Archive for October, 2009

Peninsula School Feeding Association

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Reuben and I recently spent time sharing some of our our cooking know-how, with the Peninsula School Feeding Association, when we prepared a nutritious and cost-effective meal for 1500 of the students they support.

<i>Image Courtesy of Bettina N (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bframe/)</i>

Image Courtesy of Bettina N (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bframe/)

The Peninsula School Feeding Association is a fantastic Non-Profit Organisation that operates off the premise that – for a country to succeed – education is vital but, they quite rightly believe, that you can’t effectively teach a hungry child. So – to make a lasting difference to the effectiveness of education in the Western Cape – the Peninsula School Feeding Association provides nutritious and cost-light meals to hungry children in primary schools, high schools and and special-needs schools.

The Best of Boston Restaurants

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

I’m in Boston at the moment and I am having a wonderful time and I have managed, with a little help from a few friends, to scope out the Boston food scene.

Breakfast a Sofra Bakery and Cafe

Breakfast a Sofra Bakery and Cafe

There are lots of great places to eat including: Garden at the Cellar, Catch, Via Matta, Craigie on Main (for drinks and cocktails), Myers & Chang, Sofra and B&G Oysters – but there are two that I’d like to briefly chat about.

First up is Toro the Boston tapas bar. They take no bookings, and this doesn’t change no matter who you are! You’ll end up waiting at least an 1h45 for a table … and people wait – cramped and all – without complaining, they just enjoy the vibe. The Toro hostess was fantastic and with all her ‘why I deserve to skip to the top of the list‘ stories I’m sure she’ll be writing a bestseller in the near future.

Then there is Oleana. Here the food is really interesting and delicious; and they also have excellent vegetarian options which – I think – is often something lacking in most restaurants. All the steaks (non-vegetarian of course) have the farm of origin listed on the menu and the same goes for the majority of vegetables. I really enjoyed knowing exactly where my dinner had come from; and I think that going forward this going to be more than just a fad, I think it’s going to be a long term niche trend.

Eating at Vite

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Our dinner – at Vite il ristorante di San Patrignano – was amazing; a fantastic meal in the most terrific venue. All the ingredients used, in the five course we were treated to, came from the community – the meat, the vegetables, the cheese, the mother yeast, the honey, the olive oil and the wine are all produced on the property.

Our starters included white Italian rice, smoked cheese, smoked “Mora” (a type of small pig) and a wine reduction for the farm wines. This was followed by a trio of meat: lamb (clearly not south African), guinea fowl (delicious) and more “Mora” (which was absolutely spectacular). Caramelised figs – from the farm – with three cheeses: a Pecorino, a plain and a classic; then the same cheeses aged in wooden wine-casks with hay, flowers, grass and then a Tale Gio (soft cows milk). Dessert was a pomegranate sauve with a pear cake and ice cream made from the skin of the cocoa bean.

And if dinner wasn’t mind-blowing enough they also have the most breathtaking wine cellar with a selection boasting: Château Margaux, 1900 Porto, magnums of Krug and more.

San Patingnano

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Believe it or not, little towns like Rimini really battle with traffic (As we discovered first hand)!

On the first day of the show we only got back to the hotel around 20h00 and were informed that we need to be back on the coach by 20h45 for dinner. At this time of the evening, after a full day of work, the question often asked is “do I really want to go?”. Well, in this instance, I am so pleased we decided to go! Because we were taken to a restaurant situated in an old Monastery in Rimini.

This is no ordinary restaurant. Instead it’s a life changing experience – one that touches the mind, soul, heart, and the taste buds!

The restaurant – Vite – is situated in an institution (San Patingnano) that aids addicts and others that need help; from drug addicts and alcoholics to the homeless struggling to find their way in life or those that are just down and out. These individuals (men only) are taken into San Patingnano to learn a trade, make friends and discover how to make themselves effective members of a community.

The programme offered is three and a half years and, as a program participant, you do not leave the property and you do not recieve phone calls. You cannot smoke, you recieve no funds or money. All your necessities are supplied – as the institution is self sufficient – from the soap to wash with to the cleaning materials.

San Patingnano is consistently making a world of difference to a group of individuals. The visit was uplifting, inspiring and – I must admit – it’s going to drives me to do more in our own community.

Inspiration aside we also experience a five course dinner – at the Vite the San Patingnano restaurant – and it was remarkable. So good that it deserves it’s own blog post.

Vite

Le Quartier Français visits Italy

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Neil, Annemarie and I were invited, by South African Tourism, to give the South African pavilion – at the TTG Plus Sudafrika workshop in Rimini – a South African flavour. We left SA with our suitcases stuffed full of Neil’s charcuterie, and other ingredients, so we could turn Italian ostrich neck into beautiful tortellini with a SA twist. Our tortellini, and other dishes, will all be experienced this weekend. Which is very exciting!

Yes it was long trip – but it was definitely worth it especially considering that the end result was us cooking in Italy – it was also a trip full of comical delays.

Comical Delay 1:

When we boarded the plane we all got as comfortable as we could, in our airline seats, and waited for take off … and we waited … and we waited … and nothing seemed to happen. We were heavily delayed thanks to Student Lucia from Sicily.

Student Lucia from Sicily:

With no money, and on a rebate ticket, she managed to book her luggage in and then get lost at OR Tambo.

After a fair amount of waiting, her luggage was taken off the plane, the stairs were wheeled away and it looked like our Italian cooking adventure was finally going to begin. But no! Poor student Lucia from Sicily, with no money and a rebate ticket, found the plane and clearly begged for forgiveness (or what ever else it is they do in Sicily). The stairs were wheeled back, her suitcase re-loaded and – an hour after boarding had officially closed – Student Lucia from Sicily, with no money and a rebate ticket, sat down in 56G.

Pretty funny, but only if you do not have a connecting flight to catch.

Comical Delay 2:

The five of us – hilariously – did have a connecting flight to catch and we made it, if only just! Escorted through the belly of Frankfurt airport, by a very serious looking German, we were worried that they’d sniffed the lovely lamb ham in our luggage and were whisking us off for severe (and very serious) interrogation. But we needn’t have worried because our luggage, and the lovely lamb ham, would – thanks to Student Lucia from Sicily -never make it in time for our plane to Milan.

After all the delays, luggage missing, connecting flights almost missed and more delays (while waiting for our luggage and lovely lamb ham to arrive) I’d like to say a big thank you to Student Lucia from Sicily. It looks like you had a fabulous time in our wonderful South Africa; and we certainly hope to go home with equally impressive stories about friendly service and accommodating people after our visit to your country.

Sel de la Terre

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I recently had dinner at the Sel de la Terre Back Bay restaurant – which presents its diners with very good, very simple food. One of the great things they had on offer was that you could choose to have one of each starter or a sampling of the whole lot.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this, restaurants seem to have become more flexible in terms of how their guests experience the menu. I wonder if this is just a USA trend or something that is starting to appear worldwide?

Sharing is Caring

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

If you’re like me, and you like to try lots of dishes, you’ll love the new focus on plenty of small plates to share. Some of these dishes (to share) offer more homely cuisine – like the iCi style roast chicken for two – except over here it’s not chicken for two, but rather a 40oz rib eye to share.

Image Courtesy of jek in the box (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jek-a-go-go/3948329368/)

Image Courtesy of jek in the box (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jek-a-go-go/3948329368/)

Neil Jewell’s charcuterie is on trend!

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Charcuterie is very “in” in New York; so Bread & Wine, Neil Jewell and his charcuterie are right on trend. Great news for us in South Africa because it means we don’t have to mission all the way over to New York or Boston for the best!

Instead we can pop out to Maze, Caveau or iCi for a delicious Neil Jewell charcuterie fix.

Neil Jewell's Charcuterie

The Le Quartier Français Franschhoek Uncorked Special

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

This coming weekend – on the 10th and 11th of October 2009 – Franschhoek will belatedly usher in Spring with the third annual Franschhoek Uncorked Festival.

Wineries, throughout the Franschhoek Valley, will be putting forward their unique offerings; and everything from new Franschhoek wine releases, old award-winners, wine-blending courses, strongest-arm competitions, food markets and more will be available.

Even we’re going to be doing our bit for Franschhoek Uncorked!

At Le Quartier Français we’re offering guests a weekend-long Uncorked Special.From Friday the 9th of October to Sunday the 11th of October 2009 stay at Le Quartier Français for R895 per person per night*.

The Uncorked Special includes our spectacular breakfast – where you’ll meet-and-eat our world famous sticky buns – and a Franschhoek Uncorked wine tasting passport.

P.S. Remember to visit Môreson over the Franschhoek Uncorked weekend. Bread & Wine Vineyard Restaurant has the most delectable food market on offer and Môreson will be releasing their new range of delightful Miss Molly wines.

*Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply.