Friday, October 4, 2013

Good Food and Wine Show 2013

I had the good fortune of obtaining 2 tickets to the Good Food and Wine Show.  Included were 2 complimentary tickets to the Woolworths Real Food Theatre and a choice of viewing any celebrity chef in person.  I invited Saaleha to join me and we opted to attend Gary Mehigan's show since we love Masterchef Australia and let's face it, the judges on that show truly make it wonderful.

Now I've never entered a cookoff before and even though I've watched it countless of times on Masterchef Australia and its South African counterparts, I still felt ill prepared.
When we finally got to Woolworths Real Food Theatre, I was excited to see that it was pretty well organised.  Kamini Pather, the winner of Masterchef South Africa 2013, was our host and she went around talking to all of us and made us feel comfortable.  I'm not used to a lot of chatting while cooking and I felt a bit out of my comfort zone when I had to talk into the microphone!

Anyway, our mystery basket was waiting for us.  Eggs were the main theme and we also had a block of cheddar and bok choy to go along with it. 

What on Earth is 'Bok Choy'?
I looked at this vegetable and I couldn't figure it out.  Apparently it's some sort of Chinese cabbage. Who knew?
Luckily Saaleha had a fantastic idea in mind and she got to it.  She came up with souffle's (genius!) and then we realised we didn't have any ramekin's, so we improvised with these little metal cups they gave us.  
We decided to do a second item, but I had an absolute brain freeze and couldn't think of anything.
Luckily I went over to the table filled with various ingredients and then decided to make Chocolate, Pecan nut and cranberry those small tiny metal cups.  Some of our items didn't cook up in time, so we improvised and Saaleha came up with the most amazing soft, egg mixture which she dubbed 'soft tops'.  It melted in my mouth.  


This was our result:

 Afterward we all gathered around with the other attendees and ate our food.  It was not a competition and there were no prizes, but it was a lot of fun and I now have loads of empathy for the Masterchef contestants!

Grater plate
Later on, we walked around a bit, bought a whole lot of goodies including this awesome grater plate for garlic, ginger, nutmeg, etc. and the most amazing toffee from Sweet Temptations.  I was also quite impressed by the Basilur Tea company.  I adore their packaging! 
Basilur Tea

Before leaving we just had to make a stop over at the Lazeeza's stand as their custard slices always make me salivate.  I grabbed some custard slices, and their must have burfee cupcakes.  Delicious! 

Sweet Temptations Toffee

If you follow Masterchef Australia, you would probably be quite appreciative of Gary Mehigan's humour, and wisdom.  He is brilliant in the kitchen and I am so glad I watched his show.  He made a delicious looking prawn ravioli dish with prawn oil.  Unfortunately I didn't get to taste it, but it looked amazing.  I love that he used simple and few ingredients to create a wonderful dish.

Gary Mehigan in action

Images courtesy of Saaleha from ShootCake (Thanks for coming with me Saals!)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I ♥ South Africa : Garden Route Holiday

My husband (Z) and I decided that it’s time we do a ‘local is lekker’ trip and so we decided to finally take that trip down to the Garden Route. We found great deals online which included our accommodation at the luxurious The Plettenberg Hotel and The Conrad Pezula.  We paid a really low rate and both hotels had some great specials because we booked just before the mad December rush.

We flew with SAA and I hated it!  The flight was terrifying as it was a small aeroplane and the weather was really bad.  When we landed in George it was storming and quite miserable.  We just headed straight to the hotel in Plettenberg Bay and pretty much prayed that the weather would improve.  The next morning it was really windy, but at least there was sunshine.  The concierge recommended that we take in other sights, as the conditions on the beach would be too windy and not really safe for swimming.  And so we decided to do the long trek up to The Cango Caves which was outside Oudtshoorn.  First of all, the beautiful mountain terrain had me gasping at every turn as I fell in love with the scenery.  I must admit though, the moment we got over the one side of the Outeniqua mountains, you could just see the difference in climate and vegetation.  It was a lot drier and wasn’t as green.  It is after all the Klein Karoo! After what seemed like hours of driving (it wasn’t) we finally reached The Cango Caves.  These are beautiful caves which have formed in a limestone ridge which runs in the Swartberg mountain.  The stalactites and stalagmites (the rocky ‘daggers’ that have formed in the caves) of the caves created beautiful imagery and designs in the caves.  It’s definitely worth the visit!

On our way back, we stopped at the Cango Wildlife Ranch.  They have some amazing animals there and I was enthralled with the male white lion.  He was such a majestic creature.  The great thing about the Cango Wildife Ranch is that they allow you to touch their resident cheetahs.  However, a thunderstorm quickly put a stop to that.  I did get to see beautiful tiger cubs playing and sleeping so that was a definite highlight.

When we returned to Plettenberg Bay, the weather brightened up and we enjoyed the rest of our stay at Plett just soaking up the sun and enjoying the waves.  The water was a bit cold but nevertheless, we still enjoyed it.  

After a few days in Plettenberg, we headed to our final destination: Knysna.  The Conrad Pezula IS AMAZING!  Upon arrival we were offered a wide selection of coffees and the beauty therapists gave us free hand massages while we relaxed and waited to check it.  I had a wonderful spa treatment and the food and other amenities here were great!  I wish we could have stayed here much longer!  The hotel is not situated on the beach, but there is a shuttle that takes you down to Noetzie Beach.  Noetzie Beach is a bit of schlep to get to if you don’t have access to the Pezula estate.  It’s down a steep incline, which only allows one car at a time to go down.  Fortunately it looks like only residents of the beach and the Pezula hotel are allowed to go down there with a vehicle, so there’s no major risk of an accident.  Once we got there it was absolutely breathtaking.  We felt we were on our own little isolated island.  What I loved about Noetzie Beach were the most incredible ‘castles’.  Some of them were privately owned or leased to the Conrad Pezula for their use for guests.  It’s a sort of relaxing place where you can just chill and read a book or play a few board games – which they supply.  You can even stay there if you wish.  While we were heading down to the beach, and having a tour of the castle, there was a large CRASH in the upstairs bedroom and when we went to investigate, we came face to face with a HUGE baboon!  He quickly sped away but it was a bit shocking.  Our host explained that they sometimes sneak into the castle if there’s an open window or door and try to take food.  They don’t really harass people, but they’re always on the lookout for food.  It was quite hilarious to witness!  The beach itself feels isolated and I loved it. It was so beautiful and I could just sit there and relax all day.

Before we left the Garden Route, we visited the gorgeous Tsitsikamma National Park and went on a few short trails.  It was beautiful and I really enjoyed the scenery and walk over the ocean on a mini-bridge.  I know that the Otter Trail normally goes through this area, so I can imagine what a wonderful and challenging experience that must be!  We went past the Bloukrans Bridge which has the highest bungy jump in the world, but we were too chicken to try it out!

I’ve left the best experience of this trip for the end.  My wonderful Z, knowing how upset I was about missing my session with the cheetahs earlier, booked us a session to WALK with Cheetahs at Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness and Rehabilitation Centre.  And by that I mean,  tie them on a leash and take them for a walk for an hour. I WAS THRILLED! OVER THE MOON!  This has got to be one of my favourite experiences ever! It definitely tops my swimming with dolphins experience (I shall blog about that soon). I practically cried with joy! I turned into Elmyra. I just wanted to hug the cheetah and go all crazy, but of course safety first!  I was the first one taking a hold of the cheetah while others were still terrified.  What a wonderful experience.  The cheetah allowed us to touch him, pet him and to walk next to him.  It was such a privilege to be able to do that.  What a great way to end our holiday.  It was amazing and I’m so glad we got to experience it.

This post has been entered into the  Travelstart Blogger Experience Contest 

Monday, July 8, 2013

I ♥ Books: Anjum's New Indian and Make it Moroccan

On Friday morning I was on my way to upgrade my cellphone (yes hello iPhone 5 FINALLY) when I stumbled upon the Exclusive Books sale.  I had a few minutes to spare before the cell phone retailer opened up and so I decided to browse the sale items while I waited.

I'm glad I did.

Look at what I scored: Make it Moroccan by Hassan M'Souli (Gourmand 2009 winner - Best African cookbook in the World) and Anjum's New Indian by Anjum Anand, host of 'Indian Food Made Easy'.

Make it Moroccan

Make it Moroccan

Anjum's New Indian

Anjum's New Indian

During a sale I tend to first check out the recipe section as it's a section that I both admire and fear at the same time.  I love food, but I balk at the idea of making complicated meals.  I try to keep my meals simple and focus on keeping it easy and stress-free and that's why I adore chefs such as Donna Hay.  Even though I bought these two books on a whim, I'm captivated by the colour of turmeric and the boldness of the tajine.  I can't wait to try these recipes out.