Fermier for more!

fullsizeoutput_4f21There is a saying that  states:  “Good food is equal to a good mood” and I’m a true believer that a love for food is both in the art of preparing it, but also in enjoying it.  In recent years Pretoria have seen a plethora of gastronomic experiences peek out from under the kitchen counters and we, the citizens of this great city, are reaping the ever-tasty rewards.

Award winning Fermier (Farmer in French) is unique in every sense of the word.  They pride themselves on being a self-sustainable restaurant where they incorporate everything around them, from the ground used to build their restaurant, to the garden that offers fresh produce, to the pottery shop on the premises that makes the beautiful vessels to serve delicious meals in.  Everything works together to make the Fermier experience one to remember .  Adriaan Maree chef and founder has got quite the reputation when it comes to good food and brings not only local, but also International experience to the table.  He sure raised the bar in Pretoria, when Fermier opened it’s doors not so long ago.

Arriving at Fermier, I was greeted by a lovely young lady when I parked my car.  I walked up the foot path and it felt like I was leaving the city every step I took in the dark.  Dimly lit lanterns showed the way and I arrived at a contemporary structure that resembled a barn.  It was rustic, yet classy, old charm, yet with a modern twist.  Ambience were created by perfectly chosen lighting and no more than a dozen tables nestled perfectly in the cozy space.  Clearly the space and layout were carefully planned and designed.

First things first and I had to glance over their very impressive wine list and menu that offered 9 set courses for the evening.  One thing is for sure, you are not going to get Butternut & Spinach on the sides.  (ok, I chuckled at myself when I wrote this).

 

After a glass of bubbly, we enjoyed a lovely Elands Rivier, 2014 Pinot Noir.  Delicate, with berries and rose notes with a beautiful garnet colour.  This was a good start to the evening. The menu boasted surprise, esthetic enthrall and bursts of flavour.  The food was the entertainment and the line up was impressive.

First course saw an introduction with freshly baked bread, with Duck liver parfait and canapes.  Beautiful and tasty!

 

Second course in line, was a bundle of Kingklip with black radish and smoked tomato coulis/sauce.

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Third saw an ensemble of Mussels, Squid Sea Vegetables and a light foam. perfectly prepared. (Could’ve sworn I was at the beach with every bite).

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4th Course offered Tuna on a bed of Almonds, Grapefruit, Black Garlic and Olives.

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Course 5 was surprising with Pork Neck with Summer Apple, Celeriac and Samphire.  Soft, oozing flavour and I wanted a second plate (just kidding, 4 more courses to come).

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We enjoyed Duck for our 6th course with Turnips, Verjus and Grapes.

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Lucky number 7 arrived and Springbok, tender and sliced perfectly with Porcini mushrooms, Cauliflower, Daikon and honey.  The balance between savoury and sweet was a dance of perfection.

 

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Course 8 was lighter with an good selection of fine cheeses.  Huguenot, Karoo Crumble and various fruits to compliment.

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The last course rounded things off beautifully with White chocolate and Miso. Sweet and everything you can hope for after 8 courses of utter gastronomic bliss!

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So there we have it fellow food fans! Do not be fooled, although the portions are small, they pack a punch when it comes to flavour.  Adriaan Maree and his team, don’t prepare food, they create art that is absolutely super sensory!  I would seriously recommend you make this spot, one of your top ones as it’s a game-changer when it comes to haute cuisine here in Pretoria.  Their menu also change from time to time, so it will be great to see what’s on the menu in a few month’s time.  Be sure to book your table since they offer limited seating. I believe this enables them to pay careful attention to detail and give you the best experience possible.

I will most certainly go back to Fermier, for more!

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!

 

Freestate beauty in Clarens!

South Africa is most probably the best country to live in when it comes to scenery, beauty and places to visit.  (Yes, I am South African and might be a little bit biased, but bare with me).  It can be very vast when traveling by car, but all special and popular cities, places of interest and holiday spots are easily accessible by a 2 hour flight (and tickets can be bought at a bargain when your timing is right).  We have deserts, the Karoo, the Bushveld, Game Reserves, tropical beaches, mountain ranges that takes your breath away and then there is the Freestate.   A very VERY underrated and unappreciated patch of earth, smack bang in the middle of our country.

