Cooking With Conrad Gallagher – Tomato and Goat’s Cheese Pizza, with chorizo and rocket

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher – Tomato and Goat’s Cheese Pizza, with chorizo and rocket

Conrad Gallagher is an award winning Michelin-starred chef who has taken up residency in St Francis Bay Every week he shares something special with us. This week it is his famous Tomato and Goats Cheese Pizza with chorizo and rocket.

you will need:
900g/1lb 13oz plain Pizza Dough
6 ripe plum tomatoes, Sliced
1 × 125g/4oz log of goat’s cheese, Sliced Plus extra for sprinkling
20 thin slices of chorizo (about 125g/4oz) Rock salt and freshly ground black pepper 500g/1lb rocket
50ml/2fl oz olive oil
Serves 4

Cooking With Conrad GallagherShape the pizza dough into 4 very thin discs on a greased baking sheet. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Bake the pizza bases for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3.

Cover the bases with alternate layers of tomatoes, goat’s cheese, and
chorizo. Season with rock salt and black pepper and bake in the preheated oven until the cheese has melted for about 10 minutes.

Toss the rocket with olive oil and season. Serve the pizza with the rocket piled on top.

 

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Cooking With Conrad Gallagher: In Wine, Age Matters

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher: In Wine, Age Matters

In wine, age matters – in both vineyard and bottle!

While youth is the obsession in worlds like entertainment, fashion and social media, in the world of wine it’s a different story – the older, the better.

Some wines are made for youthful enjoyment and instant gratification, but age and maturity are where wine becomes more deeply interesting.

The age of the wine in the bottle is the most commonly considered factor when we talk about age and wine: there’s the pleasure for wine collectors of buying and cellaring young wines, aiming to enjoy them some years later at their peak potential; and for those without the patience, many wineries have a back catalogue of older vintages.

To fully experience greatness or for the sheer pleasure of ownership of an icon, one can also purchase 50-year-old Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Romanée-Conti in specialist online wine shops, while treasures like a century-old Bordeaux first growth or a rare 1821 Grand Constance dessert wine from South Africa command headline-grabbing prices on auction.

However, there’s another aspect to the conversation about wine and age – the age of the winemaking region itself, as well as the age of its vines and vineyards, and how it capitalises on this legacy in its winemaking and telling the story of the region.

In Wine, Age Matters

Wines from older vineyards are prized and sought-after the world over, for the purity of flavour concentrated in the small berries from gnarled, low-yielding old vines that have dug their roots deep and weathered the decades. These wines express a distinct sense of place and deep character, telling the story of the earth they were grown in, many cycles of changing seasons, and the generations of people who tended them.

With more than 3,600 hectares of vineyards aged 35 years and older, including 10 vineyards more than a century old and still producing, South Africa was the first country in the world to set up a certification system for wines made from these heritage vineyards, indicated by a Certified Heritage Vineyard seal on the bottle.

South Africa’s Old Vine Project (OVP) is an exceptional effort to recognise and preserve older vineyards, found mostly in unique, remote locations, and to establish a premium value for the grape producers and for the wines made from these venerable older vines.

Wines from these old vineyards display intensity with delicacy, texture, and concentrated flavours. They tend to be made in small batches by some of South Africa’s leading winemakers. In the five years since the formal establishment of the OVP with backing from wine-loving business mogul Johan Rupert, with the Certified Heritage Vineyard seal introduced only in 2018, they already command high prices, are sought after by collectors, and regularly score highly in international ratings and awards.

For some of South Africa’s best old vineyard wines, look out for the Cape of Good Hope range from Anthonij Rupert Wines, highly terroir-specific wines from some of South Africa’s very oldest vineyards, small pockets in unique locations.

In Wine, Age Matters

Some of the small pockets of old vines have been in the same family for generations, others are accessed by young, innovative winemakers who don’t own their own farms but seek out interesting vineyards for sourcing their grapes – on both counts, look out for Alheit, Badenhorst, Bosman, Ahrens, The Fledge & Co, Beaumont, Bellevue, Kaapzicht, Kruger, Lammershoek, Mischa, Mullineux & Leeu, Naude, Scions of Sinai, Thorne & Daughters – See these and more at http://oldvineproject.co.za/

When it comes to age of the winemaking region itself, these intriguing old vineyards form part of the story of South Africa as a wine region – more than three centuries of winemaking, building up a track record interwoven with the social and political history of the Cape, from colonialism and slavery through to the advent of democracy.

