Saturday, 30 July 2011

't Brugs Beertje

Anyone visiting Belgium for the first time would be crazy not to take in the touristy but quaint character of Brugge, spending time in one of the pubs and indulging in the incredible quality and quantity of beers available.

I did this a few years ago, with wife and cousin in tow, and walked into 't Brugs Beertje, one of the most popular drinking venues in town. At the bar, acknowledging our arrival with a nod of her head, was Daisy Claeys, the lady who opened the bar back in 1983. She started out with around 120 beers on offer and hasn't looked back since. On our visit she had a menu of 300 different brews (which is apparently still the case) which makes for some tough decision making. Daisy kindly offered to take the choice out of our naive hands and told us that she'd keep them coming. This she did, and with beers like the Babbelaar and the Delirium Nocturnum arriving in tailor made glasses, we were in hop heaven.

The address is Kemelstraat 5 or have a look at their website.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Ostrich anyone?

I'm sure most of us know that ostriches are being used for more than just leather and feathers. The meat has a similar flavour and texture to lean beef but is a whole lot healthier. I'm not suggesting you eat it all the time but including it in your diet is a good idea. It has lower calories, cholesterol and fat than beef and even chicken and is extremely high in protein and iron. On average ostrich meat has 0.5% fat and 21% protein.

Rich ostrich stew


- 400g ostrich cubes/goulash
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small green chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
- 1/2 a cup of flour
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- a knob of butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- a glass of red wine
- 300ml beef stock
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped


- coat the meat well in flour
- heat the oil and butter in a pan, fry onion, garlic and chilli until soft
- brown the meat, then add rosemary and thyme
- add beef stock and wine and bring to the boil
- turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 15 mins, until meat is med rare
- check seasoning
- remove from heat, add parsley and stir
- serve with rice or creamy mashed potato

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Currywurst

On a brief weekend break in Berlin, some time ago, I decided to investigate the national treasure that is the currywurst. A simple sliced hot pork sausage with curry tomato sauce; of which there are in the region of 800 million servings sold per year in Germany alone. Prior to the trip I did some online research and set myself the objective of finding my favourite. The ladies at Curry 36 would definitely not win any awards for friendliness but in my opinion their currywurst was the pinnacle of what Berlin had to offer. They're a bit out of town but worth the trip. Their address is Mehringdamm 36, 10961 Berlin.

According to Wikipedia the currywurst was invented in Berlin in 1949, after a woman named Herta Heuwer obtained tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce and curry powder from British soldiers. She combined the lot, gave it a stir, chucked it over some hot pork sausages and the rest is history. In 2009, in Berlin, a museum was opened in honour of the dish, celebrating the 60th anniversary of its creation.

My Currywurst


- some good quality German pork sausages
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp medium curry powder and a bit more when serving
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- salt to taste


- heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and cook slowly until soft
- add curry powder and paprika and cook for another 2 mins
- add the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and salt and bring to the boil, stirring well
- reduce the heat to low and simmer for a further 20 mins
- cook sausages according to instructions on pack
- blend the sauce until smooth, then strain through a sieve
- pour hot sauce over sausage and shake on some curry powder
- eat with a crispy roll or some hot chips (french fries)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A good whack of Thailand in a bottle

You'll probably need to visit your local Asian or Speciality food store for this, but I can promise you it's worth it. It's a thick chunky paste of chilli, onion, garlic, vegetable oil, dried shrimp, sugar, salt and tamarind. It literally gives life to anything on a plate and I am a big fan. If you're cooking any meat, just before it's done, spread a good dollop of paste on both sides, and give it another 30 seconds on the heat.

My fresh spring rolls with Thai coconut sauce:


  • a good few sheets of rice paper

  • 1 tin of coconut milk

  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, each cut in half

  • 8 lime leaves, torn

  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce

  • 3 tsp above chilli paste

  • 2 tsp palm sugar

  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced length ways

  • 2 carrots, julienned

  • half a cucumber, julienned

  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander leaves

  • 2 handfulls fresh mint leaves

  • 400g cooked pork or shrimp or both

  • 100g rice vermicelli

  • Method:

  • bring the coconut milk to the boil, add lemongrass, lime leaves, chilli paste, fish sauce and palm sugar, then reduce at least by half to a sauce like consistency

  • cook vermicelli according to packet instructions

  • present all the ingredients on a platter and put the coconut sauce in a bowl

  • soak individual rice paper sheets in water for around 30 seconds, then leave to rest on a clean towel for a minute

  • put a paper sheet on your plate, add whatever ingredients you want to form a line on one side of the circle, fold the paper over on each side of this line, and across it from the closest side, then roll tightly all the way to the side

  • dip in the sauce and enjoy

    • Karusa

      My featured wine estate of the moment is Karusa, a family operated and managed premium private winery. It’s situated in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountain Range, just north of Oudsthoorn, in the scenic settlement of Schoemanshoek. Jacques Conradie, the cellar master, has created something truly special with the wines through a sustainable organic approach that guarantees an end product that overflows with individuality and character.

      Karusa is the first Southern Cape producer to plant Mouvedre, Grenache Noir and Petit Sirah, cultivars that are perfectly matched to our warm continental climate. They also have Shiraz, Pinotage, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Jacques specialises in making Cap Classiques and Mediterranean style red and white wines; most of which find their way to Garden Route hotels, guesthouses and restaurants.
      I recently had a chat with Jacques and asked him a few questions.

      (Me) How long have you been involved in the wine industry?

      (Jacques) I’ve been making wine for 12 years with stints at Mooiuitsig Winery (Bonnievale), Graham Beck and Bon Cap Organic Wines (Robertson), Boplaas (Calitzdorp) and also been involved in harvests in France in 2003 and 2005. I’ve made Karusa wines on the side since 2004 and full-time from 2009.

      (Me) What do you enjoy most about being in the industry?

      (Jacques) The combination of the different facets involved in making wine, in and outdoors – vineyards, winery, marketing, creativity, meeting people....... eating and drinking!

      (Me) What are the challenges of making wine on a farm north of Oudsthoorn, in the Klein Karoo?

      (Jacques) The natural elements are pretty much against you 100% of the time..... extreme heat, drought and bird-baboon-porcupine damage. On the upside, if you do it right, you get noticed very quickly and that helps in such a competitive market. Pre-planning the vineyard site, clone, irrigation etc are all crucial in extreme vineyard growing areas.

      (Me) What made you decide on that part of SA?

      (Jacques) It’s different, unspoiled and loaded with possibility, if you know what you’re doing. We’re also situated on a major tourism route, close to the Cango Caves. Thousands of people pass our front door every year and there are no competing wineries around us, as is the case in Stellenbosch and Robertson etc.

      (Me) Can you give us a brief rundown of your wine portfolio?

      (Jacques) We cater for various styles and price points with quite a big portfolio of wine, but extremely limited volumes, ensuring exclusivity to our clients. We don’t sell to supermarkets or liquor stores and refrain from being corrupted by commercialism – we sell an art not a beverage. Prices range from R40 – R120 a bottle with a Lifestyle, Vineyard Specific and Reserve Collection. Cultivars include Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Pinotage and Shiraz and we have red and white blends. We are the first and only producer in the Klein Karoo to produce Cap Classique.

      (Me) What’s your favourite thing to eat when you’re at home with family and friends? and drink?

      (Jacques) Plain and simple – give me a medium rare rump steak, potato wedges and a salad of tomato and onion dressed with olive oil and balsamic and I’m satisfied. In winter I’ll enjoy a full bodied Pinotage and either Sauvingon Blanc or Chenin Blanc in summer. The occasional Rose and barrel matured Viognier are also favourites. A refreshing pale ale is always welcome, especially since we’re adding a micro-brewery to the winery to be up and running by around September/October.

      (Me) Maybe you could give me one of your favourite family recipes?

      (Jacques) My wife Saretha makes a killer lamb shank. Marinade the lamb in Viognier, then rub with olive oil and mixed herbs and simmer in a low oven for a few hours in its own juice. Re-heat the next day, adding a reduction of canned whole tomatoes, balsamic, olive oil, salt, pepper and lots of Shiraz. Simmer in the oven for another 2 hours. Serve with samp and roasted veg (marrows, mushroom, carrots, onion etc). Wash down with a Karusa 5th Element Syrah/Viognier.... then go for a 2/3 hour nap!
      Check out their website for more details.

      Zimbabwe - it's time to go back

      Zimbabwe is regarded more as a catastrophic political situation than a country.  It’s seen the full spectrum of problems that the combination of greed and poor leadership can bring - fraud, intimidation, a completely shattered economy, an unimaginably shocking land redistribution policy and a clear up of the so-called urban slums that destroyed 18% of the population’s homes and livelihoods.  Most notably, the year on year inflation, which was sitting at 32% in 1998, reached all time highs of 231,000,000% in July 2008.

      Since taking power in 1980, Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF have worked to bring the country to its knees but they have failed to remove the smiles from the faces of the warm and friendly people that have somehow endured.In the beginning of 2009 a power-sharing deal between Zanu PF and the MDC was signed and since then there have been a few moves in the right direction.  The introduction of the US$ has provided some stability and the stores and petrol stations are once again stocked.  Public workers are being paid and schools and hospitals are open for business.  Even the economic situation has shown some improvement, with the GDP showing growth for the first time in a decade, thanks to high mineral prices and improved agriculture.

      The tourist industry that all but died in the first decade of the 21st century is thankfully also seeing some renewed interest.  This is not a huge surprise.  Zimbabwe is home to the friendliest people on the planet with the highest literacy rate in all of Africa (92%).  It boasts the majestic beauty of Victoria Falls which becomes the world’s longest curtain of falling water during the river’s peak flow.  Nature abounds with the spectacular wildlife of Mana Pools and Hwange National Park.  There is the mighty Zambezi River, the gigantic playground of Lake Kariba, the eerie landscapes of the Eastern Highlands and the peaceful mountains of Nyanga.

      The continuing worries are food shortage, unemployment, corruption and the warped ideas of an ageing leader, who stated that ‘in most recent times, as the West started being hostile to us, we deliberately declared a Look East policy’.  Hopefully he’s being metaphorical about looking out towards the rising sun and a new dawn for a land that has been savaged for far too long.  Stop reading about Zimbabwe and go see for yourself.  Discover a place of true natural beauty and be part of and witness a regeneration that is inevitable.

      The hopes and dreams of most Zimbabweans were summed up very well for my by an anonymous writer in a forum linked to the Zimbawean, an online newspaper.  He asked the old leaders to go fishing and let the youngsters show everyone what they’re made of and take their country into a bright and prosperous future.  I couldn’t agree more.  Change is as good as a holiday, or is it? 

      With all of the above in mind we recently decided to drive up into Zim to see for ourselves.  Our route took us through Harare, for a 90th birthday lunch and a walk up the huge granite slab of Dombashava.  Next stop was Kariba, where we first spent 2 unforgettable nights on a houseboat and then crossed the length of dam on the overnight ferry.  From there we travelled across to Victoria Falls, where we spent 2 days, witnessing the Zambezi and falls in full flow and the spectacular fauna and flora that along it's banks.  On the way back South, towards South Africa, we pulled into Hwange National Park, where we gawked at the marvel of its bountiful natural spread.  Huge herds of Elephants and Buffalo, teams of lion and wild dog, and beautiful landscapes, the park certainly hasn't lost all of it's wildlife.  The roads weren't as bad as expected, there was fuel in every station and the police at the 20 plus roadblocks we encountered were fairly courtious.  The people of Zimbabwe are desperate for us to return but more importantly, they are so good at having us.      

      Antie Evelyn se Eetplek

      'Antie Evelyn se eetplek' in Nieu Bethesda serves up local flavours township style. Give her a call, talk about what's cooking and get directions to her place, which is not difficult to find.

      Evelyn always serves homemade ginger beer and at the end of the meal she’ll make a strong coffee. Dinner is a 3 course affair, with food brought straight out of the kitchen.

      Winter menu example:

      Soup and traditional bread

      A few different veggies like pumpkin, cabbage, samp and beans or spinach

      Meat, usually mutton or beef, with rice


      Summer menu example:

      Cold chicken or curry

      Different salads, like coleslaw, garden or bean

      Meat and veg


      Evelyn said that she also does light meals like bobotie or meatballs, depending on requests, and there are always vegetarian options. She is not licensed but is more than happy for you to take your own beers or wine. The cost is R100pp and you’re allowed to have seconds, or thirds if that’s possible.

      Evelyn’s mutton and pumpkin


      1. 400g pumpkin, washed, cut into chunks, skin on

      2. 2 Tbsp brown sugar

      3. olive oil

      4. 1 Tbsp butter

      5. 2 onions, finely chopped

      6. 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

      7. 400g mutton, cut into large chunks

      8. 1 beef stock cube

      9. either a bit of bisto or some curry powder (if you want a bit of heat)


      · fry onion and garlic in a bit of oil in a pan, when soft add the mutton

      · brown the meat, reduce the heat, then add a bit of water

      · add a beef stock cube and a bit of either bisto or curry powder

      · put the lid on and simmer gently for 30 mins

      · heat oil and butter in a another pan, add pumpkin and brown sugar

      · fry for 5 mins, cover the pan with foil and pop into a 180C oven

      · cook until soft, around 20 mins

      · remove foil and pop back into the oven to crisp a bit

      · serve mutton and pumpkin with rice and some green beans

      Phone 049 841 1780 to make a booking and chat to Evelyn.

      Saturday, 16 July 2011

      Robertson Wine on the River, 15-17 Oct 2011

      The Wine on the River Festival in the Robertson Valley is an event worth experiencing. It'll be our third year in a row so they must be doing something right. We enjoy it because the estates from Robertson and surrounds all congregate on the Goudmyn farm, between Robertson and Bonnievale, on the banks of the Breede River. There is plenty of the beautiful liquid and with good food, music and even boat and horse rides for the kiddies, there's more than enough to keep everyone happy. Tickets can be bought online, check Wine on the River for details, or you can just arrive and buy tickets at the venue.