Friday, May 24, 2013

Pink rose ombre birthday cake

So, it's my birthday this weekend and I baked this gluten-free rose-inspired ombre cake for my tea party in the office today. I loved how the colours of the layers came out and I used rose essence in the recipe, so everything smelt like Turkish delights :-) Happy weekend everyone! Have a tequila for me ;-)
 



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A visit to the Muizenberg Blue Bird Garage Market


The Muizenberg Blue Bird Garage Food and Goods Market takes place every Friday night in a beautiful old postal plane hangar. Expect live music, a collection of artisans, specialty cooks, vintage clothing, designers jewellery and craft.
Handpicked South African wines, craft beer (from Birkenhead in Stanford), delicious food, a creative kids area and great company are all part of the tapestry that makes this a very unique and inviting market experience. 
The earlier you get there, the more likely you are to find a seat as the tables can get pretty crowded over dinner time. The market is all undercover and fairly warm inside, making it great for winter visits. 

Yoffi Falafel was a very popular stand among our group, with almost every person noshing down on the delicious falafels. 




There's a huge variety of freshly baked goods, ranging from artisanal breads to gluten-free brownies, chocolate cupcakes, mini lemon meringue tarts and everything else in between. 




For my dinner I decided to have a quarter roast chicken with delicious roast potatoes and a spicy sauce on the side. I bit like gourmet Nando's, the chicken was well cooked, but not dry and the flavours were great.

A friend of mine tried the tuna salad from the stand that also makes sushi – she said it was pretty good, although I didn't try any, so will have to take her word for it. I don't normally eat sushi at markets.

Other stands at the market include local artisanal cheeseries, mexican food wraps, salads, pastries, curries, Chinese dim sum and so on... It's great for a dinner outing with friends as there will always be a variety of food options to choose from and a great buzz to start the weekend off!











Deets:
Every Friday night, from 4pm to 10pm.
http://www.bluebirdmarket.co.za/
39 Albertyn Road, Muizenberg, Cape Town

Monday, May 20, 2013

Riebeek Kasteel olive festival wrap-up 2013


Yes I know this post is a little overdue.
Riebeek Kasteel's annual olive festival (which should also be known as annual debauchery festival) is a fun-filled weekend with plenty of wine consumption, olive tasting, tractor riding and general shenanigans. This was my second year attending the festival and I can safely say, as much as I tried to avoid getting too tipsy, I ended up slurping wine and singing festive songs (in between hiccups) in the olive emporium on Saturday evening... pretty much just as I did last year.

Loved this Oakhurst extra virgin olive oil and the bottles are just beautiful

Cab Cult from Cloof Wine Estate - the same wine estate which plays host to the Rocking the Daisies music festival each year.

olive tasting stations in the Olive Emporium

Olives to die for!

Getting ready to do some serious wine tasting

Entry is R100 per person. The olive emporium is a good place to start and end your day because you can sample an array of olives, oils and wines and then come back and buy all the goodies you like before you leave.
I bought quite a few jars of olives from various stand and some olive oils from Willow Creek. I love their truffle-flavoured olive oil and the extra virgin 'squeeze me' olive oil (with easy squeezy bottle). (http://www.willowcreek.co.za/olive-oils/estate-blend)

Willow Creek's stand at the olive emporium

Waiting for the tractor
There are tractors that take visitors to the festival from venue to venue, so once you're there you can park your car and not worry about driving again until home time. Thank goodness Mr fabulosity volunteered to be DD that day.


I did manage to find some great good-value wines, from Pulpit Rock and Kloovenburg. Riebeek Kasteel is also known as Shiraz country and it being my favourite varietal, I was on a mission to buy some bottles. I love the Stories Pinotage Shriaz blend from Pulpit Rock (R40 per bottle). If you leave it to breath in a decanter for half an hour and then serve it, its super smooth and flavourful. Good body, but easy drinking.
http://www.pulpitrock.co.za/

Wines from Pulpit Rock

Kloovenburg
Some of Kloovenburg's wines
I love Kloovenburg's Shiraz and their White from Red Brut rose. During the festival Kloovenburg has a food market, plenty of tastings and great cheese platters. It's very festive and also family friendly.
http://www.kloovenburg.com/

We also went to Het Vlock Casteel which always has a lot of festivities going on. We ate fantastic oysters for lunch at the venue and listened to some live music. http://www.hetvlockcasteel.co.za/



For more info on festivals and events in Riebeek Kasteel, visit: http://www.riebeekvalley.info/riebeek-valley-events.htm



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jean Pierre the Cape Town Chocolatier

I interviewed Cape Town based chocolatier Jean-Pierre Fortain for the House & Garden magazine 'Tastemaker' page in the food section for the May issue... He makes incredible chocolate products and can be found at the V&A Market on the Wharf and at the Bay Harbour Market on the weekends.

