Friday, August 20, 2010

The perfect way to start the day...

The perfect way to start a bright Friday and get ready for the weekend – coffee and an almond croissant from Jardine on Bree's impressive bakery.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spicy, hearty, easy homemade cassoulet

  • Potatoes (to bake)
  • Pork sausages (or whatever your preference)
  • Garlic (About 2 cloves, crushed)*
  • Chilli (About 1 to 2 tsp fresh or dried flakes)*
  • Onion, diced finely
  • 1tsp Garam Masala
  • 2stp Dried herbs
  • 1tsp sugar
  • Salt & pepper
  • tin of kidney beans & tin of butter beans (or whatever your preference)
  • 2 tins of tomato
*Haven’t prescribed amounts (I have a propensity for chilli and garlic, they basically make the world go around), but I guess I’d say two cloves of garlic and 1tsp chilli would be good for your first attempt.

How to make:
Turn on oven to around 180ºC and put potatoes in to bake while you prepare cassoulet. In casserole dish, fry pork sausages on stove top, browning. Remove, slice and set aside. In same casserole dish, add a little more oil and saute onions, adding garlic and chilli when onions have softened a bit. Then stir in herbs and masala and add sliced sausage back. Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, a pinch of salt and some pepper. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes then stir in beans, put the lid (or some tinfoil) over the casserole dish and bake for about half an hour. Serve over piping-hot, crispy baked potato met a glassie rooi wein.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Love is...

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Edward Estlin Cummings

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gorgeous Gifts

The perfect, personalised gifts for my friend's two year old, Rylee, thanks to the talented Crazy Aunt Narina. Check out her blog and more gorgeous creations here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Biscuit Mill

The Neighbour Goods Market forms the Saturday ritual of many foodie Capetonians and trendy tourists alike. So, like a good tour guide, I initiated another visiting friend with a trip to the B-Mill. The overcast weather was a blessing, as it had kept away the hoards, though I was still elbowed and trodden on enough times to make me feel like I got the full experience. Speaking of experiences, you have to go hungry and I wasn't disappointed with a lamb souvlaki made by the chuckling-authentic-Greek-guy, and amazing cinnamon and caramalised sugar crepe for dessert, washed down with a lemon iced tea.

The visit was concluded with a trip to my favourite stall, Skermunkil Design Studio, for the beautiful, heart-shaped pendant – a little Women's Day giftie for moi – I've been lusting after!

Sushi at Kyoto Garden

For this week's date night, we went in search of sushi. The craving had spoken and we were determined not to fall into our old comfortable routine of reliably delicious sushi at the Waterfront's Willoughby's or hole-in-the-wall Minatos and to try something new. It was a challenge to think of somewhere that was a dress-up, date-night venue, but that didn't have the price tag of Nobu or the dusty reputation of Tank. Kyoto Gardens in Tamboerskloof (around the corner from Rafiki's and opposite Miller's Thumb) is somewhere we'd wanted to try for a while.

I'd read in comments on JP Roussouw's site, that the service was slow and indifferent, but, thankfully, that's not what we experienced. The waiter was efficient and the food came quickly (we'll overlook that the restaurant was quite quiet!). The cocktails were delicious, fresh and well balanced – a must! The main courses were exotic (and expensive), but we were there for the sushi. To start, we ordered the paper-thin "Tempura Light", which had been recommended. We went for the prawn and scallop tempura (only one of each so not ideal for sharing!), with melt-in-your-mouth aubergine, broccoli and sweet potato tempura, and the mushroom and seaweed salad with a perfect, fresh wasabi-soy sauce accompaniment.

Following more recommendations, we ordered the red salmon sashimi, which was little more textured than Norwegian, and yellow-fin tuna (they were all out of the big-eye tuna we were after and we certainly weren't ordering the blue fin – tsk tsk!) sashimi, Alaskan crab sushi and eel sushi. The waiter grated real wasabi root, which was sharp and hot and far more tasty than the horse-radish-like lurid green wasabi on offer. The soy sauce itself was delicious – obviously different to the watery, salty liquid at some sushi restaurants – and the waiter explained that it was full-flavour, high-soy content Kikkoman Soy Sauce. Good to know!

