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Yellowtail in a perfect pickle

Pickled fish is one of those things people almost instinctively turn their noses up at. Sometimes some of the best things in life are just taken for granted. It’s the prophet in his own country syndrome – you know him so well that you just can’t believe he really could be such a clever dude.

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Commercial jelly is beret beret nice

Commercial jelly is one of those things one doesn’t admit to owning, lest one’s foodie friends snigger while secretly remembering the taste of jelly as a child and wishing they could eat some right there and then. Commercial jelly is a good barometer of pretentiousness.

Restaurants

The Common Room replaces Ici

A new breeze has shuffled through Le Quartier Francais at Franschhoek where owner Susan Huxter and chef Margot Janse have tweaked the premises of the former Ici and revitalised it as The Common Room, a place where Franschhoek locals (and visitors) can hang out.

Christmas

Terrine, the mini-skirt of the kitchen

A slice of a terrine, served as a starter with crusty bread and a dollop of a sweetly spicy relish, is as French as a downturned nose with a garnish of raised eyebrow. And it’s great as a Christmas starter…

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Cassoulet, as French as boules and berets

Cramped for space in my dwindling kitchen – it gets smaller with each new purchase – I cunningly balanced the book, open to the recipe for a French cassoulet, on top of a clean frying pan which was on an oven plate that wasn’t switched on.

Restaurants

Reuben Riffel steps in where Gordon Ramsay stepped out

Reuben Riffel came of age in the sunny Cape winter of 2010. The Franschhoek poor boy-made-good has stepped out of the shadows of others who had bolstered his burgeoning career as a chef and restaurateur, and stepped into clear sunlight.

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Top chefs to open new Cape Winelands eatery

Two of the Cape’s most highly-rated chefs are to open a new country restaurant in Somerset West within the next few weeks.

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Ducking the French paradox

Raymond Blanc being very French and very precise, in that stubbornly Gallic way, he insists they be cooked at 85C, which means bringing the dish to that temperature in a 95C oven, which sounds more Irish than French. Whatever – being South African of Yorkshire stock with Irish habits, I cooked it at 100C and kept an eye on it.

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Pigging out with tamarind and lacquer

Pigs, or hogs, as Americans prefer to call them, are said to be the animal to which we are most closely related. This is a strange assertion. Surely we’re more like baboons? I know some people who are.

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Franglikaans and a touch of Italy in Franschhoek

In that quiet that follows, there is the sound of a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks badmouthing his girlfriend. On a pavement corner there is a trio of coloured boys singing in perfect harmony, with a hat at their feet, while bands of tourists march by unseeing, with their eyes on the next gourmet thrill.

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