Monday, April 29, 2013

Simple Mushroom Risotto Recipe

Last week I was craving mushroom risotto – perhaps it was after recently indulging in Society Bistros risotto at Taste of Cape Town that inspired my palate... Under my husbands persuasion and the fact that I found dried porcini mushrooms at my local Spar, I had no more excuses, and so, set to work.

The mushroom risotto was well received both at home and at work, and as a few people have asked for the recipe, here it is:

Serves 4 good helpings

- 2 to 3 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra if necessary)
- 500g mixed mushrooms (I used 250g button mushrooms, 250g portabellini or brown mushrooms)
salt and freshly ground pepper
- 350g arborio rice
- 150ml dry white wine (Chardonnay and mushrooms are good friends)
- 2 cubes of chicken stock dissolved into 800ml boiling water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- fresh thyme and parsley
- freshly grated Parmesan

Soaked  the porcini mushrooms in a cup of boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
In the meantime, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil in a large pot or heavy-based pan until softened over a medium heat.
Add the mixed mushrooms and fry until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper.
Add the raw rice and stir to coat with the mushrooms and olive oil.
Pour in the wine and simmer, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed.
Drain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the liquid, and set aside.
Add the mushroom liquid to the rice. Stir until absorbed and then start adding the chicken stock, a ladleful at a time, ensuring that the stock is absorbed by the rice before adding the next ladleful.
Continue adding the stock in this way, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is plump and tender. Make sure the rice is not too sticky or mushy. You may not want to use all the stock. I only used about 600ml of it in the end.

Once you are happy with the consistency, roughly chop the now-hydrated porcnini mushrooms and stir them into the rice mixture.
Add the butter and stir through. Add the roughly chopped herbs and freshly grated Parmesan, stirring through. Serve with some extra Parmesan and herbs for garnish.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Taste of Cape Town 2013 wrap up

I had so much fun at this year's Taste of Cape Town food and wine festival. I managed to go on two days (Friday and Saturday), as there is so much to taste it's hardly possible to do it all in one session.
Here are a series of photographs showcasing how it went...

Terrence and Bubbles introduced me to some lovely organic Waverley Hills wines

The Bain's Whisky bar was a fun spot, with canapes and pretty promo girls adding to the attraction

Hermanuspietersfontein winery had some great red blends

The Lindt chocolate stand made incredible lindt hot chocolate to combat the chilly evening and, of course, there were tons of truffles and lindt balls on offer

I absolutely love the Waverley Hills organic Viognier, Semillon, Chardonnay blend

Daniela's Macarons came in a variety of flavours

Ernie Els wines - loved the 2010 Proprietor's Blend

tarts and cupcakes from Queen of Tarts – their chocolate cupcakes were to die for!

Locally made vodka and Lemoncello – the chilli-infused vodka has major WOW factor

New product find: Jorgensen's Distillery are now making bitters. Try the Buchu Bitters for a South African twist
Dawn and I were flashing bottles of Primitiv vodka to passersby.

The dishes from The Brasserie: French onion soup with Gruyere croute, West Coast mussels with tomato and chilli and the best of all was the scoth egg with smoked paprika aioli

Loved the Wildekrans Shiraz

Thin slices of line fish with spring onions and ginger, drizzled with hot sesame oil & finished with a soy reduction and wasabi mayonnaise from 96 Winery Road restaurant - yum yum!

Checking out the risotto from 96 Winery Road behind the scenes

incorrigible... What a way to end Friday night!
Duck, edamame bean, five spice, potpourri risotto from De Grendal

My tasting partners in crime

'Message in a Bottle' dish from the pop-up restaurant: The Boat House

The De Grendal wine guys were quite generous with their tastings...

Oyster shucking at The Boat House restaurant pop-up stand

Loving the Linguine with prawns, rocket, roasted pine nuts and cherry tomatoes
tossed in olive oil, garlic and chilli – from Il leone Mastrantonio

And another great dish from Il Leone: Flash-fried calamari with homemade tartar sauce

Fyndraai Restaurant served up (from top): Venison Wild Rosemary Pie With onion marmalade and sweetcorn salsa; a Tiger Prawn & Calamari Breyani with citrus buchu flavours (which was delish!) and a Karoo "lams sout-ribbetjie"
Braised with wild herbs & served wild garlic potato custard

The Sophie 'Le Rouge' red blend was great

Royal Thai Quail Curry Quail lollipop, lemongrass gnocchi, grilled pineapple pearls from Savour Restaurant at
15 on Orange Hotel

Asara served up gourmet burgers paired with matching wines from the estate. The foi gras and
cranberry burger went well with the rose and the mushroom truffle burger was excellent with the red

Societi Bistro's legendary mushroom risotto rounded off the night well! I'm drooling just thinking about it!

