Tag Archives: Main Ingredient

Main Ingredient’s festive delights

About now, you have probably been pouring over the newspaper ads and comparing prices of gammon, turkey, and other food for Christmas. Or you’re beginning to haunt the aisles in the supermarket for ideas of what to eat with your traditional (or not) Christmas dinner.

If you do Christmas traditionally, it’s usually a choice of turkey… or turkey. Or you could prepare a capon (giant castrated rooster) or Cornish hen. We love goose, but can never find them, so have resorted to duck in the past. But you may want to do something different.

You could order a tin of Confit of Duck from us and use the surrounding fat for wonderful roast potatoes. Or you could use the confit in a killer duck salad. In Europe they often cook a huge fish like a salmon or a carp as their main course. If you can order a side of fresh Norwegian salmon it is not a difficult lunch to do and, cold, it can be really special if the weather is hot and you make a home-made herb flavoured mayonnaise.

Seafood is always special, but you do need a mortgage to afford crayfish nowadays. We like them combined with prawns for a good starter. Scallops are just affordable and we love them steamed in the Chinese way with ginger, spring onions and garlic.

Instead of Christmas pudding, you could do a superb luxury tropical fruit salad because melon, pawpaw, kiwi fruit, and mango are starting to appear. We have a recipe for a festive Chardonnay jelly and will send it you on request, or you could make some really special ice-cream using a liqueur, or make a semi-freddo. Or finish off, as the Italians do, with a light green salad, some really good soft Gorgonzola and some great bread from one of specialist bakers such as Jardine, Knead, Olympia Bakery or, if you are in the Knysna area, Ile de Pain.

If you are not traditional, or not celebrating Christmas, you may still want to have some fun on the day, when most restaurants are closed or are charging a premium for eating out. Now is the time to enquire and make your booking, as there are still places with room. We see that our friends Cathy and Kevin at the Nose Bar are catering for Christmas Parties. They say that if you are still looking for a great, relaxed venue for your end of year function, why not pick The Nose in the Cape Quarter?

If you will be entertaining in the next few weeks, here is Lynne’s new Chilli con Carne with Chocolate recipe. It will serve 4 and you need to use very dark, minimum 70% chocolate, preferably one with very little sugar, like our Callebaut callets. The chocolate enriches the sauce and gives a gentle chocolate flavour, but the meat and the chilli still shine through.

Ordinary sweet dark chocolate will make the sauce too sweet. Lindt’s 80% chilli chocolate might also work well, but we haven’t tried it. Hot food in hot weather actually cools you down, which is why the hottest Indian food comes from the hottest parts of India. You can use mince for this recipe, but small slivers of chopped beef taste so much more authentic and substantial. Use one chilli or more according to your taste. Fresh chillies give the best fresh taste.  You can use chilli powder but it won’t have the same kick or flavour. This can definitely be made the day before, in fact we recommend it.

Chilli con Carne with dark Chocolate

1 large onion, finely chopped
800g lean stewing beef, sliced into very small pieces
1 T olive oil
1 t ground cumin
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
1 green chilli, chopped
1 T smoked chilli sauce
400 ml tomato passata
1 tin of red kidney beans
salt and black pepper
1 level T Callebaut 70% dark chocolate callets

Fry the onions in the oil with a good pinch of salt, till soft, then add the beef and fry quickly until it is brown all over. Add the cumin, garlic and chilli and stir quickly to blend. Add the passata and the beans, season and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the chocolate and continue to simmer until the beef is tender. Add a little water if it needs more moisture during cooking. Adjust the seasoning and serve with boiled rice and a tomato and onion salsa. Top with guacamole and sour cream.

WINE FOR CELEBRATIONS
We have plenty of new wines in the shop after our successful evening tastings. Buitenverwachting Christine, Meifort, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé; Vastrap white blend and Cape Jazz Shiraz from Solms Astor; Welgegund Carignan and their excellent Rosé; Cederberg Ghost Corner, Cape Point Stonehaven, Crystallum, Ataraxia, Strandveld, Springfield, Elgin Valley and Oak Valley Sauvignons Blanc, Mooiplaas Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Langtafel Red and White blends; Cape Point Scarborough Red; Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Shiraz Mourvedre and Sauvignon Blanc. Bouchard Finlayson, Springfield and  Morgenhof Chardonnays.

More of the very popular Cloof Inkspot red blend has come in and is selling out almost as quickly as it came in. And, exciting news, we should have some of the very special limited edition Axe Hill White Port very soon. Send us your orders now.

