Archive | February 2011



I could, with your help, win a trip to Italy with five of my friends.

Please go here and vote for my dish.—mango-salad

The dreams you choose to believe in come to be.

When you feel in your innermost being

that you will achieve what you set out to do,

you open the way for miracles.

Choose to believe something good can happen.

Expecting it to happen energizes your goal

and actually gives it momentum.

What you expect to happen, happens.

If you expect to succeed, you’ll succeed.

         Nikita Koloff





Culinary Calendar trivia for the day: 27 February 1879:

The artificial sweetener, Saccharin, was discovered by Messrs Fahlberg and Remsen at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The FDA has required warning labels, since 1972, on products using saccharin because it is a suspected carcinogen.

See? No point in trying to get away from good old sugar, is there?

I’ve been challenged by Tandy to bake something using chocolate and sour cream. She doesn’t qualify that these ingredients should be used together in the same recipe, so I’ve been a little sneaky and used the chocolate first. (Sour cream sometime next week.)

I had a baking-fest in my kitchen yesterday and the motivation behind baking with almonds comes from the bottle of Rose that was included in our goodie bags. Sweet, with a blast of tropical fruits, it’s the perfect wine for high tea. Thank you Anura Wines.

While searching online for a recipe for my Florentines, I was distracted by a quote I found by the French novelist,Colette:

“Don’t eat too many almonds; they add weight to the breasts.”


Righty-ho, then, best limit my intake; don’t want to break my bathroom scales.


Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.
Wayne Dyer

There are an abundance of triggers that can set off inspiration for food blogs. Jane-Anne Hobbs touched on some of these in her talk at the Indaba: ingredients, memories, hunger, recipes, showing off and fads. For me inspiration often comes from the challenges issued by my friends on their own blogs. We now have the added inspiration provided by WordPress: the post-a-day and weekly photo prompts. Appropriately enough, this week’s photo theme is abundance.

Tandy’s recent challenge to cook with venison was indeed a challenge: where to find venison; the hunting season is in winter! I also had serious time constraints; she’d only given us a week. Luckily the challenge was extended and my very kind butcher delved into his own home freezer and delivered a Springbok fillet.

Venison was a big deal in my childhood; my Uncle Thabo’s family had owned two farms outside Tweespruit in the-then Orange Free State and we spent many winter school holidays there. I remember watching with ghoulish fascination when the men returned from hunting at dusk, the beautiful buck slung in heaps on the back of their trucks. We’d return home to Bloemfontein with buckets of meat, some for the freezer and the rest to be soaked in a coriander and vinegar traditional biltong marinade and hung to dry in our garage.

For Tandy’s challenge I decided to use two of my goodie bag ingredients: the Robertson Prospect Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (for drinking) and the St Sebastian Bay olive oil (for cooking).

I did pan fried strips of fillet, with black bean sauce, bell pepper ribbons, sage, brown mushrooms and peppercorns.

There is abundance in my life.

I am grateful.


Those on the breadline live a bread and cheese existence unable to break bread with others or even to fill their hungry breadbaskets. Unless, that is, a breadwinner knows which side his bread is buttered on and decides to use his loaf and cast his bread upon the water. Such a bread and butter way of life can be brightened by the bread and circuses of popular entertainment – without doubt the greatest things since sliced bread – yet entertainment always seems to cost a lot of bread, and one cannot help but feel that some people are only able to earn a crust by taking the bread out of one’s mouth.

(From Schott’s Food & Drink Miscellany / Bread in Idiom)

My dad called beer ‘a bottle of bread’ and it precisely how I think of it: a drink that makes me feel as though I have overeaten. It also tends to make me drunk, so I avoid drinking it and only occasionally cook with it and – as a result – I know very little about it, which made the beer & food pairing workshop at the Indaba all the more interesting.


We were given a brief history of beer (it dates as far back as the 6th millennium BC) and learned the differences between making different beers. Our speaker was obviously enchanted with his subject; he waved his arms in rapture as we tasted the beers with the food supplied by the SAB-appointed caterers. It seems that beer pairing is not much different to wine pairing; colour and weight are the key things to consider.

I’m glad I attended this workshop, but I was not converted to being a beer disciple; my goodie bag bottle of milk stout will have to wait until winter, when I will use it in a nice beef stew.


From the Culinary Calendar, we learn that on this day in 1922 “Donald McLean was born. McLean was a Scottish potato expert who supposedly had the world’s largest private collection of potatoes, with 367 varieties.”

I am an unabashed magpie when it comes to collecting things; I have teapots, miniature VW Beetles, wines, cookie cutters … the list is endless. But I can say with all honesty that I’ve never thought of collecting potatoes. Would one have a refrigerated cabinet to display them?

Another thing I am fast building up a collection of is Verlaque products, so I was a happy girl when I learned that they were one of the main sponsors of the Indaba. In my goodie bag was a bottle of their Cape Lemon Olive Oil and Raspberry Balsamic Reduction that I can’t wait to try.


My current fave is the Sweet Basil Olive Oil and Tomato Balsamic Reduction; I’m reaching the bottom* of my bottle and will have to stock up soon. It is just the perfect marinade for a coal roasted fillet steak sandwich, which we had last night.


Have a fabulous weekend, friends, and remember this:

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. 


* ‘Reaching the bottom’ is Side View’s weekend theme.

If you wish to contribute, please go to:


Wine is dauntingly unruly. So many places it comes from, so many grapes it’s made from, so many different people making wine as they interpret how it should be made. And then its taste changes every damn year.”

Terry Theise / Reading  Between the Wines.

My love affair with food and wine pairing began about 12 years ago, but I was quite conservative; staying within the limits of what I knew: the Distell stable of brands and, occasionally, venturing to newer wines that were making a noise in the media. About 4 years ago, I began buying publications like WINE Magazine and reading the wine writers on the internet and so became more adventurous in my wine purchasing. Two people I follow religiously are Michael Olivier and Cathy Marston.

Michael is a much-respected and loved personality, with a formidable wit. He recently appeared on morning TV’s show Espresso, to give a demonstration on preparing a cranberry dressing for Christmas meats. As he softened butter in the pan, the show’s presenter asked if margarine could be used instead. Without missing a beat, and with gentle kindness, Michael retorted “No, no, no marge. The only Marge we ever have is the one on the Simpsons.

I was thrilled to be greeted with a hug before he addressed us at the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba on Sunday morning.

Michael assured us that we should not be daunted by the ‘daunting unruliness’ of wine and that all rules can be broken. It is OK to drink white wine with red meat and to put ice in red wine. He did mete out a caution that we do ourselves gravely short if we eschew sweet wines, something I have only discovered very recently and which stood me in good stead: I was able to identify the gewürztraminer during our session of blind tasting.

My choice of afternoon break-away workshops were:

Social media & building your brand; Andy Fenner

Beer; Denis da Silva

Food & Wine Pairing, Champagne Talk & Sabrage technique; Cathy Marston and Harry Haddon

I will cover the beer sometime soon; it was fascinating and the presenter was passionate about his subject. Sabrage is another topic I’ll address on its own, being a bit of an expert on this technique of late.

Cathy Marston’s workshop was the absolute highlight of my day. I’ve admired her for so long and it was a pleasure to spend time with her. The wine sponsors had been generous and our tasting (with food provided by Nina Timm from My Easy Cooking.) was a riotous experience.

After a prizegiving ceremony (I won a fabulous book, about which I’ll post in the near future) we faced sunset on the decks drinking more wine and Cathy debunked more snobbish wine myths. We discovered that it’s no great sin to enjoy wine from a Collins glass instead of the correct wine glass when there is an emergency.

(Can’t remember who took this pic; Kathy, Tandy or Sue: thanks!)


Cheers, Michael and Cathy, it was a treat.


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:

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