Below is the story:

'Jean-Pierre the chocolatier’ has a catchy ring to it. It’s what grabs the attention of visitors to the new V&A Market on the Wharf. The man behind the name, Jean-Pierre Fortain, is a third-generation chocolatier from Belgium, who, after holidaying in Cape Town two years ago, decided to pack up and move with his wife and children to the Mother City.
Having grown up with a chocolate warehouse as his playground, he spent hours playing with ingredients and – of course – indulging in sweet treats.
‘I was nine years old when I learnt how to do piping and started making chocolate.’ Now, with family recipes imprinted on his brain and skills gained from his time studying at the renowned patisserie school, De Groene Poort in Bruges, Fortain hopes to grow Cape Town’s chocolate culture.
Using top-quality Belgian callebaut chocolate and only Danish butter, he experiments with ingredients such as almond paste, ginger, green tea and salt. Expanding on his philosophy of chocolate’s adaptability, he once served salmon and broccoli mouse on salted dark-chocolate discs at the market’s upstairs demonstration kitchen. Not only a master crafter of flavours, Fortain has also weaved his magic with intriguing chocolate sculptures, citing castles, pianos, cars and baskets as some of his more unusual pieces.
An organic range is on the cards and, come winter, cocoa lovers can expect a new take on hot chocolate with Fortain’s chocolate sticks — ‘a stick with a cube of hazelnut paste covered in dark chocolate at the end. You stir this into hot milk for a delicious drink’. His stand at the market boasts other home-made goodies such as orange marmalade, vanilla extract, a range of diabetic chocolate and pastries on Saturdays and Sundays. Fortain also has a smaller stand at the weekend Bay Harbour Market in his new home town of Hout Bay.
Spreading his knowledge and passion for chocolate-making, Fortain offers introductory classes, including macaron and truffle-making courses. ‘I want to awaken people’s senses,’ he explains. ‘It’s very important to try different things.’
‘I eat 50 grams of dark chocolate every day. It’s very healthy because of the antioxidants. It lifts your mood and it’s good for your love life,’ he laughs.
www.fortainchocolates.co.za;
www.marketonthewharf.co.za


Ten Best Chocolateries around South Africa

I did this feature for the Autumn/Winter issue of House&Garden Gourmet magazine on 10 chocolateries around South Africa. It was a tough choice narrowing it down to 10, but I had to! And to give a range of chocolateries in different areas. There are some great Western Cape ones listed, so all my blog followers should definitely pop in to see the local gems.


House & Garden May Food page

What's hot and happening on the foodie scene plus some cool new gadgets, brandy routes and a drool-worthy local book... enjoy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

New winter feasts at Reuben's One&Only


Besides the new winter menu on offer at Reuben's One&Only – featuring his signature classics among new heart-warming plates such as steak-and-Guinness pie, slow-roasted Oxtail Bordeaux and the Asian-style leek, mussel and prawn hot pot – Reuben has launched a series of interactive cooking demonstrations held every Thursday evening.




I was lucky enough to be invited to attend one of the first demonstration evenings and it was so great to watch Reuben in action. Once guests have placed their order, they are welcome to watch Reuben and Chef de cuisine Victoria Stott prepare and assemble the dishes at a designated area. Guests can then chat casually with the chefs and ask questions about the dishes. 


I took Mr fabulosity along for the dinner, where we we totally indulged in some hearty winter delights. For starters I ordered the chilli salted squid with compressed cucumber, fragrant herbs, nuac chum and lime mayonnaise (R70). It was delicious and I would definitely have it again.

squid

Mr Fabulosity had the confit duck leg with savoy cabbage and white bean casserole and thyme jus (R70). I think I won this round.

confit duck

For mains it was a tough choice as Reuben has a variety of great meat dishes on offer. In the end I chose the saffron braised Karoo lamb neck with cauliflower puree, apple fondant, roast root vegetables and a olive and caper jus (R135). It was very, very rich and in order to make the most of our dinners, I swapped plates with Mr Fabulosity half-way through.


lamb neck

I had persuaded him to order the other dish I craved, which was the pan roasted organic springbok loin with potato rosti, choucroute, confit garlic, port mushrooms, caramelised cauliflower puree and thyme jus (R190). I must confess that this dish was more suited to my palate as I often find lamb quite rich,  and was absolutely beautifully cooked.

springbok loin

Neither of us had space for dessert, but there were some tempting offers, such as the malva pudding, stone fruit and golden raisin compote, apricot puree, honeycomb ice cream and citrus anglasie.
The cheese platter also looked divine, offering four cheeses with accompaniments.

All in all a wonderful, indulgent evening!

Cheese with preserved

Malva pudding with stone fruit

As a side note, it's good to know that the restaurant offers a very good lunch special:

The Reuben’s Business Lunch caters perfectly for time-strapped guests with an unbeatable three-course offering of a wholesome seasonal soup, a gourmet sandwich and a decadent pudding, all for just R125 (or R150 including a glass of wine). This winter lunch menu changes daily and will be available to enjoy in both Reuben’s and Vista Bar & Lounge.

Book your next dinner at Reuben's One&Only through: 021 431 4511
or mail to restaurant.reservations@oneandonlycapetown.com


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dinner at The Duchess

A couple weeks ago my colleague told me about a raffle that her sister was running for Afrika Tikkun. With the phrases 'NGO' and 'good cause' thrown in the mix I was sold... never thinking I'd actually win the prize. But I did!

I was so excited when I found out that I'd won a voucher for dinner at the Duchess of Wisbeach – a charming little eatery I'd been dying to try out. Having only previously been there for drinks, I'd heard about their signature dishes and waited patiently for last night to arrive so that I could finally try them!
 
Of course my colleague dropped in the fact that she was the one that alerted me to the raffle and that I should really invite her to be my dinner partner. My husband was out of town anyway and, let's face it, my colleague can be pretty persuasive...
So we arrived just after 7pm (a miracle considering the Bieber-fever traffic we were expecting) and ordered a glass of wine.


The decor is intriguing and beautiful, with porcelain dogs on tables and old portraits of duchesses covering the walls. The ambiance is sophisticated, but relaxed, and the service friendly and attentive.

What I do like is that all the wines are available by the glass, so I chose the DMZ Shiraz (R55), and my colleague had a Villiera Merlot (R45).

For starters I chose the grilled calamari tossed in soy, chilli and lemon juice, which arrived on a bed of rocket, beautifully cooked and flavoursome (R65). My colleague had the steamed mussels in tomato, carrot and ginger broth R80). It was quite a generous portion and the broth was fantastic. I could have sipped on it all night and will certainly go back for that dish as a main.




For mains we both had the same dish, the beef tagliata (R120): seared fillet on rocket with good-quality Parmesan and truffle oil. The meat was so beautifully pink and tender while the strong flavours of the truffle oil and Parmesan added depth and richness. It was so more-ish – just the type of simple, well-balanced flavours that I love. I have to treat my husband to this one day (soon).




Duchess of Wisbeach is open from Monday to Saturday for dinner.
021 434 1525
http://www.duchessofwisbeach.co.za/

More about Afrika Tikkun:

Afrika Tikkun is a truly inspiring international NGO that provides education, health and social services to children, youth and their families through centres of excellence in townships around the country. Their aim is to empower communities to develop new generations of productive citizens that can contribute positively to society.
If you would like to know more about Afrika Tikkun and contribute to or get involved with this good cause, check out their website for more information: http://afrikatikkun.org/

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Go Gourmet at the Protea Hotel President

When deciding on a venue for dinner, we often forget about the hotel restaurants surrounding us.

Among the myriad of accommodation establishments on the Atlantic Seaboard, the Protea Hotel President offers ocean views which are simply stunning, overlooking Queens Beach (also a local surf spot) in Bantry Bay. It now also boasts a brand new Executive Chef, Norman Heath, who has revamped the entire menu focusing on local produce, uniquely South African dishes with a gourmet twist (suchs as rooibos-smoked salmon with honey mustard hollandaise) and beautifully cooked classic cuts of meat that will leave steak-lovers grinning from ear to ear.



We were invited to dinner to try some of the new dishes. The Chef presented a loosely themed menu, each dish having an element of 'smoke' to them, with ingredients such as smoked mozzarella, smoked salmon, smoked paprika... and so on.

Intuitively he knew it would be hard for us to choose between the dishes on offer, so we were instead presented with four starters, four mains and four desserts (in miniature form):





Starters (above, from left)
-Smoked mozzarella, watercress, red grape and lavender dressing with crisp carrot and parsnip chips
-Chickpea puree, smoked paprika, blackened eggplant, crisp carrot chards, slow roasted cherry tomato, herb salad
-Rooibos tea smoked Norwegian salmon honey mustard hollandaise, mixed baby leaves, avocado and cucumber lemon salsa
-Dukha and prickly pear marinated ostrich carpaccio goats cheese sugar ball, fig puree and micro salad





from left: chickpea burger and vanilla smoked salmon

from left: beef fillet and pork fillet

Mains (above)
-Vanilla poached Norwegian salmon spinach and white misso salad
-Chickpea “burger” served on a base of garlic roasted brown mushroom, rocket, watercress and tomato chutney
-Agave marinated lean pork fillet, warm curried lentils, pan fried vegetables with a red pepper and olive oil puree
-Beef Fillet baby carrots coated in butterscotch sauce, pea and potato mash and thyme jus





Desserts (above from right)
-Bitter chocolate mousse with toasted almond and orange biscotti
-Liquorice, caramel & hazelnut parfait toasted hazelnut tuille, liquorice paste and praline
-Red wine poached baby pears filled with white chocolate and blue cheese mousse, walnut crumble
-Soy and strawberry panna cotta, agave and pecan praline





If I had to choose my favourite dishes from each course and them for dinner tonight, it would be the:
chickpea and eggplant, the vanilla peached salmon and the poached baby pears with blue cheese chocolate mousse.
But then again, I could just as easily have the rooibos smoked salmon, followed by the beef fillet and the bitter chocolate mousse.... or the ostrich carpaccio... Basically I could have easily had any of the starters as mains, they were so good!

I'll have to go back and treat my husband to dinner there soon.


Call to book: 021 434 8111
For more information, visit:
http://www.proteahotels.com/protea-hotel-president.html