-  Diary of an Adventure   -  Vineyard Adventures

An early walk in the vineyards, still cool after the rain. My bum complaining on the hills. A newspapers, coffee shops, sushi sort of morning in Stellies, with the odd walk to get bits for the dinner menu to be cooked on the Weber. Duck breast, with brandy and orange sauce, and a grilled beetroot and goats milk cheese salad planned.

Singed eyebrows as the potent mixture of duck fat and brandy hit the hot coals of the braai. Flames, having been given life, impatient for more. I didn’t leave the duck on for long enough, which meant that despite crispy brown skin, the fat wasn’t completely rendered. The presentation stunning. Faults hidden by the entertainment value.

I met Queenie and Lily, two carthorses and their vibrant owners, in the middle of town. They were packing the day traders wares into the flatbed of their horse carts.The carthorses, part of our rich cultural heritage. Pleasing to see how well cared for the horses were and I was more than happy to do prints for them of the photos I took.

The mountains, shadows of the gable walls of the Cape Dutch homestead in one of my paintings for the 30 day challenge.

With the holiday season passed we took the opportunity of a windless morning to head to Blouberg for a beach walk with Polly. The sand patterned by the tide and wind, creating small reflecting pools of light.

The air full of the smell of crushed grapes. Our quiet walk around the Manor House disrupted by the winery getting ready for the harvest. The vines have been trimmed back and the grapes thinned out. The trees forming the windbreak have had their lower branches taken off to let in more afternoon light.

Week three of the thirty paintings in thirty days. Not quite ahead of myself yet, but I have enough ideas for the next few days.

Weber Grilled Duck Breast in Brandy and Orange Sauce

This dish is adapted from a 1960s Spanish recipe (originally with truffles and mushrooms), with input from the Splendid Table. It was served by Swiss chefs Otto and Urs Müller at El Bulli, the beachside shack in the coastal town of Roses they transformed into a legendary Michelin-starred restaurant.

4 boneless duck breast halves, skin on (about 1-1/2 lbs)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
80 grams of butter
80 grams Gorgonzola
2 oranges for juice and zest
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup of brandy
Sprinkle of chilly flakes

1. Put brandy and truffle juice into a deep glass or ceramic dish, add duck, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours.

2. Remove duck from marinade, reserving marinade, and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, score duck skin in a crosshatch pattern. Season duck all over with salt and pepper

3. Grill the breasts, skin side down, over direct medium heat (180°C to 230°C) with the lid off the Weber for 4 minutes, moving the breasts temporarily over indirect heat while flare-ups tale place. Once brown, cook skin side down over indirect heat with the lid closed for 5 minutes to tender out most of the fat. Turn breasts over and cook over indirect medium heat for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Keep the lid closed as often as possible during grilling.

4. Melt the butter the orange juice, honey, chilly flakes and brandy and simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce has reduced by about 50%. Add the cheese and stir until the sauce reaches a syrup-like consistency, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

5. Let the breasts rest for 3 to 5 minutes. To serve, remove the skin and cut the duck into 1/4-inch slices. Drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with orange zest.

Weber Roasted Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad

Beetroot is something most of us only see in a jar. It was always easier to buy a bottle of grated beetroot salad than what it was to cook it yourself. This recipe is however very easy and helps you not to get your hands too dirty. The fact that it lasts for about 1 week if you keep it in a air tight container in the fridge is an added bonus.


Roasted beetroot
1-2 kg Beetroot (I prefer to buy the bunches rather than the bags)
15ml Balsamic vinegar
40 ml Water
Coarse sea salt

Prepare and indirect fire with 25 briquettes on each side or light the Q on indirect heat.
Trim the stalks and ends off the beetroot and wash thoroughly with a soft sponge.
Place the beetroot in a foil drip tray and pour the vinegar into the tray. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Now add 40ml water.
Cover tightly with foil and place on top of the grid.
Cover the lid and leave to cook for about 1 ½ – 2 hours depending on the size of the beets. (I prefer to use the smaller ones)
You can test if they are cooked by piercing one with a knife. If it slides in easy then it is cooked.
Let it cool and store in a container in the fridge. Cut and peel them as you use them. If you wash them well you won’t even need to peel them.
You can keep the remaining liquid and mix it with 50ml olive oil, a teaspoon sugar and 15ml balsamic vinegar to add a lovely dressing to the salad.
To serve:
Prepare the salad base using your favourite leaves. I love the crunch of wild rocket or even try baby spinach and some coriander.
Add cocktail tomatoes and whatever other goodies you like avo, onion, cucumber, etc.
Add the beetroot wedges, cheese and some pecan nuts to your salad and serve.
This salad is great as a side dish with chicken or fish but can be enjoyed on its own as a meal as well.


Thai Red Curry with Roasted Duck

In his time Jan has been an electronics, nuclear and power system engineer, a strategist, a humanitarian and an artist. A career path linked by creativity and innovative thinking. Initially trained at the Johannesburg College of Art, Jan has won numerous international awards and has exhibited nationally and internationally. He can be found in his studio ‘Jandreart’ located at Thesen Harbour Town, Knysna.


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