Category Archives: Travel

Overview of Showcook’s Crème de la Crème Event

Annette Kesler and Chania Morritt-Smith of Showcook.com are both dedicated and keenly focused on promoting South Africa’s Great Chefs, Good food & products, the hospitality, culinary, and travel industry.

At their recent Crème de la Crème event held at Overture Restaurant on the Hidden Valley wine estate, Showcook showcased four exceptional chefs; Rudi Liebenberg, from The Mount Nelson, John Jackson, representing the Royal Malewani and the Royal Portfolio Collection, Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen and The Pot Luck Club, and Bertus Basson, entrepreneur and patron of Overture restaurant.

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Above Photograph, left to right Chef Rudi Liebenberg- The Mount Nelson. Chef John Jackson The Royal Malewani & Royal Portfolio. Chef Luke Dale- Roberts, The Test Kitchen. Chef Bertus Basson, patron to Overture Restaurant.

These four well known and respected Chefs are without a doubt passionate about good food, and good produce, preferably organic, seasonal and sustainably produced. They are wonderful mentors who constantly give back to the industry they love so very much.

The venue for the event, Overture Restaurant, was graciously hosted for the day by David Hidden; winemaker, entrepreneur and owner of the Hidden Valley wine estate and restaurant. The day was perfect and the surrounding vistas magnetically beautiful.

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A five course collaborative menu was planned, each chef preparing one of the featured dishes on the menu with the exception of the cheese and dessert, the latter both relegated to one of the chefs. Each dish was suitably paired with the chef’s wine of choice, each selected from a different wine estate; namely Plaisir de Merle, Neethlingshof, Lomond, Allesverloren, and Uitkyk.

The Menu

Reading through the five course menu it was clear that the guests would be thoroughly indulged and pampered, and they were. The chefs’ dishes were well thought through, skilfully prepared, a wine perfectly matched to each course, and each dish beautifully presented.

The Food

Starter Soup & Main Course

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Paired with these wines

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The starter– prepared by Chef Rudi Liebenberg:

Baby beetroot & spiced cured salmon: The starter looked like a plate of beautiful bright jewels and tasted as good as it looked. The wine paired with this course was Plaisir de Merle Sauvignon Blanc.

The soup- prepared by Chef John Jackson:

Royal Malewane grown New Zealand Spinach and Gruyere with crisp Parma ham and parmesan tuille: paired with Neethlingshof Gewürztraminer which matched the bright and peppery flavour of the soup superbly; quite delicious, beautifully presented.

Main course – prepared by Chef Luke Dale-Roberts:

Crisp fried Pork Belly and Sous vide Fillet, pan seared scallop with garlic and roasted ginger puree served with a bourbon velouté: paired with a choice of the following wines: Lomond Sugarbush, Lomond Snowbush or Allesverloren Tinta Barocca. The pork was unctuous and melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Cheese course – prepared by Chef Bertus Basson:

Huguenot Cheddar, mulled apple, and apple sorbet: an interesting soupçon of flavours, paired with a lovely Allesverloren Fine Old Vintage.

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Dessert – prepared by Chef Bertus Basson:

Apricot Soufflé served with salted almond ice cream: paired with Uitkyk 10 year old Estate Brandy Grand Reserve, a perfect choice and a nice balance to the sweetness of the soufflé.

Wine, Water, & Food

All the beautiful wines which we sampled and enjoyed with our meals were sponsored by Cape Legends; all the wonderful water by La Vie de Luc and the meat by the Western Cape Pork Producers.

Gifts too

Apart from the good food and wine, the guest also received gifts of chocolate from vonGEUSAU and a bottle of Neethlingshof Maria Noble Late Harvest Weisser Riesling, the latter sponsored by Cape Legends, a lovely and appreciated treat.

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And Amazing Prizes

But that’s not all; between courses and the delightful and informative speeches delivered by Annette Kesler of Showcook.com and Garth Stroebel of SA Chefs Academy, there were amazing sponsored prizes to be won; and who would not be wonderfully pleased to receive the following prizes; Tea for Two at the Mount Nelson –sponsor, The Mount Nelson,  winner Penny Haw Business Day. A beautiful pair of earrings, sponsor Uwe Koetter Jewellers, winner Barbara Lenhard of Opulent Living.  An overnight stay for two at ‘La Residence’ in Franschoek, sponsor- The Royal Malewani & The Royal Portfolio, winner Tessa Purdon, Media 24, and the grand prize a trip for two to Mauritius,  sponsor – Long Beach, Sugar Beach, Le Touessrok and Air Mauritius, in association with World Leisure Holidays, – winner Chef Bertus Basson.

Conclusion

The Crème de la Crème event was well supported by people interested and dedicated toward promoting South Africa’s food, produce & products, hospitality, leisure and travel industry. It goes without saying; this was another successful event from the Showcook.com team.

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Mozambique and Indigo Bay

What can I say about Maputo other than it is a dirty, crumbling, decaying city. The former beautiful product that it once was has faded away like many other places in Africa such as Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, all which I too have recently visited.

The appalling ramshackle of squatter houses where people are I am told packed 6 to a room, bank tight up against the main road, all the way into the central business district. The desperate people try to sell handcrafts, or resort to begging and prostituting in order to survive.

At the Polana Hotel disappointment awaits. The room was dark dank and I could smell the bacteria growing. The view was of a dirty cracked, greyish white wall with red dirt splashed against it, some barbed wire fencing on one corner and in the distance a glimpse of a sea view. Spinning on my heels we marched back up to the front desk and booked out. We found more suitable accommodation at the Southern Sun hotel which was 5 stars in comparison.

In its defence, the Polana is currently undergoing refurbishment, but one wonders in hindsight of the trip, who would want to stay in what is to be a plush 5 star resort, in the middle of a filthy run down city?

The legendary Edwardian Hotel does however have some interesting history and was a popular rendezvous for agents such as the British spy Malcolm Muggeridge, author and one time editor of punch as well as Colonel James Stevenson-Hamilton, former soldier and conservator of the Kruger national park, while serving as an intelligence agent.

For the past decade Mozambique has been trying to emerge from the mess rooted in centuries of conflict and extreme violence. Before the recent revolutionary and civil wars, which lasted over two decades, Mozambique was a holiday playground for Southern Africans, endless beaches, exotic cuisines and Luso-African atmosphere swaying to a sultry beat. It was a time when the marrabenta dances went on all night, the prawns were the size of baby crayfish, the sea water was as translucent as glass, the people most charming. A Mediterranean joie de virve!

Driving along the Marginal, Maputo’s once grand promenade punctuated with swaying palms, it is a mere reflection of what it once was, the road is dirty, potholed and spilled with sewage. Looking up one sees old buildings, concrete streaked with bullet marks looking much as someone said, like a machine gun pill box. The buildings are vestiges of the colonial legacy left behind, all which have a story to tell. I feel a sense of loss and hopelessness.

The economy which is touted to be recovering is in my opinion recovering for the few and filling the pockets of the few, sending chills of déjà vu down my spine as a flash of what South Africa could be heading for in the not too distant future, plays heavily through my mind.

After stopping over in Maputo for three depressing days it is off to Indigo Bay situated on the Bazaruto Archipelago. We fly to Vilankulo, the jumping off point with its postage stamp size airport, from where we are transported by small aircraft to Bazaruto. The islands were previously joined to the mainland before tectonic movements and rising sea levels resulted in lowland flooding and separation.

The flight between Vilankulo and the island is short in time and long on discomfort, a bit like being trapped in a flying sauna. But what we fly over is magnificent tie-dye indigo blue and white scene as far as the eye can see.

Indigo Bay is a far cry from Maputo’s bleakness. The architecture and decor of the hotel is tasteful yet non invasive. Our beach chalet nestled among swaying palms is craftily screened from neighbouring rooms with natural vegetation. The chalet has two showers to choose from, one outside and inside, a big bath, a TV (if you need it), a king size bed and white crisp sheets, lounge and private deck.

A few steps off the deck and you are on the white sand of the beach where waves roll softly in and out. Once in the water you remain there for hours. The sunsets are spectacular too moving from gold, orange and at the end fading into dark purple.

The snorkelling at 2 mile reef brings the ‘paradise’ part to the fore, floating face down in 26˚ warm water, the scene below is a kaleidoscope of moving colour, quite hypnotising. There are many other activities to enjoy such as, fishing, bird watching, horse riding, scuba diving, sailing to name a few.

The resort which belongs to Rani Resorts is also active in looking after the ecology of the islands. Indigo Bay forms a small but integral part of the greater 1 430 square kilometre Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, a sensitive environment with a diversity of fauna and flora.

A number of mammal species including Samango monkeys and bushbuck were trapped on the arks which now form the Archipelago. On the island there are some 180 bird species, an extensive variety of migrant species, and 26 species of waders, endemic butterflies, Suni antelope and fresh water crocodiles. Offshore the protected waters and reefs support dolphin, the endangered dugong, game fish, seasonal whales and several species of marine turtle. At Indigo Bay, Rani Resorts has also implemented large scale programmes to plant and propagate indigenous vegetation.

One of the next projects that Rani Resorts intends tackling is Paradise Island; know previously as Illha Santa Carolina. It is regarded as the jewel of the islands forming the Bazaruto Archipelago. Unfortunately we could not visit the island as a film crew were filming some sort of survivor series soon to be released.

After such a relaxing few days, leaving is hard to do. Where I wonder, will my next adventure take me?

                  

Spring: Another Trip: A travel story

The mountain is abuzz with life and colour.  This is thanks to the generous rains that we have received in the Cape.  The spring flowers are out as well as every kind of beautiful insect you can imagine.  It really is such a gorgeous time of the year.

This is also the time of the year when the whales hug our shores with their brand new calves. Sometimes they come so close in shore that I can see the barnacles on their bodies from my vantage point on my deck here at House Clifton, perched up against the mountain slopes of Lions Head with a sweeping view of the sea below.

Last evening while wandering around the garden enjoying the evening fragrance of the flowers in bloom, I saw one of the three clicking stream frogs that grace my garden, this one looking decidedly fat which makes me wonder if it is about to produce some offspring. Well it is spring!

And now I’m planning another trip, this time to Mozambique. I have on previous occasions had some amazing intrepid excursions to this part of the country; it will be interesting to see what this one brings.

I must look through my files for the written record of one particular trip. Returning after a scuba diving trip from Mozambique to Durban in a light aircraft, where soon after departing the airport we were engulfed in an unprecedented, tumultuous storm. Not being an instrument rated aircraft we were largely dependent on visual navigation…..there was virtually no visibility for the storm had closed in on all sides.

Skimming precariously over tree tops, trying to look for roads to guide us, we suddenly found ourselves over a large lake and then equally suddenly there was this large mass directly in front of us. The pilot’s good reactions and flying skills got us over the top of a huge range of high dunes where we picked up the coast line. We continued flying precariously low, following the shoreline as this provided the best visibility and if we were going to, possibly also the safest place to crash.

The plane was being tossed and buffeted all over the show, up down and sideways, and my body along with it. The pilot sitting next to me began to smell, it was the smell of fear, I realized then that we were in deep trouble.

We repeatedly sent out calls that we were in trouble, our signal eventually got picked up by a Boeing ‘The Springbok” flying directly overhead, they relayed our distress message and location to Virginia airport in Durban, gave our estimated time of arrival, so that if we did not arrive in or around that time, a search party would be despatched.

There were many times that I felt sure we would ditch the plane, but we made it, thanks to the pilot Peter who is one of my dearest and closest friends. There were 4 of us on the flight. Three people being qualified pilots.

I should write about the time Peter and I flew across Africa in this same small aircraft, but that’s another story.

Peter and I on our diving trip off Margaruque one of the Mozambican IslandsDiving off Margaruque

Rovos Rail – Pretoria to the Cape

We flew from Cape Town to Or Tambo International airport, Johannesburg where we were met and transported to Pretoria by car, where we boarded the Rovos Rail Train to wend our way slowly back to the Cape.

The accommodation as per usual was of a high standard, the staff friendly and competent. The total number of coaches on this excursion was 12 inclusive of the Dinning, Kitchen, Staff, Van and Observation coaches. A small number of passengers indeed, being 26 in total.

The passengers came as far afield as Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Namibia and the balance from South Africa, the majority being foreign visitors. For someone who loves to observe people, well let’s say I had a captive audience.

The train seemed to take ages to leave the somewhat sombre surrounds of  Pretoria and the greater Johannesburg region; what a depressing sight it was. For as long as it took us to finally leave the cities behind, the view was of poverty, squatters, and dumped plastic waste that left me appalled. It would be interesting to know what the foreign visitors thought.

During our journey there were scheduled as well as unscheduled stops, the latter because we had to make way for other freight and passenger trains. We had two scheduled stops on the itinerary, the first stop being Kimberley providing an opportunity to enjoy a ‘city’ tour and visit the Mine Museum , the Vault with the private Gem collection, as well as the world’s largest man made excavation, the Big Hole.

But the best pink Gems of all were for me the lesser flamingos that have made the Kamfer Dam, a permanent wetland, situated north of Kimberley their breeding ground. This location is the 4th breeding site for lesser flamingos in Africa and 6th in the world. The other locations in Africa are Etosha Pan Namibia, Sua Pan Botswana and Lake Natron Northern Tanzania.

The second scheduled stop was the historical Matjesfontein. When we were about 5 kilometres from Matjiesfontein the train stopped allowing passengers to disembark to take an hour’s walk along a bush path that followed the rail track into Matjesfontein where the Rovos train waited for everyone.

Matjiesfontein is the authentic perfectly preserved Victorian Village, which was founded by Mr Logan as a refreshment stop in 1890, also boasts an impressive museum situated on the platform.

For many visitors to South Africa there is no finer way to see the country than on this 1600 kilometre journey. Once away from the cities, the gold rich savannas of the Highveld slowly creep into view, pale grasslands interspersed with rocky kopjes and sprinkling of trees, the latter which stand out starkly against the paleness of the grasslands. These planes were once teeming with wild life as far as the eye could see, but that is sadly of the past. Now you only catch a glimpse of the odd buck and at times a little group of wild game with a few goat, sheep and cattle in between.

As the train meanders through the African terrain the composition of the landscape evolves from the savannas to the haunting barrenness of the Great Karoo. The land changes from golden grasslands of the Highveld to a scrubby landscape of olive and sage coloured bushes that the Karoo is well known for, the ground is somewhat stony too. The Karoo is where our best lamb comes from, known of course as Karoo Lamb.

Spring is the time of the year when following good rains, one can expect to see an abundance of wild flowers displayed in swathes across the land, and we did. The country side was awash with flowers in bloom. God had definitely had fun with his paint brush of vivid colours this season.

From the Great Karoo the journey then trundles through spectacular mountain ranges and the scenic winelands of the Cape. All too soon our journey ends in

Cape Town, the Mother city of South Africa, cradled by the imposing bulk of Table Mountain, Devils Peak and Lions head.

Perhaps the next Rovos adventure will be to Dar Es Salaam or Namibia.

Picture Gallery

The Rovos Train and Station – Pretoria

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clip_image006The observation coach

clip_image008The Suite

clip_image010The golden grasslands

clip_image012The Great Karoo

clip_image014Carpets of white daisies

clip_image016Pink Gems on the Kamfer Dam

clip_image018More Pink Gems. Kamfer Dam wetlands

Kimberley – The Big Hole. Rumour has it that the best cricketers have not been able to pitch a cricket ball from the observation platform into the water below – hope this puts the scale into perspective.

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clip_image022More gorgeous wild flowers

clip_image024Matjiesfontein station and village

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clip_image029The Winelands of the Cape

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clip_image033Back Home in Clifton

Safari trip to Madikwe, more photos

Hello everyone,

I mentioned to some of you that I would post more pictures of our Safari trip to Madikwe, but there are just so many lovely photographs to choose from. Instead Mr G has set up a link on Flickr where you can view the photographs either as individual photos or as a slide show, the choice is yours. Follow the link included to view.

http://www.flickr.com/gp/8102098@N05/8BN1DY