Entries tagged with “Puglia Cheese”.


WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*    The Garden Route is one of nine Best Coastal Drives in the world, selected by CNN Traveler, and described as follows: ‘Drive along the #GardenRoute @GoToSouthAfrica absolutely stunning!” —@SuryaSadisivan’ .  Other coastal drives on the list includes the Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway, the Amalfi Drive in Italy, the Road to Key West in Florida, and Sea-to-Sky Highway in Vancouver.

*   Horst Frehse, Executive Director of the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Red Carnation Hotel Collection Staff Appreciation Awards held in London. (more…)

The long awaited V&A Market on the Wharf has opened in the historic building near the V&A Hotel in the V&A Waterfront, which once housed Planet Hollywood, David Kramer’s Theatre, and Musica, with more than fifty vendors displaying their food and beverage offerings. It is Cape Town’s first permanent market, operating from Wednesdays to Sundays, from 9h30 – 19h30.

Owned by Greg Anderson, or ‘Bubbles’ as Vaughn Johnson informed me, who took over the management of the Market when the previous operators pulled out, the Market offers a kosher deli, fresh seafood, meat, fruit and vegetables, baked ware and delicacies.  Greg impressed with his passion, and kindly offered me a V&A Market on the Wharf branded shopping bag, to ‘hide’ my Woolworths bag!  Greg is proud of the large number of new business owners that have joined as vendors, very few having been seen at any other markets in Cape Town.  V&A Waterfront tenants Vaughn Johnson and Ian Halfon had come to have a look, and we had coffee and tea together.

A last-minute building regulation hitch saw the opening of the Market delayed by two days to last Friday. The space is large, one main hall with an upstairs section housing the craft beer bar and seating for (more…)

The Bastille Festival is Franschhoek’s largest event, in its ability to attract visitors to the French Huguenot village, with 3000 visitors per day expected to enjoy the best of its foods and wines.  This year the Bastille Food and Wine Marquee has a new location and is bigger than ever before.  French wines will form part of the Bastille Festival for the first time this year, the Festival celebrating the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, this coming weekend on 14 and 15 July.

The Bastille marquee of 1300 m² has been erected in its new location in the parking area between the church and town hall, with its entrance off the main road, connecting the centre of the Festival with the other fun activities on the main road, which significantly competed with the marquee wine and food tastings last year.  The Le Franschhoek hotel’s Dish restaurant (selling quiche, French flag fudge, and French chantilly meringues), Haute Cabriere (Moules Belle Rose), Reuben’s (serving Beef Bourguignon and wok-fried squid and chorizo), Allee Bleue (salmon and smoked chicken baguettes), Backsberg (lamb ciabatta), Bread & Wine (porchetta sandwiches), Cotage Fromage (veal and foie gras burger), French Connection (steak rolls), Le Quartier Français (Bunny Chow, chocolate brownies), Mont Rochelle (Boerewors rolls, chicken wraps), Allora (shawarmas), Solms-Delta (Cape barbeque), Val de Vie (vol au vent), and Wild Peacock (oysters), and other local restaurants and wine estates will be selling their foods and offering their wines to taste in the marquee, at the cost of R150, which includes a tasting glass and a booklet of wine tasting coupons.

For the first time a VIP marquee will be available at the higher entrance fee of R395, which will allow one to rub shoulders and exchange tasting notes with the following 10 winemakers and their wines from the Rhône-Alpes region in France:

  • Gilles Barge, Domaine Barge (Cote Rotie, Condrieu)
  • Jean Luc Monteillet, Domaine De Montine (Grignan Les Adhemar, Cotes Du Rhone, Vinsobres)
  • Gilles Verzier, Vignobles Verzier, Chanteperdrix (Cote Rotie, Condrieu, Saint Joseph)
  • Nadia Fayolle, Domaine Des Martinelles (Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage)
  • Yves Cuilleron, Cave Cuilleron (Cote Rotie, Condrieu)
  • André Mercier, Vignerons Ardechois (Vins D’ Ardeche, Cotes Du Rhone, Cotes Du Vivarais –photograph)
  • Dominique Courbis, (St Joseph, Cornas)
  • Yann Chave, Domaine Yann Chave (Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage)
  • Pierre Mollier, Mas De Bagnols (Ardeche, Cotes Du Vivarais)
  • Laurent Vial, Domaine Du Colombier (Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage)

