Life's Pleasures with Michael Olivier

by Michael  Olivier

Michael Olivier, Cape food & wine fundi's Blog

Michael Olivier, a well-known Cape food and wine fundi, shares his vast knowledge of all things wonderful.
www.michaelolivier.co.za | FREE Online Digital Magazine | www.crushmag-online.com

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Kitchen Knives

The Knife

A good knife is as important to a chef in a commercial kitchen as it is to the home cook.  And perhaps they are two different things.

When I started cooking seriously back in the 1960s, I used a small bladed, wooden handle knife which I used for everything.  It was only went I went to the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London that I really became aware of the importance of knives, for boning, filleting, slicing.  And this got me off building a small arsenal of some truly fabulous knives.

In later years when I employed my own chefs in my restaurants, I was always surprised at the inventive ways in which they used knives.  I had one chef – short little man - who would use the tiniest little knife to cut a huge pile of vegetables into the smallest dice for the various sauces we made.  And then during dinner service, he would use a huge bread knife to slice the breasts of confit ducks!

The first serious knives I bought were Sabatier knives.  They are the ones at the top of the picture.  Sabatier knives were de rigueur at The London Cordon Bleu School of Cookery.  And 40 years later, although they now have new wooden handles, Madeleine and I use them every day in our home.  We have a lovely little electric knife sharpener which keeps them beautifully sharpened.  I chose to buy the stainless knives, as the mild steel knives tarnished very easily.  Sabatier knives are made in Thiers, the cradle of the French cutlery industry.

You can read more about Sabatier knives here – www.sabatier.com

Then in the 90s, after they were first shown at the Frankfurt fair in 1988, the Global Knife became the knife after which every young graduate from a South African Cookery School lusted.  They are made in Japan of the finest stainless steel and are well known in the world as one of the best kitchen knives.  And had funky shapes and checkerboard handles for a fabulous grip.  And were seriously sharp.  Users like the modern and distinctive image, the sharp thin blades and their durability, the easy after-care of a one-piece hygienic stainless steel knife.  I have used Global knives on the Expresso Breakfast TV show for over a year now, and they do stay seriously sharp.  I use them also at The African Relish Cookery School in Prince Albert when I do Cookery Workshops there.  Fortunately the Global Knife is available in South Africa at most good kitchen supply stores and on-line from www.yuppiechef.co.za

And then came the Lassar Ceramic Knife, the bottom one in the picture.  Lassar Ceramic Knives are made of Zirconia - the second hardest material after diamonds and four times harder than stainless steel.  Zirconia is also used in the space and aeronautic industries.  The result is a razor sharp blade, that easily retains its original sharpness more than 10 times longer than steel.   This alleviates the tedious task of putting the edge back on a knife on a regular basis as you have to do with steel knives.  Ceramic does not rust and is more hygienic and easier to clean.  Best not to put them in the dishwasher – in fact dishwashers are the most notorious of knife blunteners [if there is such a word] if not, I just made one up!  My fishermen friends love this knife as the blade does not corrode with sea water and bait.  I would think that this is really more for the home cook than the professional chef.
See www.ceramicknife.co.za

But what do I know?  I worked in a professional kitchen with a cute little short bladed knife with a wooden handle!  And I use all three of these in my kitchen every day.







Michael Olivier Chenin Blanc

CHENIN BLANC
Pronounced: "Shenin-Blonk"
 
Unfortunately known until fairly recently as “the workhorse of the wine industry.” It is a great unkindness to this, the most planted white grape variety in the winelands. Simply because it is resistant to disease, is so versatile and is used for the production of anything from the driest of ‘lite’ whites like the big selling low alc Drostdy Hof Extra Light, through semi’s and full sweets, bubblies to Axe Hill Dry White Port and the almost iconic Nederburg Edelkeur, Gunther Brozel’s botrytised Chenin which gave rise to all the Noble Late Harvests you see on the shelves today. Some serious players are the multi crowned Forrester Meinert Chenin - FMC - by Ken Forrester and Martin Meinert, anything by Teddy Hall, Jasper Raats from Rudera, Bruwer Raats, and Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs. Great value Chenins come from Jeff Grier of Villiera and Paul de Villiers of Landskroon who produces a dry and an off dry.
 
It looks: Clear and delicately coloured when young, moving to straw yellow and gold when older or sweeter.
 
It smells: like ripe guavas or tropical fruit, melons and delicate honey and flowers.
 
It tastes: White fleshed peach, apricots, guavas, melon and honey.
 
It’s great with: Seafood and Thai food – or light summer chicken dishes.





 


Back bacon with plums recipe

Back Bacon with Plums


To serve 4 people, you’ll need:

1 piece of back bacon weighing about 750g
6 ripe blood plums
50g dried cranberries
freshly milled black pepper,
250ml good red wine
2Tbs dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt [be careful if the bacon is very salty]
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 fat cloves of fresh garlic – finely chopped
250ml verjuice
4 bay leaves
6 whole star anise
2 quills of cinnamon. 

For finishing the sauce, 2 Tbs quince or apple jelly,


Method: 
Score the fat of the bacon in a diamond pattern.  Place the bacon into a deep ovenproof casserole.  Cut the plums in half, remove the stones and place them round the bacon with the cranberries.  In a small bowl mix together the remaining ingredients and pour over the bacon.  Allow to marinate for at least two hours.  Preset the oven on 200C.  When ready place the casserole in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook for a further 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place the bacon on a dish to stand for about 5 minutes to rest.  Meantime, remove the bay leaves and the star anise.  Mash the plums into the sauce to make a chunky sauce.  Add the jelly, squish it down to melt it and then shake the pot vigourously to create an emulsion in the sauce, you’ll find it absorbs any oil or bacon fat.

Serve with steamed potatoes and a green vegetable like long stemmed broccoli or thin “French” beans.



 

LAMB SHOULDER WILLISTON

Delicious Karoo Lamb recipe
 
You really want to use Karoo lamb for this dish as we did recently.  Lorraine and Guillau du Toit are our Karoo lamb suppliers.  They farm in Williston, Lorraine says their sheep graze in sweet grass. The taste of their lamb – we choose two toothed hoggets - is as unique as the Salt Marsh Lamb from Harlech in Wales where they graze on salt marshes that have never been farmed in the modern sense, eating particularly one grass called sparta.  
 
In France this type of lamb is also regarded as a great delicacy and justly so for its rich, slightly salty flavour. In the Legend of Mont St. Michel, Guy du Maupassant describes a meal prepared by St Michael for Satan, during which some pré-salé lamb “as tender as cake” was served.  
 
Pré-salé - pre-salted - lamb that feeds on the salty marsh grass of the Bay of Mont-St.-Michel has put the town on the roster of France's 100 sites remarquables du goût - places with a unique local speciality.
 
This dish is perfect in the middle of summer when the lamb was fat on early summer pastures and the garlic is fresh and still green.  
 
It is not easy to find fresh garlic here, use it if you are lucky enough to find it.  If not, use heads of garlic and carefully remove as much of the papery outer covering without disturbing the head.  If you like, you can cut off the tops of the cloves to expose them to the sauce.  They will become rich and sweet during the long slow cooking.
 
Lorraine and Guillau du Toit
Lorraine and Guillau du Toit

Recipe:

You’ll need:

2 shoulders of lamb
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
4 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
2 heads of very fresh garlic, trimmed but with green shoots left on
6 – 8 sprigs fresh thyme
24 shallots or pickling onions - peeled and left whole, especially have the root still attached, as it will hold the whole onion together
600ml full-bodied red wine
250ml NoMU Lamb Fond
1 Tbs dried herbs – I use ‘Italian herbs’ or Herbes de Provence

Method:
Preset the oven at 220C.  Place the lamb on a board and lightly stab or score the fat all over.  Season the joints with the salt and pepper and massage the seasoning in.  In a lidded shallow oven proof casserole or oval roasting tin heat the oil and add the butter. Over medium heat, brown on the fat side, then turn fat side up and brown on the underside.  Tuck in the garlic, thyme and the shallots or pickling onions.  Pour in the wine and the water, sprinkle with the herbs and bring the liquid to the bubble. Put in a 220C oven, uncovered and roast for 30 minutes.  Then turn down the oven to 150C, cover the lamb with foil and braise for 2 to 2½ hours, or until so tender that the meat will fork easily from the bone. Now, if you have the time, allow it to stand overnight and next day, remove all the fat from the surrounding sauce.  Reheat carefully in a 180C oven.  Or simply spoon the excess fat off the top, reduce the sauce, season well and thicken with beurre manié – equal quantities of room temperature butter and flour kneaded together.

 
You just have to serve this with creamy mashed potatoes, some crisp bread and a green salad.
 
Serves 8 generously.
 

Wine Diemersdal
We are great believers in using quality wine in cooking.  As this is a rustic dish, we chose Diemersdal Grenache 2011 as it was our wine of choice to drink with it.
      




Just a few great books to read this Christmas

Christmas Reading List

Michael Olivier gathers up some books for your beach bag this festive season.  Some easy and amusing reads to while away the hours.  He also suggests a suitable wine to go with each.

 

Books no 1 – a pair from the Penguin African Writers series.

 

Penguin Books recently launched an African Writers series.  I was very pleased to read a Ben Okri novel, Dangerous Love.  Okri is a Nigerian writer of major international repute.  His use of language is brilliant and though slow moving, perhaps this is an African thing, the leisurely pace of life, it is a fascinating picture of the life and times of Omovo, and office worker and artist.  Okri is able to conjure up the most complete of pictures in one’s mind of Omovo’s life in the compund with his father and step mother, and his ill fated love affair with the beautiful Ifeyiwa.

 

A Question of Power is by Bessie Head, born in Pietermartizburg, lived in Botswana where she was long considered as that country’s best writer.  She died very young in 1973, just as she was reaching international recognition as a writer.  In this semi-autobiogrphical novel, Head describes the life of Elizabeth and her son, refugees from South Africa like Head herself.  Finding that you can’t leave the past at the border, and in your new homeland, as a person of mixed race and with urban ways, she is marked as an outsider.  An excellent read from this award-winning writer.

 

Barista Pinotage 2010

An African wine for African Books.  Bertus Fourie’s invention, he who knows how to make Pinotage with these overt coffee flavours.  Hugely successful with the people rather than the sniff- and spitterati, this wine is great slightly chilled, sappy fruity stuff.

 

 

Book no 2

 

Ben Trovato – The Whipping Boy

Anyone who reads the fictitious Ben Trovato’s column in the Sunday Times would love to have this amusing reminder of columns past. However, should one wish to use The Whipping Boy for nothing more than the simple pursuit of reading pleasure, one will be pleasantly surprised to discover that the book contains more than just a compilation of Trovato's much-loved and widely hated columns.  Scattered among these literary vipers, like shrapnel from fragmentation grenades, are a bunch of fake news stories, hilarious letters to the rich and famous and outrageous job applications that resulted in the author receiving not a single offer of employment. 

 

Creation Merlot 2011

From the upper reaches of the Heel en Aarde Valley comes this elegant sappy fruited Merlot. The Martins and the Kasers are an enthusiastic foursome but I don’t think would offer the politically incorrect Trovato a job.  The wine will certainly provide way more entertainment than the book.

 

 

Book no 3

 

Mind the Gap – Graeme Codrington & Sue Grant-Marshal

Amusingly subtitled, Own your Past, Know your Generation and Choose your future, this book takes a look at the way people think they understand children because they were children once.  Here you will find out about your generation and those of the people who make up your world.  Once you begin to understand them, and what makes them and you ‘tick’, the generation gap will shrink.  So fasten your seatbelt for the roller coaster ride which will change your thinking forever.  Excellent, amusing and informative.

 

Swartland Winery Bushvine Pinotage 2010

Ruby heart with garnet flashing round the edges.  Bloodplums and black cherries wrapped in fresh spices and a swirl of smoke on the nose.  Berries and cherries follow through on the palate with firm food friendly tannins and spices on the aftertaste.

 

 

Book no 4

 

Celebrate – Tina Bester

Jenny Crwys Williams of Radio 702 describes this as ‘simply the prettiest cookbook on the block.’  Pretty it might be – and with Craig Fraser’s sublime photography, Vivky Sleet’s words and Libby Doyles magical design, one would expect it to be.  BUT if you want to celebrate – even if it is just four of you, this is a must have book.  I can see your copy, like mine, getting covered in Macaron filling, smears of Chicken Liver Paté, slops of MCC and chocolatey drops of Duck Sauce.  It’s a cant do withouter.

 

Krone Borealis 1997

With what else one Celebrate other than the pop of a cork off a good local bubbly.  And this is a serious one.  The Krone Borealis Vintage 1977 showing all the wonders of age, rich biscuity nutty and fruity whiffs, deep citrus and mineral flavours.  You’ll want to drink this while planning your celebration – and during it.  And after!

 

Book no 5

 

Come Again – Andrew Donaldson & Mandy Rossouw

Andrew Donaldson has been a journalist with the Sunday Times for many years.  I so enjoy his weekly column.  Mandy Rossouw is the international correspondent for Media 24 newspapers.  Together they have put together this wonderful little snapshot of South Africa.  The who and what that made you laugh or cry – or pull your hair out in frustration.  If you are a news junkie [Julius Who?]  or want a great giggle, this is for you.  Or certainly a gift you should be buying for Christmas for your news junkie friends.

 

Rustenburg Roussane 2011

You want something extraordinary to drink with this book and this wine fits the bill.  A delicious Mediterranean grape, making a sublime wine from one of the Cape’s First Growth Estates.  Delicious creamy stuff, smelling of white flowers, tasting of white fleshed peaches with vanilla cream.  Stonker!



Life's Pleasures in Prince Albert

A Visit to Prince Albert

I recently  spent a happy weekend in Prince Albert at the African Relish Cookery School.  My wife and I had gone there to work with Sonia Cabano who was launching aptly named Relish, a book without which you should not be in the kitchen. I did some  wine workshops and introduced the guests to some new and different wines.

 

It was huge fun, the weather was sublime, and what really enchanted me was the wonderful flowers which were blooming at the school and in the village.

 

So this piece is more about the flowers than anything else.

 

I was so happy to see a Cup of Gold again.  We had a creeper which grew all over one part of the farm house in which I grew up and it has been years since I last saw one in bloom.

1) A Cup of Gold 

 

In the main street, I came across this profusion of white Iceberg Roses

2) Iceberg Roses

 

A bit further down the road, outside William and Colleen Penfold’s The Prince Albert Trading Store, their Basset was taking an early morning nap.  He was in a coma.

William and Collen Penfold's Basset in a Coma

 

The garden of African Relish has some wonderful roses in it, some old English blooms as well as variegated ones.

