Howzit? How are you? Kunjani?

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Nestled in Devon Vale, Stellenbosch you take the turn on Blumberg Drive taking you up to Kunjani Wines.  This little place boasts a huge heart and I cannot help wondering where I should start, doing justice to my experience at Kunjani.  First of all, their contemporary look that boasts deep greys and vibrant reds is an oxymoron in itself.  The region is known for its established, old, premier wine farms and estates that speaks of yesteryear splendour and luxury and then there is this new kid on the block.  Well, THIS kid is not one that should be underestimated.

Walking up the steps you get why they chose the name Kunjani.  Their greeting and heartfelt hospitality translates from the first smile at reception, “Hi, How are you?”.  Chris and the team quickly showed us (Stefan Schrage @Steffmerlot and Zelda @rhubarb_riesling) around and the decor and setting was a precursor to what was to be expected. Seated outside on the balcony, the surrounding vista flooded our sights with greens, ambers and reds emulating from the small vineyard in front.  It’s almost winter after all.

Kunjani’s goal to your dining experience, is to make it a fun dining experience rather than a fine dining experience.  Their food is whimsically prepared, tastefully plated and their variety is beautifully selected especially for their patrons.  Take note that you can have each order expertly paired with one of the Kunjani wines.  Enough with the shilly-shally and let’s talk about the good stuff. Their awesome wine!

We quickly were introduced to lovely baked bread-bites with savoury cream and beetroot-butter.  A good entrance to what was to come and I was already salivating.  We opted for à la carte dining and I started off with a lovely ensemble of West Coast style fresh Mussels prepared in a fragrant Portuguese sauce.  To match this course Kunjani Chenin Blanc 2017 was the perfect companion.  Tropical nose of Papaya and Lime that is fruity and fresh.

Main course consisted of a beautifully prepared “Stolen” Chicken Curry.  A lovely red curry prepared with chilli & ginger served with fragrant rice, sambals and papadums.  The “Stolen Chicken” Pia-noir was the perfect varietal of Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot, an absolute joy to taste and enjoy with notes of berries and apple.  Furthermore the Sauvignon Blanc was not standing back at all with crisp freshness, cucumber and coriander. 

Moving over to their prime red selection we enjoyed their ready to drink Shiraz that exhibited remarkable notes of spice, red fruit and plums.  My personal favourite you might ask?  The Kunjani Red Blend, an easy and multi-dimensional red with 46% Cabernet Franc, 46% Merlot and 8% Malbec. This beautiful blend was my ultimate favourite and it contributed well to the stunning sunset over the mountains and vineyards.

Being a very young winery and only established in November 2017, Kunjani is surprising.  Surprising in the way that their wines speak to your palate, their food speak to your eyes but even more so, their story of love, passion and friendship (old and new) that makes every visitor and wine-lover feel they entered a place where they can be at ease, breathe and enjoy.  To Pia and Paul, thank you for an experience that will stay imprinted for a long time and Chris for your hospitality that was unmatched and off course. Dear Gracie, who so passionately made our experience around the table one that seriously need to be repeated.  To you all, I say: “I am well thank you!”.

PS.  Make sure you check out the Kunjani Cottages you can book to make your experience even more memorable.

Silver Orange Bistro Bliss! Almost :)

Silver Orange Bistro! What a surprise!  The word “bistro” mostly refers to a small eatery that serves simple food, but in this case, it’s a small place that packs a huge punch.  Silver Orange Bistro found its feet in the early 2000’s and is situated in the Hartebeespoortdam region just a 30 minute drive from the capital Pretoria or a 50 minute drive from Johannesburg.  Nestled in between the bushveld and orchards  (yes you read right) surroundings, you almost feel like you have just arrived at your mini holiday.

The setting is very laid back and relaxed, and with adequate seating that offers you inside and outside dining, you can take your pick where to enjoy your meal.  One thing is certain, please book before you drive all the way out to Hartebeespoortdam as Silver Orange Bistro is quite popular and you don’t want to be turned away on arrival.  (so be clever – BOOK!).

They have a lovely menu that offers you culinary delights with European and African influences.  Be sure to ask them about their special offerings.  My favourite?  I enjoyed their Pork Belly with Balsamic Mash potatoes and roast peppers and aubergine.  It was well prepared and executive chef Leon Nel sure knows how to balance his flavours and marrying your palate to visual presentation.  Please visit Silver Orange Bistro’s website, to see what their standard menu offers.  Take note that they updated their menu, so you might find more items when you open their menu on arrival.

