Tuesday 29 June 2010

Going Green

As I was topping and tailing some green beans the other day, it occurred to me, that these lovely runners remind me of Praying Mantis insects. Now, I like Praying Mantises and I like green beans, so it could have posed quite a dilemma. But considering the mating habits of creatures, ( the female bites the head off the male and devours it while mating, so appeasing both appetites as it were), one shouldn't be too fussy about these things.
The Bushmen believe that a Praying mantis is a manifestation of God come to earth. Here in South Africa, our friend Joan tells us, some refer to the Praying Mantis as Outa Jesus. I like that. Apparently in Arab and Turkish cultures it is believed that the Mantis points pilgrims to Mecca. And others believe that the Praying Mantis assists lost travelers by pointing the way home.
What I do know is that I love the presence of them in our home and garden. On the day we moved into our house, we found one of the old wooden banister. In an empty house, she had come to welcome us. And we also found one on our old grapefruit tree, on the day that we decided to try and revive it instead of pulling it out and replacing it with a more fashionable lime tree.
So I am not put off by their rather alarming similarity to green beans. It wouldn't put them off, so why should I be daunted? Anyway, I eat my green beans respectfully.

I like them best in a peppery groenboontjiebredie (green bean stew). I can't bear them when they're boiled without love or respect (usually for too long) as a necessary extra vegetable on a plate of food. For me, under those circumstances they have absolutely no merit or charm. But it's time to broaden my repertoire. So I tried this the other night. I lessened the quantity of beans as there were only two of us, but I have a heavy hand with lemon, and I suppose I should have lessened that accordingly as well. But I didn't. And still tasted good. Lemony, buttery, peppery and with enough crunch. Try it sometime.

The Nigella Lawson recipe for Green bean and Lemon casserole ( all in her own words). I found this one on the wonderful world wide web.

1kg fine green beans
75g unsalted butter
few drops olive oil
1 lemon
Maldon salt and fresh pepper
Serving Size : Serves 8–10

1Bring a big pot of water to the boil, while you top and tail the beans. Once the water has come to the boil, salt it and cook the beans until they have lost their rawness (about 6 minutes after the water comes back to the boil), but retain a bit of crunch.
2Strain them, and put the pot back on the stove over a low heat with the butter and olive oil. While the butter melts, chop up the lemon. Put it on a chopping board, cut a slice off each end, just enough to remove skin and pith, and then cut downwards, turning the lemon as you go, to peel the fruit fully. Don’t worry if in order to remove all the pith you cut into the fruit a bit: just take the pieces of fruity peel over to the pan and squeeze in any juice you can. Then cut the lemon up on the board: I just slice and let each slice tumble into bits on its own. Add the lemon pieces and all the juice that collects to the melted butter and stir well with a wooden spoon, adding the drained beans.
3.Swirl the pan vigorously and turn the beans in the lemony butter. Add salt to taste and lots of freshly ground pepper. I love white pepper (out of deference to my mother’s taste and practice) or the much-abominated 1980s restaurant-style mixed pepper, but neither is crucial.
4.Remove to a warmed casserole making sure you don’t leave any lemony, buttery juices behind

Monday 28 June 2010

Nerds Rule!

For those of you who may have noticed, my blog has been offline for the past week...
Annoyingly so, for I am a complete technophobe. And even Helena, the lovely girl who has helped me to set this up was at a loss for what to do next. So I called Dial A Nerd. Poor Jean. I doubt he knew what he was in for when he woke up this morning. Two hours later having calmed me down, translated all the lingo, spoken to various service providers, sorted out my problems, I realize that this amazing little company really sort out computer problems; big problems, mother boards, viruses, business networks. It's all about technology and that my issues were really not their thing. But yet, Jean helped me. He was patient, and kind, and very polite, whereas he could really have fobbed me off. It was well within his right to do that. But he couldn't have been nicer. Great company. Great service.
In the meantime, sorry about appearing to be in hiding. As you can see, I did blog, but it just got stuck somewhere in Cyberspace Nowhere.

Sunday 27 June 2010

Pondering on the Promenade

(Walk ing the Road - Sea Point Promenade)

It's Jacques's birthday today. A perfect Cape Town summer's day in the middle of winter. Not a breathe of wind. Perfection.
We decided to walk along the Sea Point promenade. Because that what we do now that we have a dog. Before Max, we'd have slept late, read the Sunday papers in bed, gone out for a lazy lunch and perhaps watched a movie. But now we have a dog. And it's all very different. Good. But different.
And walking along the promenade I fall in love with Cape Town all over again. The sea is calm and silver-soft. The sun is gentle on my face. Max is drawing attention from passers-by. He sees and falls for a small blonde labrador retriever. Our friend Mark runs past. Jacques and I hold hands. And we talk to strangers about the soccer.
And then I see her. The young girl in the red and white striped costume. Her legs are strong. Her face innocent. And she's looking longingly at a dragonfly in flight. As if she too longs for flight. A series of sculptures has appeared on the promenade. And they move me.
Titled 'Walking the Road', it was created by the sculptor Marieke Prinsloo Rowe. On her website she writes:
'The Little Girl in my fable-like interpretation represents a young South African democracy and the Dragonfly visualises a dream of freedom, equality and hope that we as a nation pursue. On a personal level, it is also a reminder to each of us of the hope that we individually live for and the dreams that mark our lives, our own story.'

I will return to the promenade again later this week, and the next and the next and I will walk past these sculptures again. And meditate on them. And remind myself of the girl I once was. The girl with strong, brown legs who at aged 9 was hesitant to swim at Seaforth beach on a school excursion, because she considered her legs too fat. And I will think long and hard about this journey that I have begun. Remind myself that I am blessed with strong legs that can carry me. Legs that can run after my dog. Legs that allow me to swim out far into the sea. Legs that enable me to run into my husband's arms. The sculptures will be removed in June 2011. A year is a long time. A long time for a journey of acceptance that begins and ends here. With me.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

A Flattering Portrayal

So, having had Algria paint me, and Judy photograph me, and Cakebread provide me with the ultimate prop, I got a bit carried away, felt fabulous, and asked artist Karin Miller to please photoshop my arms, and create a portrait for this blog, in that order. I first saw Karin's work when she did some spreads for Visi magazine a few years ago, and then I saw the wonderful portrait that she had done for a friend's mother--in-law, the fabulous chef, and inspirational woman, Judy Badenhorst. She also did some covers for De Kat, which I loved. And had several very successful exhibitions at a gallery in Cape Town, where her gently subversive politically intriguing images haunted me. All equally spectacular. And so now here I am, unashamedly copying those far more creative than myself, and so having made myself my very own cover girl... I'm delighted with the photoshopped, Pierneef-esque background, beloved Table Mountain, promise-filled pomegranate and very important Isabel Allende quote from her book Aphrodite. It's a nice picture to look at when I'm having a bad hair day. Like today.
Or like yesterday when Mike the proprietor of the lovely little cafe, Puka in Tamboerskloof, asked me if I was the same woman who wrote for Taste magazine. Yes, I smiled happily at him, 'Yes, that's me,' I said. 'Hmmm.', he replied doubtfully, looking at my walking gear, and and plain face, ' Sure doesn't look like you...'

Birthdays: Some donate chocolate mousse, others hire a stripper.

( Nigella's ( not quite) to die for chocolate mousse)

( The object of our mirth - Nicci, of course, in her magenta frills and Camper boots)

( Marie-Louis and I, having so much more than just a quiet giggle)

My friend Nicci celebrated her 39th birthday with a birthday lunch on Saturday. It was big deal for all of us. In our darkest moments we weren't sure if she would live to celebrate it. In August last year the doctors gave her 3 weeks to live. She is well past her deadline. Macabre use of the word, I know, but sometimes laughter is the perfect antidote to grief. And Nicci likes laughter. She also loves colour. And flowers. And vegetables. And 80s music. And gardening. And Greece. And Napier. Throughout her illness, Nicci continues to astound and inspire us with her determination to LIVE and to live well. Sometimes she spends prolonged periods in hospital tied to a morphine drip gathering her strength and then she comes home to spend time with her children and family and friends. She seems to cram more into those 'good days' than the rest of us do in months/years/ a lifetime of being healthy.
So she called me from the hospital a few days before her birthday lunch, and she tells me she wants to ask the divine Karen Dudley to make some home-cooked food. Tired of hospital food and soups she wants comforting tomato bredie. We both love Karen and have spend many happy/sad, laughter/tears mornings eating love sandwiches and almond croissants at The Kitchen in Woodstock. Anyway, she then asks, me, ME! to make my chocolate mousse, well it's not really mine, It's Nigella's. But I take full credit for it, because I make it so well. And my friend wanted me to make it for her for her birthday...Now considering how many foodie friends she has and what an outstanding cook she is, I was flattered ( and smug) beyond belief.
The recipe is dead easy ( damn that word again - see, we laugh in the face of adversity.....) and the best thing ( no the 2nd best thing, the first is the chocolate) about it is the absence of eggs, which makes it perfect for those with a salmonella fear.
The recipe can be found on page 159 of Nigella Express. You should have this book, but if you don't...
Instant Chocolate Mousse
150g mini marshmallows ( I used ordinary ones and cut them in half)
50 g soft butter
250g good dark chocolate ( I used Lindt 70% cocoa)
60ml hot water from recently boiled kettle
1 x 284ml tub double cream ( Woolies has 250ml tubs, so I bought an extra tub, for that extra bit - cream is good)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water in a heavy-based saucepan.
Put the saucepan on the hob, over heat, though keep it fairly gentle, to melt the contents, stirring every now and again. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, whip the cream with the vanilla extract until thick, and then fold into the cooling chocolate mixture until you have a smooth cohesive mixture.
Pour into individual glasses or ramekins. ( Or the lovely crystal bowl from your Aunty Janet)

Serves 4-6.

I doubled up the mixture. Simply loved the decadence of breaking 5 slabs of Lindt chocolate into a pot. Small pleasures....

Both the party and the promising presence of my chocolate mousse cooling in the fridge) was lovely, if somewhat sad. (No obviously my chocolate mousse wan't sad, but you get my meaning).
When in walked Nicci's birthday present from Bianca's. A Stripper! I swear, I would die of embarrassment ( again that word) if that ever happened to me. And for the record, we're so not a Ladette -Let's-Hire-A -Male-Stripper group of friends. Of course, all (well most) of the men left to enjoy their cold beers outside, leaving the rest of us to watch the show. And Nicci's extremely funny reaction. The glorious tacky hilarity of it all was just what we needed to remind ourselves that our various friendships with Nicci have always been defined by riotous laughter and colour. And on this significant, very special birthday celebration there were no tears of sadness only tears of laughter. Because our friend Nicci, even now, is so much funnier and more vibrant than the rest of us could ever hope to be.

Thursday 17 June 2010

The Rice Vice

( Nice rice)
I like rice. I particularly like Basmati Rice with Indian Food. I love Jasmine rice with Thai food. I adore Arborio rice in risotto. I even like brown rice when mixed with lentils, which makes me feel very earth-mothery and virtuous. But I cannot make it. I manage to cock up ( every time) this most democratic of starches. It either comes out all mushy and watery or burned and bland. No fluffy rice for me. And most certainly no delicious left-overs which can be consumed cold with milk and sugar the next morning. And so yesterday I paid R23.95 for ready made (microwave for 7 minutes) Long Grain Whole Rice from Woolies. Well worth it, I thought at the time. But still I felt deeply ashamed, this morning. What sort of aspirant Domestic Goddess am I? One who cannot even boil rice?
And does the fact that I made the most fabulous groenboontjiebredie (green bean stew) to accompany said lavish laziness count in my favour?
Do I buy a rice steamer? Or is that just another gadgety gizmo to clutter my already overcrowded cupboards?
And is there such a thing as Boil-in-the-Bag-Rice, such as the stuff I bought and made in France 19 years ago when I was an au pair and l'enfant terrible demanded it?
And why, bloody why, does everyone else make bloody boiling rice sound so bloody easy?

Monday 14 June 2010

Pancake Weather

(Eye spy with my little eye something beginning with P)

It's pouring with rain outside. Jacques is the working nightshift at the hospital. And I'm missing him. He was in such a rush to leave that he forget to take his snacks and dinner with him, and I worry that he'll be hungry as well as tired tonight. I also wished we'd had time to talk before he left, our conversations seem rushed these days. I mourn the loss of what we had when he worked at sea and I travelled with him. We always knew that idyllic freedom and constant companionship couldn't last - we needed to return to the real world... But still it's an adjustment. And so we feverishly grasp at the things we missed while at sea. The chance to see friends and family for Sunday lunches. The pleasure of fresh hot buttery toast whenever we feel like it. Baking pancakes on rainy days...
So while our time may have been rushed this afternoon, we did make pancakes. Because it was raining cats and dogs, and because Jacques calls this type of weather 'pannekoek en owerspel weer' - 'pancake and adultery weather'.
About a year ago, I wrote about pancakes, and a blogger Potjie wrote some lovely things about my column on his blogspot Wat Eet Ons (http://ironpot-potjie.blogspot.com ) It was really nice knowing that what I had written had touched another person. In it I admitted that my pancakes were not always a huge success. He confessed that his weren't that great either. But he did place a pancake recipe on his blog, and it was the one that we tried this afternoon.

And it wasn't half bad. Still not the pancake of the ubiquitous Church Bazaar, or of the man selling pancakes from his caravan at the Milnerton market. I think we made ours a bit too thick - next time I'll add a bit more water... But other than it was pretty darn good. We ate them with cinnamon sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice from the lemons growing on our own tree... Out newly planted trees have anchored their roots in the soil and are bearing fruit... We're doing the same. The pancakes we ate this afternoon reminded me of that.

Potjie's Pancake Recipe

5 cups cold water
1/4 cup oil
3 tablespoons of vinegar
6 eggs
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Whisk all the liquid ingredients together.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the liquid bit by bit.
3. Beat together well.
4. Bake the first pancake in a well oiled pan. *
5. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar

* My notes: Throw this pancake away, it's far too oily, but by then the pancake pan is just right - has enough of an oil coating to bake pancakes perfectly. Add only more oil when the pancake batter starts sticking miserably to the pan.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Brandy is Dandy


( and a fork in the pork)

The last time I felt this grim was 3 years ago on a luxury cruise ship, when having gotten WAY too friendly with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire, my husband allowed me to call the Duty Nurse, before being astutely observant... 'So I assume a Christmas shag is out of the question?' . Er, well yes..
This time, remembering what the Duty Nurse had given me last time, I helped myself to Max's Phenergan, as prescribed by his vet. Worked a treat. That and the freshly squeezed orange juice left on my bedside table this morning, by Jacques before he went to work a 12hour shift, has ensured that This Day of the Vuvuzelas has been pain and annoyance free.
And well worth the fun we had last night.

The reason for this over-indulgence is Clare (yes I meant to write Clare and not clear). She's the feisty editor of the successful and very informative website Spill and the one who invited us to a brandy and sausage tasting and pairing at their home. Distell's Alchemy of Gold showcased 5 of their brandies paired with the most amazing charcuterie...(I'm going to find out more about the sausage man and blog about him at a later date), the most memorable being the Toulouse au poivre - absolutely sensational... and the advice his mother had given him 'Buy one good sausage instead of two bad ones'. Excellent advice. And as for the pairing; the smokiness and fattiness of the meats were the perfect accompaniment to the brandy.
For more detailed brandy notes look out for them on Spill, but my thoughts for what they're worth:
Flight of the Fish Eagle, despite it's whisky-like packaging and cumbersome name is actually a fine, pale gold, easy drinking brandy - all honey and grassy flavours and, if I were to be disloyal to my usual summer tipple, could prove to be very nice on ice or in exotic cocktails. Proving that packaging isn't always everything.
Van Ryn's 12 Year Old Distillers Reserve was a complex velvety amber coloured brandy which reminded me of the French Cognac's I had occasionally enjoyed while freeloading on the Queen Mary 2 when Jacques was a Senior officer working on her. The bottle (heavy ) and labeling ( more serious) is something that would not hesitate to haul out of your elegant drinks cabinet. And having reached a certain age, one should have a drinks cabinet. Ours is a high gloss purple lacquer art deco one. Sadly still relatively empty, but it does have a bottle of French Hennessy given to us by traveling friends. I wish I'd known enough then to introduce them to some of South Africa's brandies. We could have offered them the full-bodied Klipdrift Gold with it's hints of chocolate and tobacco. Perhaps even a summer fix of Klippies & Coke, which since one can buy it readily bottled these days seems to have gone up in everyone's estimation as a retro cool Jack Parow sort of thing.
The tasting last night reminded once again, how we should should not allow ourselves to be conned into thinking that all things foreign are superior to what we have in South Africa. The charcuterie was as exciting, if not more, to many of the cured meats I have eaten in foreign ports. And I have always been annoyed by South Africans who profess to drink only French Champagne. South Africa produces some of the finest sparkling wines in the world. And if it's good enough for President Barack Obama, it sure as hell is good enough for me. And the same goes for our brandies. In a blind tasting, I sure wouldn't know the difference, much less pick out the French ones. So since I am not an expert, and I just want something to drink beside a hot fire on a cold winter's night, you'll find me drinking local.
Happily. Frugally. Proudly.

Clearly, mine are not the notes of a connoisseur. I just like a drink every now and then. To find out more about these and other brandies visit Alchemy of Gold

Sunday 6 June 2010

Bietjie Bos.

(the will to slim)

My mother and I drink tea together. It has always been our comforting ritual. However in the past couple of years she has started drinking only Rooibos tea, whereas I am a Ceylon, or English Breakfast type of girl. So the ritual has changed. No longer do we drink from the same pot. The same pot, in which the tea first has to draw. The same pot, from which I always pour her cup first. We're traditional in that way. She may be my friend, but, as my mother, she is still afforded the respect of having her tea poured first. But now she insists on Rooibos, and so we have the 2-pot, 2-tea scenario which doesn't really do it for me. So I admit to sometimes making the tea in a mug, with the teabag seeping in it. The ritual has gone. And so has a little bit of the magic. Lately, she is trying to convert me to Rooibos tea, saying it's healthier. That it will aid fertility ( Huh? haven't heard that one before...) That it's anti-ageing. And so she tries to convince me and I stubbornly refuse to give in. It's not that I hate Rooibos tea, it's ok-ish. But it just doesn't fill the spot that a hot cup of strong Ceylon does. It simply doesn't comfort me in the same way.
But never one to give up, this past summer my mom introduced me to her version of Rooibos ice tea...
The recipe, dead easy, is one I'll share with you...
Brew a pot Rooibos tea. Then allow it to cool down, before pouring it into a large carafe filled with ice-cubes, fresh mint, some freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey to taste.
It is good. It's refreshing. And healthy. And is, I suppose a perfect summer's drink, if a large Gin & Tonic is out of the question. But am I a convert? Well, not exactly. I like it well enough, but never instead of a cup, of what I consider to be, Proper Tea.
But along came Bos. And suddenly I'm rethinking this whole Rooibos tea thing, because my mother never mentioned the magic word: Slimming. That word never came up. And it's the one that is (obviously) likely to spark my interest every time.
Recommended to me by my friend Jacqui, who has an eye for beautiful things, this version of Rooibos really excites me. Even without the gin or vodka spike. ( Although this bears considering on occasion). Bos is the ice tea Americans wish they had come up with. None of the dark, sugar-filled, tannin-laden stuff. This version does us proud. And in this instance the cliche does apply, Local IS lekker. Not only is the packaging sublime. (And we love packaging), but it tastes great. There are several versions. Although I'm hooked on the Slim, with lime and ginger. Magic ingredient Hoodia Gordonii, an indigenous plant used by the Bushmen used to suppress their hunger during long hunting trips, and which has the overfed Western world in an excited frenzy. Energy is the one flavoured with cranberry and has Guarana, Panax Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba to give you some Get Up & Go, and Jacques swears it tastes better ( less sweet) than The One That Gives You Wings. So look out for it ( and the others in the range) in cafe's and bars. Just ask for Bos. It sort of sounds cool. Not at all as naff as asking for 'a nice cuppa'.
So I'll be buying Bos in bulk. To slim, mind you. Not to allow my mother yet another victory.

(If you don't want to confess to counting calories, just ask for the turquoise tin. They'll know. All the models will be drinking it)

Friday 4 June 2010

The Truth be Told

(Big Mouth Bares All)

Shortly after posting my first blog entry, I received a note from a dear friend who wrote the following:

When you bare your soul about body issues, I am always in two minds. On the one hand I admire you so much for laying your fears, dreams and struggles on the table on the other hand I have to wonder at the world if you feel 'less than'. You are without a doubt one of the most attractive people I know. People love to be around you. My children adore you, and you are one of the blessings I count for them (and for me) every day. I am concerned by your body issues only because they may sometimes make you unhappy.

Of course, I had a bit of a cry. But in a good, how-lucky-am-I, type of way. I have incredible friends, am surrounded by people who love me, and somehow, magically, the most amazing, interesting people come my way. I am blessed. And this is by no means a smug, self-congratulatory posting. Or an attempt to be love-bombed by people taking pity on me. I just need to acknowledge it.

So why put myself 'out there'? Why such a public forum for such a private matter as body issues, and why share my feelings of inadequacy with anyone who cares to log on ? Perhaps because having written a column ( by the same name) for Woolworth's Taste magazine for the past four years, I have gotten used to baring parts of my soul...so much so that it no longer seems so strange to me. And of course, there are still some things that are intensely private, things I could write about, but don't, because of a sense of self-preservation.

I believe that one of the reasons we read is so that we may, upon occasion, chance upon someone else's story or experience that resonates with us. We long for that moment where we say to ourselves, 'Ah. I know what he/she feels like; that happened to me; I thought only I have felt that way.' And so we read, to realize that we are not alone.
If someone like me battles with feeling ugly and overweight, someone who has a lot going for her and who has many people in her life who love and support her, how much more difficult is this struggle for those who are not as lucky. So I write, all the while hoping that if my story ( and hopefully my victory) can make one other person feel less alone, less 'less than', then it would have been worth it....

(And then of course there is the small matter of pride. Just imagine for a minute... imagine putting all this out there, and then not losing any weight, not dealing with body issues, not learning to cook... I'd look a right (fat)arse...And I'm hoping not to do that....)

(And one other thing. If you're reading this, and think that I feel fat and ugly, all the time, let me hasten to assure you, that there are times, when I feel Absolutely-Bloody-Fantastic. Like the time Nicci took Bianca and me to watch Gordon Ramsay in action at the Good Food & Wine Show. On that day, dressed in black, silver bracelets, leather biker-jacket et al, I decided that subtly, seductive Issey Miyake perfume was not called for. No no, on that morning I sprayed on sluttish Strip by Agent Provocateur... As if....)

Thursday 3 June 2010

Eating humble pie and getting my just deserts

(Cheese Blintz with berry compote, sour cream, cinnamon, maple syrup)
(Sticky toffee pudding with dulce de leche ice cream and butterscotch sauce)
(Vanilla rice pudding with pear jam roasted pears and maple)

Not too long ago, I was engaged in conversation with a couple of people, not all of whom were friends, or who would forgive my , at times, rather strident opinions. We were talking about chef Micheal Broughton and the great food being served at Terroir on the Kleine Zalze estate in Stellenbosch. ' Wonderful food, pity about the dire decor', I added, and then proceeded to repeat the phrase 'dire decor' as it seemed to have left my companions speechless, and I thought I was making a point. Which I was. To the Sales and Marketing Manager of Kleine Zalze Wines, Ross Sleet, who had the grace to laugh at my subsequent discomfort. And it's not as if it the decor really is 'dire'; dire would ( for me, anyway) be cottagey and cramped. Which it isn't, it's just simple, some would argue elegantly so. Me? Well, I'm not really into sleek minimalism, I'm more a maximalism type of girl.... Anyway, the decor ( or lack thereof) has never put me off eating there, or having a great time doing so. But, having only been back in Cape Town for a couple of months, this declaration was clearly not the way to win friends and influence people... And I hoped that Ross would forget both me and my comment. Which, of course, he didn't.
So there I was making my way to Kleine Zalze having been invited to a press lunch at Terroir. Slowly, slowly getting back into the world of journalism that I left four years ago to go swanning around the world on luxury cruise ships. It was a gloriously hot unexpected winter's day, and we were eating al fresco. Not to appease my aesthetic sensibilities, of course, but simply because gorgeous days and gorgeous views aren't to be trifled with.
The lunch was one of those unexpectedly lovely small media affairs, which always leaves me intensely grateful for having been lucky enough to find my way in the world of journalism. Great food, wine, conversation, laughs - sometimes you forget this is a job.
And the reason for the lunch? To introduce the Terroir Green Season Menu. I love Cape Town winters. Not only is the weather not nearly as wet and miserable as those in Gauteng would insist on telling us, but it offers remarkably good value for money. Restaurants, recovering from the hectic summer rush, are still keen to keep their kitchens busy, and so offer the 2 and 3 course winter specials. Terroir offers 2 courses for R165 per person and a 3 course menu for R195 per person (lunch and dinner). The menu will change to alleviate any boredom should you decide to become a regular during the winter months, but hope and pray that the Pork trotter, deboned and served in a crispy rice wrapper with truffle, bacon lardons and mushrooms with a wholegrain sauce and the tiniest fried quail's egg on top is on offer. It is absolutely wonderful. (As an aside Bizerca Bistro was the first place to convert me into a trotter eating glutton with their's being served with seared scallop, I don't think they are offering any winter specials, but this bistro is well worth a visit. And if it is one of those warm winter's days, order their raw Norwegian salmon salad, served with goat's cheese and soy ginger dressing. Heavenly!) But as for Terrior, best of all the special is on until the 30 September 2010 which is practically summer anyway. It is a great restaurant as its many accolades and awards testify, and the food is truly delicious. I cheekily suggested to Micheal Broughton that he should introduce a Tasting Menu with wine paring to the public as well as the winter special. Hope he does. That way everyone can enjoy the rhythm of flavours as we did - 9 beautifully plated courses, including three of the most incredible deserts; deserts guaranteed to give you a sugar rush that will have you buzzing all the way back to Cape Town. Terroir has always has been a special occasion restaurant, but at these prices hungry recessionistas get to go as well.
You can make a reservation on 021 880 8167 or mail them on terroir@kleinezalze.co.za
And as for me? Why I'll be choosing my words carefully. No use biting the hands that I hope will feed me.
And yes, I will be learning to cook eventually. But tonight it's Woolies soup only.

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Picture Perfect

( Max, me and the Cakebread cake!)

( Judy van der Walt, me and Algria Ferreira-Watling)

(Behind the scenes)

I was very tempted to use an old photograph of myself for this blog. A thin photo. I have many. Always dead keen to pose for sultry pictures when I'm feeling gorgeous, and let's face it, feeling thin, equates with feeling gorgeous. Unflattering, fat photos are obviously deleted and/or destroyed. Unless they're the ones taken at my brother's wedding, In which I wore a baby pink jersey, which accentuated every roll of fat, and which is prominently displayed in their home. Or the one taken at my sister-in-laws baby shower, in which I (feeling rather fabulous at the time), wear a ruffled skirt over leggings, the evidence of which can now be seen on her Facebook page. But in the spirit of honesty and honouring this body (in whatever shape it is), I decide to use a new one. But not without the help of my friends.

Algria Ferreira is a blond pixi with an enormously generous heart. A celebrated make-up artist who refers to what she does as ‘painting’. 'Ek sal jou verf’ ( I'll paint you) she tells me in the park where we walk our dogs. She makes this offer on the same afternoon in which she told me I had looked beautiful crossing the road that morning. You see, Algia sees beauty wherever she goes. She looks at the world through an artist’s eyes. And so I trust her; know that she’ll be gentle with my vulnerability; kind to my insecurity. And so, in desperation, I take her up on her offer.

I also ask my wonderful friend/journalist/photographer, Judy van der Walt, to take the photos. Because I feel safe with her. And because gorgeous and talented as she is, she also, always, makes me feel gorgeous and talented as well. And so one Sunday afternoon, I have my own photo shoot.

Props: Cake courtesy of Cakebread (but much more about them later); Maximilian (our impossible-to-control Labrador puppy) and Jacques (husband and best friend who has stood by me, literally, through thick and thin.)

And in the winter sunshine, surrounded by those I love, and who will me to do well, I have my picture taken. And I feel good. And beautiful. And hopeful. And I want to lose weight. And I want to learn to cook. And I want to live fearlessly. Because I am a Hungry Woman. And that implies an appetite for life and experiences. An appetite unhampered by insecurities.