Archive | September 2011


I am fighting a losing battle with my email inbox, I read two blogs and come back to find 50 new notifications of posts. You lot will just have to be very patient for me to catch up. In the meantime, my darling friend Paul has granted me the Versatile Blogger award, for which I am very grateful. I am not going to pass it on, as I think most bloggers have received it over the past week.

I’m lagging badly, too, with Tandy’s ingredient challenges, which I always enjoy doing. This past weekend I used almonds in my stock vanilla cake recipe, and the result was really beautiful in its simplicity. It made a super carrier for fresh berries and cream.

And just for a lark ….

As seen on Granny’s blog, my list of fours:

Four places I go.
1. To drop my daughter at ballet classes
2. Norman Goodfellow’s in Illovo for fine wines
3. Solly Kramer’s in Parkview for everyday drinking wines
4. Tyrone Fruitiers in Parkview for chocolate, charcuterie and fresh produce

Four crushes I have:
1. Gordon Ramsay
2. Colin Firth
3. Count Nicholas Czardas
4. Bryan Ferry

Four smells that I love:
1. My daughter’s neck after her bath
2. The peppery nose of First Sighting Shiraz
3. Lulubelle sleeping under my office chair
4. Wet earth after a Gauteng thunderstorm

Four favourite TV shows:
1.Masterchef Australia
2. Oz Clarke and James May Big Wine Adventure
3.Great British Menu.
4. Hairy Bikers

Four Favourite Movies.
1 The History Boys
2. Babette’s Feast
3. Big Night (Stanley Tucci is another of my crushes!)
4. A Good Year

Four Recommendations:
1. First Sighting Shiraz with a bleu fillet steak and pepper sauce
2. Kleine Zalze Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier 2008 with slow roasted lamb shank
3. Adoro Mourvedre with Gorgonzola
4. Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label with a lover

And here’s an aaaaaaw moment, best buddies greeting each other in the morning:



Pic by Kimce Louw

This technique (sabrage) became popular in Francewhen the army of Napoleon visited many of the aristocratic domains. It was just after the French Revolution and the saber was the weapon of choice of Napoleon’s fearsome light cavalry (the Hussars). Napoleon’s spectacular victories across all Europe gave them plenty of reason to celebrate. During these parties the cavalry would open the Champagne with their sabers. Napoleon, known to have said, “Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.”may have encouraged this.

There are many stories about this tradition. One of the more spirited tales is that of Madame Clicquot, who had inherited her husband’s small Champagne house at the age of 27. She used to entertain Napoleon’s officers in her vineyard, and as they rode off in the early morning with their complimentary bottle ofChampagne, they would open it with their saber to impress the rich young widow.

It’s a silly business, sabrage. Champagne bottles are so easy to open without a sword, but there is always an adrenalin rush when the blade hits the lip of the bottle and not a shard of glass is lost in the process. When the bottle trots in at an average R850 retail price per bottle, the feeling of risk is increased tenfold.

Video by Ricardo Gouveia

It fell to me to open the bubbly at the final class of the Uncorked2 Wine School. Janice had honoured us with hosting the session at her home. We drank wines from Portugal and Germany, ending our foray into ‘Old World Wines’, before moving on to the New World and being privileged to taste the iconic Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and, finally, to being spoiled rotten with Springbok and herb / Wildebeest and olive pates and biltong to go with our South African wine of the day, Warwick’s Three Cape Ladies.

I didn’t jot down all the hilarious bon mots that spiced up the morning, what does stick in my mind is the hilarious banter about Janice’s gas-powered wine opener which was a gift from her husband, Sam, and Veronica’s quest to master using it.

Oh, and we were treated to a visit to Janice’s enviable wine cellar, where Ricardo indulged in a moment of lord of the manor fantasy …

I thoroughly enjoyed the course and cannot recommend it highly enough.


