Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wine & Dine: South Africa

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Is there a cuisine that you've been curious about and would like to try? Or perhaps you tried a type of cuisine for the first time and it was nothing like you expected? For me, a cuisine I've been interested in trying for quite some time is South African. I've had other African cuisines before and I was curious how South African cuisine would compare, given the influence of the diverse cultures that reside there.
South Africa represents unusual combinations of ethnic cuisines: African (Venda, Xhosa, San, Sotho, Ndebele, Zulu, Shangaan, Pedi) Portuguese, French, English, Dutch, German, Greek, Afrikaner, Indian (Hindu and Muslim), Malay, Italian, Jewish and Chinese. One of the most complex and exciting contributions to the art of cooking in Africa evolved in South Africa. The Dutch are historically very fond of their food, and founded the colony as a pantry for ships on the long route from Europe to the East. The Dutch also introduced slaves from Java, Sumatra, India, Indonesia and Madagascar—each bringing to South Africa their traditional ways of preparing food. The fare that best typifies South African cooking is Cape-Dutch Malay—shortened to Cape Cuisine. -- excerpt from A Kitchen Safari by Dumi Ndlovu and Yvonne Short

Last night, I finally tried South African cuisine - not at a restaurant but through recipes found online. This month for our Wine & Dine event, we tasted our way through a variety of wines from South Africa and paired them with South African fare. My friends came with recipes they prepared of South African dishes and although I have yet to dine at a South African restaurant, I would be willing to guess that it may not top the feast we enjoyed:


Mealie Soup with Crab
(milk & corn soup with crab)


Cape Kidgeree

(flaked fish & rice)


Bobotie

(South African meatloaf)

Monkey Gland Steak

(cube steak with chutney)


South African Chicken & Rice

Green Bean Bredie

(green bean & lamb stew)


South African Yellow Rice


Rusk

(South African tea biscuits)


Melktert
(Milk Tart)


Flourless Hazelnut Chocolate & Cinnamon Cookies

Please check back during this week for the above South African recipes! As I've always believed, you can learn a lot about a culture through it's cuisine so come take a culinary adventure to South Africa with me this week.

Aside from the delicious meal, we had a chance to learn about South African wines which we paired with dinner. Many believe that South Africa is the up and coming wine region. In the past, South Africa made wines that no one really wanted. But with its constantly improving social conditions, the wine industry there are now ready to show off what they have been doing with wines.

South Africa evolved its wine industry very different from other New World wine producers. To set themselves apart, the South Africans invented their own grape. It's called Pinotage and crosses the Pinot Noir and Cinsault grapes. But the dominant grape of any color is Chenin Blanc, sometimes known as Steen. South African have excellent Sauvignon Blanc as well as Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

South African White Wine Varietals:
Chardonnay
Chenin Blanc (Steen)
Riesling
Sauvignon Blanc

South African Red Wine Varietals:
Cabernet Franc
Sabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Pinotage
Pinot Noir
Shiraz/ (Syrah)


Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage 2007:

Nose - Our 2007 Sebeka Cabernet‐Pinotage is a fruit driven wine that features the blackberry, currant and herbal notes typical of Cabernet along with red fruit, acidity and smoky earth notes typical of Pinotage, South Africa’s signature varietal. Bright, ripe berries and subtle oak flavours of chocolate and mocha promise what is delivered on the palate.

Taste - Well structured and beautifully balanced. Attractive notes of fresh red berries are backed by longer lingering dark fruit, all supported by good tannins and the velvety finish of toasted oak.

General Notes - Drink now or cellar for another 2 ‐ 3 years

Food Pairings - Perfect companion for rich foods, including fire‐grilled meats and vegetables, or your favorite pasta.


Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage 2008:

Nose
- Fruity wine

Taste - Smooth, velvety, easy to drink and very balanced

General Notes - Drink now or cellar for another 2 ‐ 3 years

Food Pairings - Perfect companion for rich foods, especially with chutneys and spiced dishes


Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon 2007:

Nose
- Ripe blackcurrants a plumy fruit. Soft ripe tannins balance toasty oak aromas and sweet fruit flavours.

Taste - Good structure with soft, clean finish.

General Notes - Drink now or cellar for another 2 ‐ 3 years

Food Pairings - Delightfully versatile, it makes a delicious partner to a variety of foods, including red meats, and rich pasta dishes.


Of the above wines we tried, those that prefer the strong, fruit forward wines especially liked the Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon. Others preferred the balance of the Pinotage. Least liked was the Cabernet Pinotage.

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