Feeding my appetite for learning

I have an insatiable appetite for learning – new languages, competencies and even crafts. Having the joy of working with professional photographers frees me to concentrate on putting together artful prose, but it also intimidates me! I stand back in awe as they frame pictures to create works of art. They fiddle with lighting, props and voila, the plate is perfectly captured. Being under pressure to capture a few of my own happy snaps whilst feasting, for social media, I try to make it as quick as possible, so that I can concentrate on reviewing the meal at the right temperature. I hate standing up and making a spectacle of myself or moving a plate to the light. Often it is merely as a visual trigger for my writing up my notes a few days later, but either way I know I had to learn a little about food photography.

Knowing that I needed to up my game I signed on for a one-day food photography course with Hein van Tonder. We had worked together on a food shoot at The Test Kitchen with a visiting world-renowned chef Jorge Vallejo, and I was truly impressed with his talent.

Hein and Francois Pistorius, fashion and now food photographer, welcomed a group of enthusiastic wannabee-clickies in Langebaan at the seaside home of Isabella Niehaus, who is lauded for her ‘long tables’ that she hosts in this character-filled abode. I was determined not to be further intimidated by the fancy cameras and settled in to learn more about photography using my i-phone. After a little theory we started to play with props and subject matter from an overflowing harvest table, and Isabella kept hot food coming our way so that we could learn how to capture cooked dishes complete with steam. Lunch was a delicious affair, and then we played with photographing movement – from icing sugar being dusted over doughnuts to ice blocks being dropped in a glass of milk. I learnt a lot about the value of good lighting and composition, so left feeling more confident about my photography, but know that I am still work in progress.

Visit http://heinstirred.com/ to find out more.

SI

A few motivating meetings were held over scrumptious salads in February – I have to make healthy choices when I can! Si Cantina Sociale in the Silo district of the V&A Waterfront is a drawcard, laid-back by day and buzzing at night. It is here that people come to congregate over a great grills, vegetarian and Mediterranean food or tasty tapas to share. The urban-chic space is convivial, social and stylish. Here you share, taste and feast – with appropriate drinks – from breakfast to dinner. It’s a great spot to take in a game on the big screen TV, or sit in a booth and enjoy a catch-up with a close friend. Their burgers get rave reviews – like all dishes on the menu, they are made from ethically, locally sourced produce. My eyes constantly darted from my energy-giving green salad to the captivating mural on the wall, to the friendly faces of the waiters.

THE STACK

The Stack is another go-to for fresh produce and a great salad – I chose the buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil salad with pine nuts, my colleague the green salad with asparagus, beans and boiled egg. Don’t think that is all they are famous for, locals and visitors flock there for fabulous French bistro fare, classically cooked with a modern twist. We were there to check out the cuddle, huddle and screening rooms – all part of the perks that members are up for. Stunning décor and constantly updated artwork may distract you, but business – or pleasure – can easily be the order of the day in this stylish venue.

LAZARI

Here the Asian chicken salad hit the right spot for me, whilst enjoying an animated debate about brand architecture with a non-foodie. This restaurant in the Gardens gathers worker bees from nearby with their delicious cakes and pastries, and breakfast and lunch offerings that are fresh and tasty. No fuss, no frills, and very chilled.

LE COIN FRANCAIS 

One of the pleasures of my work is writing food features for magazines. Food & Home Entertaining is a wonderful platform for producers and chefs, and I love the opportunity of interrogating them to increase my knowledge.

Chef Darren Badenhorst, famed for his tenure at Grande Provence, opened his own restaurant on the main road of Franschhoek in October. Here he has truly found his footing in a sophisticated yet laid-back French-inspired setting. A feeling of serenity prevails, and his cuisine truly impresses. Lunch can be a more casual affair, but the treat of his chef’s journey for dinner, is the stuff that indelible memories are made of. His true talent shines on a plate. Keep an eye out for my full article in Food & Home Entertaining during winter, and if you cannot wait, go there and see for yourself!

THE TEST KITCHEN

Joining fellow food media to experience the drought menu at The Test Kitchen was a wonderful way of ending a frenetic week. From 1 April to 31 May Luke Dale-Roberts and his team will be showing exactly how world-class cuisine can be served saving water, yet not compromising on class and quality. Innovative to the core, he has put all the right water-saving systems in place in the restaurant, but followed through with wooden frames and hand-crafted cards to replace plates. We were spoilt with an undeniably perfect sample of his six-course menu, captivating from first sip to last bite. Sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka gave us a taste of his own white blend, of Semillon and Chenin, called Kumusha, as a welcome drink. This, in Shona, means ‘my home’ or ‘my roots’. I left, full of more-than-good food and good intentions, inspired to continue my vigilant water-saving in our own home. Read all about this in the digital edition of Food & Home Entertaining.

CALLING A CREATIVE CHEF

Fancy a lifestyle change? If you are a young chef, this could be your opportunity to flex your food muscles and showcase your personality on a plate. A little more experienced? Time to get off the treadmill in town and find your passion for country living, hospitality and of course, country cooking. Manor House Restaurant in Stanford, known for its contemporary country-style cuisine, is looking for a creative chef/cook. They like to impress guests with good-looking cooking, but believe that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. “Fine dining it is not” says owner Elsabe. If you are interested, then contact her –  Mobile: 072 198 0862 | info@stanfordvalley.co.za.  The position includes accommodation.

WHAT’S HAPPENING?

Four Seasons The Westcliff will be presenting their pièce de résistance in March – a French pop up restaurant with Michelin Star Chef Vincent Lucas on Saturday, 17, Sunday 18 and Wednesday, 21 March. For bookings visit http://www.fourseasonsevents.co.za.

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Neethlingshof in the heart of the Stellenbosch winelands is a place to relax. Enjoy the Flash Food and Slow Wine Pairing Menu which consists of five bite-sized snacks each carefully paired with a wine. Go as a couple, with friends or family – children too have their own kiddies pairing. Experience this menu, daily, at a cost of R100 per adult for five courses and R50 per child for three courses.  Bookings are advisable and for groups of six or more, essential.

Tel: 021 883 8988

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dw eleven-13 – In Jo’burg looking for a quick and delicious mid-week lunch? Look no further – dw eleven-13 is the place to be with a lunch special running from Tuesdays to Fridays between 12h00 and 14h30. Enjoy a three-course meal and a glass of wine for R250.

Tel: 011 3410663

dw eleven-13

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