Howzit? How are you? Kunjani?

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Nestled in Devon Vale, Stellenbosch you take the turn on Blumberg Drive taking you up to Kunjani Wines.  This little place boasts a huge heart and I cannot help wondering where I should start, doing justice to my experience at Kunjani.  First of all, their contemporary look that boasts deep greys and vibrant reds is an oxymoron in itself.  The region is known for its established, old, premier wine farms and estates that speaks of yesteryear splendour and luxury and then there is this new kid on the block.  Well, THIS kid is not one that should be underestimated.

Walking up the steps you get why they chose the name Kunjani.  Their greeting and heartfelt hospitality translates from the first smile at reception, “Hi, How are you?”.  Chris and the team quickly showed us (Stefan Schrage @Steffmerlot and Zelda @rhubarb_riesling) around and the decor and setting was a precursor to what was to be expected. Seated outside on the balcony, the surrounding vista flooded our sights with greens, ambers and reds emulating from the small vineyard in front.  It’s almost winter after all.

Kunjani’s goal to your dining experience, is to make it a fun dining experience rather than a fine dining experience.  Their food is whimsically prepared, tastefully plated and their variety is beautifully selected especially for their patrons.  Take note that you can have each order expertly paired with one of the Kunjani wines.  Enough with the shilly-shally and let’s talk about the good stuff. Their awesome wine!

We quickly were introduced to lovely baked bread-bites with savoury cream and beetroot-butter.  A good entrance to what was to come and I was already salivating.  We opted for à la carte dining and I started off with a lovely ensemble of West Coast style fresh Mussels prepared in a fragrant Portuguese sauce.  To match this course Kunjani Chenin Blanc 2017 was the perfect companion.  Tropical nose of Papaya and Lime that is fruity and fresh.

Main course consisted of a beautifully prepared “Stolen” Chicken Curry.  A lovely red curry prepared with chilli & ginger served with fragrant rice, sambals and papadums.  The “Stolen Chicken” Pia-noir was the perfect varietal of Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot, an absolute joy to taste and enjoy with notes of berries and apple.  Furthermore the Sauvignon Blanc was not standing back at all with crisp freshness, cucumber and coriander. 

Moving over to their prime red selection we enjoyed their ready to drink Shiraz that exhibited remarkable notes of spice, red fruit and plums.  My personal favourite you might ask?  The Kunjani Red Blend, an easy and multi-dimensional red with 46% Cabernet Franc, 46% Merlot and 8% Malbec. This beautiful blend was my ultimate favourite and it contributed well to the stunning sunset over the mountains and vineyards.

Being a very young winery and only established in November 2017, Kunjani is surprising.  Surprising in the way that their wines speak to your palate, their food speak to your eyes but even more so, their story of love, passion and friendship (old and new) that makes every visitor and wine-lover feel they entered a place where they can be at ease, breathe and enjoy.  To Pia and Paul, thank you for an experience that will stay imprinted for a long time and Chris for your hospitality that was unmatched and off course. Dear Gracie, who so passionately made our experience around the table one that seriously need to be repeated.  To you all, I say: “I am well thank you!”.

PS.  Make sure you check out the Kunjani Cottages you can book to make your experience even more memorable.

Fermier for more!

fullsizeoutput_4f21There is a saying that  states:  “Good food is equal to a good mood” and I’m a true believer that a love for food is both in the art of preparing it, but also in enjoying it.  In recent years Pretoria have seen a plethora of gastronomic experiences peek out from under the kitchen counters and we, the citizens of this great city, are reaping the ever-tasty rewards.

Award winning Fermier (Farmer in French) is unique in every sense of the word.  They pride themselves on being a self-sustainable restaurant where they incorporate everything around them, from the ground used to build their restaurant, to the garden that offers fresh produce, to the pottery shop on the premises that makes the beautiful vessels to serve delicious meals in.  Everything works together to make the Fermier experience one to remember .  Adriaan Maree chef and founder has got quite the reputation when it comes to good food and brings not only local, but also International experience to the table.  He sure raised the bar in Pretoria, when Fermier opened it’s doors not so long ago.

