Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sielskos en Theuns Jordaan in 'n Perdeskuur


Daar het dié week so ‘n klein stormpie in die Afrikaanse musiekbedryf se koppie boeretroos uit gebreek. Gert Vlok Nel, skrywer, digter, sanger, en ‘n diep seun van die Afrikaanse taal, het die sanger Theuns Jordaan daarvan beskuldig dat laasgenoemde glo sy liedjie Beautiful in Beaufort-Wes, 18 jaar gelede gesteel het en slegs skamelike tantieme van ongeveer R8,000 aan Vlok oor betaal het. Ai toggie! En dit terwyl Nel gekrepeer het van armoede in die Karoo en Jordaan meer as 500,000 eksemplare van die liedjie verkoop het.

Ek persoonlik het natuurlik geen haan in dié geveg nie. Tewens, ek het nog nooit voor vandag na die liedjie Beautiful in Beaufort-Wes geluister nie. Na ek die storie gelees het het ek na albie se weergawe van die liedjie gaan luister op Youtube en ek kan eerlik nie verstaan waaroor die bohaai gaan nie. Nog minder kon ek verstaan hoe op dees aarde Jordaan 500,000 eksemplare kon verkoop gekry het, each to its own I guess. Maar volgens my kennis van die musiekbedryf is dit nie die sanger wat ‘n ander sanger se musiek opneem se plig om tantieme oor te betaal nie, maar die oorsponklike musiek uitgewer se plig. Dit werk so wêreld wyd. En hoekom die musiek bedryf anders werk as die boek bedryf waar skriftelike toestemming verkry moet word van die skrywer om sy or haar werk te gebruik, dit kan ek ook nie verduidelik nie. So Gert Vlok Nel sal maar aan ‘n ander deur moet gaan aanklop om sy tantieme te herwin. Good Luck! Onthou wat gebeur het met Sixto Rodriguez.

 
Vanoggend, terwyl rëenbui na rëenbui oor Kentucky uitgesak het, ek die storie op Maroela Media raakgelees het en ek ‘n ongewone Saterdag “vry” het op die plaas, het die geskarrel in die Afrikaanse musiekskuur my laat heriner aan ‘n Saterdagaand so amper ‘n jaar gelede toe ek en M en ‘n klomp ander Suid-Afrikaners opgetrek het Shelbyville toe om na ‘n konsert van Theuns Jordaan te gaan kyk in ‘n perdeskuur. Hy was deur ‘n Suid-Afrikaner wat nou hier in Kentucky boer uitgenooi om te kom op tree op ‘n perdeplaas met die gepaste naam van Singing Hills Farm, natuurlik sonder enige bedoelde woord speling. Voor die konsert het ek geen idee gehad wie Theuns Jordaan is nie en ek en M moes eers na van sy musiek gaan luister het. Ons was nou nie juis bowled over nie maar ‘n saamtrek is ‘n saamtrek. Hy kon wel daardie aand Beautiful in Beaufort-Wes gesing het, ek het geen idee nie.

video


Ek sê “’n vry Saterdag” want die afgelope twee maande met elke vrye oomblik is ek, M en my seun al besig om die plaashuis se sederhout huisbedekking te “power wash’, af te skuur, te sandpapier en te verf  terwyl dit die warmste, natste, bedompigste en mees insekte-besmette somer is die afgelope 18 jaar in Kentucky. En enige iemand wat al hul huis buite om geverf het sal weet wat se enorme taak dit is. So ‘n reëntjie op ‘n Saterdag is eintlik ‘n verwelkoming. Ongelukkig was daar ander werk wat ek toe gaan gedoen het in die werkswinkel. Daar is nooit regtig iets soos ‘n vry Saterdag nie.

En die ongure weersomstandighede gedurende die somer het ook veroorsaak dat die groentetuin maar ‘n skrale oes voort gebring het. Vorige jare het ons altyd ‘n oorvloed van groenboontjies en tamaties gehad wat ingelê kon word vir kerrieboontjies en pastasous, maar vanjaar is daar te min. Dit wat geoes kon word moes dadelik gebruik word in ‘n dis. So terwyl ek op die agterstoep sit en ‘n koppie boeretroos drink en die rëen beloer met droewige oë, dink ek wat ek sal maak met die emmertjie tamaties wat ek twee dae gelede geoes het. Daar is eitlik maar net een oplossing. Iets wat ek al weke voor lus is. Tamatiebredie! Wat is dan nou lekkerder as skaapskenkel en tamatiebredie. Ek besef skaapnek is seker ‘n beter snit maar om skaapnek in ons geweste by ‘n kruidenierwinkel te kry is soos om vir kudobiltong in Amerika te soek. En die skaap wat ek laas geslag het, net soos alle ander skape, het ongelukkig net een nek gehad en dit is al lank gelede in ‘n Franse bredie verorber. 

