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FOOD & WINE BLOGGERS INDABA, PART 2

There are 168 unread notifications in my email inbox. These are all for recent posts on my friends’ blogs. Please know that I will read and visit each and every one of them as soon as I can. I am catching up with work after being away on Monday, was on a film shoot for most of yesterday, and I am really battling to keep up.

Before I move along to sharing more of my experience at the Food & Wine Bloggers Indaba, allow me to tell you that today is National Banana Bread Day and International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day on the Culinary Calendar.

With that out of the way, here’s a snap of the view from our conference venue; Monkey Valley Nature Resort in Noordhoek; pretty enough – almost – to distract from what was happening in the hall.

The MC of the day was Jeanne Horak-Druiff, the award winning blogger Cooksister! I had not read her blog before, and was immediately taken by her warm personality and willingness to share tips. Her key points for engaging with a wider audience were “share, praise and link”.

Next up was a friend I adore, Jane-Anne Hobbs, possibly the best source of breaking news with her Twitter handle @Jane_Anne62

In the near future I will be doing many posts on the things Jane-Anne covered, but most exciting were the trends that are predicted in the food world, among them:

White pepper, pork neck, mustard greens, horseradish, pistachio, water chestnuts, Cape gooseberries, parsnips, natural yoghurt and edible glitter.  She has also set me on a quest to find my own copy of The Flavour Thesaurus.

Our next speakers were doyennes of the South African food world,  Abigail Donnelly and Phillipa Cheifitz, who spoke about food in magazines and shared their stories of how they came to be ‘discovered’. It was a real coup that the organiser of the Indaba, Colleen Grove, got these icons to give us their time.

They presented us with the prettiest biscuits. You can read more about all the speakers and sponsors here:

http://foodbloggaindaba.wordpress.com/

I’ll cover the next speaker, a man I love with all my heart, in my next post.

FOOD BLOGGER INDABA, PART 1

With little alternative I have adapted to living in Johannesburg and even come to love the grand old Highveld lady. But, when I go to Cape Town and leave the airport, something happens to me; my soul breathes more deeply and there is no denying that I am home.

My friend Susan and I had timed our flights perfectly, she flew in from Durban to attend the South African Food Blogger Indaba, and our host, Tandy, fetched us. Many people stared as we met in the arrivals hall, shrieking and hugging one another.

We made our way to Tandy’s home in Gordons Bay, where Tandy cooked delicious meals for us. First was a lunch of caponata, (Tandy had made this as her entry into the Vin-atics challenge) with flatbreads.

 

On Saturday evening we were joined by longtime friend Chantelle, and treated to a four-course meal that included a starter of gazpacho (with a divine home-baked olive bread) and crayfish cooked on the fire by Tandy’s husband Dave.

After a riotous night of wine and laughter, we fell into bed (top bunk for me) and snored away until it was time to do our early trip to the other side of Cape Town to attend the Indaba.

Part 2 to follow.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR; INDABA AND SABRAGE

1919 The Great Molasses Flood. On January 15, 1919, a large 50 foot high storage tank in Boston burst and sent a tidal wave of over 2 million gallons of molasses traveling at over 30 miles per hour. Houses, buildings and parts of the elevated rail system were crushed in its path. Twenty-one people died, and over 150 were injured. It took over 6 months to clean up the mess. The damage was in the millions of dollars. – source http://www.foodreference .com

I have nothing to say on the subject of molasses, but it must have been a terrifying experience for those involved back in the day. Side View’s theme this weekend is ‘Something in the air’ and all I can contribute is the great excitement in my personal airspace about my husband offering to send me to the South African Food Bloggers’ Indaba in Cape Town on the 20th of February. I can hardly contain myself.

To add to my sense of peaceloveandjoylikearivermountainfountain, I mastered sabrage for the first time last night. Alas, nobody took a photograph, but I am frightfully chuffed with myself.

That’s all for this morning, I’m now going to gird my loins for a session of bubbly with Side View. Have a love- and light-filled Saturday peeps.

MUTTERING ABOUT MUSING

My gerberas are bursting into bloom. No recipe; they just pop up every year.

This is cress ready for harvesting. There is no recipe; you simply get your friend Sue to bring you some seeds from England, fling the seeds into soil and wait for them to sprout. Then you pick them and put them on a sandwich.

When we were at the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba back in February (how this year has flown!) one of the speakers, a world famous foodie blogger, advised us to abstain from using the word ‘musing’ in our blogs. I have been repeatedly snubbed by the food blogging community as not being a ‘real foodie’. In fact, when I registered to become part of the FoodBlogs.com community, I received this curt reply:

Hi Cindy,

Thank you for submitting your blog. We are currently limiting the blogs on FoodBlogs.com to those that have at least 80% of the posts containing recipes and associated pictures.

Thank you for your interest.

Pfft! After steaming a bit about the whole business, I decided that the snub was a blessing which actually gave me the freedom to muse to my heart’s delight. And to show pictures of my Lulubelle, who ran into a fence whilst chasing a bird and got an awful ouchie on her forehead.

This is Alvin’s Drunken Chicken which, although not pretty, is very tasty.

Here is the recipe:
1 medium organic chicken
1 liter Shaoxing wine
500ml Mirin
500ml water
60g dark palm sugar
2cm ginger, peeled and bruised

Bring the wine, mirin, water, palm sugar and ginger to the boil.
Place the chicken in the broth and turn down the heat an gently simmer for 45 – 60 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Serve with noodles and sweet corn (my take on this one).

Have some pink wine and enjoy the meal.
Thumb your nose at food snobs …

DUFs AND A TOPLESS TART

Downs:

Dreary weather.

Ups:

Lunch at the home of friends today, haven’t seen them since Christmas.

Forward:

Mountain sojourn on Tuesday.

The Topless Tart:

Jeanne Horak Druiff was one of the speakers at the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba I attended in February. Until then, I wasn’t aware of her award-winning blog. I have since been following her and this month she is hosting the Monthly Mingle, her sister Meeta’s monthly event.  The theme is Topless Tarts.

My contribution:

1 roll puff pastry

1 packet chopped bacon

1 packet baby spinach leaves

1 camembert cheese round

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

Handful of chopped spring onions

Dried rosemary and pepper to taste

I sautéed the bacon bits until they were crisp, turned of the heat and added the spinach leaves to wilt. I laid this mixture onto the pastry and topped with the cheese, tomatoes, onions and seasoning and baked at 180C for 35 minutes. 

Before posting this, I Googled the ingredients to check that my tart was original. Alas, I find that Oprah magazine featured something similar in April 2010, albeit a galette and not a tart.

Food trivia for the day from foodreference.com:

24 April 1994 The world’s largest lollipop, 3,011 pounds, is made inDenmark.

Why, I ask you, why?

UPDATE:

Here is the link to the roundup of all the contributions to this challenge:

http://www.cooksister.com/2011/05/topless-tarts-everywhere-the-monthly-mingle-roundup.html

CLOVES AND NOSTALGIA

It could be because I was thinking about my mother’s birthday. It could be that I am experimenting with the old-fashioned ingredients that Jane-Anne  Hobbs predicted would be foodie trends this year, when she gave her talk at the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba.

It could simply be the memories that flood in when I prepare the dishes from my childhood, like oxtail stew, with the beautiful scent of cloves filling the air. It could simply be the changing of the season that has made me scurrying  for old pieces of my writing; desperate to make sure I’ve documented them, saved them to bring out one day when the images in my mind are no longer crystal clear.

Orange ceramic bowl and green ceramic rice bowl from Art Of Hand, 305 Long Street, Cape Town. Made by Diana Ferreira.

I am always surprised anew by how most of my clearest memories are informed by food …

There were no children my age to play with; it was a brand new suburb; all red earth and building rubble. Both parties of most couples went out to work, walking together to catch busses. My mom and dad each had a car, which was quite unusual at the time. They misguidedly thought nursery school was a cruel business, an enclave for neglected children; only marginally less horrible than the orphanage they threatened to send me to if I didn’t eat my spinach.

There was, apart from the lovely, fat and funny Willemienah who cleaned and cooked; a nanny who’s sole purpose was to feed me, clean me and make sure that I didn’t engage in any activities that would lead to my needing stitches or the services of the Police Force. Her name was Martha and to this day I remember what it felt like when she wiped my face with a warm facecloth, sprinkled with 4711 cologne, after I cried because of a fall. I ate my meals with them, sitting on the concrete courtyard floor; tomato and onion gravy with stiff maize porridge. I’d have it for lunch any day, still. Only much later did it dawn that Sotho was not the only language on daytime radio.

I begged and pleaded for a brother and my parents kept telling me it was not the right time. I was six before I realised that I was lonely.

From time to time my paternal grandparents would come to take me to their farms, early on to Excelsior and later to Tweespruit. My Ganny Sue taught my to sew a neat stitch and my Gampy let me walk out with him after supper, ostensibly to make sure the cows were tucked in, but really to smoke his secret cigarettes. They allowed all the rules to be broken; I didn’t have to bath every day, especially not if I’d swum in the reservoir. We sometimes had stewed peaches and custard as our supper!

On returning from a long visit, I walked into our bathroom, where my mother was drying herself after a shower. She had become fat, something I hadn’t noticed during everyday contact and I told her so. My dad overheard and joined us in the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the tub and pulling me onto his lap. He told me that my mom was growing a surprise for me in her tummy and could I guess what it was? I said ‘a bike?’, but they laughed and said I’d have to wait and see.

Perhaps a fortnight or so later, I’d taken my skipping rope and gone up the road to visit with an old lady whom I’d befriended and who allowed me to pretend that we were grand ladies taking high tea on a cruise ship. Her kettle had just boiled when Martha puffed in and said I should come home at once. She hoiked me onto her back and trotted down the block.

My parents were sitting in the lounge, my mom holding a soft parcel. They beckoned me to join them and my mom opened the parcel so that I could see the scrunched up little person they were giving me. His name is Shawn and he is one of the best friends I have ever had; my little brother who grew to be bigger than me in every way conceivable.

I’m really quite fond of him, grumpy old codger. And so very proud.

THE FIRST PESTO PRINCESS APRON GIVE AWAY

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of talking about how much value going to the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba brought me. Not just the knowledge I gained, or the loot I garnered, but also the new friendships I forged. One such relationship is with Candice and Kathleen at Pesto Princess; these girls’ joie de vivre and generosity is inspirational.

My apron, crisp denim prettily embroidered with lime green, and some sample product were delivered (thanks to the kindness of Ilorna at La Marina Foods) and I am having the most fun experimenting. (And tasting, yum!)

Do you want an apron too?

Tell me what ingredient you think I should use to make a dish that will pair well with Pesto Princess Rocket and Walnut Pesto. On Friday night, I will print your comments on pieces of paper and put them into a hat and my husband will draw a winner, who will be sent an apron from the folks at Pesto Princess in Cape Town.

Easy as that!

PUMPKIN SOUP WITH ROCKET & WALNUT PESTO

 

Disclaimer: I am not employed by, or being paid, by Pesto Princess.

 

THIS COMPETITION IS NOT LIMITED TO BLOGGERS RESIDENT IN SOUTH AFRICA AND IS OPEN TO ALL BLOGGERS AROUND THE WORLD.

TWO PIECES OF JOLLY GOOD NEWS

GEORGE: Why do I get pesto? Why do I think I’ll like it? I keep trying to like it, like I have to like it.

JERRY: Who said you have to like it?

GEORGE: Everybody likes pesto. You walk into a restaurant, that’s all you hear – pesto, pesto, pesto.

(From Seinfeld episode: The Busboy)

 

George is right; everybody does love pesto and my own favourite is Pesto Princess. I was lucky enough to meet Kathleen Quillinan at the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba. Kathleen started Pesto Princess on a whim in her Cape Town kitchen some 12 years ago.  The Pesto Princess pestos are as near as can be to any homemade versions. I am told that some chefs divulge that Pesto Princess is their secret ingredient.

Now Pesto Princess have made me feel like a princess myself; they’ve given me my very own apron. That’s not all; they’re also sending me some of their product to experiment with AND they are going to give aprons to THREE of my readers! Watch this space next week for competition details.

The other news that has me dancing a jig is that, based on the cakes I made on Friday, the Art Buyer (at the ad agency where I spent the past 6 weeks) has asked me to supply the catering for a film shoot next week. This is a foot in the door, no; it is an enormous step towards fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine.

It’s uncanny, really, I am amazed my the constant stream of luck in my life. And I am grateful.

 

BARONE, RHYMES WITH MACARONI

 I got a girl name of Boney Maroney, she’s as skinny as a stick of macaroni

So goes the old song, a favourite of my late dad’s.

I’m not. Skinny as a stick of macaroni, that is. Not anymore.

Could be as a result of the good food I ate at the Indaba. Could be the past six weeks working my way through a contract and eating off the agency breakfast trolley every morning. Could be the campaign I was working on, which was … chocolate …

Anyhow, time has flown and today is my last day at the agency. It seemed fitting that I bid the friends I’ve made here goodbye with cakes, and it seems imperative that said cakes contain the product we’ve all been concentrating on.

Now, before I tot off to say my farewells, and in light of yesterday’s post about the return of my errant dog, I want to share an old story:

As a young woman, my mother in law lived in a house that was next door to the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital. She had a big yellow dog called Tex, who had been in a dog fight and had a long row of stitches on his back. The wound had started suppurating and the vet had given her ointment to apply and ordered her to try and keep it covered. She thought she had found a perfect solution; he was roughly the same size as Old Spouse (then a small boy of six) and she had dressed Tex in one of her son’s tshirts.

One morning Tex managed to get out of the gate and ran down the road. My MIL, at that stage still in her dressing gown, ran around the neighborhood looking for him. Eventually she went into the hospital grounds and couldn’t find him anywhere, so she ran toward the main entrance and there she encountered one of the psychiatrists who had arrived to do his rounds. Have you seen my dog, she asked him, he’s wearing a yellow shirt?

The doctor looked at her and very kindly, without missing a beat, he said; and you’re worried because he doesn’t have his trousers on?

THANKS FRANK & JULIE, YOU’RE BOTH SAINTS

WARNING: THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT FOOD

Saint Francis of Assisi is the Catholic patron saint of animals.

There’s been something on my mind since my return from the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba; something that had me too heartsore to blog about.

My husband walks our dogs early on Sunday mornings, on the sports fields of Pirates, a local club. He goes as early as possible; our Lulubelle is intimidating to most humans and at this venue she can run free and wild without scaring anyone. She and Diski chase each other around, while Fat Fritzl is happy to trot by Old Spouse’s side, sniffing and lifting his leg frequently as they circle the field.

Two Sundays back, while I was in Cape Town, during their customary ramble, a flock of marathon runners came past and startled Fritzl. He took off like a bullet and couldn’t be found. Old Spouse searched the streets for hours, until darkness made him give up.

On my return to Johannesburg, I circulated posters to all the businesses, schools and veterinary practices in the area and beyond. And we waited, hopefully, with frequent prayers to Saint Frank.

Last night, exhausted and about to tuck in for the night, I checked my email inbox one last time. One unfamiliar name stood out and I clicked to open the mail:

Hi Cindy,

I’ve tried calling your phone a number of times, but it seems to be off. So I thought I’d try emailing as well in the hope that this will get through to you.

We found your dog while walking our dogs at Pirates and brought it home with us. The bartenders at Pirates gave us the email you circulated. We have another dog and a chicken (who Fritzl nearly killed!) so we can’t really look after him for too long.

Hoping you will get this and get in touch. Our address is xxx.

Thanks,
Julie

He’s back home, tail wagging at a speed that makes us fear it may fall off.