Friday, September 28, 2012

Rhine Valley = Wine Valley

In the North of Germany in the wine valley lies the small village of St Goar.

the winemaker and I :-)
This region is well known for their Riesling and dessert wines, including the speciality 'Ice Wine'.

We did a wine tasting in an ancient wine cellar belonging to Familienwappen, which dates back to the 12th century. The tasting included a dry riesling, 3 dessert wines and the ice wine, which is also a sweet wine.
In order to make Ice Wine, there are a number of conditions that need to be met.
wine tasting is done out of shot glasses
The grapes are left on the branches well into winter and must be on the vine for at least 10 days when the temperatures are below -7 degrees Celcius. If this happens, the grapes are then harvested while frozen and 'Ice Wine' is made.

Visit for more information on the wine tasting.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

beer halls and pork knuckles


This central 'square' in Munich is a great place to start your food journey through the city. Admittedly if you get stuck in one of the near-by beer halls, you won't go very far.


Shops and food stalls align the square, and just around the corner is a street/market filled with food stalls, mostly containing meat. Meat in any form - sausages, slabs of bacon, cured meats. In Germany they LOVE their pork.
Its worth grabbing a couple sausages, which are served with a roll and hot mustard. Just point to a few that you like, grab a local beer and stroll around the streets.

Unlike in Cape Town or the whole of South Africa, people can openly drink on the streets and public places pretty much all over Europe.

If you have to choose a beer hall, a great one to visit is the oldest beer hall in Munich (for the history and vibe), called Hofbrauhaus. Look it up here:

The beers are only served in 1 litre steins and cost about 7 to 8 Euros. Tipping the 'big-breasted' frauline serves and the humourless male serves is very important as you want them to pay attention to you and fill up your steins at regular intervals.
The only beer that is sevre din a 500ml glass is a weiss bier (honey wheat beer). I ordered a dunkeld (dark lager) and Tim ordered the Weiss bier (which really confused our waiter as the weiss is commonly drank by ladies and the dark lager by burly, hairy men).
The Dunkeld is delicious and I am sad to report that I could only manage 2 beers (which equates to 2 litres of beer).
They have traditional live music and it's only polite to cheers and loudly say 'PROST!' with your beer glass raised. Squeeze in to a table and make strangers your new friends... German people are awesome once they have a had a couple of beers ;-)

But particularly delicious was the pork knuckle... I traditional German carnivorous meal that helps to combat the effects of the alcohol. The crispy roasted knuckle of pork served in natural gravy with a grated potato dumpling for 13Euros. Also try some of the specialty sausages if you have room...

As I write this I know that Oktoberfest is in full swing and I was lucky enough to taste the Oktoberfest beer before we left – which for some sadistic reason is stronger in alcohol than the other beer. But just in case it gets too much for the party people there, the bathrooms have vomitoriums. That's right. Places where you can vomit in order to start drinking again. 

The Heineken Experience

If you have an interest in beer culture like me, then it is worth checking out one of the coolest brewery museums around – the Heineken brewery museum. Besides an informative historic tour, visitors get an insight into actual beer making, beer tasting plus first-hand experiences bottling, stirring and grinding experiences.


Tickets are 15Euros per person and includes 2 beers. The tour will take an hour to an hour and a half. Open Daily from 11.00 till 19.30. Stadhouderskade 78, Amsterdam.

De Pijp and spare-ribs... Amsterdam

De Pijp and spare-ribs...

I didn't know much about what the cuisine in Amsterdam would be like, what was on offer or what I expected to see on all the menus.
Everyone knows about the pancakes and 'dagga' cookies... but we were after actual food. (I know some of you are thinking there isn't anything wrong with dagga cookies for starters, savoury pancakes for mains and sweet pancakes for dessert...)

So we walked around the streets of de Pijp (the local hipster, trendy, arty area directly south of Amsterdam's city centre) and popped our noses into many cafes and restaurants to see what they had on offer. Most menus are displayed (like in Paris), and one thing that popped up everywhere was 'Ribs'.
'Rib specials' were plastered on boards outside cafes... and the smell of grilled ribs wafted through the air, tempting us, until we finally sat down to find out what all the fuss was about.
For an average price of 15Euros, you can get a 'rib special', which includes salad and chips.
The portions are large and the ribs were delicious, so we recommend trying them.
rib special and Brand-Up beer at Flinck restaurant
Pair them with a local beer and enjoy the evening.

Something else to look out for in De Pijp is the Albert Cuyp market. The daily market (which is over 100 years old) is centrally located just beyond the Museum Quarter and is open 6 days a week (except Sundays). The market boasts a mix of food, clothes, knick-knacks and random gifts, but is worth checking out, especially for some cheese tasting and cool fresh fruits. If the weather is good, pick up some items from the market and head to Vondel Park for a picnic. 

