Thursday, 31 May 2012

I absolutely love going to the Old Biscuit mill (during the week, when the crowds are at bay!) There are some lovely craft and curio shops, as well as galleries, and the Espresso Lab Microroasters! Oded’s Kitchen selling gourmet preserves, pickles and deli specialties. The Old Biscuit Mill is also home to Luke Dale Robert's Test Kitchen and The Pot Luck Club.

I have just discovered my NEW favourite reason for visiting the Old Biscuit Mill.... Burrata!

As soon as you walk through the door you feel at home. Owner, Neil Grant (previously the sommelier from Rust and Vrede in the days of David Higgs) comes right over to the table to make sure you are comfortable, and to offer his expertise on the wine (trust me, he is a genius and his suggestions are always delicious and spot on!)

The next thing you will notice whilst sipping the above mentioned wine, is the stylish décor, incorporating lots of beautiful wood, walls with exposed brick and some amazingly crafted 'wine bottle' light fittings. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a special state-of-the-art red hand meat slicer and the kitchen is open plan so if you feel the need you can peek in to see what Chef Annemarie Steenkamp is whipping up!

We started the afternoon with a bottle of Oldenberg Chardonnay from Stellenbosch. Whilst creamy and delicious, it was not too heavily wooded and paired perfectly with my first starter, the puglia burrata, olive oil, oryx desert salt served with crostini. The Burrata was so buttery and oozy and the mild yet creamy flavour was enhanced by the oryx desert salt.

Half way through this heavenly experience, Neil arrived with a decanted bottle of Delaire Chenin Blanc from the Swartland region. My dining companions (both die hard chardonnay drinkers) were speechless to discover they were in fact drinking a Chenin Blanc, and better yet, they were enjoying it.

Next course was the beef carpaccio with shaved klein rivier grana padano, friend capers and parsley dressing. The beef literally melted in my mouth! The richness of the grana padano was the perfect balance to the meat. I didn't even glance at the salt seller. In fact, nothing I ate during the entire meal needed salting. (This coming from the girl nicknamed 'The Sodium Queen" as I tend to love my a very Craig Cormack kind of way)

Next we were onto a bottle of Thelema Merlot and it was time for the main course. I had a tender and tasty chicken polpette with cannellini beans and tomato ragu. Whilst I don't often drink red wine with chicken, I was so entranced by this sort after and 'very hard to find' Merlot that I didn't even stop to think about what I was doing. You would have had to prise that glass from my cold, dead hands to get it away from me. It was by far one of the smoothest, fruit forward Merlot I have had in a long time and I am quite sure I managed to drink at least half the bottle whilst my dining companions chatted business.
After a couple more glasses 'for the road' we were on our way, having just had a very memorable afternoon. Thanks so much Neil! We'll definitely see you soon.

Open Tuesday to Friday 12 noon-10pm (only pizza between 3.00pm-6.30pm)
Saturday 10.00am 3pm and 6:30pm-10pm.
Closed Sunday & Monday

Monday, 28 May 2012

Hello fellow foodies!!

With the weather definitely getting colder, I seem to have been spending lots of time experimenting with different soups- and what is a bowl of soup without a glass of wine! If you are free this weekend I suggest you head down to Durbanville for the Soup, Sip and Bread festival. Here is the low down...

'Food and wine enthusiasts can nose, sip and taste their way through the heart-warming offerings of wine farms on this verdant wine route, a mere 20 minutes from the city centre. Discover the luscious, fruity merlots from the Durbanville Wine Valley and why it’s one of the most food-loving, fun-loving, soup-loving red wines around.

This friends-and-family-friendly winter feast takes a laid-back approach to the art of food and wine pairing, as vintners join hands with chefs to find soulful partners for the variety of soups, chowders and gumbos from around the world. “Although the cooler weather calls for red wine with blazing fires, don’t be surprised if sauvignon blanc, the valley’s signature white, makes a guest appearance with a creamy mussel bisque”, says Michelle van Staden of the Durbanville Wine Valley Association.”
The event is hosted on all twelve participating farms.'

