snowmen and reindeer don't normally fit into this picture so well. So Christmas in July is all about having a wintery Christmas, where the snowflake decorations won't feel out of place.
It's also because South Africans love to eat big meals and drink good wine around big tables filled with friends and family – which is exactly what yesterday was all about!

I piled my plate high with sausages and finger foods, while my husband tucked into waffles and pancakes, ending off with toffee apples and, of course, some excellent wine. Allée Bleue's MCC brut rose is a superb bubbly, with a soft pink hue and flavours of strawberries, raspberries and candy floss. YUM!

I also fell in love with the white blend called Isabeau – a blend of  Semillon and Chardonnay. Great oak characteristics, perfect to have with food as it's not a light white.
I have been a fan of the farm's chocolate spicy Shiraz for a long time too... Excellent red wine, showing flavours of dark berries with a smooth finish (ie: many many bottles can easily be consumed).

The function venue was set up in such a clever way, with food stalls offering various items places along the walls, with a big merry merry Christmas tree in the middle. There was also plenty for the kids to do, with jumping castles and an 'activity' area, meaning the whole family was catered for. What a fun day it was!

For more information on Allée Bleue', visit their website here:

The farm is open for wine tasting at the following times:
Monday to Friday, 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
Saturday: 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
Sunday: 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oven baked hake with lemon and fennel

Last night I cooked dinner for 6 friends and decided to bake some fish. I sent my husband in search of fresh sustainable fish that would comply with SASSI's green list. For information, see their website here:

He came home with 1.2kg of freshly filleted hake, which is a white flaky fish with subtle flavour found commonly in South Africa. It's one of those types of fish which I think needs a little boost in the flavour department, so I tend to add quite a few herbs, garlic, chilli and so on.

Here's how I made last night's dish:

- 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup of butter (you can use olive oil as a substitute)
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- fresh fennel leaves
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced
- salt and pepper

Lay the fish skin-down on a foil sheet. Squeeze the juice of one of the lemons all over the fish. Cut the other lemon into slices and set aside. Melt the butter, mix the garlic and chilli into the butter. Set aside to cool slightly. Place lemon slice onto the fish. Pour butter mixture over. Scatter fennel leaves over and spring onions. Season and fold and the foil over the fish, sealing it. Set aside for one hour so that the flavours can marry. Bake in a preheated oven at about 190 degrees Celsius for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Serve immediately with roasted sweet potatoes and a green salad :-)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hearty beef and mushroom stew with dumplings

Beef and mushroom stew with Schmaltz dumplings
It's the second recipe challenge week for the Freshly Blogged competition and I'm still going strong! Our list of ingredients this week included 500g beef shin, vegetable soup mix, knorr beef stock pot, star anise, white wine vinegar and beef suet. We were allowed to omit one ingredient, add two fresh ingredients and one grocery item, plus anything on our pantry list.
I added mushrooms and onion and used Schmaltz instead of beef suet... so here goes! Hope you enjoy!  
And don't forget to vote for me here:

There’s nothing like a hearty, wholesome winter braise to warm up those chilly evenings. So on Sunday I took the opportunity to use a free afternoon and pack it in with hours of cooking. The ingredients presented to us in this week’s challenge immediately made me think of British cooking, so I was inspired to make dumplings and add them in during the last half hour of braising, when the vegetables and meat were so tender they started falling apart and my apartment was filled with enticing aromas. It’s the perfect dish for entertaining as you can spend time with your guests while your dinner cooks away in the oven. You can also make it the day before and simply heat it up over a stove top before serving.

Beef shin and mushroom stew:

500g beef shin
flour for dusting
olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped (additional fresh ingredient 1)
1 medium-large carrot, finely chopped
celery stalks, finely chopped
1 large potato, diced into 1cm squares
1 knorr beef stock pot
1 PnP star anise
2 to 3 teaspoons PnP white wine vinegar
3 to 4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 punnet brown or portabellini mushrooms, cut into quarters (additional fresh ingredient 2)
salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Coat the beef shin in flour and brown in a little olive oil in an oven-proof dish (cast-iron pot) over medium-high heat. Remove meat and set aside on a plate.
To make your Mirepoix, make sure the ratios of your onion, carrot and celery are 2:1:1 respectively. Fry mirepoix over medium heat in the same cast-iron pot adding more olive oil if needed. Add diced potato. Add Knorr stock pot to 1 cup of boiling water to loosen and add this to the pot. Place beef shin back into the pot. Add 1 star anise, 2 teaspoons of vinegar, 3 teaspoons of brown sugar and stir. Add in mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Add enough boiling water to just cover the vegetables and meat (another 2 cups). You don’t want to add too much initially, but remember the pot will cook in the oven for 4 hours. If you need to add more at a later stage you can.
Place pot in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Remove star anise.
Return to the oven, and braise for a  further 2 hours, stirring every half an hour.
After 3 hours in the oven adjust the flavour. You may want to add 1 more teaspoon of vinegar and brown sugar. The acidity from the vinegar works nicely with the mushrooms and the beef.


125g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
60g beef suet or vegetable shortening (Schmaltz)
2 Tablespoons of water

Once the beef braise has been in the oven for 3 hours, start making the dumplings. I struggled to find beef suet (beef fat), so instead I replaced it with vegetable shortening (Schmaltz) – as my one additional grocery item – to make the dumplings. Using your hands, combine flour, baking powder and Schmaltz in a bowl until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water and form dough into a ball. Set aside to rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 golf-ball size pieces. Add the dumplings to the braise and cook in the oven for a further 20 to 30 minutes, until you are happy with the texture and they have turned a golden brown colour.
Remove from oven. Garnish with celery leaves and serve four portions.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chamonix Wine Farm: South African winery of the year 2013

Chamonix Wine Farm in Franschhoek
Named the John Platter 2013 Winery of the Year, Chamonix Wine Farm in Franschhoek offers wine tastings 7 days a week in its small rustic, but charming tasting room. Located in The Blacksmith's Cottage – built in the 1700s – the tasting room offers a cosy fire place for wintery days and relaxed counter or table seating.

Chamonix Wine Tasting in Franschhoek

It's R20 for a wine tasting per person, which includes 7 wines, depending on what they have in stock.
It's also R30 per person (booking essential) if guests wish to take a cellar tour.  Tastings run from 9:30am to 4pm, with sales until 5pm.

Chamonix wine tasting room

Chamonix Pinot Noir
I love the Troika Reserve 2010 (red blend of Cabernet Franc 51%, Cabernet Sauvignon 40% and Merlot 9%), which sells for around R180 per bottle. But for a great red at a very affordable price of about R40 from the cellar door, buy the Rouge 2010 (a red blend of: Cabernet Sauvignon 27%, Merlot 28%, Malbec 25%, Petite Verdot 20%).

Chamonix Troika Reserve

Chamonix Tasting Room
Other goodies to try include the Pinot Noir Reserve 2011 (The Chamonix Pinot Noir Reserve shows a ruby red colour, with notes of cherry, wild red berries, crushed black pepper, cinnamon and violets on the nose. Although firm in structure and intense in flavour, textures are mellow and round, expanding with time to extraordinary opulence and length on the palate) and the Chardonnay 2011 (The wine shows bright straw yellow colour with golden highlights and ample aromas in scents that recall tropical fruits and grapefruit, mingling with hints of oatmeal, caramel and nutmeg. Medium-bodied with richly complex flavours, mellow fruit sensations are deftly fused with oak in a long, elegant finish.)
Chamonix wine tasting room
The restaurant is currently closed and undergoing new ownership – I'll put up some information as soon as I know more.  For more information, visit:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New Anthonij Rupert Tasting Room in Franschhoek

I recently went to visit the new Anthonij Rupert Tasting Room in Franschhoek and what a beautiful spot it is. Set in a traditional Cape Dutch manor house, guests who want to soak in the sun can relax on the patio overlooking the lawns or large groups can sit around a stunning wooden dining table in one of the rooms and families can simply lounge on one of the couches if they want to.