Albert Cuyp market
map showing De Pijp area

Flinck restaurant in De Pijp

picnic in VondelPark

Where to get micro-brewery beer in Amsterdam: Café Genootschap der Geneugten

Amsterdam is the home of Heinekin and Amstel, but if you want to try some local micro-brewed beer, pop into Cafe Genootschap der Geneugten on Kerkstraat 54.
When we went they had three microbeers on tap and a number of Belgium and German speciality beers as well. Some of them are quite strong, so we advise asking about this before hand (about 8%). Expect to pay between 4 and 6 Euros for a small beer (about 250ml).
My favourite was the De Manke Monnik, brewed by De Bekeerde Suster.
What I also loved about this cute little spot a little off the main drag is that we were the only tourists there, the rest were locals. There is pavement seating for beautiful days and cosy indoor seating for those more common wintery days. 

Foodie vibes from overseas

I recently just got back from my honeymoon trip in Europe. My husband and I visited a few countries and indulged wickedly in beer, wine and food everywhere we went. Thus said I have a few posts I would like to out up regarding some cool little food discoveries we made on our travels.
Having said that, we have also realized that eating out in Cape Town is seriously affordable and that we have really good value for money in South Africa.
We were paying average prices of R65 a (small) beer and at least R150-R200 each for a lunch-time meal, where as in Cape Town prices are normally half that.
We found that wine, funnily enough was not that much more expensive that what we pay for wine in South Africa and we tried Italian, French, Chilean and Argentinian wine in Europe.

Drinking Italian wine in Venice

Look out for the next couple of posts on where and how we teased, tantalized and satisfied our appetites.

October food & drinks pages House & Garden magazine

The October issue of House & Garden magazine has been out since Monday and here are my food & drinks news pages... There's something for everyone: food trends, new cheese products, bubbly with a difference, restaurant news and events. Most notably is the inaugural Secret Food Festival taking place at the end of October... more info here:

Friday, September 21, 2012

First ever South African edition of Gourmet Magazine

We got our copies today... and I can't believe how the past few months of work have finally come together so beautifully in this magazine.
It the first ever South African edition of Conde Nast Gourmet magazine (brought to you by the House & Garden team)...
It is officially on sale from 1 October in stores country wide and from today at the Good Food & Wine Show Johannesburg.
It is the Spring/Summer issue and will be on sale until December.
Once it is officially out, I'll post the pages that I did so you guys can have a look....
Until then - here is the (low res pdf version) cover:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wine tasting and brunch at Haute Cabrière

As promised, here is a write up on my first visit to Haute Cabrière, which I did on Saturday during the Franschoek uncorked festival.

I have been a fan of their Chardonnay/ Pinot Noir blend for years, and of course their Pierre Jordan bubblies, but it was quite an education to meet the owner and explore the cellar, learning about the history of the farm and MCC culture in South Africa.

The bonus of course was watching the owner sabrage the bottles of bubbly and sample Pinot Noirs from varying years.

We arrived just in time for brunch, which included a lovely continental platter with mini croissants, deli meats and local cheese plus bits of strawberries and gooseberries. This comes with a glass of Pierre Jordan Brut.

I then opted to try the oyster and bubbly pairing, which my husband (OMG, can't believe I can say that now) shared. It includes six oysters, done different way, and three bubblies, a 100% chardonnay, a 100% pinot noir and a 60%-40% blend.

The restaurant is warm and cosy thanks to a great fireplace and the room has good acoustics, so I'll be looking out to see whether they have live music evenings this summer...

cellar tour with the owner

cellar tour

I also tried a wine called  TRANQUILLE for the first time, a 'lighter in alcohol (11.5%)' aka: a breakfast wine, that's made up of 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, for only R45 a bottle – it's a delicious steal! The FINE DE JOURDAN POTSTILL BRANDY is also worth a tasting, for R195 per bottle (makes for a nice gift).

cellar tour
cellar tour

For more info on the farm, visit
Restuarant: 021 876 3688
Tatsing Room: 021 876 8500
outside Haute Cab

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Enter your family/ favourite recipe and win a trip to Dubai plus cash $$$

GOURMET SA is running a competition for amatear chefs/home cooks/budding foodies, ie most of you who read this blog (otherwise, why are you reading this??)...

Read the details below:

Enter your winning recipe and stand a chance to win R20 000 in cash and a LG Charcoal Lightwave Oven and the opportunity to be entered into the Middle East Africa 'LG Life Tastes Good' Championship in Dubai. Just follow these easy steps and you too can become a famous chef.

Step 1:
Team of two non-professional chefs.

Step 2:
Prepare two family dishes along with your yummylicious recipe of how you create them.

Step 3:
Tell us why you cook the way you do – was it mum's favourite, ouma's special pot, or great-great-grandma's secret sauce?

Step 4:
Enter your recipe and send photos

All you have to do is complete the recipe card and entry form, which you can download.
Send your completed entry form to
The best recipes will be invited to compete at the Good Food & Wine Show Johannesburg, from 21-24 September 2012.

1st prize: R20 000 cash and each team member will win a LG Charcoal Lightwave Oven plus entry into the Middle East Africa LG Life Tastes Good Championship.

2nd prize: R5000 cash and each team member will win a LG Charcoal Lightwave Oven.

3rd & 4th: Each team member will win a LG Charcoal Lightwave Oven.

For terms and conditions or for more information go to or