Roses from the garden of African Relish

 

In the herbaceous border of the herb garden at African Relish, I came across these Johnny Jump Ups – the cutest multi-coloured pansies.  My grandmother used to use them in her garden and they self seeded each year, hence the name! 

Johnny Jumps Up in the herbaceous border

 

Sage and mint enjoy the sun in the herb garden. 

Sage and Mint in the Herb Garden

 

Right outside the main demonstration kitchen was this Loquat tree, just bursting with fruit.  Another childhood memory for me as my father had planted a row of trees in front of the wine cellar on our farm to keep the cellar cool in summer.  As a result, there were always lots of loquats for us to eat as children in the Spring.

Loquats in Profusion

There is a diary of the weekend, filled with more information in my online digital magazine Crush!  Crush! is a finalist in this years global Digital Magazine Awards.

For a more detailed account of my Prince Albert Weekend, Click here


 

 


 

White Muscadel - Oranjerivier Cellars

Marmelada

29 September 2011

 

In my trios to Portugal, I have eaten some delicious foods, not least amongst them the very ugly but utterly delicious goose barnacle.

 

Quinces are called marmelos in Portuguese, and a sublime thick paste is made from them called marmelada. In fact the word marmalade comes from the same root word.

 

Travelling in Portugal I often find this on a cheese table, sometimes made with guava, and it makes a perfect companion to cheese and a glass of delicious wine.  I ate this with sheep’s cheese and fruited bread in the wine region of Setubal where the moscatels rule.

 

I was in the Orange River Wine country recently where some of the Muscadels and Jerepigos are so delicious, I was reminded of my Setubal experience of marmelada.

 

You’ll need:

  • 2kg quinces
  • 1.5kg white granulated sugar

 

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C.  Peel the quinces and place them in a glass or stainless steel baking dish and pour round some water to come up to the half way mark on the quinces.  Cover the dish, either with its own lid, or with aluminium foil.  Place in the centre of the oven and bake for three hours.  Allow to cool completely.  Scrape the pink flesh off the core, making sure you leave all the pips and hard pieces behind.  Place the quinces in a stainless steel saucepan with any juice,  ad the white sugar.  Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to very low and allow the mixture to cook very gently for an hour.  Be careful to stir regularly to prevent sticking on the bottom.  The marmelada will take on a deep brick red colour.  It is a good idea to line  some teacups with siliconised baking paper and o pour the marmelada into them or you can line a baking tray and pour it in a single slab and cut it into slices when it is cold.  Either way, if well wrapped in paper and cling wrap, the marmelada will keep in the fridge for up to a year, but it wont last that long as it is so delicious.

 


 

Mountain Oaks Chardonnay

Broad Beans from Mountain Oaks 

08 September 2011 

When my wife Madeleine and I ran a restaurant called Parks in Constantia in the 90s, a friend Christine Stevens had a property in Constantia on which she grew organic vegetables.  Whenever she had a little glut, we and, by extension, our guests, enjoyed the produce of her garden.  Lucky us.

Times have changed, we no longer run a restaurant and Christine and Mark took their family off to Mountain Oaks Winery in the beautiful Slanghoek Valley where they make the most sublime of wines and grow organic vegetables, almonds and all manner of wonderful stuff.  The grapes for the wines are organically grown, they even plough their vineyards with horses in order not to compact the soils and allow for the underground insect life to work their magic. 

During Winter Christine interplants her vineyards with broad beans.  This means, she has a wondrous supply of beans and the horses can plough the plants back in order to nourish the vines.

So this week we got lucky and Christine rang our doorbell and brought us a basket of beans.  And a bottle of her sublime Mountain Oaks Chardonnay 2008 Reserve.

What to do with the beans? 

I had a couple of rolls of Fairview Chevin.  Having made frittatas in Cape Town with the well-known British TV chef Alistair Little, I used this recipe from my first book which I made up as a loving thought to Gabrielle Kervella, a friend of mine in Western Australia whose eponymous Goats cheeses have been a legend in Australia for over 25 years. 


Goats Cheese and Broad Bean Frittata

You’ll need: 250g freshly podded baby broad beans [you can use peas], 1 onion – thinly sliced, extra virgin olive oil, 150g fresh firm goats cheese, 4 eggs, 4 Tbs chopped fresh parsley, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Method: Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil and poach the beans for about 8 minutes, drain through a colander and allow to get dry.  Meantime in a non-stick frying pan fry the onions in a generous amount of olive oil – this will add another dimension of flavour so use a good oil – until a good golden brown.  Beat the eggs and parsley with a whisk and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Slice the cheese into thick slices.  Put the beans on top of the onions and season, place the cheese slices on top of the beans.  Pour over the egg and cook, pulling in the edges as you go along.  Allow it to become quite golden brown underneath.  Slice the frittata into about 6 slices and then carefully turn each slice over to brown on the other side.  If you find it easier, you can pop the pan under a hot grill to cook the top.

 

Serves 4 as a starter with some chunks of crispy bread, or two as a supper dish again with the bread and a leaf salad containing some wild rocket.  Get out a corkscrew and open a bottle of Mountain Oaks Chardonnay Reserve 2008!

For more info email: 

christine@mountainoaks.co.za


 


Lamb Waterblommetjies
Lamb Waterblommetjies

13 August 2011

Waterblommetjieredie is a great tradition in the Cape where waterblommetjies, [Aponogeton distachys] also know as wateruintjies, fill the ponds and dams in the Western Cape with pretty white snowdroplike strongly scented flowers.  Louis Leipoldt, in his book on Cape Cookery, refers to them in English as Water Hawthorn and Myrna Robins as Water Hyacinth.  It is important that the flowers be just opening with the calyces still bright green.  To prepare them, remove any of the black centres of the flowers.  They need to be soaked in lots of salted water and then rinsed through well in a couple of basins of freshly drawn water.

 

With waterblommetjies in season and available in most supermarkets now, I thought that a recipe which did not require the length of time a bredie does to cook, might appeal.

 

You’ll need:

1 container waterblommetjies – 250g

750g minced lamb

250g minced pork

grated rind of one lemon

25g flat leafed parsley

sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

500ml NoMU Lamb Fond, at boiling point

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp cornflour

1 egg, beaten

 

To serve – pasta rice

 

Method:

Wash the waterblommetjies very carefully as suggested above.   Steam over hot water until cooked through.  Set the oven at 180C.  In a large bowl, mix together the two meats.  Flavour with the lemon rind, half of the finely chopped parsley, sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.  Form into balls and place in an ovenproof dish.  Pour round the lamb fond and place in the oven and cook till well browned on top – should be about 40 minutes.  In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, cornflour and the egg.  Season with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.  Pour over the egg mixture and whisk well.  In a small saucepan heat the sauce until it thickens slightly.  Pour over the meatballs, place the waterblommetjies on top, cover and reheat in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Serve with pasta rice or steamed white rice.

 

Serves 4

 

You want to serve this with a hearty red wine like the Ernie Els SA Rugby Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 of which Winemaker, Louis Strydom, says: “Brightly tinted with a purple edge, this wine glistens in the glass.  Produced from our superlative 2010 vintage, the strong Shiraz component adds spiciness and Cabernet Sauvignon the richness.” Expect a vivid display of complexity with layered cinnamon, fynbos, liquorice and sappy red berry fruit.  Exotic and energetic now, this wine will improve in the cellar.  Don’t put it in your cellar drink it while watching one of the Rugby World Cup matches – go Bokke! 

