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.

Silver Orange Bistro Bliss! Almost :)

Silver Orange Bistro! What a surprise!  The word “bistro” mostly refers to a small eatery that serves simple food, but in this case, it’s a small place that packs a huge punch.  Silver Orange Bistro found its feet in the early 2000’s and is situated in the Hartebeespoortdam region just a 30 minute drive from the capital Pretoria or a 50 minute drive from Johannesburg.  Nestled in between the bushveld and orchards  (yes you read right) surroundings, you almost feel like you have just arrived at your mini holiday.

The setting is very laid back and relaxed, and with adequate seating that offers you inside and outside dining, you can take your pick where to enjoy your meal.  One thing is certain, please book before you drive all the way out to Hartebeespoortdam as Silver Orange Bistro is quite popular and you don’t want to be turned away on arrival.  (so be clever – BOOK!).

They have a lovely menu that offers you culinary delights with European and African influences.  Be sure to ask them about their special offerings.  My favourite?  I enjoyed their Pork Belly with Balsamic Mash potatoes and roast peppers and aubergine.  It was well prepared and executive chef Leon Nel sure knows how to balance his flavours and marrying your palate to visual presentation.  Please visit Silver Orange Bistro’s website, to see what their standard menu offers.  Take note that they updated their menu, so you might find more items when you open their menu on arrival.

Now for the Almost part…. (yes, you thought I was going to be impolite?)  Almost Orange is just a short walk or rather stroll down the orchards just beyond the Bistro.  You are greeted by a scene I can swear is straight out of Tuscany!  Platters, Tapas and premium drinks your thing?  Then this is the place for you.  Where the Bistro offers you a great setting that suits families and individuals alike, Almost Orange caters more for adult patrons and children under 16 is not allowed.  Once again, book your spot well in advance.

So! If you find yourself looking for an adventure outside the hustle and bustle of the city perimeter, then jump in your wagon and take a drive to Harties and experience a wide selection of Gin, MCC, craft beer, wine, etc while enjoying superb food.  Well done Silver Orange Bistro and Almost Orange, this was an excellent experience.

Ok, so what about my YES, NO & MAYBE? Here goes:

YES – They offer a unique experience, good food and well rounded relaxed dining with a killer (and award-winning wine list).

NO – The service was a bit slow to my liking, but as always, when the food is good, I’ll tolerate some ‘slowness’ to my experience.

MAYBE – It gets quite hot during the summer season, so if you find the heat unbearable, please book your spot inside.  The road to Silver Orange Bistro is not in good condition and maybe you should take it slow driving there, you don’t want to ‘not arrive’ at your reservation and leave a bit earlier.

All an all, I was impressed, they will most certainly see me again.  Well done Silver Orange team! Itsfoodoo likes you a lot, no, we love you!

 

Maple & Cinnamon Butternut dreams!

Veggies are a good thing, not only are they healthy and nutritious, but they should always be fun too.  I always catch myself in the kitchen busy preparing food facing this conundrum of rather healthy vs rather tasty.  Sadly, I still have a lot to learn in that department.  One thing is definitely for sure, I like…… no I LOOOOOOVE tasty food and sometimes healthy eating get the back seat.

Recently I posted my side dish of Roasted Maple & Cinnamon Butternut on Instagram (please follow me there @Janthinus) and received some requests on how to go about making it.  So here it is.  Ready yourself glorious Butternut Bi… (ok, I’ll not get carried away) ….. this is going to be awesome and super easy to prepare.

Let’s proceed.  Let’s do this y’all! (apologies for poor accent there). You will need:

Step 1

Butternut (I used about three medium ones) – Place in oven dish, sliced or as you wish

Olive Oil – Drizzle and toss them to coat them well

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar sprinkled evenly over

Salt & Pepper to taste.

Chuck them in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for about 30-40 minutes until tender.

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Step 2

A few little blocks of Butter (NOT MARGARINE…… How very dare you?! Hehehe! Scatter them around in the dish.

Sprinkle some Cinnamon over the Butternut, not too much.

Drizzle 2 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup over them and put it back in the oven.

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Put it on maximum heat and switch to Grill.  Keep your eyes on them the whole time…. THE WHOLE TIME!!!!  Like a hawk y’all!

They should caramelize in roughly 3-5 minutes until golden brown.  Take them out of the oven and taraaaaaaaaaa… you’re done.

Boooyaaaaaa!  Have yourself some merry little Butternut now.

Enjoy!  **drops the mic**

 

Visited the new Pachas yet?

Located in the green and tree-filled neighbourhood of Waterkloof in the capital called Pretoria, you will find Pachas.  They have moved the new development and very trendy area called The Club on the corner of Pinaster Avenue and 18th Street.  From the get-go Pachas is elegantly inviting with decor, service and crisp clean tables to match.  Their menu offers a variety of dishes carefully selected and crafted for the discerning diner. 

Swiftly (off-the-menu) offerings were introduced and starters were ordered.  One thing is for certain, when it comes to swift service, they are on top of things.  I enjoyed Smoked Marlin Carpaccio with deep fried Capers on a Rocket and a bed of micro-herbs with a Wasabi dressing.  Beautiful, aromatic and tasty.  To accompany the meal I opted for a 2015 Laborie Merlot which worked wonders with my palate.  Please check out Laborie Wines after reading this post.  Main course saw a special medium-rare beef Fillet topped with Halloumi, a green salad and potatoes that were pan friend with bacon that is crispy golden brown bliss personified.  Naturally the side dishes offered a familiar face in the form of creamed Spinach and Butternut.

I must say, I glanced at the dessert menu and resisted temptation due to the lack of space in my tummy.  They do offer lovely “traditionals” like Crème Brûlée, Italian Kisses, Cheese cake and lot’s more.  So my my overall experience at Pachas was positive and very memorable.  Food was delicious and beautifully prepared.  Pachas is priced to the higher range in terms of their menu and be sure to fork out a little bit more but the food and experience is well worth it.  You will definitely see me back again and thank you for a delightful evening.

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).

Jip! It’s almost Pinotage & Biltong Festival time!

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The month of October is not just the month of lovely purple Jacarandas, the intro to spring and exam time for students, but it’s the month where the Pinotage & Biltong Festival will take place in all it’s grandeur and splendour!  Ask any South African what icons we own as a country and certainly, Biltong will be one of those.  Equally important in stature is off course, is the South African wine varietal, Pinotage that is truly South African in every sense.

14 & 15 October will see Leriba Lodge in the capital city erupt with these two icons on offer to festival-goers to enjoy.  The proverbial cream of the crop wineries that will make their #Pinotage & Biltong Festival debut will be Altydgedacht, Beyerskloof, Delheim, Flagstone, Kaapzicht, Koelenhof, La Couronne, Lanzerac, L’Avenir, Mellasat, Overhex/Balance Wines, Perdeberg, Rhebokskloof, Slanghoek, Simonsvlei, Vriesenhof and last but not least Wellington Wines.

Biltong will surely not be in short supply and you will be able to pair your wine of choice with the different flavours of biltong and droëwors to your heart’s content!  My personal favourite you might ask?  Meet me there and I’ll personally give you my perfect combo.  The weekend will be a fun filled, family-friendly event that promises lots of entertainment with great festive ambience.  Not only is this an event for wine and biltong lovers, but this festival also support The Pebbles Project as their charity of choice.

Ticket prices are available at a mere R220pp online through www.plankton.mobi or www.computicket.com and as with any wine festival that is worth their weight in grapes, you will get a branded wine glass with coupons to taste the day away.  Gate tickets will be available at R250pp.  Please remember to book your designated driver or transport service well in advance.

Since it’s purple season here in The City of Tshwane, the obvious dress code for the weekend will be white and purple.  Should you decide to dress totally OTT (over the top) you might just win a prize or 6!  Remember to check in when you arrive at the festival and use the hashtag on your social media platform of choice #PinoBiltongFest.  For more information on this Pinotage & Biltong Festival spectacular, visit the Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/165129700654574/ or contact CVO marketing on their website www.cvomarketing.co.za.

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….. 🙂