Ed’s note: Main Ingredient offers gourmet foods, ingredients and fine wines. It has won Eat In guide’s Outstanding Outlet for the past three years. You can find them at: Shop 5, Nedbank Centre, 15 Kloof Rd, Sea Point 8005, Cape Town, South Africa. phone: +27 21 439 5169, or find them online.

Summer festivities come to Main Ingredient

Ed’s note: Main Ingredient offers gourmet foods, ingredients and fine wines. It has won Eat In guide’s Outstanding Outlet for the past three years. You can find them at: Shop 5, Nedbank Centre, 15 Kloof Rd, Sea Point 8005, Cape Town, South Africa. phone: +27 21 439 5169, or find them online.

Nature doesn’t take prisoners! This tranquil scene was photographed on the Breede River a few weeks ago. Last week, it was a raging torrent and everything you see was submerged. Today, Cape Town was seriously hot, 35ºC, and we had supper al fresco because the house was too hot despite roof insulation, window blinds and other measures. Our solar generated hot water is almost hot enough to make tea or coffee.

Entertaining times?
Regular recipients of this newsletter have asked us recently for more really simple recipes – we know you all love entertaining, if it’s simple, and we all live really busy lives. In our house, supper sometimes needs to be created in moments, because we need to eat after we close the shop and before we leave for the Opera, the theatre or dinner, all of which we love.

QUICK CANAPÉS

  • One of the canapés Lynne made last night is dead simple. Make or buy a basil pesto. To make the pesto: blitz a pack of fresh basil, with 25g Grano Padana cheese, a clove of garlic, 50g pine nuts, almonds or cashew nuts, salt and black pepper and enough good extra virgin olive oil to give you a thick pesto. To serve: Boil some baby new potatoes, peel them, halve them by which time they will be cold and put the pesto onto the cut surface. You can also put pesto on to halves of small tomatoes and slices of cucumber.
  • Buy or make some smoked salmon paté, some thick minty tsatsiki or some thick humus. Take a cucumber and take off small strips of skin lengthwise evenly around the cucumber. Then cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out all the seeds and fill each half with pate or humus. Put back together and cut into tiny 1.5 cm rounds and serve chilled; dust lightly with cayenne, paprika or cumin.
  • Buy some medium (4-5 cm) mushrooms & remove the stalks. Chop the stalks finely and mix with breadcrumbs, grated cheese, garlic and a little chopped rosemary and thyme, and moisten with olive oil or melted butter then season. Fill the mushrooms and bake in a hot oven for about 15 to 20 minutes till crisp on top, then serve.


New in store

At last! After a bit of a hiatus, we have more French duck fat, perfect for roasting the potatoes which will complement your Christmas bird. And of course, we have frozen French chestnuts for the stuffing and will soon have canned chestnuts and purées.

And for the other bird lovers, we have a plentiful supply of Confit de Canard, from Labeyrie in South-West France. In addition, we have a special Labeyrie gift pack for those of you who want a luxury gift for a true gourmet. Come and talk to us about it – it is bound to make a lot of people jealous and others a bit uptight, and you don’t want to give the secret away, do you?

Our own deluxe Christmas puddings will soon be in the shop, because Lynne is busy making them.

After last night’s successful Sauvignon Blanc tasting, we have ordered some wonderful wines for customers who were there, and as a subsequent benefit for you, we will soon have Ataraxia, Cederberg Ghost Corner, Elgin Valley, Oak Valley and Strandveld Sauvignons added to our already extensive list.

An American friend says that Sauvignon Blanc is South Africa’s best offering to the world of wine; we don’t entirely agree, but these are all very special wines and some of them are only available in very limited quantities, so don’t procrastinate.

Simonsig Brut Rosé will make a brilliant opener to any summer party and we will now be able to let you have it in a free special presentation tin, to turn it into an especially wonderful gift.

Corporate gifts
Every year, at this time, we start putting in lots of new items and restocking old favourites that we know work very, very well as corporate gifts. We can help with the smallest budget – or the largest! One or two gifts or hundreds. And we have access to some really good packaging, or we can suggest solutions, and we are sure we can find something suitable for you and your business. We find clients and staff absolutely love to receive something in the food and/or wine line at the end of what has been a rather tough year when they need spoiling or thanking. Do contact us for suggestions.

Stir of the week
We have just watched a BBC food programme where they interviewed a really good butcher who makes his own sausages. He said: “I make wheat-free sausages, as there now seem to be so many wheat allergies” (in the UK). There certainly seem to be a lot in South Africa.

