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Spread the food & wine warmth

A fire. A glass of smooth wine. And a bowl of earthy soup. Hello Winter … we’re loving having you here!

We’re always looking for easy-but-delicious recipes … hearty enough to beat the winter chill but not needing hours spent in the kitchen. Stellenbosch Hills always comes to the (dinner) party, with dishes using their food-friendly wines. This creamy, hearty, earthy mushroom soup, made in a Hungarian style, is all earthy paprika, fresh cream, white wine and lots of herbs. A versatile dish – which also happens to be meatless, so great for vegetarians, it pairs beautifully with Stellenbosch Hills’ latest vintages wines – a 2021 Chenin Blanc and 2018 Merlot. The recipe uses the Chenin Blanc (a fine balance, fruity character and crisp acidity … think a burst of passion fruit and stone fruit with notes of melon, green apples and litchi, held together by a hint of lemon zest), but is hearty enough to serve with the full-bodied Merlot (which sings of red, black and mulberries as well as ripe plums on a backdrop of oak spice and hint of cloves). You’ll find the wines online at stellenbosch-hills.co.za, the Merlot sells for around R94, the Chenin Blanc for around R63.

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Stellenbosch Hills’ Paprika Mushroom Soup

This soup – created by Ilse van der Merwe (www.thefoodfox.com) – can be served as a starter in smaller quantities, or as a main course with toasted bread or chunky croutons. It serves three to four as a main, six as a starter.

You’ll need: 4 tablespoons butter; 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil; 2 large onions, chopped; 500g brown or portabellini mushrooms, sliced; 3 or 4 garlic cloves, finely grated/chopped; 4 teaspoons sweet paprika; 2-3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, stalks discarded; 2 teaspoons dried origanum; two cups chicken/vegetable stock; 1½ cup dry white wine; 2 tablespoons soy sauce; 1 cup milk; 3 tablespoons flour – cake or white bread flour; one cup fresh cream; salt & pepper; 15ml lemon juice

To serve: A handful Italian parsley, finely chopped; fresh bread/baguette, buttered & toasted, (or chunky croutons); a few dollops sour cream or thickened cream (optional)

To make: In a large wide pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the oil. Add the onions and fry until soft (about five minutes). Add the mushrooms, garlic, paprika, thyme and origanum and continue to fry for about 10 minutes, stirring until the mushrooms have softened and the bottom of the pot starts to become sticky. Add the stock, wine and soy sauce and bring to a simmer – cook for five minutes. In a medium jug or mixing bowl, add the milk and flour and whisk to mix thoroughly. Then, add the mixture to the pot along with the cream. Stir well and bring to a simmer, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Simmer for five to ten minutes until the soup has thickened, stirring often. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, then taste and season further if needed.

Serve hot in bowls, scatter with chopped parsley, toasted bread or croutons, and if you wish, a dollop of sour cream or cream.

The wine that was almost never made …

It’s lovely, at the end of a glorious dinner, to sit with a glass of great wine and tell a good story.

And does this Delheim Edelspatz Riesling – grand elder of South African Noble Late Harvest wines – have a story. It’s the wine that was almost never made, was regularly delivered to De Tuynhuys when Nelson Mandela held office as president, celebrated British wine authority Oz Clarke rated Delheim one of the best producers of dessert wine in the world, and is made from a single 35-year-old Riesling vineyard. The almost-never-made story kicks off with the farm’s famous patriarch, the late Spatz Sperling, finding excessive rot in his grapes after a particularly rainy and cool period leading up to 1979 harvest, and wrote them off as basically useless material. Having nothing better to do than wallow in his sorrow, he went to collect the mail, bumped into fellow winemaker Frans Malan from Simonsig, and shared his mood. The response he received was unexpected. “No man, Spatz!” declared Frans. “Those are the best grapes for a noble late harvest.”  What had seemed to be a flop, turned out to be one of Delheim’s greatest treasures. Delheim Estate winemaker Roelof Lotriet says the rarity of this wine cannot be stressed enough, especially considering the decline in Riesling vineyards due to the difficulty in producing high-quality wine from them. He describes the newly released 2020 vintage Edelspatz as “showing classic botrytis characteristics with elements of honeysuckle, dried peaches and marmalade; finely balanced, the palate offers layers of bright fruit and orange blossom”, adding that the wine can be enjoyed now or cellared for up to 30 years. The wine sells for R330 and may be ordered directly from Delheim’s online store at delheim.com

Go Dark this Winter

Paserene – the boutique Franschhoek winery – has just announced its first release of Dark – a full-bodied and broody 2018 Syrah. Part of the Elements range, it is, according to Paserence co-owner and third-generation winemaker Martin Smith, all spicy treacle, cherries, and antique leather, as well as blackcurrant and cola, dried plums and liquorice. Deep and bold, it’s sumptuous on its own, or served with comfort food like rich stews and roasts. It’s R205 a bottle from your local bottlestore or from paserene.com

 

 

Let’s be honest, we don’t need the many (excellent) tips Ross Dobson shares in Firepit Barbecue. Really … telling us how to cook with fire! But his recipes … they’re worth having. Lovely new ideas to get us out of the boerewors and chop rut … like spiced quail with Vietnamese lime and pepper dipping sauce, Chinatown pork, prawn and chorizo skewers. Fabulous veggie dishes, too, since so many guests now prefer to avoid meat. Murdoch Books, R435

 

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