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.

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!

Market @ the Sheds… a day of beauty!

One of the stigmas our South African city centres, especially in Gauteng suffers from, is that they tend to be negative.  People tend to think about grey, hard and unfriendly structures and can so easily tag the city centre of Pretoria as a “dangerous” place.  I work in the city centre of Pretoria and I can by personal experience say, it is definitely NOT a “dangerous” place.  It is rather a place filled with rhythm, people awesome food and lots of beauty.

The Market @ the Sheds is one of those jewels that you will not find, if you don’t look for it.  So, my fellow readers, be brave enough, put on your big girl tights and brave a trip to the city centre.  This “dangerous” place may just surprise you in ways you least expect it.  Colour and taste awaits the moment you set foot in the heart of our capital city.  Parking is available at the 012 precinct but can be a bit of a challenge. With overflow and easy access to the parking lot at The State Theatre, makes a short walk (300m) to The Market @ The Sheds a comfortable one. 

Urban rejuvenation saw a lot of new initiatives pop up to beautify, artify (if there is such a word) and magnify the beauty we so often don’t think exists in the city centre of Pretoria.  Market at The Sheds is surely one of them!  Taking place usually every last Saturday of the month, this exciting event draws crowds from near and far and caters for young and old. 

Market @ the Sheds is a hub oozing food, colour, art, rhythm, fashion and more. Explore your culinary side with pulled pork burgers, Mexican cuisine, divine confectionery and so the list goes on.  Fine wines, craft beer and even cocktails are available and the only problem you’ll have, is choosing the right treat to your tastebuds.

Shopping is a joy as you have access to local fashion designers, jewellers, leather products and lots more to jazz up your fashion portfolio.  Enjoy the live entertainment and experience tones and tunes from jazz, pop and even a bit of opera if you find yourself in the right spot at the right time.  I want to urge you to explore your city.  Pulling an Indiana Jones isn’t necessary at all, but as Confucius says: “everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it”.  Come experience the beauty of the city centre and why not start your first adventure, at The Market @ the Sheds.   Go check out their website here and go follow them on social media to stay up to date with the latest events and opportunities and ready yourself, to be amazed.  Go! Now!

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!

 

Oh Amsterdam!

Where shall I begin.  Not only is Amsterdam one of the most liberal cities in Europe with regards to almost anything, but it’s also filled with so much history, people and amazing architecture.  Let’s rewind back a bit.  Boarding my flight on Egypt Air, I was pleasantly surprised by the spacious seating and that was it.  The air stewards were not the friendliest people and nor are their english skills up to hostess/steward standard in my opinion, I enjoyed my flight which was important.  (Oh, and remember, they don’t serve any alcohol on their planes).  Being my first trip to The Netherlands, I waited in anticipation for the plane to touch down so I can put my two feet on foreign soil and just drink everything in that was happening around me.  Yep, I’m that type of romanticist.

I quickly find my way through immigration, collected my monster of a suitcase and braved the metro.  Everything works well here.  Busses and trains arrive to the second and the people are friendly.  The Dutch language on the other hand can sometimes be tricky, even to me as a native Afrikaans speaker, I have to concentrate and listen very well not to miss anything.  Day 1 saw me being the victim of a pick pocket and so I lost my OVkaart (metro card) with E30,00 on it and had to get another one.  Visiting a new city I’m usually inclined to pack away my smartphone and try to steer clear from using  maps.  I started my walk and followed all the signs that indicated Amsterdam Centraal.  Walking along there were a few things that any visitor in Amsterdam should take note of:  1.  Stay out of the bicycle lanes and 2, watch out for the trams.  My head almost felt like it was spinning as I looked left, right, up, down, left again and then only crossing any street or lane.

The Netherlands is famous for their cheeses and naturally I visited a cheese shop to taste and see what they had on offer.  Wonderful experience and note that the more central you go, the more expensive the cheeses are (in my opinion).  As we all know, The Netherlands are very liberal and using cannabis (smoking weed) in the city is quite a common thing.  Don’t be fooled by going into a coffee shop and think you are going to get just coffee, you will be getting cannabis experience with it.  Coffee shops in Amsterdam are known for being spots where you can  comfortably light up and enjoy your joint.  Heading deeper into the city I found myself in the famous red light district and man, was this an interesting experience.  Girls prancing around in the windows, scantily dressed and trying to make eye contact with their next potential customer.  Moving on swiftly!

Canal cruises are very popular in Amsterdam and is one of those “to do’s” that you just have to tick off your list.  My suggestion to you, walk a bit to the outer canals and take your canal cruises there as they are less crowded and off course less expensive.  I went to the Bootvaart kiosk on the Amstel river and paid E11 for an hour long canal cruise, totally worth it since you get to see a lot in that hour.

Food in Amsterdam can be very expensive or it can be cheap and it totally depends on what you prefer.  I enjoyed a lovely glass of Merlot (red wine) and a pizza at Casa de Leo for E14,00 which is not bad at all.  A croissant will typically cost you around E3,00 and a take away Americano about E2,00.  The wonderful thing about Amsterdam is that you can find almost anything here, from fast food, Indonesian cuisine, Italian, Tapas, Burgers and the options are endless.

So, when visiting Amsterdam what are the things one should keep in mind:

  1. Get an OVkaarten.

This will help you to use the tram, train, bus and is reloadable via their yellow machines at most stops and stations.

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2.     Drink enough water.

Water in Amsterdam are filtered by the dunes, due to the fact that they are lower than sea level and tap water is pleasant to drink.  Stay hydrated.

3.     Watch out for pick pockets.

Make sure you keep an eye on your phone, wallet and bag.  Don’t get caught by a nasty surprise.

4.     Download the 9292 (especially developed for travel in The Netherlands) app for your smartphone.

This app will help you tremendously to navigate yourself through transport in Amsterdam.

5.  Museum visits:

Get your tickets online to skip the queue.  Really, queues can get ridiculously long. 

6.  Albert Heijn Supermarket:

Pop in to any Albert Heine to buy yourself something to eat should you get hungry.  A lot cheaper than any restaurant and a good spot to shop when you need something.

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7.  Take an umbrella:

Thankfully I packed mine and man was I glad I did.  Since it’s October here in Europe, the weather is unpredictable and my umbrella was my saving grace.  This brings me to point 8….

8.   Download the Buienradar app. 

This is so precise and shows you exactly when it will rain and when it will stop.  This is super cool!

9.   Rent a bicycle.

If walking is a bit of an issue to you, why not rent a bicycle and explore the city this way.  Can cost you between E9,00 to E13,00 depending on where you rent it from.

10.  Stroopwaffels.

This is a Dutch classic and these small sweet treats are amazing.  I bought 3 packs for E7,00 to take back home at a food market and I can’t wait to indulge.

So there we have it my dear friends.  Amsterdam is a very enligtning city and offers you experiences galore.  Don’t be afraid to take a walk, taste something new, braving the queue or spending a bit extra and your experience in the city will be one that will be rewarded with great experiences, sights, sounds and tastes.  Dank je wel! (Thank you in Dutch).

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).