 

 


 


Michael Olivier chats about Glen Carlou

A sublime lunch at Glen Carlou
4 August 2011


When the Swiss-based Hess Family Estates entered the wine industry in 1978, its mission was clear: to focus on the production of premium quality wines. Today, Hess Family Estates owns six New World cellars and vineyards: the Hess Collection and Artezin Wines in Napa, California; Sequana Wines in Russian River, California; Bodega Colomé in Argentina, as well as the major share in Peter Lehmann Wines, Australia and Glen Carlou Vineyards in the Paarl region of South Africa.
 
On a fairy tale weekend recently, Madeleine and I lunched at Glen Carlou Winery in Paarl.  I had eaten there several times before, but it was her first time there.  I have eaten some truly sublime dishes in the restaurant at Glen Carlou prepared by Chef Hennie van der Merwe and his team.  Hennie formerly owned a restaurant and had experience at the well-known Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel in Constantia and on board the magnificent cruise liners, the QE2 & QM2.  The menu contains some of Hennie’s more international dishes, but has some dishes which doff their caps at Cape Cuisine.  There is a children’s menu available.  The dessert choices will cause decision problems!  A cheese platter is available for those who wish to finish their wine at the end of the meal.  Apart from the wines produced on the Estate, wines from the other Estates owned by the Hess Family are also available which adds to the fun of the meal.  The view over Paarl Rock and the mountains in the distance has to go down as one of the best restaurant views in the Cape.

Dishes to look out for on Hennie’s current menu are, as a first course, the Mixed exotic mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella and fried quail eggs, suggested wine: Glen Carlou 2010 Chardonnay.  An excellent starter too is the Salad of Buffalo mozzarella, tomato, basil and balsamic onions, suggested wine: Glen Carlou 2010 Tortoise Hill white.

As a main course don’t go any further than the most delicious Slow Braised Pork belly with sweet coconut rice, baby turnip, crackling and soy reduction, suggested wine: Glen Carlou 2007 Syrah,  This is definitely the best pork crackling you will ever have!  
The great treat of course at Glen Carlou is the wines of Arco Laarman who has been in the cellar on the Estate since 2000.  His wines have such depth and character.  Every bottle of Glen Carlou I have ever opened is totally sublime.  He makes delicious deep dark reds and characterful whites, both wooded and unwooded.  You just have to put a case or two in your boot before you leave.  And if you  can land a bottle of Peter Lehmann Riesling from Australia, jump at the opportunity, it’s a fabulous Riesling.

One of the special things you can do is to walk through the Hess Art Collection Museum.  Donald Hess began collecting art as a young man, following his intuition in the realm of art just as he did in the realm of business.  Initially comprising modern and contemporary works from European and US artists, the collection is now international in scope. Donald Hess has been recognized as one of the top two hundred art collectors in ARTnews magazine over the last two decades.   Hess initiated public access to his collection with the 1989 opening of The Hess Collection Winery in Napa Valley. The art museum there is housed in the original winery built in 1903. Hess Art Collection museums now include one at Bodega Colomé in Argentina and since 2006 one at Glen Carlou.

“With its magnificent scenery, wonderful soil and climate and world-class wines, taking my interest in wine to South Africa by obtaining Glen Carlou has always been an ambition I have been fortunate enough to fulfill,” Donald Hess says.  “It is thus a pleasure to see the current offerings at the winery extended to a venue displaying some of the art works I love.  The collection will change regularly and I hope that South African and international visitors to Glen Carlou will take as much pleasure in the art works on display as they do in the wines.”


glen carlou chef and winemaker

Hennie van der Merwe - Chef 
Arco Laarman - Winemaker






Pickled fish with cape curry spice

Pickled Fish
14 July 2011

One of the great traditions in the Cape, is pickled fish.

And in the early days of the Cape, it is speculated by Dr Hettie Classen in her book, Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos, that it was the Dtuch who brought the spices to the Cape when they first arrived here in 1652.  They had for years before been buying spices from the East through Italian traders who in turn brought them from Eastern traders who had brought the spices in camel trains along the well known trading routes, the Silk route being one of them.

Exciting things are happening in Franschhoek on La Motte Wine Estate where Hetta van Deventer, Director of Cuisine and Executive Chef Chris Erasmus are making a study of early Cape foods and recipes – and serving them up to lucky guests in the restaurant on the estate.

I have been playing around with their curry powders, they have them for beef, chicken and fish and changed my old recipe to use their fish curry powder.

Few Cape homes would not have their own recipe for “kerrievis” as pickling was a popular way of preserving fish in the days before refrigerators.  Often served as a first course, pickled fish is served as a main course with a salad of potato and accompanied by some dressed lettuce leaves.

Recipe:

You’ll need:
2kg fillet of fish, all bones removed and cut into squares of about 6cm
seasoned flour
125ml sunflower, peanut or canola oil

Pickle:
4 large onions, peeled, cut in half and then into thick slices
70ml sunflower, peanut or canola oil
3 Tbs aromatic mild curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbs whole allspice
125g natural sugar
1 Tbs peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger or galangal root
1 Tbs finely chopped chilis, seeds and veins removed
3 bay leaves cut in strips with scissors
2 tsp sea salt
freshly milled black pepper
500ml white wine vinegar
250ml water
3 fresh bay or lemon leaves


METHOD:

 

  1. Cook the fish two days ahead of requiring the dish.  Pat the fish dry and dip into the seasoned flour.  Fry in the hot oil for about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through.  As the fillets are cooked, remove and drain on kitchen towels and allow to cool.  If desired, the fish can be brushed with oil and baked for about 25 minutes in an oven heated to 180�C.

     
  2. Prepare the pickle.  Fry the onions gently in the vegetable oil until they are transparent but have not lost their crunch.  Add the curry powder, turmeric, paprika and coriander.  Fry over gentle heat for a short while to release the aromatic oils from the spices.  Add the remaining ingredients [except vinegar, water and fresh bay or lemon leaves] and cook gently for 2 minutes.  Pour over the vinegar and water gently to prevent splashing.  Over high heat bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer the pickle for ten minutes.

     
  3. Construct the dish by pouring a bit of the pickle into a glass or china dish.  Place a single layer of the fish on top and cover that with pickle.  Build up layers of fish and pickle ending with a layer of pickle on top.  Place the fresh bay or lemon leaves on top.  Cover loosely and allow to cool completely.  When cold, cover with clingwrap and refrigerate for two days.

     
  4. Serve the pickled fish with the marinated onions and a little bit of the sauce.



Serves 6 as a main course or 10 as a first course

It goes without saying that you should be drinking a glass of La Motte Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay with this wine, but the reds, if slightly chilled offer an interesting taste combination experience.






My Experiences with Ginger
7 July 2011

My grandmother was passionate about Ginger, On the sideboard in the dining room, there stood, on a saucer, surrounded by long tined pickle forks, a blue and white Chinese Ginger jar full of lumps of candied ginger.  After a meal. She would go over, poke about in the jar with a fork ad extract a large lumo of ginger.  She would pop it in her mouth and chew away with tears streaming down her face.

She loved ginger Liqueur too and was not averse to a glass after dinner.  At times she would mix it with swirls of lemon peel, ginger ale and ice and call it a Horse’s neck with a kick.  I later discovered that this was a genuine American cocktail.

So here, as a tribute to her, a gorgeous ginger dessert

Michael Oliver makes meringues


Recipe:
Vanilla Meringues with ginger preserves

To make the meringues:

You’ll need : 6 egg whites, pinch cream of tartar, 300g castor sugar, splash of Champagne Vinegar [or mild white wine vinegar], 1 vanilla pod, 30g corn flour.