Exploring this history along with tasting wine is part of the charm of a South African wine tour.

Constantia, now a high-value suburb of Cape Town where mansions jostle with vineyards on the forested slopes of Table Mountain, lays claim to being the oldest winemaking region in the world outside of Europe. It’s rather like the “old world of the new world” in wine terms – and winemaking history in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek is not far behind

Wine was first made at the Cape in 1659 and the country’s first wine farm, Groot Constantia, established in 1685, is still making fine wine today – including Grand Constance, the modern-day version of the sweet Constantia wines that were sought-after by the crowned heads of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In fact, it was vine cuttings from the Cape of Good Hope shipped to the penal colony of New South Wales in 1788 that seeded the Australian wine industry.

In Wine, Age Matters

Records of three centuries ago are sketchy but it is known that from the late 1700s, the likes of Frederick the Great of Prussia, the last kings of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, and English royalty were regular customers of Groot Constantia.

Constantia wine was shipped to Napoleon in exile on the island of St Helena from 1815 until his death in 1821 and it features in literature too. Constantia wine is recommended in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (1811) for its “healing powers on a disappointed heart”, it was served in Charles Dickens’s last novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870), along with a home-made biscuit, for spiritual support, and the French poet Baudelaire (1857) professed that he preferred the “elixir” of his lover’s mouth “even more than Constantia, than opium…”.

More recently, literature featuring Cape wine history came from the pen of American historical novelist James A. Michener who used Meerlust in Stellenbosch – now owned and farmed for winemaking by eight generations of the Myburgh family since 1756 – as the inspiration for his 1980 novel “The Covenant” on the history of South Africa.

Age – whether it is the age and history of the region, the age and conserving of heritage vineyards, or the age-ability of wine in the bottle – South African wine meets the brief on all counts.

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher – Tomato and Goat’s Cheese Pizza, with chorizo and rocket

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher – G is for Gourmet

G is for gourmet. And also gourmand, gastronome and glutton – which one are you?

What’s in a name, you might ask. Quite a lot, actually.

Under “F” in the dictionary you’ll find foodie, a word that’s become a catchall for all types of people who love all things food-related, for whatever reason – shopping for it, cooking for solo pleasure or for friends, eating out, food travel, and especially photographing, sharing and talking about their shopping finds, home creations and restaurant meals.

Some are food-nerds who collect chef trivia and brag about their discoveries and treasures, others make a living from it as social media influencers, and many just like to swop recipes on Facebook – they’re all in it for different reasons, and some may be gourmets or gourmands, or even greedy guzzling gluttons.

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher - G is for Gourmet

Turn to the “G” section of the dictionary, however, and you’ll find a host of terms related to a love of food and drink, each with a very specific definition beyond the catchall “foodie”.

Gourmet and gourmand might sound similar, and they’re often used interchangeably – incorrectly so, because they mean quite different things and have different roots.

The key difference lies in quality vs quantity.

Although it has moved away somewhat from its 15th century roots in the Old French word for “gluttonous”, the term gourmand still refers to someone with an extreme, even excessive, love of eating and drinking. A tad decadent, the gourmand loves food, all food, any food – all day (and all of the night).

The meaning these days is accepted as “heartily interested” in food and drink, rather than over-indulgence (for that, we have the word “glutton”), but the gourmand’s preference will still tend to quantity over quality if you force them to choose.

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher - G is for Gourmet

The gourmand might be considered to have a democratic, populist approach to food and drink, while for the gourmet all food experiences are most definitely NOT created equal.

Quality and exclusivity are the watchwords for the gourmet, a connoisseur of fine food and wine, highly knowledgeable, with a refined and discerning palate.

