Saturday, February 12, 2011

Summer menu

The Last Lunch menu takes shape.

I wanted to make simple, uncluttered things that taste of summer, and after shopping yesterday, knew what the menu would be:

Ajo blanco ('white gazpacho') with muscat grapes

Because it is my husband's favourite soup.

I have not found my beloved hanepoot (Muscat d' Alexandrie) in Cape Town yet. They are a late season grape and are farther along in the Overberg, where we bought some near Stanford a week ago. But at Woolworths I found grapes described as Belle Helene, with a hanepootish blush and indeed they are muscatty, though on the super-sweet side. With their seeds pricked out with the tip of a knife, these will lie beneath the white soup and its floating ice cubes...

Quail and wild grape terrine with fresh, peeled figs topped with sunflower sprouts in a dressing of walnut oil and sherry vinegar.

I flaked the meat from the slow-roasted little quails, made stock from the bones, with verjus, grapes and shallots, reduced it, returned the meat to the pot along with some duck fat, and later poured the cool mixture into a terrine mold. We shall see. I may make a relish of muscat grapes along with something acidic, as a foil. The reduction was quite sweet.

The figs are perfect at the moment, grown in Prince Albert in the Little Karoo - purple skinned and red inside. The emerald green, juicy sprouts are sold at Franck Dangereaux's Food Barn in Noordhoek, which also sells excellent cold roast chickens, bread and a lot of other tempting edible things.

Ginger ale ham with fluffy mustard sauce
Broad beans a la Grecque
Tomato salad, somehow, maybe

Good old ginger ale ham. About to go into its pot now with bay and juniper, and this evening I'll take it out, skin, score, spike with cloves, sprinkle with mustard and brown sugar, and bake. The broad beans will cook with lemon and olive oil and mint and be served cool. Thinking about the tomatoes.

White peach sorbet with Graham Beck rose

At Bizerka last week we tasted an incredibly delicious apple sorbet with Calvados, and so I thought about peaches, apples being so autumnal, and Vince suggested pouring some champagne over the sorbet, a la our peaches with prosecco, last eaten in Brooklyn in the New York summer. We will use the very good local bubbly by Graham Beck. It is smooth and creamy, no hint of yeast, which I dislike, and the finest bubbles.

Nigel Slater's peach, almond and blueberry cake

Cake for dessert. I know. Plain wrong.  But also plain desirable. Yellow peaches and blueberries are all over the place at the moment. Must eat.

 Alan Nelson Semillon Noble Late Harvest 2008

Alan Nelson is a colleague of my father's and we rode his horses weeks ago, in his vineyards between Wellington and Paarl. His daughter Lisha Nelson is the estate's winemaker, and this Noble Late Harvest is perfect. Sweet with that nice tart botrytis flavour rising through every mouthful. Perfect for the light, fruity cake.



  1. Marie! Dit klink orgasmies. Regtig. Absoluut amazing.

  2. Oh I made that peach, almond and blueberry cake last year too. It's absolutely delicious isn't it!

  3. Sitting here, the door open to an early February hint of Spring, sky a soft grey-cream smudge...I can picture this lunch.
    (I expect to be met at the airport with a shopping list!)

  4. This menu, of course, is wonderful, especially that so many of the dishes have special meaning to you.

  5. I am sorry for you that you have to leave Cape Town, but if it is any consolation, temperatures are rising in the NY area to close to 60 degrees F by the end of the week.

  6. Marie - the lunch was a complete sensory experience! I'm still enjoying the aftertaste: the incredible flavours, the presentation of each dish, the cool leafy setting under the plane tree, the company, the wines, and you and the ever-attentive Frenchie looking after all our needs...

    Thank you, thank you.

    I still have to chuckle about how we got from the subject of Larousse, to aardvark, a hospital, then London, the zoo and finally to 'artfaak soup'.


Comments left on older posts are moderated (purely for spam control). Please be patient, you will be seen!