Method : Preset the oven at 120C. Whisk the egg whites in an electric beater till they form soft peaks. Add the sugar, vinegar, the seeds from the vanilla pod and the corn flour and mix for a further minute. Spoon four large egg shapes onto non stick baking.  Bake in the preset oven for about 40 minutes until the outside is crispy and the centre is still soft. Leave to cool completely.  When cool these can be stored for a short while – a day or so - in an air tight container.

Makes 4

You will need two meringues per serving.

For Vanilla and Ginger Meringues you will need Vanilla Ice Cream and Oudemeester Ginger Liqueur.

ginger liqueur

Vanilla Meringues with Ginger

You’ll need: preserved Ginger – cut into strips, Oudemeester Ginger Liqueur and crumbs of vanilla wafer biscuits, fresh mint for garnish.

Place two balls of vanilla ice cream on a plate and wedge a vanilla meringue on either side.  Place strips of ginger preserve on the ice cream and drizzle over a little syrup from the ginger jar and the liqueur.  Garnish with mint and strew some of the vanilla wafer crumbs on the plate.

That should do the trick!




 




Lamb Knuckle and Red Bean Casserole
1 July 2011

Lamb Knuckle Casserole Recipe

RECIPE:
Lamb Knuckle and Red Bean Casserole


Lovely warm winter casserole for the snowy mountain days.

Serves 6

You’ll need:
2 kg lamb knuckle
seasoned flour
extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions – chopped
3 carrots – chopped
2 sticks celery – chopped
3 cloves garlic – crushed
1 x 410g whole peeled tomatoes – chopped, use the juice
500ml NoMu Lamb Fond
250ml full bodied red wine
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
3 bay leaves
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, washed and drained.

Method:
I asked the Pick n Pay butcher to slice the lower part of the lamb leg for me into thickish slices.  Preset the oven at 200C.  Dip the meat into seasoned flour and brow in and oven proof casserole on all sides, a few pieces at a time.  Set aside on a plate.  When done. Add a little more oil to the casserole if necessary and in it fry the onions until lightly gold in colour.  Add the carrot and celery, stir fry for a while and the add the garlic.  Pour in the tomato and the juice, add the stock and the red wine and bring to the boil.  Return the lamb to the casserole, season lightly with the sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.  Add the bay leaves and push the meat below the surface of the liquid.  Seal and put into the oven for 30 minutes.  Drop the oven temperature to 150C and cook for a further 90 minutes.  By this time the meat should be tender.  If not, cover and cook for a further 30 minutes.  Add the beans and heat them through.  Serve with mashed potato or steamed white rice and a selection of vegetables.


 

Wine of the day

 My tweets on wine this week – follow me on @foodwineguru

22/6
#wineoftheday Van Loveren Red Muscadel 2010  Essence of sunripened raisins, honeysweet, nicely integrated spirit.  Herman Charles is happy.

23/6
#wineoftheday  Spier Creative Block 2 2010, happy memories of the best of Margaret Rivers similar Sauv/Semillon offerings. Great white, Frans.

24/6
#wineoftheday Domaine Grier Rosé 2010 Sud de France Grenache 75% & Carignan, delicate pink, delicate aromas, delicate berries & minerals.

25/6
#wineoftheday Van Loveren Neil's Pick Colombar 2011. Off dry quaffer, tropical litchi and windfall guava. Crisp and fresh and zingy.

26/6
#wineoftheday Nederburg Winemasters Rsve 2009. Brambles, plums, brilliant use of Oak. Well done Wilhelm Pienaar! Redwine Maestro @ Nederburg

27/6
#wineoftheday Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2010. Big boy, powerful, silky soft, raspberries, mulberries, cherries, fennel, dark chocolate on aftertaste.






Louis Leipoldt
23 June 2011

C Louis Leipoldt, who lies at rest in the Pakhuis Pass north of Citrusdal, was a major figure in the Afrikaans literature.

So much a character of his time, this poet, playwright, journalist, chef, botanist and medical doctor, is perhaps most of all remembered in my mind as one of South Africa’s most important food writers.

His regular articles in Huisgenoot, Polfyntjies vir die proe, which he wrote right up to the time of his death on 1947, are real pictures of the Cape, filled with interest and much amusement.  Of his food essays, I found Jakkalskossouffle one of the most amusing.

Paul Murray, History Master at Bishops and editor of some of Leipoldts major works introduced me to the real delights of Leipoldt and we held two Leipoldt occasions a couple of years ago, one at 96 Wienry Road and one at The Cape Grace.  We served dishes from Leipoldt’s books, I read some of his more amusing stuff and Paul spoke very eruditely of Leipoldt the man.

We thought at one time of writing a book using some of Leipoldts original recipes which are very short on description for a man who trained under August Escoffier in London.

Writing the book was not to be, but here is an amusement for you.  Leipoldt’s recipe for tomato bredie and mine.

Leipoldt's Recipe for Tomato Bredie

"Tomato bredie must be a well-spiced tomato purée, surrounding tender bits of meat magnificently impregnated with its flavour. It must not be too watery, and it must never, never be greasy, so when the lid is taken off the pot for the open evaporation cooking for the last couple of hours, all the superabundant fat should be artfully skimmed off, without removing any of the essential gravy. When properly made it is a magnificent dish, always to be served with white rice and boiled potatoes.

Tomato bredie. Peel two pounds of ripe tomatoes by plunging them into boiling water and removing the thin skin, cut them into quarters, add a couple of green ones. Take two pounds of thick rib of mutton, as fat as you can get; cut it up into neat slices; dry and dust with flour; put it into a shallow saucepan with a pound of sliced onions, three sliced leeks or shallots, half an ounce of green ginger, a few cardamoms, coriander seeds, peppercorns and fennel seeds, and crushed thyme, marjoram and garlic leaves. If you like the bredie to be hot, add a crushed chilli and plenty of black pepper. Braise all this with sheep fat and when the meat is nicely browned, add the tomatoes; cover closely and let it simmer for several hours, very slowly, shaking frequently. Then add salt to taste, a teaspoonful of chutney sauce and a tablespoon of moist sugar, and let it simmer for another couple of hours, with the lid off, till it is thickened. Finally add a glass of wine and serve."

Recipe:

Michael’s Tomato Bredie

You’ll need:
1.5 kg Lamb [1/3 thick rib bone in,
2/3 boned shoulder is a good combination],
3 medium onions, chopped,
2 cloves garlic, sliced,
a 2cm piece of fresh green ginger, peeled & finely chopped,
1 Tbs sunflower oil,
2 cardamom seeds,
4 coriander seeds,
6 black peppercorns,
1 tsp fennel seeds,
2 tsp fresh crushed thyme,
1 tsp fresh chopped marjoram,
2 small chilis red or green, seeded & chopped – leave the seeds and veins in for extra heat,
sea salt,
freshly milled black pepper & fresh-grated nutmeg to taste,
500ml rich brown lamb or beef stock [I use NoMU Fonds], 7
50ml tomato juice from the tin below,
500g medium potatoes - peeled & quartered,
1250g net weight with juice of canned peeled tomatoes,
1 Tbs mild fruit chutney,
1 Tbs soft brown sugar



Method:
In a casserole, on top of the stove, brown all the meat, a few pieces at a time in the oil over medium heat. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Fry the onions very slowly in the oil for a while, then add garlic and ginger and fry until golden. Add a little more oil though only if necessary. Just before they are done, add the cardamom, coriander, peppercorns, fennel, thyme, marjoram and chili. Stir-fry for a short while. Pour off any excess oil before continuing. Return the meat to the casserole and season lightly with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg. Add the stock and the tomato juice and cover. Braise gently over low heat, checking for burning or in a 180C oven for an hour and a half. Remove from the oven. If you have the time, cool quickly and refrigerate overnight. This is an important step to mature the flavours. It also gives you the opportunity the following morning to remove the cold solidified fat of the top and helps to tenderise the meat and makes it cook faster the next day. Next day, reheat the casserole gently in a 180C oven before adding the roughly chopped tomatoes and potatoes. Simmer gently for one and a half-hours or until the meat is tender. Stir gently to mix through well. Add the chutney and brown sugar; reseason with salt and freshly milled black pepper if necessary. Serve this with a Pilaff of Basmati rice and some of Mr Leipoldts green beans.


