LIFE ON IONA

Elgin's Chardonnay Colloquium and Reflections from the Iona kitchen

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THE 2019 ELGIN CHARDONNAY COLLOQUIUM

Iona will be truly focussed on Chardonnay on Saturday 12 October as the Elgin Valley welcomes guests from around the world to imbibe, discuss and compare Elgin Chardonnays with some of the top international Chardonnays at the fourth Elgin Chardonnay Colloquium. After welcome drinks, a panel comprising Richard Kershaw MW (an Elgin based winemaker, brand owner & wine judge) , Cathy Marston (a wine journalist and owner of the International Wine Education Centre), Dan Nicholl ( a wine show presenter, writer, host and auctioneer) and Joe Wadsack ( a UK TV host & writer for the drinks industry) will introduce Elgin producers' 2017 Chardonnays and invite discussion from guests.

A 'harvest table' lunch will be followed by a blind tasting of the best Elgin Chardonnays and renowned Chardonnays from around the world. The day will close with informal drinks and eats - a chance to relax, chat and reflect on the wines tasted.

Tickets are on sale now via Quicket at R1,250 (which includes all the wines to be tasted, lunch, snacks and soft drinks). I hope that you will join us to discover the elegance of cool climate Chardonnays including Iona.

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REFLECTIONS FROM THE IONA KITCHEN

I believe it’s important to try and keep up with the times – even if Facebook, Twitter and Instagram remain painfully beyond my grasp. But I sort of know my way around the kitchen, so I am going to include some healthy and also some heavenly plant-based (note author’s use of hot, hip and happening word!) dishes in honour of our planet (those of you who are concentrating might have picked up my theme this year) and also our daughter Olivia who is a vegetarian. Besides, I have to do something with all the vegetables I insist on growing.

COURGETTE TEMPURA

This year we had courgettes coming out of our ears and while a steamed courgette is no doubt a thing of great simplicity and purity, the bar was slightly raised after a trip to Japan. We managed to turn it into a thing of crispy, crunchy, creamy deliciousness. And the best part is you use the whole thing – flowers included! Root to stem so to speak. These are a fantastic substitute for chips. So here’s how:

A plate of these shared with a cold bottle of Iona Sauvignon Blanc 2018 is a serious pleasure (I have to confess they went down so quickly I forgot to take a photograph so I've shamelessly borrowed this picture from Waitrose.com).

Ingredients

1kg of courgettes plus the flowers off each
80g cornflour (plus extra for dusting the courgettes and flowers)
80g self-raising flour
210g beer or soda-water
1 Tablespoon flaxseed oil
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon onion seeds
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
700ml sunflower oil for frying
Soya Sauce for dipping

Remove each flower and then cut each courgette longways into thin slices about 3-4mm thick. Set aside.

Prepare a large plate lined with kitchen paper.

Combine the flour, corn-flour, beer, flaxseed oil, salt, onion seeds and chilli flakes in a large bowl and whisk until smooth and runny.

Pour the oil in a medium saucepan and place on a high heat. Once very hot, turn the heat down to medium. The oil should be hot enough to get a good sizzle but not burn the vegetables.

Dust the courgette strips and flowers with some extra cornflour and shake well.

Dip each piece of courgette into the batter and shake. Carefully place into the oil and fry for about 1 minute on each side until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.

Fry about 5 pieces at a time to avoid absolute chaos. Do the flowers last as they take the least amount of time.

Serve immediately with soya sauce for dipping or splashing over.

Large spring onions also work really well. Keep about 5cm of the green stalks and slice in half long ways through the root. Dust, dip and fry as above.

ROAST VEGETABLE TART

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Cold Chardonnay will do the trick here.

This is a deep tart chock-a-block full of roast vegetables – you’re basically taking a quiche and a tray of roast vegetables to a very elevated next level without a whole lot more effort. Serve with a leafy green salad and crusty bread for a lunchtime feast. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Pastry

180g flour
100g chilled butter
1 T olive oil
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon salt
1 T lemon juice
1 T iced water

Grate the cold butter into the flour and salt. Add the yolk, oil and water and use a round tipped knife to semi combine all the ingredients. Use your hands to finally press it all together. Wrap and allow to rest for an hour in the fridge.

Vegetables

Cut into chunks:
1 aubergine
a red and a yellow pepper
1 sweet potato
1 parsnip
2 onions cut into wedges

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place on a large baking sheet or two smaller ones if you prefer, and roast in a hot oven for 45mins-1 hour or until vegetables have some colour on the tips and are tender. Set aside.

Filling

200ml double cream
2 eggs
120g feta (Blue cheese also works well)
120g ricotta
Grated nutmeg
Fresh thyme
Handful of cherry tomatoes

Roll out the pastry and line a 20cm loose-bottomed spring-form tin. Prick with a fork and place in the deep freezer for 5 minutes before baking blind at 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes until shell is golden brown.
Layer the roasted vegetables and the feta and ricotta into the shell, scatter the cherry tomatoes and a generous amount of fresh thyme leaves over the top, and carefully pour over the cream and egg mixture. Grate the tiniest bit of nutmeg over the top and bake at 180 degrees C for about 40 minutes or until set.

My last gasp is a quote from John Ruskin – I think he sums up a lot of what I’m trying to say at the moment:

There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and a little cheaper ... he who considers price alone is that man’s lawful prey.

To your good health.

Rozy Gunn