Podcast: Marketing SA wines. And tasting a couple from Lanzerac.

John Fraser hosts another podcast, which explores the opportunities and challenges of marketing SA wines around the world.  He is joined by Malcolm MacDonald from Clientele, Gumtree’s Jeff Osborne, and top economist Mike Schussler.

They also sniff and slurp two red wines from the Lanzerac Estate in Stellenbosch – the Merlot and the Pinotage.

Click here to give it a listen:

Can We Toque About Fermier?

Fermier Restaurant in Die Wilgers, Pretoria

There are many food trends which alarm me.  If I go out for a meal, I want a meal.  Not a series of minute blobs of food on smears of slime.
So when I heard they had a nine-course fixed menu at Fermier Restaurant, I was worried.  I would probably have never ventured there, had it not have been a big thumbs up from my Wine Master chum Debi van Flymen.  What I mean is that she likes the place, not that she has big thumbs. And I had a visitor from Europe, who needed to be convinced how classy we are in Africa.
The restaurant is not enormous, but has a warm, rural feel (without any of the rural smells to which one might object).  It is hidden up the hill from Lynnwood Road, and has no useful signage.    However, there were enough diners there to give the impression that word of mouth is positive, and effective.
I have been to similar restaurants in SA and elsewhere with small tasting plates, and rarely have I been happy.  All too often chefs can get the taste right, or make it look good, but not often both.
And at R550 a head, before the wine, you really don’t want anything other than excellence.
Happily it was 9/9 on the evening I visited.  Canapés, fish, meat, venison, cheese and pud were all superb.  Interesting flavours, all natural flavours.  You could taste the ingredients, and there was pride and creativity.  They grow a lot of their own produce, and source stuff with care and knowledge.
The dishes were all small, but when combined they made a satisfying and impressive meal.
The open kitchen allowed us to watch the chefs at work, and they were meticulous, hard-working and took a pride in what they did.
So what didn’t I like?  We arrived after dark and the signposting is not great.  The waiting staff were efficient and friendly, but tended to rattle off the details of the dishes, which was annoying as one of my guests does not have english as her first language.
The wines paired with the food were all fine, but only a few were really impressive.  Having said that, there is a very good wine list, and next time I will choose my own.
One thing I noticed which illustrates how Fermier Restaurant strikes the perfect balance between fine dining and zero pretension ocurred at the next table.    A group of about eight included two children, and as the evening wore on, the kids lay down on blankets and rested.  Some people might have found this a bit too casual.  I found it brilliant.
It is very rare that I leave a restaurant, bursting with desire to return.  Happily, I now have a new addition to my list of faves. Thanks Debi.  I owe you!

Rating:  I give it 5*

Key to the Ratings….

1*    Dog food is nicer

2*.  Cat food is nicer

3*.  Not bad if Woolworths is sold out of ready meals.

4*.  I like it

5*.  I love it.  Not to be missed.