Now for the Almost part…. (yes, you thought I was going to be impolite?)  Almost Orange is just a short walk or rather stroll down the orchards just beyond the Bistro.  You are greeted by a scene I can swear is straight out of Tuscany!  Platters, Tapas and premium drinks your thing?  Then this is the place for you.  Where the Bistro offers you a great setting that suits families and individuals alike, Almost Orange caters more for adult patrons and children under 16 is not allowed.  Once again, book your spot well in advance.

So! If you find yourself looking for an adventure outside the hustle and bustle of the city perimeter, then jump in your wagon and take a drive to Harties and experience a wide selection of Gin, MCC, craft beer, wine, etc while enjoying superb food.  Well done Silver Orange Bistro and Almost Orange, this was an excellent experience.

Ok, so what about my YES, NO & MAYBE? Here goes:

YES – They offer a unique experience, good food and well rounded relaxed dining with a killer (and award-winning wine list).

NO – The service was a bit slow to my liking, but as always, when the food is good, I’ll tolerate some ‘slowness’ to my experience.

MAYBE – It gets quite hot during the summer season, so if you find the heat unbearable, please book your spot inside.  The road to Silver Orange Bistro is not in good condition and maybe you should take it slow driving there, you don’t want to ‘not arrive’ at your reservation and leave a bit earlier.

All an all, I was impressed, they will most certainly see me again.  Well done Silver Orange team! Itsfoodoo likes you a lot, no, we love you!

 

Braai broodjie? Or side broodjie?

As per some of my previous posts, having a Braai (or BBQ) in South Africa is quite a huge thing to us.  We love spending time around the fire, reminisce around stories, joking away and obviously enjoying lovely eats and treats from the table close by.  When having a Braai, there are always an array of side dishes to compliment the main feature of the social gathering, which is of course the grilled meat.

One thing most people enjoy is a grilled sandwich that is filled with onion, tomato and cheese, grilled on the fire and oh boy, when you start eating it, the braaibroodjie (yes, that’s what we call it in Afrikaans) oozes cheesy goodness that exceeds all expectation.  Well, I have never had a bad braaibroodjie, but some love it and some loves it less.  So if braaibroodjies are not your thing, how about a good side broodjie on the table?  I have a good broodjie you can whip up,  where everyone can slice a piece of it, spread some good butter on it and enjoy.  Good, easy, simple and delicious.  Here goes:

  1.  Get some lovely bread dough from you local supermarket.  Dust your surface with some flower, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough in a rectangular(ish) shape.
  2. Spread some crushed garlic and a bit of olive oil on the rolled out dough and spice to your heart’s content.15095574_10154768753558573_5689207793028686102_n
  3. Now you can add some lovely goodies to this, sundried tomatoes, olives, capers, onion, salami, chorizo or ham.  Anything you like really.  Just make sure that the ingredients you add here is drained and not watery.  Add some cheese, because why?  Because you CAN! 15037096_10154768754558573_538250758643546157_n
  4. Roll it up very carefully and put it in a greased bread pan.  You can score the top of the bread in what fashion you like  and pop it into the pre heated oven. (180 degrees celsius) for 1 hour until it’s golden brown on top.
  5. Take it out and coat the bread with butter to give it a lovely glossy feel.  Let it rest (if you have the strength to resist).15037144_10154768754993573_1171543595008857302_n
  6. Slice away and serve.  This is a sure winner!15073303_10154768755118573_5117999690620997802_n

So next time you are having friends over for a weekend braai and don’t know what to serve as a side or just to enjoy as a precursor to the feast, whip up this bad boy and have the spoils of their gratitude!  You are welcome, don’t clap, just throw money!

Wellness is a choice

So, there I sat.  Listening to everything the wellness guru is saying.  Hanging on her lips and realising, uhmmmmm I’m not there yet.  Don’t get me wrong, I do cycle when I get the chance, attend spin classes every Tuesday and Thursday and take the stairs sometimes instead of the escalators.  That’s enough right?  No, not even remotely.

I was fortunate to attend a wonderful PR launch of the Wellness Warehouse Brooklyn branch where they presented a lovely menu from the #BrooklynBuffet range.  My fellow bloggers and I were enticed to a delectable menu of roasted vegetables, lovely lasagne, Quinoa salad, Broccoli bake, grilled chicken and off course, the Tofu was the best I have had.

We can have a lot of discussion around what a healthy lifestyle is and what we understand around the term ‘being healthy’.  Sharing a meal at the #WellnessWarehouse Cafe in Brooklyn Mall Pretoria with fellow lifestyle bloggers, you do get a sense that they (and yes, I say they) are so sensitised to living healthy lifestyles because some of them have children and want to offer them the best opportunities to grow healthy.  The question popped…. how healthy am I living really? I don’t have children and therefore I don’t have that motivation, but the motivation lies in the sole fact that I need to be less heavy (see my choice of words there?).  Adapting to a new diet is only one dimension in a multi-faceted pool of dimensions when we talk about healthy living.

Being healthy or looking after your own wellness has less to do with dieting and more to do with making conscious choices.  Being a food & lifestyle blogger it is increasingly more challenging to ‘go healthy’.  Visiting restaurants, enjoying food and writing about it has become a part of my routine, but picking the right meal from the menu is still IN my power.  This is a harsh reality to face when you are a few kilo’s (ok, quite a few) heavier than usual.

So what am I to do then?  Here is my list of the 5 steps I am taking towards looking after my own wellness:

  1.  Realising that I am not a gym junkie:  I am never going to be one and I think this has more to do with acknowledging the current reality of my health and knowing what I’m dealing with.  Getting a grip on my current wellness and as my friend always say: “know your demons and then face them”.  So there we have it, a reality check!
  2.  To eat or not to eat:  I say EAT! Diets already puts one down emotionally and therefore I say, stop dieting and just start eating right.  Looking at the Wellness Warehouses #BrooklynBuffet, there were options and they were colourful and wonderful.  More colour means less processed.  So eat a colourful meal and try to have it as unprocessed as possible.  Freshness is key!  To all of you saying “I don’t have time”, MAKE TIME!  I’m not a super model and I realise it’s going to be challenging, but there is always a way to make things happen. O ja, go easy on the starches.
  3. Chill:  No, not talking about chilling the wine, I’m talking about taking some time out.  Make time to spend time, doing nothing.  Meditate, write, read, sleep, or do the things that fuel you.
  4. Join a club: A gym is great, but it’s expensive and the idea around going to the gym can sometimes be a bit daunting.  Rather join a walking club or a group of friends doing something active.  It shouldn’t cost you an arm or a leg and if you go about it the right way, you can have a good support structure in place to keep everyone motivated and ready to go walking, cycling or running.  Group motivation can work wonders.
  5.  Dream:  It’s important to escape from reality sometimes and start dreaming up things for the rest of the year.  Make that dream of going to Greece a reality by planning for it.  Dream of all the things you still want to achieve, do, experience and start making plans to motivate yourself to get to it.

Wellness in my view is a shotgun approach and should be handled as such.  Health shops like the Wellness Warehouse, gives us necessary tools to live more healthy, but in the end, we need to make the choice to be more healthy.  Choice is the bugger here, but choice is also the golden opportunity that you have power over.  I am not a wellness guru, but strangely enough, we all know what we ought to do.  So my advice to you today, is go do it.  Live well! Go! Now!

Biltong makes everything better, even winter!

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Nearing the end of the day, a certain craving starts turning in my stomach.  Winter has it’s own persona, own feel and yes, this time of the year pulses me into a state of eating, warm fireplaces and lots of Glühwein.  Here in South Africa, we are fortunate to enjoy a culture of outside dining, bbq and kuiers (Afrikaans word for spending time with friends).

One of the biggest challenges to me is being social during Winter, not that I’m socially inept, but rather because I have grown acutely allergic to the cold.  Moving the outside  “kuier”-culture indoors.  That said, my day consists of planning my routine, diary and off course, that moment when I arrive home and are greeted by my 3 magical little Schnauzer-children, I start planning the next 5 hours to my disposal.

Yes, wine is a given, yes, something for dinner to address that ever present craving and off course….. it must be good.  So the choice always lingers, do one go out to dinner or do you stay in and go into ‘explorative cooking 101’?  Growing up in a family that is passionate about food, always has it’s advantages.  Opening up the cupboard you are challenged to create something hearty, warm and comforty (don’t know if there is such a word) with what the belly of the kitchen dispensary has to offer.

Luckily I rarely cook for myself only and knowing a few hungry friends or family is always a few minutes away.  Tapping my morse-code on the pantry door while thinking, the sheer moment of creativeness, food-brilliance and taste-innovation starts building in my brain….. ok, I’m not a food connoisseur, but I know my way around.  So, what do you do in winter time when it gets chilly and cold with your winter menu?

Here I’ll gladly share one of my Winter favourites for you to enjoy.  If you are South African, then this Biltong & Mushroom soup is a sure comfort recipe for you to enjoy!  Here goes…

You will need the following ingredients:

1 Diced Onion

500g sliced Biltong (Beef jerky) And try not to eat it while busy cooking… temptation 101!

