August 1st, 2011 § 6 comments § permalink

Demo day arrived. Duck and Pinot Noir pairing for an audience of 30 at the annual Stellenbosch Wine Festival. Thanks to chef Mark Radnay and his ICA students I didn’t have much cooking to do. I prepared the beetroot relish and the jelly in advance (several times, as documented in The Jelly Olympics), which is a good thing as I had to interact with the audience for 45 minutes. I think the whole thing about women being such great multi-taskers is complete crap. Devised by men in the sixties to encourage us to do both paid and domestic work and not moan too much about the increased workload. I’ve worked in the film industry and publishing and can assure you that women in demanding positions are invariably… tricky. I for one lose my top lip when strung out. It’s a family thing.


But I gain a chin when baffled


I never went to the Stellenbosch Wine Festival as a student* because I only started drinking wine at the ripe old age of 27. I know. Missed out on years of booze cruising through the winelands. So I was ill-prepared for the onslaught of very young wine lovers. Fortunately my audience was mostly mature and sober. Even the young ones. I had the 12 o’clock slot. Here’s me pretending to read a Clover cookbook while they filed in.


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The Jelly Olympics

July 29th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Yes, I shall make a wine jelly… In fact, a pinot noir jelly! Paired with duck. And something earthy and seasonal. Like beetroot. I mean, what would you do for your first ever live food demonstration at a wine festival? Absolutely nothing else came to mind. I love Pinot Noir. And duck. So look no further.

Ever made a wine jelly? Me neither. Even as a kid I didn’t like jelly. Compared to malva pudding it’s a sad excuse for a dessert. In fact, jelly was the reason I refused to eat trifle. But a wine jelly… now that I could consider. All my recipes called for pectin. But somehow pectin has fallen out of favour and is nowhere to be found. ‘Wat gebruik al die boervrouens deesdae?!,’ my inner voice squealed. Leaf gelatine was also not to be found in the village so I opted for the powdered variety. My first attempt (made with Noble Savage, a lovely affordable Cabernet Sauvignon) looked like chopped liver. I didn’t bother straining it as it was just an experiment. I then bought a little sachet of agar agar from the health store and made a sheet of jelly from Stark-Conde Pinot Noir – my wine of choice for the demo at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival. Agar agar is derived from seaweed and with a 50g sachet you could build a tornado-proof two-bedroom dwelling, seal the cracks in a family-sized swimming pool or stop the flow of the Orange river in flood. Plus it has a nasty aftertaste. I was luckier the third time around with a mixture of leaf gelatine (kindly donated by Richard Carstens of Tokara just up the road) and half a teaspoon of agar agar but the jelly was still too sour. The aim was to retain as much of the Pinot flavour as possible but nobody wants to eat sour jelly. Behold, the first three attempts:


Three bottles down and still no strike

From right to left: chopped liver, the Fountainhead of jellies made with agar agar and on the left, getting there with a mixture of leaf gelatine and a pinch of agar agar. But then a road trip to the Swartland lead me to the kind people of Fynbos Foods, where I managed to score 50g of pectin! Serendipity or what? As I sit here, a container with pinot jelly is setting in the fridge… or not. I’ve added more sugar and am quite frankly too tired to care. That’ll be tomorrow’s little drama. My demo at the Clover Kitchen at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival kicks off at 1. The audience will enjoy a glass of pinot with their portion of duck breast, beetroot relish and pinot noir jelly , courtesy of the kind people of Stark-Conde. It’s a food and wine pairing session after all.

On Tuesday night I subjected a few friends to a trial run. After a terrible day, Katie really took to the wine jelly. Especially the first one. I suspect a fuller bodied wine like a Cab makes for better jelly, although I hate admitting it now with so much vested in Pinot jelly. Or maybe she just needed the sugar. » Read the rest of this entry «

El Bulli is Tickets

July 19th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Yip, the great Ferran Adria is serving his last supper at the world’s most famous restaurant, El Bulli, on Saturday 30 July and to celebrate his massive contribution to modern cuisine, our own Richard Carstens will be hosting a tribute dinner at Tokara restaurant on the very same night. I’ll be there! And I won’t say a word about foams and skidmarks and blobs cause it’s going to be SPECTACULAR. Book now.

Am I the only one that thinks El Bulli is Tickets is funny? Ferran is closing El Bulli and he’s already opened a molecularly inclined cocktail and tapas bar in Barcelona called Tickets. Riiight?! Maybe all that safety dancing at the 80’s party I crashed last night has caused a humour regression of sorts… right back to about 1986. Any event, I’ll be visiting Tickets when I hit up Barcelona in September. My friend Guy sent me this pic of their dessert plate.


Ferran slumming it at Tickets


Richard Carstens, fresh from Hong Kong


Richard is buzzing after a two-week cooking stint in Hong Kong. He says the veins of influence between the East and Ferran’s wizardry run deep. So expect to be blown away by his tribute dinner. From where I sit, I can see little tufts of smoke rising from his lair above the Tokara kitchen… inspiration distillation in progress.

I’m reviewing Tokara and my epic ten-course meal on Expresso Show next Wednesday 27 July. Or click here for the blog review.

Also on the 30th of this month, yet on a slightly less accomplished note, I’ll be doing a food demonstration (my first) at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival (massive culinary events colliding, I know – El Bulli closing, my demo, the Tokara tribute – aeish!) to an audience of about 80 unsuspecting folk. I’ve chosen food and wine pairing as a topic and am marrying duck and Pinot Noir shotgun-style. Which is why I spent my weekend boiling wine to make jelly. I hate wasting good juice but I have to get it just right. My first attempt resembled chopped liver.

Check out the Festival website here.