Same same, but different … itsfoodoo

 

It’s truly rare when you get to share a journey of life with a significant other.  Well, in our case, it started since the day of conception (thanks mom & dad).  The womb started our journey to self discovery, but also a sense of kin-ness of being twins and many years later that kin-ness just grew to a lot of craziness.

Apparently Stef was first to pop his head out and then it was me.  (Well, so they say).  “They”, being my mom and older sisters.  I’m sure we got mixed up a few times along the way and if I should make a call with regards to who the responsible adult is currently……. it’s me.  You see, our duo is tight.  We love food, we are passionate about wine and throw in a extraordinary experience and we are there…… like sister claire!

Being able to live our passion and experience tastes, smells, adventures and off course, a few challenges, makes this twin-ness of ours a special one.  Albeit not ours only.  We share this with our 4 other siblings, family, precious friends and off course, our social media followers whether they be facebookers, instagrammers or tweeters of note. (The whole snapchat thing is not quite working for us…….. well yet in any case).

It’sfoodoo is a dream.  It’s a vehicle.  It’s a “let’s see where this journey takes us” kind of thing and we are enjoying it every step, taste and sip along the way.  We invite you to journey with us and share some of our moments and stories.  Please take a moment to share yours with us and enrich our foodoo passion.

Yours in taste, wine and all that is good!

Janthinus (see I’m first…. LOL!) & Stef (the evil twin buaahahahaha!).

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!

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.

Start, Snap, Share, Repeat!

Being up for a new adventure is like a jolt of pure energy to me.  Experiencing something new and something different can sometimes be revitalising to some, but also a bit scary to others.  I am definitely not the latter.  So when the opportunity knocked, I opened my computer, logged into Travelstart and soon the payment approved sms notification found it’s way to my phone and so I found my way on a trip to Cape Town not so long ago.  Easy peasy this Travelstart thing.  It was a “quicky” so to speak (no, don’t get funny ideas), it was not planned to perfection, but rather an impulsive weekend shared by me and my twin brother, Stef.  Our very own “bro-trip”, a dash in and dash out of Cape Town thing.

Naturally, the weekend was filled with the finest wine the Cape region has to offer and the best food to tantalise your tastebuds and senses and to top everything off, the weather played along ever so nicely!  The Cape of Good Hope, doing it’s own nickname justice!  There are a few things about me that are just the bare necessities when lavishing your way through all these experiences, and that is my trusted smartphone.  No, this is not a blog about my smartphone at all, but rather how handy this device is, capturing different dimensions, colour, beauty and experiences of my life, to savour and browse through on the flight back to good old Gauteng!

One thing is for certain, food is my passion!  I like making it, like eating it and I love taking pictures of it.  The ritual of ordering an item off a menu and just envisioning it in my minds-eye what it will look like, gives me an immense kick and yes, I do snap almost all of my food.  People sometimes  look at me very distastefully (think I just made up a new word) when I do it, but this is the same as smelling your food.  It’s all about the colour, angle of the picture, distance to the subject and off course adding the right tints and highlights when it comes to filtering.  Ok, people, let’s not be purists about automatic filters, some are just professionals when taking photos with expensive gear and others like me, quickly tucks out my little smart companion and start planning the shot.  So what are the fundamentals when taking a good food-snappy for your social media pages or platforms?  Here are my top 5 things to keep in mind, when taking that perfect photo:

  1. Wipe your lense!

There are a few things that ticks me off like someone who possibly could’ve taken the perfect picture, but instead the picture they posted was misty, filled with lines caused by light that is clearly caused by a dirty and greasy lense and dust in the photo.  So my dear food-snapper, wipe your lense, even if it’s against your sleeve or your napkin.  Make sure you don’t use tissue or paper napkins as they could scratch your camera lense.

2.   Light.

Always make sure that you have sufficient light available to take the photo.  Some smart devices have a warm flash function that softens the light when using a flash for your picture, but personally, I’m not a fan of a flash as it ‘hardens’ the appearance of your food.  Rather lift the little lantern or candle up high, get your focus right and snap the photo.

3.  Turn your plate.

Jip, it sounds silly, but rather turn your plate to find the right angle to tell the story of what you are about to enjoy.  Unlike photos of people, when it comes to food, there is definitely a good and a bad side.  Choose the side with the most colour and better placement.

4.  Don’t be shy!

Sometimes (trust me, I have been there, in a very fancy restaurant) one can get a bit self conscious when taking longer to take the perfect food pic.  It’s fine, let people say what they want, this is your Fillet Bourguignonne and you have to snap perfection.  Take your time and make your snappy count.

5.  Share it!

There is no use in going through all these motions and not sharing it with your fellow friends and followers.  Take your pic, give enough information, content and description of the venue, setting, taste and experience and be ready to change someone’s perception on the dish that you have enjoyed.