2 punnets of fresh mushrooms, sliced

125g of Butter

250ml of Cake flour

500ml Milk (Full cream, don’t kid yourself, use the real thing)

1.5L of Beef stock

125ml of cream

1 teaspoon of grounded nutmeg

A few grinds of fresh black pepper

250ml grated Cheddar cheese

Salt to taste (Beware that the Biltong is already salty, so practice restraint)

1 Tablespoons of crushed Garlic and a little bit extra (just remember to breathe the other way at the office tomorrow).

How to put this together:

Fry the onion, garlic, nutmeg, mushrooms, pepper and butter for roughly 7 minutes or until fragrant. Add the flour and mix well and make sure the mixture is heated through.  Now add the stock and milk and stir well,  add the cheese and reduce the heat.  Add the cream and stir well.  Dish up, top with slice Biltong and serve piping hot with a lovely baguette.

Be prepared to accommodate the praises and Hosanna’s on this lovely tummy-filler.  This is a comfort meal par excellence! Go make it! Now!

Fijn Wyn: a must for winers and Whiners!

 

One thing is for certain.  Us South Africans loooove our festivals.  Glancing through your social media feeds, you are sure to spot an event, in your vicinity, hosting a get-together, tasting, feast or full blown festival.  The capital city also has it’s fair share of festivals and one of them that is a sure winner, is the Fijn Wyn Food & Wine Festival.

I was one of the lucky foodies to get my hands on a complimentary pair of tickets to the Fijn Wyn Wine & Food Festival and man was I impressed.  Just to be clear, entry is R150-R170pp (depending on which day you choose) but looking at the whole experience, you get to enjoy a lot more than the R170 you would fork out on this amazing and tantalizing experience.

With over 35 Wine Estates who boasts about their vino, you need to be careful otherwise the tipsy cart will show up.  My favourite farms like Jakkalsvlei, Beyerskloof, Wildekrans and then some other not-so-farmiliar ones (well, to me in any case) like Stellekaya and Ridgeback was a great experience.  Fijn Wyn is a wine and food festival and offer you decadent meals, treats and good things to eat.  Pulled pork sandwiches, Oysters, Paella, Nachos, Gourmet burgers, confectionery and so the list grows.

Hosted at the beautiful Shokran Events Center, Fijn Wyn is an event that caters to the hip, yuppie, grannie, mom, dad & the kleinspan and off course the wine connoisseurs.  This is an event that is popular to everyone.  Live entertainment is the glue that makes this experience work and festival-goers were treated to amazing bands and artists like Rembrandt van Rijn, Roan van As and TUIN to mention a few.  Pretoria is host to a number of festivals, but Fijn Wyn is surely one of the best experiences you can have.

Points scored here:  An amazing array of wine farms & estates on show and it’s an educational experience.  Adequate seating, outlay and flow of festival-goers between tables were good.

Points deducted: None!

My advice:  Grab your hat, grab your hand or man bag (yes, your hands are going to be full and have fun!). Follow Fijn Wyn on Facebook and don’t miss the next one! Go! Now!

 

Maison de Leo

Looking for a spot to have breakfast or lunch, I try to opt for a spot that is non-franchise, not too commercialized and that is different.  Living in Pretoria, the food scene have erupted with a few great individualistic eateries that offer world class cuisine and prices that fits any pocket.

One thing that is still a challenge in my mind, is the Moot.  The Moot area in Pretoria is an older and more established area that is the cradle to mostly older folk and families that have lived there for generations and I believe generations to come.  When it comes to entertainment and the restaurant scene, it has seen a flicker here and there.  Nice, dedicated restaurants that offer great food, but truly speaking they are few and far in between (I think that’s how the saying goes).

The flicker is starting to get brighter when there are a few more places added to the short list of small, yet very valuable restaurants in the Moot.  Reality is that all the entertainment, restaurants and viby cocktail lounges are all situated more towards the east of Pretoria.

I did however find a small little treasure the other day.  Non-commercialized, non-franchised and ever cuteness and the food is lovely.  Maison de Leo is situated in Rietondale just off Soutpansberg Road.  Being a fairly new establishment, the setting offers you a whimsical taste of food that is home made, delicious and with fresh ingredients.  Maison de Leo’s menu is limited, but sure packs a punch as they focus on a few dishes and do them well.  I enjoyed their Traditional Bobotie and lovely summer salad.  Their Chorizo & Pesto Gnocchi is equally to die for.

My challenge to you?  Go seek those little places, LIKE MAISON DE LEO and give them a chance.  Some places will disappoint, but then there will be some little gems that give you an experience above and beyond any chain-store or restaurant will and can offer.  It will mean a bit of risk, but let’s be willing to explore and taste our way on this treasure hunt of culinary journeys.