For programmes and directions visit

Friday, 25 May 2012

So yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to watch my FAVORITE Masterchef contestant live at the Good Food and Wine Show.
Ilse Fourie did a wonderfully informative demonstration of what she cooked during the early stages of the competition to WOW the judges. I literally came straight home and tried it out....and in her own words.. its BEEAUTIFAAAAL! I hope she won't mind me sharing the recipe with you.

Tip: Don't try and cheat and buy pasta, the best element of this dish is the fact that the pasta is fresh, well seasoned and home made.

Ilse: Pan-grilled Salmon on a Bed of Tagliatelle With Sautéed Baby Spinach and Citrus Syrup

100 g Bread Flour
1 Large Free Range Egg
5 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
200 g Scottish Salmon Steak
150 g Baby Spinach
1/2 Large Lemon
100 ml Orange Juice
25 g Butter
Add the egg, flour and olive oil to a food processor and blend together, then mold into dough and cover in cling film and rest for 30 minutes.

Cut the lemon peel into strips, add to orange juice and reduce until a thin syrup is achieved.
Whisk in warm Nederburg white wine to make a sauce, add butter to enrich the citrus sauce and keep it warm.

Roll the pasta dough through pasta maker, fold sheets, and cut strips of tagliatelle.
Boil pasta until al dente, refresh and sauté in a little butter.

Pan grill the salmon until cooked (about four minutes on each side) in a moderate temperature pan.

Dish the pasta on the plate, place cooked salmon and cover with spinach and citrus sauce.

Monday, 21 May 2012

There is something really amazing about visiting the tasting room and Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg. I think it might be the view coupled with a fantastic sensory overload when your enter through the sliding doors, that makes visiting Steenberg so unique. The tasting room is stunning, with its water features, beautiful chandelier and clean cut crisp furnishings. The staff are so informative and helpful!

We arrived mid afternoon having tasted wines at a number of other Constantia hotspots, but saving the best for last. I have always been a huge fan of the Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc and 2011 is probably my favorite to date. Its got that typical grassiness and gooseberry overtones and a gentle scent of tropical fruit. I also really enjoyed the HMS Sphynx Chardonnay with its butterscotch/caramel undertones. I think this wine is unique and doesn't mimic the flavours and styles of other Contanstia Chardonnays. After a few delicious reds we were sufficiently pickled and ready for lunch.

As my lunch companion had never tried an oyster, I felt it my personal responsibility to get her to eat as  many as she could. Bistro Sixteen82 have always had the freshest oysters around and what better place to try them for the first time. Five minutes later saw the two of us with lemon juice and tabasco dripping down our arms as we tucked into a half dozen each! What a treat! And she really enjoyed them ('They taste just like the sea!" she said)

All we really felt like after all the wine was some bread and hams, especially the bread part (sometimes you just can't help the craving!).  We decided to go for the Charcuterie Sixteen82 which consisted of Local cured meats, pickles, white bean and truffle puree. Of course we ordered extra bread to go with that. With our meal we decided to go for the HMS Rattlesnake Sauvignon Blanc which was without a shadow of a doubt the perfect accompaniment to the meal. The platter came with rocket which just paired so incredibly well with the wine. It was one of those lightbulb moments where I was definitely in the middle of a PERFECT balance between food and wine.

Tel | 021 713 2211 Hours.  Open daily from 9am til 8pm. Lunch until for 4pm and tapas served from 4:30pm until closing time.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Stylish wall piece

I had heard the rumours but needed to see for my self! Hemmelhuijs just off Buitengracht! My partner in crime and long time friend, Heinke Kriel, was all set to take some photos and I was well overdue a blog entry.  The perfect combination of food and design elements, Hemmelhuijs was just want we needed to create the perfect afternoon.
Hemmelhuijs, meaning ‘the house of joy’, or it being heavenly, is the brainchild of artist/photographer/stylist/entrepreneur/ all round creative genius Jacques Erasmus.  Like the food, the design and deco of the restaurant is fresh, colourful and expertly crafted to add to the ambiance and overall feel of the dining experience. Whilst it is a devastatingly stylish spot, it doesn’t for a moment feel uptight or posh! Diners are encouraged to relax and soak in the ‘vibe
After a glance at the very excellent, short but ‘well matched to the food’ wine list we settled on two massive glasses of Springfield ‘Wild Yeast’ Chardonnay- a personal favorite of mine so already Hemmelhuijs was getting a ten out of ten in my books.

