MEXICO AND NEW YORK
I am currently compiling my copious handwritten notes from a trip to Mexico and New York into some semblance of order so that I can perfect my articles for Sawubona magazine. For me much of the joy of travelling lies in reliving the experiences, and sharing them with others. In this post I am sharing some of my personal holiday snaps, other than those in my bikini!
Seamless flights from Cape Town to Johannesburg and New York on SAA followed by a four-hour wait, a five-hour flight to Cancun, an hour’s drive to Tulum and we were ready for our edible adventure. A week in the character-filled coastal town of Tulum on the Caribbean coast of Mexico gave us ample opportunity to explore one of the seven wonders of the world, to attend a cookery course, test ourselves with cave-diving, rapling (abseiling in a cave) and zip-lining, rather than merely lying on a lounger to admire the beautiful Caribbean Sea. For the whole enchilada, I will alert you when to fly SAA to read the right issue of Sawubona!
Needless to say, the food was flavoured and fabulous, and my Mexican fiesta cookery class last week a sell-out. In addition to raving about the food, everyone raved about Stellar Organic Wines. Loved the names too! Running Duck
, Live-a-Little somewhat sweet and soulful
and Live-a-Little slightly sweet and shameless
. If you are interested in attending a repeat class, or one of the other “home and away” cookery demo’s, contact Natalie on firstname.lastname@example.org
and she will whet your appetite with all the details. https://youtu.be/AW2kNLyc90k
Our regular Flavours of the Cape classes will be starting in March, ideal for anyone visiting the Mother City who wants to know more about her bounty.
A whistle-stop two-nighter in New York home-bound, the day of the Trump inauguration, is another story in itself. The security on the streets was extreme, especially in front of Trump Towers, and the anxiety of locals palpable. Let me meanwhile share the highlight. Lunch at the world-renowned Le Bernardin, rated for five years consecutively as the top restaurant in the Big Apple by the New York Times, deservedly. Le Bernardin is one of only six restaurants in New York awarded three Michelin stars, and is the restaurant which has held four stars from The New York Times for the longest period of time, having earned the ranking in early 1986. Their first Michelin star awarded in 1976 and two more in 1980. After my (smartly dressed by my standards) husband had been given a jacket (Ted Baker of course) to wear, we were seated and treated to champagne whilst we perused the menu. Chef Eric Ripert, warm and gregarious in addition to being hugely talented, did a sweep of the room to greet regulars and then whipped back into the kitchen to mastermind one of the most exceptional culinary journeys I have been privileged to savour. Wow. The a la carte menu is divided into Almost Raw, Barely Touched and Lightly Cooked, but we chose the tasting menu – eight sublime courses starting with caviar tartare, then lobster (paired with Krug, langoustine and barely-cooked salmon). Let me stop here. The barely cooked organic salmon with fennel mousseline and spiced citrus-sambal sauce would stop anyone in their tracks. We went onto the halibut, a white tuna-Japanese Wagyu (their interpretation of a surf and turf!), which blew our socks off. Time to move onto sweet – the light pre-dessert grapefruit sorbet was followed by the grande finale, the Black Forest of brandied cherries, whipped vanilla cream and smoked chocolate cremeux. Every wine was expertly introduced by the charming Austrian sommelier, and each dish presented with aplomb and knowledge. After our lunch we were led to Chef’s library where he and his team glean inspiration from more than 1000 books. An animated and interesting interview with a humble, talented man who deserves every accolade, that will be etched in my memory forever.
Back home in Cape Town I attended the launch of Witlof, the Belgian endive or chicory leaf at Den Anker restaurant. A beautiful setting on a glorious summer day, the sighting of Table Mountain made me happy to call this place home. This vegetable is produced by the Van der Merwe family in Ceres. Fanie van der Merwe introduced the vegetable as one would a child – giving us a comprehensive account of how they are growing it hydroponically so that we can get it (at Woolies, Food Lovers and Checkers) all year round. The two stages of production start with growing the chicory root in the earth (sadly only eaten by cattle), and the second stage in the dark to prevent the development of chlorophyll, thus the white appearance. Doekle Vlietman, chef at Den Anker and his team produced three tasty courses from Witlof. I went home and produced just one of my own – a tasty salad of the leaves with softened blue cheese, crispy walnuts and topped with a herb-infused olive oil. Yum. Chef Doekle kindly agreed to share some of his recipes.
Witlof au Gratin (Witlof wrapped in Parma ham, veloute, gouda and mash)
1 pack Witlof
160 g Parma ham
250 g potatoes
150 g butter
150 g flour
100 ml cream
200 g gouda grated
salt and pepper to taste
Boil 1 pack witlof in water with a pinch of salt drain well but retain the cooking liquor to make the veloute.
Boil the potatoes and mash.
To make the veloute melt butter and whisk in the flour folding in the Witlof cooking liquor until you reach a custard consistency. Add the cream and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Wrap the blanched witlof in cooked ham and place in a casserole dish, place the mash next to it.
Top the ham with veloute and top that with grated Dutch Gouda.
Bake at 180 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until the cheese is brown and bubbling.
Pair with La Chouffe beer.
Off to Jozi to get my monthly burst of adrenalin, some exciting meetings and to travel on my taste buds from gourmet food trucks to fine dining. Read about this fabulous food truck which has been inspired by the Cape but taking shape in Gauteng. But before i go just one more margarita?