Friday, August 30, 2013

August Food News and Tastemaker pages in Conde Nast House & Garden magazine

This month for the August issue of Conde Nast House & Garden magazine, I wrote a feature on the new Ottoman Place restaurant in Johannesburg – not very 20-something in Cape Town I know... But I was just in Johannesburg last week, so us Cape Townians to actually venture out. (Although I couldn't wait to be back home!)

I've also included my regular food and wine related news page, which does showcase a very cool new French bistro in Cape Town and a jazz bar, plus other products to keep you cosy and comforted this winter!

Happy reading!

Nobu Cape Town's new Nobu Lite Menu - perfect for after-work dinner and drinks

Nobu Lite platter

Foodies and sushi-lovers can now indulge in a series of 'tastes' of Nobu thanks to this award-winning restaurant's innovative new Nobu Lite menu, showcasing a smorgasbord of tapas-style tasters that reflect the fusion style that has placed this innovative dining brand on the global food stage.
It's an affordable way to get the best of Nobu's dishes and enjoy the great ambiance and cocktail menu at the same time.  On Thursdays, a DJ plays great lounge music (either Grant and Craig Da Sousa), making it an ideal after-work spot for a light supper and drinks to start winding down the week.

Nobu Lite platter

Available daily from 6 to 8pm, the menu features a host of delectable culinary offerings for the lighter-diner. The stars of this menu are the three Lite offerings, served family style for four people to share.

Nobu Lite features tastes from some of Nobu's most loved carne courses including Beef Kushiyaki, Chicken Anticucho, Pork Belly and Beef New Style while there is also the Pescetarian Lite option which features Salmon & Tuna Tacos, Hot Miso Chips, Tuna Tataki with Ponzu, Tuna Tempura Roll and Salmon Anticucho Skewers.

Vegetarians are in good hands thanks to the Vegetarian Lite option with tastes including the famous Broccoli Chili Salsa and the Shojin Tempura. And the grilled aubergine is to-die-for!

Nobu also invites guests to create their own platters or to select dishes individually, so, if you're just two people for example, it's a better option to create your own, as the platters may be a bit big – although you can always give them a try!
Nobu Lite platter

Eating dinner at Nobu

Other menu choices served between 6 and 8pm in the sophisticated Nobu Lounge include their cult six-piece sushi rolls as well as a selection of interesting edible innovations that reflect the Nobu brand's Japanese roots and Peruvian influences. These can be enjoyed alone or as part of a platter.

Apart from Nobu’s famed sake-based cocktails, give their wickedly delicious, recently launched Patron cocktails a try.

Overall, my absolute favourites were the Tuna Tacos and the Tuna Tataki with Ponzu – I would go back just for those dishes!

To book your evening, contact:
021 431 4511 or email

A visit to Plaisir de Merle (Franschhoek)

Plaisir de Merl wine tasting

Mr Fabulosity at Plaisir de Merl
 Thirsty, and looking for our first wine-tasting stop on our recent visit to Franschhoek, Mr Fabulosity convinced us to pull into Plaisir de Merl. I'd never been to the wine estate before, and after a long, winding drive, we finally arrived, to be greeted by the most gorgeous peacock.

The setting is quite picturesque and the wine tasting room is welcoming, but quiet. This is by no means a rowdy spot for students. Tastings are conducted in the Tasting Centre, once an old barn which was built in 1823. It's relaxed, but sophisticated and the wines are meant to be enjoyed slowly (ie, not a place to visit if you're in a rush). There are comfy couches and historical ornaments,  showcasing a bygone era. The sound carries, so tasters mumble to themselves in their little corners, in between sips of wine.

Plaisir de Merl tasting room - pic by Julia Freemantle

wine tasting at Plaisir de Merl

They have a selection of wines on offer in different tasting and pricing categories:
Cellar Tour and Tasting:
A tour of the Cellar, which is surrounded by a moat, plus wine tasting = R120 per person (booking essential).
Standard Tasting:
A basic sample of the Plaisir De Merle range = R40 per person.
Flavour Sensation:
Wine tasting with food pairings: Sauvignon Blanc and sundried tomatoes, Chardonnay and cashew nuts, Merlot and frozen berries, Cabernet Sauvignon and fruit cake, Shiraz and biltong and Grand Plaisir with delicious confectioneries = R70 per person.
Sweet Sensation:
Award-wining red wines with a fudge tasting = R70 per person.
Exclusive Tasting:
A tasting of our rare single varietals: Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. This experience is rounded off by the Grand Plaisir, a blend of cultivars chosen to provide layers of flavour and complexity = R100 per person.

We just opted for the standard tasting as an introduction to the farm and also because we had a long day ahead of other places to visit. I liked their Chardonnay and their Shiraz was excellent!

Plaisir de Merl wine tasting

Plaisir de Merl wine tasting with Jules
Monday to Friday:
9am - 5pm.
10am - 4pm (November to March) and 10am - 2pm (April to October).
Closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A visit to Môreson Wines (Franschhoek)

wine tasting at Môreson Wines in Franschhoek - pic by Julia Freemantle

I recently went to visit Môreson Wines in Franschhoek. It's the perfect spot for bubbly lovers! They also make a fabulous Pinotage  – one of my favourites (see above)! The pinotage goes under the label 'The Widow Maker' and is a rich, heavy red wine with plum, black cherry and mocha flavour. It is also considered one of the Top 10 Pinotage’s in South Africa. I also love the newly released Miss Molly Petit Rose – a bubbly with delicious ripe pomegranate and fresh strawberries with just the slightest hint of orange peel.

wine tasting at Môreson Wines in Franschhoek

wine tasting at Môreson Wines in Franschhoek
What I didn't know was that they also have a spectacular orchid nursery, filled with wide varieties of beautiful orchids, from blush purple to crispy white and burnt orange umber.

The orchid nursery presented by The Exotic Plant Company at Môreson Wines in Franschhoek -
pic by Julia Freemantle

While the wine tasting is spectacular and can be enjoyed in a sunny courtyard, the estate offers a stunning restaurant run by chef Neil Jewell, called Bread & Wine. He also offers bread-making, charcuterie-making and wine-blending courses... 

wine tasting at Môreson Wines in Franschhoek

Definitely pop in for a visit. The Miss Molly In My Bed will get you sizzling and razzling... 

Tastings cost R30p/p for five wines and if you buy wine, you get your tasting for free! Taste wine from Monday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
Click on this link for more information on the wine farm:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rich gluten-free Chicken Liver ravioli with caramelised onions and sage butter

Here is one of the recipes I developed for the food blogging competition, Freshly Blogged.
We were sent a list of ingredients and rules for this week's challenge, which can all be seen online.
Please click here for more info (and to vote for me!):

For the ravioli filling:

4 Tbsp butter
1 brown onion, finely chopped
Fresh sage, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
250g chicken livers
1 tsp Robertsons cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp brandy

For the caramelised onions:

2 Tbsp butter
2 onions, sliced
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Robertsons cinnamon

For the pasta (and assembly):

200g flour (use ready-mixed gluten-free cake flour for gluten-free pasta)
2 egg yolks
1 extra-large egg
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
3 Tbsp water (if necessary)
15-20 whole sage leaves
2 Tbsp butter
 Grated Parmesan

For the ravioli filling:

Melt butter in a pan over a medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for a few minutes. Add 3 Tbsp finely chopped sage. Add a dollop of olive oil before adding in chicken livers. Add cayenne pepper and brandy. Cook until the livers are brown, but not overcooked and rubbery. Set aside to cool slightly. Place in a food processor and process until a rough, thick paste forms. (You should be able to spoon this easily into the ravioli parcels.)

For the caramelised onions:

Combine all ingredients in a pan. Stir until sugar is dissolved and melted. Allow onions to caramelise over a medium-high heat, until soft and sticky. Set aside.

For the pasta (and assembly):

Pour flour into a bowl. Make a well and add eggs and olive oil into the well. Start combining, using your hand to form into ball. (If the mixture is too dry, add a little water at a time until a ball forms, but is not sticky.) Knead a bit to ensure everything is well combined. Wrap the ball in cling film and set aside for 20-30 minutes. Roll out bits of pasta dough at a time, creating sheets. Pass through a pasta machine on setting four. You don't want to sheets to be too thin as they must hold their shape.
Cut out circle shapes of pasta, using a cookie cutter or a glass. Place a little chicken liver filling into the centre of half the pasta circles. Place the remaining circles on top of each of the filled circles to make parcels, pressing down around the edges. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the ravioli parcels to ensure they are sealed. Carefully cook them for 3-5 minutes in boiling salted water. Remove and divide among four plates. Place the whole sage leaves in a hot pan with butter. Cook until just turning crispy. Set aside. Scatter some of the caramelised onions over the ravioli parcels. Drizzle each plate with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with crispy sage leaves and some of the butter from the pan. Serve with grated Parmesan on the side... and don't forget the white chocolate mousse for dessert!
Chef's note: This recipe made 44 ravioli parcels, meaning 11 for each person.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Beyerskloof Wine Estate

wine tasting at Beyerskloof
Look out for Beyerskloof's special: 2 x Pinotage burgers and 1 bottle of Pinotage for R220.
Known for their Pinotage, Beyerskloof Wine Estate in Stellenbosch makes a range of wines, all worth tasting – and some of them only available from the farm.
Guests can try all the wines on offer (except for Faith and Diesel) for R20 per person. The range includes various Pinotages, red blends, an easy-drinking rose and a white Pinotage/Chenin Blanc blend.

Their Faith Cape Blend 2009 won the top-three cape blend wines of the year 2012, and for an extra R20 you can try this and their Diesel Pinotage, which is my most favourite wine of theirs! (For a wine to be considered a true Cape Blend, it must have at least 30% Pinotage in the mix. The rest of the varietals can range from Petit Verdot to Shiraz.)

wine tasting at Beyerskloof
wine tasting at Beyerskloof

wine tasting at Beyerskloof
My husband rates their restaurant quite highly. I haven't eaten there yet... but I take his word for it... and so should you.  They have a great midweek special - perfect for couples! Two burgers and a bottle of Pinotage for R220. Go for it!

For more information, visit:

Robertson Slow Wine Festival This Weekend

If you're looking for a fabulous wine-tasting event to attend this weekend, the Robertson Wine Valley (just 90 minutes driver from Cape Town), is hosting their annual Robertson Slow festival.
It's bound to be a weekend full of glorious food, cool markets, live bands and, of course, plenty of wine tasting!

From 9 to 11 August, 26 Wineries and Guesthouses from Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor and Robertson will welcome visitors into their homes, to their dining tables and onto their farms for a food & wine experience – to be enjoyed SLOWLY.

Guests can look forward to dinners at the homes of our winemaking families, cooking traditional Robertson Country Fare such as Waterblommetjie Bredie, melktert, venison and Karoo Lamb. As always wine will be central to the weekend and you will have ample opportunity to meet with our winemakers to taste and discuss their wines. The weekend will also include some great options where you can learn to make pasta or gnocchi.
On Sunday, 11 August the 6th annual Regional Food Market, showcasing local foodies and cooks, live music and plenty of food.

This weekend is definitely a must for the wine lover who prefers to take the slower lane.

For more info, visit:

Tanquery and Lindt - a partnership made in heaven

I was recently invited to the Lindt Chocolate Studio in Cape Town to experience an evening of chocolate tasting and cocktail making with Tanqueray London Dry Gin. The partnership between these two iconic and highly respected brands resulted in the creation of  8 new cocktails that have each been paired perfectly with chocolates from the Lindt Excellence range. Not only does the sweetness of the chocolate balance the dryness of the gin but it also enhances the flavours of the ingredients in Tanqueray gin.

I am a big fan of Tanquery, which was first introduced to me by my late Grandfather, Guy, on a family fly-fishing holiday in Dullstroom years ago. Many a G&T was enjoyed around the fireplace after a hard day's fishing, so I have such good memories associated with the brand. However, I don't often drink gin with anything else but tonic, so it was a fun and educating experience making a variety of cocktails with Tanquery at the event.

The Lindt chefs also whipped up a truly decadent chocolate fondant, with a white-chocolate Lindt ball inside - to die for!
The Lindt studio is open to the public, offering chocolates and other baking-related items for sale, as well as a selected range of truffles and hot chocolate throughout winter. (Look out for their homemade ice cream in summer!!)

Lindt chocolate studio:

To find out more on Tanqueray London Dry Gin, please visit: