Vegetarian Fun

So imagine my horror when I, a full-blooded Free State girl, receive an invite to a vegetarian lunch at 96 Winery Road in Stellenbosch. I don’t recall ever being in the mood for vegetarian lasagne

But the invite also says “enjoy an afternoon with Ken Forrester tasting some of Helderberg’s best wines” – so off I go.

I arrive.

Me: Hi Ken, nice to meet you

(Insert conversation about organic wine versus “normal” wine, me dreaming up inoffensive, informed responses, waiting for more people to arrive, me scanning the menu, scanning the menu, scanning the menu)

Nope. No vegetarian lasagne. And a looong list of wines to taste.

The idea of the afternoon is to find wines that complement the vegetable dishes. But even with 17 wines to pair the dishes with, I find it difficult to find a winning match. In the end I simply fill my glass with the wine I enjoy the most – the Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2007. This, by the way, is best matched with the “Beetroot and dhukka goats cheese salad with spiced walnuts”.

Overall, a fun afternoon with lively conversation, good wine and, I admit, inventive, tasty vegetarian food.

(Tip: If you are looking for value, the Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2007 is exactly that at approximately R55 a bottle)

Spoilt to the Core

Spoilt to the core, that’s what I am. Attended an afternoon of sweet debauchery at Uitkyk in Stellenbosch with Maja Berthas, a Swedish “wine and chocolate paring doyenne”.

It was really stunning. Plates of chocolate – I am talking serious chocolates, Lindt se Ma – were passed around, whilst Maja gave instructions: “Feerst you smell it, yes just like weeth wine, then bite onlie a theerd of the chocolate and allow it to melt, then take onlie the smallest sip of your wine and swievel it agound your mouth”.

I must confess, I ignored her instructions and popped the whole blocks into my mouth (they were bite size), and then proceeded to pair it with the sweet and fortified wines. Matching high content cocoa blocks with Allesverloren and Alto Port as well as Uitkyk’s 10 Year-Old Potstill Brandy and Neethlingshof Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest is sure to give you a sugar rush – I was ready to hurl.

Outside more decadence awaited us. Chocolate covered strawberries, cheesecake, chocolate brownies, chocolate clairs and more. Rooms were literally filled with cakes and sweets! Placing my nauseous disposition on hold, I stacked my plate

Before the chocolate pairing I got to sample some of the wines available in the top-end Cape Legends portfolio. I enjoyed the Le Bonheur Prima ’05 – a Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon blend – that exhibits strong mulberry aromas. It retails for R78 ex-cellar. (Also whilst sampling the wines waiters were serving Brie and pistachio pastries with a plum sauce as well as pumpkin and potato fritters with feta and plum tomatoesdefine.)

Since attending these luncheons I’ve gained 5kgs…

Summer Wine

Though of course this could have been normal PR talk, given that we were sampling the new White from Red Shiraz 2008 from this family winery.

Kloovenburg also presented its other summer wines for 2008: the White from Red Brut, Sauvignon Blanc and Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. We also got to sample the full, creative range of Kloovenberg olive products.

The venue was Pigalle restaurant in Green Point. Owned by two Portuguese brothers, this restaurant (whose interior resembles that of a dining hall in Love Boat) is the place to go “if you want decent seafood or steak”. It felt like we sampled just about everything the restaurant has on offer: mixed platter with chorizo, pasta pockets, calamari, mussels, steak, prawns, fish, spicy chicken and what not. I played Darwin and randomly selected what to pair with what. Maybe due to this, the full potential of the wines was lost on me.

Fellow guests complimented the wines, but they seemed bland to me or, in the case of the Chardonnay, somewhat overt. I’m sure the White from Red Shiraz will do well, though, as everyone else in my corner hailed the wine’s sundowner potential. (It retails for R49 ex-cellar.)

Winemaker and farm owner Pieter du Toit entertained the crowd with stories on “wild pigs” (they have been causing havoc on the farm) and he extended an invite to the table to come and shoot them. Meanwhile, Annalene, his wife and queen of all things olive, related the story of their flagship Eight Feet wine: it is a reference to their four sons helping out on the farm and in the cellar.

Like the food, the overall conversation would’ve been more appropriate on a stoep. But it summed up what Kloovenburg is all about: family.