Prawn and King Crab Cocktail on Iceberg lettuce
Prawn and King Crab Cocktail on Iceberg lettuce
Slow roasted shredded duck on a bed of cucumber and sultana salad
Slow roasted shredded duck on a bed of cucumber and sultana salad
Heinke let me order both of our starters as I just couldn’t decide on what to eat. So we had two salads between us- a delicious prawn and king crab cocktail on a bed of iceberg lettuce, and slow roasted duck on a sultana and cucumber salad.
I have to credit Heinke on his incredible photos.
After finishing our starters and another equally massive glass of ‘Wild Yeast’, we selected our main courses. Again, I chose both of them!
Stone fruits, venision and homemade marzipan on a bed of watercress with a yoghurt dressing
Stone fruits, venision and homemade marzipan on a bed of watercress with a yoghurt dressing
Seared Salmon with White chocolate sauce and cranberries
Seared Salmon with White chocolate sauce and cranberries
I could only manage another starter salad but I instructed Heinke to order the Seared Salmon in a white chocolate sauce with cranberries! Absolutely out of this world. I highly recommend it. The flavours are very unusual together but the combination works, especially with a big, chilled glass of ‘Wild Yeast”. Hemmelhuijs is open for lunch and breakfast from 9:00am until 4:00pm everyday except Sunday and for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Booking for dinner is recommended

Friday, 18 May 2012

So as the days get colder....and we head into winter, I thought what better way to ease into it than with my own version of Butter chicken. So grab a glass of wine (I usually enjoy a nice Rhiesling or of you feeling in a red mood, a Pinot Noir), head to the kitchen and get creative. The best part of this recipe is you can add your own spices and flavours and most of the time it works!

Serves 2-3 people

500g Chicken mini fillets from woolies
Olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 x square of garlic, chilli, ginger from woolies (or DIY if you can't find it)
1x tin tomato and onion mix
500ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon crushed cardamon seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons curry powder (any will do- I usually use Pako)
2 teaspoons tumeric
1 tub of cream (you may only end up using half-depends on your taste)
Fresh coriander leaves for sprinkling

Tip: serve with Basmati rice and pappadoms

How To...

Chop chicken fillets into bite size pieces. In the olive oil,  fry the chopped onion, garlic (about a heaped teaspoon), ginger (also about a heaped teaspoon) and chilli (to your own taste) with one tablespoon of curry powder. Be careful not to burn so I would stick to a moderate heat.

Add the chicken fillets and 'stir fry' until they are cooked. Add the other tablespoon of curry powder, cinnamon, crushed cardamon seeds, and tumeric. Then add the tin of tomato mix and the chicken stock, put on the lid, turn the pot down low and go and pour yourself another glass of wine.

Over the next 25 min or so occasionally lift the lid and give it a stir to avoid it catching on the bottom. If you see that the liquid is running low add a half a cup of water. After about 25 minutes test the chicken to see if its tender enough. Then remove the lid and allow the curry to 'reduce' (liquid to cook off). During this time stir continuously so as not to burn the curry (you can turn the heat up for this part) Once you have a nice 'thickish' rich curry sauce add some or all of the cream (depending how mild or hot you like your curry) You are now ready to go... serve with basmati rice and garnish with coriander leaves and a pappadom.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

This is the most wonderful time of year to be a Capetonian... while the rest of the country are freezing and miserable, we have a host of top gourmet spots that drop their prices over the winter. Its the best time to try restaurants that perhaps during the rest of the year were out of your budget. Here is a list of my favourite spots...

Lunch Special
Lunch served Wednesday – Friday
2-courses R198 or 3-courses R254
Wines by the glass to complement your meal.
Winter Special Menu
2-course menu at R200 and R290 with wine pairing
3-course menu at R275 and R405 with wine pairing

Winter Wine & Music
Cuvee will be hosting 4 Round the World food and music evenings paired perfectly with the flagship reds.