Two wine tastings of these winemakers’ wines, with the best of Franschhoek wines too, will also be held, at Grande Provence on Saturday and Sunday 14 and 15 July at 9h00, at the cost of R395, which includes the entrance ticket to the Bastille Marquee too.

Many wine estates will also host French inspired activities at their farms. Grande Provence, for example, will host an art exhibition focused on Le Monde front covers. For lunch it will serve Vichyssoise soup (R45), Boeuf Bourguignon (R90), Moules Marinière (R55), and a selection of French cheeses. At dinner guests will be offered a French inspired 3 course meal at R320 per person.

The main road will see many of the  restaurants and shops, decorated in blue, white, and red in keeping with the theme, offering food, beer, and wines for sale from their shop exteriors. Reuben’s, for example, will sell white truffle infused bean cassoulet soup, French onion soup, Puglia cheeses, Lynx wines, Jimmy Jagga ciders from KWV, Peroni draught, Jack Daniels, Boschendal sparkling wines, Deluxe coffee, and fresh fruit and vegetables outside its restaurant.

Alongside the fun food and wine events, the largest and longest running boules competition, the Waiter’s Race, Franschhoek minstrel parade from Solms-Delta, fencing, barrel-rolling, a farmer’s market, a craft market, children’s activities, and a French food market will be held over the weekend too, reports The Month. In addition, there will be 10 km, 25km, and 55 km mountain bike trails on Sunday 15 July, as well as a 12 km Salomon Bastille Day Trial Run on Saturday 14 July, from the Drakenstein Prison to Franschhoek, to commemorate freedom, the prison being the ‘home’ of Mr Nelson Mandela towards the end of his incarceration, and the prison he was released from in 1992, when it was still called Victor Verster. On Friday 13 July James Stewart will perform at a pre-Bastille Festival dinner with a French theme at La Petite Ferme.

Bring your berets and full purses, dress in the French colours, and enjoy two fun-filled days in Franschhoek, focused on its good foods and wines.  Book early, as the Saturday marquee entrance number is capped, and was sold out prior to the event last year.

Bastille Festival, Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. 14 and 15 July, 12h00 – 17h00. www.webtickets.co.za. Tel (021) 876-2861

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

Portobello Franschhoek Angelot is South Africa’s Dairy Product of the Year, awarded at the SA Dairy Championships earlier this week. The winning cheese is a washed-rind cheese, and beat 779 other dairy products to receive the honour, evaluated by a panel of 40 local and international judges.

Washed-rind cheeses are difficult to perfect, as the Ayrshire milk-based cheese ripens from the surface inwards. The Agri-Expo media release explains that “..the fermentation process as well as the metabolism of fat and protein must be managed extremely well by the cheesemaker”.  It is an extremely strong and pungent cheese, and the Portobello Franschhoek Angelot was judged to compare with the best of this kind of cheese from France. Washing the rind of the cheese as it matures changes the young cheese into a soft texture and its rind takes on an orange colour. As the cheese matures, the rind becomes sticky and reddish, and the aroma earthier, says the media release. “The paradox of a powerful aromatic rind and milder flavour is responsible for a veritable explosion in the mouth”.  Despite its strong taste and aroma, the Portobello cheese impressed the judges enough for it to receive this accolade.

The Outstanding Dairy Quality Qualité Mark of Excellence was awarded to 26 dairy products: Parmalat received six quality awards for their Simonsberg Matured Cheddar, Woolworths Farmhouse Cheddar, Parmalat Extra Matured Cheddar, Woolworths Vintage Cheddar, Parmalat Vintage Cheddar, and Simonsberg Traditional Cream Cheese. Clover won three awards (Elite Mild Cheddar, Feta with herbs, Mild Cheddar), and DairyBelle (Fiddlers, IWS Slice – Cheddar), De Pekelaar Kaas (Boerenkaas, Matured Boerenklaas), Lancewood (Woolworths Cream Cheese Plain, Woolworths Mascarpone Plain), Rhodes Food Group (Woolworths Ricotta, Portobello – Angelot), and Van der Poel Kaas (Hollandse Gouda – Extra Belegen, Hollandse Gouda – Oud) won two awards each.  Other winners were Anysbos Goat’s Milk – Halloumi), Fairview (Roydon Camembert), Goat Peter (Grison – Pecorino style), Le Montanara (Woolworths – Royal Ashton), Lausanne Dairies (Double Greek Yoghurt – Greek), Marcel’s Frozen Yogurt (Passion fruit), and Puglia Cheese (Pasta Filata Cheese – Burrata).

The SA Dairy Championships are the country’s largest dairy competition and Agri-Expo has been presenting it since 1834. According to Chief cheese Judge Kobus Mulder a rise in the quality of goat’s milk products can be seen, and especially goat’s milk yogurt can compete against the best cows’ milk yogurts on the market. “Producers are realising that the consumer’s taste and preferences are being refined and that they now increasingly expect products of higher quality,” he says.  “Aged and washed-rind cheeses are also gaining on the milder, more traditional products – pointing to a more developed consumer taste.”

The award-winning cheeses can be tasted at the SA Cheese Festival, running until Monday at Sandringham, off the N1, midway between Cape Town and Paarl.  Here is a link to the Portobello stand.

Agri-Expo, Tel (021) 975-4440.  www.cheesesa.co.za, www.cheesefestival.co.za

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

The opening of Burrata at the Old Biscuit Mill (in the previous B-Lounge) at the beginning of the month had been eagerly awaited, with its owner Neil Grant coming from 2011 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Rust en Vrede (he was the sommelier when he ran the restaurant with chef David Higgs).  Burrata is not a pizzeria, and it’s not an Italian restaurant, and not all its dishes contain Burrata mozzarella! It is a unique, friendly, and welcoming restaurant, which with its neighbours The Pot Luck Club and The Test Kitchen make the Old Biscuit Mill and Woodstock an increasingly exciting restaurant destination.

At night, most of the restaurant is not brightly lit, and therefore the red pizza oven imported from Naples catches one’s eye immediately.  It is unlike any pizza oven seen locally, with a more modern design, weighing 2,6 tons, and having necessitated the widening of the doors to get it inside the restaurant.  It is lower in size, concentrating and therefore intensifying the heat inside the oven, at about 460°C.  Logs are stored inside the black-tiled pizza oven stand, as well as against a window in another section of the restaurant, creating an interesting circular design effect, letting in light from outside, but giving diners inside some privacy. The pizzaiolo, one of the new names I learnt, being the male pizza makers, use peels imported from Italy: the loading peel is used to stretch the pizza, to create the correct shape and to place it in the oven; the turning peel turns the pizza around once it is in the oven, to ensure that the pizza is equally cooked, explained Cameron.  Burrata backer Barry Engelbrecht is a pizza aficionado, and has attended pizza-making courses around the world, and he trained the staff in pizza-making, none of them having come from a pizza restaurant.  Interesting were the wine bottle lights, with LED lighting inside, which Neil had made from a design he had seen overseas.

Mozzarella, and the Burrata (a mozzarella which is shaped into a pouch filled with left-over bits of mozzarella and cream), are sourced from local Italian-owned Puglia Cheese, the cuputo pizza flour and tinned tomatoes are imported from Italy, the prosciutto comes from a  Johannesburg supplier and Neil Jewell in Franschhoek, and other ingredients are sourced from the Wild Peacock Food Emporium in Stellenbosch. The pork belly came from Sachs butchery.

