Tag Archives: boerekos

MasterChef SA Season 2 episode 14: Predict who will be chopped and win with Pierneef à La Motte!

masterchef-sa-all-finalistsMasterChef SA Season 2 is the talk of the country, and we have another 6 weeks of viewing to look forward to. To warm things up a little, we have launched two competitions, the first being a prediction of who will win MasterChef SA in episode 26.

We are also running a weekly prize for the correct prediction of who our readers think will be chopped out of the MasterChef SA. For the correct prediction of who will leave MasterChef SA in episode 14 on  24 July, Pierneef à La Motte has generously offered a R500 voucher for two, making the correct prediction. The restaurant was featured in episode 10, when Chef Chris Erasmus conducted a MasterClass, preparing a terrine.

Pierneef à La Motte opened almost three years ago, and has made the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlist two years running.  It pays homage to the master artist JH Pierneef, andPierneef a La Motte interior Whale Cottage Portfolio to the historical roots of South African cuisine, presented with a contemporary twist.  The restaurant is green in many respects, theming carried through into many different aspects of the restaurant.  The furniture outside almost looks custom-made, with a green woven-effect, giving it a nature-look.  The placemats are in the shape of a vine leaf.  The silver container has a green glass candle holder (as well as beautiful hand-blown glass bottles for the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and little silver salt and pepper grinders).  The Pierneef name and theme comes from the priceless collection of 44 oils and other works by JH Pierneef (1886 – 1957), which La Motte bought from Pierneef’s daughter Marita, who now lives in the United Kingdom.  The work is displayed in the Pierneef art gallery on the La Motte property.  Given that Pierneef is synonymous with the pinnacle of South African art, La Motte honoured the artist by naming the restaurant after him, to demonstrate that they wish to follow his high standards.  The Pierneef name and art has also been carried over into a new range of La Motte wines, called the Pierneef Collection. Some of the collection of 1957 Pierneef lino cuts, which owner Hanneli Rupert had received from her father Dr Anton Rupert years ago, have been used for the back labels for these wines. Continue reading →

Neil Stemmet’s ‘sout + peper’ is a journey of food, its future lying in the past!

I have written about Neil Stemmet, who is a restaurant curator, pop-up restaurant designer, and ‘sout + peper’ food blogger, but I have never seen his own written word.  I love the passion that he has put into his first just-published book ‘sout + peper erfeniskos’, of which the first run of 3000 has just been sold out, and how his personality comes through in his book.  It is a wonderful history of South African cooking, food culture, and food brands, and is more of a ‘storieboek’ than it is a recipe book.

Stemmet writes in his introduction that it is food writer Renate Coetzee’s book ‘Spys en Drank’ that inspired him when he first started cooking in his ‘kontrei-restaurant’ Le Must in Upington.  His book is a compilation of South African family recipes handed down to him by ‘tantes, my ouma, my ma’, and include those he discovered though his own research.  Stemmet defines ‘erfeniskos’ (heritage food) as food dating between the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652 and the ‘Seventies, an era pre-MSG, pre-TV dinners, and a time before ‘boerekos’ having become over-complicated. ‘Erfeniskos’ is also food that needs the minimum of spices, and all Neil has in his pantry is salt, white pepper, vinegar, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, aniseed, coriander, lemon juice, bay leaves, and sugar, which share the shelves with his basic ‘spens’ items of eggs, honey, Marmite, flour, and Worcester Sauce.  Stemmet also calls it ‘kuierkos en seënkos’, always shared with others and always blessed before eaten.

His ouma’s cooking inspired him, with its smells and kitchen sounds, like a concert hall, he writes.  Stemmet grew up in Robertson, and waxes lyrical about ouma’s home-made bread, farm butter, peach jam, and ‘moerkoffie’. He writes how it was ‘grênd’ to eat KOO (from the factory in Ashton close by) peas, and fruit with custard and cream on Sundays.

The photographs of brands and packs of days gone by evoke many happy memories: Robertson’s white pepper in a box, Carmién organic Rooibos tea, Royal baking powder, Tastic rice, Cartwrights curry powder, Mrs Ball’s chutney, Colman’s traditional hot English mustard powder in a tin, KOO fruit cocktail in syrup, SASKO cake flour, and Khoisan hand-harvested sea salt.

Recipes for traditional Afrikaans foods such as skilpadjies, rusks, Hertzoggies, and Smutskoekies, as well as staples such as chicken pie, bobotie in different styles, curry, oxtail, cakes and tarts, preserved fruit, lamb stew, marmalade, fruit punches, roast lamb, and many more are contained in the 300 page book.

Neil Stemmet, ‘sout + peper : erfeniskos‘. LAPA Uitgewers.  The book is to be translated into English for the next print run.  Tel 082 373 3837.  www.soutenpeper.com Twitter: @NeilStemmet

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Recession brings the future of food back to the past!

I had heard of and spoken to Sonia Cabano almost a year ago, but we had never met, until last week, and we have done so twice in a week!   Sonia has a refreshing view on many things in life, and I was interested to speak to her about her love for food, and the cookbooks that she had written to date.  She is proudly South African in her love for local foods, and sees that the food preparation of generations past will become that of the future.

Sonia (de Waal) became a well-known advertising model for Lancome, Mary Quant and Yves St Laurent after leaving Brandfort, living in Milan, Paris and London for twelve years.  She grew up in a food-loving family, with her mother being an amazing baker and cook, says Sonia, and her family ate in the way Sonia proposes we should all go back to – they had a vegetable garden at home, and meat came from a smallholding her dad owned.  They ate organically then, not giving it a name, but by its principles. Sonia was always in her mom’s kitchen, and helped her mom, and now her children do the same when she prepares food.

It was in London that she was asked to cook for clients, word having spread about her wonderful dinner parties.  She loved the supply of fur and feathered game in the city, and London’s specialist shops, something she would love to see more of in Cape Town.  Her love for shopping at food markets stems from this.   Her dream to study cooking at the Ritz Escoffier School in Paris did not materialise, but her second best option was to go to London’s top restaurants and ask for an apprenticeship, and it was Bistrot 190 and Kensington Place that gave her places in their kitchens.   When many left the country in 1994, it was the year that Sonia returned to South Africa, and to Cape Town specifically.  She started a catering company, but closed it down after five years when she had her children.

She received a call out of the blue to audition for SABC 3’s “Pampoen tot Perlemoen” food programme, was hired, and made four series with them. She added food writing to her activities, for VISI, TASTE, Sarie, Insig, and House & Garden.  To this she added writing cookbooks, and two have been published to date:

*   ‘Kombuis’ – was written in Afrikaans for Afrikaans foodlovers.  She said she found it harder to express herself in Afrikaans, as cooking terms have not evolved in this language.  The book contains traditional ‘boerekos’ recipes interpreted by Sonia, and she included a chapter on how to larder.

*   ‘Easy, Simple and Delicious’, which she says is the easy way to make fresh staples in the lazy and fast way!

Her newest book, to be called ‘Relish’, will be published in September.  It will focus on sauces, seasonings, and condiments to make at home.  It includes making preserves, as well as cheeses, such as ricotta and mascarpone.

Sonia wants to share her passion for local food, and wants to keep her readers out of supermarkets for basics, which she would like them to make, like pasta sauce, instead of buying them out of a tin, and/or containing preservatives and colourants.  She includes chef’s tips in her books too. In addition to writing, she does cooking demonstrations, and is a recipe development consultant.   She wanted to set up a Slow Food shop, but could not find the right venue for it.

She espouses the principles of Slow Food, and it ties in with her food philosophy of “Tradition is Modern”!   She feels it important that small food and wine producers be encouraged and supported, and that a small food collective be organically nurtured to become a valuable resource.   Sounding similar in her food philosophy to Neil Stemmet, Sonia talks about “Kontreikos”, which is eating seasonal food from one’s region and which the farmer has been fairly remunerated for.  Sonia is very anti-supermarket, and proudly told me that she has not stepped into a Woolworths in six months. She sees supermarkets as ‘dehumanising’, pushing their wares down consumers’ throats, and Woolworths in particular does not practice its environmentally-friendly claim it proudly advertises inside its stores.   She supports ethical production of foods, and wants us “to live in harmony with nature”.  She would love us to go back, and she wants to document, to how the ‘old country ladies’ made foods like butter, and beverages in the past.  She would love Capetonians to get out of their homes again, and to connect in the neighbourhood, not just with their neighbours but also with the local shops in these areas.  She thinks that the recession is fantastic in making us all return to basics, to discover what is essential, and to no longer be shopping-driven.

Having rejected it initially, due to the disparagement she had seen on it, Sonia has now taken to Twitter, and finds it a fantastic tool for networking, for sourcing information, for the immediacy of response, and to communicate and share one’s thoughts and feelings about anything and everything!

POSTSCRIPT 23/5:  The comment by Maria has upset Sonia, and she has been contacted by 12 persons, she says, who all claim that we wrote the comment as “Maria”. Michael Olivier of Crush! made this claim to Hetzner last year, when he tried to get our blog closed down!  Sonia sent an sms today that she felt that she ‘was being set up’ by me in having interviewed her, writing the blogpost, and then writing the ‘Maria’ comment – it is an absolutely ludicrous allegation, as we have the blog in which we can write what we like, and we do not have to resort to writing comments on our own blog, nor on anyone else’s. I would not have spent the money and time in inviting Sonia for lunch, had I not been interested in her as a person, and her writing about food.  It is sad that such nastiness goes around in Social Media, and that people talk about others without having met them.  Sonia has decided to block us on Twitter as a result, from having been in praise of us getting her starting on Twitter only three weeks ago, and being happy with our blogpost about her when it was posted on Thursday.

Sonia Cabano. Tel 071 674 0222. www.soniacabano.co.za Twitter: @SoniaCabano1

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Restaurant Review: Towerbosch at Knorhoek is a magical feast!

Even though Towerbosch Earth Kitchen on the Knorhoek wine estate has been open for a year, it has suddenly become en vogue, with media coverage creating awareness.  When we were told that our lunch stop on the Eco Wine Tour would be at Towerbosch, I was delighted, as what I had read about the restaurant sounded good.

Towerbosch means ‘magic bush’, and it is a unique restaurant setting with a neat lawn, a pond from which you imagine fairies arise at night, and an unusually shaped thatch-roof building.  Inside, the large restaurant room has an interesting structure on the ceiling, made from white-painted woven branches from the farm, from which hang the lights, and an interesting collection of cups, saucers, family trinkets, and cutlery, a modern take on the chandeliers of Pierneef a La Motte.  The interior decorator is Neil Stemmet, who also did the decor of Cuvee at Simonsig.  Interesting too is the collection of tables and chairs, most of them completely different, some with wooden tops, others with white tops, and the chairs linked to each table also differ vastly.  Everywhere there are collections of farm food, e.g. a table with two pumpkins, another containing a bowl of lemons, and a lovely vase with proteas on the table near the entrance, on which the Knorhoek wine range is displayed.   A wall contains a collection of plates, as one would have in mom’s home.  A lounge/library corner with a couch and bookshelves adds to the homely feel.   Stemmet says of his decor: “My inspiration came from my carefree inner child and love for natural artistry.  I decided to steer clear of artificial, modern luxury to make room for an unassuming, homely eat-out destination where the senses are transported to a faraway, enchanting fairytale, almost back to one’s childhood, while indulging in a languid, home-cooked meal”.   The music is a mix, and very South African, including “Suikerbossie”, but a jazzed up version of it.   There is a large fireplace, but is not large enough to adequately heat up the restaurant on a cold wintry day.  Blankets are available to warm one up, and heaters were brought to tables that needed more heat.

A display blackboard lists the menu for the day, which changes daily to reflect the availability of supplies.  As we were a group of nine, we were served a “feast table”, an unusual but clever homely presentation of the food in bowls from which one helps oneself, rather than a plateful being dished up for each person, just as one would eat this “boerekos” as a family at home.  To start, the most wonderful warm home-baked bread with fresh farm butter, and ‘konfyt’ was served, to get the appetite stimulated and to soak up the wine we had tasted in the morning on the tour.   Our main course was brought to the table, and consisted of smoorsnoek, chicken pie, a massive platter of to-die-for pork with crackling and the most wonderful roast potatoes, sweet potatoes, a bean and potato mix, a Greek salad with the most generously big chunks of feta and fresh fresh greens, and a tomato salad.  We could not help thinking that this meal was like “Ma se kos”, a typical South African Sunday lunch in the middle of the week.  We could have had melktert or malva pudding as a dessert, but declined due to the magnificent feast.  In keeping with the Boerekos theme, there is no cappuccino machine, but ‘moerkoffie’ in a plunger is served.  

On Sundays Towerbosch serves something different – an Asado Argentinian meal, consisting of their lovely farm bread and butter, empanadas, soup or smoorsnoek, two or three meats from the barbeque, and dessert, at the cost of R165 per head.

We drank a bottle of Knorhoek Shiraz 2005, a lovely smooth wine.  We laughed when we saw a metal bucket brought to another table, serving as an ice bucket!   The Knorhoek wine estate is a member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.  Only Knorhoek wines are available at Towerbosch, and include Two Cubs White Rosé, and Red, and Knorhoek Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Reserve and Pantere.   Prices look very reasonable, and only a small add-on relative to the cellar price makes them affordable.

Whilst we did not get to meet them, the chef couple are Carmen van der Merwe and Wesley Muller, who previously worked at Terroir and Beluga.  The chefs’ focus is on slow cooked and simple “traditional family meals”, with ‘heritage fare’ served on big platters.

The choice of this restaurant for lunch for the Eco Wine Tour is motivated by the use of the recycled tables and chairs in the restaurant, the growing of their own herbs (with vegetables to follow), and their wonderful home cooked meals.  Even though we all loved the four wine estates we visited, the highlight of the Eco Wine Tour was the magical lunch at Towerbosch.   A definite for a repeat visit.

Towerbosch Earth Kitchen, Knorhoek wine estate, Knorhoek Road, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 865-2114 www.knorhoek.co.za. Open for lunch Wednesdays – Sundays, and for dinner on request for a minimum of 15 guests.   On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com