Sunday, 30 June 2013

Is wine good for you?

I recently stumbled upon a copy of a Wynboer (Wine Farming) magazine from 1979 which provided some fascinating reading. It was an issue specifically looking at Wine and Health, with numerous articles on the subject.

'Wine is the best medicine', a book published by a medical practitioner named Dr Maury, talks about the tremendously high success rates he's achieved through medicating his patients with high quality wine. 

Illness French Daily dosage
Allergies Medoc 1 glass
Diarrhoea Young Beaujolais 4 glasses
Fever Dry Champagne 1 bottle
Gout Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume 4 glasses
Menopause St. Emilion 4 glasses
Nervous depression Medoc Red 4 glasses
Weight loss Cote de Beaune 4 glasses
Weakness of the liver Dry Champagne 4 glasses

I find the Gout treatment regime of particular interest.

The work of an American researcher named Bogen, from 1933, equating levels of blood alcohol to behaviour is summarised in the table below:

Alcohol per 100ml blood Behaviour
0.03mg dull and dignified
0.05mg dashing and debonair
0.10mg dangerous and devilish
0.3mg disgusting and disorientated
0.4mg delirious and dishevelled
0.5mg drunk
0.6mg dead drunk
0.7mg dead 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Uniondale and the Kamanassie Mountains

Uniondale is a small Klein (Little) Karoo town that is certainly off the beaten track.  Most South Africans whizz by, possibly stopping for petrol, but most often paying little attention to a town and area that offers much more than just a quick glance in the rear-view mirror can offer.  For those of you from over our borders it's way off the tourist radar.

If you're a fan of the outdoors and enjoy a bit of piece and quiet this area is a must see.  The Kamanassie Road is around 10km's from town and there are plenty of comfortable places to spend the night.  I recently visited Lansrivier and stayed in one of their beautifully restored farm cottages.  There's plenty of adventure to be had during the day and at night the inside fireplace keeps the winter chill at bay.

We pretty much kept to ourselves during our time at Lansrivier, which is a relatively easy thing to do.  Our only visitors were a few inquisitive sheep.  To revisit humanity we decided to head into town on day 2 and stopped outside Cracklin Rosy, a little coffee-shop/restaurant that had an interesting look about it.  Their menu catered to all tastes, with burgers, toasted sandwiches, pizzas and freshly made cakes.  I decided to go for the Oxtail Potjie (stew) which delivered way more than I was expecting with great layers of flavour and tender meat.  A real win.  Susan, the owner, has given me a flop-proof chocolate sauce recipe.  Give it a go.

Chocolate Sauce

  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 4 desert spoons cacao
  3. a half cup of boiling water
  4. 1 desert spoon butter
  5. a pinch of creme of tarter
  6. 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • boil sugar, cacao, water and creme of tarter together for 5 mins
  • make sure you keep stirring because this can boil over quickly
  • cool down and stir in vanilla
  • pour into a jar that seals tightly
  • this will keep for a few months in the fridge

The Knysna Oyster Festival

It's almost time again for the Garden Route and South Africa's premier Winter festival.  Ten days of outdoor pursuits and culinary adventures.  I will be participating in the Featherbed Trail Run, the Forest marathon, the road and mountain biking events attending the Wine Festival, the Taste of Knysna and the Craft Beer Project.  Stay tuned for highlights of the Oyster Festival. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Belfield wines - ding-dong

The little, family-operated wine estate of Belfield is located in the Elgin Valley, a beautiful area of the Western Cape, renowned for fruit farming and more recently great wine.  I first came across Belfield at the Hermanus Food and Wine Festival in 2012.  I had been getting up close and personal with the regions Sauvignon Blanc's and white blends and was dangerously close to becoming white wined out when I came across Mike Kreft, owner of Belfield.  We chatted for a while and I tasted his wines, expecting to be moderately impressed.  I was wrong.  Belfield has 4 red varietals planted on the estate – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz and from these they have created a Cab, a Shiraz and a blend, all of which are, in my opinion, fantastic.  A few nights ago I got my regular kitchen-itch and cooked up a rich green-bean, asparagus and pea risotto.  I needed something to help it down and decided the Belfield 2009 Syrah would be a good bet.  It was so good that I very nearly forgot all about my risotto. 

I got hold of Mike and asked him what exactly allows him to produce such wonderful red wine. 

"Regarding the terroir, I would say that the soil is a deep iron-stone gravel and is well drained.  The vineyards are on a gentle slope towards the north-east, which makes it a warm aspect.  The Merlot was sited on this same iron-stone, with a layer of clay at about a meter and a half, as Merlot likes to have it's roots in clay.  The Shiraz is in the rockiest area, which helps to reduce the vigour of this variety.  Of course there is the human element of terroir.  This covers the above ground care that we give the canopy in the growing season.  Here we focus on achieving a narrow, sun-friendly canopy.  The bunch-zone is cleaned of leaves at the end of December to enhance skin colour and fruitiness in the grapes.  This also has the effect of providing the vines with strong buds, which gives us a more even ripeness of the grapes at harvest.  Another huge plus when making premium wines."

Well let me tell you Mike and co. you are certainly doing something right.  The Shiraz is a wine that has finesse, a great balance of fruit and acidity that makes it a perfect partner to big flavoursome meals.  Instead of giving you my risotto recipe I chose rather to ask the powers that be at the farm and Mike's wife, Mel, was kind enough to give me one of the family favourites.

Smoked Paprika Beef Steaks
  1. 12 mini beef steaks
  2. 4 Tbsp flour for dusting the steaks
  3. 30 ml olive oil
  4. 10 twists of black pepper
  5. ¼ tsp fresh rosemary
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. 5ml salt
  8. 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 250ml boiling water
  9. 125ml red or white wine
  10. 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  11. 125ml sour cream
  12. 2 Tbsp capers
  13. Chopped parsley to garnish
  • dust the steaks with flour
  • heat oil in large pan and fry the steaks lightly
  • remove and pop in a casserole
  • peel and dice the onions and cook in the same pan until golden
  • add the pepper, rosemary, bay leaves and salt
  • add to the steak casserole, cover with the stock and wine and cook covered in a moderate oven for 1 ½ hours until meat is tender
  • remove the lid and add the paprika, cream, capers and parsley
  • serve with mashed potatoes or brown rice

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Smoked trout etc.

  1. 200g lightly smoked trout ribbons
  2. half a pineapple
  3. 1 ball of buffalo mozzarella
  4. a handful of fresh rocket
  5. extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 1 red chili
  7. black pepper
  • cut the pineapple into slices and pop under the grill for a few minutes each side, then allow to cool
  • discard the hard inner section of the pineapple and cut into small rectangles
  • cut the chili in half, remove the seeds and place in a small container covered with a good glug of olive oil
  • cut the trout into 10cm sections
  • to make the rolls, put a piece of trout on a board, then a bit of pineapple in the centre, then a little mozzarella and a rocket leaf across the top
  • pull each side of the trout over and overlap
  • drizzle a little chili oil over and sprinkle with pepper