The red pizza oven creates the decor colour foundation, and the use of red and black extends into the staff uniforms, Maxwell Williams salt and pepper grinders, material serviettes into which the Forum cutlery is rolled, the sugar bowls, and on the menu and winelist covers.  Beautiful Italian Luigi Bormioli glasses made in Parma enhance the special wines served. A red meat slicer has a place of honour inside the restaurant.  The kitchen is open plan, behind glass, and visible to diners.  There seemed to be a large staff complement, almost as many staff as diners.  A charming front-of-house hostess is Swiss national Isabella Immenkamp, who was a sommelier at the Grande Roche previously (her partner Joakim Hansi Blackadder recently won the Bollinger Sommelier competition, and has taken Neil’s job at Rust en Vrede).  She was very attentive, and European in her service delivery.  Neil came to the table regularly, almost timed to coincide with a next question I had! Chef Annemarie Steenkamp comes from Le Quartier Français, where she spent five years.

The menu and winelist are each bound in fine Burrata branded black leather, printed on quality paper, with the striking red Burrata branding.  Starters start at R28 for olives marinated with oregano, garlic and chilli, peaking at R125 for a shared antipasti platter served with pizza bread.  My son ordered  bruschetta with prosciutto, rocket and grated walnut (R58), and the two slices were generously covered with the ham.  Puglia burrata is served with olive oil, oryx desert salt with crostini (R55).  The four pasta options are unusual, and range in cost from R78 (fried auricchio gnocchi with peas, fine beans, green olives and baby spinach) – R98 (pappardelle slow cooked short rib, roasted red pepper and crispy onion).  Five main courses include risotto with caramelised onions, bone marrow, and lemon (R68), pan seared line fish (R125), roasted rib eye (R135), chicken polpette (R84), and the most tender Tuscan-spiced braised pork belly with butter roasted cauliflower and glazed brussel sprouts (R115), but which did not overwhelm me, from its lack of colour and taste.

Pizzas make up almost half the menu.  They are introduced as follows: ‘at Burrata, we strive to create the best possible neapolitan style pizza.  this style of pizza has a puffy, flame blackened crust with a light crispness.  we use only the the very best quality ingredients including flour and tomatoes exclusively imported from Italy. our italian oven cooks our pizzas at 480°C in less than 90 seconds.  The menu explains that to maintain quality standards, ingredients cannot be changed nor ordered ‘half-and-half’. The ingredients are interesting. Tomato-base pizzas start at R52 (Marinara, with garlic, oregano and olive oil), and the Di mare pizza costs R109, with prawns, squid, garlic with coriander and chilli aioli. The prosciutto e arugula pizza sounds good too, with fresh mozzarella, parmagiano reggiano, prosciutto and rocket. Pizza bianca (i.e.without tomato sauce base) include Ficci (mozzarella, gorgonzola, fresh figs and prosciutto), Delre (with a truffle spread, mozzarella, mushroom, and prosciutto), at R98.  My son’s Delre pizza base was burnt, and Isabella immediately offered to redo it.  It was much better the second time around.  Four dessert options are peach and amaretto tart (R42); Lime Zabaglione with fresh strawberries and blueberries was served with Madeira cake which jarred in its dryness (R44) and a most attractively designed Forum spoon; sweet honey pizza with ricotta, caramelised apple, honey and roasted almonds sounds delicious and costs R58; while cioccolato pizza comes with a homemade chocolate and hazelnut spread, banana and treacle sugar (R64).  Coffee is by Origin.  Burrata’s lunch menu is slightly reduced relative to the dinner menu, with one item removed per section.  No pasta dishes are available over lunch.