The last activity of the night included learning how to make some simple,
but tasty canapes at the Pick n Pay Wine and Canape experience

Here's what chef Tjart taught us to make at the Wine and Canape experience theatre. From left: roast tomato, basil pesto tart, beef cube dunked in Japanese mayonnaise with micro herbs and baby raddish and a raspberry cheesecake. Each canape was paired with a different white wine

hen party tea time treats

I recently made cupcakes and cake for a hen party that I thought I'd share with you... I've been having a lot of fun experimenting with fondant, making flowers etc and there is so much to still learn!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cape Town Autumn/Winter Restaurant Specials 2013

20-somethings are always on the hunt for a good deal and dining out in Winter in Cape Town is such a pleasure as many top-notch restaurants put on winter menu specials, tasting menus and bargains like 2 for 1’s or meals that include wine. So get cosy and comfortable, book a seat by the fireplace and check out some of these incredible foodie deals from restaurants that I regularly visit and love:

Go Gourmet on a Budget:

Terroir Restaurant (Winelands, Stellenbosch)
The Winter Special includes a choice of starters, mains and dessert with dishes changing according to seasonal availability of ingredients. The winter menu offers excellent value for money as two courses costs only R225 and three courses costs R255. Both deals include a complimentary glass of award-winning Kleine Zalze wine to set the mood.
Regulars and newcomers to this award-winning restaurant can take advantage of Terroir’s Winter Special menu featuring the likes of gratin of pink fir potato, brie, figs, rocket and mustard or butternut soup with brown butter ice cream and mushroom toasts for Starters.  Main courses include a catch of the day with crushed potatoes, spinach, seared lemon squid and winter ratatouille or classic aged sirloin with Asian BBQ, crispy potato and roasted onion petals. Vegetarians are always catered for with a sublime tomato tart with braised baby vegetable condiment, goat cheese and olives.  Dessert options include a warm soaked Savarin with catalan cream and poached pears, caramel and grated hazelnut.
La Mouette
*Offered from Monday to Saturday at lunch and dinner, the Winter Special is available from 2 May 2013 until the end of September 2013.
021 880-8167 or email

La Mouette
(Sea Point, Cape Town)
Autumn Menu, 6 courses for R185 per person, with wines, R295.
1. Sweet potato soup tomato harissa, yoghurt, truffle and cheese croquettes
2. Butternut and fontina raviolis butternut purée, pickled apple, sage noisette
3. Pan fried line fish fricassee of gnocchi, carrot emulsion, capers, aubergine puree, braised beef
Or Beetroot tartare smoked goats cheese, hazelnuts, toast
4. Roasted chicken caramelised onions, wilted spinach, mash potato, thyme jus
Or Mushroom risotto Parmesan foam, mushroom ‘caviar’ and crispy mushrooms
5. Waldorf salad Gorgonzola, celeriac puree, green apple jelly, candied walnuts, grapes
6. Chocolate orange chocolate ganache, orange sorbet, almond finaciers, orange puree
*Please note the Tasting Menus are available for the whole table only, menus will change throughout the season – starts 2 April and runs through winter.