Arriving at Fermier, I was greeted by a lovely young lady when I parked my car.  I walked up the foot path and it felt like I was leaving the city every step I took in the dark.  Dimly lit lanterns showed the way and I arrived at a contemporary structure that resembled a barn.  It was rustic, yet classy, old charm, yet with a modern twist.  Ambience were created by perfectly chosen lighting and no more than a dozen tables nestled perfectly in the cozy space.  Clearly the space and layout were carefully planned and designed.

First things first and I had to glance over their very impressive wine list and menu that offered 9 set courses for the evening.  One thing is for sure, you are not going to get Butternut & Spinach on the sides.  (ok, I chuckled at myself when I wrote this).

 

After a glass of bubbly, we enjoyed a lovely Elands Rivier, 2014 Pinot Noir.  Delicate, with berries and rose notes with a beautiful garnet colour.  This was a good start to the evening. The menu boasted surprise, esthetic enthrall and bursts of flavour.  The food was the entertainment and the line up was impressive.

First course saw an introduction with freshly baked bread, with Duck liver parfait and canapes.  Beautiful and tasty!

 

Second course in line, was a bundle of Kingklip with black radish and smoked tomato coulis/sauce.

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Third saw an ensemble of Mussels, Squid Sea Vegetables and a light foam. perfectly prepared. (Could’ve sworn I was at the beach with every bite).

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4th Course offered Tuna on a bed of Almonds, Grapefruit, Black Garlic and Olives.

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Course 5 was surprising with Pork Neck with Summer Apple, Celeriac and Samphire.  Soft, oozing flavour and I wanted a second plate (just kidding, 4 more courses to come).

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We enjoyed Duck for our 6th course with Turnips, Verjus and Grapes.

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Lucky number 7 arrived and Springbok, tender and sliced perfectly with Porcini mushrooms, Cauliflower, Daikon and honey.  The balance between savoury and sweet was a dance of perfection.

 

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Course 8 was lighter with an good selection of fine cheeses.  Huguenot, Karoo Crumble and various fruits to compliment.

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The last course rounded things off beautifully with White chocolate and Miso. Sweet and everything you can hope for after 8 courses of utter gastronomic bliss!

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So there we have it fellow food fans! Do not be fooled, although the portions are small, they pack a punch when it comes to flavour.  Adriaan Maree and his team, don’t prepare food, they create art that is absolutely super sensory!  I would seriously recommend you make this spot, one of your top ones as it’s a game-changer when it comes to haute cuisine here in Pretoria.  Their menu also change from time to time, so it will be great to see what’s on the menu in a few month’s time.  Be sure to book your table since they offer limited seating. I believe this enables them to pay careful attention to detail and give you the best experience possible.

I will most certainly go back to Fermier, for more!

Braai broodjie? Or side broodjie?

As per some of my previous posts, having a Braai (or BBQ) in South Africa is quite a huge thing to us.  We love spending time around the fire, reminisce around stories, joking away and obviously enjoying lovely eats and treats from the table close by.  When having a Braai, there are always an array of side dishes to compliment the main feature of the social gathering, which is of course the grilled meat.

One thing most people enjoy is a grilled sandwich that is filled with onion, tomato and cheese, grilled on the fire and oh boy, when you start eating it, the braaibroodjie (yes, that’s what we call it in Afrikaans) oozes cheesy goodness that exceeds all expectation.  Well, I have never had a bad braaibroodjie, but some love it and some loves it less.  So if braaibroodjies are not your thing, how about a good side broodjie on the table?  I have a good broodjie you can whip up,  where everyone can slice a piece of it, spread some good butter on it and enjoy.  Good, easy, simple and delicious.  Here goes:

  1.  Get some lovely bread dough from you local supermarket.  Dust your surface with some flower, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough in a rectangular(ish) shape.
  2. Spread some crushed garlic and a bit of olive oil on the rolled out dough and spice to your heart’s content.15095574_10154768753558573_5689207793028686102_n
  3. Now you can add some lovely goodies to this, sundried tomatoes, olives, capers, onion, salami, chorizo or ham.  Anything you like really.  Just make sure that the ingredients you add here is drained and not watery.  Add some cheese, because why?  Because you CAN! 15037096_10154768754558573_538250758643546157_n
  4. Roll it up very carefully and put it in a greased bread pan.  You can score the top of the bread in what fashion you like  and pop it into the pre heated oven. (180 degrees celsius) for 1 hour until it’s golden brown on top.
  5. Take it out and coat the bread with butter to give it a lovely glossy feel.  Let it rest (if you have the strength to resist).15037144_10154768754993573_1171543595008857302_n
  6. Slice away and serve.  This is a sure winner!15073303_10154768755118573_5117999690620997802_n

So next time you are having friends over for a weekend braai and don’t know what to serve as a side or just to enjoy as a precursor to the feast, whip up this bad boy and have the spoils of their gratitude!  You are welcome, don’t clap, just throw money!

Start, Snap, Share, Repeat!

Being up for a new adventure is like a jolt of pure energy to me.  Experiencing something new and something different can sometimes be revitalising to some, but also a bit scary to others.  I am definitely not the latter.  So when the opportunity knocked, I opened my computer, logged into Travelstart and soon the payment approved sms notification found it’s way to my phone and so I found my way on a trip to Cape Town not so long ago.  Easy peasy this Travelstart thing.  It was a “quicky” so to speak (no, don’t get funny ideas), it was not planned to perfection, but rather an impulsive weekend shared by me and my twin brother, Stef.  Our very own “bro-trip”, a dash in and dash out of Cape Town thing.

Naturally, the weekend was filled with the finest wine the Cape region has to offer and the best food to tantalise your tastebuds and senses and to top everything off, the weather played along ever so nicely!  The Cape of Good Hope, doing it’s own nickname justice!  There are a few things about me that are just the bare necessities when lavishing your way through all these experiences, and that is my trusted smartphone.  No, this is not a blog about my smartphone at all, but rather how handy this device is, capturing different dimensions, colour, beauty and experiences of my life, to savour and browse through on the flight back to good old Gauteng!

One thing is for certain, food is my passion!  I like making it, like eating it and I love taking pictures of it.  The ritual of ordering an item off a menu and just envisioning it in my minds-eye what it will look like, gives me an immense kick and yes, I do snap almost all of my food.  People sometimes  look at me very distastefully (think I just made up a new word) when I do it, but this is the same as smelling your food.  It’s all about the colour, angle of the picture, distance to the subject and off course adding the right tints and highlights when it comes to filtering.  Ok, people, let’s not be purists about automatic filters, some are just professionals when taking photos with expensive gear and others like me, quickly tucks out my little smart companion and start planning the shot.  So what are the fundamentals when taking a good food-snappy for your social media pages or platforms?  Here are my top 5 things to keep in mind, when taking that perfect photo:

  1. Wipe your lense!

There are a few things that ticks me off like someone who possibly could’ve taken the perfect picture, but instead the picture they posted was misty, filled with lines caused by light that is clearly caused by a dirty and greasy lense and dust in the photo.  So my dear food-snapper, wipe your lense, even if it’s against your sleeve or your napkin.  Make sure you don’t use tissue or paper napkins as they could scratch your camera lense.

2.   Light.

Always make sure that you have sufficient light available to take the photo.  Some smart devices have a warm flash function that softens the light when using a flash for your picture, but personally, I’m not a fan of a flash as it ‘hardens’ the appearance of your food.  Rather lift the little lantern or candle up high, get your focus right and snap the photo.

3.  Turn your plate.

Jip, it sounds silly, but rather turn your plate to find the right angle to tell the story of what you are about to enjoy.  Unlike photos of people, when it comes to food, there is definitely a good and a bad side.  Choose the side with the most colour and better placement.

4.  Don’t be shy!

Sometimes (trust me, I have been there, in a very fancy restaurant) one can get a bit self conscious when taking longer to take the perfect food pic.  It’s fine, let people say what they want, this is your Fillet Bourguignonne and you have to snap perfection.  Take your time and make your snappy count.