Tap water is served in a wine bottle, a clever touch. The winelist is extensive, and lists very neatly the region, country, and vintage of each of the roughly 100 wines served by the bottle, with an additional 14 wines by the glass. Grant writes in his introduction to the winelist: “welcome to burrata, where we pay mutual respect to food and wine. you will notice that our wine list does not contain any descriptive notes. one of our sommeliers will gladly assist you throughout your experience with us.  i hope you will take pleasure in browsing through the list and please feel free to ask any questions you may have”.  Champagne brands Pol Roger, Philipponat, Salon, Torresella, Billecart Salmon, and Jean Veselle range in price from R195 – R3500.  Only two local MCC’s are served: Silverthorn (R60/280) and Colmant (R230).  White wines by the glass cost R30 – R45, and red wines R33 – R68.  About ten wines per variety are offered. Shiraz prices range from R195 (2008 Tamboerskloof) to R950 (2008 De Trafford).  The winelist cautions that wines and vintages ‘are subject to availability‘.

Burrata is friendly, welcoming, with reasonable prices, and a most impressive winelist.  After eight days since opening, things ran smoothly, with the exception of the pizza.  The service and personal attention is exceptional, the best we have experienced in a very long time.  There were speakers on the wall, but no music, which would have been a good finishing touch.  The very new team, who have never worked together before, will gel over time, and the menu will evolve.  The dissonance between menu and wine list will probably be reduced over time, the exceptional and extensive wine selection dominating the relatively more ordinary menu.

POSTSCRIPT 7/4: Enjoyed the mozzarella, fig and prosciutto pizza at Burrata on a rainy pizza-eating Easter weekend Saturday, the best pizza I have ever eaten!  The pizza base is good enough to eat without the topping.  Exciting news is that a 3-course food and wine pairing menu will be launched in the next two weeks.

POSTSCRIPT 14/4: Back at Burrata, and tried the Delre pizza, with prosciutto, mushrooms, and mozzarella. It became a three hour lunch, in the (unplanned) company of Ursula and Davide Ostuni of Puglia Cheese.  They supply Burrata with mozzarella cheeses, and were most complimentary about the pizzas at Burrata.

POSTSCRIPT 21/6: Lovely evening at Burrata, with guest house colleagues Rainer and Greg. The charcuterie and cheese platter was a good match with the pizzas.  Delicious chocolate mousse, vanilla panna cotta and lime.

POSTSCRIPT 9/7: What amazing news: after only having been open for 4 months, Burrata has been named the Middle East/Africa winner of the Birra Moretti Best Emerging Italian Restaurant Award, ahead of Ristorante Armani in Dubai and Carne, also in Cape Town!  What makes the Award even more prestigious is that it is affiliated to the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.

Burrata, Old Biscuit Mill, Albert Road, Woodstock.  Tel (021) 447-6505.  www.burrata.co.za Twitter: @BurrataSA   Tuesday – Saturday, Lunch and Dinner.

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

I have been interested in the debate about which mozzarella is better – that which is made from buffalo milk, as is made by Wayne Rademeyer at Buffalo Ridge in Wellington, or that which is made from cow’s milk by Puglia Cheese in Cape Town.  My search for Stracciatella mozzarella, the most delicious spreadable mozzarella I first tasted at the Eat In Night Market a few months ago, led me on Friday to buy it directly at Puglia Cheese in Montague Gardens, and to meet the charming co-owner Ursula Ostuni.

Puglia Cheese was started as a joint venture by Davide Ostuni and Fabio Fatelli, both originally from the Puglia region in Italy, a year ago.  In a short time they have made their mark, in having won first place in the SA Dairy Championships Mozzarella category for their Burrata, and a second place for their Bocconcini, as well as a quality award for their whole Mozzarella range. One of Puglia Cheese’s biggest champions is restaurateur Giorgio Nava, who uses their mozzarella at 95 Keerom Street, Mozzarella Bar, and at Caffé Milano.  Initially he went to all his Italian restaurant colleagues in Cape Town, showing them the Puglia Cheese products, and now the company has clients such as Aubergine, Spar, Primi Piatti, Meloncino, Il Cappero, the One&Only Cape Town, the Mount Nelson Hotel, Giovanni’s, Nonna Lina, The Power & Glory, Wild Peacock Food Emporium, and all Melissa’s deli branches, just to mention some of the local outlets.  They distribute to the Garden Route as well.  Distribution via key Spar, Checkers, and Pick ‘n Pay branches is on the cards, which means that the company will move to bigger premises soon.

The star Mozzarella maker is Cosimo, who comes from Bari in Puglia, and does not speak English.  Ursula said he is the ‘key man’ at Puglia Cheese, being dedicated in almost single-handedly, and by hand, producing 300kg of cheese per day with only an assistant.  Hygiene is important, and I had to don a hair net, special shoe covers and a white jacket to go into the production room.  Production starts at 7h00, and finishes by lunchtime, and in the afternoon the products are packed and labelled, ready for delivery of the precious perishable products.  A machine is used to boil the cows’ milk, which comes from a Cape Town and a Stellenbosch farm, to which rennet, a curdling agent, is added, creating the foundation of all Mozzarella cheese.   Then Cosimo puts the curdled milk into 90°C boiling water, and with a wooden batten he shapes the cheese into ‘dough’, making it more and more pliable, out of which he makes ‘knots’, or the unique Nodino mozzarella not made by anyone else in South Africa, and is a typical Puglian mozzarella.  The same mozzarella dough is used to create a pocket into which straciatella mozzarella is added and then closed, to make Burrata.  A machine is used to make Fior de Latte and Bocconcini, but still needs Cosimo’s interaction with it in the production process.  Ursula told me that it took fourteen years for Cosima to learn the art of mozzarella making.

Davide grew up in Italy, and came to Cape Town on holiday, meeting Ursula at a party. She joined Davide in Italy, and said that it took some time for his mama to accept that Ursula would not be going away.  They went to London, where a friend of Davide’s worked, and he started as a waiter, worked at the Ritz Hotel, was a model, and started to learn to cook, but did not become a chef.  Ursula and Davide were in the United Kingdom for about thirteen years, and had five Italian restaurants in this period.  The last one they owned was located in St Albans and was called Carpe Diem, using only genuine Italian products, mostly imported and some home-made.  Once their first child was born, Davide moved into food-broking.  Having children, Ursula wanted to return home to South Africa, and they chose to live in Cape Town.  Both missed genuine mozzarella, only finding tough ‘tennis ball’ type local mozzarella here.  This led Davide to start making mozzarella, and establishing Puglia Cheese with his friend.  A future collaboration with Giorgio Nava, in creating more Mozzarella Bars, is on the cards. Ursula praises Nava, for his ability to use mozzarella in traditional recipes, but to adapt them by serving them with flair and elegance.

Mozzarella is made with buffalo milk in southern Italy, around Naples, and in central Italy, but the east coast and the rest of Italy makes mozzarella with cow’s milk, given that the milk is freely available, and that the mozzarella produced from it has a longer shelf life, resulting in about 80 % of Italian mozzarella being made with cow’s milk. Mozzarella made from buffalo milk is rich and creamy when fresh, but goes hard and sour after two days.  Its ‘dough’ is not soft and pliable, and therefore one cannot make mozzarella knots and balls from it.  Local mozzarella currently sold in supermarkets is likely to contain preservatives, to have a longer shelf-life.

Ursula emphasised that mozzarella should be taken out of the fridge an hour before eating it, to enjoy it at room temperature.  Different mozzarella cheeses have different expiry dates:  Fior di Latte (Bocconcini and balls) 18 days (in water), Burrata (in water) 9 days, Stracciatella 9 days, Nodini (in water) 9 days, and Treccia (in water) 9 days.  Should it be older than the expiry dates, it can be used for pizza, which is what Italian mamas would do.   Most food lovers associate mozzarella with Caprese salad, and therefore sales are high in summer.  Puglia Cheese is happy that food bloggers and writers are providing creative recipes for the use of Mozzarella in winter dishes too.   Ricotta cheese is also made at Puglia Cheese, and they are experimenting with the addition of peppercorns, chilli peppers, and walnuts for new products in future.