The Good Food and Wine Show 2011, briefly:
I got lost and couldn’t find the venue, when I finally arrived the queues were very long and I fretted that I wouldn’t get into the venue in time to see Gordon Ramsay’s show.
Bumped into my friend Jenny (The Giggling Gourmet) and David Morris, who were there to prep for their demo and they smuggled me in to the auditorium, where there were about a 1000 people.

Gordon Ramsay is magnetic in the flesh; I am hopelessly smitten. He is a consummate entertainer and a great comedian, but he uses the words ‘nice’, ‘sort of’ and ‘yeah?’ in almost every sentence. He shares personal anecdotes while he cooks: he got his son to eat vegetables by pointing at the lad’s crotch and telling him “If you don’t eat your carrots your Little Man there won’t work.” In posts to come, I will be replicating the three course menu he cooked.

It was great to see two manufacturers I saw on the show last year have survived the recession, Froggit and Madécasse Chocolate: I peeked in to say hello at the Le Creuset stand, but the girls were too busy doing what seemed to be a roaring trade.

After a brief traipse through the food stalls (the unwashed masses were out in force for a free lunch, most of them with no real interest in fine cuisine and with no intention of buying any produce) I moved to the wine section to see who from the Cape wine fraternity were here. I spent some time with A charming Frenchman who had flown in to showcase Philipponnat champagne, of which I was spoiled with two glasses of  the lovely stuff.

I moved, regretfully, from there onto the other wine stands, stopped to chat to the people at Flagstone, where I bought a case of their very affordable Longitude. (R50 a bottle at the Cellar Door).

My last stop was a very worthwhile on; I had a full-range tasting session at Vrede en Lust, where Anneke’s passion for the wines was effusive and catching. I could have stayed there all day, but the drive home was long and it was time to head home and prepare supper for my family.
Pink Polka Dot’s Friday Food Quiz:
1. What is schmaltz?
Rendered animal fat, usually chicken. Yuck!
2.What is the difference between evaporated milk and condensed milk?
Both have had most of the water removed, but condensed milk is thickened with sugar. Yuck!
3.What is heliculture?
Snail farming. See my post of yesterday. Yuck!
4.What does the term “papillote” refer to?
Cooked in paper.
5.What is the difference between ham and gammon?
I think they come from different parts of the pig’s anatomy. It’s best not to dwell too much on it.
6.What is a “foodie”?
Apparently it is a blogger who posts detailed recipes. It is not enough to simply write about food to be considered a “foodie”.
7.What is a liaison in culinary terms?

“I’m at the age where food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact, I’ve just had a mirror put over my kitchen table.” – Rodney Dangerfield.
In other words, it’s my kitchen fantasy involving Gordon Ramsay and my kitchen table …
8.What is the most common way to drink Japanese rice wine, sake?
Sitting down, so you don’t fall over after the second cup.
9.Is there a difference between schnitzel and scallopine?
No, I think they’re just different language names for the same thing.
10.Is curry a dish or a spice?
A spice.


Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare specialist; any of these tips should be discussed with your physician / pharmacist / homeopath before you use them.

Tandy recently helped me to wean myself off medication that was making me feel ill, by introducing me to tissue salts Nos 6 and 11. To hasten the eradication of the residual toxins left in my body by these medicines, my friend Sally introduced me to charcoal capsules, which absorb toxins in the body and flush them out. A word of warning: charcoal capsules will reduce the efficacy of any drugs ingested, so use with caution if you are on any chronic meds or are taking birth control pills.

A while ago, I popped into a local photographer’s studio and found the man – uncharacteristically – lying on his sofa, instead of being at work at his editing suite. I made a snide remark about the joys of a life of leisure and he responded by removing his sock and showing me his gangrene-blackened foot. He explained that his condition arose out of ignoring bad circulation. His foot was actually rotting, but the timely intervention of a specialist had made the prognosis for saving the foot a good one.

Photo copyright

I was deeply unsettled; my own feet were often badly affected by bad circulation, especially when I stood at my stove for long periods. I also have the worst habit ever: I cross my legs while sitting at my desk and this makes my tingling feet a ghoulish shade of purple. I resolved to stick to an exercise regime and to seek out a natural aid to increasing circulation. This, I found, was to be found in Tissue Salt No 1 / Calc Fluor. Hey presto, a rapid improvement and a spring in my step, I no longer feel like a snail when I walk.

On the subject of snails; From Scientific American, July 1911:
“Snails are now being sold in Paris, the only genuine part of which are the shells. It is said that the imitation of the real article is so close that many epicures have a high opinion of the sham product. Snail-shells, it seems, are brought from the dustmen and rag-pickers, and after being cleaned are filled with ‘lights’ or cats’ meat, the soft flesh being cut into corkscrew form, so as to fit the shell, by a skillfully designed machine. The receptacle is then sealed with liquid fat, and the escargot is ready for the consumer. The secret came out during a lawsuit brought by a man employed at the snail-factory to recover damages for a finger mutilated by one of the machines.”

Eeeeeeu! Escargot, anyone?

Photo copyright 'Sea Glass'


Tokelosheblog, a South African lady who lives in Canada, has asked about our favourite barbeque recipe. Mine has to be a carpet bag steak, so here is a repost of a barbeque we had last year, in preparation for our national braai day tomorrow.

Ah … perhaps it’s the music on the radio, but I was nostalgic for the Seventies yesterday. Remember Avocado Ritz, Moussaka and Devilled Eggs? I thought I’d enjoy the sunny day and cook an old favourite outside on my gas stove.

On my very first dinner date, the lad arrived with a carnation in a bottle of Babycham (I thought that was sooo sophisticated!) and carried me in his Alfa Sud to the Greek Sizzler, one of the few restaurants in Bloemfontein at the time. I ordered a Carpet Bag Steak, which was all the rage then. I was sick as a dog when I got home, and to this day I can’t stomach a cooked oyster, although it may have been an effect of the Grunberger Stein on my unsuspecting young tummy.

But from time to time, I do hanker after the combination of surf and turf tastes. The fish market in Dunkeld had fresh mussels yesterday, so I poached them in tomato, onions, garlic, ginger, corriander and a squirt of lemon.

Just perfect with a piece of rare fillet, which I had marinated in fish sauce and soya sauce …

And then the newspapers, a nice long nap …


Does anyone know if kids still collect autographs in mini autograph albums? Or if they are still manufactured these days? In my day it was a right of passage, usually just before you became a teenager, to be given your little album. All your friends and family would write messages for you to reread with nostalgia in your adult years, which seemed so far away in the distant future. Sometimes a minor celebrity would come to town; I managed to get Falconetti’s signature, which he signed as his character from Rich Man, Poor Man, instead of his real name. That show was an enormous hit in South Africa, William Smith all but disappeared afterward – from our shores – Wikipedia tells me he made about 300 films), while Nick Nolte and Peter Strauss have enjoyed both popularity and notoriety over the years.
My grandmother’s inscription in my album reads “Make new friends, but keep the old; the one is silver and the other gold”.
It’s trite, sentimental to the point of over-sugared and makes me picture cutesy drawings of kittens, or those photoshopped photos of babies lying inside flowers. But still, despite the kitschness of the quote, it rings very true. Tell your friends today how much you appreciate them.
Now … I must see if there is a clean page left in my album, I need to get Gordon Ramsay’s autograph at the Good Food and Wine Show tomorrow.
YAY! Thanks Tandy!!

JUST WEDNESDAY tells me that on this day in 1961 Earle Dickson died. He invented Band-Aids for his wife, who had frequent kitchen accidents, cutting or burning herself. He worked for Johnson & Johnson, who soon began manufacturing Band-Aids.
Good for him and lucky for Mrs Dickson.
Some weekend pics; asparagus with lavender and lime salt made for me by Tandy.

Raw grated beetroot with radishes (power food!).

A lemon cake for Sidey, waiting to be iced.

Very hard work being a dog …

Oh, and thanks to all for the good wishes; my dort achieved an A in the eisteddfod, I am incredibly proud of her.