Celebrations at EatOut Awards 2013


It’s Monday and I’m exhausted. This weekend was really one for the books!

My beautiful BFF tied the knot on Saturday in the beautiful town of Tulbagh and then preceded to walk away with her first EatOut Award last night.

I am beyond proud of you, Van! Not only do you and Ilze run an amazing restaurant… you kick ass while doing it!



“no one has ever achieved anything from the smallest to the greatest unless the dream was dreamed first.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder.




The Dry Land Collection

The Dryland Collection

The Dryland Collection

Last week Tuesday saw the launch of Perderberg Winery’s new premium label, The Dry Land Collection.  This new range of wines – created by the winemaking trio of Riaan Moller, Carla Herbst and Albertus Louw, includes:

Unwooded Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Unwooded Chenin Blanc 2013

Barrel fermented Chenin Blanc 2011

Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2013

Pinotage 2011

Shiraz 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Joseph’s Legacy red blend 2010

The first thing I noticed about these wines was the label – It’s very striking and modern with no zebra in sight. (You’ll often hear people referring to Perderberg Winery as, “the one with the horse”). Serious wine-drinking folk regard it as a quality Chenin Blanc producer and after tasting The Dry Land Collection’s two Chenin Blancs at the media lunch at Dear Me, I can see why. Riaan says that the winery’s aim is to “show the different expressions of Chenin” and so far I believe he and his team are doing a great job.

Perderberg has been around for over 70 years making wine as a co-operative. And according to CEO, Gerhard van der Watt, releasing The Dry Land Collection endeavors to erase the idea that the wines of Perdeberg are second-string quality to those with a more “boutique” reputation.

Price-wise, at the cellar you can expect to pay between R62 and R80 per bottle. Taste them and you’ll realise what a steal that is!

At the launch, each wine from the collection was paired with a dish made by Dear Me’s head chef, Vanessa Marx who is one of the few chefs I know that has a real knack for food and wine pairing.  Some of the wines were paired with two different dishes on one plate, which was a fun way of doing things.

This is what we were treated to:

1. Chevré & passion fruit salad, almond flakes – The Dry Land Collection Unwooded Chenin Blanc 2013
Chevré tartlet, curried caramelised onion & raisin chutney, roasted almond – The Dry Land Collection Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2011

2. Poached smoked trout, beetroot, crème fraîche, orange vinaigrette & dill – The Dry Land Collection Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2013
Vanilla marinated quail, pecan streusel, fennel bulb & pear – The Dry Land Collection Pinotage 2011

3. Pigeon breast, black cherry jus, lentils & walnuts – The Dry Land Collection Shiraz 2011

4. Free-range beef oxtail ‘skilpadjie’, bourguignon sauce, bone marrow & baby carrots – The Dry Land Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

5. Seared kudu loin, spice crust, celeriac & cauliflower purée – The Dry Land Collection Joseph’s Legacy 2010

6. Green Goose organic Ficksberger cheese, toasted cinnamon bread, membrillo- Perdeberg Natural Sweet Weisser Riesling

And a  few little Valrhona truffles to end off. So naughty… but so nice 😉

PS – have you come across any wine labels that feature the winery’s social media activity? I haven’t up until now which was quite refreshing and novel to see.

social media savvy

social media savvy

As Christine Rudman put it when speaking to the Perderberg team, “You’re in the right place, at the right time”.

The Dry Land Collection will be available in retail at the end of August.


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!

Sustainable Seafood with Wild Peacock and Oceanwise

My first introduction to SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) came about five years ago when I was at ICA. During that stage, it was still fairly new and most people weren’t very aware of what it actually stood for. Little booklets then became available for people to check out what fish was on what list and whether or not their favourite restaurants were serving seafood on the ill-fated “red list”.

I’d say nowadays the awareness of eating sustainably is slowing gaining consciousness in the food industry-with a few restaurants leading the way in terms of educating their customers, while at the same time encouraging fellow establishments to become SASSI registered. Dear Me Foodworld in Cape Town’s Longmarket Street is one that has been classified as a SASSI “champion status” restaurant meaning they only serve seafood off the green list. Nowhere will you find prawns or even Kingklip on their menu. Another seafood eatery, The Brass Bell in Kalk Bay, has very cleverly printed SASSI-marked symbols next to each dish on the menu- which just shows the effort that they’re making to create awareness in the minds of their customers.

Obviously for a restaurant to take something like this seriously, a lot has to depend on suppliers. Wild Peacock and Ocean Jewels (both in the Western Cape) are two that deserve a good mention. I was privileged enough last week to be able to spend some time with the effervescent Julie from Ocean Jewels, as well as the team from Wild Peacock, at a dinner held in their beautiful Food Emporium in Stellenbosch. Wild Peacock is a supplier of sustainably farmed kabeljou which they source from OceanWise, a sustainable fish farm in East London, Eastern Cape. Go EC! My home province! (yeah, and all you thought we had was Oxbraai!!) . They are supported by Dear Me and The Roundhouse in Camps Bay (among others).

The evening was amazing with a 3 course dinner consisting of dishes prepared by Dear Me’s head chef Vanessa Marx, Eric Bulpitt from The Roundhouse and Miss Valrhona (aka talented pastry chef, Vanessa Quellec). The marketing guys from Oceanwise were there as well which made for a really worthwhile and informative evening. They had a small presentation with slides of what the fish farm actually looked like. Rather fascinating! All three of them were fantastic and were able to answer all of our questions while we gnawed away on their ethically farmed produce.

Kabeljou Ceviche, Avocado, Baby Fennel bulb, Broad Beans & Lime, By Vanessa Marx

Kabeljou with Sea Lettuce, Pickled Mussels & Beurre Noisette Emulsion, By Eric Bulpitt

Valrhona Ivoire Chocolate with Mousse Berry Cremeux & Almond Streusel, By Miss Valrhona

Wild Peacock have been supplying South Africa’s restaurant industry for over two decades with nothing but the best-quality ingredients and service, which makes them the ideal distributors of the sustainably farmed Kabeljou. They are however most well-known for their Saldanha Bay oysters which you’ll always find being offered to the public at prominent wine and food festivals:)

The Wild Peacock family really make the brand what it is- Sue together her son Ross run an amazing business, with daughter Sarah managing the Food Emporium.

Follow them on twitter: @WildPeacock, @SueBakerFood, @Food_Emporium
Or go to their website and check out the amazing products!

For information on Oceanwise, get hold of Liam Ryan: 082 771 9507
email: liam@espadonmarine.co.za

Did You Know?

– Kabeljou is also known as Dusky Kob
– The Australians call the fish `Mulloway’
– it takes 12 to 15 months for the fish to reach 1.5kg in weight
– The spawning cycle is managed by temperature and light control
– In South Africa wild Kob has to be 40cm by law.
– Oceanwise fish are over 40cm
– The Kob reach sexual maturity at approx 10kg and 10 years old
– 10 million eggs are produced per spawning female (usually spawn one female at a time)
– They only have a 50% hatchery rate
– Guy and Maryke Musson together with a small dedicated team from Oceanwise pioneered kabeljou farming in South Africa
– 10% of the water that is circulated and treated goes back into the ocean


My Morning At Dear Me

On Monday morning while my car was at the ‘Doctor”, I had a few hours to kill. So I did what any warm-blooded Capetonian would do…I headed to Dear Me for some coffee to warm up!

While sipping my Latte and paging through foodie and fashion mags at the warm cosy window seat,  in walked a tall, extremely attractive individual with what seemed to be a large camera bag slung loosly over one shoulder.

After observing for a while and chatting to my friend Vanessa, it appeared that Dear Me are in the process of ‘renovating’ their website and needed some shots of the food (hense the presence of the photographer dude- who’s name I later found out was Adrian!)

Having most of the morning free and being sort of at a loose end- I was invited by Van and Adrian to ‘hang out’ at the shoot.  What fun!

Here are just a few of my own (amature) shots of the morning..

PS. Be sure to check out the new Dear Me site when it goes live!


Love the fact that even though she works day and night in a busy hot kitchen, Van remains stylish in jeans and pumps!!

Dear Me’s famous Eggs Benedict looking suitably impressive!!!

Chef de cuisine 🙂


Just a light drizzle of Gluwein syrup” .. Holy Yum !

Oh Behave!!!”

-And that’s a wrap folks !


Date Night at La Mouette

Dinner on Wednesday evening took place at La Mouette with my darling friend Vanessa (who is also a chef and heads up the kitchen at newly opened Dear Me Food World– stay tuned for a post on that soon!)

 Neither of us had eaten there before and I was very intrigued to try their famed and highly celebrated cheese and truffle croquettes! Seeing that the April special was still going (6 courses for two people, R240) we decided without hesitation to go ahead with it and have the wine pairings too. Very ambitious for a school night! Vanessa has been extremely busy at Dear Me for the last few weeks and so I was grateful to be awarded some of her very precious time!!

I’m not going to go through the entire menu and pick each dish apart BUT I will say that my favourite was the croquette course. It was served on a long rectangular dish, 4 individual croquettes per portion served atop a Basil cream sauce. I would have enjoyed a bit more sauce than was served, and perhaps a touch more seasoning in the croquettes.

 The highlight though, which took the dish to a whole new level, was the paired wine-  Graham Beck Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2009.  I found the wine had very subtle acidity (something I am rather sensitive to) and although there was lot of creamy richness in the food, the lack of acid didn’t diminish the pairing’s success.

The wine offered flavours of fresh tropical fruit with hints of lime and lemongrass and a weightiness that balanced perfectly with the crispy croquettes. Definitely a style that I enjoy when it comes to white wine. (Need to remember to obtain a case or two for when summer rolls around!)

This is Vanessa’s direct description of the wine : “It just goes KAPOW! in your mouth!”  — (in a good way, obviously!)

 Besides for the food and wine, which were both fabulous- I was mightily impressed with the service- slick and professional but also laid back, warm and friendly. The decor is just gorgeous and the fireplace upstairs is a great draw card during these frosty winter months.

 I have to say though, that the company made the evening. I could have eaten at KFC and still had a great night. Time spent with special friends, to me, is priceless no matter where you are.