Disclosure: I was given a ball each of Burrata and Bocconcini to try at home, when I bought the Stracciatella mozzarella.

Puglia Cheese, Unit 5, The Gables, Prime Park, Printer’s Way, Montague Gardens.  Tel (021) 551-8538.  www.pugliacheese.co.za.   Facebook. Monday – Friday.

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

Increasingly consumers are entertaining their guests at home, by shopping at a select number of specialist food shops and delis, and preparing something last minute.  This is partly due to the recession South Africans have experienced in the past two years, as well as the general shortage of time, and this has stimulated the production of wonderfully healthy and creative food products for in-home use.   It also reflects the greater time that consumers spend on shopping for produce and ingredients than they do cooking or preparing it.   This was said by Anelde Greeff, editor of Eat In, at the announcement of the winners of the 4th Eat In Produce Awards, which was held as a Night Market at the Old Biscuit Mill on Thursday evening. 

The Best New Product winner of the 2011 SAB Eat In  Produce Awards, as judged by Anelde Greeff, Justine Drake (previous editor of Eat In), Pete Goffe-Wood (an Eat Out  Top 10 restaurant judge), Anna Trapido (an Eat Out  Top 10 restaurant judge) and Michelle Barry (principal of the Christina Martin Cookery School in Durban), is Totally Wild’s Aloe and Baobab Juice, which contains calcium, iron and vitamins.   The South African Heritage Award went to Enaleni Farm in KwaZulu-Natal, and this selection was motivated as follows: “This KZN farm is preserving our heritage by keeping a herd of Nguni cattle, endangered Zulu sheep, growing rare, local maize varietals and the traditional ibhece melon”.

The other 2011 SAB Eat In  Produce Awards winners, with the motivation for their selection, are the following:

*   “Best Organic Product: Kimilili’s Witzenberger cheese:  Made in the Swiss Appenzelltradition, using nothing but cheese cultures, microbial rennet and salt, the tangy, six-month matured Witzenberger had the judges carving off slice after slice.
 
*   Small Produce Award: Paddock – Chuck and Bobs:  Creating a small range of bacon, salamis and hams, Chuck and Bobs’ produce delighted the judges, as did the small-scale, hands-on way in which they make their charcuterie.
 
*   Small Produce Award: Earth – The Drift Farm’s range of organic fruit and veg:  Specialising in rare vegetables like black Aztec corn, fingerling aubergines and candy-striped beets, this family-run farm also goes to great lengths to be environmentally friendly. 
 
*   Small Produce Award: Bakery – The Foodbarn’s ciabatta and rye bread:  Made using locally produced stone-ground flour, natural yeast and water, the texture and freshness secured The Foodbarn’s woodfired loaves a place at the top of the bakery list.
 
*   Small Produce Award: Dairy – Swissland St Maure cheese:  The judges were blown away by the character of Fran Isaac’s fromages; most notably the soft, wood-ash-coated St Maure log, with its slightly salty, nutty taste.
 
*   Small Produce Award: Grocery – Quality Pickles’ range of chutneys, atchars and pickles:
This home-based kitchen produces 11 delicious sauces and seven stupendous pickles, including fragrant Mebos Chutney, crunchy pickle, and dhania.
 
*   Merit Award: The Kitchen Garden sprouts:   Joseph Feigelson offers the largest selection of edible sprouts in Africa, and supplies the country’s top chefs.
 
*   Best Markets and Stores: 
North – Braeside Meat Market and Pretoria Boeremark:   The judges commended Braeside for their commitment to sourcing the best, most ethically-reared meat. Owner Caroline McCann shoots her own venison, offers braai classes and is even breeding local turkeys.  Family-friendly Pretoria Boeremark meanwhile, was commended for its warmth, its unaffected charm and its amazing range of fresh farm produce. 
 