These are mere principles I employ to make sure my social media pics are above standard.  Let’s be clear, there will be some that are less desirable and if you want to, post them too.  To me, it’s all about sharing experiences, old and new, imperfect sometimes but aiming to be perfect most of the time.  So, whether you are dining at The Fat Duck in Melbourne or JAN in Nice, France or even your local eatery you enjoy frequenting, it should always be true to what YOU are experiencing.  So let’s set our sails, click onto the Travelstart Blog and find out more about taking fabulous food-snaps on your new adventure.  Make sure when we snap away at your favourite subject, whether it’s scenery, friends or food, that you capture the essence of that special moment.  So start somewhere or better yet, start now.  Snap away my fellow food-snappers!

PS.  (Images were snapped by myself, for myself and enjoyed, by myself at De Grendel Wine Estate & Restaurant).

Jip! It’s almost Pinotage & Biltong Festival time!

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The month of October is not just the month of lovely purple Jacarandas, the intro to spring and exam time for students, but it’s the month where the Pinotage & Biltong Festival will take place in all it’s grandeur and splendour!  Ask any South African what icons we own as a country and certainly, Biltong will be one of those.  Equally important in stature is off course, is the South African wine varietal, Pinotage that is truly South African in every sense.

14 & 15 October will see Leriba Lodge in the capital city erupt with these two icons on offer to festival-goers to enjoy.  The proverbial cream of the crop wineries that will make their #Pinotage & Biltong Festival debut will be Altydgedacht, Beyerskloof, Delheim, Flagstone, Kaapzicht, Koelenhof, La Couronne, Lanzerac, L’Avenir, Mellasat, Overhex/Balance Wines, Perdeberg, Rhebokskloof, Slanghoek, Simonsvlei, Vriesenhof and last but not least Wellington Wines.

Biltong will surely not be in short supply and you will be able to pair your wine of choice with the different flavours of biltong and droëwors to your heart’s content!  My personal favourite you might ask?  Meet me there and I’ll personally give you my perfect combo.  The weekend will be a fun filled, family-friendly event that promises lots of entertainment with great festive ambience.  Not only is this an event for wine and biltong lovers, but this festival also support The Pebbles Project as their charity of choice.

Ticket prices are available at a mere R220pp online through www.plankton.mobi or www.computicket.com and as with any wine festival that is worth their weight in grapes, you will get a branded wine glass with coupons to taste the day away.  Gate tickets will be available at R250pp.  Please remember to book your designated driver or transport service well in advance.

Since it’s purple season here in The City of Tshwane, the obvious dress code for the weekend will be white and purple.  Should you decide to dress totally OTT (over the top) you might just win a prize or 6!  Remember to check in when you arrive at the festival and use the hashtag on your social media platform of choice #PinoBiltongFest.  For more information on this Pinotage & Biltong Festival spectacular, visit the Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/165129700654574/ or contact CVO marketing on their website www.cvomarketing.co.za.

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!

 

 

 

Choco-holic? Check out Chocolat et Café!

Personally I’m not one with a sweet tooth, but appreciate a good sweet or treat here and there.  Here in the capital of South Africa, you have plenty of options to satisfy the sugar craving if and when it hits, you just need to know where to look.  O yes, make sure that they have the good stuff.

The world of Chocolate in Pretoria is not a well known one in my opinion and the question lingers; “Where do Chocoholics go to get their fix?”.  The past weekend, I stumbled upon a little place hidden away like a pirate’s treasure and I was fortunate enough to find it.  Chocolat et Café is literally the sweet spot, located in the new trendy, up and coming Hazelwood Food Village in Pretoria.  Nestled between Culture Club Bar de Tapas and Alfies you go deeper where you are greeted by a refreshing space with Turqoise umbrellas, tables and chairs.  Quaint and pettite.  Obviously, the nosey person I am, a needed to take an up close look inside and was amazed by the amount of decadence this small space held.

Chunky Chocolate Brownies, Caramel Cheese Cake, Carrot Cake, Macaroons, Chocolate Toffees, Truffles that looks exquisite and of course slabs of chocolate in every variety, colour and fragrance (yes, I smelled them) you can get.  This is truly a HAVE TO, to any self proclaimed chocoholic.  Did I mention the coffee in a sugar cone?  Strange, but I have to go back to try it.  A second question popped: “Why don’t we know of all of these little treasures?”.  I arrived at a simple answer… routine dining.  Exploring a bit, hunting the treasure and when someone talks about something special they experienced, listen.  Luckily word of mouth did it’s thing and I walked away happy, over-chocced (is there such a word?) and telling my posé all about this little treasure called Chocolat et Café in Waterkloof, Pretoria. Go! Now!