The gourmet appreciates high quality, speciality ingredients and dishes that require elaborate and expert preparation, served with the most exquisite of presentation in perfect settings with silver service, accompanied of course by premium wines and spirits.

These are people for whom 10-course tasting menus paired with fine wines in Michelin 3-star restaurants are made.

Interestingly, gourmet has its roots in both Old English and Old French, the word that became the noun “groom”, as in a valet or servant, and originally had meanings more specifically related to wine – a wine broker, wine taster, a valet in charge of wines, or a wine merchant’s assistant.

Expertise in wine now has its own specific words, like sommelier and oenophile, and “gourmet” now focuses more on food, but with a definite interest in superior drinks too.

There are gourmet cooking classes, gourmet magazines and websites, gourmet cooks, gourmet shops, gourmet menus, gourmet home kitchens, gourmet travel – all relating to high quality ingredients and meals, and the high-level skills and equipment to prepare it.

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher - G is for Gourmet

Gourmet and gastronome (a lover of good food) overlap somewhat, but again, they are slightly different.

Where the gourmet’s highly-educated interest is mainly in the art of good food in general, gastronomy is interested in both the art and the science of good food, how it is intertwined with the history, culture and traditions of a specific place, and the special skills developed to prepare the traditional foods of a region or country.

So, if you like, the gastronome takes education and knowledge a notch above the gourmet, and hence one can book gastronomic tours of highly specific regions from Thailand to France to Mexico.

Although few would like to admit to living up to these words, the “G” entry in the dictionary also comes up with two of the seven deadly sins – greed and gluttony.

There’s a slight difference between these sins – gluttony is a lack of self-control in eating and drinking, relating to overeating, overindulging, overspending, and so it also relates well to other G-words like guzzle and gulp.

While gluttons might be willing to share, greed is wanting to keep all the good stuff for yourself, wanting more than you need, even resorting to stealing or killing to own the prized item (the dodgier parts of the trade in truffles, perhaps, or even the illegal trade in South Africa’s prized abalone….).

So, are you a generic, catchall foodie, or a gourmet, gourmand or gastronome?

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher – Tomato and Goat’s Cheese Pizza, with chorizo and rocket

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher – Can South African Wine Perform on the World Stage?

Can South African Wine Perform on the World Stage? Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Napa Cab, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Oregon Pinot Noir, Argentine Malbec, Super Tuscans. Can South African wine stand up against these icons?

The question is probably more hotly debated within the South African wine industry itself than anywhere else. Still, if one looks at credible international awards and the opinions of wine critics and journalists respected for their views on diverse wine regions of the world, the answer is pretty clear.

2021 Outstanding Wine Producer of the Year

Most recently, Vilafonté of Stellenbosch, a South Africa-California collaboration focused on a small range of exclusive, luxury wines. They lived up to their vision of producing “wines which stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the great wines of the world.” This was done by winning the 2021 Outstanding Wine Producer of the Year in the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC).

South Africa has performed in this competition, with Kanonkop taking the world wine producer of the year title in 2019.

Can South African Wine Perform on the World Stage?

These and other international titles and awards reflect how South African wine is rapidly developing a clear identity on the world stage. No longer trying to emulate other countries’ styles but rather making distinctive wines of recognised quality that express a South African wine culture and sense of place.

As British Master of Wine Tim Atkin says, in his 2021 South Africa Special Report [https://timatkin.com/product/2021-south-africa-special-report/]:

“What South Africa has achieved, not just since 1994, but in the nine years that I have been writing this report, is truly remarkable. No other wine industry has made such strides. No other wine industry possesses such energy or excitement. Right now, and in the face of the huge challenges the country faces on many fronts, it’s important not to lose sight of that achievement.”

Can South African Wine Perform on the World Stage?

Atkin compiles around 10 special reports every year, an in-depth look at the wines and overall industry of essential regions or countries. He also does weekly tasting notes on wines from around the world on his website and in other publications. In other words, he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to being able to compare wines on the world stage.

A South African wine, the Bordeaux-style Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015, received Atkin’s first-ever 100-point score for a New World/southern hemisphere wine in his 2018 report. “One of the greatest young wines I have ever tasted”.

Can South African Wine Perform on the World Stage?

As a result, this vintage (and other older Kanonkop wines) has become highly sought-after by collectors, a 6-bottle case fetching R39,830 on the Strauss&Co fine wine auction in 2020 – that’s £1,900/ €2,200 / US$2,500.

Atkin followed up that first, rare perfect score with 100 points for the 2018 Porseleinberg Syrah and 2019 Sadie Family Skurfberg Chenin Blanc in his 2020 report. He commented that South Africa was “making the best wines in its history”. The Sadie Family achieved full marks again in 2021. This time for the 2019 Columella.

These are all wines that command high prices at auction. The rise in international auctions of South Africa in recent years signalling the development of a secondary market for South African fine wine. This indicates that some older, well-preserved wines are internationally seen as investment-quality.

Benchmark Prices

Well-known in the fine art world, Strauss&Co started their South African fine wine auctions in 2019 and have set benchmark prices and new sales records for some of the country’s top wines.

The annual auction by the Cape Winemakers Guild showcases wines made by its members exclusively for the auction. The Guild is  an exclusive, invitation-only group of top South African producers. The auction has been held in London for the past two years. It shows the growing interest by international buyers, who bought almost 40% of the lots on offer this year.

Meanwhile, the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction (long known as the Nederburg Auction and probably South Africa’s longest-running wine auction) is renowned for offering older, rare and investment wines with impeccable provenance. This year, long open to international buyers bidding by telephone, it extended its global reach with a hybrid online and in-person sale. It was conducted by Christie’s from the Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch.

Napoleon’s Lot

With around 20% of sales to international buyers, this year’s auction saw a record R420,000 (£20,000 / €23,300 / US$26,500) paid by a UK buyer for the famed Grand Constance 1821. It is one of only 12 bottles believed to still exist in the world. It is from a lot thought to have been destined for Napoleon Bonaparte in exile on St Helena.

Poor old Napoleon died before he tasted the sweet elixir that was a favourite of European royalty in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Another indicator that the world wine industry is taking South African wine seriously is the French wine guide and magazine Gilbert and Gaillard. They appointed a dedicated South African portfolio taster in 2019, Cape Wine Master Francois Bezuidenhout.

Decanter World Wine Awards

Meanwhile, South African-born Greg Sherwood MW, a wine critic, judge and the senior fine wine buyer at Handford Wines in South Kensington, London, chaired the South Africa judging panel in the Decanter World Wine Awards this year. Reflecting on the entries, he said: “The comparison between the quality of the wines submitted now and those of 2003 bear no resemblance whatsoever. On the contrary, the quality of wines tasted over the past two or three years have reached heights I could never have imagined 10 or 15 years ago.”

He praised the consistent quality of both red and white South African wines from across the style spectrum, from entry-level sub-£9.99 retail right up to the super-premium boutique icons at £50+.

Can South African Wine Perform on the World Stage?

Queen Elizabeth II’s wine adviser Jancis Robinson MW calls South Africa “one of the world’s most beautiful sources of fine wine”.

In an article on “why you should buy South African wine”, she mentions the “new-wave producers with their old-vine Chenin Blancs, Cinsaults and Grenaches.” These from newer winemaking areas such as the Swartland, as worthy of attention, as well as Pinot Noir from the cool south coast.

“The average age of the country’s dominant grape variety, Chenin Blanc, is sufficient to imbue many of them with real complexity – more so than many a Chenin from its homeland in the Loire Valley. Most of the reds I encountered were really delicious. There were fine examples of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah/Shiraz, as well as wines made from the Grenache and Cinsault vines that can be found in some of the Cape’s older vineyards,” she said.

Gorgeous Wines That Shine With Purity

Over the pond in the USA, Napa Valley-based sommelier and writer on South African wine for the influential Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Anthony Mueller, also speaks of South Africa’s gorgeous wines that shine with purity and have a sense of place”.

“South African wine continues to outperform similarly priced bottles from other countries, punching well above their weight class.

“For anyone out there who still has bad memories of a South African wine they tried several years ago, it’s time to seriously reconsider South Africa. The depth of flavour, precision, length, varietal purity and mineral tension in the wines coming out of South Africa deserve a second look.

More Important To American Consumers

“As Americans continue to seek out wines from around the world, I do see South African wine becoming more important to American consumers. And both collectors and the everyday sipper can enjoy South African wines, as the country does both categories well,” Mueller wrote recently.

South African wines offer incredible diversity and range, he says. “Everything from lighter-bodied and crushable … to mineral-tensioned and crystalline and age-worthy and world-class”.

Where to buy South African wine?

Where to buy South African wine? In the UK, Jancis Robinson recommends Frontier Fine Wines, Handford Wines, Harrogate Fine Wines, Lay & Wheeler, Museum Wines, Swig, Red Squirrel, Vino SA and Slurp. Specialist retailers in the US include Cape Ardor and the Southern Hemisphere Wine Center in southern California.

In South Africa itself, look no further than our Off the Menu Food Emporium [https://offthemenufoodemporium.com/ ] stores in Port Elizabeth and St Francis Bay. They stock a premium selection of South African wines from independent boutique producers, also available for purchase online.

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Cooking With Conrad Gallagher – Tomato and Goat’s Cheese Pizza, with chorizo and rocket

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher – Tagliatelle

Welcome to our weekly food and cooking column, Cooking With Conrad Gallagher.

Conrad Gallagher is a Michelin Star chef and author and is the owner of Off The Menu Food Emporium and Bistro Vin De Boeuf in St Francis Bay. Furthermore, Conrad won his Michelin Star when he was only 24 years old. Thus we are very proud to have him writing for St Francis Today. This is his regular column, with St Francis Today, Cooking With Conrad Gallagher.

In today’s column, Conrad gives us his Tagliatelle recipe.  

Tagliatelle – Wagyu beef Ragù, tomatoes, parsley, basil. 

Ingredients

200r tagliatelle

100g ground Wagyu 

15g fresh tomatoes

30g chopped tinned Roma tomatoes 

30g red wine 

30g beef stock 

10g chopped red onions 

15g chopped garlic 

15g chopped celery 

15g chopped leeks 

15g chopped carrot 

30g Italian parsley 

30g fresh basil 

15g grated Parmesan (Grana Padano) 

5g of table salt 

Maldon sea salt

White pepper 

Olive oil

Method 

  • Firstly, using a large pot – fill with water and bring to the boil. Please note – when cooking pasta, always allow 3 times the amount of water to pasta. Add salt to the water at a rate of 15g per litre.
  • Then, using a heavy-based pan, warm the pan and add olive oil. Once warm, add the chopped garlic and onions and sauté gently without colour.
  • Furthermore, add the chopped celery, leeks, carrots and gently cook. Season with the Maldon sea salt and white pepper. This mix can be called your flavour foundation. Remove the mix from the pan and leave it to the side.
  • Equally important, put the heavy base pan back on the heat and warm, add additional olive oil to warm, then add the ground Wagyu and cook at high heat until golden brown. Season the meat with Maldon sea salt and white pepper. 
  • Then, when the meat is golden brown, remove it from the pan and use a strainer to remove all excess fat or oil that would have leaked from the meat. 
  • Importantly, wipe the pan with a paper towel and put it back on high heat. Next, add the flavour foundation mix (onion, garlic, leeks, celery, carrots) to the pan. Next, add the Wagyu meat mix and warm together. Finally, add the red wine and cook for 3-5 minutes. 
  • At this stage, add the fresh chopped tomatoes, tinned chopped tomatoes, beef stock, and simmer for 45 minutes on low heat. Season again with Maldon sea salt and white pepper. 
  • Finally, add the fresh chopped parsley and basil. Finish with freshly micro grated Parmesan and serve over cooked pasta.

Another great tip:

Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water. Return to the pan, add some olive oil, season with salt and pepper & add grated Parmesan. Then, pour the Wagyu ragout sauce over the pasta and mix well together. Finally, finish with Parmesan and chopped Italian parsley and basil. 

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Previous column – Beef Marrow Truffle Sauce

Previous column – Salmon Rillette