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Things I do on a Saturday

Do you ever have those days when one thing seems to fluidly blend into the next, leaving you wondering what you actually did?

This happened to me on Saturday. I awoke just as the sun began to rise and got myself ready for a run along the promenade with Sierra. We met outside Café Neo and it was REALLY misty and foggy. I anticipated rain but thankfully it stayed away. It felt so good to be out getting some much-needed exercise.

And I say much-needed because I had a 10h30 reservation at Clos Malverne in Stellenbosch for an indulgent ice cream and wine pairing experience. This was followed by some wondering and eating at the Stellenbosch slow food market and shopping at Canal walk.

But let’s back-track… ice cream! Wine!

Now I’ll tell you straight out, I’ve always been a rather adventurous eater. I’ve done cheese and wine pairings, chocolate and wine pairings, nougat and wine pairings… but up until Saturday I’d never done an ice cream and wine pairing. I won’t lie when I say the idea itself had me feeling rather skeptical but I went with no expectations and an open mind.

The verdict?

I was pleasantly surprised.

The experience was well-worth it and I will definitely recommend it to my friends and relatives who are looking for “something different” to do in the winelands.

Clos Malverne ice cream and wine pairing experience.
(Pic: Vanessa Jayne Marx)

Here’s how the tasting works:

For R55 you get to taste 4 wines, each one paired with a different ice cream. We were served all the wines (as well as the ice creams) all at once which made it easy to compare the wines.

To kick off proceedings, we were invited to sample the preserved lemon and basil ice cream which was paired with the Clos Malverne 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. I thoroughly enjoyed the fruity, tropical notes that I picked up after eating the ice cream but I’m not sure if it was churned properly as it was “icy” in texture. This wasn’t the end of the world though because the presence of preserved lemon chunks was amazing, all mingled with specks of sweet basil. Overall a very refreshing pairing and I’d imagine it to be perfect as a small pre-dessert in a fine-dining degustation menu.

Next up was my favourite… and this I found to be strange as I normally don’t find Pinotage so enjoyable, especially if it’s deemed a “coffee” Pinotage. But, the Clos Malverne 2011 Le Cafe Pinotage paired with a pistachio and butternut ice cream was pure heaven. I was seriously in love with this ice cream and it really offset the coffee flavour in the wine so well. I got lots of cinnamon notes hitting my palate and I LOVE cinnamon so it was definitely right up my alley. I could have had an entire bowl of this ice cream. In fact, maybe one day I’ll go back and do just that!

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should explain the 3rd wine. It happened to be the estate’s flagship, a Cape blend called Auret. I still have vivid memories of the day I first tasted this wine, but that’s another story for another post. The Auret was served with a banana caramel pancake ice cream. What I loved most about this pairing was that the wine really did a great job at cutting through the incredible richness of the ice cream which also happened to be very very sweet. The tannins in the wine provided the same feeling you get when sipping sparkling water after eating chocolate; it immediately refreshes your palate a bit.

The last ice cream (and this, we found to be quite daring of the chef!), was a dark chocolate and chilli flavour. It paired with the Clos Malverne 2009 Pinotage Reserve. I must say it didn’t work for me. I enjoyed the ice cream and the little flecks of dark chocolate were a great touch but together with the wine, it fell short. (Perhaps it was the Pinotage repugnance in me? Maybe. Who knows?)

All in all I was highly impressed. My only criticism is that the ice creams are all served at once, which means that you have to rush your way through them before they all melt. And they do melt.

Next time I head out to Clos Malverne though, will be for their R178 4-course menu with wine pairing. (Nope, that ain’t no typo!) Such unbelievable value!!!!!

Click here to check out the menu.


My Penchant For Wine…Where Has It Gone??

I’ve just returned back to Cape Town after spending some time at my parents’ farm in the Eastern Cape. It was a lovely 2.5 weeks of total relaxation, and the fact that it was sooooo cold (winter there has a completely different definition!), meant that each night would be spent huddled in front of a crackling wood fire with a glass of rich red wine in hand.

Sound good, doesn’t it? It was! but it seems that I go through stages with wine- one moment I’m all for it, the next I can hardly look at white- only sticking to red, or even worse- just not having a palate for it altogether (Is that sad?). Perhaps my time at The Institute of Culinary Arts has something to do with this. I can remember taking every chance I got to go wine tasting at some of the most beautiful wine farms in and around Stellenbosch. Our wine lecturer constantly encouraged it. And tell me, when was the last time you heard of a student who wasn’t up for a long day of  wine tasting??!

And then of course, there were the lectures- ‘Burgundy’, ‘Bordeaux’, ‘Acid’, ‘Oak’, ‘Dr. Perold’, ‘Dr. Sscchhmerold’… to be honest, I doubt anybody ever used the hundred and ten million spatoons that were provided for spitting- I mean, what student do you know spits at a wine tasting?? I can still remember how people would drive home drunk in rather high spirits after these lectures.

Oh and then there were those five months that I worked at a boutique wine shop in Constantia. Now THAT was fun!! I was the little sales girl who sold R600 bottles of wine to the Bentley owners and their botoxed, leopard-skin-wearing wives. Wine reps would flit in throughout the day leaving bottles and bottles of samples. Oh the samples!

I would also make canape’s for the public wine tasting each Friday evening. It always ended up being such a hoot! My boss and all her wine-drinking friends would come over and often we would sabrage bottles of MCC and champagne with an antique sabre…just for the sake of it. The mood would be so happy and everyone always had that naughty weekend ‘glint’ in their eyes. Of course we never had just one wine at the tasting. Oh no, there would be at least 3 to 5 on offer. So, it was no wonder that when Saturday morning eventually rolled around, my head would feel like it was wedged under the wheel of a ten ton truck.

I now work at a wine farm (just up the road from where the shop used to be, funnily enough!) and my wine consumption has (thankfully) diminished to a more ‘balanced’ level. I still enjoy little wine tasting  jaunts from time to time. In fact I went to the Old Mutual Trophy wine show tasting just last month. It was fun, but I discovered that right now Sauvignon Blanc is a ‘no’ for me.

Oh dear. We can never have it all, can we!