Serves 6 people.

Leipoldt’s Book Kos vir die Kenner has been recently republished by Human and Rousseau.  It is a gem of a book.  If you are remotely interested in food, buy it, it’s a great read.  And it’s filled with more than a thousand recipes.

Kos vir die kenner

 

Wine of the day

 My tweets on wine this week – follow me on @foodwineguru


15/6
#wineoftheday Kleine Zalze Chenin Blanc Vineyard Selection 2010.  Johan Joubert turns out a great Chenin, full ripe rich, superb use of oak.

16/6
#wineoftheday Sadie Family Wines Niepoort Cape Fortified 2008.  Magical Douro like "Port" made by Dirk Niepoort. Dry, sumptuous fruit/spirit.

17/6
#wineoftheday Eikendal Chardonnay 2010. Majestic windfall citrus fruit, beautifully oaked, noble acidity. Perfect balance. Lekker mouthful.

18/6
#wineoftheday Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2009. Majestic oak & cherry berry fruit on nose. Fabulous 'sweet' berries on palate.

19/6
#wineoftheday Barefoot Moscato from California at R29 from Pick n Pay, great value, great flavour, sunripened raisins, lemonsquirt ending!

20/6
#wineoftheday The Foundry Rousanne 2010.  What a fabulous wine!  Such bags of flavour, ripe stone fruit, riverstones and minerals.  Yummy!


21/6
#wineoftheday Nederburg Chardonnay 2009.  Great white stone fruit, great use of oak, easy to drink, great Winemaker! TARIRO YOYOYO!









19 June 2011
The Test Kitchen 
The Test Kitchen

When the heading on the menu is The Fantastic Eben, Adi and Luke show and there are some 11 courses on it with at least 10 wines with which the courses are specifically matched, you kinda know this is not lunch.

 

When you have the winemakers present to tell you about their wines and the winemakers are two of the most off the wall, out of the box, passionate creators of some of the most extraordinary ‘extreme’ one barrel only ‘from a vineyard planted in 1905’ wines, you kinda also know that you are in for some kind of once in a life time experience.

When you have one of the most quirky, passionate, professional kitchen teams, under their leader, acclaimed chef, Luke Dale Roberts cooking lunch in front of you, you kinda know that this is not to be a ‘bord kos’ lunch. For here is cooking on the edge, and for me it’s the edge that makes the whole thing so exciting.

Since opening in November last year, Luke has been wowing diners who managed to get a booking at this hard-to-get-into culinary hotspot.  His restaurant is the epitome of creative and innovative cuisine and now that it’s winter and Cape Town is quieting down, the locals can venture out to enjoy Luke's latest offerings from his new winter menu. And this winter Luke will allow some of the country’s winemaker rock stars to join him behind the kitchen counter where there will be experimentation, fun and plenty of wine. 

 

Luke told us: "I'm excited that we are going into winter. Eben and Adi are inspirational wine makers that push the limits of creativity, they are not afraid to take risks and I respect that very much. We have a good chemistry and I am inspired to be working with other exciting, creative individuals in addition my team. That’s what its all about. Wood is also a great new component that I’m enjoying using, the velouté I’m making with American oak and bourbon accompanying my new tongue dish. Its great to slow down just a little and get seriously creative for the cooler months.”

 

This experience in food and wine, for it is not a meal it is a gastronomic adventure, will continue The Test Kitchen’s reputation of being at the forefront of exciting fine dining and will highlight the symbiotic relationship between good food and wine. Every 6 weeks, new menus will be created to showcase new wines and possibly even some of the best from the microbreweries, all aiming to thrill and inspire new creativity with respect to food and wine and how we enjoy it.

Don’t even think about it – get thee hence!

 

For reservations and if you need to know more, visit www.thetestkitchen.co.za or call 021 447 2337. I follow Luke on Twitter: @ldrchef. 

 

The Test Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday. 

 

The 11-13 course menu includes wines is priced at R850 per person. Let me tell you – it’s a steal at the price.  Prior booking is essential.

 

Test Kitchen

Wine of the day

 

These are my “Wine of the day” of the day tweets.  If you would like to receive them daily, follow me, my Twitter handle is FoodWineGuru.

 

8/6
#wineoftheday Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Sappy and full with Granny Smith apples and green figs. Mixed Origin grapes. 


9/6
#wineoftheday Uitkyk Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2006.  Delicious dark fruit and berries.  Gentle grippy tannins.  Ribeye steaks on the braai!

 

10/6
#wineoftheday Carbon neutral Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. Made by Therese de Beer, Cassis, lead pencils, beautifully oaked. Stonker!

 

11/6
#wineoftheday Bob's your Uncle from The Boer and Brit.  Sappy soft red & black berries, blood plums.  In 500ml beerbottle, crowncork.

 

12/6
#wineoftheday Durbanville Hills Merlot Rosé 2011 Cherry pink with sweet sour cherry berry flavours.  Martin Moore very happy with this wine

 

13/6
#wineoftheday Waterkloof Circle of Life Red 2009.  What a fabulous wine & a step up on prev vintage. Fabulous fruit, elegant oak & *balance*

 

14/6
#wineoftheday  Tamboerskloof 2007.  What fabulous depth of sweet fruit, perfectly managed oaking, gentle ripe tannins.  Dark and divine.






15th June 2011
Oxtail Casserole

Now there is nothing more comforting on a cold night than an oxtail casserole.  And fortunately oxtails are now making their seasonal appearance on the supermarket shelves.  Where are they all summer?  Or do we slaughter only tailless beef in summer.  Or do we freeze them all for Winter.

This is a simple winter casserole with bags of flavour, easy to prepare.  If you have any sauce left over, flake off any meat there might be on the odd piece of oxtail.  It makes a lovely sauce with pasta.

In the preparation, it is quite important to chop the vegetables quite finely for maximum flavour and they also add texture to the sauce.  Also add a sprinkle of sweet smoked paprika to the seasoned flour for extra flavour.


Michael Olivier's Oxtail Casserole

Recipe:
Serves 4

You’ll need:
3 oxtails, mine weighted in at 2.2kg for all three
seasoned flour
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions – finely chopped
3 bay leaves
3 stalks celery – finely chopped
3 carrots – finely chopped
3 fat cloves garlic – crushed with some sea salt
250ml red wine – as good as possible
250ml tomato juice
1 tsp dried thyme
grated nutmeg – good amount up to ½ tsp
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

fresh parsley chopped for sprinkling on top just before serving.

Method:
Set the oven on 180C.  Dry the oxtails with kitchen paper and season well with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.  Sprinkle with seasoned flour and shake off any excess.  In a heavy bottomed ovenproof casserole heat the olive oil over medium to high heat.  In it brown the oxtail pieces a few at a time not crowding the casserole.  Remove and drain on kitchen paper.  When the oxtail is done, add more oil if necessary and in it stir fry the onions until they start colouring up.  Add the bay leaves, celery, carrot and garlic and stir fry to colour the onions a bit further.  Return the oxtail to the pot and add the remaining ingredients and mix them well.  Season the casserole, cover and place in the oven for an hour.  Remove and stir well and return to the oven for a further hour.  Remove the oxtail pieces from the casserole and over a high heat reduce the sauce by about a third.  Taste and reseason if required.   Return the oxtail, heat through and serve sprinkled with some chopped parsley.



Wine of the day:
I have started sending out a “Wine of the day” of the day tweet and thought you might like to choose a wine from this selection to drink with your oxtail.  If you would like to get it regularly, follow me, my Twitter handle is FoodWineGuru.

1st June
#wineoftheday  Pepin Conde Sauvignon Blanc 2010 a perfect cold climate Elgin wine. Grapefruit smells and tastes - fresh, crisp! Yesssss

2nd June
#wineoftheday   Cardinal Vanity Pinot Noir 2007. Elegant stuff, Burgundy barnyard nose, forest floor mushrooms & vibrant black Dijon berries.

3rd June
#wineoftheday   Bosman Family Vineyards Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2009 Redolent of Granny Smith Apples & undertow of cooked oats. Delicate oak.

4th June
#wineoftheday Lammershoek Lam Rosé, made from Shiraz.  Beautiful pink, delicous sour cherry flavours.  Dry food wine.

5th June
#wineoftheday Obikwa Moscato - 7.56% abv. Lovely Sunday lunch wine, overtly muscat, tad sweet, crisp ending. This one will go down a treat!

6th June
#wineoftheday  Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2011 - 43rd vintage of this wine.  Benchmark Chenin, fruity, white flowers, guava, fynbos honey. ALIVE!

7th June
#wineoftheday KleineZalze Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2009  Stunning classical Cabernet fruit, delicious soft tannins. 30% new oak

8th June
#wineoftheday Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Sappy and full with Granny Smith apples and green figs. Mixed Origin grapes.

9th June
#wineoftheday Carbon neutral Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. Made by Therese de Beer, Cassis, lead pencils, beautifully oaked. Stonker!

 


Waterkloof Circle of Life Red 2009. What a fabulous wine & a step up on prev vintage. Fabulous fruit, elegant oak & *balance*


Tamboerskloof 2007. What fabulous depth of sweet fruit, perfectly managed oaking, gentle ripe tannins. Dark and divine.


 



Michael Olivier's blog Tomato cour de boeuf

3 June 2011
The Ultimate Cheese and Tomato Sandwich

I was looking for a shot of a perfect tomato.  My friend Jamie Shler, who live in Nantes in France, said “I saw some fabulous tomatoes in the market this morning, I’ll nip out and buy a couple and take a photo of them for you.”

Less than two hours later, this wonderful picture arrived by email.

It reminded me so much of the tomatoes my grandmother grew in her vegetable garden.  We always had fresh fruit and vegetables when we were children.  Often we would – as a supper dish – have tomatoes like this, just with fresh home-baked bread, farm butter and salt.

Often too we would have a cheese and tomato sarmie.

 

In adulthood, we made what we called “The Ultimate Cheese and Tomato Sandwich.”  This is the quintessential South African sandwich.  You will not find a coffee shop or snack bar in South Africa, which does not serve a Tomato and Cheese sandwich. There are minimum requirements for my ultimate cheese and tomato sandwich. Fry some finely chopped onion slowly in butter until caramelised and cooled to room temperature on kitchen paper.  Have ready an excellent bread knife – it’ll do for both the bread and the tomato.  You’ll need fresh soft white bread, preferably homemade with bread flour rather than cake flour, in a large loaf tin, which will give you a large sandwich!  Tomatoes are important, vine ripened in the sun to the point of perfection, plump and firm for easy slicing.  The cheese?  My best choice would be Rob and Petrina Visser’s Huguenot from their pasture fed Jersey herd in Klapmuts.  It has all flavour elements you want to complement the ripe tomato.  For the construction, cut two slices of bread in medium to thick slices and spread with soft unsalted butter.  Thinly spread over some onion.  Slice the tomato thinly and layer it generously over the onion, season well with hand harvested sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.  Top with torn sweet basil leaves and pile on the grated cheese and top with the other slice of bread.  Slice on the diagonal and serve with rocket dressed with verjuice and olive oil of the extra virgin kind.  You can of course put it on a sandwich press and toast it before slicing.  A treat we have on occasion when we have a barbecue is to make up the sandwich and tie it in a little parcel with some sewing cotton and when the coals are cooling, lightly toast the sandwich on both sides.  This will cause the cheese to melt slightly and ooze out the sides. Yum!  A glass of good red wine like the Landskroon Paul Hugo Red, would be a perfect partner.

Visit:

www.dalewood.co.za

www.landskroonwines.com


Landskroon Paul Hugo Red


 




Michael Olivier chats about Amarula

17 May 2011

The Romance of Amarula

I really love foods and drinks that have a story.  Far rather a crumbly zesty slice of aged Huguenot Cheese from Petrina and Rob Visser of Dalewood in Paarl than a hunk of bright yellow that is better suited to making a toasted cheese or Welsh Rarebit.  Far rather a slice or two of wood smoked dry cured bacon than something that exudes water when you put it in a pan.

Far rather a shot of Cointreau, produced by the family of the same name than some cheap and cheerful bright orange concoction masquerading as a citrus liqueur or a tot of Drambuie, whisky from the Highlands of Scotland, flavoured with heather honey.

The story of an original South African liqueur, Amarula, is a really romantic one.  In February, at the height of summer in the sub Saharan plains of the north eastern reaches our country, the fruit of the marula trees ripen.  And the elephants move in to eat them.  The massive female trees bear the most delicious yellow skinned fruits – up to 2 tons of fruit per tree – enough for the elephants and the distillers.  Teams of ladies move in and gather the fruits and the process begins.

The fruit is relieved of its pip and skin and crushed.  The flesh is fermented in much the same way as grapes are for fine wine.  The resulting marula wine is then double distilled for purity and matured in small French oak casks for up to 24 months.  Once the wine has matured, it is blended with fresh cream to create the unique and rich flavour that is Amarula – one of the biggest selling cream liqueurs in the world.

Adding to the romantic tale of the origins of this utterly delicious cream liqueur is that the single-stemmed marula trees are topped with dense and spreading crowns, are known by some communities as “marriage” trees. Growing only in the sub-Saharan wild, they often provide the focal point for ritual and cultural activities amongst villagers, and weddings conducted beneath their ample shade are a regular sight.

Amarula is available in bottle stores nationanwide and also in the duty free shops at the International airports, making the liqueur an ideal gift to take to friends overseas.


www.amarula.com


 

 



Michael Olivier's homemade yogurt

10 May 2011

Homemade Yoghurt


There are foodie things I have wanted to do for a long time, and know how to do and can talk knowledgably about, but I don’t actually get down and do them.

This weekend I did - I made my first pot of yoghurt.

I have a friend, Sophia, who grew up in Douglas in the northern Cape.  She is of Lebanese extract and learnt a huge amount about food from her Lebanese grandmother – and the Lebanese know about food.  Sophia gave me the cutest little white enamel bucket full of Laban – a thick Lebanese yoghurt she had made herself.  Sophia writes an innovative article each month in Crush, my online digital magazine.   Called 4 ways with… her next offering is Milk.

I knew how to make yoghurt, so I did it.

And what a joy it is.  Never will I buy yoghurt again.

I started in the early morning and took the last 100ml or so of the yoghurt from the bucket and put it in a bowl.  I brought just to the boil a litre of full cream milk.  Let it cool a bit, but not too much, my finger was still stung by the heat.  In the bowl, I mixed the yoghurt with a little of the hot milk and then whisked it into the remaining milk in the saucepan.  I had a jar with a sealable lid – you can see it in the picture.  I wrapped it in a tea towel and then popped a tea cosy on top and left it for 12 hours.  It had thickened up beautifully.  It spent the night in the fridge and we had it for breakfast in the morning.

And it was delicious!

Now I am going to try and flavour it with some of Paul and Tracy’s NoMU Vanilla Paste.  Should be good!




 



Michael Olivier writes about Portugal

30 April 2011
Pasteis de nata

 


April is such a wonderful time in Portugal. In a country that is so steeped in the tradition of wine, and where vineyards are within a short drive of your home, unless you have vines on a trellis over your driveway! Many Portuguese families grow their own grapes and make wine each year. The vines are covered in lime green buds and the single rows up on the slopes above the Douro River, large vineyards in the Alentejo and Dao, are a sight to behold.

And the food is just fabulous. Especially the fish and seafood. Lampreys are in season – if you can bring yourself to eat lamprey! The cured meats of the pata negra – the black footed pig – are legendary as are the hams of Braga up north of the Douro River.

The cheeses, quite often made from sheep’s milk almost seem to be made to go with the wines produced on the same region. Queijo Serra da Estrela is made in the highest mountains in mainland Portugal, The Mountain of the stars, and has been granted Protected Designation of Origin. It is made from November to March. Interestingly the milk is curdled using a local cardoon thistle, a relative of the globe artichoke. I enjoyed eating this cheese hugely. At times it is popped into the oven and the interior goes all soft and utterly and deeply delicious. A traditional accompaniment with cheese is a thick, almost cheese- like paste made from quinces called marmelada, marmelo being Portuguese for quince and the provenance of the word marmalade. In fact marmalade was made from quinces before oranges.

But my all time favourite Portuguese national dish, if dish it could be called is the pastel de nata. A little custard tart in a puff pastry shell, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar when it comes out of the oven. Made originally by nuns in the Jeronimo Monastery in Belem, Lisbon that closed down in 1820. The Pasteis de Belem opened in 1837 and has been making these yummy little pastries ever since. Customers line up for them each day. Inside the place has the same feel of Fortnum and Mason or the Harrod’s Food Hall. Pastries are wrapped for people to take home round the corner or across the world.

The good news for us South Africans is that we have a large population of Portuguese origin and that the pastel de nata is not something of which we dream, but which we can buy and taste and enjoy.


 



Michael Oliver - Neethlingshof Sauvignon Blanc 2010

22nd April 2011
Neethlingshof Sauvignon Blanc 2010


I wanted to write about De Wet Viljoen’s sublime Neethlingshof Sauvignon Blanc 2010. 

And then last night I bumped into him at the presentation ceremony for the Top 100 South African Wines where he walked away with a certificate for his Neethlingshof Owl House Pinotage 2009 – appropriate that it should be a South African grape variety for the first Top 100 competition.  De Wet has a special affinity for this indigenous wine grape and is deputy chairman of the Pinotage Association.  ”It is a tremendous source of pride to see Pinotage featured in the collection,” he said after receiving his award.

Named the Owl House as Neethlingshof has put owl posts strategically dotted around the vineyards of the Stellenbosch estate and that form part of its integrated pest management programme. 

The idea of assembling the country’s top wines to highlight South African wine excellence while providing an authoritative reference point for winelovers globally was conceived by local entrepreneur Robin von Holdt who owns the wonderful Rodwell House in Kalk Bay.  The panel of high-profile palates who performed the judging a couple of weeks ago was chaired by British wine critic Tim Atkin.  The panel included Greg Sherwood and Jamie Goode, also based in the UK, as well as Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan from the US, Sam Harrop from New Zealand and Cathy van Zyl a South African member of the Institute of Masters of Wine.  Others on the panel were local winemakers Duncan Savage of Cape Point Vineyards, Richard Kershaw of Mulderbosch, and internationally trained sommelier Guy Harcourt-Wood.  

Those wines to make it into the line-up are featured in the first edition of the Top 100 SA Wines consumer guide together with tasting and cellaring notes.  An excellent little book which is going to be generally available from about May 6th.

As to the wine, De Wet says that he aged it in an interesting combination of Hungarian and American oak for 14 months.  It is rich and full-fruited with cherry and berry flavours.  And that “We’ve tamed the intensity of the fruit with careful wooding for balance and elegance.”   

Oh yes – The Neethlingshof Sauvignon Blanc 2010!  Well it’s all about tropical fruits, and has the green flavours of a cooler climate Sauvignon, figs and fresh cut herbs.  Zippy and alive and mouthfilling.

So you got two wines instead of one!

Enjoy!



 

Michael Olivier's Kitchen Cake
Image by Carey Erasmus


14th April 2011

Kitchen Cake

This was the cake of my childhood, there was almost always one in a tin in the pantry and we were given a slice at teatime.  The preparation was somewhat of a ritual with my grandmother.  The cake tin was always prepared the night before and all ingredients were left on a marble shelf in the pantry to come to room temperature.  The cake was made in a large brown Doulton bowl and the wooden mixing spoon was quite worn away on the one side from the frequent creaming and mixing.  The whole process was a manual one, no electric beaters or mixers in her kitchen!  The glace pineapple and sultanas were bought at Wellington Fruit growers in Darling Street in Cape Town.  The pineapple was at times replaced with candied citrus peel that was bought in big chunks and then chopped fine.  As an added piece of luxury when we were having guests over the weekend, the top of the cake can be studded with skinned whole almonds.


You’ll need:
a greased and lined 18cm cake tin,
180g butter,
grated rind of half an orange,
180g castor sugar,
generous pinch sea salt,
360g self raising flour,
3 large eggs – beaten in a teacup,
a little extra flour,
90g currants,
90g chopped sultanas,
90g finely chopped glacé pineapple,
100ml cold milk,
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or orange flower water


Method:
Prepare the cake tin by greasing well and lining with a double layer of greaseproof paper.  Preset the oven to 180C.  Beat the butter to cream it, add the orange rind and slowly add the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Sift together twice the flour and salt, this adds extra air and thus lightness to the cake.  Beat the eggs in a teacup to break them up.  Add the egg mixture, one third at a time with a generous spoonful of the flour mixture to prevent curdling.  Fold in the remaining flour. [Up to this stage, this can be done in a food processor.]  Toss the fruit in a little extra flour and fold into the mixture with enough milk to moisten. Finally fold in the flavouring extract.  Bake for about 90 minutes and up to a further 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into it comes away clean.

When done, allow the cake to cool on the tin for a short while and then turn it out onto a cake rack and allow to cool completely.  The cake was then usually wrapped in muslin cloth which had been moistened with a sprinkle of brandy which my father used to buy as part of his annual wine and spirits quota from KWV.



 



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