Food Routes Food & Travel Blog

Welcome to the Food Routes blog. Here at Food Routes, we are passionate – or one might say fanatical – about food and how we believe it to be a major component in defining “a sense of place”. Name a particular food and a country immediately comes to mind….foie gras = France; pasta = Italy; paella = Spain. How many times do you find when talking about your best travel experiences, you realise that amasing edible adventures are inextricably interwoven in your tales? More often than not, we would surmise!

Just as that pinch of special seasoning elevates a food from the dull to the divine, we hope to enhance your Food Routes experience with the Table Talk blog. A regular sprinkling of stories on the history of the foods of South Africa, spotlights on culinary luminaries both past and present, exciting food events, festivals, wineries and unique food producers are certain to spice up your journey and hopefully whet your appetite for more Food Routes adventures.

The ABC's of Food

The ABC's of Food

BROODING OVER BREAD

Posted by Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin is a transplant from Austin, Texas to the valley of Klaasvoogds,
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 04 December 2014
in The ABC's of Food

Bread is definitely in the midst of a renaissance period. Artisan bakers are pushing the envelope in regards to their craft… relying on wild yeasts, using long fermentation times and sourcing heirloom wheat varieties and grains to craft their breads  And, as with any period of intense focus and rapid change, enlightened breakthroughs can run concomitant with opposition and even fear of the explored element at hand.

Bread exemplifies this dichotomy taking place today. While culinary luminaries such as master baker Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myrvold now founder-in-chief of Modernist Cuisine dive headlong into the art and science of bread to divine the perfect loaf, bread in general is reeling from an onslaught of health concerns, some very real for a small percentage of the population, but many still fuzzy and unclear due to lack of concrete scientific evidence. Join Food Routes in a look into the oven of opinion along with profiles of two of South Africa’s best bakers!

I remember as a child driving into the nearby industrial city from the newly forming suburbs being carved out from small family farms. Cruising down the highway with car windows opened, the country air soon gave way to the smells of the soot spewed from the myriad of smokestacks silhouetted against the gray sky.

There was a brief moment, a tiny sweet spot along that stenchy stretch where a fresh, delightful aroma punched through the synthetic smells and permeated the air. It was bread being baked in a large commercial bakery. The experience was bread1fleeting, but the yeasty sweet scent perfumed the air only to vanish as the car passed through this olfactory oasis and back into the stinky city atmosphere. I always will remember that smell, the spot and how it made me feel…surprised, joyful and contented. Something seemed alive, good and wholesome floating ephemerally between the grit and the grime. But as it would turn out, a good part of all that was an an illusion, fermented in my imagination by the modern day food industry.

As a child of the fifties and sixties, commercially-made white bread was the preferred choice. A fortified bread known as Wonder Bread was the best seller in the United States. Almost every American, from adult to child, knew the slogan of the most popular brand; Wonder Bread – Helps build strong bodies 12 ways. The 12 ways referred to the number of added nutrients to the bread. It was the sandwich bread and was a resident of almost every lunchbox in America. No one ever thought to ask, “If bread was supposed to be such a nutritious food in its own right, why did it need to be enriched?” However, a new understanding of bread would soon begin to rise just over the horizon.

The late 60’s and 70’s ushered in the “health food” movement and Wonder Bread no longer held the baby boomer generation’s affection or trust. Whole grain breads were the choice of the gurus of wholesome daily grub. Nutritious as these breads may have been, most were as heavy and tasteless. The late comedian Robin Williams quipped about his first encounter with the new counter-culture staple, "The first time I ate organic whole-grain bread I swear it tasted like roofing material."  Many shared the sentiment, but remained silent, hiding behind a maxim from childhood that what was good for you often did not equate with pleasure. And this coming from a generation enthralled with the search for gratification in all things!

bread2But these baby boomers, in launching the largest invasion of Europe since WWII, came to experience the handcrafted breads of the old world and learned that healthy bread could be divinely delicious. Backpacking through Europe tasting brioche and pain d’ordinaire (the daily bread baguette) from France, ciabatta and focaccia from Italy, pretzels to pumpernickel in Germany; a new generation was hooked on the variety and tastes to be found in bread. Just as yeast is the catalyst that initiates the creation of bread from the simple ingredients of flour, water and salt, so did these hipsters on their backpacking “grand tours” of Europe inoculate their generation and those to follow with a quest to create unique and better tasting food. Bread was no longer the mundane member of the meal, but was transformed into a mythic morsel. The mission was on to create the perfect loaf, a culinary quest bread3analogous to the search for the Holy Grail.

Not all of the breads of Europe were wonderful. Many also lacked character and quality, but there still existed a repository of knowledge, skills and masters of the art of bread-making. The new acolytes, like sorcerer’s apprentices gleaned this knowledge, carried it home; and especially in the United States a bread renaissance began which sparked the interest in artisan breads worldwide.

Bread is a conundrum. Out of four simple and basic ingredients, flour, water, yeast and salt, complex reactions take place during the mixing, fermentation and the baking of the bread. Each step in the process must be carefully attended to and executed in a balanced manner in order for bread to transcend its humble ingredients.  When all goes well, the perfect specimen emerges from the oven…a beautiful brown caramelized crust providing a delicious contrast between the loaf’s crispy and crackly exterior and its tender interior comprised of an open texture stippled with large holes. Bread making is a classical fusion between art and science. In fact, so much so that Nathan Myrhvold, the former chief of technology for Microsoft and the author of the five volume award-winning Modernist Cuisine has assembled a crackerjack team to produce the definitive book on bread as his next project! But until this magnum opus on all things crust and crumb hits the shelves, let’s take a look at a bit of the history about bread and where we are today.

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Bread is viewed by many anthropologists, archeologists and historians as a cornerstone in the birth of agriculture and civilization. The use of wild grasses and

A Historical TImeline

breadiconAbout 23,000 years ago man was collecting a wild version of einkorn wheat called Triticum monococcum boeticum in what is today southeastern Turkey.

breadicon  Wheat is the product of a cross between three different grass species which is reputed to have happened about 10,000 B.C.

breadicon  The ability to sow and reap cereals may be one of the chief causes which led man to dwell in communities, rather than to live a wandering life hunting and herding cattle.

breadicon  Around 5,000 B.C., the Egyptians were the first to produce risen loaves using yeast, probably by accident when beer was used to mix dough instead of water.

breadicon  By 200 B.C., the Romans were using animal power to grind wheat.  Around 168 B.C. Bakers were elevated to the status of free men and were not considered slaves as were other craftsman.

breadicon  1400-1600 A.D. Crop rotation was implemented thus improving the soil and crop yields. Bread making established itself as a business and a trade.

breadicon  1700-1800 The Industrial Revolution spurred migration from villages to cities and tools such as Jethro Tull’s mechanical seed drill allowed the planting of wheat on a much larger scale.

breadicon  1850-1900 To meet the demands of the growing population, long-lasting flour was needed. Those elements that spoiled the flour, the outer bran and germ layer, were taken out. Unfortunately, these contained most of the wheat’s nutrients.

breadicon  From 1900 onwards – Two varieties of wheat came to dominate the market.  Modern industrialization of the baked goods industry came to produce breads loaded with a multitude of processed and chemical ingredients. Near the end of the 20th century concerns over a lack of nutrition, flavor and health began to spur an artisanal bread movement utilizing whole grains & basic ingredients. Today bakers, scientists, chefs, farmers, millers and consumers are working together to re-introduce heirloom grain varieties along with the nutrients, flavors and variety they provide back into the culinary world.

wheat as a food source led to the discovery of natural crosses that provided varieties that held onto their seeds. This allowed most of the harvest to be gathered rather than have it lost to the vagaries of timing and weather. The seeds of these sturdier varieties were selected and planted thus ushering in an agrarian component to the existing hunter-gatherer system. The planting and mastering of grain accomplished more than just rooting people to a place. It was a pre-eminent catalyst to population growth, the creation of cities, increased life span especially in regards to infants and the elderly and technological innovations that allowed man to more readily plant, harvest and process this critical food.

Evidence indicates that the earliest method of using both the wild and domesticated wheat was in the form of a gruel-like porridge. Eventually, these porridges were thickened and cooked on hot, flat rocks and were the forbearers to the flatbreads we observe today in cultures across the globe. From Egypt comes the first evidence of risen loaves due to the use of yeast. Some authorities surmise this was an accidental discovery when beer may have been used to mix dough instead of water. But why did Egypt become the first to embrace this process?

There’s a very unique theory in that other cultures were extremely wary and afraid of new discoveries that surprised and mystified them. Imagine viewing the process of dough fermenting and rising for the first time. Something inert and lifeless one moment now was filled with the spirit of life and growing! No wonder bread became the symbol of life and resurrection throughout the ages. Egyptian culture and their beliefs embraced and honored the “magic” they experienced in the world around them. The process was not looked upon in fear but in wonder and reverence. Bread was an essential item placed in tombs for the dead to consume in the afterlife.

Rome certainly wasn’t built in a day, but the empire and its political power was maintained by Rome’s ability to feed the masses with bread being the main food staple. The Roman poet and satirist Juvenal made note of this in his play, Satire X.

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The first bread guilds were established by the Romans and unlike other craftsmen, bakers were accorded the status of freemen not slaves. The Romans were the first to use animals to mill the grain and invented two types of ovens in which to bake bread.

Over the centuries, advances in agriculture and technology were spurred on by the demand for bread to feed an increasingly populated world. Mills were invented that harnessed the power of wind and water to process the grain into flour. Agricultural practices such as crop rotation were introduced. Planting and harvesting tools were created, thus allowing the growing of wheat on a much larger scale with increased yields.  Bread was on a roll, but issues loomed on the horizon.

White bread became the bread of choice, the bread of the affluent. With such an increase in demand, bread flour had to be produced that was longer lasting. This resulted in the removal of the outer bran and germ layer which have a short shelf life and tended to spoil quickly. However, these were also the most nutritious components of the wheat kernel. Furthermore, bleaching processes were used to create the desired white color and additives were introduced that also assisted in the preservation and maintenance of its soft texture. The wheat’s naturally occurring essential vitamins and minerals removed by the milling process now had to be added back artificially to the flour prior to baking.  A loaf of bread that once had been made using only four ingredients – flour, yeast, salt and water – might now list 30 various ingredients on its back label, most of which were unrecognizable to the average consumer. Another disturbing aspect was that the world’s flour production was dependent upon two varieties of wheat; duram wheat [Triticum turgid] which is used mainly in the production of pastas and bread wheat [Triticum aestivu] which is the most grown type in the world today.

Two of the most important aspects of bread were being lost…nutrition and flavor. As well, a disturbing trend of more people experiencing wheat related illnesses such as celiac disease and gluten intolerance were being reported. While celiac disease is a verifiable and serious condition for a small percentage of the population, the jury is still out on whether gluten (the protein formed during the making of wheat dough) is the culprit in these illnesses or are other factors the cause such as additives and FODMAPS (an acronym for  fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) which consist of foods high in fructose  An excellent piece on the debate recently appeared online in the November 3rd issue of The New Yorker magazine. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/03/grain

What’s of import in all of this is that we inform ourselves as consumers and do not get caught up in the hype and marketing that surrounds this “hot button” topic. There is a movement afoot of producing nutritious, additive-free wholesome artisan breads made from carefully grown and milled grains. Artisan bakers, chefs, scientists, plant breeders, millers and farmers are banding together to bring back heirloom grains that are bursting with nutrients and full delicious flavors. To condemn a grain like wheat in such broad strokes before the evidence is in is foolhardy and short-sighted. These ardent advocates for better bread deserve our support.

For those interested in delving deeper into the subject, a unique documentary produced in the United States called The Grain Divide is set to be released by the end of 2014. Addressing many of the issues and concerns over the lack of diversity and quality in today’s grains, this documentary explores the history, the facts/fiction and future of grain and how even the Farm to Table movement has forgotten one of the basic foundations of our food – grains. For a sneak preview visit http://vimeo.com/104358546

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Here in the Western Cape we have a growing contingency of superb artisan bakers. Two of Food Routes favorites are Marcus Farbinger of isle de pain in Knysna, a pioneer in South Africa’s artisan bread movement and fairly recent newcomer, Karen Pretorius of Babylonstoren.

MARKUS FARBINGER of

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I’ll always remember how I came to visit ile de pain for the first time in 2003. I was visiting the small holding my husband and I had purchased the year before in the Klaasvoogds area just outside of Robertson. I happened to mention to my former neighbor Mario Motti, (the sorely missed original chef and co-creator/owner of Fraai Uitzicht) that I was going to visit Knysna for a few days. Immediately he said that he was going to place an order for bread from ile de pain and would I be so kind as to pick it up on the morning of my return. Of course I said yes and my love affair with the breads of Markus Farbinger began.

Upon walking into the shop early that morning I was hit with the feelings I had experienced during those childhood car rides into the city mentioned earlier in this blog posting. However, there was so much more in the air! The bakery was over-the-top with the aromas of what bread should evoke. Caramelized, smokiness with a crackling crunch from the crisp crust along with a fresh yeasty perfume wafted from the slices being cut from loaves not long out of the wood-burning oven. This was bread with a capital B! Outside of some artisan breads experienced in San Francisco, nothing had caught my attention as much as these.

But this is not surprising, considering Farbinger’s bread and pastry pedigree. Growing up in a small town in Austria, he began working at the age of ten in his father’s bakery. At 14 he entered into an apprenticeship as a baker and pastry chef. Further work and studies – in Copenhagen for pastry and Switzerland for chocolate – prepared him for landing a position at the age of 21 in the pastry kitchen of the world renowned Le Cirque restaurant in New York City.

Farbinger left that position when he was accepted into one of the world’s most prestigious pastry schools – the Bundesfachschule fur das Konditoren Handwerk [the School for Bakery Handwork] located in Germany. After his studies there, he returned at the ripe old age of 23 to Le Cirque as the pastry chef. He went on to become a Master Teacher at the Culinary Institute of America in New York state and baked for the late Julia Child on her eponymous and fabled cooking show all by the time he was in his early thirties!

Near Christmas in 1987, an article in the New York Times profiling him when he was at Le Cirque asked what would be on his future Christmas wish list. Farbinger replied it would his own pastry shop and café where “people can take the time to enjoy life”. He also mentioned at that time he had not decided whether he would realize his dream and continue the family tradition in Austria or America. Thankfully for us here in South, while working in the U.S.  he met his partner, South African Liezie Mulder who is the creative force behind ile de pain’s delectable food offerings. Deciding upon South Africa as the place to fulfill this Christmas wish, they built the first wood-fired bread oven in South Africa and have blazed their way to fame and a faithful following since 2002.

To his credit, Farbinger is not interested in fame based on flash and fad. Foodie fandom is not his cup of tea. His mission is taking ingredients of the highest quality, crafting them with knowledge honed over years of experience into edible epiphanies of pure enjoyment for his customers. He and Liezie must be doing something right. For after 12 years, the fans are still flocking to their isle of bread!!!
For more information on ile de pain visit the website at www.iledepain.co.za

KAREN PRETORIUS of Babylonstoren

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A self-taught baker and chef, it is evident by the pictures of her edible creations that Karen Pretorius has the soul and passion of an artist. The beauty of her breads first presented themselves to me and Food Routes co- creator/owner Stefane Kruger at this year’s Eat Out Produce Awards. Winning the baked goods category with her imaginative, stunningly visual and delicious cabernet mosbolletjies, Pretorius has put herself on the map as a baker to watch.

Working at the famed Babylonstoren farm estate, Pretorius oversees the baking and deli offerings for the Tasting Room. The staff at Babylonstoren is blessed with the support and considerable financial backing of owners Karen Roos and Koos Becker to be able to push the proverbial envelope when it comes to creative culinary endeavors. Recently she travelled to Italy to study cheesmaking and it skills to add to her culinary repertoire.

The farm is dedicated to sustainability and organic practices at all stages of food production and preparation. Here, Pretorius has access to organic wheat, rye and barley grown, harvested and ground on the farm. She bakes her bread in a wood-fired oven that is fueled by wood from invasive alien species. Thoughtfulness and a responsibility to the environment is baked into each and every loaf.

Pretorius’ breads are truly works of art; savory and succulent sculptures. They are so visually stunning that one hesitates to break into them. But once you do you can’t help but devour their deliciousness and experience her artistic flair with flavors she paints upon your palate. To fully appreciate these amazing breads, a trip to Babylonstoren should be at the top of your bucket list. Website: www.babylonstoren.com

THE EDIBLE ART OF KAREN PRETORIUS

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START THE SPARKS AND SET THE SIZZLE TO THE SPRING AND SUMMER BRAAI SEASON! RECIPES, TIPS AND TOP FOOD, WINE & BEER PURVEYORS SHOWCASED AT FOOD ROUTES 1ST POP-UP EVENT.

Posted by Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin is a transplant from Austin, Texas to the valley of Klaasvoogds,
User is currently offline
on Friday, 10 October 2014
in The ABC's of Food


Here’s just a smattering from the smorgasbord of ideas and offerings presented at Food Routes’ Terroir to Table event. We urge all our Food Routes followers to support the local food, wine and beer purveyors showcased.  As Reuben Riffel and Louise Gillett will agree – a chef’s perfection on the plate is only achieved with perfection in the products used.


THE SETTING

Bartholomeus Klip Sept. 13, 2014

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The main lawn @ Bartholomeus Klip  and florals from the fynbos on the farm

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THE TEAM

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Reuben Riffel – Louise and Lesley Gillette and their stellar staff @ Bartholomeus Klip

No service business, especially one in the hospitality and food sector can rely solely upon location, owners and management. The quality of staff is the foundation upon which one’s success is built, achieved and maintained. And, as we at Food Routes can attest without reservations, Bartholomeus Klip sets a high bar for the rest of the industry in the attention to detail they provide for their guests. At Bartholomeus Klip one is always welcomed with a warm smile and the staff instinctively as if by magic anticipates your every need, even before you think of what it may be!

So if you need to turn off the city hustle, bustle and noise and tune-in to your loved ones and  re-charge your emotional batteries, be sure to place Bartholomeus Klip at the top of your bucket list. Surround yourself with nature, fabulous food and fun activities.. all designed to refresh and re-invigorate your soul!

Click here to learn more about Bartholomeus Klip…


THE CHEFS

REUBEN RIFFEL LOUISE GILLETT AND SCHALK VAN SCHALKWYK

The Terroir to Table event at Bartholomeus Klip marched into action under the leadership of a triumvirate of tong masters – Chefs Rueben Riffel and Louise Gillett along with Bartholomeus Klip’s maintenance manager “Super Spitbraaier” Schalk van Schalkwyk.

Chef Reuben flexed his braai-ceps preparing his flame kissed Buffalo Bombs. Balls of Buffalo Ridge’s Mozzarella blanketed by strips of prosciutto and vine tomatoes were grilled and served up as a sizzling and savory dish. Together with Chef Vicky Stott - the newly appointed chef at Reuben’s signature restaurant at Abalone House in Paternoster (another Food Routes destination) – a slew of slaais and sauces where whipped up to accompany Schalk’s spectacular “farm harvested” spitbraai lamb.

Chef Louise and her staff orchestrated a medley of grilled prawns, homemade springbok sausage, beercan chicken and roasted “wit Boer pampoen”. All was brought to a culinary crescendo with a grand finale of beer pannacotta cooked at the braai…a smoky caramelized sensation!!!

Much of the inspiration for this day of decadent dining by dint of fire came from two cookbooks – Reuben Riffel’s - Braai – Reuben on Fire and Lesley and Louise Gillette’s Life on a Cape Farm. These are must-haves for anyone interested in Cape cookery and how it is coming into play in today’s culinary world. At the end of this blog posting you will find some of the recipes for the delectable delights enjoyed at Terroir to Table.

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THE PURVEYORS & THE PRODUCTS

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Wayne Rademeyer of Buffalo Ridge

Leaving the busy legal life as an advocate in Jo’burg, Wayne Rademeyer opted for a road less travelled. As the first and only South African producer of authentic & artisanal mozzarella made from Italian water buffalo that he imported from Australia, Wayne’s creation brings to any feast the rich, creamy freshness this classic cheese delivers with each and every bite.

Mozzarella di Bufala is not an easy cheese to make well.  Sam Anderson, in a 2012 piece for the New York Times Magazine Food and Drink Issue, characterized trying to replicate the Italian version as the Great White Whale of cheese-making. To “harpoon” the taste and the texture takes study, practice, patience and passion. Outside of Italy many an attempt at capturing the essence of this mozzarella’s soft creaminess without a rubbery mouth-feel has proven to be an often missed target. Fortunately for us, and pardon the pun, Wayne has hit the bull’s eye dead center.

 What better summer dish than pulled strips of cheese from the large pearly white ball of mozzarella strewn on a platter together with torn pieces of basil alongside fresh sliced heirloom tomatoes straight from your garden. Buffalo Ridge also produces feta and a hard pecorino styled cheese from its herd of buffalo. Once you try Buffalo Ridge you’ll never go back to anything less than the real deal! For more info visit www.buffalomozzarella.co.za or www.buffaloridge.withtank.com

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For more info on where to find Magic Herb products contact
Steve Botha
magicherbs@cybersmart.co.za
022 931 3209

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Hendri Truter of Deli-co

Many a place touts itself as a family business, but often the family is in the name not involved with the daily business. Not so, with Deli-co! As the warm and personable marketing manager, youngest son, Hendri Truter tells the tale, the family business began on the “kombuis tafel” where everyone pitched in to make wors to sell and that collective collaboration continues to this day.

From this humble and “all hands on deck” beginning, a now thriving business exists on the Truter farm, De La Fontaine located near Riebeeck-Kasteel. Hendri, along with his mother Susan, two older brothers Pieter and Frederick and their wives Enid and Suzaan work side by side with a crew of longtime employees creating the a solid foundation that keep this farm style butchery humming and on top of their game!

Lamb and sheep are harvested from the farm, beef is aged to perfection and as their official slogan states Deli-co is Quality Meat Guaranteed. The go-to meat purveyor for many of the top restaurants in the Western Cape, Deli-co definitely delivers the goods. From quality meat at value prices and offering free central point delivery weekly at many locations in the region, Deli-co offers excellent down home service always served with a smile!

For more information visit their website www.delico.co.za

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Neil Büchner – Brand & Marketing Manager with the Bosman Family Vineyards Team

The Bosman family history began in 1707 with the arrival of Hermanus Bosman to South Africa. A “sieketrooster” (a caregiver with responsibility), he provided medical, religious and legal aid to the Drakenstein community. He established a tradition of community involvement based upon the motto of the family crest…faith, hope and love, which is still carried on today by his descendants.

In 1798 the estate known as Lelienfontein came under the care of the Bosman family ancestors. Producing wine up until 1957, the family turned its focus towards establishing its vine growing business and became a leader in producing vine nursery stock to South African wine grape growers. In 2006 at De Bos, the Walker Bay vineyards which are co-owned by the Bosmans and the Adama Apollo Workers Trust, plantings of close to 50 different grape varieties were undertaken.  And in 2007, the Bosman family returned to wine-making in the renovated 250 year old cellar at Lelienfontein Estate.

With their long-term expertise in viticulture, an access to a wide array of grape varietals and possessing quality winemaking skills, Bosman Family Vineyards delivers across the board. They offer a wide range of wines, flavor profiles and price points to fit any occasion from a wedding to backyard braai. Their range consists of unique and hard to find varietal wines such as Dolce Primitivo, Nero d’Avola , Fides Grenache Blanc. The single vineyard Optenhorst Chenin Blanc crafted from old bush vine grapes planted in 1952 is a prime example of a wine to add to your arsenal of flavors, body and balance. When it comes to pairing food and wine with the personal palate preferences of your guests, Bosman Family Vineyards wines gives you the range to create the perfect match!

For more information about Bosman Family Vineyards go to www.bosmanwines.com

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DARLING BREW

As we like to say at Food Routes, a craft brew in the hand is the beginning to a great braai! In this regards, you can’t go wrong with the lineup of fine beers from Darling Brew. Located in Darling, brewery owners Kevin and Philippa Wood are committed members of the burgeoning craft beer community in South Africa.

In 2007, three days into a sojourn throughout Southern Africa, an idea to make beer began to bubble. Knowing nothing about brewing beer, they tasted the beers of the countries they visited. One thing they noticed was the variety in bottle sizes from 340mls in Botswana to the whopping wine-sized (750mls) they found in Rwanda.  After much trial and tribulation, the dream of a great beer, served in a big bottle and brewed in Darling finally became a reality for all of us to enjoy.

reuben-braai-day10Darling Brew’s first beer was aptly named Slow Beer. Aside from being a great summer sipper, the story behind its name holds special meaning for us at Food Routes and Bartholomeus Klip. We like to think of it as our mascot beer! Here’s the tale from their website. www.darlingbrew.co.za

Darling Brew offers a lineup certain to please every beer lover’s taste preferences. So grab a cold Darling Brew in one hand, your tongs in the other and kick-off any braai bash with these thirst quenching quaffers that can’t be beat!!!

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KLOOVENBURG & Brand Marketing Manager Willie Liebenberg

Kloovenburg packs a one-two punch when it comes to providing perfect accompaniments to your offerings off the braai. From their stable of stellar wines to a cavalcade of condiments and oils produced from their estate grown olive orchards, Kloovenburg offers enjoyment with every sip and each bite.

Start your braai off with a glass of White from Red Shiraz  Sparkling.  Not an MCC, this salmon pink bubbly provides a refreshing effervescence overflowing with a delightful balance between fruit and acidity. Follow this with selections from the trio of still red wines produced from the estate’s shiraz grapes. Pair the lovely Shiraz Rosé with a Caprese Salad as a starter course. What better fit for lamb off the spit than the Shiraz.  And for that rich steak fillet flamed to perfection?  The go-to wine is the Eight Feet, a Shiraz/Cabernet blend packed with flavors of dark tart berries and spices.

Next, be sure to stock your pantry full of flavor with Kloovenburg’s olive offerings. The extra virgin olive oil is hand-picked, pressed and bottled on the estate. Fresh from the tree to bottle to thee should be their motto. Add to your taste toolbox their delicious dipping oil, dripping with the flavor essences of chili, garlic, oreganum, basil, black pepper and lemon oil. And last but certainly not least, stock up on the olive tapenades and jams along with jars of green, black and sundried olives. You’ll have a flavor paint box for the palate!  For more information visit www.kloovenburg.com

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Hendrik Van Taak of Van Taak WoodCraft

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As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words! Food Routes simply could not resist the artistry of Hennie Van Taak. In our hearts he’s the Picasso of culinary tools and décor! Above witness a sampling of the magic his mastery of woodcraft coaxes from a variety of native woods such as wild olive. His salt and pepper mills have a 25 year warranty and will be heirlooms to pass onto your resident junior master chef. Candlelight, flowers and fruits take on a whole new perspective when set in his artful pieces. And use his stunning pens to write down oma’s recipe for posterity! Christmas time is right around the corner. Here are the perfect gifts for that foodie friend!  For a closer look at these masterpieces go to www.hvantaak.wix.com/woodpenscom.

Tong Master Competition

Mystery Box Starter & Sundowner Scramble

What’s a braai without a game to play? So, in lieu of jukskei we created the following challenge. Upon arrival each guest was given one of four colored stickers. Then each group selected four members to represent them.

Next, the four teams were each presented with a mystery box filled with a variety of ingredients from which they had to prepare a starter on the grill to present to Chefs Reuben Riffel, Louise Gillett and Vicky Stott for evaluation. Dishes were judged on the following criteria – flavor, originality/creativity and presentation.

As well, each team had to craft a signature cocktail from a limited offering of spirits, mixers and garnishes. All had to be conceptualized, cooked, plated and presented within a 30 minute time limit. Try this at your next big braai gathering. It’s guaranteed to be a fun-filled and laughter–fueled food fight to the finish!!!

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Clockwise from upper left – Reuben looks on as the Red Team rallys – All eyes on are on the judges – The winning starter and signature cocktail –  The Blue Team wins…and believe it or not all guests were given random colors so what were the chances that all team members would be wearing blue! Everyone enjoyed a good laugh over this.

A TERROIR TO TABLE BRAAI MENU

Braai Kickoff Cocktail
Outlawed Lemonade

Starters
Buffalo Bombs

Side
Tater-ma-chance
 
Mains
Beercan Chicken
Honey & Paprika Spiced Venison Sausage

Dessert
Beer Pannacotta

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Recipes

Outlawed Lemonade

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Take a 330ml jam jar and add the ingredients in the following order

60ml of lemon/ginger/cardamom syrup see recipe

45ml of Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon

Top jar up with ice

Add 120 ml. of water

Spank a sprig of mint & add to the mix – Slapping mint between your palms releases essential oil and its flavor and aroma without bruising and discoloring the leaves

Place lid on jar, shake and serve with or without a straw. Garnish with a slice of strawberry on the rim of the glass if you like. Leave out the bourbon for a non-alcoholic version.

NOTE: For large gatherings pre-prepped your cocktails. Place single serving shots of lemon/ginger/cardamom syrup and bourbon in each jar. As guests arrive just add ice, water and mint. This recipe is a great way to serve hand-crafted quality cocktails quickly. You can adapt this technique to many other cocktail recipes. Experiment and have fun!

Lemon/Ginger/Cardamon Syrup

Place 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of  water in a heavy saucepan. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Cut a 3cm long piece of fresh ginger into slicesand add to syrup along with a dozen or so cracked cardamon pods with seeds. Simmer until syrup thickens a bit. Remove from heat allow to cool and add the juice from 5-6 medium to large lemons. If you wish to have the syrup last longer add 1 ½ tablespoons of vodka. Pour into a glass jar with lid and store in refrigerator. Syrup should stay fresh for several weeks.

Buffalo Bombs
[Buffalo mozarella wrapped in prosciutto with vine tomatoes
and broccolini]
adapted from Braai – Reuben Fired Up

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Ingredients

1 ball of Buffalo Ridge Mozarella di Bufala (120g)
4 slices of prosciutto
1 tsp basil pesto
1 punnet broccolini
1 punnet vine tomatoes
1 tsp chili jam
2 tsp balsamic syrup

Method

1/  Layer the prosciutto flat so that the pieces overlap slightly. Spread with basil pesto.

2/  Wrap the mozarella ball with the prosciutto and cook slowly on a grid over medium heat.  On the same grid, grill the broccolini and vine tomatoes until soft.

3/  When the prosciutto is crispy, remove from the heat. Serve with the broccolin and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic syrup. Serve with chili jam on top of the mozarella ball.

Serves 1 – 2

Ideal Scenario Salad
[Chopped salad with Ideal milk vinaigrette]
adapted from Braai – Reuben Fired Up

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Serves 6-8 

½ celery, finely sliced diagonally
1 bunch asparagus, finely sliced diagonally
1 punnet sugar snap peas, finely sliced diagonally
¼ cucumber, deseeded and finely sliced diagonally
6 heirloom baby carrots, finely sliced diagonally
1 red onion, finely sliced
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup fresh basil
2 pinches sea salt
2 pinches cracked black pepper
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

For the Ideal milk vinaigrette
1 tbsp English mustard
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ cup Ideal milk
Pinch of salt
½ cup olive oil

1/  To make the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients except the oil, very well, then gradually whisk in the olive oil to create an emulsion. Set aside.

2/  When slicing the vegetables and picking the herbs, place them in a bowl of ice water to refresh them. Strain, then take a handful of the mix and place in the middle of a clean dish towel. Grab the edges of the towel together and shake out the excess water. Repeat with the remaining mixture. You could also use a salad spinner.

3/  In a large bowl, dress the salad with the Ideal vinaigrette. Layer on a serving dish; try to give it some height. Top with sea salt and pepper and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

BeerCan Chicken
from Chef Louise Gillett of Bartholomeus Klip

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Rub

1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 whole chicken, 4-6kg
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 can (475ml) beer, top cut off

Method
reuben-braai-day20In a small bowl combine the rub ingredients. . Remove and discard the neck, giblets, and any excess fat from the chicken. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly brush or spray all over with the vegetable oil and season, inside and out, with the rub. Open the beer can and pour off half of the beer. Set the half-full can on a flat surface and slide the chicken over the top so the can fits inside the cavity. Transfer the bird to the grill, keeping the can upright. Carefully balance the bird on its two legs and the can. Grill over indirect medium heat (180°C to 230°C) until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 75°C in the breast and 80°C in the thickest part of the thigh, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. Keep the lid closed as often as possible during grilling. Carefully remove the chicken and the can from the grill, being careful not to spill the beer—it will be hot. Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before lifting it from the can. Discard the beer. Cut the chicken into serving pieces. Serve warm.

Honey & Paprika Spiced Venison Sausage
from Chef Louise Gillett of Bartholomeus Klip

Sausage filling
50 g butter
30 g fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
50 g onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 kg springbok meat, cleaned and trimmed
500 g pork fat
500 g lamb tail fat
1 Tbsp paprika
5 tsp salt
245 g ground black pepper
2 Tbsp honey
1 cup chilled chicken stock
To assemble
5 metre lamb casing
cold water

Method
To prepare the sausage filling: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Fry the garlic and onions for 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent; then set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, mix the thyme and rosemary.
In a large container, mix the venison, pork fat and lamb fat. Grind the mixture through the medium plate of a meat grinder, about 6 mm, making sure that all your ingredients are spread through the mixture. Transfer the meat to another container and sprinkle over the paprika, seasoning and honey, as well as the herbs, garlic and onions. Using your hands, mix to make sure everything is evenly combined throughout. Pour over the chilled chicken stock over and mix again until the mixture is sticky but still wet.
To assemble: Making sure there are no air pockets, place the meat mixture into a sausage machine. Place the casing in cold water, rinse and ensure that there is water inside. The water in the casing keeps it moist, prevents it from breaking and makes it easier to thread into the machine. Stuff the meat mixture into the prepared casing. Pinch and twist into 13 cm links or whatever size you prefer. The raw sausage can be frozen and will keep for up to 1 month in the freezer.
For snacks, we cook the sausage in a pan with a bit of water for 5 minutes on each side until caramelised. Before serving, we cut it into smaller bite-sized pieces. Makes 3.1 kg of sausage

 

Beer Pannacotta
from Chef Louise Gillette of Bartolomeus Klip

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Pannacotta
500ml double cream
375ml double thick plain yoghurt
½ vanilla pod-split
4 gelatine leafs
100ml castor sugar
340ml local beer
1 cup sugar

Method
Melt the cup of sugar to form a caramel. Add the 340ml beer and reduce until a syrup. In a same sauce pan, over a low heat, bring the cream, sugar and vanilla to the boil. Remove from heat and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes and in a separate bowl place the gelatine pouring over cold water and allow to sponge. Once the gelatine is soft, add to the cream mixture and whisk until dissolved. Add the yoghurt and stir until combined. Strain the mixture. Pour into a decorative serving bowl and place in the fridge to chill for approximately 2 hours.

To assemble: Remove the Pannacotta from the fridge and wipe the edges to give a clean finish. Serve immediately. To garnish decorate with ginger crumble, rock salt and poached apples.

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THE FIRST BRAAI MASTERS & HOW BRAAI BUILT BRAINS INSTEAD OF BRAWN

Posted by Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin is a transplant from Austin, Texas to the valley of Klaasvoogds,
User is currently offline
on Monday, 08 September 2014
in The ABC's of Food

braai-masters

Across the globe many of the most traditional and revered cuisines are built upon two basic elements – protein and fire. From barbecue in the United States, to asado in Argentina , tandoori in India , satay in Southeast Asia  to braai in South Africa to name a few,  a variety of culinary cultures have been forged around fire.

Anthropologists are now coming to the conclusion that modern man’s earliest ancestors and their learning to control and use fire is possibly one of the most pivotal moments in our evolutionary development.

The ability to harness the power of small pyres fueled by twigs, grasses and leaves allowed our ancestors to ward off the cold and keep predators at bay. Man became not only a hunter and gatherer, but also a cook!  Harvard biological anthropologist Richard Wragham suggests that this skill with the primordial grill stretches back as far as 1.9 million years ago with the extinct hominid species Homo erectus as its first trailblazer. Evidence of the use of controlled fires has been discovered at both Wonderwerk Cave and at Swartkrans.

Studies of fossil remains indicate that this human ancestor was undergoing significant brain growth. Wragham hypothesizes that cooking was a prime factor in the occurrence of this major evolutionary event. Cooking meat allowed the food to become more easily digestible and thus contributed to the development of smaller guts over time. This in turn, allowed more nourishment to become available for the evolution of larger calorie-hungry brains; instead of these calories being co-opted by a large digestive system that was needed to break down a diet of raw meat. There’s a good chance that we owe our brains to braai – the more we grilled the smarter we got!

Through discoveries at these important prehistoric anthropological sites, South Africans might be able to lay claim to producing the world’s first cooks and original pre-historic braai masters. And there’s more to this story than just brain growth and smaller digestive tracts. Some paleoanthropologists proffer the theory that the ability to control fire and cook their prey demonstrate that our early ancestors were not only smarter than first thought, but that these skills may also have contributed greatly to the development of important human traits. A study published in the February 2013 issue of the Cambridge Archeological Journal put forth some thoughts on the subject. In regards to intelligence, the author of the study, anthropologist Terrance Twomey states that in order to master the use of fire our early ancestor Home erectus had to develop many skills such as long-term planning, cooperation and inhibition. "Early humans would have had to have been fairly clever to keep a fire going by cooperating, not stealing food or not stealing fire from other people,” according to Twomey.

Having a fire at hand most likely arose from an opportunistic moment such as an encounter with a fire created by a lightning strike. Since the ability to create a fire from scratch was most likely not yet developed, skills such advanced planning in regards to gathering and storing firewood to protecting the precious flames from the elements would have come into being. “What's more, human ancestors would need fairly advanced social skills to make sure others didn't steal cooked food or a fire while its original tender was out gathering firewood. It's not simply a matter of keeping a fire going by tossing some sticks on it," Twomey stated in an interview.

In a nutshell, fire and cooking may just be the spark and spice to some of our higher modern day traits. Intelligence – Cooperation – Socialization. Now, if only the women of South Africa could only get their braai crazed boys to remember to have enough braai wood on hand, be sure to bring the fire starter, help to make the sides and not always have rugby become the sole subject around the fire. Then we could truly say that modern man has arrived!

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GET A GRIP ON GRAPPA-STYLED SPIRITS AND HIT THE MARC WITH TANAGRA

Posted by Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin is a transplant from Austin, Texas to the valley of Klaasvoogds,
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 06 August 2014
in The ABC's of Food

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A Bit of Background -
First of all, you may ask what is grappa? Grappa is an Italian brandy distilled from grape pomace/marc (the solid remains – crushed skins, pips and stalks – leftover after the pressing for juice). In accordance with E.U. regulations, only in Italy may this spirit be legally labeled as grappa. However, the style has been produced in all the world’s wine regions for eons. In France it is known as marc, in Germany tresterschnapps, in Peru pisco and in South Africa husk spirit must appear on the label, but many artisanal producers as Tanagra also use marc as a designation.

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Turning One Man’s Trash into Another’s Treasure
For centuries, grappa and grappa-styled spirits were looked upon as grape-based moonshine, more rocket fuel than a refined libation. The use of the dregs from wine production accomplished several objectives. It provided wine producers a means to dispose of their refuse and garner some extra income. In the beginning, distillers travelled from vineyard to vineyard with their stills. Eventually permanent distilleries were established, thus creating another economic engine in the grappa producing regions. But of most import, grappa was an affordable drink for the poor; providing much needed calories and feeling of warmth during the cold winter months. A shot of grappa in the morning - which in later times and today is more often a splash added to espresso (known as a caffé correcto) – was a way to numb themselves from the back breaking work in the fields. “Strong like grappa!” is still a frequently heard phrase in the Friuli region of Italy.
Kindred Spirits
In the early 1960’s, the marriage of Benito and Giannola Nonino was one not only of the heart, but of two great talents. Since 1897, Benito’s family had been distilling pedestrian grappa. With a determination to spin straw into gold – turning one man’s trash into another’s treasure – he approached making grappa with the ardor of an ancient alchemist. He modified and created a specialized discontinuous still to better control and improve the distillation process. He began to use only the freshest pomace from the region’s premier wineries that he collected and distilled within hours of pressing.

The next audacious move was revolutionary and made by Giannola. Tired of seeing Benito’s grappa quietly ignored by friends whenever she brought along a bottle to dinners because they viewed it as a common place drink, she took action. Grappa had always been made from an imprecise mixture of pomace. Giannola’s inspired idea was to pick the rarest and most revered grape in Friuli – Picolit and she urged Benito to create the first grappa made from a single varietal. She courted the best wine farms to sell her their pomace and she paid them well. The first batch was small, around ten gallons. It was a glorious grappa, imbued with power and elegance and filled with the floral honey notes for which Picolit is renowned. The char girl of the spirits world had been transformed into Cinderella.

Whilst Benito’s genius was in production, Giannola’s was in promotion. Taking small apothecary bottles Benito found at a chemical supply store, Giannola began to package their liquid treasure. Handwritten labels were tied around the neck of each bottle which sported a silver-plated stopper. Pricing their prized creation at price points akin to single-malt scotch along with Giannola’s adept personal touch at points of sale, the Nonina grappa brand soon became THE grappa in restaurants and wine shops in Italy and beyond. Grappa had finally entered the modern era of finely crafted artisanal spirits.

Here in South Africa we are fortunate to have had our own long history of distilling pomace from the grape harvest. Witblits (white lightening), the Afrikaans name for a traditional pomace brandy is an example. According to documentation, unlike early grappa, there have been some fine examples of quality witblits made throughout the years. However witblits was and still is, for the most part, inferior in quality and viewed as a stepchild in the South African world of wine and spirits. Only recently has there been a resurgence and renaissance in premium husk spirits fueled mainly by immigrants to this country from Italy, France and Germany.

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One such brand is Tanagra, produced by a German couple, Robert and Anette Rosenbach. And like the Nonino’s, theirs too is a love story. On a recent visit to their lovely place, Tanagra Wine & Guest Farm just outside of McGregor, Robert recounted how he, a business consultant and Anette, a linguist discovered this area and began their new life here. In 1996 Robert had accepted new job position and there was a healthy measure of free time prior to its start. So the search began for a spot to enjoy an extended holiday. Robert smiled as he recounted how heading to Australia was the initial idea. But his height and long legs combined with the thought of such a long flight in cramped quarters made them look elsewhere. Thus, South Africa came into play with its 14 hour flight time beating out Australia’s 22 hour long haul. Fate had cast her net once again.

Upon arrival, Robert and Anette began a 10 year love affair with Southern Africa and especially South Africa. Deciding that their lives needed a bit of an adventurous shake-up, they found the farm of their dreams and immigrated in March of 2009. Coming from the Mosel region where Anette’s grandfather had grown grapes on the steep slopes of its valley, both Robert and Anette had a deep understanding of and appreciation for all the effort that is put into producing fine wines. In addition to renovating the farm into an amazing guest farm retreat and winery producing a lineup of five wines, they opted to add a complementary component to the mix, a distillery.

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Their familiarity with the pomance brandies of Europe – grappas – marcs – tresterschnapps and their growing popularity led them to see the opportunity of producing finely crafted versions here in the Breede River Valley. The raw materials were here ready and waiting. So, they purchased a column still in Germany, shipped it to South Africa and set about making their marc!

tanagra6Today Tanagra boasts a stable of six varieties of marc (grappa). Each of these offerings exhibit the wonderful aromatic qualities for which this spirit is known. For his Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc single varietal marcs, Robert uses only the best pomace sourced from none other than the renowned Springfield Estate. Owner and winemaker Aubrie Bruwer is adamant in the careful and gentle handling of his grapes combined with minimum interference in the vinification process. Thus, Robert is assured of a consistent source of premium pomace which he treats just as conscientiously throughout the distillation process.

The Tanagra lineup also includes Marc de Chardonnay Barrique which is matured for two years in wood and their Marc de Hanepoot sourced from local grapes. Rounding out the team are two offerings made from Tanagra’s own grapes; a single variety Marc de Cabernet Sauvignon and TanaGrappa made from the skins of their house wine Heavenly Chaos – a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz.

At Tanagra, Robert and Anette also produce outstanding eaux-de-vie (waters of life). While marcs/grappas are made only from grape pomace, eaux-de-vie are distilled using other fruits. As well, the French produce eau-du-vie de vin which is made using whole grapes rather than pomace. It is the designation given to those brandies made from whole grapes outside of the regions of Armagnac and Cogac.

Tanagra offers three eaux-du-vie de vin. Two are made from Tanagra wine – Felicity is made from their Bordeaux blend wine of the same name and a single varietal eau-de-vie de vin is made from their Shiraz wine. The third offering is unique. It is called Cabernet Sauvignon Eau de Vie de Lie which is distilled from the lees of Springfield Estates Cabernet Sauvignon.

tanagra7Four additional fruits are used in the creation of Tanagra’s eaux-de-vie. Organic apricots, peaches and quinces are sourced from local growers, individually distilled and bottled. The Lemon Eau de Vie is crafted using lemons grown at Tanagra. It is the jewel in crown – a Food Routes Favorite! The citrus floral notes come wafting from the bottle and once in the glass bloom into an intoxicating fragrance. The taste is clean, dry and with a smooth lushness - simply a stunning sip!!!

Tanagra’s marcs and eaux-de-vie provide a valuable addition to your culinary commissary. From the traditional practice of providing intriguing digestifs to conclude a magnificent meal to enhancing the flavors of offerings from cocktails to dessert – Tanagra consistently hits the marc!!!

 

 

 

Tanagra Hits the Marc Meal
This is an easy delicious three-course meal for a casual night spent with friends, showcasing the added flavor dimensions that Tanagra’s TanaGrappa and Lemon Eau de Vie brings to the table. Most of this meal can be prepared ahead of time with the main course taking less than 30 minutes to prepare!

WELCOMING COCKTAIL
Sgroppino al Tanagra Lemon Eau de Vie
Ingredients Serves 4 Time: 5 minutes

tanagra-recipe1350ml lemon sorbet
350ml dry Sparkling wine
60ml Tanagra Lemon Eau de Vie
15ml lemon syrup (optional – add to taste) To make: Combine 250ml water with 250ml sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool to room temperature, then add 355ml fresh lemon juice. Tip: When making simple syrups with fresh fruit juice, add when syrup is cool to preserve the fresh flavors. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator between uses. Should last up to one month.
Sprigs of fresh mint (optional)

Preparation
Place all the ingredients (except the fresh mint) in a chilled stainless steel mixing bowl. Quickly whisk the ingredients together by hand using a light touch until a light and frothy mousse forms. Note: Overly vigorous whisking will cause ingredients to separate and become soupy. Spoon the mixture into pre-chilled champagne flutes or cocktail glasses, garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and strip of lemon peel. Serve immediately. Tip: Do not make drink in advance or allow to stand – ingredients will separate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAIN COURSE
Spaghetti Friuliano

Serves 4-6 Time: 30 minutes

tanagra-recipe2Salt
3 large egg yolks
125ml heavy cream
500g spaghetti
30ml butter
1 large onion, halved and sliced
125g of quality streaky bacon, cut into short ribbons
1 liter shredded cabbage
3.75ml ground juniper (if you can only find dried berries, grind them)
7.5ml coarsely ground black pepper (use as needed)
125ml Tanagra’s TanaGrappa
125ml grated pecorino plus extra for serving. Substitution: Grano Pandano


Preparation

Bring a large pot of salted water (30 to 45ml salt per gallon) to a rolling boil. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and heavy cream, set aside.
Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Add onions and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add streaky bacon and sauté for another minute. Add cabbage and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Add ground juniper, pepper and HALF the TanaGrappa. Stir well.
When pasta is ready, reserve about a cup of the cooking water. Drain pasta and add to pan with the cabbage mixture. Add the egg and cream mixture and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add just enough of the reserved cooking water to make a creamy sauce; all may not be needed. Turn off heat and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Add 1/2 cup of the cheese and remaining TanaGrappa. Stir well. Serve with additional cheese. Serve with green salad or vegetable of your choice.

DESSERT
Walnut-Apple Ciambella
Ingredients Serves 8 to 10


tanagra-recipe3125ml dried currants
125ml Tanagra TanaGrappa
225g packed demerara sugar
115g granulated sugar
340g cake flour
115g walnut flour – Make your own nut flour by lightly toasting, cooling, then grinding nuts food processor or coffee grinder until close to the texture of flour. Do not over-grind and turn into nut butter. You can use almonds as a substitute for walnuts. But walnuts are the best!
2.5ml ground cloves
5ml baking soda
5ml baking powder
5ml salt
6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
115ml extra virgin olive oil
115ml buttermilk
60ml chopped fresh walnuts (see note)
2 Rome apples (or any soft tart cooking apple), peeled, seeded and shredded (about 350ml in volume)
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Serve with mascarpone at room temperature or sweet whipped cream flavored with four teaspoons of the reserved soaking TanaGrappa.
Preparation
Place the currants in a small bowl, add the TanaGrappa, and set aside to soak for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly butter and flour a Bundt pan or ring pan.
In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cake flour, walnut flour, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix until well blended. Add the egg yolks, oil and buttermilk, and, using an electric mixer, beat until smooth.
Drain the currants, reserving the soaking TanaGrappa. Fold the currants, walnuts and apples into the batter.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the batter, and then pour the batter into the Bundt pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside to cool for 10 minutes. Then invert the cake onto a plate.
Allow cake to cool before applying a dusting of powdered sugar. Use the reserved soaking TanaGrappa to flavor to taste either the mascarpone or the sweetened whipped cream.
Or you can make a simple glaze made from icing sugar to drizzle over the finished cake. Take 250g of icing sugar. Add 30ml of full cream milk and gradually add little by little the reserved TanaGrappa liquid until the glaze is of the correct pouring consistency. Do not get the glaze too runny. You want it just liquid enough to pour on the top of the cake and run a bit down the sides.

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IT’S TIME TO DRINK THE STARS!

Posted by Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin is a transplant from Austin, Texas to the valley of Klaasvoogds,
User is currently offline
on Monday, 30 June 2014
in The ABC's of Food

bubbly1Sparkling wines are the most sensory of all the wines. They stimulate and activate all the senses. Sparkling wines exhibit  taste – in their flavors…smell – in their aromas… sight –  with their color, bubbles and mousse… touch –  with the wine’s  effervescence bursting in the imbiber’s face, nose and mouth…and sound – from the pop of the cork, to the fizzy hiss as the glass fills and bubbles burst forth. No other wine and most likely no other drink is such a symphonic sensory wonder. And the bubbles are the key notes.

It’s these tiny gas-filled orbs that set sparkling wines apart from the rest of the world’s wines and spirits. The birth of a bubble begins with the release of the cork which if not handled gently or properly can exit with a force approaching a speed of 65 kilometers per hour. But this uncorking antic is best left to victorious athletes on podiums and playing fields. For what lovers of these wines wish to lose the beauty of the bubbles to the air and the ground instead of capturing their sparkle and shine in a glass to enjoy!

The Sommelier Says:  Open with a Sigh not a Shout!
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A bottle of bubbly should be uncorked with a sigh, followed by a wisp of vapor not unlike unleashing a genie from the lamp. Next, the pour will herald the main event! First the lively liquid tumbles into the flute in a burst of bubble-filled foam called mousse that rises to the top. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, as if by magic…brigades of bubbles appear at the bottom of the glass and march in single-filed formations creating skyrocketing streaming strings of bubbles. Hypnotic and intoxicating all at once …no wonder Dom Pérignon was so enraptured!

Over 300 years after Dom Pérignon’s rapturous enlightenment, a young student of physics, Gérard Liger-Belair also became inspired by the beauty he found in the bubbles of the world’s most famous sparkling wine – his homeland’s famous sparkling wine - champagne. Infected with a rabid curiosity and armed with knowledge of stop motion and macro photography, he became an intrepid gastronaut plunging into the inner depths and workings of sparkling wines.

bubbly3In sparkling wines produced using the same methods as with champagne, Méthode Traditionelle (see box) Liger-Belair claims that the heart of these wines lies in the approximately 1 million bubbles that can be born in each glass. Pop a cork, pour a glass and here’s where the beast of science meets the beauty of the bubble. These are just a few of his amazing discoveries.

  • How the bubbles form, rise and cluster in the glass affect the visual appeal.
  • When you raise the glass to your lips to take a sip, the bubbles bursting on the surface release tiny droplets on your face and send aromatic molecules to your nose. This stimulates the tactile and olfactory senses adding new dimensions to the experience.
  • As you drink the wine, the bubbles will influence how you perceive the wine – too many may be off-putting, while too few are bound to disappoint. The bubbles activate carbon-dioxide receptors on the tongue to send tiny signals of excitement to the brain. Perhaps this explains why sparkling wines have long been associated with love and romance!

Liger-Belair also discovered how bubbles are born. Microscopic fibers in the glass, bubbly4either remnants from a kitchen towel or just an airborne particle, stick to the sides of the glass. These fibers are hollow and when the wine is poured they do not become fully saturated. Molecules of dissolved carbon dioxide fill the cavity, coalesce and form bubbles. The bubbles then are expelled one by one from the fiber’s cavity and begin their march to the surface. This finding suggests that glasses cleaned in a dishwasher and in a pristine state will in fact produce few bubbles. The glass may sparkle but not the experience.

bubbly5Imperfections in the glass have a hand in the motion and patterns of the bubbles as they rise. Makers of high end glassware are etching a tiny ring of spots inside the bottom of the glass. These flaws assist the bubbles to form and rise in a distinctive ring pattern. Liger-Belair says you can make a few scratches on your own glasses, but just a few or you will create a rapid degassing and lose the effervescence you wish to enjoy.

One of Liger-Belair most interesting achievements was to finally lie to rest an argument that has been ongoing for over 200 years. Is a coupe or a flute the best glass in which to serve a sparkling wine? Or does it even matter. According to the findings it most certainly does. Using gas chromatography, it was shown that a coupe loses CO2 at least 33% faster than does a flute. So put those coupes to good use for serving small desserts! Lift your flute and cheer –Vive la effervescence!

As for serving bubblies in a plastic cup? Aside that anyone should face being tar and feathered for just thinking about it, realize that science shows just how dumb and idea this is. The plastic is hydrophobic causing the bubbles to stick to the sides and inflate into the size of tiny balls. There goes the fizz along with the fun!

So break out those flutes and fill them with the lovely lively Cap Classiques we are blessed to have right here in South Africa. And before a roaring fire surrounded by friends toast that life’s troubles ride away on millions of bubbles and then taste the stars!

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Here in the winelands of South Africa’s Western Cape we are blessed with excellent bubblies! In the Robertson Wine Valley, owner and winemaker Philip Jonker of Weltevrede Estate is producing a line-up of captivating Méthode Cap Classiques that are Food Routes favorites!

Chardonnay is the premier noble variety for high-end French champagnes and sparkling wines worldwide. The Robertson Wine Valley is blessed with calcareous soils and a climate that together provide a perfect terroir for producing chardonnay grapes destined to become sparkling stars in the bottle. Philip Jonker is a chardonnay aficionado producing three terroir specific Chardonnay still wines along with three Méthode Cap Classiques all comprised of chardonnay to varying degrees.

bubbly7Weltevrede’s Three Mustateers of Méthode Cap Classiques – Entheos, The Ring and Lindelize are the equivalent of liquid doppelgangers to the three Musketeers of literary fame Porthos, Artemis & Athos.

Entheos with its 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir mimics Porthos, bursting upon the scene at any festive occasion with personality and enthusiastic joie d’vivre. Possessing a lively mousse and biscuity notes, it’s a bubbly certain to jump-start any gathering of bon vivants!

Lindelize, named in honor of Philip’s wife, is a bubbly blush rosé exhibiting all the fruitful essences of love…cherries, strawberries and peach blossoms on the nose with flavors of rose petals accompanied by strawberries and cream on the finish. It’s a lovely sultry sparkler that surely would have softened the hardened heart of the brooding Athos!

The Ring, a brut blanc de blancs (100% chardonnay), begins with hand-picked grapes and gentle whole bunch pressing to ensure the highest quality of juice. It’s a sparkling wine true to its terroir and was created by Philip Jonker as a symbol of eternal love and fidelity to his wife on their wedding day. Artemis would have laid down his life to partake of this special sparkler!

The Weltevrede stable of wines has a strong lineup of still wines including their renowned Oupa sy Wyn and Ouma sy Wyn dessert wines. Oupa sy Wyn is a blend of wines made Red Muscadel and Muscadel du Hambourg grapes, whose bush vines were planted in 1926. This is the only vineyard in South Africa to be declared a Conservation Worthy Property by the Board for National Monuments. Truly a wine with history and a sense of place!

Not only do Philip Jonker and his family ardently adhere to producing wines filled with character and a “sense of place”, but also believe in seeing that same devotion is applied to their community and the less fortunate. Visit their website at www.weltevrede.com to read the stories of teaching nuns in Uganda how to make “communion wine” – of preserving and producing wine from the vines on Robben Island to honor former South African president Mr. Nelson Mandela on his 94th birthday  and of establishing a community-based charitable trust funded by a portion of the profits from sales of Weltevrede’s bottled wines. At Weltevrede each bottle of bubbly has a magical and ethereal dosage of enthusiasm, love and a commitment to community. With each sip you will experience as did Dom Pérignon – how it feels to “drink the stars”!

A FOOD ROUTES FORMULA FOR INSPIRED ENTERTAINING
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The lineup of Weltevrede bubblies stand on their own, yet sparkling wine based cocktails and punches are always a delightful divergence during the winter season. And as in cooking, using the best ingredients produce the best results. Bring a bit of Christmas in July to your next kuier with the following Food Routes effervescent inspiration!

Punches made with sparkling wines are making a roaring comeback worldwide, especially during the winter holidays.  It’s a fantastic way for a host to provide an easy, quick and festive beverage for a large gathering as well as offering a beverage that is moderate in alcohol – a time saver as well as a safety feature! The recipe below is not your “run of the swill” cloyingly sweet punch, but a bright bubbly balance between alcohol and fruit. Remember as in any recipe, the best ingredients yield the best results!

Keep servings sizes small to bring guests coming back for more and engaging with each other at the bowl. It’s a great way to “break the ice” at any social occasion. Here’s a recipe that showcases the duality of nature. Make both versions and toast to vive la difference! Adapted from a recipe by David Wondrich, author of Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl

YIN OR YANG CAP CLASSIQUE PUNCH
Ingredients

  • Yang version – Weltevrede’s Philip Jonker Brut Entheor  or for the Yin version – Weltevrede’s Philip Jonker Brut Lindelize
  • 45ml of your favorite South African brandy
  • 45ml Cointreau
  • 750ml soda water
  • Rind of 1 orange
  • Slices of pineapple
  • Slices of orange
  • Mint
  • Strawberries

Instructions
Have all your fruit prepped and alcoholic ingredients ready to go. Assemble punch when ready to serve. In a punch bowl, deposit the ingredients and a slab of ice. Don’t use ice cubes, they will melt too fast and dull your drink! Decorate with sliced fresh pineapple and orange and plenty of mint. Crushed fresh strawberries add a gala touch, plus some flavor. Yield: approximately 12 120ml servings.

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Inspired Idea: Create a floating edible floral decorative ice ring for your punch. Place whole strawberries, rose petals and mint in a bundt pan. Fill halfway with water and freeze.

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TAPPED OUT THIS WINTER? TOP UP WITH A SOUTH AFRICAN CRAFT BEER

Posted by Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin is a transplant from Austin, Texas to the valley of Klaasvoogds,
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 03 June 2014
in The ABC's of Food

2014 is still going to be a belt tightening time for many of us. Pot luck parties and rental movies often have to supplant desires to dine out, buy fine wines and offer opulent at-home entertaining. Yet, this need not once again be another winter of our discontent and there’s no need to despair. It’s a perfect season and reason to re-discover family, friends and the pleasure of simpler pursuits and places with a much lower outlay of precious capital - all without a sacrifice of any flavor or fun!

What better way to meet these goals than to bring beer back into your foodie repertoire. A beverage that for years has been accorded the lowly status of suitability only for the masses and the ubiquitous fraternity fracas: Beer – with its favorable price points along with the emergence of quality South African craft brewers producing a wide ranging array of food friendly styles – will find its stature elevated this year in the culinary world. Saggy Stone Brewing Company and its offspring Saggy Stone Pub & Restaurant owned and operated by Adrian & Jackie Robinson provide a perfect example. But first, let’s tap into some beer history.

THE HISTORY OF BEER

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The earliest record of beer was found on a 6,000 year old Sumerian tablet depicting a group of individuals using reeds straw to share a communal bowl of beer. Brewing beer and its close association with bread making are credited with spurring on agricultural development. Some even consider the discovery of beer and bread as the pillars of human civilizations and there exists a chicken vs. egg debate as to what came first…beer or bread! The Babylonians, a descendant culture, were instrumental in developing the art of brewing beer. Master brewers were viewed in high social esteem and these brewers were women as well as priestesses. In the first written laws conceived by Hammurabi in 2100 BC, a daily beer ration based on social standing was included. Goddesses were the patrons of beer with Siris and Nimkasi in Mesopotamia and Isis in Egypt. The techniques of brewing beer spread from Egypt to Greece and into the hands of the Romans. The rise of the Roman Empire expanded beer’s accessibility throughout Europe all the way to England. But, beer2with the emergence of wine as the preferred drink of Rome, beer fell into disfavor and became regarded as the drink of savages. beer3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the monks in the early Middle Ages began to brew and through innovation produce a better product, beer’s started to regain its stature. It was from these monks that medieval women learned to brew beer. During these times beer was regarded as a “food-drink”, a necessary staple in every household. Beer supplanted water as the preferred drink, since many of the water supplies were contaminated, especially in larger villages and cities. The very processes of brewing beer...the malting of the grain, the boiling of the “wort”, the addition of hops followed by fermentation insured a “purified” beverage that was safe to drink as well as nutritious.

