I’m a little unsure how to start this post, if I’m being completely honest. Do I start the few months before we actually arrived at five hundred (yes, all lower case) – all of the excitement and build-up to the dinner? Or do I start on the night?
Archive for ‘Restaurants’
I’ve said it before and I will say it over and over again – being a foodie blogger is pretty damn awesome. I am absolutely in love with what I do and the fact that it revolves around food (pretty much 24/7) is the living best. But, it can also be ridiculously manic – not in a stressful way – just full and busy and go, go, go!
It’s the week of luuuuuuuuurve and I am feeling super generous, so here’s a quick and easy competition for you guys.
I’m giving two lucky winners THREE meal vouchers each from Simply Asia – that’s R300 to spend on delicious oodles of noodles! As usual, entering is simple:
Look. It’s the end of the month. And we’re all poor. Which is why this giveaway brings me so much joy…
The lovelies at Simply Asia have recently turned 10 (happy birthday!) and they’re celebrating by giving us a few new menu items. Ten New Tastes of Thailand, to be exact. As if that wasn’t enough, they’re also throwing in a #SweetDeal for everyone who orders one of these new dishes. You can find info on that deal by clicking here.
The cherry on top of this whole #SweetDeal is the cool prizes that Simply Asia are giving away. They’ve also given me TWENTY meal vouchers to give to some of my lovely followers. I mean – could they be any more generous?!
Each week – the competition will be different. This week, I need you to do the following:
1.) Make sure you retweet and/or share the links I have posted on Twitter and Facebook. (Do this for the next few weeks and I’ll keep a close eye on you for the big voucher giveaway.)
2.) Look at the two images below. These are two of the #SweetDeal dishes I have tried so far. (AMAZING.) Click here to go to Simply Asia’s website, find these two dishes on their menu and tell me what they are. Maybe be a little creative and tell me which you would prefer and why.
And remember that Simply Asia is giving away instant prizes too. Here’s that link again…
Hoping to feed some hungry tummies!
Yes, I just used a hashtag in a blog post. That’s how I roll this year.
Let me get straight to the point. Simply Asia is like heaven to me. Noodles, dim sum, ginger, chilli, garlic – ALL THE GOOD THINGS. So when they asked if I would be a part of their #SweetDeal campaign (I did it again), I jumped at the chance. Anything for a brand that I love and whose food I lust after.
Yesterday, Simply Asia delivered the most gorgeous box full of fun, useful and yummy things (more on that soon) and even managed to sneak in a piping hot lunch – just for me! I wolfed it down and quite honestly, could’ve eaten three bowls of the stuff – it was just that good. Again – more on that later. We’re hoping to spread the word about their delicious new menu items – ten of them to be exact. Now that is a #SweetDeal right there! (I can’t stop.)
For the next few weeks, I’m going to be sampling the ten brand new menu items on Simply Asia’s menu and blogging/tweeting about them. Researching – just for you guys. Because I love you. Look, it’s tough – but somebody’s got to do it.
I’ve also got a ton of meal vouchers to giveaway, so keep a close eye on my Twitter feed and blog. Simply Asia is also giving fun things away – check all of that info out here.
I’m going to need your help spreading the word, who’s game?
Being a foodie and a (somewhat) blogger in Jozi is really quite glorious. Fabulous invitations to swish events where you’re basically doused with champagne and leave giddy and fuelled with enough bubbly to write a sparkling review about the restaurant/launch/function/hotel you’ve been to.
Working full-time while getting invited to such events? A complete and utter drag. I missed out on countless fun launches and parties because I was stuck at a client event (behind the scenes) or had to be in the office. So when I received an email containing an invite to the launch of the new high tea menu at The Saxon, I swooned. It came at the perfect time. Exactly a week after my first day of freelancing.
Elated that I had the chance to wear a pretty dress, high-heels and nude fishnets (which I obviously ended up ripping as I got into my car), I made my way to The Saxon, a bit unsure of what to expect. See, I had never been before. Yes, me. (Foodies, hang your heads in shame – NOW.)
For those of you who have been, there’s no need for me to explain the detail and dedication that goes into The Saxon and the way they treat their guests. For those who haven’t been…It’s hard to explain, but I’ll give it a bash.
Driving up the long, curved pathway was pretty therapeutic – or maybe I was just in that kind of head space. I parked my car (which I should have had washed, in hindsight) and met my lovely, darling friend Alida in the basement. We were ushered into a (clean) white BMW and driven not even 100 metres to the front entrance. Yes, you get driven to the front door – ain’t nobody got time to walk 100 metres!
After being greeted by name (that’s how good the staff are) – Leeds and I found our way into the Piano Room. The majority of the room was filled with the gorgeous high tea display table – macarons, dainty red velvet cupcakes, tea sandwiches (my best!), cheesecake, fluffy meringues, chocolate cake, French doughnuts – every inch of the table was covered in teeny tiny bursts of deliciousness. I found it pretty hard to tear my eyes away from the display.