Winter Offerings
Saturdays 9.30am: Pierre Jourdan Breakfast at R150
Terrace Menu: enjoy oysters, cheese or duck liver parfait plates, with home baked ciabatta and a selection of tapas. This menu is available only on the terrace (weather dependant) and served from 3pm – 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and weekdays (excluding Mondays) and Sundays until 5pm.
Table d'Haute menu: served for lunch Tuesdays to Fridays, in addition to a la carte, at R150 a person (excluding wine) for four courses which Chef Ryan will be specially selecting daily, using locally sourced ingredients, and designed to suit the chilly weather.
The Pinot Noir menu will be served on Fridays and Saturdays for dinner, and lunch on Saturdays and Sundays for R495 a person including the wine.

7 Course Tasting Menu
R225 per person, excluding additional wine pairing

Winter Special
4-course menu: R195

Winter Special
16 May-30 September 2012: a la carte menu will change every 2 weeks
- 2-course meal without wine: R135; with wine pairing R195
-3-course meal without wine: R195; with wine pairing R305
June 2012
1 June 2012: 4 course soup evening with homemade bread and dessert
8, 15 and 22 June: Hands on Evening (minimum 10 people)
29 June: 3 course curry evening with condiments, selection of rice and dessert

Winter Menu
The Winter Special includes a choice of three starters, three mains, two desserts and a cheese board, with dishes changing according to seasonal availability of ingredients. Two courses costs only R175, three courses costs a reasonable R198. Both deals include a complimentary glass of award-winning Kleine Zalze wine to set the mood.

Winter Special
3 course menu with 2 glasses of wine R175
Up to 5 course menu with 4 glasses wine R225.
Menu changes every week with wine pairings
Different wine farm every two months: May and June is Steenberg
50% off food ordered from the a la carte menu offered weekly. These are incredibly popular and only announced via email the week before. You need to be registered on our database at

Winter Special
R295 for 4 courses, includes canapés, pre-dessert and bonbons.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

White Velvet Soup
1 head cauliflower
2 medium onions
1 head garlic (about 6-8 cloves)
3 cups cooked butter beans (about 2 cans)
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable stock
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt to taste
olive oil
smoked paprika

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg.
2. Cut up cauliflower into bite-sized chunks and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.
3. Peel onions and slice into chunks. Peel garlic cloves. Place onions and garlic baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
4. Place all veggies in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until everything has golden edges and is nicely caramelized.
5. Let veggies cool slightly and add to blender along with all other ingredients except olive oil and paprika (process in batches if you have a small blender). Blend on high until very smooth.
6. If the soup is not hot enough after blending, transfer soup to a large pot and warm until steaming. If the soup is too thick, simply add water to thin to your desired consistency.

Garnish with a sprinkling of smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.

Tip: Try Woolies imported Smoked Paprika spice from Spain, called La Chinata.
You have to fork out R40 for it, but it’s worth it.

I am a big fan of Constantia Glen. For two reasons: the delicious charcuterie and cheese platters available at the tasting room- perfect for a light meal, and obviously because of their delicious, award winning wines!

First, I must just tell you that if you haven't visited the tasting room for a platter and wine tasting you are MISSING OUT. Each board is served with a 'fresh out of the oven' french bagette and accompanied with interesting condiments including rooibos butter. I was trying to avoid letting this secret get out as its one of my favorite spots- but sharing is caring. Platters cost around about R100 and include a wine tasting.

Next, the wines. The epitome of what a Constantia wine should taste like- Sauvignon Blanc that is crisp, fresh with strong minerality and Red blends that deserve to be served only with the finest red meat dishes (although I have also been known to enjoy them solo, in front of the fire, with a good book- I am sure Jani- Mari at the tasting room can agree with me on this- pure bliss!)

I was fortunate enough to be invited along on Tuesday to try the Sauvignon Blanc 2011 and the Red Blend 5 2008. The sauvignon blanc is similar to last years vintage with good fruit on the palate and with the signature Constantia Valley flintiness. Its easy drinking but bold enough to be paired with light meals- chickens, salads and fresh pastas. The 5 2008 was mind blowing, having been allowed just enough resting time its perfect for drinking now, but will only grow better and bolder with age.

For those less fortunate than myself that weren't at the tasting on Tuesday, Constantia Glen will have the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc and the 5 2008 at both the Constantia Food and Wine festival and the Wine show in Joburg this weekend. Don't miss out!