fredag 31 december 2010

Gott nytt år!

Kära läsare, det är dags att ta farväl av 2010. Det har varit ett bra år. Jag ser fram emot 2011 som jag hoppas kommer att bli roligt och utmanande!

Jag hoppas att ni haft en bra nyårsafton så här långt – det har vi. Mat- och dryckmässigt inledde vi med jordärtskocksoppa följt av lammfärspasta. Därefter en liten enkel fruktsallad med apelsiner, granatäpplen, passionsfrukt och bananer. Allt under ett berg av vispad grädde! Lite senare blir det vickning – toast Skagen. Allt har sköljts ner med 1996 Henriot, som var mycket trevlig (eller är, ska jag väl skriva eftersom vi har fortfarande har kvar av den…). Mogen, sherrytoner.

Dåså, såhär en drygt en timme kvar till midnatt, vill jag önska alla ett riktigt gott nytt år! Ses igen 2011!

torsdag 23 december 2010

God Jul och Gott Nytt År!

Kära läsare, en liten julhälsning! Hoppas ni får en skön jul!


tisdag 21 december 2010

Haute Cabrière, Franschhoek

Our fourth and final stop on our Stellenbosch outing is the very famous restaurant Haute Cabrière just outside the city of Franschhoek. Having spent most of the day jumping from one interesting place to another, we all feel a certain need, lust if you prefer, to just sit down and relax. Haute Cabrière is just such a place. The restaurant is beautifully located at the end of the Franschhoek canyon, and so from the restaurant’s piazza you have the most magnificent look of the entire valley.

We are very warmly greeted by Hildegard von Arnim, who arrives with the bar far largest sabraging tool I have ever seen – it’s a full sword. Most sabrage sabers that you can buy in your average, middle of the road wine shops are quite tiny, more like an oversized knife. But this one is full length. I want one of those.

After talking at length about the history of the restaurant and her family, which I sadly do not remember that much of (I was looking at the sword), Mrs. von Arnim sets out to demonstrate how to sabrage a bottle of sparkling wine. Up to this point I have always thought it quite ridiculous to sabrage sparkling wine; I mean, what is the point? It would be one thing if you just could draw your sword, epee, or saber and just give the bottle a well-aimed blow. But the thing is that you need to remove not only the foil, but also ease up the muselet! And I tell you, once you have removed that wire collar, you have lost all control of the cork – it could pop at any time. The reason for this is that the inside of the cork, i.e., the part of the cork which is stuck down the bottle, is coated with wax. Otherwise the cork could easily get stuck in the bottle and you would actually need a sword to get it open! So in ancient times, people would truly go about striking bottles just in order to have a drink!

Mrs. von Arnim starts the countdown and I set my camera at multiple shots. At the third try, the corks flies into the sky. I look at the monitor and realize that I have been shooting with the “P mode.” Although having caught the flying cork just leaving the bottle, the photo is blurry! Such a beginner’s mistake! Since we are over twenty people the first bottle is quickly finished, and for this second sabrage I set the shutter speed at 2000. Unfortunately, the cork flies between the frames this time. Mungamo!

Anyway, maybe I shall say something about the wine itself – it is a Pierre Jourdan Brut. Very nice. I saw it at the La Cotte shop, and was going to buy it, had not I seen the dessert wines. Anyway the wine is very nice, more complex and slightly more alluring than the Môreson sparkling. Another price range yes, but nonetheless a better wine.

After these sword-rattling exercises we are shown to our table. For starter we have duck liver parfait. Very smooth and rich in taste! I could eat this every day… Then we have a pepper-crusted sirloin steak. Also superb. For dessert a very tasty lemon tart. The wines that accompany each dish accompany it well. Not being that fond of red wine, I enjoyed the initial sparkling wine best. But that is me.

A few hours and many laughs later the sun sets over the valley and I escape the eating for some shots. Using my tripod, I think I got some nice pictures of the place! Hope you agree. Thank you so much Hildegard von Arnim and the rest of your staff at Haute Cabrière for your warm hospitality and for serving us this wonderful dinner! Thank you!

söndag 19 december 2010

The City of Franschhoek

We leave Môreson Winery and continue to the city of Franschhoek. Franschhoek was founded in the late 17th century by French Huguenot refugees. I do not know how much you know about the civil French religious wars in the 16th and 17th centuries, so here is a short background:

All began of course with Martin Luther’s 1517 nailing of his 94 theses to the church door which brought forth the protestant reformation. In France, as in other Western European countries, many people converted to this new form of expressing their religious beliefs. Tension, however, arose between French Protestants and French Catholics and in 1562 this manifested itself in the Massacre of Vassy. This is prior to the reign of Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIV, but concurrent with Elizabeth I.

Anyway, the religious tensions continued and resulted in many battles and massacres, such as the notorious St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572. The French Wars of Religion, as it often is called (1562–98), came to an official end with the Edict of Nantes in 1598, granting certain rights for French Protestants. Some eighty years later these rights were withdrawn as the Nantes Edict was revoked and replaced with the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685.

In effect, this meant an end to French Protestantism as most Huguenots, as they were called, felt that the French government was failing them and it was time to leave the country. Many Huguenots fled to the Americas and the English Isles, but some of them found their way to the Dutch province of Cape Town. They were granted land in the valley of Olifantshoek, which quickly became known as le Coin Français (the French Corner), and later on as Franschhoek, which is Afrikaans for French Corner.

Franschhoek is a very beautiful, small, and sleepy town. The bus parks just outside the main church and we wander out in the sunshine. Our guide tells us that many “swallows” reside here (I suspect you are able to find out whom the expression refers to…). Our guide has also pointed out where the best wine shop is, and I find myself hasting down the main road to visit it. The shop is called la Cotte Inn and apart from South African and imported wines they carry a small but interesting selection of French cheese. How about that.

I browse through the small shop, it has a genuine feeling about it and very picturesque. It has a good selection of South African quality wine, including many interesting sparkling ones. In the end, however, I settle for some dessert wine. I’ll try to improve myself…

Back at the church, I discover that many of my fellow colleagues have taken refuge in some of the local bars! There are a few minutes left before we shall move on, and to my delight I see a little shop carrying a selection of African art objects. The shop is called African Art Gallery. I enter.

Very nice place! For once, I am in a shop with genuine African art. During our stay in South Africa, we have seen lots of people and lots of shops selling African art, but very few of them have felt genuine. Most have felt being designed in a western studio. These artifacts, however, feel truly African. I am basing this judgment on my previous experience livening in Liberia as a child, where “Chippare” could not get enough of trying to sell us African art (you should see my parents’ basement…)

Anyway, evening is approaching and we hop on the bus again for our final stop for our Stellenbosch outing, the very famous restaurant of Haute Cabrière just outside Franschoek. But that’s another post!

torsdag 16 december 2010

Môreson Winery, Franschhoek

Just as we are beginning to getting to know Stellenbosch, we find ourselves on long broad roads winding through the landscape (no, I am not going to link to the Beatles song). Stellenbosch is certainly famous in a wine making perspective, but the actual town – with all its picturesque houses and churches – is not that big. The bus takes us up the hills outside the city, as the landscape is ascending.

We pass through new settlement areas; we can see men working on the houses and on the infrastructure. It is a quiet day, not much traffic and not many people outside. We see signs which I believe are written in Xhosa, information signs about the new development area. Please feel free to send me an e-mail on redscream atsign live dot se if you know what the text says – I would appreciate it very much. There are certain areas which Google translate haven’t covered yet!

Anyway, in the midst of things the bus driver makes a right turn and shortly after we have arrived at Môreson Winery. Having Spier Winery fresh in mind, this is very much the opposite. No big parking lot, no fancy tasting room, no futuristic Moyo restaurant next by. All is very quiet and peaceful.

We are greeted by the winemaker himself, Clayton, who surprisingly starts off by talking about his newgrown moustache! We are told it is a sign of support for prostate cancer research. I would too grow such a moustache, only that I have such sparse beard growth it would only look ridiculous and certainly not do the cancer research any good...

Clayton talks very passionately and in a smooth, comfortably relaxed way about the wines, the soil, and the micro climate at Môreson. We start off with a white sparkling wine, the Solitaire Méthode Cap Classique (NV). Very fresh! 100 per cent Chardonnay. So nice! Fresh, crispy, tones of citrus. Much better than the Spier sparkling (did I say that out loud?). Good structure and fine balance between the fruitiness and the acid. A perfect appetizer.

Next wine is an oak-aged 100 percent Chardonnay, the Môreson Premium Chardonnay. Surprisingly slender! Very drinkable. We are also shown the aging cellar. Thereafter we taste some reds, the Pinotage, the Mata Mata, and the Miss Molly. I like the Mata Mata best.

We collect our belongings and hop on the bus again, this time heading for Franschhoek. Thank you so much for showing your wines and the winery to us! You make such good wines and we were much impressed. Also, it was so peaceful just sitting on your shadowy piazza and enjoying your wines. Thank you!