Friday, 28 March 2014

Moggs Country Cookhouse

Moggs has been in operation (and incredibly popular) for 20 years and after arriving the other day, for the first time, it didn't take me long to work out why.  It's a friendly, family run restaurant in the picturesque Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (near Hermanus) in South Africa's Western Cape.  There is a beautiful and relaxed country setting and with a wine list that showcases the valley's talent, wonderful local produce and a talented kitchen, any meal here will be memorable (for all the right reasons).

Lamb shank of note!

The team at Moggs have given me a sweet recipe. because I'm so sweet?

Lemon curd and yoghurt pots with brulee topping, Van Der Hum syrup and fresh berries

Ingredients: (serves 4)
  1. 150g lemon curd
  2. 500ml Greek yoghurt
  3. 1 egg yolk (beaten)
  4. zest of half a lemon
  5. 400g fresh berries for topping
  6. a sprinkling of Demerara sugar
Van Der Hum syrup:
  1. half an orange, juice and rind
  2. 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  3. 120ml sugar
  4. half tsp corn flour
  5. 60ml Van Der Hum

Lemon curd brulee:
  • mix all the ingredients together except the berries
  • place in individual ramekins (4) and immerse half way in water in a tray, then cover with foil (to prevent curdling)
  • bake for 25mins at 180 C
  • the mix should have a slight wobble and will thicken a bit when cooled
  • sprinkle with Demerara sugar and blow torch or pop under the grill to get your crisp topping
Van Der Hum syrup:
  • add the juice, rind and sugar to a saucepan (over a medium heat) and stir until melted
  • mix corn flour with a bit of water to a smooth consistency, then add to sauce to thicken
  • cook for 2mins, stirring to avoid lumps
  • take off the heat and stir in the Van Der Hum
Sprinkle fresh berries and Van Der Hum syrup over each brulee.

Pierre and his Giant Periwinkle

The boutique winery of Giant Periwinkle, in Bredasdorp, is making a Fume Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Noir and a Syrah. Sadly their impressive Malbec is a thing of the past. I popped in a few weeks ago (at the cellar at Zoetendal) and was lucky enough to meet Pierre Rabie and to taste the reds out of a few Romanian and French barrels. There was a really interesting barrel variation (even with the same grapes and same french oak barrels) and the Syrah was amazingly accessible with great fruit, zingy white pepper and a hint of saltiness. A great example of the cool climate Syrah's this part of the world is capable of. 

Elim - The Beautiful South

Not far from Africa's southernmost point at Cape Agulhas, is the Elim Wine Ward.  An environment that can truly be said to be suited to 'cool climate' wines with frequent sea 'breezes' chilling the vines.  By planting the right thing, in the right soil, with the correct sun and wind exposure, and most importantly not fiddling too much in the cellar, most of the winemakers of this part of South Africa have brought out the absolute best in their grapes.  The slow ripening of the fruit, due to the cool and relatively harsh conditions (and also soils that make the vines work to survive) allow for greater complexity and body in the wines.  This, in my opinion, is best expressed in their Sauvignon Blancs, with flinty minerality, great fruit and a natural acidity. 

The 2013 Strandveld Sauvignon Blanc, taken entirely from the Pofadderbos vineyard, is a wine that captures the uniqueness of the terroir perfectly.  Besides puffadders, the vineyard also has ferricrete soils and this plays a big part in creating the intense complexity, concentration and balance of powerful minerality and lively tropical fruit.  Their Adamastor is a very well constructed (Bordeaux) blend of Sauvignon and Semillon from South Africa's southernmost vineyards.  It's a fairly intense wine that requires a bit of concentration and is great with food.  

Strandveld's very talented winemaker, Conrad Vlok, is a great example of the young force that is taking South Africa's wine image to new heights.  His obvious passion for the industry is evident in all of his wines and even though his awards and medals could fill his cellar, he is about as down to earth as you get.

He's been incredibly busy in his vineyards of late but has still found time to give me a recipe that he feels works well with the Adamastor. 

Conrad's fresh Cob (normally caught off his kayak) with Sycadelic Sauce

  1. some fresh cob, filleted with the skin left on
  2. a little flour
  3. a handful of fresh coriander
  4. a wedge of butter
  5. half a lemon
Sycadelic Sauce:
  1. 2 Tbsp canola oil
  2. a handful of crushed cashew nuts
  3. 1 chopped red chilli, seeds removed
  4. 2 cloves fresh crushed garlic
  5. 100ml lemon juice
  6. 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  7. 3 Tsbp apricot jam
  • cut the fish into portions, dust with flour and set aside
  • heat the oil in a small pot and fry the cashews, chilli and garlic for a few mins
  • add the lemon juice and simmer for 2 mins
  • add the fish sauce and simmer for another 2 mins, then stir in the apricot jam
  • cook slowly to glaze
  • taste the sauce, it should be a good sweet/sour combination (adjust if needed)
  • fry the fish portions in a pan with a little oil, meat side first until golden
  • turn the heat down and turn the fish skin side down
  • as the skin starts to turn brown add the butter and squeeze in the fresh lemon
  • don't overcook the fish
  • put a good scoop of sauce over the top of each of the fish portions and garnish with some fresh coriander
  • serve from the pan
  • enjoy with some basmati rice, sweet potato and most importantly a chilled bottle of Adamastor