The strange owner, mentioned in most reviews and comments, was around, but only in the background, delivering packets of what looked like wine and produce from his double-parked car. This disorganisation may explain why two of the white wines we ordered weren't available, but we were graciously given two glasses of decidedly-average white wine on the house for the inconvenience.

Desserts sounded delicate and light, but our meal was concluded with warm saki, though we overheard a couple next to us raving about the green tea ice cream.

With expertly-presented quality ingredients, expect an adventurous, exotic menu and prices to match your carbon footprint ~ Kyoto Garden Sushi, Tamboerskloof, 021 422 2001

Friday, August 6, 2010

Before & After: The Writing Desk

BEFORE I found this gorgeous little writing bureau while trawling the haberdasheries of the northern suburbs with talented creative Narina of The Crazy Aunt Company. We had a wonder in Die Handelshuis, a second-hand furniture store with everything from ceramic dogs, authentic leather biker jackets to huge velvet love seats dying to be recovered and placed in a trendy, sexy Cape Town bar. For sustenance, we stopped in at the coffee shop called La Cute at the back of the dusty shop, for some moer koffie and cinnamon pancakes. And there was the writing desk... We both fell in love with it instantly! It has such gorgeous proportions and personality. Sadly (or happily since it led to a new project), the paint job had much to be desired...

AFTER Removing the wooden knobs that we wanted to keep their lovely, rich, worn brown colour, we sanded the cupboard down with a small hand sander, until it was really smooth and some of the wood was exposed. I painted a coat of white oil paint and we sanded it again, exposing some of the blue and wood, making it look weathered and distressed.

It's great to have somewhere to store paperwork and unattractive, miscellaneous files and cables, as well as having all our stationary in one place. This little writing desk is the perfect addition to our small study that has a simple trestle table, dominated by our computer and printer, and a modern square-framed book case.

Hand-embroidered Foldable Tote

There's nothing like a hand-made, one-of-a-kind piece. Find out how to make this cute, hand-embroidered foldable tote (how useful!), courtesy of QueenAndCorgi's Alex, on her site here.

Weekend snacks: Pita crisps

These pita crisps are amazing snacks to have with a wedge of cheese, dipped in humus or tzatziki or with a bit of pate slathered on top. I love taking them on picnics. Plus it's always cool (if you are sharing them!) to offer guests a snack that looks homemade!

Directions Halve pitas and then slice them open and cut them into triangles. Make a mixture of dried herbs, sea salt and olive oil to baste one side of the pitas with. Cook slowly until golden (you gotta watch them, but about fifteen minutes) in about 160º oven.

Proudly African

Porcelain African continent on brown felt ribbon, courtesy of Keyna-B. More like a trophy pin – I love that!

Beautiful Patterns

A selection of gorgeous and inspiring patterns by Julia Rothman. Such a great mix of colours, retro-damask-floral chic and quirky illustration.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Before & After: The Cupboard

I decided to fix up this piece of furniture – once my aunt's cupboard when she was a teenager in the Fifties (my mum remembers climbing into her older sister's cupboard when she was little and playing records on her big sister's wind-up record player), reincarnated for my sister, and a decade later for me, as storage in our wendy house, and now as our hall coat cupboard.
I'd thought of putting material on the cupboard doors, but wanted something really special, unusual and versatile (read expensive). While browsing a material shop, I got the idea of using lace, but finding something special enough, that wasn't shiny ice white and an ugly repeated pattern, was a challenge.
In my opinion, the only good use for net curtains is never their intended purpose – as curtains! I found the last piece on a bale, with really pretty flower vine running down it. After measuring the width of the doors and deciding how I wanted the vines to run on either panel, I attempted cutting the lace netting. Getting it perfectly straight was a challenge (specially with an inquisitive kitty who wanted in on the action!), so I folded it in half, and half again, and pegged it in an attempt to stop the slippery fabric from moving.

Preparation I got a piece of masonite to do a test piece to a) chose a colour (it was between white and an off-white-cream, which ended up making the lace look dirty), b) see whether the lace would work at all to create interest and texture at all and c) discover whether the paint would work as adequate glue to stick the lace in place. I enlisted a trusty helper to sand the cupboard down!

Painting First step was painting a layer of white undercoat, letting it dry, giving it a light sand until smooth before painting on a layer of white oil paint. Using oil paint meant I didn't need to varnish it. It went on very easily and gave good coverage (I suspect because of the white undercoat). I also didn't want it to be perfect gloss, but to have some imperfections, so I didn't do a second coat. One layer on the door panels, and I stuck the fabric on. Tip: work fast – if you do have to peel up and reapply the lace straight, do it fast. The paint seems to shrink the fabric.

Finishing touches The inspiration for keeping the refurbishment simple and classic, was really this door knob, which I wanted to be the feature. I love interesting door knobs, and found this one in New York at one of my favourite stores Anthropologie. I picked up the colour of the knob, by adding a hint of turquoise on the finishes, in all cracks and grooves. I hand sanded the edges to expose some of the wood to make it look aged and antiqued.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Button Up

I love how quirky button brooches can change and develop an outfit by adding a new facet. These are some from Skinny Laminx that I added to a formal, tailored grey wool blazer.


Simple, classic, elegant – all the things that make a gorgeous accessory.

Brunch @ The Bromwell

Weekends are made for lazy mornings and delicious brunches. On Saturday, we decided to try Bread at The Bromwell Boutique Mall in bustling Woodstock. Courtesy parking makes the whole experience much easier and we were welcomed by a burly-looking bouncer dressed in black – a first for a brunch spot. The downstairs space has been used well with a number of tables and gorgeous red booths – vibrant colours and patterns have been used freely throughout, with red being the signature colour.

The breakfast options were relatively limited and pricey on average. Our "truffle" scrambled egg, roasted tomato and (what looked decidedly like bacon) pancetta was R45 and it came with a little salad, which I thought was unnecessary. But you could tell they were pushing the gourmet envelope on eggs. I had immediate order envy when I saw the poached eggs encased in bread that the middle-aged tannies next to us ordered, though they were completely bemused when a seed encrusted tower arrived in front of them without an egg to be seen! The coffee was okay, if a little bitter, and neither of us ordered second cup.

We meandered up to the art gallery upstairs after breakfast. Well, meandered is a rather romantic description. One of the bouncers stopped us to check whether we were going upstairs. Apparently we needed to sign in (which involved him checking my drivers licence and taking down my details - for correspondence - on a scrap of paper). Once we'd gained access, we walked through the rooms arranged in a square-shape with the central section open to the restaurant and deli below. The works are varied, with a Top Billing show-home appeal – the contemporary afro-fusion twist on old ball & claw furniture, a bright African portrait in an ornate, guilded frame. A modern art gallery, judging from the product prices available on slick touch screen in every room, we are not the target market.

Back to the food. It seemed that the menu's focus was more on their Italian sandwiches and other main course selections. I was a little disappointed – the idea of a weekend deli in a destination venue (let me tell you I won't be popping by for a R18 000 artwork on a regular basis) means the experience needs to be compelling. Obviously, I never expect to do my grocery shopping – imported meats and cheeses and whatnot – at a deli so I'm not judging their selection or prices, but it's called "Bread" and we didn't leave with any. I want to be able to meander in, have a delicious breakfast (which I'm prepared to pay more for if I feel I'm getting an experience), not feel pressured to move on, before picking up a few key weekend ingredients from the deli.

Don't you worry, I mentioned this in the comments box.