Our comment: could this be caused by genetically modified wheat? Has anyone checked? We know that commercial bread here is full of ‘improvers’ and new yeast strains that have been developed and we feel sure that this has a connection to wheat intolerance and allergies. But what if it’s the wheat itself that has been modified and humans are getting allergic to it?  We’d love to hear from the industry out there.

Recommended Events:
Join the Cap Classique Association and WINE magazine on Tuesday 25th November at 18h30 for a tasting of the top-scoring South African sparkling wines in the 2008 Amorim Cork Cap Classique Challenge, presented by winning wine maker, Elunda Basson at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. This will be repeated on Thursday 27th November at 18h30 at the Hyatt Regency in Rosebank, Johannesburg, and again on Tuesday 9th December at 18h30 at the Riverside Hotel in Durban North, when it will be presented by Cape Wine Master and MCC expert Jeff Grier of Villiera. Tickets can be booked by calling 0860 100 203, or by sending an email to [email protected]

And, if that were not enough, you’ll have another bubbly opportunity at the 2008 Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, when Franschhoek will once again play stylish host on the weekend of 6th and 7th December. The annual MCC and Champagne festival will showcase an array of celebrated Cap Classique producers as well as some of the finest French champagnes.

As a special treat on Thursday 27th November, the Savoy Cabbage Thanksgiving dinner is being offered by one of our favourite restaurants.

Jordan wine estate will hold their Open Day on Saturday, 29th November between 10h00 and 15h00. Relax on the lawn with family and friends to the sound of local community band, the “Stellenzicht Music Project”. A selection of food and wine will be available during the day.

Also on Saturday 29th, between 10h00 and 17h00, Fynbos Fine Foods will host an exciting day in the Paardeberg, just an hour from Cape Town, with wine tasting from small wineries of the area, a Farmers Market, Crafts, music and a lot more. Entry will be R15 adults and R5 children. For directions contact them on 022 487 1153, or [email protected].

Wine tastings
On Tuesday December 2nd, we will be holding a tasting of 6 modern Chardonnays and 6 interesting red blends for you to enjoy with your Christmas dinner, or any other festive dinner you are planning (some of these will be very good value wines). Bookings are now open for this 2 hour tasting which starts at 6 pm and we do hope it will attract people who really are interested in buying some good wines from us. As before we will take bookings for up to 22 people, as it gets a bit crowded with more. The tasting will cost R50 a head and canapés prepared by Lynne will be provided.

Our wine tasting this Saturday will feature a range of wines from Welgegund in Wellington.

The Weekend Pavement Market:

Audrey Grobbelaar will be here tomorrow. Thankfully, her farm, Rivierzicht, on the Breede river in the Goree Valley was not ruined by the floods, although some of it was inundated. They have wonderful riverside camping facilities and these will be open again within a very short time.

Nelle will be with us again on Saturday from Wolseley, with her freshly laid, backyard chicken free range eggs, home-made pies and breads and cookies and whatever fresh produce she has been able to pick. If you want wonderful naturally produced food, this is where you’ll find it.

Main Ingredient weathers the storm

Ed’s note: We are very lucky to have the OK from John and Lynne Ford to publish their Main Ingredient newsletter on the Wines Online Blog. Main Ingredient offers gourmet foods, ingredients and fine wines. It has won Eat In guide’s Outstanding Outlet for the past three years. You can find them at: Shop 5, Nedbank Centre, 15 Kloof Rd, Sea Point 8005, Cape Town, South Africa. phone: +27 21 439 5169, or find them online.

High winds and flying tiles, lashing rain and tree branches are all over our leafy street this week. Those isobars must have been so close together. We are hearing of flooding in our favourite valley of wine and roses and are concerned that the wind may have taken the flowers off the Cape’s vines at the most vulnerable time of year when they need to pollinate. It will certainly reduce the crop this year.

We thought we had finally gone into summer but this is a setback. However it is not uncommon, as when we moved into our house on the 4th of December four years ago, we had a similar storm and our solar pool heating panels all ended up in our street. We now use solar to heat our domestic water and the collector panels are much more securely fixed.

New in store
It is probably the right weather for slightly spicy food and we have a new product in stock which Lynne is going to try at the weekend: a very authentic Indian Tikka paste which you add to yogurt and use to marinade boned chicken, then bake quickly in a very hot oven. Serve with wedges of lemon or lime, a simple salad and some rice.

It’s from Bushmans and we also have their very delicious mustard (Lynne never thought she would say this about a local mustard, having recently tasted several really bad samples and reverting to her favourite French). It’s a gentle sweet honey mustard and more like a mayonnaise in consistency. She is going to use it in a French dressing.

