Thursday, 30 June 2011

All hail the King of the Test Kitchen

Remember the prize I won with my food/wine pairing from good guy jamie who over at aficionado, well last night was the eagerly anticipated night.

'The Fantastic Eben, Adi and Luke show'-  at The Test Kitchen in Woodstock- 11 sensational courses, inspired pairings with fine wines I won't forget and the chef -  Luke Dale Roberts is the King.

You know that feeling when you've experienced something so awesomely spectacular that you feel compelled to stop absolute strangers to tell them how wonderful it was.... well, that was how good it was.

A treat to see the action- such talent
I'll start at the beginning, how cool is that menu?  A quick glance and I knew I'd somehow pleased the culinary gods- all of my favourites were there, oysters, tongue, sashimi, tuna, duck, sweetbreads, oh my beating heart....

the clever 'art teacher' got the menu for me- I'll hang it in the kitchen for inspiration

The first course, tiny perfectly poached quails eggs on truffle infused toast, the little yolk oozing onto the toast and the truffle oil oozing down my chin, oh my delight.... the Cellar Hands white was sublimely subtle.

Next those oysters with that mysterious 'soba dashi' and the funky white, 'wow' pairing, unexpected sensations as the oysters tame the wine.

Onto the wine I'd been dreaming of  tasting, Sadie Family Palladius 2008, way out of my price range and now that I've had such a wine, I am once again happily ruined.
It was paired with the yellowtail sashimi -  melting sashimi, crunchy chick peas & edemame and that soy milk yuba I'd happily convert to vegetarianism for, utterly delicious combination.

Another surprise was the tomato & miso cream cheese mousse with the Sequillo Cellars Red 2008- I'm embarrassed to say I  actually took my finger to the plate to this one.

Tuna tataki
My favourite...I think, too hard to choose, the foie gras, red cabbage and fig 'mi-cuit' - words escape me and with another curveball, Sequillo White Port 2010- unexpectedly perfect.

Aaah, the veal tongue, as it came to the table, a hint of  the scent of  the American oak veloute, sensational  with another wine favourite Mrs Kirsten's 'The old vine chenin' 2007, wish you could all have tasted it..
I'm a big fan of Chenin Blanc and was swooning with the whites.

Veal tongue and scallop

Just look at that bottle and label- art!
Stop... see that hand, cradling the precious bottle, it belongs to the charming Simon, his knowledge and service was simply stunning, explaining the wines, their origins, the motivations, the stories and the pairings- in fact his whole team was elegance in motion, timing perfection- very rare.

The warm duck salad...hmmm
Simply put- this was the best food experience I've ever had and actually, excellent value for money, think of those wines and that menu- I know we'll be thinking about them for a long time....

Luke Dale Roberts taking a well deserved break talking with patrons

Woodstock side street on the way home

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

They don't like Rhubarb

As a child I used to cut the rhubarb stalk in the garden, grab a bowl of sugar and intermittently chew the rhubarb stalk, dip it in the sugar and chew some more- Oh the delight!

Rhubarb is not very well known or readily available this side, so when I saw a bunch this week I pounced, rushed home and convinced the kids to try it 'a la my childhood'....what can I say..something must have been lost in the translation- the agony on those faces.

So I stewed it... sorry no recipe, just chopped the bunch up, almost covered with water. about 3/4 cup sugar and juice of a lemon, simmered slowly until soft, syrupy and rich in that delicious rhubarb colour.

Tried the kids again, this time rhubarb and ice-cream, a little more success, but no epiphanies.

There's a reason that in the 1400's, rhubarb was listed along with the valuables ', satin, musk, rubies, diamonds, pearls and rhubarb.' ... stop laughing, its true.

So, tomorrow,  homemade crumpets, rhubarb and cream for breakfast-  I don't give up easily.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Flowers in the house

I know its a bit late, call it 'cape town time', we're a bit slower in the southern hemisphere......I  saw this little bit of fun on Marie's beautiful blog 66 Square Feet, its a 'Monday floral chain' that was started by Jane, blogger of the delightful Small but Charming 
Post a picture of the flowers in your home, lovely to look through the participating blogs and see everyone's  arrangements from the delicately simple to the grand displays.

City Bowl Market on Hope

Beautiful eye catching facade
Town has a new Saturday market, City Bowl Market on Hope, popped along for a quick peek....silly me- two trips back to the car to offload my shopping.

Beautiful old doors as trestle tables,  stuffed coffee bean bags as seats, candles on the tables...make a great night market as well?

First in the door, is the fresh fruit and veggie stall, I naively through I didn't need any, but spotted bags of limes and Naartjies for ZAR10, long stem Broccoli, and Quinces, 3 for ZAR10!..first trip back to the car.

Immediately to the right a sign 'oysters, champagne and books upstairs' well,  you know me....2nd trip to the car- fresh Mossel Bay oysters.

Finally, I do my rounds of the hall, delicious bacon from Cure Charcuterie- this skilled young man's mission statement- ' I'm out to cure the world, one succulent free range porker at a time'.

Couldn't resist these honey roasted chicken dumplings- Char Siu Bao,  from the lovely men at the South China Noodle Factory- seriously delicious.

I left to find a bottle of bubbly to go with those oysters- Saturday nights supper was in the bag!

Monday, 27 June 2011


the orange necklace- a flaming burst of creativity

Over the mountain to Woodstock on Saturday morning, for a warehouse sale, an impressive collection of  wares by Moonbasket, Missibaba, Skinny laminx, and Queen magpie.

As you enter, the rustic and expensive smell of leathers, the shelf on the right is packed full, an array of beautiful colours and textures.

Missibaba's bespoke handbags are very covetable, the young ladies were swarming around the bags- clever girls, spend whilst you can- in a few years it will be on children, school fees, mortgages and car repayments!

A peek on the left - a rail of beautiful clothes

Moonbasket stole the show for me- remember the clever Laura who crocheted that magnificent blanket for Gilles, well together with her partner Dani Le Roy they make these unique handmade pieces.

They have elevated crochet to a whole new level of luxury and desirability, the lampshades glow with a warm cocooning light.

I couldn't keep my eyes off that orange necklace, a burst of creativity with thread, buttons and rings foraged from the Milnerton market.
Do you see the rug...... * sigh * ...I now desire white floors for that slate grey rug.

Friday, 24 June 2011

It's alright Winter

the beautiful little dam on the Constantia turnoff M3
Winter solstice has just passed, but not a sign of  her surrender,

more like a renewed attack.... we could barely see the road.

'the art teacher' testing out his new 24mm lens

But I'm smiling, two sweet words-  School holidays.

Three delicious weeks, no waking before the birds, only the occasional job, my clever clients have migrated to sun drenched destinations

I see my future and its three cosy weeks with my tower of books, slow-cooking, board games, card games, a TV series or two and a few brisk winter walks to collect pine cones for the fire.

the small greenbelt by Sillery farm

Our celebratory lunch, homemade pizzas, a glass of chenin to get a spot in front of the fire.

overladen pizza!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Auction shopping

On Tuesday afternoons you'll find me scratching through dusty boxes looking for treasures.... loved what I saw in this box -  leather gloves, cotton gloves, soft white linen and even softer fur- do you see that colour?
What's in the next box....vintage leather handbags- a box full...

I'm desperately trying to stay focused on what I'm looking for- lamps, a cupboard for the bathroom and a sturdy little steel stand for that extremely heavy worm farm. But the pretty trinkets are distracting me-         
                                                             *   deep sigh *

This heavy tarnished platter is enormous, easily 70 cm long, lots of fruit for a medieval banquet...or Xmas?
As I mentioned, the trick is to stay focused or you'll find yourself buying a lot of pretty things you probably don't need.
When it comes to the bidding,  keep your price in your head and stick to it, if you're even slightly competitive, you'll find yourself paying a lot more than you intended to.
The best Auction house in the Southern Suburbs- Hofmeyr Mills, opp  Maynardville Park in Wynberg- friendly people, viewing Tuesdays and Fridays- Auctions Wednesdays and Saturdays, see you there!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A Beef Bourguignon evening

The 'boat-builders' invited us for dinner,  Beef Bourguignon cooked as Julia Child would have done,
perfect for a cold winters evening.

the 'french-American' in action- master of his station

Delicious heady aromas greeted us at the door... I see the heavy Larousse gastronomique open on the counter, trying to make a contribution.

The chef was the affable 'French-American', and they had been cooking under his direction since lunchtime- I'm hoping at least one of those three bottles of red destined for the beef went to the cooks.

Cooking tips flowed, as did tales of demented ex lovers, all spiced with a few Clinton jokes...backgammon by the fire and back over the mountain to a heavy sleep on a full belly..

a very large helping, but we rose to the challenge

Monday, 20 June 2011

Whats red underneath and very high?

They are still sitting on the diningroom table next to the roses and the champagne from the night before, quite fitting I think, for such a pair of shoes... I shall have to leave them there indefinitely-  my cupboard most certainly won't do.
My first pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, a gift from the 'Irish Lass' a shoe (and Choo) lady of note, they were a gift to her, two sizes too big, oh my good fortune!
I have since discovered a few things....nothing fits like an expensive pair of shoes and height doesn't matter, no tottering about in these shoes,  I could very comfortably run the New York Mile.
Needless to say, I am happily ruined, the 'art teacher' generously suggested I might now need a new dress...and an occasion...oh dear- did you notice the hint of that sexy red underside.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Platters for feasts

I confess to a weakness for platters, I used to collect, using my catering as an excuse, but the truth is I can't bear to see my precious platters leaving the house.
On Friday night we braved the storm and attended an opening at our long time friend Cheryl's picturesque gallery above the Cafe Olympia-Kalk Bay Modern , a gorgeous white balcony space, windows overlooking the harbour and a blazing fire to keep us warm.

These platters and urns made by our talented friend Leora Lewis had me drooling, Oh the foods that I would fill those platters with!

This beautiful sculpture and ceramics exhibition is running at Kalk Bay Modern until 15 July 2011, many more talented artists on display- the truth is, it was packed full of people, as you can see below and hard to get pics of all the works.

I also loved these wrought iron artworks, quite individual, three alcoves full of them- perfect for outside walls..

Amongst this wonderful collection of ceramics and sculptures was work by two of my favourites- John Bauer and Clementina van der Walt, we didn't get pics of their work on display, but below are examples of their fabulous work.
I have three little bowls from John, one of which I gave to the 'art teacher' as an anniversary present and Clementina's Irma Stern dinner service, well, I'm still dreaming about it.....

one of John Bauer's bowls

Clementina's  Irma Stern dinner service

The dinner service in Irma Stern's dining room

Friday, 17 June 2011

Lunar eclipses and Time flies

there was a brief parting of the clouds as we could glimpse the beginning
Whether it be dragons as the Chinese believed or a mystical union between the sun god and moon goddess- a lunar eclipse is a disturbing thing of wonder.
On this occasion our usually quiet sky was ablaze with lightning, booming with thunder and pouring with rain- only madmen and fools ventured out... yes- we were in this latter category.
Our friends, Time flies decided on an incidental mayhem evening with an open band practice, they didn't disappoint- it was a great evening.
Strangely on this ecliptic evening the poor 'art teachers' camera lens gave guys we need another practice evening to get some great pics.
By the time I got my little camera working, an enterprising bunch of young ones had taken over the band equipment for their own practice session- my money is on these two future rock stars...

Love the drummers dress style

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Drive by pictures- Woodstock nights

As promised, some more of  the 'art teachers' fabulous drive by pictures,. these are a few from his collection of Woodstock nights, mainly Albert road and Main road.

Love the edginess of the pictures, the contrast of the beautiful old buildings in the seedy side streets and again the movement - the transient nature of  life in the side streets.

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