November 25, 2010 in Uncategorized
There was a distinct nip in the air as we headed off to Hout Bay on Tuesday evening. The night was warm but the wind was chilly, very chilly in fact. Luckily we had BUCKETS of wine to enjoy this month, courtesy of the lovely people at Solms-Delta who really know how to throw a party and who had given us extra bottles to make sure the evening went with a real bang.
We were meeting in Hout Bay because uber-foodie, Jane-Anne Hobbs who had been a guest at the last vin-atics dinner, had expressed her willingness to cook and host for the next one. Hey – ‘why keep a dog and bark yourself’ as the saying goes, so Food Ed Aletta and I relinquished our cooking responsibilities with breathtaking speed and prepared to enjoy a relaxing evening.
We had invited an absolutely stellar cast this month. Apart from Jane-Anne and hubby Philip, we were joined by legendary crayfish-scoffer Brian Berkman and his partner JP, blogger and actress Kate Liquorish, journos and winelovers Sam Woulidge and Diana Procter and the smokin’ hot Sam Linsell from the Smoking Shed. Determined to exploit my parents’ babysitting skills to the full, I had prevailed on Kevin, my husband to join us and, along with stalwarts Aletta and restaurant ed Cath Shone, the scene was set for an awesome night of food and wine.
Arriving at Jane-Anne’s seemed to last a long time which mattered little to the first-comers, happily sat on the stoep necking a bottle of wine. As normal, Cath Shone arrived with a catalogue of accidents and disasters behind her, Aletta arrived with a huge box of mussels dripping as she walked and a spare cake in case her pudding didn’t work, Kate arrived without the chocolate truffles which she assured us she had spent ages making before leaving them behind in the fridge (FAIL!) and Sam L arrived with some of her delicious smoked tuna which she laid over avo puree and toast as an appetiser. It was awesome – check her out at www.smokingshed.com.
At the last minute, we decided that it was too cold on the stoep so we picked up the table and moved inside. The first course of Chilli Snoek Pate arrived on the table, the wine was poured and the evening began.
I have to say that in all the time we have run with Vin-atics, I don’t think we have ever had such a food-friendly set of wines as these from Solms-Delta. The votes were split on every occasion with several people wanting to hedge their bets and vote twice – BUT we don’t let them!! The pate was divine – full of lemony notes with a little heat. Despite Philip strenuously backing up his choice by actual reason (the rest of us were being more vague) ‘I like the citrussy flavours in this wine’, the voting ended thus:
Cape Jazz shiraz – 5 votes, Vastrap – 2 votes, Lekkerwijn – 4 votes and Amalie – 1 vote.
First vote over, everyone realised what they were meant to do and the first of many ‘recreational glasses’ of wine began to be drunk by our chef, who had definitely earned them. To give her a break, Aletta took over the mussels. I had provided an opened bottle of 2003 Leventhorpe Seyval Blanc from Yorkshire, UK for her to cook with – we’d tried it the week previously and decided that cooking with it was the best option. I was slightly dismayed to find that someone had apparently been drinking the stuff (BIG mistake!) and we only had half the bottle left, but Aletta said it was fine as long as it didn’t ruin her Mussels with olives and Gremolata.
Well NOTHING could have ruined those mussels!!! Cape Town people reading this – the best mussels in this city are to be bought from Greg Cooke at Codfather and their retail arm, Seawater Fresh Fish in Camps Bay. Unbelievably good – “Best ever!” declared Sam L “And I’m a mussel slut!” Once again the voting was split with the Cape Jazz surprising us even more.
Cape Jazz – 4 votes, Amalie – 3 votes, Lekkerwijn – 3 votes and Vastrap – 2 votes.
It was time for a break. One end of the table was deep in discussions about dating agencies and speed dating “That would be the ultimate rejection for me” said Sam W sadly “I always make such a lousy first impression, that no-one would ever pick me again!” The other end of the table was pontificating on Oriental supermarkets with Sam L raving over the one in N1 city “But their wasabi peas always make me sneeze!” And in the middle of all this, the Nigella Lawson Fan Club was waxing lyrical about their idol “I like the way she licks her fingers” opined Philip – so there you go.
As the pies were cooking, other members of the family started to drift through the dining room starting with oldest son who emerged from the Bat Cave followed by talented artist daughter, Eleanor and finishing with a furry-tailed flourish by Velvet and Akamaru, the bassets, who rapidly goosed everyone before retiring to the sofa and lying in state.
Personally, I’m not surprised they came out – the smell of that Moroccan Chicken Pie was enough to bring a man back from the dead. In fact, Brian refused to vote on a wine match because “the pie is too fabulous to be distracted by drink!” For the rest of us, the Cape Jazz continued to surprise and delight although there was now dissension in the ranks with Philip coming out of the closet and declaring his hatred of it “It makes me want to rush into the sea with rocks in my pockets” He went for the Hiervandaan as the perfect match “the cumin spice is perfectly matched by the wine.”
Votes for the pie – Hiervandaan – 4 votes, Langarm – 4 votes, Cape Jazz – 1 vote, Amalie – 1 vote, Lekkerwijn – 1 vote.
And now, as always, the evening began to get a little disjointed as the good wine and good food took effect. Down one end of the table, Kate was using her acting skills to tell an hilarious anecdote about honeymoons (which has subsequently been tweeted very annoyingly by those who heard it to the frustration of those of us who didn’t – hrrumph) and recreational glasses of all the wines were now getting consumed at will by everyone. Much to Aletta’s surprise, the Chocolate and Cherry puddings worked a treat – but we still ate the Apple and Polenta Cake anyway! The voting got a bit hazy at this stage although a general consensus was that the expected match of the Cape Jazz Shiraz didn’t actually work – although the wine had gone with everything else (“See?! I told you that pudding would show up the Cape Jazz for the bastard it really is!!” – Philip as he unearthed a bottle of Klein Constantia Sauvignon NLH 2005 from his own store).
But the final comment on the wine comes from Aletta and probably best reflects the feelings of most of the party “If the reds were girls, the Cape Jazz would have to be the slutty one because it went with everything!” Take it as a compliment Solms-Delta – it totally surprised us all, as did just how food friendly all your wines were. A big thank you to Solms for the great selection and a huge thank you to Jane-Anne for all her hard work, to Philip for providing most of the good quotes, to Sam L for her tuna and to Aletta for the mussels. Roll on the next episode of Vin-atics!
If you want to have a go at winning wine, picnics and concert tickets this month, all you have to do is pick a couple of recipes, buy a bottle or two of wine (I’d recommend the Cape Jazz and the Lekkerwijn), eat, drink, take pictures and send them to us. We’re waiting to hear from you…..