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 «