Then we have something for the Chilli lunatics among you – Dynamite! It’s a searingly hot sauce made from chillies that have been matured in barrel for five years and then blended with 70% Belgian chocolate, balsamic vinegar, molasses, spices and herbs. It’s in numbered limited edition boxes is a perfect Christmas or birthday gift for that Chilli crazy you know. We would never risk tasting it – they say its hotness level is 21 out of 10. (Mathematically as crazy as the heat).

We have frozen chestnuts for you to use when stuffing your Christmas bird and we hear that we will soon have new stock of tinned French chestnuts, purée, crème and even some in syrup. Also from France, we have some Crème de Cassis, walnut oil, hazelnut oil and grenadine and strawberry syrups. Sadly the prices of all the imported foods have gone up a lot but we know some of you can’t live without them so we will continue to stock them – but in very small quantities. The Rand Euro exchange rate is really terrifying some of our importers. Nevertheless, we can offer you (to special order, while the importer’s stock lasts) fresh Italian black winter truffles.

We have stock of Catherine Marshall’s delicious wines: Pinot Noir, Syrah, Syrah Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc and the superb Myriad dessert wine which was so popular last Christmas.

GINGER AND ORANGE CHICKEN

This week’s recipe is one of our favourite ways to serve chicken breasts

1/3 cup of orange juice
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 T dark Soya sauce
1 T Chinese Shao Xing rice wine
1 T honey or dark brown sugar
1 T finely grated fresh ginger
2 t mustard powder
Grated rind of one orange
1 fresh chopped red chilli or 1/4 t crushed chilli
4 deboned chicken breasts or legs, skin removed

Mix all the ingredients together to make a marinade, add the chicken pieces and marinade in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat your grill and put the chicken pieces on a grid 20cm from the heat. Do put a drip tray beneath to catch the juices. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes each side and continue to cook until the juices run clear, basting occasionally with some of the marinade. Serve with noodles and the pan juices and some steamed broccoli.

WINED AND DINED
We have been rather spoilt again this week. First we were taken to La Colombe for a really splendid meal. The menu is full of wonderful rich and expensive choices, the food is delicious and sophisticated and the prices are more manageable for foreign visitors spending Dollars, Pounds and Euros than for locals.

John’s and my host’s starter was quail and langoustine with a delicious, complex sauce. It was truly to be envied and his steak in a savoury chocolate sauce had him in raptures. Our hostess loved her veal and sweetbread dish. She and Lynne had a Crab Jalousie starter.

Lynne and our host followed this with Loin of Springbok with a medallion of Foie and Uitsig Spring flowers! She could not manage a dessert but enjoyed watching the other three tuck into Chocolate fondants, ice cream and really interesting Tonka Bean dessert. Constantia Uitsig Semillon and red blend in pichets were delicious with the food.

On Tuesday we supped with good friends on broccoli soup, fresh salmon, served with an unusual and delicious sweetcorn and gem squash purée which matched perfectly. This was followed by a very pretty rose petal ice cream.

Yesterday Lynne had an excellent lunch at The Roundhouse with the ladies of the International Wine and Food Society, her first experience there, and definitely not her last. John Loubser, the winemaker and GM of Steenberg (he is also responsible for the wines of Constantia Uitsig) presented Steenberg’s delicious wines – the Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Lynne’s favourite Merlot and the 1682 Brut MCC, which were all matched to the food.

Starters were either a butternut risotto or the most sensational soft shell crab Tempura with prawns served on a bed of soft avocado with a light vinaigrette and baby greens. Our main course choices were the fish of the day which was confit of elf, a Springbok carpaccio (not really suitable for a main course portion unless you were seriously dieting, as some of our ladies are), and roast lamb rump with a black olive reduction.

Our desserts were a chocolate sensation and a marvellous guava frangipani tart or a cheese platter. The weather stormed and sometimes it was difficult to see across the Glen to Camps Bay, but inside was a warm and very chattery fun occasion. We have had reports of excellent service there – yesterday they were trainee staff, who were nervous but will be very good soon!

Recommended Events:

Wine Concepts will stage the seventh “Finer Things in Life” champagne and bubbly Festival at the Vineyard Hotel and Spa in Newlands tomorrow, November 14th. Guests will be treated to one of the most impressive selections of champagnes and MCCs ever seen in this country. More than 30 cuvées will be on show, accompanied by fresh oysters, rare cheeses and fine chocolates. In tune with the theme of the ‘Finer Things in Life’, elegant fashion and rare Italian motor cars will share centre stage. As in the past, proceeds will be shared with the Kids with HIV Foundation. Tickets can be purchased for R230.00 per person from Wine Concepts. Phone +27 21 671 9030 or email [email protected], or you can buy them at the door on the evening.