Adorning the walls is a beautiful collection of period art which depict the Cape’s landscape while the rooms are furnished with antiques. The front of the house offers views of the Franschhoek Wine Valley while the back porch displays vistas onto the rose garden and the Groot Drakenstein Mountains.

The estate offers varying tasting options at different prices covering the different ranges of wine available, from the Italian range Terra del Capo and the entry level Protea range to the Cape of Good Hope range and the Anthonij Ripert range.

My husband did the The Rupert & Rothschild tasting (R40), which features the Baronness Nadine ’10, Classique ’10, Baron Edmund ‘10 – wine tasting in celebration of partnership in wine production between South Africa and France. They had a 2nd vintage of the Baron Edmund open, which my husband got to taste as well.
I did the The Anthonij Ruperttasting (R60), which features the Optima ‘09, Merlot ‘07 & Syrah ‘07 – wine tasting showcasing our best grapes, sourced from ideal sites and the resultant fl agship wines. I also tried the 2007 red blend and a 2000 Optima, which was only open because there had been a special tasting with a client earlier in the day (or some such story)... The 2009 Optima was my favourite!

range of Anthonij Rupert wines

wine tasting at the new Anthonij Rupert Tasting Room

olive oils for tasting at Anthonij Rupert Tasting Room

The farm also sells jars of honey made on the estate and offers an olive oil tasting for R15 per person. They also offer a high tea (R95 per person) to guests who book in advance, with items such as koeksisters, mini candy apples, scones, sandwiches, petit fours, tarts and mousse for a minimum of 2 guests.

Tasting room hours: Monday – Saturday, 10h00 – 16h30 (closed Sundays)
Contact: 021 874 9023 or

Freshly Blogged Recipe Competition Week 1: Thai Spring Rolls with Sticky Orange Soy Sauce and Caramelised Pineapple Baskets

Thai Spring Rolls with Sticky Orange Soy Sauce and Caramelised Pineapple Baskets

To all my dearest readers and followers, I am taking part in a recipe developing food competition called Freshly Blogged. Each week I get sent a list of ingredients which I have to use in a recipe of my own. Each week I submit the recipe, with a photograph and then people vote. Voters can win prizes and so can I....
While I am competing with people who are older and more experienced than me, I thought it would be such a fun competition to take part in and I love a recipe challenge as it helps me to improve my own cooking and culinary skills.

For the first week, we had to make a recipe with the following ingredients:

2 packets (500g each) Findus Wok Thai vegetables
1 roll (500g) PnP phyllo pastry
PnP cook additions crushed garlic, ginger and dhania paste
PnP 2-minute noodles (any flavour of your choice)
1 orange
1 pineapple

The rules for the first week stated that we were allowed to omit one ingredient, add one ingredient and that the dish must be vegetarian. I omitted the noodles, added soy sauce and made Thai Spring Rolls with Sticky Orange Soy Sauce and Caramelised Pineapple Baskets. In addition to the stipulated ingredients, we have a list of pantry items which we are allowed to use. These include:
Olive oil, Vegetable oil, Salt, Pepper, Flours (cake, wholewheat, bread and self raising), Baking powder, Bicarbonate of soda, Yeast, Butter, Milk, Eggs, Sugar (granulated, castor, icing, brown and treacle) and vStock (powder or liquid – beef, chicken, fish, vegetable).

See below for the recipe and pics and please click on the link at the bottom to vote for me in the competition!


For the spring rolls:

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 heaped tsp PnP cook additions crushed garlic, ginger and dhania paste
2 packets (500g) Findus Wok Thai vegetables
2 heaped Tbsp of 5mm cubes of pineapple
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 roll (500g) PnP phyllo pastry
Half a cup of melted butter

For the orange soy sauce:

Juice of 1 orange, plus grated zest
1/4 cup Vital Original Soy Sauce
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 Tbsp pineapple juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar

For the baskets:

3 Tbsp butter, plus extra for the baskets
3 Tbsp brown sugar
Remaining pineapple, cut into 1cm cubes/ triangles
Grated orange zest
Remaining PnP phyllo pastry

Stir fry vegetables

For the spring rolls:

Place a wok over high heat. Cook 1 tsp PnP paste, stirring for 30 seconds, then add 1 packet of vegetables. Stir and add 1 Tbsp pineapple cubes and season. Cook, stirring, for 5-7 minutes, until veg is heated through, but still crunchy. Spoon veggies onto a plate with a slotted spoon and let cool. Wipe wok clean and repeat with the second batch.
Roll out a single layer of phyllo pastry, and cut it into quarters. Repeat to make 12 quarters. Divide each plate of cooled stir-fry into 6 portions. Place a single portion on a phyllo quarter, fold into a parcel and roll, sealing the end of the roll with melted butter. Repeat to make 12 large spring rolls.
Place spring rolls on 2 greased baking trays and coat with butter. Bake at 160 degrees for 25 minutes, until lightly golden and crispy.

Homemade spring rolls

For the orange soy sauce:

Place orange juice (just more than a 1/4 cup), 1 Tbsp grated orange zest, soy sauce, vegetable stock (dissolve 1 Knorr vegetable stockpot into 1 cup water and use 1/4 cup of this), pineapple juice into a small pot over medium heat. Stir in sugar to dissolve (adding more to taste). Reduce until liquid is sticky and syrup-like. (Stir in a little boiling water to loosen, if necessary, before serving.)

freshly squeezed orange juice

For the baskets:

Place butter in a small pot over medium heat, stir in sugar to dissolve, add pineapples. Squeeze juice from the chopped pineapple skin - get as much pineapple in as possible.
Make phyllo baskets while the pineapples caramelise, stirring mixture occasionally.
Grease four cups of a six-cup muffin tray. Layer small squares of leftover pastry - painting each layer with melted butter - over each other, making 4 to 5 layers thick. Cut layers into circular shapes big enough to fit into a muffin cup (edges hanging over). You should make 4 baskets. Bake baskets at 160 degrees for 20 minutes, until crispy and lightly golden. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
Divide the slightly cooled caramelised pineapples into four parcels. Garnish with orange zest. To serve, divide the 12 spring rolls among 4 plates. Serve with sticky sauce for dipping and pineapple baskets for dessert.

caramelised pineapples

Friday, July 5, 2013

Babylonstoren – wine tasting and garden strolling

This might sound like a foodie sin for anyone living in the Cape Town area, but up until this past weekend, I hadn't yet been to visit Babylonstoren.
The name doesn't ring a bell?
It's this awesome estate near Franschhoek, with a super organic garden which supplies all the food for the estate restaurant, Babel.
They started making wine in 2011 when they opened and now offer wine tastings of their Viognier (R100), Mourvedre rose (R75), Chardonnay (R170) and a spectacular Shiraz (R120).
Tastings are R20 per person, but if you buy wine, you get your tasting for free.

Babylonstoren wines
 They have awesome little farmshops, selling fruit from the orchards, artisan breads (baked in a wood oven from the 1700s), jams, cordials and preserves (all made from the estates produce). I bought a bag of 10 organic naartjies for R5 – super affordable!
They also have a charcuterie room, where they make their own cured meats and biltong. They have a cheese parlor with cheeses from neighboring estate Dalewood and interesting cheese-related gadgets.
It's basically your one-stop picnic shop!
Perfect, because you can get your goodies and stroll through the amazing gardens while munching.

Bakery room at Babylonstoren

Babylonstoren charcuterie and biltong

Babylonstoren oven from the 1700s

cheeses at Babylonstoren

Babylonstoren farm shop

The gardens are so much bigger than I thought they would be. With water rills from the 1700s still being utilized throughout the organic orchards, vegetable patches, herb gardens and so on. They have pathways leading visitors through the different sections, which are fragrant with seasonal produce.
Garden tours are at 10am on the weekends. There are also farm animals, roosters and donkeys which stroll about. It makes for a lovely family day out.

Babylonstoren gardens

Babylonstoren gardens

Babylonstoren gardens

Babylonstoren outskirts of the estate

Note: There is a R10 entrance fee to the estate per person – this goes towards the garden ad allows guests access to the gardens.

It's definitely worth a visit! Next time I'll go back for lunch and a visit to the greenhouse.
021 863 3852