Being born in the Freestate I do know that there is little happening, apart from agriculture and farming, but there are a few gems that’s just waiting to be discovered.  Clarens is most certainly one of them.  I have visited this quaint little town quite a few times and every time, I feel like I’m greeting an old friend and also learning something new with every time I set foot in this booming town.  Only 3 hours (by car) away from the capital Pretoria, this town sees a lot of weekend visitors from mostly Johannesburg, Pretoria and surrounds.  It’s just a beautiful place to spend a weekend and plentiful options for accommodation.  December last year, a few friends and I  took a trip down and we enjoyed every moment of it.

Take note that winter times can be very VERY cold and you should plan for possible snow, but in warmer months, you can have lots of fund river rafting, hiking in the Golden Gate Nature Reserve or just spending time in the town shopping.  I would like to share my top picks of Clarens with you.

1.  Accommodation

The choice is yours to stay outside of the town or in the town itself and it really comes down to what tickles your fancy.  This time around, we opted to stay in town at the Golden View Luxury Self Catering in their Oak on Church unit that’s got a view to die for!  Tastefully decorated and affordable, it’s close to town and a quick walk will take you right to the square, where all the action takes place.

2.  Dining at Clarens

When it comes to dining, the options are endless.  Breakfast spots that you should give a go, is The Post House, The Courtyard and Artists Cafe.  My personal favourite?  The Courtyard.  Their fresh baked artisan breads are pure dough magic and tastes amazing. (Don’t forget to check out their bakery section, sweet tooth heaven!).

Lunch time is always a great treat when visiting the Clarens Brewery, they’ve got amazing beer tastings, gin offerings and charcuterie, cheese and bread platters that is a killer lunch pick.  Make sure to visit the RED STONE GIN distillery when you are there.  Love it!

Dinner in Clarens offers you a variety of options, from the local Pizza spot, to Pub dining or you can take a turn and head off to Clementines and enjoy amazing food, prepared well and never disappoints.

3.  So? What to do in Clarens?

Art Galleries in Clarens are quite bespoke and when you set foot into one of them, you can see why.  Art and artists alike find their spot there and paint on canvas is not in short supply.  The art is quite high-end and beautiful!

Shopping isn’t getting the backseat as I like to take a few souvenirs home.  Anything from lamps, doorknobs (the artistic ones), carpets, jewellery, pastas, pickled goods and jams are to your disposal.  They even have an Eco friendly shop that sells functional items, go check them out.

Do you see yourself as an extreme sports junky?  Then horse riding, biking, hiking and river rafting might be added to your list.  You can even go dinosaur hunting (take note, they are extinct and you will be chasing fossils and bones LOL!).

Ok, so this town is exceptional and you just have to make time to get yourself to visit Clarens whenever you can.  They have numerous wedding and function venues as well and the mountainous backdrop creates magical photoshoots.

Ok, so my YES, NO or MAYBE for Clarens are the following:

YES?  This town is an awesome experience and I will go back there again…. and again but do so in warmer months as the cold can sometimes be a bit of a mood damper.

NO?  The roads around the town is not in the best shape and if you aren’t careful, you  might loose a tyre in one of those gigantic potholes.

MAYBE? Check their online calendar for town events.  If there is a MTB race or Beer festival or some big event, KNOW that the town is going to be very busy, so plan your trip well if you are not much of a social animal and rather book outside their peak times.  Visit the Clarens website here to plan your visit.

Now there you have it! I do hope you visit Clarens soon and I look forward to hearing from you and your experiences in the beautiful and picturesque town in the Freesate!  The gem is waiting for you!

 

 

Visited the new Pachas yet?

Located in the green and tree-filled neighbourhood of Waterkloof in the capital called Pretoria, you will find Pachas.  They have moved the new development and very trendy area called The Club on the corner of Pinaster Avenue and 18th Street.  From the get-go Pachas is elegantly inviting with decor, service and crisp clean tables to match.  Their menu offers a variety of dishes carefully selected and crafted for the discerning diner. 

Swiftly (off-the-menu) offerings were introduced and starters were ordered.  One thing is for certain, when it comes to swift service, they are on top of things.  I enjoyed Smoked Marlin Carpaccio with deep fried Capers on a Rocket and a bed of micro-herbs with a Wasabi dressing.  Beautiful, aromatic and tasty.  To accompany the meal I opted for a 2015 Laborie Merlot which worked wonders with my palate.  Please check out Laborie Wines after reading this post.  Main course saw a special medium-rare beef Fillet topped with Halloumi, a green salad and potatoes that were pan friend with bacon that is crispy golden brown bliss personified.  Naturally the side dishes offered a familiar face in the form of creamed Spinach and Butternut.

I must say, I glanced at the dessert menu and resisted temptation due to the lack of space in my tummy.  They do offer lovely “traditionals” like Crème Brûlée, Italian Kisses, Cheese cake and lot’s more.  So my my overall experience at Pachas was positive and very memorable.  Food was delicious and beautifully prepared.  Pachas is priced to the higher range in terms of their menu and be sure to fork out a little bit more but the food and experience is well worth it.  You will definitely see me back again and thank you for a delightful evening.

Forti’s Grill & Bar and La Motte Wine Estate making magic!

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Well where should I begin?  Firstly, getting an invite to attend an exclusive wine and food pairing hosted by Forti’s Grill & Bar and La Motte Wine Estate was already tantalising enough that I was fathoming ideas and expectancies even days before the actual event.  Fortunate Mazzone is himself an institution in the Pretoria community and even wider, since his days as the owner of the famed Ritrovo Restaurant.  He made his move to a grandeur establishment nestled in the new Time Square Casino just off Menlyn Maine.  Forti’s Grill & Bar is a cosmopolitan restaurant that is par excel-lance in not just the exquisite cuisine it offers, but in it’s styling, bathrooms and yes, the ever so popular roof top dining experience. 

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I have previously reiterated that I am a total ‘scenery-slut’ when it comes to the perfect view at a restaurant and I suspect looking at THIS restaurant, Fortunato knows that his clientele is somewhat expecting the unordinary experience and off course Fortunato delivers!  Meeting Edmond Terblanche from La Motte Wines, you do gather that La Motte and Forti’s already have a long history in sharing good food and wine, and giving their following a plethora of tastes and memories.  Brilliantly styled wines with food that is ever endeavouring to ones taste buds made it an opulent and vivacious event.  The invite was extended to only a handful of lifestyle journalists, influencers and foodies and they wowed us.

Our gastronomic experience started off with a lovely Prawn ensemble that was oven grilled, with champagne & garlic served on a bed of parmesan rice, decadent and beautiful!  This was accompanied by the La Motte Sauvignon Blanc, with crisp tropical flavours.

Main course offered a lovely crusted marbled beef Fillet prepared to perfection on a a bed of fresh braised vegetables topped with rocket and greens. The La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon  2015 played its role brilliantly with a full bodied presence with it’s oak, plum and smokey notes.  The star here naturally was La Motte’s Pierneef Syrah Viognier that is totally in a league of its own.  A deep flamboyant red wine with a spicy and peppery palate that is truly unique. 

Dessert was a colour explosion and saw planks of sweet delicacies.  From Chocolate Brownie, fudge with a citrus kick and off course panna cotta that was to die for.  A golden honey coloured bottle that classifies (well in my mind that is) as an Apricotty (if there is such a word) mouth watering dessert wine with a perfect balance between sweet and acidity.

How do one end off such a perfect Forti’s Grill & Bar & La Motte onslaught?  Easy, with a sorbet that is pleasing to the eye and palate, oh and don’t forget the flavourful in-house grilled cup of Americano. 

These two players (Forti’s & La Motte) is a mean team and what really stood out, was the complimentary, symbiotic relationship these two have.  The best part of it? That you and me both can experience the fruit of their relationship.  Well done Fortunato and team! Equally well done to Edmond from La Motte Wine Estate for giving us an unforgettable experience.

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PS.  Go to the bathroom when you are there! It’s worth a pic or 6! 🙂

When Bellingham & Fumo collide!

Most of us grew up with the smells from our mom’s kitchen.  Well, some of us in anyway.  To be able to sustain oneself to the stage of reading this, you survived by having food to eat.  In my case, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that is just totally over the top when it comes to preparing delicious meals and trying out different cuisine.  Another thing about growing up, were my memories of Sunday lunches where we as children could actually have a sip of wine.  Mom would take out the bottle of white wine, a Bellingham bottle.  Jip, those Bellingham wine bottles that were shaped like the mountain side.  I can still remember parts of the television advertisement where the landscape changed into the bottle.  That was a very clever advertisement, because most Bellingham wine drinkers can and would probably still remember that advertisement.