If you can’t get to that one, or if, like us, you cannot have a surfeit of sparkling deliciousness, you can join the Cap Classique Association and WINE magazine on Tuesday 25th November at 18h30 for a tasting of the top-scoring South African sparkling wines in the 2008 Amorim Cork Cap Classique Challenge, presented by winning wine maker, Elunda Basson at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. This will be repeated on Thursday 27th November at 18h30 at the Hyatt Regency in Rosebank, Johannesburg, and again on Tuesday 9th December at 18h30 at the Riverside Hotel in Durban North, when it will be presented by Cape Wine Master and MCC expert Jeff Grier of Villiera. Tickets can be booked by calling 0860 100 203, or by sending an email to [email protected]

And, if that were not enough, you’ll have another opportunity when Franschhoek will once again play stylish host to their annual Champagne festival on the weekend of 6th and 7th December. The 2008 Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, sponsored by Investec Private Bank, will showcase an array of celebrated Cap Classique producers as well as some of the finest French champagnes.

Jordan wine estate will hold their Open Day on Saturday, 29th November between 10h00 and 15h00. Relax on the lawn with family and friends to the sound of local community band, the “Stellenzicht Music Project”. A selection of food and wine will be available during the day.

Our wine tasting this Saturday will feature Morgenhof wines. We will have the very attractively priced Fantail white and rosé and the very elegant, newly released chardonnay.

Our next evening tasting, SERIOUS SAUVIGNONS on November 19th, is fully subscribed. We have a few names on the waiting list in case there is a cancellation. We will follow this on Tuesday, December 2nd with a tasting of selected Chardonnays. The wines have not been finalised, but there will be 22 places and you may book for two people.

Our Weekend Pavement Market:
Nelle will be with us on Saturday from Wolseley, with her freshly laid, backyard chicken free range eggs, home-made pies and breads and cookies and whatever fresh produce she has been able to pick. If you want wonderful naturally produced food, this is where you’ll find it.

Main Ingredient Miscellany

Ed’s note: We are very lucky to have the OK from John and Lynne Ford to publish their Main Ingredient newsletter on the Wines Online Blog. Main Ingredient offers gourmet foods, ingredients and fine wines. It has won Eat In guide’s Outstanding Outlet for the past three years. You can find them at: Shop 5, Nedbank Centre, 15 Kloof Rd, Sea Point 8005, Cape Town, South Africa. phone: +27 21 439 5169, or find them online.

WINE ON THE RIVER
This was, as expected, great fun and we tasted lots and lots of really good wine from one of our favourite wine areas. We bought quite a lot too for the shop. We were delighted to find some new cheese sold at the Dairy at Rigg’s restaurant near Bonnievale – really strong Cheddar and a good aged Gouda. There was also some unspeakably bad goats cheese at the festival (the makers shall remain nameless and really should be doing something else), it resembled school erasers. We also had the best Venison pasties we have ever had. Temperatures reached 35ºC on Saturday and we had a delicious Braai at our lovely hired cottage on the river in Bonnievale that evening. We really do have such a wonderful working life.

THINK PINK TWO
will take place on Tuesday 4th November (not the 5th) starting at 6pm and finishing at 8pm. Our first pink tasting, last Tuesday, was a huge success and the wines were well appreciated and bought. We will be repeating the three most popular wines (De Grendel, Morgenhof Fantail and Ridgemore), with a new selection to make up the 12 Rosés. Please Note: these tastings do have to be booked as we can only accommodate 22 people if we only have one bottle of each wine. Sadly, a few people came who had not booked and, as we were really full, we had to turn them away – regretfully – which we hated doing. We do hope they will come to the next one. There are a few places still available, so please phone Lynne (021 439 5169) to add your name to the list. There is a tasting fee of R25 per person, payable in advance, and there will be snacks to accompany the food.

The tasting after this one will be SERIOUS SAUVIGNONS – a selection of some of the best and rarest Sauvignon Blancs like Cederberg Ghost Corner, Constantia Glen, Ataraxia, Oak Valley and Iona. None of them are in the economy class, but all will be very special and perfect for celebrating the summer and the Christmas season. The date, for your diary, will be Wednesday 19th November, but YOU MUST BOOK AND PAY IN ADVANCE as we anticipate that this tasting will be even more popular than the Rosés and it is our way of allowing you to taste before you buy very, very special wines which are not always generally available. The tasting fee will be R25 per person and bookings will be confirmed once the tasting fee has been received. Again, it will be a one-bottle tasting and will therefore be limited to 22 people.

One of the most popular snacks on Tuesday was Pissaladière – the French version of pizza from the Provence area. You should use a pizza yeast dough for the base but, if you don’t have the time, use a bought flaky pastry – the one with cheese and herbs works well.

PISSALADIÈRE
A roll of cheese and herb flaky pastry
4 large onions, thinly sliced
1/2 t salt
1 to 2 T olive oil
a jar of anchovies
pitted black olives, sliced in half
mini Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
black pepper
fresh thyme leaves, stripped of stem

Line an oblong baking tin with baking paper or a silicon baking sheet. Unroll the pastry and roll out to the same size as the base of the tin. Put in the fridge for half an hour. Cook the onions in the salt and oil till they are caramelizing, sweet and beautifully soft – make sure you stir regularly. Warm your oven to 200ºC. Spread the onions evenly over the pastry right to the edges. Cut several anchovies in half lengthwise then make a trellis with them so you have diamonds about 5cm in width. Put half an olive in every alternate diamond and fill the others with half a tomato. Add a grinding of black pepper and sprinkle over some fresh thyme leaves. Bake until the pastry is nice and crisp. Remove from the oven and slice into squares and serve with a good dry Rosé, of course!

NEW IN STORE
The amazing Italian Truffle salt has arrived, slightly earlier than expected. We have lots of orders to fulfill but we do have a little extra – do come quickly as with the exchange rate the way it is going, we may not get much more and this is definitely a ‘must have’ if you love truffles. We have a really good Mango and Lime Atchar from Zest, new stocks of Black Gold Balsamic reduction in normal and huge catering size, also a new chilli sauce called Sweet Fire. More stock has arrived of Froggit’s two Balsamic reductions and we have a few super new 3D Christmas cookie cutters. Tahini and Za’atar should arrive on Friday.

BEST FINE DINING
We were treated to a wonderful dinner at Jardine last night by John’s Australian cousin and got to sample George Jardine’s new menu. Quite delicious. We had a slice of Confit of Lamb shoulder with globe artichokes which were surrounded by a Christmas wreath of fresh spring peas, baby leaves and tiny sun dried tomatoes in a sherry vinegar, a baked salmon trout tapenade with gooey aubergine in a tomato jus and new season fresh white asparagus in a sweetcorn basil purée topped with crispy pancetta. The starters were enjoyed with a glass of Raats Chenin Blanc.

John had a really good twice baked crispy duck, Lynne had a Spanish-style monk fish with butterbeans, tomatoes and chorizo and our host had his first ever kingklip with roasted baby leeks, parsnip puree and straw potatoes which he loved. We partnered this course with Vriesenhof Pinot Noir, while our host opted for a sparkling glass of Villiera Tradition.

George Jardine’s sauces always delight us. The chocolate dessert was also a killer and was complex enough to suit Jordan’s Mellifera Riesling noble late harvest admirably.

Recommended Events:
The Khayelitsha Festival, a community festival celebrating leadership, lifestyle, community spirit, cultural creativity, entrepreneurial achievement & excellence, artistry, music & sporting prowess heralds the 25th Anniversary of the vast, sprawling community of Khayelitsha on the Cape Flats area of Cape Town. The Khayelitsha Festival, due to be staged from tomorrow to 26th Sunday, will reflect and crystallise the genesis and development of Khayelitsha over the last 25 years

In Johannesburg, RMB WineX will take place between Tuesday 28th and Friday 31st October. Entry prices are: early bird R80, two-night pass R140 and three-night pass R200 on sale until 26th October; Thereafter at the door: Tuesday R90, Wednesday and Thursday R100; Friday R120, including a tasting glass and unlimited tastings. Group bookings of 10 tickets or more enjoy a special discount for Tuesday night only, booked via the organisers.

Jordan wine estate will hold their Open Day on Saturday, 29th November between 10h00 and 15h00. Relax on the lawn with family and friends to the sound of local community band, the “Stellenzicht Music Project”. A selection of food and wine will be available during the day.

Our wine tasting this Saturday

Mooiplaas is one of our favourite wine estates in the Bottelary area near Stellenbosch. They have launched two new easy-priced wines, Langtafel red and white. We will feature these as well as their deservedly popular Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc and their excellent Pinotage. Mooiplaas always offers amazing quality at a really affordable price and we are sure that you will enjoy them.

