February Vin-atics with Welmoed – a Braai-ing Good Time!
February 7, 2011 in Uncategorized
Dion and Jan doing ‘man-stuff’ at the braai whilst Erika hovers in the background.
Would you believe it? Practically the hottest day of the year so far, perfect braaiing weather – and it chucks it down! Not an impressive start to the evening at all. But were we fazed? Were we daunted? Absolutely not – we just all pretended to be British and huddled under the umbrella and had a barbecue instead!
Our vin-atics partner this month, Welmoed Wines had sportingly allowed us to do a braai this month instead of a formal dinner party – a cracking decision given the weather and the fact that the Welmoed wines are wonderful easy-drinkers of note (as we discovered!). So the wines inspired a fabulous outdoor braai menu, which in turn inspired some fabulous, outdoor, braaiing foodies to join us for the evening.
Sam – your sofa’s on fire.
Back for his second visit (I am forgiven for putting eggs in the fish pie!) was braai God, Pete Goffe-Wood with Elize, now a hands-on chef herself at the Kitchen Canteen. He was joined by SA’s other braai legend, Jan Scannell aka Jan Braai, our last minute Twitter begger, Erika Borman and pulls-no-punches tweeter and blogger Dion Martin and wife Kim. The normal roles were apportioned amongst the Food24 crowd – Cathy shops and does the basic prep, Aletta comes up with the ideas and translates them in dishes of fabulousness, Cath takes the pictures and Sam swans around pretending to feel guilty that we’re all working, whilst in reality not giving a toss. The wines were chilled, the undercover braai was lit, the rain lashed down and we’re off.
Earlier on, Jan had slightly disconcerted us by announcing that he would be accompanied by a cameraman who would be filming his every move. Unsure as to whether to believe him, Sam answered the door looking like a 12 yr old in rather fetching shorts, no make-up and a ponytail and was greeted by a camera thrust down her throat. Urgently mainlining the eminently quaffable Welmoed Sparkling Brut to calm her shattered nerves, she was then given a tour of her own kitchen and staff with a running commentary in Afrikaans on what we were up to, before Jan moved outside to shake his head in horror at the unsanitary condition of the braai.
A heavenly bowl of deliciousness.
The first course we had chosen to prepare was the Caponata after Aletta promised us she made an amazing version. She does too, so after burning a few pita breads on the braai, the bowls arrived at the table and we tucked in. The original thought had been to match this to the Sauvignon, but it became rapidly clear that that was never going to happen. Pete was holding forth about sugar and acid levels, Erika chose this moment to tell us that she only drinks red wine and cameraman Stefan decided he’d had enough of work and was hitting the Chardonnay in a big way. Several heated debates and argument later and the votes were split – 3 for the Chardonnay, 3 for the Shiraz and 4 for the Rose.
What’s that saying about fiddling whilst Rome burns? This is more like salsa-ing whilst our braai goes out!
A time-out was taken at this point whilst Pete got cross at how blunt Sam’s knives were “You couldn’t cut a hole in a baby’s head with this knife”, Jan showed us pictures of his babies (that is, his favourite braais in the Karoo and elsewhere) and Cathy got anxious about how low the fire was dropping whilst our two braai gurus were chewing the fat indoors. To be fair, I suppose we should never have expected men to multi-task, and watching the fire, preparing their main courses and filming a convincing double act at the same time proved to be too much for them. By the time they emerged from the kitchen bearing plates of marinaded meat, the fire was a goner.
What??!!! I hear you all cry! The two foremost braai-ers in the country (and by definition, therefore, the world) let the fire die out before the meat was cooked?! Impossible! Yet, tis all too true. There was a thoughtful raised eyebrow or two and then the excuses began. “It’s the wood” “It’s the braai” “It’s the rain” Yeah, yeah, yeah – whateverrrrrr!! Back into the kitchen and under the grill for Jan’s curry sosaties and into a skillet for Pete’s Mexican chicken.
Whilst this was happening, the conversation outside was far-ranging and intellectual. “Why do Americans say ‘erbs’ instead of ‘herbs’?” pondered Cathy. “Generations of in-breeding” interjected Pete knowledgeably from the kitchen. “Dion, don’t finish all the wine before the food is cooked” admonished Kim, whilst Jan announced “I swing both ways” (not sure where that snippet of conversation came from or went to) and “I think that Shiraz goes with everything” said Erika and offered to take her clothes off.
You take one really big well-aged wombat……
Ravenously starving by now, the three remaining planned dishes for the evening all arrived at the table at once and occasioned a feeding and tasting frenzy. We had chosen to cook Pete’s Mexican Spice Chicken wraps with sweetcorn salsa and Jan’s Curried Lamb Sosaties along with Aletta’s Beetroot with anchovy and herb butter. Pete tried to restore credibility by announcing earnestly “The earthiness of the Rose combines well with the muddiness of the beetroot and the saltiness of the anchovy picks up the fruit in the wine” which was far too erudite for this time of night, although quite a few people were liking the rose more and more with all three dishes. Except for Erika of course “I still think that Shiraz goes with everything” and she had a few followers in that point of view as well.
Food so good, it was well worth the wait.
The conversation had moved on from far-ranging to animated (ie loud) now, but I managed to rein everybody in long enough to give me their votes. The Sosaties proved that Erika had been right on one dish at least with 8 votes for the Shiraz and only a couple left for the Chenin. The Beetroot split the votes again with most going for the Rose closely followed by the Shiraz (mmm – maybe Erika actually had a point?) and the Chicken Wrap picked up plenty of votes for (in my view) one of the nicest, but most underrated wines of the evening, the Chardonnay. As Cath said “I always raise my hand for a Chardonnay” and in this case, she was right.
So thank you Welmoed and all our guests and chefs for a thoroughly enjoyable evening – when Welmoed say their wines are easy-drinking, you’d better believe it because we got through 14 bottles of them with nary a pause. En route we decided to set up a new company (“Braai24.com – tell them to do it or we’re all going to sell our Naspers shares!”), set Sam’s sofa on fire and toasted Jan on it, strenuously attempted to prevent Erika from performing a strip tease and finished up the evening eating Pete’s chocolate, crispy crack – his words, not ours – courtesy of Bevan Newton-Johnson and Tesco’s. Another brilliant Vin-atics evening and a full set of hangovers thoroughly well-deserved. Big thanks to Goodfellas (www.gfellas.co.za) for getting me home safely after a great night out.
This has got to be the EASIEST Vin-atics to have a go at yourself – and you can win a case of Welmoed’s delicious wines as well! Click here to take you to all the recipes and notes on the wines and all you have to do is
1. Pick a couple of the dishes
2. Buy a couple of the wines – nearly all of them are in Ultra
3. Invite a few friends over for a braai
4. Cook, eat, drink, photograph everything and then send us a mail telling us how it went.
The best braai report sent in before the end of the month wins a case of Welmoed wines! Come on guys – you know you want to!!