South: Get Stuffed Enterprises’ The Real Cheese and Neighbourgoods Market :  Valerie Elder’s range of South African cheeses is hard to beat and is illustrative of her dedication to our local cheesemaking talents. Running since 2006, the Neighbourgoods Market has grown into a hub of fabulous produce which has transformed Woodstock into a sought-after foodie destination.
 
East: Everfresh La Lucia and The Food Market :   With the widest range of products, from imported truffles and cheeses to indigenous beans and mfenu, Everfresh La Lucia goes to great lengths to promote fresh, indigenous produce.  Established by Emma Dunk, Nick Papadopoulos, Eric Edwards and Karen Brokensha, The Food Market showcases the most superb produce in KZN. 
 
Central: The Valley Market :  In the foothills of the Magaliesberg, The Valley Market show off both the area’s natural bounty and the pioneering artisan produce of its residents. There is even an online box scheme delivering to Joburg” .

The 2011 edition of Eat In magazine was launched at the event, the tenth issue, with 850 listings in categories such as bakeries, butcheries, cheese suppliers, delis, cooking schools, kitchen tool suppliers, ‘exotica’ (being spice and imported product suppliers), fish suppliers,  farm stalls and markets, organic food suppliers, caterers, olives and olive oils, and tea and coffee suppliers.  For the first time quick and easy recipes are provided as well.  

For the first time the Eat In Produce Awards were held with a ‘Night Market’ at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill, with many of the regular stall holders and past Eat In Produce winners selling their wonderful products.  I was pleased to meet Richard Bosman  (left), making an excellent quality and packaged range of cured meats using pasture reared pork.  I bought lovely mozzarella products from Puglia Cheese, and loved the stand for Buffalo Ridge in Wellington, buying their mozzarella too, and trying their yoghurt.   It was good to see La Motte’s Farm Shop have a stand too.

To co-incide with the Awards, S A Breweries launched two craft beers at the event – a Newlands Extra Special, and the Sunset Wheat Beer. A lovely sparkling Newlands Spring water was also available to drink at the launch.

As an invited guest to the Awards, it was disappointing that there was no name tag on arrival, despite my RSVP.  The media and “VIP” guests were herded into the back section of the market hall, but there was no one to guide one to the SAB table for the beer, and there was no wine available if one was not a beer drinker.  No food was served (ironic for a food-related event), and invited guests had to buy their food.  The whole function seemed a little amateurish in its execution, and I had to ask for the media pack on my departure, no New Media Publishing staff member proactively ensuring that all guests received such a pack.  The media pack consisted of a selection of SA Breweries beers, a lanyard and the Eat In  magazine, but none of the award-winning products!   Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, who was attending the event as a colleague, and who was one of the writers for the magazine, was most hospitable and helpful, even though it was not her function, and not her duty to do so.  New Media Publishing’s Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards’ events have a far longer history, admittedly, but are slick and almost without hiccups, in contrast to what we experienced at the SAB Eat In  Produce Awards.  Parking anywhere reasonably close to the Old Biscuit Mill remains a challenge, even in the late afternoon.

Eat In 2011 magazine.   www.eat-in.co.za

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

I have had my moments with Giorgio Nava, but must salute his bravery in zealously opening restaurants in Cape Town, in addition to the two established restaurants 95 Keerom Street and Carne.   Last month he opened Down South on Long Street and the Mozzarella Bar on Kloof Street, and on Saturday Café Milano opened, higher up on Kloof Street.  The Mozzarella Bar is run by charming Italians, and all its dishes, except the bakery items and desserts, contain a soft creamy mozzarella, offering good value for money.

Co-owner and interior designer, and friend of Nava, Matteo Amatruda, explained that Nava is trying to educate Capetonians about true Italian cuisine, and each of his restaurants, with the exception of Down South, focuses on a specific Italian aspect.  Café Milano, for example, will focus on baking, and bakes the bread and makes the croissants for the Mozzarella Bar. Nava runs between all his properties, we were told, and we saw this, as he popped in as we were about to leave, having been there earlier in the morning already.

The manager Simone explained that special equipment was brought out from Italy (more…)