Our Weekend Pavement Market
Audrey Grobbelaar from Robertson will be with us tomorrow and the two following Fridays, and Nelle from Wolseley, is with us every Saturday, with their freshly laid, really free range eggs (think backyard chickens), home-made pies and breads and cookies and whatever fresh produce they have been able to pick. If you want real food, naturally grown, this is where you’ll find it.

Main Ingredient warming up

Ed’s note: We are very lucky to have the OK from John and Lynne Ford to publish their Main Ingredient newsletter on the Wines Online Blog. Main Ingredient offers gourmet foods, ingredients and fine wines. It has won Eat In guide’s Outstanding Outlet for the past three years. You can find them at: Shop 5, Nedbank Centre, 15 Kloof Rd, Sea Point 8005, Cape Town, South Africa. phone: +27 21 439 5169, or find them online.

Annandale wine farm, near Stellenbosch
The Foot of the Helderberg Festival last weekend gave us an opportunity to visit a farm we hadn’t been to before. Annandale has a beautiful, quiet rusticity and takes one back to a less frenetic era. Good wines, too. We were also privileged to enjoy a vertical tasting of ten vintages of Grangehurst Cabernet Merlot as well as the current Nikela blend and Jeremy Walker’s excellent pinotage. The Grangehurst team always gives their visitors a warm and friendly welcome. Take the road past Eikendal off the R44 and treat yourself to a taste of some great wines. Or come and get them from us!

Isn’t the weather beautiful at last?

Our vegetable patch has suddenly got a move on and we don’t think we will have to buy another lettuce or any chard all summer long. There is a nasty caterpillar, which Lynne can’t spot, making holes in the broccoli leaves so war has been declared. Our onions, fennel and garlic are at last shooting up and the broad beans and peas are already in flower. We only wish the basil would catch up with the amazing growth spurt the tomatoes have had.

Which brings us to our roar of the week. WHY did tomatoes jump from R8 a kilo to R17 a kilo in one week? Was it because of the Jewish holidays that supermarkets decided to make a leap in price? We have been doing without rather than pay ridiculous prices and hope to find some in the country this weekend when we go to Robertson for the Wine on the River festival. Woolworths in Sea Point, all three branches, looked as though locusts had attacked them, they were so empty of fresh vegetables and fruit. They tell me they have distribution problems. Let’s hope we get some sanity back soon, the world wide stock market crash was bad enough..

PASTA SAUCE

As we have a relative from Australia staying with us, Lynne did a lot of advance freezer cooking and now is doing fairly ‘instant’ meals for evenings when we get back from touring. She has been trying out new and delicious recipes for pasta sauce and thinks you might like this one. She does the vegetables in advance so they are ready to assemble when we get home.

1 head of garlic – 1 red pepper – 20 small Roma tomatoes – extra virgin olive oil – 2 t finely chopped rosemary
30 stoneless black olives – 1 T Froggit Balsamic reduction – handful of rocket leaves – spaghetti

Turn on oven to 180ºC. Halve the garlic across the bulb and put on a roasting tray, cut side up. Halve the pepper, remove the seeds and put it on the tray. Halve the tomatoes and put them on the tray. Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper, sprinkle over the rosemary and roast for 20 minutes. Take out the garlic which should be soft and the tomatoes and continue to cook the pepper until it is nice and soft and beginning to caramelise at the edges. Put it into a plastic bag, seal and allow to cool. The skin will then come off really easily. Cut into strips. When the spaghetti is cooked and drained, squeeze in the roasted garlic and add the tomatoes, pepper and olives. Pour on 1 T Balsamic reduction and the rocket. Add a good drizzle of fresh olive oil, season, toss together and serve with a delicious rosé.

Stock News
After a short break, while the customs sat on the importer’s shipment of frozen bakes, we have more pain au chocolat and plain and chocolate hazelnut croissants from Belgium.

Now the customs officers have been very slow and, we hear, extra methodical with our favourite Italian importer’s latest shipment. Bureaucrats fiddle while the world starves! So we had to wait patiently for the shipment of Italian products, including the wonderful, rich truffle salt. But the good news is that they are in town and we’ll have them on Monday. Enough for all the orders you have placed plus a little more! On the other hand, the importer of the lovely Italian stock cubes we’ve had has decided to discontinue them. So we’ll be looking elsewhere.

We have received more Spanish smoked paprika and sherry vinegar, [email protected] preserved lemons and Protea Hill Farm’s excellent Raspberry preserve and vinegar. After a longish break, we have saffron back in stock, but be warned that the price has doubled!

The popular Boekenhoutskloof Chocolate Block is back, so come and get it while stock lasts. The new release of the excellent Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc is becoming available, and we are taking orders for six-bottle cases. Another very good, expensive and rare Sauvignon is the Ghost Block from Cederberg Winery’s Elim vineyard, and we welcome orders for this superb wine, again in six-bottle cases.

We have had very enthusiastic reports about the Kalahari truffles from customers who have used them. We still have stock, so come and enjoy this unique, bargain-priced fungus. Fans of the Sense of Taste Prego Sauce will be glad to know that we have it back in the shop.

Twice in the last month, we have had fun evenings at the Fat Cactus Café in Mowbray. Lots of food, some really good grub at good prices and some not so good. Fabulous Chilli Bombs: green chillies stuffed with cheese and then deep fried in batter. Cholesterol nightmare but worth it once in a while. And excellent beef chilli – not mince but small pieces as in traditional TexMex cooking. Huge, well-prepared salads, but the worst waffle ever, overcooked, dripping in over-used fat rather than syrup and the syrup on the plate rather than over it – sent back as inedible. It’s a largely student population and quite noisy so if you like quiet dining this is definitely not for you.

On Sunday we had a superb lunch at 96 Winery Road which has a new menu but have kept one or two of their classics like the fabulous Duck and Cherry Pie. Superb service, very attentive and really delicious food. Ken Forrester’s wines absolutely complement the food and we loved the Chenin with Scallops wrapped in Parma Ham and his Shiraz Grenache with the Duck and the Gemsbok.

Bad food

We were at an excellent trade tasting of superb wines this week at the Radisson Hotel. Sadly, the canapés served were truly awful – so surprising for a 5 star hotel. Completely tasteless oily spring rolls and samoosas, pieces of cardboard overcooked steak and chicken on skewers with no flavour and something mushy (white sauce?) in phyllo pastry. We know it costs the organiser a fortune and we think they should refuse to pay.

Thinking Pink for Summer
Our tasting of pink wines next Tuesday, 21st October, is over-subscribed and we have had to close the list. However, we will repeat the tasting on Tuesday November 5th. Come and choose your favourite Rosé for summer. We will have lots of different dry rosés for tasting – wines we know you will like and we will offer some specials as well. Rosés go tremendously well with the style of food we eat in the Cape and we want you to experience them with us. Delicious snacks will be served while you taste. Places are limited so do book soon. There will be a nominal charge of R25 per person. The list for the second tasting is already filling up.

Recommended Events
The exciting open-air Robertson Wine on the River spring wine festival will take place from tomorrow Friday 17th until Sunday at the beautiful Goudmyn riverside venue. You can taste more than 300 wines from over 40 wineries and enjoy laid-back country hospitality. If you don’t want to drive, there is a daily bus there and back. Check the website for more information. We’ll be going there tomorrow evening and our friend Loraine will be in the shop on Saturday.

RMB WineX, an ‘absolute must’ on the Johannesburg wine calendar, takes place on Tuesday 28th to Friday 31st October. Entry prices are: Early Bird R80, Two-night Pass R140 and Three-night Pass R200 on sale until 26 October; thereafter and at the door: Tuesday R90, Wednesday and Thursday R100; Friday R120, includes a tasting glass and unlimited tastings. There is a special discount for group bookings (10 tickets or more) for Tuesday night only, booked via the organisers. More detail about all these events is available on the websites if you click on the event names above.

If you’d like to learn about cheese and cheese making you may be interested in a two day, hands-on, authentic Italian experience in home cheese-making on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th November from 9am until 4pm each day at the Giggling Gourmet Cookery School in Cape Town. Contact Candice on 021 683 3633 or [email protected] for any further information or assistance with travel and accommodation. Registration closes on Friday 24th.

Cape Talk Radio is hosting an awards competition for small businesses who their customers believe give good service. This may be a bit cheeky, but, if you think we’re doing a good job, please tell them at [email protected].

Our wine tasting this Saturday
Because we’ll be in Robertson and Loraine will be alone in the shop, there won’t be any wines for you to taste. But they will be for sale as usual! We’ll taste again next Saturday.

Our Weekend Pavement Market
Nelle from Wolseley will be with us on Saturday, with her freshly laid, really free range eggs (think backyard chickens), home-made pies and breads and cookies and whatever fresh produce she has been able to pick. If you want real food, naturally grown, this is where you’ll find it.

THE BESTEST PUSS

Our week had a very sad beginning when we had to say goodbye to our best cat Tinkerbelle, she of the Pixie dust. She fought a long and hard battle against Feline Aids but there is no cure and her tiny body could stand no more. We shall dearly miss our daily snuggles.