Haute Cabriere

Haute Cabriere (Franschhoek)
Haute Cabrière Restaurant’s winter-inspired Table d’Haut 4-course lunch offering consists of a carefully compiled selection of classic comfort-foods such as a chicken and mushroom broth with hand rolled noodles paired with the Haute Cabrière Chardonnay Pinot Noir, or a springbok cottage pie paired the Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir 2009. The meal is rounded off with a delicious dessert to beat the winter chills.
Table d’Haut lunch for R195 or R295 with wines, from Tuesday - Sunday.
Pinot Noir Tasting Menu:
Tokara Restaurant
This classic 6-course tasting menu showcases the exquisite versatility of the elegant Pinot Noir cultivar. Guests are taken on a journey through different styles and vintages - including some rare finds from the vinoteque, which are only available from the Estate. This culinary adventure begins with an aperitif, the glorious Pierre Jourdan Ratafia paired with duck liver parfait, blue berry jelly and cardamom brioche. Thereafter, the “real” Pinot Noir experience starts with the Haute Cabrière Unwooded Pinot Noir 2011 which is served with a soy prawn consommé, peanut crusted salmon and edamame salad. The signature Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose MCC – which is 100% Pinot Noir – follows with steamed mussels in a truffled Belle Rose cream and saffron parpadelle. Thereafter, guests are treated to Porcini and bacon gnocchi, which - like the main course of basil crusted lamb boulangere potatoes, pickled crab salad - will be honoured with a glass of the rare and highly desirable Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir from the Estate’s vintage library. To finish, the sublime 2009 vintage Pinot Noir will be paired with a trio of Valrhona chocolate desserts.
Served Friday & Saturday for dinner. R595 per person including wine.
021 876-3688

Tokara Restaurant (Stellenbosch)
Richard Carstens is one of my food heroes and winter time is the perfect opportunity to try his 3-course Chef’s Menu, including of 2 glasses of wine, at R275 per person, from 1 May. Tuesday - Sunday lunch, Tuesday - Saturday dinner. Currently on his menu are dishes including the Duck prosciutto with pressure cooked sesame seeds, cucumber, goji berries, coconut tiradito & yuzu; Beef tartar and sashimi with katsuoboshi sorbet, daikon, tomato & red pepper sauce; and the Korean marinated beef fillet with kimchi, broccoli, pomme anna & tom yum jus. Hmmmmm.... can't wait to visit the restaurant again!
*Just note, Tokara's annual closure takes place from 20 - 30 May.
021 885-2550

Conservatory at Cellars-hohenort
Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef, Peter Tempelhoff and Head Chef, Delia Harbottle, have developed a Winter Special Menu in The Conservatory Restaurant. Focusing on seasonally influenced ingredients from the gardens and beyond, each dish is masterfully executed by the chefs and then skilfully paired with wines from the region.
Two course R155 (Including a 250ml carafe of wine R195)
Three course R190 (Including a 250ml carafe of wine R255)
GARDEN VEGETABLE SOUP - prepared daily from seasonal organic vegetables
DUCK LIVER PARFAIT - toasted brioche, baby leaf salad, red onion marmalade
BEETROOT & SMOKED CHÈVRE - peartizer jelly, pecan waldorf salad, whole grain mustard dressing
WILD MUSHROOM & MASCARPONE RISOTTO - parmesan crisps, courgettes, oven dried tomatoes
SEARED SPRINGBOK RUMP - celeriac puree, braised red cabbage, boulangére potato, madeira jus
PAN ROAST LOCAL FISH - pearl barley risotto, tender stem broccoli, saffron velouté
STARKING APPLE TART TATIN - butterscotch sauce, madagascan vanilla pod ice cream
TRADITIONAL CAPE MALVA PUDDING - crème anglaise, amarula ice cream, brandy tuille
SOUTH AFRICAN ARTISAN CHEESES - pepper biscuits & homemade fig salami
Booking is essential: Quote ‘Cellars Winter Special’ when booking your table. Valid from 15 May to 31 August 2013. Available for both lunch and dinner.
021 794 2137

Decadent Deals:

La Boheme Wine Bar & Bistro (Sea Point, Cape Town)
Two-course special (starter + main) R100, Three-course special (starter + main + dessert) R125.
Chalk-board menu, which changes daily. French bistro classics with a twist. Their pork belly, rabbit gnocchi, chicken-liver parfait and beef carpaccio are regular favourites of mine. Good winelist with great wines by the glass. *This is an ongoing special, 021 434 8797

Beluga (Green Point, Cape Town)
5 Rooms at the Alphen Hotel
Half price sushi, dimsum and cocktails all day Sunday, and from 12noon-7pm other weekdays. Great for an after-work dinner.
021 418-2948
Sevruga (V&A Waterfront, Cape Town)
Half price sushi and dim sum Monday to Saturday, 12noon-6pm; 25% off sushi and dim sum on Sundays 12noon-2pm, half price on Sunday 2pm- 6pm. Nice for lunches during a shopping trip.
021 421-5134
5 Rooms (Constantia)
This restaurant in the suburbs at Alphen Boutique Hotel offers incredible food in a cosy environment with a great fireplace. 3-course dinner R200. 021 795-6313

Beer & Burger Bargains:

Beer tasting at Saints Burger Joint
My husband loves eating burgers, so this next section is dedicated to finding Gourmet Burger goodness at great value.

