Monday, April 30, 2012

Tim's birthday cupcakes




This weekend I made my first batch of wheat-free cupcakes. The cake part is in fact also vegan ... (no animal products), but I still couldn't bring myself to not use fluffy butter icing. I was quite nervous that the recipe would flop. I literally bought gluten-free cake flour (a mix of soya flour, potato flour, brown rice flour and others...) and attempted to make the recipe on the back of the flour packet.
here it is:

500g gluten-free flour
160ml fructose
35ml baking powder (yes a lot)
500ml water (luke warm)
160ml natural oil (I used canola)
15ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
Mix all the dry ingredients together, then I added half the water and mixed... the oil and mixed... and the rest of the water and lemon juice. Don't over beat the mixture though! The texture is amazing, fluffy and slightly grainy. It spoons into the cupcake holders easily and makes 24. I cooked them for 25 minutes at 160 degrees C, 12 cupcakes at a time. They were spongy and perfectly golden.

The icing recipe is:
400g icing sugar
100g butter at room temperature
about 40ml milk... just watch how this goes. I used 2%.
vanilla seeds scraped out from a single vanilla pod
Beat the butter and icing sugar together first.. add a teensy bit more butter if needed. add the milk and vanilla. Spread... I also added some edible glitter, as you can see :-)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My love for La Boheme wine bar and bistro


La Boheme Wine Bar and Bistro is a popular gem on the main road of Sea Point. Their food is wholesome, with French/Mediterranean influences and the menu changes daily, with the exception of a few signature dishes, such as the chicken liver parfait (starter) and the Ostrich mince balls on pasta (main). Other dishes I've enjoyed include the chicken roulade (main) and rabbit gnocchi (main). The menu's are displayed on chalk boards, which get passed around the restaurant.
There is a separate tapas menu with cheese boards, charcuterie and so on, so check that out as well.

Last night we had a friend staying over with us from Johannesburg. So we decided to take a walk along the Sea Point promenade, watching the sun set, before walking up the road to La Boheme for dinner. We were lucky as they had one table still unreserved, and soon enough the whole restaurant was packed.

The two things I love most about La Boheme is firstly, that the majority of their wines are available by the glass (over 60), and secondly, the bustling vibe. It's al fresco-style dining is perfect for sunny weather, but on nights like last night when it was slightly chilly, they bring out gas heaters... and then there is always the inside section. Old wine barrels and shelves with musty books are found in most corners. It is definitely cosy, the tables are fairly close together, but that makes for the cafe-style atmosphere.

Best of all, is that they have an amazing special, which we all opted for last night. Any two courses for R95 (starter and main), and any three courses for R120 (starter, main and dessert). Such a bargain! And the food is gourmet, and the portions are hearty...
This is what we had:
Me: beef carpaccio followed by the pork belly on mash with vegetables
Fiance: babotie samoosas followed by the ostrich mince balls on fettucine (very South African, and the pasta is made fresh in house) and then the popular chocolate brownie
Fiance's cousin: mini cheesy quesadillas and beef snitchel

We enjoyed a bottle of Ruperts and Rothschild classique to polish it off and took the leisurely stroll home feeling totally satisfied :-)
Book through:
021 434 8797
341 main road, sea point




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nobu's sepctacular new bento boxes


I had the privilege of dining at the renowned NOBU restaurant – the only one in Africa – at the One & Only Cape Town last night.

It definitely makes for a special occasion. As you arrive, a valet service is on offer, so there's no worry about parking and so on. When you walk into the grand hotel, there is a warm greeting and of course, once at Nobu the service is of the utmost best.

The sommelier guided us through the wine selection, and as we were both trying the new Bento Box options, we needed a wine that could hold it's own against varied flavours, but not outshine the food. And we felt like a red, which is not always the easiest to pair with sea food. But the sommeliers recommendation of Muratie's pinot noir went down extremely well. As we are already fans of that particular wine, it wasn't hard to convince us.

The wine list also contains a variety of sake, wines and bubbly by the glass (including French Champagne) starting at Graham Beck Brut NV (R55) for the bubbles, Ken Forrester Sauv Blanc (R42) for the whites, Springfield Whole Berry Cab Sauv (R65) for the red and a one rosé option, a Mulderbosch Rosé (R35).

If you're in the mood for a cocktail, there are some interesting martinis, sake combinations and classics available, starting at R55. Plus there are some virgin cocktails (R35). There is also an interesting selection of beers and if you're feeling extra flush, some top international wine labels.

We were brought a bowl of warm soya beans while we waited for our boxes to arrive. It wasn't long before the first one did – and we were taken a back by how much food was on offer. We managed to consume everything from both the boxes... but three people could have easily shared two if you know what I mean.

The first bento box (R275) consists of a tuna sashimi salad, assorted sushi rolls, sashimi in the famed jalapeno sauce, white fish tempura, nasu miso (eggplant in miso sauce) and chicken teriyaki. It is then followed by a 'Suntory whisky cappuccino' dessert, which is actually a layered dessert in a cappuccino cup, consisting of coffee-flavoured Crème brûlée and other crunchy and creamy bits that I couldn't quite identify, but it was amazing!
The second bento box (Deluxe at R375) includes salmon sashimi salad, assorted sushi pieces and sushi rolls, white fish new style sashimi, beef wing rib anticucho miso, sauteed spicy vegetables, and tiger shrimp tempura. A smaller bento box dessert followed, containing a decadent chocolate fondant and a gorgeous ball of 'green tea' ice-cream – which, even though it sounds odd, was delicately balanced as the ice-cream wasn't particularly sweet, making a perfect partner for the rich fondant.

Our bests of all the little dishes were the beef ribs, the eggplant in miso sauce, the salmon sashimi with jalepeno sauce and the green-tea ice-cream. We had an interested selection of unusual fish such as yellow tail and marlin sashimi, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

The Bento Boxes will be available until the end of September.

Dinner is served from 6pm – 11pm (Closed Mondays). To book, call 021 431 4511

We live in such a beautiful place

Sea Point Promenade at Sunset

View from the Sea Point promenade last night at about 6:20pm... *sigh*

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Manuka cafe and Fine Wine shop




While even though our super markets are getting better at stocking more varieties of wine, they still aren't really up to scratch, and if you're looking for something unusual and less mass produced, you'll have to stumble upon it while driving through the winelands or at festivals.


A couple weeks ago I was in the Somerset West area, with big plans for wine farm visiting, but not only was the weather dreadful, but no sooner had we started our trip when we were turned away as private functions were being held at the estates.
So we soon gave up and went for brunch. Yes, here in Cape Town we start wine tasting during the late morning.

We stopped in at a cafe called Manuka @ Southeys on the main road going into Somerset West. It's a lovely little spot with a garden and jungle gym for kids. Chickens and ducks mill around the lawn and pond and it's warm and bustling inside.

But what I love most about Manuka is the Fine Wine shop inside, just next to the entrance.
I ended up having a long conversation (not hard for me) with the wine guy inside, asking him about garagiste wines, boutique farms, limited editions etc. I walked away with some interesting bottles, including a shiraz mourvedre from garagiste winery, Osbloed (Paarl region) and some shiraz from a boutique winery called Migliarina (migliarina.co.za), both of which I had never heard of before. It was great to deal with someone who is so informative, and offers good recommendations.

Since then, I've found out that Manuka apparently hosts 'meet the winemaker' dinners (R160pp inc two courses and 8 wines). I haven't been to any, but it could make for a cool evening out if you happen to be that side.


021 851 6060
www.manukaatsoutheys.co.za

Monday, April 23, 2012

Taste of cape 2012



Bombay Brasserie
I thoroughly enjoyed Taste of Cape this year. I went on both Saturday night and Sunday morning – as I feel there's too much to see, do and taste for one session, and it was really worth it.

On Saturday I went with my two House & Garden magazine colleagues. One of them is a vegetarian (Lila), the other Jewish (Staci), and then there's me with my weird food allergies (that I conveniently 'forgot' about during certain tastings, but 'suddenly remembered' during others) – so the three of us made for fussy eaters.

Il Leone
hermanuspietersfontein
However, there was a lot to be impressed by. My top dishes being from Bombay Brasserie (www.tajcapetown.co.za) – the calamari and fish dishes with dreamy mint sauce; Planet (at Mount Nelson www.mountnelson.co.za) – which had their dishes paired with selected wines at the Hermanuspietersfontein (www.hpf1855.co.za) stand across the way; and Il Leone (www.mastrantonio.com/illeone) – the kings of pasta, and even though I never usually eat veal, their porcini and veal dish was to-die-for.

I also loved the fact that La Mouette (lamouette-restaurant.co.za) had a pop-up stand on Sunday, just after I'd blogged about them on friday! The gin-and-tonic dessert and the lamb dish were tops.

Although I missed this one, apparently everyone was raving about the gourmet burger from Makaron (www.makaronrestaurant.co.za) – the new restaurant at Majeka House in the Winelands. I did actually have some macarons at another stand though... Dark chocolate and orange flavour – yums!

Wines I loved: Thelema Shiraz (www.thelema.co.za), Idiom Shiraz, Mouvedre and Viognier blend (www.idiom.co.za), Ernie Els' Big Easy red blend (www.ernieels.com), and for a pocket-friendly shiraz, try Deetlefs 2010 shiraz (www.deetlefs.com). I do know they are totally sold out of their Cab Sauv and I think their pinotage at the moment too (they export 90%). So get some Shiraz before that's also gone.

Jorgensen's distillery
Italian Wine Tasting
The Italian wine tasting was most informative and I'll be writing a separate blog post about the company that's doing it. But good to know you can order a case of Italy :-)

It's always good to see the guys from Jorgensen's distillery (www.jd7.co.za). I tried some of their chilli vodka – which blew my socks off – most notable is their new naartjie liquor. Seriously yummy stuff and great for a gift *Cough *cough – it's my birthday in May – *cough*
Their Naked Lemon Limoncello is also divine!

Queen of Tarts
The mini tarts from the Queen of Tarts stand were gorgeous and decadent, and the chorizo from Cape Mountain Charcuturie (also at the Houtbay Market) is perfect to snack on its own, or to be had in pasta dishes, which I will be experimenting with this week (www.capemountainfood.co.za).
bacon nougat

But the winner of the 'weirdest, most unusual product', was not the alcoholic, flavoured whipped cream, nor the tequila beer, but the 'Salted Macadamia Nut and Maple Smoked Bacon Honey Nougat'. Bacon and nougat. Don't believe me? It's pictured above. Made by a company called Ma Mere Maison. And you know what? It wasn't as revolting as it sounds... it tastes like a slightly salty nougat. Yeah, I'm not buying it either...

I was also happy to see that there was live entertainment. Hot Water (www.hotwater.co.za) played on Saturday night, while Natasha Meister (www.natashameister.com) – a blues goddess – charmed crowds on Sunday in the Brandy lounge.
Hot Water

In any case, I'm sad Taste of Cape is over, but there's always next year :-)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Autumn six-course special at La Mouette


While this might sound slightly controversial, I'm just going to go out and say it: Cape Town is a fabulous place to be in winter. While most of you may be thinking of the wind and rain, let me remind you of a few facts. It doesn't get nearly as cold as Johannesburg or other inland places. There are the random, gorgeously hot, windless days in between each cold front, perfect for beach picnics. And most importantly, there is an abundance of restaurant specials.

One of my favourite fine-dining, French-Mediterranean inspired restaurants, La Mouette, has just launched a new six-course Autumn special for R165.

The set menu includes the following:
Truffle and cheese croquette smoked tomato aioli
Butternut squash raviolis sage brown butter and shaved pecorino
Roasted line fish chick pea, tomato and baby spinach ragout
Confit shoulder of beef sweet corn polenta, tomato and feta gremoulata
Warm choux pastry doughnut lemon curd and coffee Chantilly
‘Chocolate orange’ macaroon, chocolate financier, orange puree, marmelade ice cream and cointreau syrup
Opt for the wine pairing, which at R330, includes a carefully selected wine to match each course.
Bargain if you ask me...
If you're feeling more flush, try the Autumn Gourmand Tasting menu for R395 (R595 with wines):

Butternut squash soup walnuts, gorgonzola croquettes
Salt and pepper prawns chorizo popcorn and sweet corn pureé
Caprese salad bocconcini, pesto, tomato and gazpacho jelly
Crayfish ravioli almond crumble cauliflower and truffle foam
Chalmar beef sirloin smoked aubergine puree, caramelized baby onions and mash
Warm choux pastry doughnut lemon curd and coffee Chantilly
‘Crunchie’ honey comb parfait, milk chocolate ganache and honey cream
OR
Grilled Kimberley cheddar ‘sandwich’ tomato chutney, brioche and pickled onions


There are fire places in each room, so it's perfect for a romantic 'cosy' dinner. Or, if the weather is good, opt for a lazy lunch in the courtyard.


lamouette-restaurant.co.za; 021 433 0856; 78 Regent Road, Sea Point

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spier Wine Estate's new tasting room






Sometimes you have those weekends when, before you know it, two days have flown by and you've spent them in your slippers on your couch, with not much to say for yourself. Sometimes they're necessary, especially when you're working in an industry that requires late night deadlines and intense concentration... editing can be a bitch.
But then again I love those weekends filled with activities, that make you feel like you have actually achieved something.

This past Saturday was one of those. I woke up early to do a trail run at Simonsvlei wine estate. It was just 5km, but it nearly killed me and I was amazed to have made it to the finish line without twisting an ankle. I'll stick to the roads from now on.
Thank goodness I packed an extra shirt, because afterwards we headed to the Stellenbosch Slow Market, where I bought some Honest Chocolate raw chocolate spread (dairy-free) and some sandals.

After we'd eaten brunch, we decided to take a slow trip back towards town, popping in at a couple wine farms.

I'd read about Spier's new wine tasting room, and as it had been a while since we last visited, we thought it appropriate timing to check it out.
Spier Wine Estate is a fairly big operation. There are a couple of restaurants on the property – although, for those who don't know, Moyo is soon to be gone – accommodation facilities, function venues, large lawns for picnicking, a deli, craft market and a massive tasting room.

There are three 'tasting' options available, some that include food pairings. We just went for the standard five-wine tasting. The signature shiraz, Creative Block 3 (red blend) and 21 gables chenin blanc were our favourites. The MCC was really fresh and crisp. Our 'wine educator', Kyle, was very informative and slipped us a couple extra tastings. We chatted in length about the wine industry and our favourite varietals.
Spier is apparently changing their whole ethos and becoming 'greener' by adopting environmentally-friendly principals and sustainable programmes on the estate. Good to know.

Other tastings include the:
  • Heritage Tasting: a food and wine pairing of Spier’s 21 Gables Chenin Blanc and 21 Gables Pinotage paired with traditional South African fare (R80.00 per person).
  • Frans K Smit Tasting of the two premium wine ranges plus Spier’s flagship wine, Frans K Smit (R90.00 per person).
Do pop in... it's really worth a visit and they're open every day from 10am to 4pm. Plus the Creative Block art and recycled sculptures and chandelier are quite eye-catching. www.spier.co.za

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

*treats* Marcelino Bakery




Just round the corner from my office is this fabulous little bakery... well, it's not that small. Marcelino The Bakery bakes a variety of fresh breads, cakes, croissants ad other delectable treats.
If they have any items not sold from the previous day, they put them in a 'half price' pile and literally you can get away with scrumptious danishes, biscuits, brownies and all kinds of goodies for cheap-as-chips prices.

The other reason I love going there – besides perving over the indulgent goodies that I can't eat – is for the lunch menu.
They have soups, sandwiches, lasagnes, roasted chickens and a salad bar – to name a few items.
And the prices are so good too. For example, you can get a generous portion of vegetarian lasagne with a salad of your choice and a roll (or rye bread if you prefer) for R30.
A quarter roast chicken, with salad of your choice and a roll is R35 – cheaper, healthier and tastier than Nando's.
The Butternut soup is also an absolute winner – when they have it.

At the moment, they have the most gorgeously huge hot-cross buns and a variety of Easter-themed punch cakes in the shapes of bunnies, eggs or lambs.
Go on, give them a try

210 Loop Street, Cape Town, 021 422 0168

PS - they also make cakes and savoury dishes to order.

Monday, April 2, 2012

For the Freezo Fans





I'm definitely not the type of person that walks into a regular coffee shop or coffee bar and orders the 'chocolatey one with sprinkles' – if you get my drift.

While I do still add milk (although no sugar), I am more inclined towards straight up flat whites or lattes, 'and make that a double!'.

But there is a certain spot I always head to when the craving for 'ice coffee' hits.

And it's not just any ice coffee... it's a freezochino.

I was first introduced to this wondrous, 98% fat-free, dairy-free drink a couple years ago by a good friend who (now) lives down the road in Sea Point. Every time I go back, I always think of her when I'm having one.

I hadn't had one in ages though, and suddenly got the craving this past weekend. I ended up venturing to Cattura at about 9am, and left at 12:30, after bumping into various people and enjoying an 'original coffee' freezo and then a lazy brunch. I also took pleasure in introducing Mr fabulosity to his first Freezo – he chose the hazelnut and vanilla combo. They are R30 a pop, but oh-so-worth it, and seemingly decadent, while actually being pretty friendly on the thighs.

So if you haven't tried a Cattura freezo yet, you are officially missing out – and all us freezo-fans can attest to that.


Other good things to note about Cattura:


-They stay open til late (generally about 10pm or midnight on weekends)

-They have karaoke on Thursday evenings

-With each coffee you order, you get a complimentary doughnut

-They have big screen TVs

-They have boston brewery's beer on tap

-They have regular specials*, so look out for these

41 Regent Road | Sea Point | Cape Town | 021 434 5160

Wine tasting at waterford





Sometimes the best thing about people coming to visit you from afar is that you get to play tourist with them in your own city.

Some of the activities in and around Cape Town that seem like obvious choices are fun to experience or revisit because nothing like it is offered anywhere else.

The Grid from Grahamstown loves her wine and her chocolate, so obviously, we took her to Waterford Wine Estate.

I was last at the estate about two years ago, when I tried their chocolate and wine pairing for the first time, so it was great to see how things have changed and try some of the newer vintages.

It is very popular and booking before hand is advisable.

The hand-crafted chocolates are made by local artisan chocolatier Richard Von Geusau – find out more about him here. www.vgchocolate.co.za

If you're not interested in the chocolate, just do the standard wine tasting, or if you are already familiar with the wines, simply order a glass of your favourite, priced form R15-R55.

While they do have an French-style courtyard for sunny days, the interior tasting room has recently been revamped and offers a cosy alternative for the impending winter weather.

The tastings are prices as such:

    Standard Tasting (R40pp)
    Waterford Estate, Kevin Arnold Shiraz, Pecan Stream Wines

    2. Waterford Estate Chocolate and Wine Experience (R65pp)
    The entire Waterford, Pecan Stream and Kevin Arnold ranges as well as the accompanying chocolates.

    3. Romantic Chocolate and Wine Experience (R120pp)
    A chocolate board complimented by a glass of Waterford MCC Sparkling Wine 2000.

    4. The Reserve Tasting (R200pp)
    Vintages 2002 to current vintage. Current Library Stock of special blends leading up to the Jem.

    5. The Jem Tasting (R50pp)
    The Flagship Red

A newish way to enjoy their wine is via a 'game drive' of sorts. It includes a 2-hour trip through the 120ha estate, offering visitors the opportunity to learn more about Waterford's bio-diversity programme, and see some of the 'untouched' natural cape flora.

For bookings contact: 021 880 0496, www.waterfordwines.com

This is me attempting to steal a 5-litre bottle of wine near the entrance – caught on cellphone camera – a fruitless attempt considering that I could barely pick it up.