Some Beer Trivia
click here

Through brewing beer (ale being the style in medieval times), married women were able to contribute financially to the family. Women brewers were known as “ale-wives.” Brides would often sell their ale to defray wedding expenses. This beer was called bride-ale and from that was born the word “bridal”. Extra beer could be sold and those women who brewed a superior product were held in high esteem. One medieval king married his wife not for her countenance or dowry but for her brewing talents! For unmarried women and widows, the ability to make and sell beer was often the only way they were able to keep the proverbial “wolf from their door”.

With the coming of the Black Plague in 1348 and its estimated decimation of between 30 and 60 percent of the European population, women survivors and their skills were desperately needed. These women entered an age of establishing and owning thriving cottage industries such as weaving and brewing. However, these positions were still regarded as low status, unskilled positions and the wages earned reflected those opinions.

By 1600, there were virtually no women brewers left in England. What had happened? According to historian, Judith M. Bennett, in her seminal and award-winning book, Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women's Work in a Changing World, brewing beer was discovered to be a lucrative business. Innovations brought brewing out of the house and onto a larger more industrialized stage. Still why hadn’t women moved up along with the industry? Bennett goes on to say that women were denied by the social order of the times access to capital (loans), guild membership and education…opportunities that modern women living in industrialized nations have had at their avail for less than 100 years. And less we forget, in many parts of the world still do not have at their disposal.

FASHIONABLE FOAMS – FIND A FIT AND HAVE FUN

Beer comes in a wide array of styles from almost every country and culture in the world.
Just like wine, great beers brewed with care and a sense of tradition express a sense of place. And beer is a fantastic match for food. In many parts of the world, beer is viewed as a hot weather drink to cool one’s self off on a searing summer’s day at the beach in front of the braai. A perfectly good pairing with the ubiquitous choice of commercialized light lagers but as limiting an experience as only having same old wine at the table, all the time. With winter upon us, great beer styles…ales, porters and stouts stand up to and are marvelous mates with foods from venison chili to duck confit.  

Beers can be as complex as wine. They range in colors from pale straw to almost full black. Flavor profiles from tart, zesty citrus to creamy rich smoky caramel are accompanied by heady aromas of grass, fruit, and yeasty breads to roasted nuts. Beers can be a lean and tight as a Sauvignon blanc to almost as rich and lusty as a great port.  And as with wine, a beer tasting heightens the awareness of what this beverage has to offer. You can choose to explore the beers of one country (i.e. South Africa) or a unique style such as lambic beers that are made by spontaneous fermentation and usually sweetened, blended or prepared with fruit and as such are viewed as precursors of all beers. Add a food pairing component and the experience soars to new levels of culinary consciousness. For a great wintertime get together remember beer is the best drink to pair with games! From watching rugby, to poker, to board games to darts – beer is a drink that brings us all together in laughter and fun!

In the end, never judge a bottle by its label alone. Beer has been with us for eons and is here to stay. Throughout the ages it has served us well and continues to do so. Dr. Margo A. Denke, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School conducted clinical research on the health effects of alcohol, and beer in particular. In conjunction with all the benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption i.e. increased HDL and lower LDL levels , blood thinning properties and lower insulin levels, Dr. Denke believes that beer is  a more beneficial alcoholic drink than spirits. Beer is a food as well containing many nutrients per serving i.e. proteins, B-vitamins and an important mix of minerals. Denke as well as other researchers have also concluded that beer provides similar levels of polyphenols as red wine along with their health benefits. So cheers to everyone! Lift those glasses of beer and drink to your health. Just as beer kept the “wolf from the door” in darker times gone by it may just do the same for us today!

beer5A FOOD ROUTES FAVORITE - SAGGY STONE MICRO BREWERY– PUB & RESTAURANT
Adrian Robinson was fated to be a brewer. Surrounded by women – his talented wife Jackie and their three daughters, Kayla, Casey & Jenna – the ancient goddesses of beer are surely smiling down from above. Together he and Jackie have been teachers, owned a very successful Cape Town bakery and a restaurant at Rooiberg Winery. On their working fruit farm in the Nuy Valley in conjunction with the microbrewery, they are now running their newest restaurant venture – The Saggy Stone Pub & Restaurant. Women, bread and beer…all the influences of the ancient beginnings coupled with drive and passion have established a perfect learning curve and set a career path towards the creation of great craft beer.


Saggy Stone is just the spot to enjoy a quality quaff accompanied by palate-pleasing pub fare. The pub & restaurant is located on the farm. Built using materials such as natural river stone for the building and invasive blue gum trees for the bar countertop and tabletops, the little enclosed stone lapa is nestled in a stunning setting at the foot of the Langebergs

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Open from 11h00 to 16h00 from Friday to Monday and on Public Holidays, Saggy Stone is a great “off the beaten path” place to go. On sunny warm days laze about at tables spread over a verdant spot ringed with fynbos covered hills and mountains topped with a sparkling blue canopy of sky above. On the wintry days ahead sit inside the cozy pub with a band of buddies, a brew in hand watching sports on the big screen TV or snuggle with that special someone by the fire.

beer6Four beers make up the main stable of Saggy Stone’s offerings this winter.
California Steam – a craft-brewed lager derived from an old California recipe – is according to Adrian Robinson a “working man’s” beer with a hoppy flavor and a beautiful bite to the bitter notes.
Desert Lager – If you could have one beer on a hot desert island, this would be the one! Adrian’s descriptions of soft banana flavours combined with the added malted wheat denote a beer certain to bring down the temperature and turn up the fun.
Big Red Ale – The name says it all! Crafted in the style of an Irish Ale, this beer is a favorite of Adrian’s and according to him, a brew not for the faint of heart. A savory beer, with upfront hoppy bitterness alongside a hint of underlying sweetness packs a flavor punch of roasted nutty flavours and a hint of chocolate. This is a beer that will go toe to toe with a big juicy grilled steak!

The newest and fourth frothy steed about to join the stable is aptly named Dark Horse. It’s a dark lager, not a stout draft horse of a beer, trotting out refreshingly light flavors with hints of chocolate and woodiness – ready to foal in about 5-6 weeks. Just in time for the big chill ahead – a winter warmer destined to outrun the wolves of winter.

Saggy Stone is a must-stop if you are travelling along South Africa’s renowned Route 60/62. Located in the Nuy Valley between Worcester and Robertson it’s a delightful divergence – a place to cast off the constraints of city life and drop into the laid-back lull of a country retreat. And now with their beers available in bottles you can take a token of this experience home to share with family and friends. As well, you can enjoy Saggy Stone on tap at various establishments here in the Western Cape. For more info click here. Note: Saggy Stone is in the process of creating a new and improved look to their website. Please find listed below a list of some of the venues at which to purchase and/or enjoy Saggy Stone beer.

Bottled Beer available @ The Saggy Stone Pub and Restaurant & Affie Plaas Farm Stall just outside of Robertson on R60  email:  info@affieplaas.co.za  telephone: 023 626 4567

Beer on Tap available @ the following establishments.
The Old Post Office in McGregorVoortrekker Street083 258 6261
Racine @ Chamonix Farm Franschhoek http://www.chamonix.co.za/cuisine
Baghdad Cafe in Cape Town 190 Long Street073 669 3591
Coming soon to Reuben’s in Franschhoek

And as we always remind our Food Routes Followers

BE RESPONSIBLE. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE

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BUT, BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE…TAKING THE BRRR OUT OF WINTER WITH BRANDY, BUBBLES, AND BEER!

Posted by Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin is a transplant from Austin, Texas to the valley of Klaasvoogds,
User is currently offline
on Monday, 05 May 2014
in The ABC's of Food

THE UPCOMING WINTER CHILLS HAVE SOUTH AFRICANS SCAMBLING TO STOCK UP ON FIREWOOD AND BLANKETS. BUT DON’T FORGET THE THREE B’S GUARANTEED TO HELP BUFFER THE BRRRRR…..BRANDY, BUBBLES AND BEER.

IN A THREE PART SERIES BEGINNING WITH BRANDY – A ROYALTY IN THE REALM OF SPRITS – FOOD ROUTES FORAGINGS WILL SHOWCASE LUSCIOUS AND LIVELY LIBATIONS CERTAIN TO WARM YOU THIS WINTER. WHETHER YOU’RE WATCHING RUGBY, SITTING BY THE FIRE READING A GREAT BOOK OR BETTER YET SNUGGLING ON THE COUCH WITH THAT SPECIAL FLAME, WE HOPE THIS SERIES ON OUR TRIO OF TOASTY TIPPLES WILL ADD MUCH NEEDED WARMTH TO YOUR WINTER ENTERTAINMENT.

AND AS WE ALWAYS REMIND OUR FOOD ROUTES FOLLOWERS
BE RESPONSIBLE. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE

Jip, there’s a nip that’s now in the air – time to break out the heaters, blankets and feed the fireplaces! ‘Tis the season for one and all to come together to kuier indoors and partake in foods that warm the body as well as the soul. But let’s not forget to look at the importance of libations as additional “winter warmers” to consider in your chilly seasonal party planning.

Kicking off our three part series with brandy, we will showcase our bevy of beverages along with recipes incorporating them in unique and delicious ways certain to spice up your celebrations impress your guests and guaranteed not to bust the piggybank. A win-win all the way around!!!


BRANDY
The Queen of the Spirit World

Whilst most imbibers think of whisky as the king of the spirits world, then consider brandy as the reigning queen. Whether enjoyed neat in a snifter or employed in a variety of cocktails from classic to contemporary, brandy bestows a certain elegance and elevation of enjoyment to all that it graces with its presence.

Here in South Africa we are blessed with producers of world-class brandies. Along with large producers of several brandy brands such as Distell, there are many superb medium and small brandy producers working diligently to ensure quality and recognition of South African brandy both here and abroad. It’s a veritable banquet for the brandy lover.

WHAT IS BRANDY


Brandy was and continues to be an influential and major player in the cocktail culture. Here’s a quick tutorial on what constitutes a brandy.

Brandy can be broadly defined as a spirit made from fruit juice or fruit pulp and skin. There are 3 general categories:

Some Brandy Trivia
click here

Grape Brandy – Distilled from fermented grape juice or crushed (not pressed) grape pulp and skin, the spirits are aged in wooded casks (usually oak) where the contact between the spirits and wood imparts color, aromas and flavors as well as mellows the aesthetic taste of the finished product.

Fruit Brandy
– This term covers all brandies that are produced from fruit other than grapes. Some well-known examples are: Calvados, the famous brandy made from apples in the Normandy region of France and Eau-de-vie (“water of life”) which is a French term for spirits in general, but applies specifically for fruit brandies that are colorless.

Pomace Brandy
– This refers to a brandy made from the pressed pulp, skins and stems that are leftover from the production of wine. These are minimally aged and rarely in wood. For some they are considered an acquired taste but often they can impart a wonderful fresh and fruity aroma particular to the grape variety used to produce them. Italian Grappa and French Marc are the most well-known styles.

The Queen Mother of Cocktails

Noted cocktail mixologists and historians such as Gary Regan, Dale DeGroff and David Wondrich extol the virtues and importance of brandy in the creation of the cocktail. A drink which they attribute to being a progenitor – or one could say the Queen Mother of some of today’s best loved cocktails – is the Brandy Crusta. This was certainly the world’s first fancy cocktail… the trendsetter, a veritable Coco Chanel of cocktails, which was the inspiration for all the ornamental drinks that have been created and enjoyed over the past 150 years and beyond.

Birthed in New Orleans in the first half of the 19th century, the Brandy Crusta was said to be the invention of Joseph Santini. Here’s the story according to David  Wondrich.

Take the basic "Cock-Tail," the cornerstone of American mixology. Originally, around 1800, this was a simple drink: a shot of liquor (any liquor) stirred up with a lump of sugar, a squirt or two of bitters, and a generous splash of water….

All this brings us up to 1840. That's when a certain Joseph Santini was appointed to manage the bar and restaurant of New Orleans' City Exchange, a block-long building that had started life as a simple coffee house and metastasized into a fantastic combination of auction house, eatery, and drinking resort. Gumbo was invented there, and the free lunch. It's also where -- as far as we can tell -- Santini took all these new ideas, folded 'em together with a couple of his own, and came up with the Brandy Crusta, the absolute pinnacle of the nineteenth-century bartender's art.



First published picture of a Brandy Crusta

Santini went onto opening in 1852, The Jewel of the South, then the most lavish dining and drinking establishment in New Orleans. Maybe the Brandy Crusta was his magic potion to fame and fortune!!!  With that in mind, let’s bring on the Brandy Crusta to blast away the brrrr of winter and spark enchantment and warmth in your entertaining endeavors.
 

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Spirited Times Call for Klipdrift

Perfectly situated in the heart of the Western Cape, the lovely town of Robertson is home not only to Food Routes but to Klipdrift – one of S. Africa’s most well-known and loved makers of brandy. In homage to our neighbor, we will be showcasing Klipdrift brandy in our featured cocktail recipe … The Brandy Crusta.

 

The Brady Crusta Recipe

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Ingredients
Serves 1

  • 60ml Klipdrift Premium or for a Top-Shelf version use Klipdrift Gold
  • 5ml Triple Sec or for a Top Shelf version use Cointreau
  • 5ml  Maraschino
  • 2.5ml Demerara simple syrup* (see recipe)
  • 10ml lemon juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Coarse sugar such as Demerara for rimming glass
  • Lemon peel for garnish


Instructions
Preparation and Setup

  • Prepare the glasses ahead of your guests’ arrival and have all your ingredients and tools laid out ready to use.
  • Be sure your ice is fresh! A fresh batch makes all the difference in the quality of taste.
  • Take the whole lemon. First trim off the tip and using a knife or a large vegetable peeler carefully cut a wide spiral of lemon peel. If there’s too much of the white pith attached, gently scrape it off the inside of the peel with a knife. Practice makes perfect!
  • Take a small wine glass. (A small ISO wine tasting glass is perfect. Put to good use all those glasses you’ve collected from wine festival events!)
  • Place the peel inside the rim at the top of the glass.
  • Next turn the glass on its side and roll the wet rim in sugar to coat the outside rim with sugar crystals. Try to keep the sugar to the rim, but don’t worry if some gets on the peel. Place prepared glasses in refrigerator or wine cooler to keep chilled until ready to use
  • In a small mixing glass add the cocktail ingredients and fill the glass with cracked ice.
  • STIR don’t shake! There’s art in swirling. In the glass use the bar spoon to gently swirl the ice for about 25-30 seconds. By then the drink is as cold as it will get. Any more stirring just dilutes the drink and its flavor. Bartender’s tip: Shaking is for drinks with fruit juices, creams, or sour mixes to blend and aerate them. Be gentle with distilled spirits with very light mixers.
  • Using a cocktail strainer, pour into the prepared chilled glass and serve.

*Demerara Simple Syrup in only 5 minutes

A FOOD ROUTES TIP-OFF
Always do a taste test trial run beforehand. This will ensure that you have mastered the recipe, the necessary skills and discovered any adjustments to the recipe that may be required to improve the end results. Your job as the bartender/ host will run all the more smoothly and impress your guests as well!

Ingredients

  • 2 parts Demerara sugar
  • I part water

Preparation:

  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, stirring constantly.
  3. Once the sugar is dissolved completely, remove the pan from the heat. (Note: Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or the syrup will be too thick.)
  4. Allow to cool completely and thicken, then bottle.

*Demerara  Simple Syrup:
A popular choice, Demerara sugar imparts a rich sugar flavor. It will tend to alter the color of cocktails giving them a light caramel coloring but the taste is worth it. To lessen the coloring effect and getting a touch of that flavor richness you can use turbinado or brown sugars as an alternative. If the color of the cocktail is important, stick to white sugar. Also remember that you can use less Demerara due to the intensity in flavor.

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A is for APPLE – The Queen of Fruit

Posted by Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin
Susan M. Cashin is a transplant from Austin, Texas to the valley of Klaasvoogds,
User is currently offline
on Monday, 31 March 2014
in The ABC's of Food

Food Routes Foragings

 

At Food Routes our mission is not only to help guide Food Routes followers to memorable wine, dine and recline destinations, but also to provide the fervent foodie with a basket full of food for thought and literally for your pantry as well. With that said, we’d like to introduce a new and recurrent segment called Food Routes Foragings to our Food Routes Blog. Here, we will be dishing out stories about the gourmet gems being discovered by our roving Food Routes team as well as plating up online pictures and experiences submitted by our Food Routes travellers. Today, we set our sights on the seasonal. The harvest in the vineyards is coming to a close and with autumn now in full swing, apples are in line as the next main attraction.

A is for APPLE – The Queen of Fruit

Apple-image.block.letters.appleAs children, after mother’s milk, one of the first foods we experience is apple puree. Our initial foray into the world of reading is the proverbial pictorial alphabet book. And what is invariably the cardinal verbal and vocal stand-in for the letter A? Why the apple of course! The apple has played important roles in the mythologies and religions from a vast array of cultures. In Norse myths, the goddess Iduna provided apples to the gods that endowed them with eternal youth. The Greeks told tales of the hero Heracles’ Twelve Labours. On the eleventh we find Heracles embarked on an arduous journey to find the Garden of the Herperides and to steal the golden apples from the Tree of Life. And who does not know the story of Adam and Eve and the fate brought upon them by their bites from the apple plucked off the Tree of Knowledge. And in modern times, whilst oranges are king in regards to profitability on the international market, apples are the noble queen and still the most mentioned and depicted fruit in literature and art. It would not be too far a stretch to say that the apple is the most famous and at times infamous fruit of all time!
As a leader among foods in its genetic variability, the apple has the ability to adapt and make itself at home in places as divergent from one another as England and South Africa, New Zealand and Kazakhstan. China is the world’s leading producer of apples and South Africa holds a respectable 16th place in international apple production. A little over 60% of the nation’s apple crop is produced in the Elgin Valley area of the Western Cape. The main varieties grown are Granny Smith, Gala, Pink Lady and the Golden Delicious which South Africa is reputed to be the only country in the southern hemisphere able to produce top quality fruit from this variety… a major plus for competing against other apple exporting countries.

 

Elgin-Wine-Valley
The Elgin Valley is stunning in spring when the apple and pear trees are in bloom; as well as in late summer and fall when the boughs are laden heavy with first quality fruits. An easy drive from Cape Town or Franschhoek, the Elgin Valley will nourish a soul hungry for the experiences of country life. Enjoy a delectable “country bistro” repast at the Platform 1 Eatery paired with one of the wonderful wines offered at the Winter’s Drift Tasting Station. Both venues are housed at the old Elgin train station. Sit back and relax on the platform with country comfort food and wine and soon you’ll find yourself drifting back to a longed for place and time – where the pace of life was sweet and slow.
And don’t forget during apple harvest time to stock up on the “from the farm – fresh off the tree” apples, pears and other local produce and foods offered at the Peregrine Farm Stall. Be sure to take home one or more of the ciders offered at this pre-eminent Western Cape farm stall. Any recipe calling for apples will surely be rated AAA+!
The apple is rich is symbolism. For some it represents temptation and mankind’s fall from grace, whilst others view the apple as a portal to an awakening and knowledge. At Food Routes we see the apple as a symbol of health, renewal and life’s bounty laid before us to enjoy. As surely as C. Louis Leipoldt is Food Routes resident culinary patron saint it can be said that the apple is Food Routes totem!
Lagniappe: In New Orleans, one of the world’s culinary capitals southern hospitality reigns supreme. Start off with some flair from the French, add a splash of Creole creativity topped with some whipped up Cajun wit and you have the Big Easy’s unique concept of lagniappe – (LAN-yap) n. a small gift, a little something extra given freely. Here’s one from Food Routes for you to celebrate & enjoy fresh in-season Elgin Valley apples at home.

 

APPLE with CRANBERRY AND ALMONDS CLAFOUTI

 

Apple-Clafouti-picture-C

 

Ingredients

  • 15mL unsalted butter, at room
  • 75 grams plus 15mL granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 85 grams all-purpose flour
  • 375ml heavy cream or for a “lighter version” use 250mL cup heavy cream + 125mL full cream milk
  • 10mL pure vanilla extract
  • 5mL grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1mL kosher salt
  • 1mL tsp cinnamon
  • Dash of cardamom
  • 30mL brandy (apple brandy if available) plus an extra 15mL of brandy
  • 100 grams of dried cranberries
  • 75 grams of slivered almonds (barely toasted)
  • 2 to 3 firm but ripe Elgin Valley Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples
  • Icing sugar - crème fraiche – whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C
  • Butter a 24cm x 4cm round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 15mL of granulated sugar.
  • Beat the eggs and the 75 grams of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and brandy. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, peel, quarter, core, and slice the apples. Arrange the slices in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the baking dish. Sprinkle the brandy soaked cranberries over the apple slices. Gently pour the batter over the apples and cranberries. Next sprinkle the barely toasted sliced almonds over the mixture. Bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, dust with icing sugar, or crème fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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