It was a beautiful spring day two weeks ago and I was privileged to have been invited to lunch with Rijk and Kim Melck of Muratie, one of the oldest wine estates in South Africa. I have fond memories of stopping off at Muratie in the Knorhoek Valley to drink port as a student on many wine-tasting tours, so it was wonderful to finally go back and be fully exposed to this lovely farm.
Steeped in so much history, Muratie has recently updated there wine brand and label and named its range after many of the significant characters that have made up this heritage. The MCC bubbly is known as Lady Alice, Ansela van de Caab (blended red), George Paul Canitz (Pinot Noir), Ronnie Melck (Shiraz), Alberta Annemarie (Merlot), Laurens Campher (blended white), Isabella (Chardonnay) and Ben Prins (Port).
Coming from a marketing and branding background, I totally love what they have done design-wise with the label. The Muratie brand is kept strong and uniform across the range, but each bottle has its own unique qualities that differentiate it. It’s thoroughly modern while at the same time maintaining its classic air that speaks of its rich history.
Not only has the label changed, but the wines have also undergone some significant changes under winemaker Francois Conradie. We tasted two vintages of most of the wines, and I soon discovered that spitting needs to become mandatory for me if I am to taste wines at 11 am on an empty stomach.
I fell in love with the Ronnie Melck Shiraz 08, full of white pepper flavour, this is a wine I just want more of. The Ansela van de Caab 09 (a Cabernet Sauvignon blend), also left a lasting impression.
The tasting room is filled with charm and untouched ancient cobwebs, and the rooms alongside the wine cellar are where farm lunches are served. Expect things like a soup of the day, salmon trout sandwiches, cheese platters, afval and curry, and rice. Special lunches can be arranged and catered for in advance and for large groups.
They also have a cellar shop in the tasting area where you can pick up a few homemade treats like jam, rusks, and their legendary nougat.
Lunch was extremely special, made by Rijk’s mom Annetjie Melck and served in the original Muratie Manor house where she lives. I knew it was going to be awesome because I had tasted her legendary waterblommetjie bredie at the cook-off competition against Du Toitskloof in August. She is a local culinary icon and an expert in Boerekos.
I, unfortunately, didn’t get any pictures of the delectable lunch that included Smoorsnoek, roast chicken with crispy roast potatoes, and venison pie, but Annetjie has very kindly shared her traditional smoorsnoek recipe:
It’s a cracker.
“This is a West Coast recipe as used by the fisher folk and farmers. Very simple but the special part is that they use pork fat to cook this dish and they first fry the snoek in a pan. Once it is cold it is used for smoorsnoek ie left over fresh snoek not smoked”.
- 1 kilo leftover snoek coarsely flaked with all bones removed
- 3 large onions coarsely chopped
- 3 large potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes
- 300 gm pork fat- cut into very tiny cubes as small as if it was minced
To make this:
- Use a heavy bottom pan and fry the pork fat cubes until golden brown and the fat is well rendered- remove and keep aside.
- Decant most of the rendered fat keep little in the pan to use and fry onions in pork fat till glassy remove and set aside with the pork fat cubes
- Fry the potato cubes in the same pan in a little pork fat till light brown and still firm
- Add pork cubes and onions to potatoes in the pan and place the flaked snoek on top. Season with coarsely ground black pepper and a little tobacco
- Smoor (mix) all these ingredients together until well blended. 15-20 min. Do not stir
- Add little water to keep the smoor, the process going. Put a lid on the pan. This is a very slow cooking process. Remember all the ingredients are done it is a matter of blending tastes
- If you feel you need more fattiness add little butter
- I add a dash of Worcestershire sauce at the end because I like it that way, its a matter of taste
Serve the smoorsnoek with rice.
Thank you, Kim and Rijk for hosting such a special day for us.
I fell completely in love with the manor house kitchen, you will see why.
Tel: +27 21 865-2330/6
Fax: +27 21 865-2790
Knorhoek Road/R44, Koelenhof, Stellenbosch, South Africa