Sotano by Caveau (Mouille Point)
2 lamb burgers for the price of one on Wednesdays from 5pm! (R90 gets you two renowned lamb burgers made from free-range mince topped with a tower of homemade tzatziki, hummus, avocado, lettuce and tomato, which is served open-faced on a freshly baked slice of rosemary focaccia). Sotano also recently had an interior renovation and now boasts two fireplaces.
021 433-1757

Saints burger Joint (Gardens) Order 2 flatbreads and pay for one on Mondays, or order 2 Saints classic burgers and pay for one on Thursdays. There are also beer and cocktail specials from 6pm.
021 424-0030

Hudson's Burger Joint (Greenpoint and Gardens)
Great spot for after-work light dinner and drinks. They have half-price specials on beers, cocktails and appetizers (the ribs are amazing), from Monday - Friday from 4:30pm-6:30pm.
021 426 5974

For Steak Lovers:
Hussar Grill (Camps Bay)

On of my most favourite steakhouses, the Hussar Grill in Camps Bay has a fab winter special, on from now until end August. Two Courses for R118 or three courses for R138. The starters on special include the choice between French onion soup, fried calamari, leek and potato soup or a tossed green salad. Mains on offer include either a 200g rump or sirloin steak, 500g beef ribs or a chicken cordon bleu. Dessert options include apple crumble or French baguette and real butter pudding.
021 438 0151

Bistro 1800 (Green Point)
Bistro 1800 at the Cape Royal Hotel grill some mean steaks with awesome sauces. And they're running a 'Buy any two main courses and get the cheapest one free' special. Essentially a 2 for 1, until 31 July, Mondays to Thursdays. Go for it!
021 430 0506

Sunrise steals:
After all this wining and dining, a good breakfast is needed to cure those hangovers... 

Arnold’s on Kloof (Gardens, Cape Town)
They're known to be a bustling breakfast spot, but early birds can get their breakfast at half-price if ordered before 7am, Monday - Friday.
021 424-4344

***I'll add more to this list as time goes on***

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Root 44 Market at Audacia

I was in Stellenbosch the other day and on the hunt for something new and food-orientated when we drive past Audacia Wine Estate on the R44. It was fairly early on a Sunday morning and I was keen for some breakfast after a somewhat wine-filled evening the previous night. So, after not much deliberation, we decided to pop in and see what it was all about.

Root 44 Market entrance

Craft/Clothing section

All sorts of items can be found, from jewellery to picture frames

Outdoor tables overlooking the vineyards
 The market is quite new, having only been operating for a couple months, but the property is large, beautiful, and quite unlike any of the food markets I have been to. there is a big craft/clothing/product section and then a food section, both under Bedouin tents (which is great for winter) with lawns, a play area for kids and plenty of tables overlooking the vineyards, under the cover of big leafy trees.

They have a mini train for little ones, which makes a route around the estate and a bumper car section plus other activities. There is also a big wooden stage area for live music, which will be used for special events and for entertainment during the market hours.

As the market is still quite new, the food stalls are still growing, but visitors can find everything from local microbrewery beer on tap and biltong to margarita cupcakes and wheat-free rusks.
I had an amazing smoked beef rye sandwich with Dijon mustard (R40).

Audacia wine tasting

Hazz coffee

I love the lemon curd lady's products!

The breakfast jaffles from this stand were excellent and the rye rusks too

to-die-for desserts, beautifully displayed and absolutely decadently delicious

Freshly bakes breads, pretzels and bagels

beef burgers

amazing biltong, offering varieties such as beef and kudu

Devil's Peak Microbrewery's 'Blockhouse' and 'First Light' beers on tap

An array of hand-made pestos, jams, spreads and preserves are on offer

Stellenbrau Microbrewery's Alumni Ale and Craven Craft Lager on tap.

Decadent brownies in a variety of flavours

Charcuterie and cheeses

Margarita cupcakes

Incredibly fresh trout, served up in original ways

I had the Plaine Jane in the backround - simply amazing and filling!

Root 44 Market deets:
Open Hours: 9am-3:30pm Saturdays and Sundays 
Map below: