Monday, April 29, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Inverroche - South African Fynbos Gin

Just over a month ago the entire family trekked down to Stillbaai in the Southern Cape to attend my brother Arné’s wedding. Stillbaai is a popular vacation town that positively buzzes during peak seasons. Luckily we missed the crowds and spent 3 relaxing days on deserted beaches in the company of close friends and family.

The husband and I decided to do some exploring and came across one of Stillbaai’s hidden gems. Micro-distillery Inverroche; makers of small-batch artisan fynbos gin. We’ve done beer, wine, champagne and even olive oil tastings, but never gin. Although we adore an ice cold G&T during the summer months, we never considered the complexities the flavour of gin can hold, and certainly never drink it on its own!

We were welcomed by Lorna Scott who passionately explained the pot distilling process to us. Unlike making traditional gin (which is made from hardy ingredients like cassia bark and juniper berries), Inverroche adds softer local fynbos to the mix. Through a steaming process, the spirit vapors extract aromatic oils and aromas from the fynbos which imparts the unique flavour into the gin. This family-run business has a very ‘green’ approach to their gin making – the distillery is built from locally collected limestone, it’s naturally ventilated so there is no need for air-conditioning, they use local fynbos, burn alien wood to fire up the copper pot still and their water is pumped from underground by their own windmill. They also make bricks from materials left over after the distilling process. Ingenious indeed!

Inverroche creates three types of gin: Verdant {Fresh & Floral}, Amber {Rich & Aromatic} and Classic {Crisp & Complex}. We had the pleasure of tasting all three; neat, with tonic and (my favourite) with the zest of a citrus fruit. The one lesson I took home after this tasting was to only use the zest of the citrus fruit and not an entire slice of it. The zest contains oils (like the gin) and therefore doesn’t destroy the flavour, unlike the white pith in a slice of lemon/lime/grapefruit that is bitter and hinders the flavour instead of enhancing it.

We also tasted some of their delicious rum, and are looking forward to future projects – Champagne perhaps?

At this stage you can only buy Inverroche Gin directly from the farm or at a handful of suppliers, but check their website for online sales and distributers. Alternatively you can experience a taste of Inverroche at one of the Sothern Sun hotels that are using it in their cocktails.

Needless to say, we came back to Joburg with one of each J

Friday, April 19, 2013

Guest post: Scones Recipe

Enjoy the last beautiful (clear or rainy) days of Autumn with a batch of
Hilary Biller’s delicious scones and freshly brewed tea.

Buttermilk Scones
Makes about 12 big ones or 20 smaller scones

You would need:
4 cups cake flour
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp baking powder
125g cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 xtra-large egg
60 ml water (if needed)
1 egg, beaten for glazing

How to:
Sift flour, salt and baking powder together.
Place in your food processor.
Add cubed butter and whizz until it is well blended and mixed and looks like breadcrumbs.
Add sugar and give it another whizz to mix.
Turn mixture into a mixing bowl.
Mix the buttermilk and egg with a fork in a separate bowl.
Add to the flour mixture, and using a knife, mix through lightly.
Add water if needed, the dough must come together and leave the sides of the bowl – not sticky.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead very lightly to from a ball – do not over knead , or you will have rock scones.
Pat dough down lightly to about 3 cm thick.
Cut out 5cm or 7cm rounds with a cutter.
Brush each scone with beaten egg and bake for 12 minutes at 220°C.

Cut open with serrated knife when slightly cooled down and serve with strawberry jam, apricot jam, cream, bovril, marmite or melted cheese & tomato – whatever you fancy!