Leeds, Nicki and I got comfy on the couches while watching business men and women eat lunch on the terrace and trying to plot exactly how we could become those people one day. I did my best not to kick my heels off and curl myself up on the couch while drinking bubbly. And plenty of it. Probably more than a lady should consume at a high tea at The Saxon. A couple more glasses and I would have left there, high heels swinging in my hand and hair in a drunken state – much like that of a UCT student. (All that wind.)
But we behaved, drank our YSWARA tea (which is bloody delicious and poured by a lovely lady who knows her tea) and eventually we tucked into the high tea.
Starting off with a plate filled with savoury items – I nearly fell over when I tasted the butternut tart. Wow. How could they make butternut taste SO good?! I mean. Mind already blown. (I want that recipe.)
Then onto the sweets. Those who know me, know that I don’t have a sweet tooth at all. But I persevered and was so glad that I did. We tried a bite of nearly everything – the little red velvet cupcakes being my fave. The usual cream cheese icing had been replaced by a soft (what I assumed was) meringue. Delish. Next time I won’t forget to tuck into the chocolate eclairs – although they looked far too gorgeous to actually eat!
More bubbly please.
Three trips back to the food table and it looked like nothing had been touched. Chefs kept coming into the room like ninjas, replacing the empty platters with food and more food. Unbelievable. I’ve worked in catering long enough to know that the back-up stock eventually runs out, but clearly that isn’t allowed to happen at The Saxon. The table looked EXACTLY the same as it did when we left. Not even joking. And we were there for over three hours…
Minette Smith – the pastry chef at The Saxon – outdid herself. This girl knows her stuff. Her macarons were pure perfection – we each got a gift box to take home and I literally examined each of them when I got home and found no imperfections. Mind blown – again.
(Also, I wish my PC would stop trying to correct ‘macaron’ to ‘macaroon’. There’s a difference, you silly.)
I also got a sneak peak into the kitchens (thanks David for the invite) and although I only saw a section of it, I could see how organised it was and why the food was immaculate.
I left The Saxon in a mildly intoxicated state – mostly from the delicious bubbly – but also by the entire experience. Perfect service is something I crave in South Africa and they’ve hit the nail on the head. I will definitely be back. Next time, I’m hitting five hundred with a vengeance. Now, if only someone would offer to take me…
This past weekend, I invited some friends over and basically cooked up a storm while they stuffed their faces and drank beer. This was the first of my formal menu testing days for The Counter.
The lucky few got to taste nine of my proposed sammiches and burgers for the restaurant, and I’m super excited to say that they were blown away. And absolutely stuffed to the brim bu the end of the day. I ended up eating a piece of burnt toast. FAIL.
More to come soon…
Today I am drowning.
As we get closer and closer to our dream of opening up the shop, the ‘to do’ list gets longer and longer and longer and longer and longer. Never mind the huge task of deciding on the perfect menu, costing out recipes, finding amazing suppliers, the right premises and incredible staff; there are about 4011 other things that we have to apply for. Such as:
Income tax, VAT registration, tax clearance, public liability, workman’s compensation, UIF, PAYE, liquor license, correct zoning, health and safety, fire clearance, certificate of acceptability, business license, business approval and music rights. To name a few.
Somebody help me keep my head above water. All I want to do is serve amazing food to fantastic customers.
Oh, and one more thought for the day – please stop asking stupid questions.
Last year, after spending most of the year working and being holed-up in our favourite Jozi suburbs, my darling friend Kate Els and I decided that 2012 would be a year of exploration and travelling. We’ve both been lucky enough to travel overseas and explore beautiful foreign countries but we chose to stick to South Africa for the year. We would visit all nine provinces during the year – an easy task, right?
I’ve visited hundreds of small towns in SA and seen and done thousands of interesting things – mostly when I was younger and went on family holidays in my folks’ old VW combi that we lovingly called ‘Max’. I’ve eaten buffalo pie in the Kruger National Park (delicious), been dragged to what seemed like hundreds of wine farms in the Cape (and sampled litres of grape juice – being underage and all), eaten in restaurants that have now become institutions in South Africa and basically been a very spoilt little girl. So when it came to choosing where to go, my initial reaction was to choose places that I had never been to before. That was soon vetoed when I realised that I covered a vast part of the country. Back to the drawing board.
Our first destination was an easy choice. We visited Clarens (Free State – check) in late February for the Clarens Craft Beer Festival. Over thirty brewers participated in the event with more than eighty craft beers and several ciders on offer and it was a roaring success. That evening while slightly tipsy we enjoyed a dinner at Clementine’s, which is on the outskirts of the town. The meal was delicious – simple, home-style cooking with a twist. I enjoyed a stuffed chicken breast with potato wedges and a gooey cheese sauce, while most of my friends tucked into a fillet with turmeric potatoes and a berry sauce that was to die for. The meal was a pleasant surprise and rounded off a relaxed weekend perfectly.
Next stop – Cape Town. Glorious, glorious Cape Town. While I am a girl in love with Jozi, I do have a soft spot for the Cape. The views, those long drives, the small towns full of interesting markets and restaurants – it is a magical place. Lest we not forget the wine farms – now that I am old enough to actually drink wine, these seem like places of complete and utter joy. Oh, and of course my two brothers who live there!
Choosing places to visit in the Cape was a problem. There are just so many delicious restaurants to eat in, markets to wander around, wine farms to visit and breweries to take in. I was highly confused for about a month before we left for the big trip. Every day I added about ten new places I wanted to see onto my list and emailed them through to my travelling buddy. Kate was bombarded with emails from me – “What about this restaurant?” “Oooh, we have to eat at this market!” “Wow, just look at the view from this wine farm…” I drove her nuts. I drove myself nuts. Luckily she is highly organised, and being a foodie herself, she put together a comprehensive itinerary (yes Capetonians, an itinerary) and we had a plan of action. I think had we not, we would have spent most of our time lying on our ridiculously comfortable hotel beds (Upper East Side Hotel in Woodstock – phenomenal) trying to decide where to eat.
Our first stop was &Union on Bree Street. The fact that they stock one of my favourite brews (Steph Weiss) made me happy. Plus, the buzz around the food got me excited for the visit. We met with some wonderful CT friends (old and new), delivered bottles of salted caramel and piles of brownies and then got down to it. The hype was all it lived up to be. We spent hours sitting in the sun drinking and eventually ordered dinner. I sampled a bit of everything – the sausages (so juicy and flavourful), the Bree Street Burger and the Pulled Pork sandwich. I am still dreaming (and drooling) about that sandwich and the delicious, slightly sweet bun that it was on. Impeccable food and a live band to top off a fantastic evening. I cannot wait for my next visit to &Union. Oh, and I also managed to get a fantastic birthday present there for my older brother – thanks to the lovely Simon.
The next morning we visit Dear Me Food World on Longmarket Street. I have one thing to say about this restaurant – the Eggs Benedict are the best I have ever eaten. Ever. Well done Vanessa – you’re a legend in my eyes…
The girls and I took a walk down Long Street and then a slow drive through some of the small towns in the Cape, ending up in Kalk Bay. Even though we weren’t in the least bit hungry we still managed some delicious seafood at The Brass Bell (filled with memories) and a superb ice-cream from The Creamery. That afternoon while (again) slightly tipsy we enjoyed a simple afternoon snack of veggie spring rolls and chicken dumplings at Yum, which is situated at the Upper East Side Hotel. We were then enticed across the road to Kitchen Cowboys Canteen for bottle after bottle of wine with Elize and Pete Goffe-Wood. I maintain to this day that they are the bad influence, although I am sure they will state otherwise. Another wonderful afternoon spent with new and old friends.
Dinner at El Burro in Greenpoint was as outstanding as I expected it to be. Spicy jalapenos filled with melting cheese, chourizo quesadillas, craft beer and proper tequila – there really was no going wrong here. The atmosphere was buzzing and I see now why it is one of Cape Town’s finest. Nic was kind enough to talk us through the list of never-ending craft tequilas and we sampled what seemed to be a great option.
The highlight of the visit came the following day in the form of a three course meal at Moreson’s Bread & Wine. We were treated like queens, the food was out of this world and the setting too beautiful for words. Be sure to try the Green Goddess Pizza, pork belly and the homemade ice-creams. (The wine is quite fantastic too – we may have ordered a few cases each.) The biggest thank you ever to Terence for suggesting this little gem and for getting us the VIP treatment – you sir, are a legend.
That night I somehow managed to fit in a burger from Royale (one of my favourite restaurants in Cape Town) and more craft beer and tequila. Saturday was spent milling around the Stellenbosch Slow Food Market (for the Eat In Produce Awards – we were nominated, but sadly did not win the prize) at the Oude Libertas estate and finishing off with a private wine tasting at Haskell Vineyards. Another big thank you to Werner and Tish for their hospitality…Another day, another countless number of mouth watering experiences. The evening was spent celebrating my brother’s birthday at Tjing Tjing Bar – WOW, what a place. Seriously, JHB needs you!
Our last day involved even more delicious food in the form of an unbelievable chalmar steak sarnie from Kitchen Cowboys Canteen at the Bay Harbour Market. That onion marmalade! Another wow. Last stop was Massimo’s in Hout Bay for a delicious thin-based pizza and a warm greeting from Massimo himself. Although, he did give me a very stern speech about eating an entire steak sandwich before visiting his restaurant. The pizza was so delicious I managed to eat most of it anyway.
I was lucky enough to spend an extra day in Cape Town with my family and we had a long, lazy lunch at Haiku on Church Street. Dim sum is possibly one of my most favourite things, and theirs definitely did not disappoint.
Cape Town was incredible and only province number three on our list. (Obviously, we live in one of the nine provinces, so will have to make an effort to ‘visit’ Gauteng – I’m thinking a weekend in Magaliesberg could work out quite nicely.) Western Cape – check.
Next stop – Limpopo! Although I don’t imagine we’ll have quite the same gourmet experience up there…As long as there’s wine and craft beer though, we’ll be fine.