Monday, 30 September 2013

Kranskop Wine Estate - just a skip and hop from Robertson

I had a bottle of Kranskop a few years ago and remember it being a pleasant enough experience. More recently I attended a wine dinner at a Robertson restaurant (during the Slow Festival) and was treated once again to a taste of Kranskop.  Wine-maker Newald Marais has been in and around the industry for some time and after experiencing this dinner and also tasting a few of his other wines my ears perked up big time.  There's some special wines coming out of this cellar.
At the recent Michaelangelo awards they got gold for their 2012 Chardonnay and silver for their 2012 Viognier.  At the Terrior Wine Awards the 2012 Viognier and 2011 Noble Late Harvest bagged them 2 national awards and their Pinot Noir 2011 a regional award.  The 2012 Viognier also achieved a bronze at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.  A great achievement!

The Noble Late Harvest is the one I've got my eye on - a sexy little number that is serious at the same time.           

Friday, 27 September 2013

Umhlanga's Oyster Box Hotel

The Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga, South Africa had a face lift (completed in 2009) that transformed it into a modern luxury property but managed to retain it's original character at the same time.

The Oyster Bar is one of my favourite places in Umhlanga for a peaceful drink and possibly a plate of oysters plucked from the Indian Ocean a few hundred metres away.  Quirky, modern and colonial, the combination of decor and design works extremely well.     

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Joita's - where chicken's go to achieve great things

The wonderful team at Joita's
Why did the chicken cross the road?  Ask this question around the world and there will be a number of different answers.  If it relates to Chartwell Drive in Umhlanga, on South Africa's East Coast, there is only one that fits.   

The chicken crossed Chartwell Drive hoping to reach Joita's, the 'Home of the authentic Portuguese chicken', the legendary eating house where chicken's can be the best they can be.  This small, family-run, out-of-the-way sort of place produces Portuguese meals that are consistent and seriously good.  My coriander mussel starter was heavenly with a hint of coriander and loads of flavour.  The chicken livers were great but it's really their Peri-Peri chicken that deserves the most praise.  In my humble and unbiased opinion it's about as good as Portuguese chicken can get.  Succulent, rich, crisp, with the perfect balance of heat and spice and the flavours you'd want from a worthy chicken. 

If you're in the area a visit to Joita's is an absolute must.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


Situated on the water in the Wilderness National Park area of South Africa's Garden Route, Serendipity Restaurant and Lodge provides 5 Star accommodation and food in a peaceful environment.  The word 'serendipity' is a tricky concept to translate.  Essentially it means a pleasant experience or incident that happens unexpectedly, like receiving a cheque from the taxman in the post.  The restaurant is relatively well known and chef Lizelle Stolze has a vast collection of awards and a wealth of knowledge on all things gastronomic, so stumbling upon this place accidentally would be seriously serendipitous.

To indulge in the 5 course menu is to embark on a culinary adventure through Lizelle's philosophy of creatively and elegantly showcasing South African food culture in a way that retains ingredient flavour and form.  Using both a refined technical ability and a powerful creative flair, she presents wonderful combinations and distinct flavours on the plate.  She seems to have a real knack for this and it shines brightest with her desserts.   

Beautiful oak-smoked Franshhoek trout

Kudu with luscious maize and mushroom risotto

Lizelle has given us 2 recipes that are well worth trying.
Pumpkin and maize risotto (serves 4)
  1. 400g Pumpkin, peeled & diced into 2cm cubes
  2. a dash of Balsamic & Olive Oil
  3. a sprinkling of cinnamon
  4. 1 onion, finely chopped
  5. 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  6. 50g butter
  7. 1 cup dry maize rice
  8. 100ml dry white wine
  9. 750ml vegetable stock (or chicken if not for vegetarians)
  10. salt & pepper
  11. 50g Parmesan, shaved with a peeler (keep some to sprinkle over when serving)
  12. 50ml Cream
  • prepare the vegetables & preheat the oven to 200º C
  • toss the pumpkin with a bit of Balsamic & olive oil
  • season with salt, pepper & Cinnamon
  • roast for 20 – 30 minutes, until cooked but not too soft (It must still hold its shape)
  • in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter then add the onion & garlic and sauté until soft and starting to caramelise
  • add the maize rice & stir to mix the maize with the onions & butter
  • deglaze with the white wine, and when absorbed, add half the stock
  • stir, turn the heat to low & cover the pot
  • stir occasionally & when the stock is absorbed, add more, stir & cover again
  • when cooked (approximately 30 min), remove from the heat & stir in the cheese & cream
  • season to taste with salt & pepper and stir in the roasted pumpkin
  • serve as a Vegetarian main course on roasted large brown mushrooms, or as an accompaniment to roast chicken

Chocolate coffee mousse

  1. 250g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
  2. 150g mascarpone
  3. 80ml strong espresso coffee
  4. 1 tsp ground coffee
  5. 60g icing sugar
  6. 3 free-range eggs, whites only
  7. 4 Tbsp Whipped Cream, to serve
  8. ground coffee, to serve
  • melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, taking care that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water
  • remove from the heat and leave to cool for 2-3 minutes
  • beat the mascarpone with the coffee and icing sugar, until just combined. (If overbeaten, it will split)
  • in a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks
  • carefully, but quickly stir the mascarpone into the chocolate mixture then beat in a quarter of the whisked egg whites
  • fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to knock out all of the air, and spoon the mixture into cappuccino cups
  • place in the fridge for at least an hour to set
  • just before serving, top each cup with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of ground coffee

Monday, 9 September 2013

Perfect pea, garlic mushroom and feta frittata

  1. 4 eggs
  2. 1 onion, finely chopped
  3. 50g peas, thawed
  4. 100g mushrooms
  5. 2 tsp, chopped garlic
  6. knob of butter
  7. glug of oil
  8. 1 tsp origanum
  9. feta
  10. salt and pepper to taste
  • put mushrooms and garlic in a roasting dish, with the knob of butter and season with a bit of salt and pepper
  • gently fry the onion and origanum in a pan until soft, not browned
  • gently whisk 4 eggs in a bowl, then add the cooked onion mix, roasted mushrooms and garlic and peas
  • combine well
  • take a small, high sided frying pan, add oil and heat until smoking
  • add the egg mix and cook gently until it's almost set
  • pop under the grill for a few more minutes until browned and add a little feta on top for the last minute or 2