5.  Share it!

There is no use in going through all these motions and not sharing it with your fellow friends and followers.  Take your pic, give enough information, content and description of the venue, setting, taste and experience and be ready to change someone’s perception on the dish that you have enjoyed.

These are mere principles I employ to make sure my social media pics are above standard.  Let’s be clear, there will be some that are less desirable and if you want to, post them too.  To me, it’s all about sharing experiences, old and new, imperfect sometimes but aiming to be perfect most of the time.  So, whether you are dining at The Fat Duck in Melbourne or JAN in Nice, France or even your local eatery you enjoy frequenting, it should always be true to what YOU are experiencing.  So let’s set our sails, click onto the Travelstart Blog and find out more about taking fabulous food-snaps on your new adventure.  Make sure when we snap away at your favourite subject, whether it’s scenery, friends or food, that you capture the essence of that special moment.  So start somewhere or better yet, start now.  Snap away my fellow food-snappers!

PS.  (Images were snapped by myself, for myself and enjoyed, by myself at De Grendel Wine Estate & Restaurant).

Forti’s Grill & Bar and La Motte Wine Estate making magic!

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Well where should I begin?  Firstly, getting an invite to attend an exclusive wine and food pairing hosted by Forti’s Grill & Bar and La Motte Wine Estate was already tantalising enough that I was fathoming ideas and expectancies even days before the actual event.  Fortunate Mazzone is himself an institution in the Pretoria community and even wider, since his days as the owner of the famed Ritrovo Restaurant.  He made his move to a grandeur establishment nestled in the new Time Square Casino just off Menlyn Maine.  Forti’s Grill & Bar is a cosmopolitan restaurant that is par excel-lance in not just the exquisite cuisine it offers, but in it’s styling, bathrooms and yes, the ever so popular roof top dining experience. 

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I have previously reiterated that I am a total ‘scenery-slut’ when it comes to the perfect view at a restaurant and I suspect looking at THIS restaurant, Fortunato knows that his clientele is somewhat expecting the unordinary experience and off course Fortunato delivers!  Meeting Edmond Terblanche from La Motte Wines, you do gather that La Motte and Forti’s already have a long history in sharing good food and wine, and giving their following a plethora of tastes and memories.  Brilliantly styled wines with food that is ever endeavouring to ones taste buds made it an opulent and vivacious event.  The invite was extended to only a handful of lifestyle journalists, influencers and foodies and they wowed us.

Our gastronomic experience started off with a lovely Prawn ensemble that was oven grilled, with champagne & garlic served on a bed of parmesan rice, decadent and beautiful!  This was accompanied by the La Motte Sauvignon Blanc, with crisp tropical flavours.

Main course offered a lovely crusted marbled beef Fillet prepared to perfection on a a bed of fresh braised vegetables topped with rocket and greens. The La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon  2015 played its role brilliantly with a full bodied presence with it’s oak, plum and smokey notes.  The star here naturally was La Motte’s Pierneef Syrah Viognier that is totally in a league of its own.  A deep flamboyant red wine with a spicy and peppery palate that is truly unique. 

Dessert was a colour explosion and saw planks of sweet delicacies.  From Chocolate Brownie, fudge with a citrus kick and off course panna cotta that was to die for.  A golden honey coloured bottle that classifies (well in my mind that is) as an Apricotty (if there is such a word) mouth watering dessert wine with a perfect balance between sweet and acidity.

How do one end off such a perfect Forti’s Grill & Bar & La Motte onslaught?  Easy, with a sorbet that is pleasing to the eye and palate, oh and don’t forget the flavourful in-house grilled cup of Americano. 

These two players (Forti’s & La Motte) is a mean team and what really stood out, was the complimentary, symbiotic relationship these two have.  The best part of it? That you and me both can experience the fruit of their relationship.  Well done Fortunato and team! Equally well done to Edmond from La Motte Wine Estate for giving us an unforgettable experience.

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PS.  Go to the bathroom when you are there! It’s worth a pic or 6! 🙂

Ever felt like Alice in Winederland?

Wine is surely one of the most common denominators apart from oxygen when you think about being social and spending time with friends.  Come to think of it, the whole food and beverage industry rapidly erupted in NOT JUST food and wine, but age old institutions that are bringing forward hundreds of years of tradition in their wine and for some, they are experimenting with new techniques and products.  Standing back, you do realise that this is truly something beauteous that is happening.  Even the better part, we are living in a time where we are able to enjoy the pendulum of this, where tradition and innovation meets occasionally and we are the “Alices” in  wine wonderland.

The City of Tshwane was home this weekend to the SPAR at TOPS Winederland Show in collaboration with the Pretoria News, at Menlyn Shopping Centre here in Pretoria and man, did they pull out all the stops.  This was no ‘run of the mill’ wine show, this was most probably one of the best wine shows I experienced this year.  Their processing systems for guests were smooth, the setting was aesthetically pleasing and the vibe was electric.  Arriving at the central square of the new Menlyn Mall, my senses were invaded with energy, sound and light.  Being a VIP guest, I received my wristband and proceeded to get my glass and goodie bag.  This was going to be utterly pristine!

First stop, the Lindt stall.  Yes, the chocolate stall.  They had amazing pairings on offer, all their sultry chocolate from caramel goodness to salty and citrus were paired with premium wines.  My favourite? Their smooth citrus chocolate with the Rust and Vrede Viognier, Shiraz and Grenache.  It was beautiful!  I then proceeded to what the rest of the evening and this Winederland had to offer.  Wine estates were there in full force.  Delheim, KWV, Durbanville Hills, Hermanuspietersfontein, Arniston Bay, Van Loveren, JC Le Roux, lots of other great wineries and off course some French Champagne from the Tops stall to top things off.  A lovely Champagne, Brut from Pierre Mignon was ever so appropriate. Oh and don’t forget Wilderer Gin, love them.

The VIP lounge was to my disposal and I did make use of it.  Was I impressed? It didn’t score points for me as the food was left in the open and obviously their dough offerings were hard and tough to work through, but the whole “VIP LOUNGE” in itself, is a good thing, makes one feel special.  Did I buy wine that evening? Yes.  Did I have an awesome time? Yes.  Did I do a lot of networking? Yes.  Did I learn a few new things about my favourite thing (wine for those who did not know by now)? Absolutely!  Tasting wine is one thing, but being open to learn and experience really gives shows like the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show credibility as an event that truly offer it’s patrons more than just a wine tasting.  It’s a true wine wonderland or #Winederland, that would make even Alice sorry that she missed it.  Thank you Spar and The Pretoria News for an outstanding event.  Cheers!  

PS. The name Alice don’t suit me very well….. 🙂

 

Give us today our Daily Coffee

Always looking for the next coffee spot in Pretoria? Then The Daily Coffee is just the place to visit.  They are situated in the Greenlyn Centre in Menlopark and easily accessible from the N1 via Atterbury.  Nestled in between the greenery of the premises, The Daily Coffee gives you a setting that’s both private and relaxed. 

Pretoria has seen an uprising of coffee spots and the coffee culture in the capital is definitely making a turn for the better.  I find it always very refreshing when you can experience something that’s different, good quality and gives you a setting where you can breathe, work and even relax.  Meet, The Daily Coffee.

The Daily Coffee have a variety of menu options ranging from lovely well prepared coffee (well duh!) to gorgeous breakfasts, light meals like burgers, sandwiches and wraps and even low carb meals.  Menus are reasonably priced and makes them a good restaurant anytime of the month.  Ask them about their Gluten free options. 

Their food is prepared well and their coffee is the best!  I enjoyed their Daily Fix breakfast and fellow diners ordered Eggs Benedict and a open sandwich with salmon & rocket.  It was decadent, tasty and you can be sure they use the freshest of ingredients and are not shy when it comes to portion volume.  I left, happy, satisfied and will be back for sure.  Points scored:  Setting in the garden, privacy and it’s pet friendly!  Points deducted: attention to detail, make sure the plate is clean of smears before it arrives at the table.  Overall impression:  Love it, Go! Now!