So I was invited to an evening of culinary delight and premium wine at an extraordinary Italian Restaurant called Fumo (here in the capital Pretoria) last week.  The evening was in partnerhsip with Bellingham Wines.  No, there was no hill-shaped bottle in sight, but rather an unveiling of a premier range of wines from Bellingham Wines.  The story of Bellingham is one that alleady started in the early 1700’s and then much later to where Mr & Mrs Podlashuk bought a derelict farm called Bellinchamp which means “pretty fields” and was forced to build it up to what it is today.  A creative Hub which produces world class and award wining bottles of wine, with a local and international following.  It is not longer the Bellingham we knew, but rather a journey of wine ending up today with 3 genres or ranges of wines called the Innovation series that can be seen as more contemporary wines, the Homestead series that hatched special wine concepts and praising itself as very inventive and lastly their flagship, the Bernard series,  a tribute to the wine pioneer, Mr. Bernard Podlashuk who had the vision to make superior, intricate and beautiful wine.

Now imagine this, an evening where the current Wine maker Niel Groenewald of Bellingham Wines enticed everyone with glamorous intrigue around the premier wine they produce.  Sampling them was a palate-adventure and true learning and appreciative experience.  Chef Claudio Uccello, the Executive Chef of Fumo and his team, showered us with Italian cuisine to capture our senses and indulge our tastebuds.

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Josper grilled Tuna & Smoked Salmon.

The evening started with the 1st course of Josper grilled Tuna and in house smoked Salmon with crostini bread paired with the elegant Homestead Saugvinon Blanc 2017. Boasting fruity flavours with a soft crisp finish.

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Stuffed Baby Squid in a black ink curry

The 2nd course offered us, stuffed baby squid in black ink curry, accompanied by a Bernard series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015.  A lovely layered golden wine with citrus flavours and spicy oak.

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Sea Bass with Culatello Ham on Mushroom Risotto

3rdly, We enjoyed a wrapped Sea bass with Culatello ham and beautiful mushroom risotto and off course a stunning Bernard Series Old Vine Pinotage 2015. Lovely berry flavours with a lasting oaky succulent fruity finish.

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Lamb Loin & Almond Crust with celery puree and baby carrots.

Our 4th course was a delectable Lamb loin with almond crust, celery puree and baby carrots.  Paired with a Bernard Series Small Barrel SMV 2014. Alluring black berry aromas, layered with chocolate and intense fruit that is smooth and lovely.

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Chocolate Budino, with white chocolate mouse

Rounding things off, we enjoyed a naughty (yes very naughty but lovely) Chocolate budino, white chocolate mousse with pistachios and Angel hair partnered with their Homestead Shiraz 2015.  An intense dark vino with notes of plums, blackcurrants and pepper.

Listening the Neil tell the story behind each and every bottle, made it almost feel like a ballet of different notes, flavours and scents combined to present a new generation in wine from Bellingham.  No longer (in my mind) will I think of the old green mountain shaped bottle, but rather of their premium and exquisite ranges on offer and when you pair them with cuisine that is world class from Fumo, you are sure to enjoy and evening that is LUX to the fullest!  The evening was a wonderful collision between Bellingham & Fumo and we got the best of both worlds! Visit their sites and support their quality products.  Go! Now!

 

 

 

It’s Hemingway’s

 

 

Pretoria as the capital has so little options to experience fine dining that fits one’s pocket.  Hemingway’s Restaurant at Leriba Lodge is surely one of those little unexplored gems.  Stepping through the doors at Hemingway’s you are immediately inundated with the sophistication and elegance of their table settings.  I have a thing for crisp white tables and serviettes.  Add to that service with a smile or even smiles.  Waiters that caters to your every whim, friendly, available and their attention to the table was a good balance between overprotective hovering and the vanishing act. Being a special evening, we celebrated a birthday and man was this an amazing evening.

We were treated by amazing red wines from Doolhof Wine Estate and their range is ever impressing.  The food was undoubtedly one of my best food experiences I enjoyed in a long time.  Starters consisted of a beautiful Carpaccio served fresh with a Quails egg. Beautiful.  Main course offered us a lovely crisp Pork-belly prepared to perfection.  The plating and presentation is top notch and they surely know how to prepare their food.  Dessert was equally impressive and the ever-classic Creme Brûlée did not disappoint! A sugary crunch with delightful light and creamy custard sent me to foodie heaven! Hemingway’s is a sure stop for amazing food and is a great catalyst for good conversation.

The Centurion area is busy with it’s own rejuvenation process when it comes to good food, restaurants and unique cuisine.   Hemingways is sure getting it right.  They are also a good venue for weddings, family events and they regularly host tastings and festivals.  Well done guys, you won my tastebuds and I will most definitely see you again soon.  Your new fan. So people, all I have to say is…. Go! Now!