Cocktails at Cape Town One&Only’s Vista Bar

I don’t know about you but I have been loving the drinks section on Food24 lately – especially The Mixology Report series written by the restaurant editor, Cath Shone who (poor thing) had to spend 5 days aboard a luxury cruise ship on the French Riviera following SA’s best bartender, Nick Koumbarakis  who competed in the Diageo Reserve WorldClass Bartender of the Year Awards.

Read all about it here.

Unfortunately Nick didn’t win but he was a fine representative for SA and truly impressed the judges. It’s so nice to see our bartenders excelling on an international stage and I only hope that more and more people in this country start getting into mixology and appreciating it for the true art that it is.

Last night I was fortunate to attend Vista Bar at One&Only for the launch of their Spring heritage cocktail, “Sixteen72” (appropriately named after the year that Brandy was first distilled in the Cape). It was created by Vista Bar’s Johan Blaauw – who actually made it through to the national finals of the Diageo Reserve WorldClass competition.

cocktails

A line – up of Sixteen72’s. Pic: Food24

The Sixteen72 was made with KWV 10 year old Brandy, Rooibos syrup, apple juice and lime juice. It was a beautiful cocktail but much too sweet for my taste. I only managed a few sips before relinquishing it. I preferred the creamy, dreamy deliciousness of the Afropolitan (created by Yanda Njokwenie.) He told me that in it he put Klipdrift Gold, Black Cat peanut butter, wild Africa cream, heavy cream and chocolate syrup.

cocktails

The Afropolitan

Being a chocolate (and general dairy) lover, this totally hit the spot! The addition of peanut butter was a cheeky surprise that I absolutely loved! A few if us agreed that the Afropolitan is the perfect drink to have in place of dessert. So decadent! And the great thing is now I can make it at home. Yanda was kind enough to share his recipe:

Afropolitan

25ml Klipdrift Gold

1 teaspoon smooth Black Cat peanut butter

25ml Wild Africa cream

75ml Heavy cream

12.5ml Chocolate syrup

Blend ingredients together and pour into a Brandy snifter. Garnish with a Chocolate ice ball.

If you want the real experience of watching a mixologist make your cocktail, then I suggest you leave work an hour early tomorrow, grab a friend who’s got a sense of fun and head to Vista Bar to catch Johan and the boys in action.

Make your Happy Hour count!

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Franschhoek Winter Wines

Franschhoek isn’t shy about hosting a wine festival! The little town has dozens sprinkled across its yearly calendar and I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I had never been to a single one…. until this weekend! It may have been small in comparison to the popular Bastille Festival or the Franschhoek Festival of Bubbles but it was fun nonetheless.

Franschhoek Winter Wines focuses on some of the beautiful red wines that emerge from the region’s vineyards. The main attraction however wasn’t the wine, but rather the venue (L’Ormarins), which is home to the Franschhoek Motor Museum. My word! If you are a vintage car enthusiast then this place is your piece of heaven on earth! The museum showcases cars from every era imaginable. A real treat for history buffs too – there are cars there that were produced from as far back as 1904! I’ve been to the museum before with my family (my grandfather used to collect vintage cars so we simply HAD to take him! And I won’t mention how long we ended up staying that day…).


Although Saturday’s weather did its best to discourage us from driving out to Franschhoek in the rain, I’m glad I went. Give me any excuse to visit the winelands! Plus, getting a ride in a cute old Lancia is rather novel if you ask me!

Up next: Franschhoek Uncorked. Who’s going?


Dear Me teams up with Groot Constantia

Instead of my usual dinner of Woolworths canned soup, On Wednesday last week I was treated to an evening of gastronomical delights and glorious Constantia wine at Dear Me.

Vanessa Marx had teamed up with a close friend (and winemaker of Groot Constantia) Boela Gerber, to present a charmingly intimate evening in The White Room.  Our small group that had been gathered, spent the evening in convivial repartee while Boela entertained with his anecdotes and Vanessa wowed us with her culinary magic.

First up was an aperitif of Groot Constantia MCC 2009 served with oysters done 3 ways:

Poached oyster with truffled hollandaise and lumpfish caviar
Tempura oyster with and Asian dipping sauce
Raw oyster with pickled cucumber, pink shallot dressing and trout roe

The wine was a lively, nicely balanced fruity but dry MCC made from white grapes and it really injected a burst of freshness in my mouth after tasting the oysters.

Once we made our way to the table, our glasses were filled with Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blancs. (Yes – two vintages) – a 2008 and a 2012, were served with:
Kob, fennel and passionfruit. A real tantalizing combination and in my opinion, a beautiful pairing with the 2012.

The 2008 was quite herbaceous which complimented the fennel in the dish, while the 2012 had many more tropical flavours that matched the passionfruit. The portion of kob was tender and light, making it a wonderful contrast to the attractive wines.

The Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2009 was paired with: A cauliflower and chevre ravioli, hazelnut butter and lemon zest. (Please excuse the images – lighting in the White Room at night is not very conducive to photographs). The Chardonnay was lightly oaked and had a beautiful rich texture. The small hints of oak creates worked to compliment the hazelnut butter in the dish, while the acidity played along nicely with the lemon zest.

Two wonderfully spicy Groot Constantia Shiraz’s  (2006 and 2010) were served alongside a generous portion of smoked springbok with walnuts and cherries. The game meat and cherries were a wonderful combination however some people at the table said it was perhaps too sweet for the wine.

Smoked springbok, walnuts and cherries

Two glasses of Groot Constantia’s Gouveneurs Reserve 2005 and 2010 made their way to the table to be married with Vanessa’s braised free-range beef cheeks that came with sweetbreads, bourguignon sauce, barley risotto and bone marrow.

Onto dessert wines and cheese…

Groot Constantia’s Grande Constance 2010 arrived with a Pepe Charlot Buche Affinee and moskonfyt made from the same grapes that went into the wine. Very cool! The wine is a natural sweet wine made from Muscat grapes.

The other cheese was featured with Groot Constantia Muscat Essencia  which is one of the components that makes up the Grand Constance.  Boela hand selects the grapes and presses them resulting in a very sweet “syrup”.  The farm only makes 30 – 40 liters a year. It is too labour intensive to make into a commercial venture  (and the sugar content is probably enough to make you diabetic after just tasting a drop!) but it was fabulous with a dangerously rich Le Petit France Camembert. Vanessa arrived at our table and theatrically poured the wine over the cheese. Indulgent? You bet!

The dinner came to a flourishing finale when our waiter presented a plate of Valrhona Dulcey macarons and Valrhona truffles.

Vanessa, Boela, Ilze and everyone at Dear Me, Thank you for an unforgettable evening!


Happy Easter

From my kitchen to yours!

choc-cupcakes

 


Ma Mère Maison

I spent an afternoon last week in the kitchen of Lexi Bechet at her shop, Ma Mère Maison. Many of you are probably familiar with her products as she’s had Cape Town’s sugar addicts going gaga since she opened up in Salt River last year.

I chatted to her about all things confectionery as well as some of the aspects of actually running a business. I’m so envious of people like Lexi – entrepreneurs who quite literally create something that was never there before.

It obviously takes a lot of hard work to pull off, and together with her partner – Di Spicer, Lexi looks for inspiration wherever she can. After spending a year at Silwood School of Cookery, she enrolled at Red and Yellow, so it’s no surprise to see that some of her ideas are (for South Africans, at least) quite out-of-the-box .

I had a taste of the hot cross bun nougat and it was absolutely delicious. She also produces red velvet cake pops as well as salted macadamia nut, sea salt and honey nougat (a signature). On the day that I was there, Lexi was whipping up a batch of chocolate chai macarons.

Droolicious to say the least! Check out my Vine.

ma mere maison

ma mere maison

ma mere maison

ma mere maison

ma mere maison

Lexi Bechet

ma mere maison

ma mere maison


Prune and almond breakfast cakes

If there’s one thing I love about Summer, it’s seasonal fruit. Forget days on the beach. Forget flowing sundresses. Biting into a ripe juicy mango or inhaling the scent of sweet pineapple while someone in the kitchen whips up a cheeky Pina Colada, is one of the most intoxicating pleasures belonging to the warmer months. And with all the stone fruit that’s around at the moment, it’s easy to hop onto the plum/nectarine wagon without batting an eyelid.

Prunes are so underrated though. Do you eat them? I love their honey sweet flavour, backed up by a tartness that gives you a subtle mouth-puckering zap. My best way to eat them is to cut them up (straight out of the fridge) over a big dollop of thick Bulgarian yoghurt with some toasted almonds for a quick breakfast. But since eating-on-the-run doesn’t always work out so well with a bowl of  yoghurt in hand… I  decided something more ‘portable’ was required. Which is how these prune and almond cakes were born.

prune and almond cakes

Ingredients
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup oatbran
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs – beaten
1 Tbs coconut oil – liquid
1/2 large banana – mashed
1 Tbs agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh prunes – chopped

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a muffin tin with a knob of butter.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix the eggs, vanilla, coconut oil, agave and banana.
Stir into the dry ingredients until well combined.
Fold in the prunes and spoon into the muffin tin.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until cooked through.


Time to get festive

I’m T-minus 27 hours away from boarding a plane to the beautiful, unspoilt Wild Coast for 2 weeks of family time and excessive eating relaxation! See you in the New Year. x

Merry Christmas