 
Ek weet dit is nie winter in Kentucky nie, maar die bewolkte, renerige weer het my laat voel ek is genoop om ‘n bredie te maak. En wie het die reël neer gelê om te sê bredies is net winterkos? Sielskos bly sielskos, winter of somer.  Tamatiebredie is een van die egte tradisies wat Suid-Afrikaners van die Hollanders geerf het. Dit is so tradisioneel Suid-Afrikaans soos braaivleis, biltong, malva pudding en Hertzog koekies. By sommige mense is daar die persepsie dat die Maleiers bredies na Suid-Afrika gebring het, maar dit is eintlik ‘n dis wat seker in die Midde Ooste by die oer-oue mense ontstaan het en toe weswaarts na Europa gereis het. Ek is seker die Franse Hugenote het ook hulle stempel op sekere Suid-Afrikaanse bredies geplaas, maar die Hollanders en later die trekboere en hul swart driebeenpotjies het die grondslag gelê om bredies ‘n lekkerbekkig en ‘n kulturele erfstuk van te maak. Dis seker hoekom swaarboompotte, swart gegote yster vir die vuur of gekleurde Chasseur vir die stoof of oond vandag nog bekend staan as “Dutch ovens”.

 
En om bygaande impak te voeg by die gemoedstoestand van tradisionele Suid-Afrikaanse kookkuns het ek my kelder besoek en ‘n bottel Groot Constantia 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon gaan uitkies. Wat kan nou meer tradisioneel wees as voggies van die oudste wynplaas in Suid-Afrika, die een wat die grondslag gelê het vir wynbou in die land. Ek het die bottel gekoop tydens ons laaste besoek aan Suid-Afrika in 2010 en dit gehou vir ‘n spesiale geleentheid en sienende dat my swaer Godfrey vandag sy 50ste verjaarsdag daar in die Suidelike Halfrond vier, is dit ‘n ideale geleentheid om dié bottel Groot Constantia van sy opgekurkte aromas en smake te verlig.

 
Sielskos!
Kaapse Tamatiebredie saam met Kaapse rooiwyn! Altyd ‘n uitstekende kombinasie!

Nou sit ek hier na aandete en in die woorde van daardie Worcester boytjie met die rooi veldskoene, David Kramer, “stoksiel alleen op ‘n Saterdagaand” maar gelukkig saam met M, op die agterstoep en sip aan my eie tuisgemaakte koppie Italiaanse cappuccino. Die tamatiebredie het fantasties uitgekom en die wyn was topgehalte. Definitief die hoë prys werd. Die storm in die Afrikaans musiekbedryf is vergete. Dit reen nog steeds en meer word voorspel vir die res van die nag. Maar die oomblik om te waardeer is nou. Die lewe is eenvoudig te kort vir margarine, geproseseerde kaas, TV dinners, Budweiser Light en goedkoop rooiwyn. 

PS: Ek sien nog 'n Afrikaanse troebadoer, Valiant Swart, is ook aan die kla oor booking agents en venue-eienaars wat maar traag is om te betaal wanneer hulle moet. Ek skat daar is ietsie wat stink en vrot is in die Afrikaanse musiekbedryf. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Provence, France Revisited


It is already quite something to find a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in a Kentucky liquor store, but then to find one of the vintage from the same year that I actually walked through that specific Château’s vineyard is really magic. Pure nostalgic value! What a coincidence! Of course, if you live in a wine region then this kind of thing can happen quite often, but not when you live a continent away and a visit to France is a rare occurrence.

The Discovery

But that is exactly what happened a few weeks ago when I wandered through a local liquor store’s aisles and stumbled upon three lone bottles of 2012 Château Mont-Redon. They were standing on the edge of the French section, alone by themselves with no indication of price. I thought I had to relieve them from their loneliness. I saw the store manager nearby and asked him to check the price, expecting to hear something close to or above $40, the usual price for an average Châteauneuf-du-Pape. After a few minutes of trying to find the wine in their computer system, he said that the wine was supposed to be sold out and there is no price in the system. So I gave him the eyes and said “Well, obviously it’s not.” He then asked me where I found it and I said “It was standing near other bottles priced at $16.” I did notice that they were in the process of reorganizing the store.

Then he gave me the eyes. He was deep in thought for a few seconds, looked at the bottle again and then smiled wryly, and said, “Ok, you found it. $16.” I thanked him, took the bottle, quickly walked away before he could have second thoughts and then went to collect the other 2 bottles too. Returning home I search the internet and saw that wine.com is selling it for $42 a bottle. What a bargain!

 
What’s for Dinner?

So come Sunday, M took out a frozen packet of ribs for barbequing, thinking it was pork ribs, but instead it was beef short ribs. Which, off course, can also be grilled successfully if you like your beef tender and still half bloody on the inside, but my family does not like their steaks that way. In any case, that Sunday by 1:00 pm it was 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, the humidity in the 90s, meaning the heat index could have been well over a 100 degrees, and we fled inside to the cool of the air-conditioned house. There was no way I was going to stand in front of a hot grill in that heat. So it became another experimental Sunday afternoon in the kitchen.

I was not in the mood for a boeuf bourguignon; I made that a few weeks ago to accompany a bottle of Allesverloren Shiraz that M bought me some time ago. So I stuck my nose into Jacques Pépin’s near 700 page culinary bible, Essential Pepin, to see if I can find a Provençal classic to bring the best out of its Châteauneuf-du-Pape neighbor. And on page 323 I found something that looked interesting and which I could adapt to put my own stamp on, a Boeuf Daube Arlésienne, a beef stew that comes from the Provençal town of Arles.

 

Starry Starry Night

Arles, located on the banks of the Rhone River, and the surrounding area have been populated for the past 2,800 years by various civilizations, among other the Ligurians from northern Italy, the Celts, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Moors from Spain, and eventually in 1378 it became part of the kingdom of France. During the late Roman era, the 4th and 5th Century AD, the town was very popular with Roman Emperors that used it as their headquarters during military campaigns in the region. The town still boasts several Roman ruins and buildings, including the magnificent colosseum-like amphitheater. But the town is probably more famous today for the 200-odd paintings that Vincent Van Gogh painted here during his 14 month stay in 1888 and 1889. The Night Cafe, the Yellow Room, Starry Night over the Rhone, L'Arlésienne and of course, Café Terrace at Night, is among the famous paintings Van Gogh painted here.

Vincent van Gogh's Café Terrace at Night in Arles

 
Another connection and point of nostalgia; During our 2012 visit to Provence we did not ventured as far south as Arles. Our furthest point south was Les Baux-de-Provence and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where we visited the Saint-Paul Asylum. Van Gogh came to Saint-Rémy after his Arles period and spent a year in the asylum from May 1889 to May 1890. During his Saint-Rémy stay he painted many canvasses of the hospital’s garden, the surrounding fields and the famous The Starry Night and Irises. Two months after Van Gogh left Saint-Remy he shot himself and died in the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, north of Paris.  

Starry Night.
Painted by Van Gogh while staying in Saint-Paul Asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence

Of course, we also visited the tiny enclave of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (see my blogs here and here about our visit.) Although we never went for a tasting at Château Mont-Redon, we had lunch just up the hill from the estate, but after lunch our guide stopped at the domaine to give us a short history about the area and to tell us about the importance of the river stones that are the “secret” to the wonderful wines made in this valley. And we went for a walk through the vineyards.

Taking a walk through the vineyard of Château Mont-Redon

Perusing the recipe I realized I had all the ingredients required for a Boeuf Daube Arlésienne, but I decided to replace the white wine the recipe asked for with red wine, making it a little heavier dish than the original. A few days earlier I opened a local Kentucky merlot, but after a few sips I destined it to be more suited for the pot than for my palate.  The merlot now came in handy. In order not to change the recipe into a bourguignon one has to have a light hand with the red wine. I was maybe a little too heavy handed because I marinated the short ribs in the merlot, some garlic and dried Herbes de Provence for about two hours. That in itself made it lean towards a bourguignon. Nevertheless, I am not going to publish my recipe because I am sure my daube did not taste at all like that of Pepin’s and the method I used was also much different than his. So it will be a gross injustice to Mr. Pepin to publish my adaptation or his recipe, because mine, I am in no doubt, was a far flung deviation from his.

 
 
I tested a piece of the short rib after browning it in the pot and it was melt-in-the-mouth tender.

 
It’s All About The Terroir

I have to admit I was in two minds about opening a bottle of Mont-Redon. It was only 4 years old, relatively young for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape red, but I was also charmed by its possibilities and by what it could offer at this tender age. I have learned over the years that modern wines could be surprising good at a young age and sometimes terrible at an older age. In the end my inquisitiveness and sentiment got the upper hand.  


The Château Mont-Redon.
In the family picture of the current owners, top left: Didier Fabre (front left), Yan Abeille, Jerome Abeille, Pierre Fabre and Jean Abeille (front right)

 
Wine has been produced on the Mont-Redon estate since the age of the Avignon Popes and the estate was first mentioned in historic documents from 1344 as “Mourredon’. Between then and the 1700s not much is known about the property until Joseph d’Astier, a lawyer from Avignon, obtained the property. His descendants, the Mathieu family owned the estate until about 1856 when, at the death of Clara Mathieu, the property was divided between her children. Shortly thereafter the phylloxera epidemic of the 1880s devastated wine-making at the estate and in most of the winemaking regions of the world. In 1923 when Henri Plantin obtained the property, Mont-Redon consisted of only 2.5 hectares of scattered vineyards. Plantin and his descendants actively worked to enlarge the estate, buying up adjacent land when it became available and today it consists of 186 hectares with 100 hectares under vineyard,  making it the largest single-vineyard estate in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape valley and one of the most well-known and respected producers of crus in the appellation.  The current owners, Jean Abeille and Didier Fabre, the 3rd generation descendants from Plantin, have also expanded their operations beyond the valley and now also produce Côtes-du-Rhône wines from 35 hectares they own across the Rhône River. 

 
In the glass the wine was a deep ruby red and still very purple at the rim. On the nose it was fruity with faint hints of chocolate and characteristically from a Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine, strong hints of licorice. But the proof is always in the pudding, and on the palate the initial taste had surprisingly strong tannins, with cherries and blackberries and the licorice was now shining through as if to confirm its terroir. The ending was rather abrupt and mildly spicy.

I thought I made a big mistake to open the bottle so soon with the tannins still grossly underdeveloped. So I let the wine rest while I continued with the Boeuf Daube Arlésienne, which by this time looked more like a bourguignon. In hindsight the Burgundian version was better suited for the wine in any case and I am sure there is a Provençal dish out there with red wine very similar to its northern cousin.

 
Finishing off a Mediterranean ensemble

An hour later to finish off the dish and to give it a more distinctive Mediterranean twist I added some Greek capers, Spanish Manzanilla olives, but to counter the vinegary taste of the olives and saltiness of the capers I added a teaspoon of “treasure” from our pantry to add sweetness, Confit d’Olive, all the way from Blaauwklippen Road in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The confit or mountain marmalade has a very unique flavor, and until I found it in a store in Lexington, KY, of all places, I would not have thought one could make jam from black olives. BTW, it goes very well with camembert or brie cheese on crackers.

The rest and the air did the wine a world of good. Although the tannins were still distinct, clinging to the tongue, it has mellowed a bit. The middle became soft and rounder and the aftertaste longer and a little spicier with a stronger hint of chocolate. (Oops! That sounds like I am describing a maturing woman. But don’t they always say a woman is like a good wine that gets better with time?)

The wine, made mainly from the Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvèdre cultivars and topped up with Cinsault, Cournoise, Muscardin, and Varrarèse, was, to use a Kentucky term, a thoroughbred Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Overall the wine was a very good, fully bodied, well-balanced wine, a true grand cru that can only get better with age. It went very well with the food, which in the end turned out to be a classic I-like-to-cook-with-wine-and-sometimes-even-put-it-in-the-food experiment. How long the other two bottles will last time will tell.

What a bargain for $16?


My apologies Mr. Pépin, but in my hands your boeuf daube Arlésienne, turned out to be more of a Mediterranean-influenced boeuf bourguignon.

 The chef at work in the kitchen.